Basic Technology Troubleshooting Steps

Basic Technology Troubleshooting Steps

Troubleshooting Technology Is Easier Than You Think

Ever sit down at your desk ready to get the day started and push the power button on your computer, only to have NOTHING happen? I mean nothing. No lights, no fan sounds. nothing…

You’re not alone. But before you run out the door to your favorite computer or tech store to have it looked at, here are some tips on how you can solve the problem, or at least help the tech repair place solve the problem.

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Basic Steps To Fixing Your Technology

There are some things you can do

  • 758ba104655a443ba12a2fccdb035ebbReboot! – “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?” 
    THE basic troubleshooting step is to power the device all the way down, give it a few seconds, then turn it back on. We have a tendency to leave tech sleep mode or standby, and while that makes it easy to quickly power it back up it can leave the device in a mode that isn’t fully functional. Rebooting also clears out running processes and programs that are using memory and even processor power.
  • Document Errors – If the reboot doesn’t fix your problem (it will, most of the time), write down or make note of the exact error you are seeing. Does it boot to a black screen, does it even turn on, is there an error box on the screen, can you close it out or move past it? This information is very important to you or the technician to solving the exact issue you are experiencing.

    If you can get past the error, type the exact error into Google and find out how thousands of other users have solved the exact issue.

  • Check the cables – Whether you’re talking about smartphones, computers, lights, tv’s… whatever, cables come loose. Maybe it wasn’t plugged in correctly the first time and it worked itself loose. Power everything down, unplug and replug everything, then power back up. A loose cable can cause not only the attached device to not work but also the operating system or top-line device.

Steps To Ensure You’re Prepared For A Breakdown

Tech issues are inevitable… here are some steps you can take that when something big happens, you’re prepared.

  • Virus Scan – I’m not a fan of the big anti-virus programs like Norton, McAfee, Avast, etc. If you’re running a Windows computer, Windows Defender does a great job of protecting your PC. Just make sure it’s turned on, updated and running. I run a full scan around when I do a feature update (twice a year).
  • Updates – Keep your operating system, phone OS, and various programs and apps updated to keep small pinholes from being exploited by attackers. If Microsoft, Android or Apple is telling you NOT to run an update, hold until they give you the green light.
  • Backups – Need to restore information damaged by viruses, attacks, broken hard drives or virtually anything else? Backups are your savior. Backups are also great in the event you get hit by ransomware. If your files are corrupted and you have a backup, you can tell the guy holding your tech hostage to pound sand, reinstall Windows and restore the backup. All you lose is some time.
  • Get Rid of Programs You Don’t Need – Uninstalling programs, apps or even browser plugins that you don’t use or will probably not update is a great way to harden your device from attack.
  • Eliminate Insecure Wi-Fi Hotspots – Lock your devices down to connect to know and safe hotspots, and if you do have to run on an open system, get a VPN.

Regardless of how great your technology is, it will fail. It may be today, it may be four years from now, but it will fail. Power supplies quit turning on, hard drives stop spinning, memory fails. Prepare yourself from an issue, and if you do suffer a failure, take a few moments to reboot, document issues, and hopefully you will get your machine back online in minutes, not days.

Have any questions or suggestions on fixing your own technology issues? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Using Two Factor Authentication (2FA) For Better Security

Using Two Factor Authentication (2FA) For Better Security

What Is 2FA (two factor authentication)

In the most basic form, two factor authentication (2FA) is :

  • Something you KNOW – password, a PIN, answer to a security question
  • Something you HAVE – driver’s license, phone, last four of credit card
  • Something you ARE – face scan, fingerprints, voice

So realize it or not, you’ve been using 2FA for many, many years. Every time you enter a PIN for debit cards, or provide the last four of your social security number to bank, or even when you use a fingerprint to log into your phone, you are using a second “factor” to authenticate.

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Where Should I Use 2FA

Many “secure” web apps or websites offer 2FA as an option that has to be enabled. When you try to log into your bank or mortgage company you will often be asked a security question, have to enter a PIN, approve a security image, etc. But unless you enable 2FA in some places a simple password is all that keeps you and another user from your email, social media accounts or banking information.

How Does 2FA Work?

Traditionally on the internet or phone app, the user enters a password on the computer or device which triggers something to happen from the application. An SMS is sent with a code, you are prompted to engage the fingerprint reader, or it asks for another time-coded PIN from a secure authenticator application. The user than enters the codes, provides a fingerprint or other criteria and is logged into the application.

Of the more popular methods, SMS is the least secure. SMS can be intercepted, sometimes read on multiple devices, or in extreme cases even hijack the phone number.

Fingerprints are the obvious most secure. Virtually impossible to fake, fingerprints are with you pretty much all of the time. Make sure you read several fingers from both hands. On occasion users can injure specific fingers or in the most extreme circumstances lose a digit, which would make reading impossible.

Authenticator applications are becoming more and more popular in recent years. These apps run on your phones and reset a code every 30-60 seconds. When you try to log into the app, it will ask for a password, then ask for a six-digit 2FA code. You pull out your phone, open the app and find the appropriate code, enter it into the field on the app, and if the two match, you are logged in.

Possible Issues with 2FA

Well the most obvious is not having your phone or having it not usable. However, most services that use 2FA like Google and Facebook have “backup” codes. If you have the codes but not access to your device you can still authenticate. The danger of saving these backup codes is now you have an insecure printed code lying around, which sort of defeats 2FA.

Time is another issue. Most of us want access to information and entertainment now. Having to open an app, pull out a text, or even manipulate the phone for fingerprint reading can take precious seconds… but isn’t security worth that time. Think of the minutes, hours or even DAYS it would take to recover or repair a hacked account!

Authenticator Applications

Several times I’ve referenced authenticator apps in this discussion. These apps are fairly easy to use. When you turn on 2FA on your app or website, a code or QR Code will appear. You add a site to the authenticator, it will ask for the code or the QR scan, ask for a confirmation code, and you’re all set up! Below are some of the most popular authenticator for Android. Most are available on iOS as well and there are almost no differences in how these programs work.

  • Google Authenticator – The most popular 2FA app. If you use Gmail or GSuite it has very easy integration to secure your email and other Google applications.
  • andOTP – Free and open source it’s a very easy to use application with compatibility of Google Authenticator 2FA.
  • Microsoft Authenticator – Google’s biggest competitor
  • Authy – Probably the most popular app NOT created by Microsoft or Google, if you want to steer away from those to giants.

So how do I know if I can use 2FA?

Most sites that use 2FA have it listed in a security section of your profile. Simply looking there or through frequently asked questions will usually tell you if you are able to use 2FA.

There is a great list of websites and apps that use 2FA at TwoFactorAuth.org. This website has an organized list of sites and which types of 2FA they support. Some use SMS (texting), phone authentications, email or hardware/software tokens. This can be really helpful if you plan on using 2FA as part of the decision-making process.

Bottom Line on 2FA

Two Factor Authentication sounds scary. When you start talking about fingerprints and things of that nature people get weirded out by movies and potential issues. The bottom line is by taking a few extra seconds to log into your favorite apps, cloud storage and banking sites you could be preventing endless hours of trying to recover those accounts. Who hasn’t heard stories of hacked financial accounts, or hijacked social media logins, or changed email passwords with no way to recover because the backup email account was changed.

While 2FA won’t completely stop this activity, it will keep a vast majority of hackers from trying further. It’s much more cost effective in money and time to move on to an easier target than to dig deeper on to a secure accounts.

Take a few moments and test on something easy like Facebook. Then your email, then banking, then your website. You will feel better knowing you’ve taken some steps to be more secure.

Do you use 2FA? Send questions or comments to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Best WordPress SEO Plugins

Best WordPress SEO Plugins

If you have a WordPress website and are not using SEO, or search engine optimization, you are missing out on valuable traffic.

Whether your visitors are looking for a place to eat, a place to shop, or someone to perform a valuable service, just about all of them start with a Google or Bing search. According to an article on SEO Tribunal :

  • 93% of all experiences on the internet start with a search
  • Nearly half of all internet searches will be performed by voice by 2020
  • Nearly all results found on page one of searches contain at least one image on the landing page.
  • Almost 50% of all Google searched terms are for local results

So getting your SEO in order is a valuable way to increase your website’s traffic and possible sales/conversions.

The tools detailed below and on the podcast are great if you’d like to do it yourself, but if you’re looking for something a bit more detailed, BeBizzy Consulting offers SEO technical and content solutions. Please give us a call if you are looking to take your website to a new level.

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WordPress Plugins Focused on SEO

WordPress has nearly 55,000 plugins in its repository. Finding quality plugins can be tough, but we talked about how to use and find plugins in a previous BeBizzy Break Podcast episode.

Luckily, we’ve gathered a list of the best and most popular SEO plugins in the list below.

Yoast SEO

Yoast is easily the most popular all-in-one SEO plugin for WordPress. It does a great job making sure your keywords, title and description fit within Google’s display guidelines. There’s also some intelligence baked into the plugin to check your page content to see if there’s duplicate content or if the content needs to be broken up into paragraphs or bulleted lists. A premium version is available that has free support, more insights into the content, and an automatic redirect system.

One word of caution. I have moved away from Yoast on several websites simply due to it occasionally conflicts with my Divi WordPress theme or some of the plugins I use. Yoast updates very often, as does Divi, so it’s tough to identify which one causes the issue, but on sites I update often, I no longer use Yoast.

Version:12.3
Requires:4.9 or higher
Compatible up to:5.2.4
Released:11 October 2010
Downloads:199989758
Last Updated:15 October 2019
Ratings:
4.9
(4.9 star out of 5)


SEO Framework

BeBizzy Consulting’s choice for an SEO plugin where I choose not to use Yoast is The SEO Framework. One of the primary reasons I use it is an easy-to-use scale on the pages and posts dashboard which tell you with green/yellow/red whether or not your title and description are good, whether the page is indexed, and also deeper info like if the links on the post are follow/no-follow, if the page is redirected, or if bots are allowed to search the page.

Another reason I use SEO Framework is speed. It’s had some of the bloat that causes Yoast to slow down a site stripped out while still keeping the functionality. Extensions can enhance SEO by managing redirects, helping with Local SEO, article information, and een monitoring uptime.

Version:4.0.2
Requires:4.9.0 or higher
Compatible up to:5.2.4
Released:29 May 2015
Downloads:947515
Last Updated:15 October 2019
Ratings:
4.9
(4.9 star out of 5)

FYI, The SEO Framework just passed the 100,000 installation milestone.


All in One SEO Pack

I had used All In One SEO Pack in the past and it did an acceptable job. It’s the original WordPress SEO Plugin and the dashboard is easy to use and follow, especially for new users.

Most of the features are available in the free version but there is a premium version with additional configuration options. It has most of the pieces available in the more popular Yoast and SEO Framework, but lacks a little on the deeper options, but a for a smaller blog or website it works great.

Version:3.2.9
Requires:4.7 or higher
Compatible up to:5.2.4
Released:30 March 2007
Downloads:61768503
Last Updated:26 September 2019
Ratings:
4.4
(4.4 star out of 5)


SEO Pressor

SEO Pressor is an SEO audit and settings tool that helps identify and fix technical SEO issues. Use it to analyze Word Counts, Readability, broken links, schema building, and much more.

Download Link : https://seopressor.com/


SEO Squirrly

SEO Squirrly is rapidly becoming a player in the WordPress SEO arena. It provides great information on your pages, posts, WooCommerce products and more. There are some Assisted SEO features that help you find hidden keywords that generate traffic and has little competition. And the SEO Live Assitant analyzes while you create content and gives you real-time SEO tips. I’m considering using this on a new site I’m building to see a bit more live-action information.

UPDATE : 8/8/19 – I was contacted recently by SEO Squirrly with some information and articles on recent improvements to the plugin. You can find out more about these upgrades by clicking the links below

Version:9.2.13
Requires:4.2 or higher
Compatible up to:5.2.4
Released:08 January 2013
Downloads:2955877
Last Updated:08 October 2019
Ratings:
4.6
(4.6 star out of 5)


Broken Link Checker

Quite simply, this plugin analyzes the content of your website and looks for broken internal and external links. It provides an easy-to-use dashboard to fix the links or even remove them from your content.

Version:1.11.8
Requires:3.2 or higher
Compatible up to:5.1.3
Released:08 October 2007
Downloads:6915998
Last Updated:20 March 2019
Ratings:
4.1
(4.1 star out of 5)


Rank Math

Another up and coming SEO plugin that claims it “… beats the competition with hands tied behind its back.” Bold statement, but reviews and information are heading that direction. Easy setup, integration of Google schema/rich snippets, multiple keywords, search console integration and more.

And you can import from some of the other big SEO plugins to make the transition easy.

Version:1.0.33
Requires:4.7.0 or higher
Compatible up to:5.2.4
Released:19 November 2018
Downloads:802082
Last Updated:18 September 2019
Ratings:
4.8
(4.8 star out of 5)


There are literally hundreds of other SEO plugins, either a full-SEO suite or to do specific SEO tasks and analysis. It’s important that you do SOMETHING with your site’s SEO, either by yourself, or a professional.

If you are ready to start with your SEO strategy but don’t know where to start, give BeBizzy Consulting a call and we’ll start you on your way to getting found on the internet.

SEMRUSH

A system that is NOT a plugin, nor is it free, is SEMRush. SEMRush is a monitoring service that looks at your technical SEO, content, keywords, social media accounts and much more. It will also check your backlinks, broken links, search console info and a whole bunch of other items that are helpful if you know what you’re looking at. If you’ve already started your SEO journey, SEMRush can take it to the next level. If you have not started and want BeBizzy Consulting to monitor and use this information to manage your SEO, please contact us and we can add it to our stable of managed SEO clients.

Have any questions or suggestions on WordPress SEO plugins? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Using UTM Tracking in Your Digital Strategy

Using UTM Tracking in Your Digital Strategy

UTM Codes are a great way to know where your traffic is coming from, regulate costs, and provide information to your and your marketing team.

But they can be intimidating if you’re not fluent in some web jargon or internet marketing terms.

Today’s podcast and blog post aim to provide some basic details on how to set up and use UTM codes.

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UTM’s use a few very specific keys to track where a client came from, if money was spent to get them, what keyword generated the click and more. The parameters used to build the UTM are “

  • Landing page URL – This is where you want the visitor to end up. This can be a product, blog post, home page, landing page or anywhere in the website.
  • The click Source (Twitter, Facebook, Google, newsletter link, etc). When planning your UTM the source will be where you plan on posting the UTM.
  • The click Medium (organic, paid, etc) – The medium is how the UTM will be presented to the potential visitor. Is it in a paid Google ad (paid) or a Facebook post (organic)
  • The click Campaign (if used, suggested to use an easy to identify name that’s consistent and changes as seasons, months, etc change)
  • The click Term or keyword(s) – multiple keywords should be separated by ampersands and plus signs.
  • The click Content – Use this to track different types of content that could all be in the same campaign. For example, fall2019 may include paid search, Facebook and a banner ad (video ad, text, static banner, rotating banner, etc)

Potential issues :

  • First of all, no spaces should be in your UTM. This will cause them to be read incorrectly, or possibly even not direct to the right landing page. To separate parameters of the UTM, use “&,=, +, -, _, and even %26 & %20.”
  • Mixing UPPER and lower case information in the UTM. Facebook and facebook are NOT the same thing to Google so they will actually be tracked as two different sources.
  • If you use email newsletter software some of them can add the UTM Medium parameter by default, causing you to double up if you use the the Medium parameter in building your UTM. Check to see if it’s added, and if so, leave it off your UTM that you submit.
  • Confusing how you use the Source and Medium tags – Source is the channel, Medium is the type of marketing.
    • Source : Twitter, Facebook
    • Medium : facebook_post (organic), facebook _cpc (paid)
  • What do the symbols in the UTM mean?
    • Question Mark (?) – This is placed right after the URL to indicate there is more information to be read by Google, the server, or other tracking utilities. There should only be ONE question mark per UTM.
    • Ampersand (&) – Yes, it’s called the ampersand. This will be used to indicate additional parameters after an item is identified. So an (&) will appear between each portion of the UTM.
    • Underscore (_) and Hyphen (- ) – This is used mostly in the parameter identifiers (utm_medium) or to separate items being tracked (facebook-cpc).
    • Plus (+) – Used to separate two or more words. This is used often in keywords.

UTMs can be a very powerful tool to finding out where your traffic is coming from and what marketing mediums are working (and which are not). Creating them can take a little time, but it’s really quite easy.

To create a UTM, use the Google URL Campaign Builderhttps://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/

Or, you can download the spreadsheet I created to build the URL automatically by subscribing to the BeBizzy Break newsletter at the bottom of this page.

Do you have questions or suggestions regarding UTM’s? Send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter, or leave me a message the BeBizzy.com contact us page.

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