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Ouch, website security something your scored badly in, did you know website security is probably one of the most important aspects to any online business? Ensuring that your digital assets are safe should be on the top of your priorities list, no matter what industry you’re in or how large your digital assets may be.
In today’s day and age, with all the information floating around, there really is no excuse for a website that is left unsecure. You can bet your bottom dollar that people are trying their absolute best to get into your website on a daily basis – Don’t let them! In actuality, a website Is compromised every 39 seconds and hackers steal 75 records every second… Scary stuff! It’s also important to remember that for every day your business is rendered offline, you’re losing money, not to mention the hefty costs of fixing your website once it’s been infiltrated just to top it all off.
Most people seem to think that keeping your site safe is super hard work, when in reality, its fairly easily managed, given you have the time and patience. So, how do you keep your site safe? Well, here we go:
Passwords and Usernames – The most common way for undesirable users to gain access to your website is not through the complex means you usually see on the movies – Its far simpler. Easy to guess passwords and usernames are the usual culprits. You know exactly what sort of password I’m talking about… $ecurity, QWERTY, Admin, etc etc. We’re all guilty of it! Instead, use a password that has over 10 characters and uses all keys available (numbers, letters, punctuation marks etc.) The more complex your password the less likely you are to fork out thousand on a fix job.
Plugins – If your site is using plugins of any sort, ie. a plugin to compress images, to manage your orders, to help with blogging, whatever the case may be, you may have a ticking time bomb on your hands! Every year, people forget to update the numerous plugins sets that they use and that’s where the opportunities lie for those with awry intentions. Keeping these updated should always be your first line of defence, and always remember, less is more! The more plugins you use the more opportunities hackers have to gain entry, so try use the least amount as possible.
Your Theme – Similarly to your plugins, your theme should also be kept up to date constantly. You’d be surprised how many businesses forget this rudimentary task and end up paying thousands afterwards to get it fixed.
Security Plugins – This may seem like a contradictory point, given how we mentioned plugins being a possible security risk, but what these security plugins allow, is for your site files on the server to be scanned for any malicious files on a regular basis. The sad truth is that often, businesses don’t even know that they’ve been hacked, and they sit for months for a website that has the capability of causing harm to your site visitors. We would also suggest a security plugin that logs when users make any changes to the system, as when something does go wrong, this will give you an immediate idea of what the hacker has changed on your server.
Owning an online business and building an online business are two very different things. We have had far too many clients approach us with a sense of disappointment - their website is not driving any sort of traffic or sales, they expected more of a market response etc – We then proceed to ask them what their plans are to attract business and drive sales and we receive little no real response.
Simply owning a good looking website is not enough – You need to think about things from a strategic standpoint – How do I drive traffic? How is my current traffic interacting with my website? Where are users leaving my site? How long do they stay on pages? And how can I capitalize on all of these data points etc.
Without the proper tracking steps in place these things can be hard to do, but with some guidance and some tips and tricks, you’ll be able to see exactly what money making opportunities lie in wait for you.
So, what steps can you take to start building a strategy? Well here is a couple of starting points.
1. Ensure that Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics are setup properly. Not using these tools is essentially the equivalent of entering into a shooting contest with a blind fold on – You might hit the target every now and then, but you have no idea where you aimed or how you hit the target in the first place. By setting up Google Tag Manager with the appropriate events (time on page, scroll percentages, text copies, links clicked etc) and porting those events into Analytics, you essentially gain a VIP insight into what users are doing.
How can you use this? Well, for example, if you have a landing page that you know drives a lot of traffic, you’ll be able to see how often people scroll all the way down to the bottom of page, you’ll be able to see what sentences people are copying to clipboard, how long they stay on the page and much more. This will allow you to tweak the page in slight ways and record how your users the site after the tweaks. You can now start building a page edit strategy that will funnel your visitors into a position where they take desirable actions on your page.
2. Have a solid plan to drive traffic. If your site isn’t getting regular traffic, then does your website exist at all? Not to get all philosophical here, but the reason you have a website is so that people use it and getting people to use your website can be a serious mystery to some. What strategies would we suggest? Well, I’m glad you asked! The answer to this is very dependent on a number of factors – How optimised is your website, do you have a budget for marketing and are you willing to put in some work?
When we talk optimisation, we’re talking about SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimisation. SEO is a process where you use certain industry specific keywords on your webpages, which will trigger your website to appear when someone searches for that keyword. SEO is a process that requires a bit of technical expertise and experience and is best left to the professionals. We would suggest that all online businesses have some SEO strategy in place as the results from a well-executed SEO strategy can bring you business 24/7 without you ever needing to lift a finger.
Pay Per Click Advertising is another avenue that you may wish to explore. This is the process of placing carefully targeted ads in front of internet users who search specific things – As the name suggests, you pay for every time a user clicks on your ads, so this traffic driving method can get pretty expensive pretty quickly. That being said, a well-executed PPC campaign can really turn your business around and turn it into a money-making machine. We would also suggest contacting a professional for PPC services.
Lastly, we would suggest writing high quality content and spreading it across the internet. This is a traffic driving method that just about anyone can partake in, as long you have a passion for what you do. Find interesting topics that relate to your business and let your fingers do the rest. This is known as a content strategy and is usually part of an SEO campaign, but if you don’t have the money to pay for professionals to help you out, then simply writing about your passions can definitely make a difference. Getting active on social media and posting all of your content there is also a must, the more you put yourself out there, the more people will notice.
So, here is a scenario for you – You’ve paid good money to have a website developed, it looks good, it works well, and you’re happy with it. A couple of months pass by and you’re thinking of making a couple of quick edits to the site, maybe some quick text edits of some banner changes. You proceed to enter to the backend of the site and you quickly discover that it’s a bit more complex than the developer led you to believe… You might not be able to make the changes that you want under your own efforts!
This is a fairly common scenario and it’s something that in many cases is unavoidable. The nature of this industry is based on technical knowledge and needing that knowledge is often a requirement, depending on the changes of course. This is not an ideal scenario and we encourage everyone with their own website to have a plan in place that will allow them to make edits and changes as they see fit.
Why is this important? Well, for starters, the obvious – Websites and online businesses are malleable entities, they need to be able to chop and change as the market demands, and if you can’t do that, then you might be missing out on opportunities that your competitors are successfully capitalising on. Also, something to consider, testing page text and different page designs are an essential part of running any online business – You need to figure out what your customers like the most and having flexible pages enables you to zone in on the designs and text layouts that bring you more money.
The second, perhaps less obvious factor here is that adding text will make your website more visible to online searchers. Even if your blogs aren’t really optimised for keywords, simply putting out well-crafted content is sure to send signals to Google that you are putting in some effort and that you actually have some content, you’re not just a pretty storefront.
The best way to go about gaining this site flexibility is by discussing your options with your web developer. The usual options are as follows:
1. You can enter into a deal where you pay the developer a certain monthly retainer for a certain amount of his time for any changes you may want – This is great for people who make changes frequently.
2. You Pay the developer for the changes that you need as a once off payment every time you need them done – This is the more expensive way to do it, but if you don’t make many changes, then a once off payment is the obvious route.