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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How To Choose and Use WordPress Plugins

How To Choose and Use WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins

One of the biggest benefits of using WordPress to build and manage your website is plugins. These small pieces of code can greatly increase the functions and benefits of your WordPress site, but it’s not without some risk. 

John Overall of WP Plugins from A-Z joins me on the BeBizzy Break Podcast Episode #85 to discuss WordPress plugins and a few other subjects. 

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Some Basic Info on WordPress Plugins

Plugins are really just compiled code that can easily be installed and used on your website. Most are very small and only get loaded when they are used on a page. However, some, like Woocommerce and some contact form plugins are very large and often load on all pages whether they get used or not, so be careful on how many you install and run.

Currently there are nearly 55,000 plugins available in the WordPress repository in just about any function you can imagine.

The repository contains links and information to free plugins, with paid plugins available directly from the developer, CodeCanyon, and a variety of other places. 

How to Select a Plugin

Searching for a plugin can yield hundreds of potential suitors for the job. Some detective work and maybe even some “live” testing may be required to find the right plugin. 

John has set up some “sandbox” websites that only serve as test beds for plugins and themes. This is a great suggestion, or you can use a development area for the actual site if you have that available to you. 

It’s not recommended that you test a plugin on a live site unless absolutely necessary. It can cause the site to not display correctly, or be totally down. 

And also be advised there are three different types of plugins in regards to cost, free, premium, and freemium. Free is free. No cost, just download and use. Premium will cost you up front before you install. Large, often popular plugins like Gravity Forms are included in this model. The third is “freemium” where you will be given the plugin for free for a short time, then you have to pay to use it after the trial period. 

Potential Issues Installing Plugins on Your Site

Before we go too far, this is a great time for me to snap in my weekly plug for backups. Back up your site BEFORE you install any plugins or themes just in case.

Like anything you install on a website, plugin code can cause some undesired results on the website. Collisions with other code can affect CSS, some themes, the working of other plugins, and even the dreaded “white screen of death” on your WordPress site. 

Also, free can come with some security issues. While the WordPress repository does a great job of monitoring and screening plugins before they get into the wild, sometimes malware finds a way into a plugin. This also can occur on paid plugins, but it’s less of a chance. 

Really what is comes down to is a couple of things.

  • When was the plugin last updated.
  • What versions of PHP or WordPress has it been tested with.
  • Read the reviews to see if the plugin was well-received by other users.
  • John suggested typing the plugin name into Google followed by the word “sucks”.

Keep in mind, WordPress is a free CRM. Out of the box it is very secure, but as you add themes, private code, or plugins you can open it up to potentially being exploited.

When asked if there is a number of plugins that is too many, John responded with “No.” It comes down to if all of the plugins can run well with each other, causes the page to load slowly, and can harm the user experience.

Go-To Plugins That We Use on Every Site

I use several plugins on nearly every website I develop. John also has a list of about ten or so plugins that go on his sites.  

  • Wordfence : security plugin that has a free or premium service. Even the free version does a great job of locking down the site
  • UpdraftPlus : A GREAT backup system that allows you to back up to the WordPress install, a Dropbox folder, an FTP location, and several other options. 
  • Gravity Forms : Versatile form builder
  • A CDN plugin – I use a CDN to make the website load faster for the visitor.
  • MainWP : I manage dozens of websites, so MainWP is very useful to track updates to all of the plugins.
  • WPMU Smush Pro : great image optimization plugin

Some Final Thoughts on WordPress Plugins

  • Don’t be afraid to use them.
  • The will save tons of time.
  • Don’t be stuck on the free version.
  • Don’t get married to a plugin. Sometimes you have to move to a new, better plugin.
  • Don’t be afraid of the research to find and implement the right plugin.
  • Listen to shows like the BeBizzy Break Podcast and WP Plugins from A-Z to learn about good, and bad, plugins.

WP Plugins from A-Z and Other John Overall Projects

If you are managing a WordPress website for you or for clients I would encourage you to add John Overall’s WP Plugins from A-Z to your rotation. He reviews five or so plugins on every episode and gives some real-world ratings on whether that plugin will be useful. 

At JohnOverall.com he also serves his development, hosting and recovery clients.

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

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The “I Need A Website” Scam (and do you accept credit cards?)

The “I Need A Website” Scam (and do you accept credit cards?)

It’s a scam!

itsascamI received an email through my contact form today from “Carl” or “Amos.”

Hello, how are you doing today? My name is Carl Amos, I wanna know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards ?? kindly get back to me… so i can send you the job details.Thanks Amos

Sounds good if you’re a web designer, right? Here’s a tip… it’s a scam.

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Just Like Superman 3

Back a few years ago in December 2016 I received a similar email message, except the website product was gacillia nuts.  They wanted a website, provided very few details at first, and wanted to know if I accepted credit cards.

When you respond that you do indeed accept credit cards, you get some more information. Here’s the email I received:

Thank you for your quick response. I have business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in IN and the company is based on importing and exporting of Salon Equipment such as Dryer, haircream, Weavon, Hairdressing, Clippers, i need the best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?. so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible.DEMO_WEBSITE_URL_REMOVED... I have a private consultant that has the text content and logo for the site. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate.
1. I want 10pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as DOMAIN_NAME_REMOVED
4. you will be updating the site for me twice in a month.
5. i will be providing the images, logos and content for the site.
6. i want the site up and running before ending of 2 to 3months.
7. My budget is $6,000 to $12,000
8. Give me your personal cell phone number
9. Are you the Owner

office-space-printer-scene-amazonHere’s the flags:

  • Usually an “importer” of products, either hairdryers or gacillia nuts.
  • The scam almost always seems to be 10 pages.
  • Only English language.
  • The sample domain name they send always gets an error that it cannot find the server, even though they say in the email they would like a domain “like XXXXXX.com.”
  • Hint in one of the first emails that they already have a graphic designer or project manager that will need to be paid.

Here’s where it gets weird.

I sent a response back to CarlAmos, asking if I should build a site like this? THIS being a link to a website documenting this exact scam. CarlAmos responded with “Yes, that’s it!” and asked for an estimate. 

If you pursue this little game a little further, the actual scam comes to light. The scammer, CarlAmos in this movie, has an associate who is a project manager, graphic designer, or content developer. CarlAmos will pay you whatever your estimate is, plus a little bit more via the credit card. In turn, you have to write a check to the PM/GD/CD that works for them. They won’t sign a contract, won’t fill out a 1099 as an independent contractor, nothing. Just cut them a check and keep the rest. 

What happens next is how they make their money. You wrote a check to pay their contractor. That check is cashed for real money, not deposited. They will then do a chargeback on the credit card transaction, which withdraws the money from your account, you pay a chargeback fee/fine, and when you try to stop payment on the check (which has a fee associated with it), the check’s already been cashed so they have their money. You’re out the initial payment, the money in the check and the chargeback fee. That might leave a mark…

Luckily I’ve seen this movie before, might have been Superman 3, and knew it was rotten. I’m most likely going to just let this go, and then maybe send CarlAmos this link so they know I’m on to them and they can remove me from the list. 

In the past when I’ve pushed them to get on a call to discuss I’ve gotten a response that they have a hearing impairment and rather than going through a relay service, it’s best to communicate via email or text. That’s B.S., they just don’t want to talk face to face and have the curtain pulled back when you can hide behind email. 

too-good-to-be-trueBut here’s the reason I posted this today… if something seems a little to good to be true, it probably is. I’m a small web design firm in North Dakota. Sure, I’ve done work for companies in New York, San Diego, LA, Boston, Austin and more, but to get a guy from IN (India?) wanting a website built for him, an importer, just triggered a few warning bells.

Take a few moments to qualify your potential client. Get the company name, look everything up, including the content of the email, and see if anything weird pulls up. Sometimes it hurts to walk away from potential business, but in cases like this it’s a good decision.

UPDATE 7/2/2019 – I got a NEW variant of this scam.

Hello Sir/Madam ,

This David Serrano from Kirkland Shipping,We looking for laptop computers to purchase for our new business branch and want to know if you have them available in stock or can either custom order them for us.We also do have specifications we would like the computers to come with and also if you can tell us how much a laptop with these specifications is going to cost for plus tax…Here are the specifications below

    • An i7 Core Processor
    • 16gb of Memory
    • 1tb of Hard drive or 512 SSD
    • Screen Size can either be 13′ , 14′ or 15.6′
    • Must come with a Touch Screen and a backlit Keyboard
    • Either a windows 10 Home premium or Professional
    • Brands can either be Dell ,Apple,Hp or Lenovo

NB : Also advise me if you do take credit card payment , Thank You

UPDATE 7/23/2019 – This weekend I received a message from another WordPress developer who thanked me for posting this information, and relayed his story, which was very similar to the gacillia nuts request I received months ago.

I need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible.https://attra.ncat.org….The site would only be informational,so i need you to give me an estimate based on the site i gave you to check out,the estimate should include hosting and i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out and i have a private project consultant,he has the text content and the logos for the site.
FMT3.

1. I want the same number of pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language.u
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as farmsproducts.co.
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be proving the images, logos and content for thesite.
6. i want the site up and running before my return

The developer got a little nervous and did some Google searches, stumbling on my podcast and blog post. Luckily he realized it was a scam and he pulled the plug. A win for the good guys!

Have you been sent this scam or something similar? Let me know @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Using Mind Maps To Plan Your Business

Using Mind Maps To Plan Your Business

Mind Maps Make Meetings Better (and more productive)

Every have to take meeting notes?

How about use the meeting as problem solving method? And everyone sits in a room to defend their business silo, but no one wants to talk about the primary issue that needs to be addressed?

Well using mind maps might be the way to draw out the best solutions from the group.

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What is Mind Mapping

  • Way of visually getting ideas you don’t know are in your head or trapped in a team and representing them in an easy to use format of subjects, ideas and sub-ideas.
  • Essientially here’s how it works
    • Start with a main topic or issue, the Subject. Say, SEO for Website
    • Start populating the second level, or Ideas, with possible issues or groupings of drill-down items. In this case. Internal teams, External Resources, Training, Measurement Criteria, Other Items, etc.
    • Then, inside each of these ideas, there are sub-ideas, resource details, questions to ask, action items, etc.
      • All of these can usually be signified in the software with either custom icons like a checkbox, question mark, etc, or with different text colors.
    • Each of the Ideas start a branch of “bubbles” on the mind map, which then branch out again, and even again if necessary. All of this forms an easy to use diagram, which in many cases can be converted to a more traditional outline format if needed. 

Why is Mind Mapping Better Than Plain Old Words?

  • Ever try to add an item in a traditionally list on paper or a white board? Your options are to erase and move items, add it to the bottom and signify it needs to be somewhere else, or draw an impromptu mind map with lines, bubbles and some text anyway.
  • Humans consume visual data quicker and better than plain text. Ever wonder why TV and magazines and of course, the web, have ousted newspapers? Highly visual and easily consumed ideas instead of long, wordy sentences. 
  • Mind Mapping encourages grouping of ideas and expanding on those ideas, whereas simple text can be limited by the format.

How to Mind Map?

  • Start with an idea or subject that is easy to solve. If the subject is too complex, break it down and then build mind maps for an easy to consume part of the mind map, therefore solving the bigger issue by conquering the smaller ones.
  • Use images, hyperlinks, contact information and more to make the document more useful or easy to follow. 
  • Also use different colors for the different Idea branches to make it easy to navigate inside each topic and subtopic.
  • Use short phrases to capture ideas, especially in the brainstorming portion of mind mapping. You can always go back and expand on issues, but capture what you need, and only what you need initially.

Any Pitfalls to Avoid When Mind Mapping?

  • Concentrating on one item too long. Dump ideas and move on, you can sort everything out later.
  • Not having someone leading the mind mapping that knows how to ask for expansion or more creativity. 
  • Capturing vague ideas and not documenting or expanding them.

What Software Can I Use to do Mind Mapping?

  • Mind Meister : Free for up to 3 maps, $5 for personal, $8 for a Pro account and $12.50 for enterprice (all per user, per month)
  • Coggle : Little more bare bones, not the catalog of templates or “flair” but cost : Personal – free, 3 private diagrams, Awesome is $5/month for most of what you will need, and $8 for an “organization” account if more customization needed for teams.
  • Mind Manager : really a virtual whiteboard but it’s by the company I was first exposed to in Mind Mapping, Mindjet. It’s #349 for Windows, $179 for Mac. All have 30-day trials. Full-featured and wonderful software. 

Have any questions or suggestions on going mind mapping? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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What Are Landing Pages and Why Do I Need One?

What Are Landing Pages and Why Do I Need One?

Landing Pages

You’ve probably heard of landing pages. You may even HAVE a landing page. But you also might not know why you have it, what it’s doing, or even how to fix it if you’re not seeing results.

On today’s Episode 70 of the BeBizzy Break Podcast we talk with the Landing Page School Podcast host Nicholas Scalice and find out what you might, and might not, know about landing pages.

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First, some tech news

First, two big updates in the last week or so.

WordPress 4.9.8 was launched.  We are getting very close to 5.0, which will include the Gutenberg update to WordPress. Very anticipated version which will bring on a visual editor and promises to change the WP landscape for the better. That remains to be seen with older websites, themes, etc. But the 4.9.8 update does have the “Try Gutenberg” callout. It’s an opportunity to try the Gutenberg editor before it is released in 5.0. I have not doesn’t it yet, but will test shortly.

Also has 18 privacy fixes and a few other improvements. I’ve updated all my sites with not issues, but make sure you back up before you do anything.

Also, Android released it’s Android P (Pie) update for the Google Pixel phones. I updated my Pixel 2 XL on Monday. Small changes in the notifications and menus, but for the most part it was a pretty seamless update. I’m sure there will be more as I use it, including the Adaptive Battery feature, which promises to turn down battery usage on apps that are not in use at the time, but still running.

Finally, Samsung will be announcing the Note 9 tomorrow (Aug 9). Lots of huge improvements for this devices anticipated including a bigger battery, better screen and camera, and the Adaptive Battery. Can’t wait for that announcement. FYI, you can sign up to watch the announcement live at this Samsung website.

Now on to today’s main topic… landing pages. Most of you have heard the term, and maybe even use them on your websites. But I have a couple of sites that are going to be implementing them, and decided now would be a great time to bring in an expert, which is why I called on Nicholas Scalice, the host of the Landing Page School Podcast.  So this is me, and Nicolas Scalice… enjoy.

What are Landing Pages

Landing pages are a page on your website that has a very specific purpose, audience, and/or message. It should be developed to get the visitor to perform one action… purchase something, sign up, request info, download a PDF, contact you… one specific action.

The difference between a home page, or even an interior page and a landing page is on these pages, you are directing visitors to other pages in the website to get more information, and on a landing page, again, you are getting visitors to do that one specific action.

How to Get Traffic To A Landing Page

Most traffic is directed to landing pages through paid marketing efforts. Things like Google Ads and Facebook ads allow you to be very specific to the audience and who you would drive to see the main message on that landing page. It also works if you drive landing pages through traditional means like billboards, radio, tv, print, etc because you are serving a very specific message on both the ad and the landing page. The trick is NOT to drive all of this traffic to the home page, as that has a very open message instead of the message match between the ad copy and the page.

What Should You Have On A Landing Page?

Nicholas gave us six items to have on a landing page which answer certain questions :

  1. What Is It? What is the offer? What is the landing page about?
  2. Can It Help Me? Is it something that can make my life or business better or easier?
  3. Do I Like It? Is the visual design of the page good and trushworthy?
  4. Do Others Like It? Is there social proof that says other visitors and clients like it?
  5. Trust. Is there something on the landing page that says this site and/or product is trustworthy?
  6. How Do I Get It? What’s the call to action? How do I order, sign up, or purchase?

In regards to length of the page, there is not measurement. In fact, it’s good practice to NOT index the page so SEO rules don’t apply. Concentrate on conversion optimization, not SEO optimization. Also keep in mind, where your customers will be viewing the page. If it’s mobile, small images, less text and other mobile tricks should be implemented to work on phones and tablets. Responsive or mobile themes are necessary in today’s business climate!

What Are Mistakes Made on Landing Pages?

The number one mistake made on landing pages is not having a great offer. The site might be awesome, and the ad-spend might be well thought out, but the offer might not be well thought of. Some poorly designed pages do very well, while a well designed site might not convert because the offer is bad.

It’s also a mistake to have incorrect “micro-copy,” the text on your buttons, subheadings, etc that are action focused. If you can build the “value” into the button or other text it will convert better. Try completing the phrase “I want to…” with the button or link text. I want to contact you, I want to download the free e-book, I want to purchase your widget all work great.

A/B Testing

You’re probably never going to develop the perfect landing page on run #1. A/B testing only works if you have enough traffic, and you have a plan on what to test, how long, what are we testing for, etc.

Nicholas suggests testing “bigger things” like the offer instead of button color or text.

How Do I Build A Landing Page

Unbounce : drag and drop builder for

WordPress : Page Builder called Elementor, and other themes make it easy to build quickly and efficiently.

LeadPages : Landing page creator that also interfaces with WordPress and other platforms.

How Can I Contact Nicholas Scalice?

Have any questions or suggestions landing pages or any other technology affecting your business? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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BBP : EP 26 – Make WordPress Go Faster

BBP : EP 26 – Make WordPress Go Faster

There are two complaints when a client is discussing the option of moving to WordPress.

  1. WordPress isn’t secure. Something I discussed in a previous blog post – Is WordPress Safe?
  2. How can I make my slow WordPress site faster? And besides being a recent blog post, we discuss that on this week’s BeBizzy Break Podcast.

Make WordPress Faster

Of all the things that will make customers leave your site before they consume any of your information, images, videos or any other sort of content, a slow loading site is #1 on the list.

Many things cause slow sites, and on today’s episode of the BeBizzy Break Podcast we will talk a bit about them.

  1. Making your server run better and serve up the pages quicker.
  2. Installing and turning on page caching to make sure returning visitors see pages faster
  3. Compressing and resizing images to decrease the file size being sent to the brower.
  4. Turning off and removing unused plugins and themes on the page to reduce the number of calls and possible security holes.
  5. “Minifying” CSS, javascript and HTML to decrease the number of files that have to be loaded to make the hidden portion of the website work. This is the most technical fix of the five, so make sure you are backing up the files AND database prior to messing around with this process.

Speeding up WordPress is something that can be achieved if done correctly, so either get dirty and clean up your website, or contact BeBizzy Consulting today and we will take a look and see how we can decrease your page load times.

Don’t forget to send us any suggestions for apps to review or people to interview. And subscribe to the BeBizzy Break Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

And as always, leave the technical stuff to us!

Is WordPress Safe?

Is WordPress Safe?

It’s a widely sites fact that WordPress powers 25% of the internet’s webpages. Think about that, 25%! And nearly 60% of the sites that use a CMS (content management system).

That is the main reason it is also a target. Like the popular Microsoft Windows or Android OS, WordPress powers so many sites that if you can find a way to compromise even a small percentage of websites using the system, you can gain access to literally millions of sites.

Because of this, one of the first questions I get when I suggest using WordPress is about security. But as I stated before, criminals and people looking to do general mischief as looking for the low-hanging fruit, the easy to hit sites. So with some basic precautions, your website can be even more secure than custom HTML sites.

Making WordPress Safe

There are a few basic steps that  web developer or your company IT guy can take to secure your new or existing WordPress site. Below is a list of plugins, best practices and other items used by BeBizzy Consulting and many others to make your site as secure as possible.

Backups

Let’s start off with the most important part of the security system. If you don’t have a good backup of the site, it doesn’t matter how you set the rest up. Something WILL cause your website to fail; the webhost could suffer an attack or hardware failure, you could alter some code and break the site, or a security breach could happen directly to your site. With no backup, there’s no easy way to return to “normal,” so at minimal do a complete backup of the site files, and don’t forget to back up the database. There are automated methods as well for this process which are highly recommended.

WordPress Updates

The easiest way to gain access to a WordPress is through an out-of-date WordPress system. I’ve recovered sites running on 2.x (current is 4.7), and that’s a scary endeavor. WordPress puts out major releases a couple of times per year, and security patches about once a month or so to stay ahead of the pinholes that are found in WordPress. The best part is there are thousands of people who are looking at WordPress, for good and for bad, that identify issues and get them repaired. Keep you site updated and make sure PHP version can handle the update. If not, time to move!

I also suggest turning on automatic core updates. You should be able to toggle a switch that will update WordPress automatically for “X.x.x” updates, keeping your site secure without you even trying. Just make sure you test the site when notified of an update to make sure everything is running as it should.

Plugin Updates

The next best way to gain access to WordPress is through outdated, or poorly programmed plugins. Last summer I worked on recovering a WP site that had a plugin that had not been touched by the developer in over five years. When I updated the site to a new WP version, the plugin crashed and I had to find an alternative, more updated plugin that worked close to the same. But it’s not just keep the plugins updated, it’s keeping an eye open for poorly secured plugins as well. Do some research on a plugin before installing. Has anyone ever suffered a breach or WordPress crash after installing? What is the support like? How often do they update?

One thing that is often overlooked is deleting themes that are not being used, or are even active on the site. This is extra code that has been abandoned for one reason or another, and leaving it on your website can open a hole you don’t even know is there.

A final note on plugins, themes and other items is to NOT use pirated versions of software. Most plugins are fairly inexpensive and the alternative to paying $10 for a plugin is often spending hours, or even paying hundreds of dollars to have malicious code removed from a site. Pay the $10.

Themes

Next on the list of vulnerabilities is your theme. Every WordPress site is working on a theme, whether it’s the 2016 theme that came installed or one you paid for or got for free. Again, do a little research to make sure the theme you are planning to use isn’t a know security issue, does not get updated or supported, or is poorly written before you install it on your site. Then, update it as soon as you get a notification it has been revised.

More Security Steps

Below are a few other steps that are taken by BeBizzy Consulting, and should be considered by your team, host, or developer to make your site as secure as possible.

Change Username

Like on a computer or virtually every other system, do not use “Admin” as your administrator username. Pick something a bit more robust and always use a secure password. Changing the password often also makes it more difficult to keep access once it is achieved.

Move The WP-Login.php Page

There are several plugins that allow you to choose a different admin login page for your site. Install one of them and rename your login to something less known can eliminate some from even trying to access your admin simply because it doesn’t exist at the usual spot.

Install a Security Plugin

Many sites have Sucuri or Wordfence installed to protect the admin and other parts of the site. Even the free versions will notify you when the admin is accessed, limit login attempts at wp-login.php and the premium versions can lock down the admin to specific locations or IP address, security scans for malicious code, and much more.

Keep Your Site Safe

There are definitely more ways to secure your WordPress site. Editing the .htaccess file, hiding WordPress from source viewers, hiding site author names, picking a good (reputable) host, automating security audits, removing plugin and theme editors and others will help keep your site safe, but do require some knowledge and planning by someone that knows their way around WordPress.

Adding an SSL to your site and hosting is also a good idea not only for encrypting data being shared back and forth with users, but also to the search engines which are starting to use it in their algorithms.

I still feel that having a good backup is THE step you have to take. If you have a restore point on which you can rely, you can move, restore or save your website pretty easily. But if you are starting from a dirty site and have to clean it, be prepared to spend either a lot of time, or a fair amount of money, to have it back up. And frankly, some times it’s even more cost effective to build over than to attempt the save.

Have questions about securing your WordPress site, or considering a new website? Contact BeBizzy Consulting today, and leave the technical stuff to us!

BBP: Episode 22 – I (almost) Got My Gacillia Nuts Scammed

BBP: Episode 22 – I (almost) Got My Gacillia Nuts Scammed

More information on this scam on another episode of the BeBizzy Break Podcast!

Oh sure, first another blizzard, and now I almost get sucked into a nut website scam?

Set BS detectors to stun!

EP22 – The Gacillia Nut Website Scam

I almost got taken by a scammer this week. I was approached, through text (?) by a gentleman who wanted a website built for his company based in Washington DC. I do some work with a company out of Boston, and also have had past clients out east, so this wasn’t totally out of left field. But something just didnt sound right. Below is the text sent to me…

“I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in and the company is based on importing and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut and Cocoa so i need a best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?. so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible .http://www.agroamerica.com.… the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate based on the site i gave you to check out, the estimate should include hosting and i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out and i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.”

James claimed to be hearing impared, so no phone conversation could be used. Now I know why. An internet search for Gacilla Nut revealed this scam IMMEDIATELY, right down to the exact copy of the contact email/text. Apparantly the next step will be to say the credit card won’t go through, and to provide him with a checking account number so he can transfer money. I think we all know what happens next.

So, I’ve deleted the invoice, and will kill the contract with James. If anything else happens, I’ll report back to you here.

UPDATE : I received the “can you do me a favor” email last night. See below:

“The favor is that I will send you my credit card to charge for the sum of $5,700.00 plus 3% Cc company charges, You will deduct $2,000.00 as deposit for the design of the website plus extra $200.00 as a tip for handling perfect work for me and you will send the remaining $3,500.00 to the project consultant that has the text content and the logo for my website so once he receive the $3,500.00 and you will have the money cash deposit to their account…. He would send the text content and logo needed for my website to you so work can start asap, Sending of funds would be after money clears into your account and you will be charging my card for remaining balance upon completion of work, Kindly get back to me so we can proceed with payment asap”

So the scam is apparently to get paid a large sum, pay his contracted graphic design guy most of it, then I’m guessing a chargeback for the initial payment to me, leaving me out the $3500 to his “project consultant.” Brilliant.

I reported this to the North Dakota Attorney General’s office and was basically told to cut off contact with “James.” Since it’s most likely international and been going on for several years, the likelihood of stopping this from happening again is slim. There is a website run by the federal government to report items like this, so I was given IC3.GOV to file a report.

UPDATE 7/2/2019 – I got a NEW variant of this scam.

Hello Sir/Madam ,

This David Serrano from Kirkland Shipping,We looking for laptop computers to purchase for our new business branch and want to know if you have them available in stock or can either custom order them for us.We also do have specifications we would like the computers to come with and also if you can tell us how much a laptop with these specifications is going to cost for plus tax…Here are the specifications below

    • An i7 Core Processor
    • 16gb of Memory
    • 1tb of Hard drive or 512 SSD
    • Screen Size can either be 13′ , 14′ or 15.6′
    • Must come with a Touch Screen and a backlit Keyboard
    • Either a windows 10 Home premium or Professional
    • Brands can either be Dell ,Apple,Hp or Lenovo

NB : Also advise me if you do take credit card payment , Thank You

In other news:

  • Fitbit bought Pebble watches. I’ve also heard that Pebble is now dead… I hope this isn’t true. My first smartwatch was a Pebble and I loved it.
  • I updated three sites to WordPress 4.7, which came out yesterday, with no issues. Hopefully this trend continues!

Don’t forget to send us any suggestions for apps to review or people to interview. And subscribe to the BeBizzy Break Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

And as always, leave the technical stuff to us!

Mobile Friendly Sites SEO Rank Increased

Mobile Friendly Sites SEO Rank Increased

SEO_DiceGoogle recently announced that in May 2016 mobile friendly sites will get a bit of a boost in SEO rankings. This could turn into a long-winded explanation on how to increase your site’s SEO or make the site mobile friendly, but really it comes down to this.

Mobile use of search and the rest of the web is on the increase. ComSCORE has stated that internet users on desktop was equaled and then passed by mobile users in 2014. So it makes sense that search giant Google would start to take mobile-ready sites into account on search engine results, especially to mobile users.

Checking your basic mobile readiness is simple. Go to this website (http://ow.ly/ZFyRr ) and enter your URL. If you’re ready, you should see a message telling you the good news. You will even see a screenshot of how the site is viewed on mobile. If not, you should get some tips on what needs to be changed.

Some of these fixes are pretty easy like text sizes and spacing and images. But, if you use Flash, a layout that does not conform to mobile viewing, non-breakable tables, or custom programming that is not viewable on phones or tablets the change becomes more difficult, and frankly, costly.

Do your potential or current customers need to view your website on mobile? Now is the time to plan on making the migration to a responsive design to ensure your website works on all devices. Protect your earned search engine ranking, or possibly move up by getting your site mobile ready! Contact BeBizzy Consulting today to see how you can make sure you’re ready for the mobile web.

Then, leave the technical stuff to us.

 

Why You Need a Responsive Website

Why You Need a Responsive Website

responsiveFor the last few years, whether I’ve been working for an advertising agency or now at BeBizzy Consulting, the main question is, “why do I need a new website?

The answers are numerous, but one stands out above all the rest… your site needs to be responsive.

By definition, responsive sites provide a similar experience to visitors regardless of the device or resolution on which they view the site. What that really means is that whether the users hits the site on their desktop or on their smarphone the information should be similar. Not exactly the same, as the screen sizes are vastly different, but similar.

The arguments to spend the money on responsive design are many, including:

  • Nearly 60% of American adults use a smartphone, and almost that same amount of internet traffic is performed by mobile devices. Your site needs to be viewed on these devices with a positive experience.
  • The smartphone is the new phone book. Every year we get a phone book delivered, but how many times do you look contact information up on your smartphone instead of dusting off a large, alphabetical listing? Responsive sites provide an easy way to get your contact information front and center on your page even to mobile users.
  • If B2B, more millenials are doing research on your companies and using mobile devices.
  • Huge difference in computer sizes. I use two 23″ monitors, some use a single 27″, and then there’s the mobile guy who uses a 12″ laptop. All need a similar experience.
  • Does your competition have a responsive site yet? If they do, they are getting leads from mobile users. If they do not, YOU can get a jump on them and get more leads.
  • If you are doing any sort of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) it’s much easier to optimize for one site than for two. Send everyone to the same page for the same information and focus marketing dollars instead of splitting and spending extra money to reach both audiences.
  • Google, who owns nearly 70% of the search market, states that responsive web design is an industry best practice.
  • And finally, nearly 75% of consumers bring their smartphone to the bathroom. Talk about a captive audience.

So on to the next question. How much will this cost?rwd

Not as much as you would think, with BeBizzy Consulting anyways. All of our development is built on the WordPress CRM system. The code is installed in our shared server environment, backed up nightly, secured and kept updated by some great software, and is incredibly easy to navigate and edit. Best of all, the themes we purchase and use are all responsive and have been tested on many devices across many browsers to ensure your potential clients are getting to you regardless of which device is used.

So what’s the next step? Well, contacting us would be the best, easiest next step towards determining if you need to complete the migration to a responsive site. There are definitely a few more items to be concerned about like current SEO efforts and other special coding that may exist. If you want to do some checking for yourself I would suggest making a list of competitors or businesses similar in other areas and checking their websites. If you’re seeing others already configured for responsive, you’re already behind. If not, it’s a chance to jump out front and potentially capture some market share.

Responsive web design is not new, nor will it be going anywhere soon. Designing a site that’s capable to be displayed on virtually any device and display similar information is huge in minimizing the cost of multiple SEO campaigns and managing several versions of one site. Contact BeBizzy Consulting and let’s see how we can move you towards that mobile-friendly website. You decide what you want on the site, then leave the technical stuff to us.