How To Create Images For Social Media That Engage And Attract Traffic

Research shows using images in social media updates increases engagement by 20 times or more.

Why?

Social media platforms present a continual stream of updates competing for attention. Users rapidly scan through dozens of updates at a time.

With your own website, you have something like seven seconds to keep someone’s attention before they click away.

For a social update, that reduces to mere micro-seconds. The user rapidly scans their feed looking for items of interest and, you hope, momentarily casts an eye on your update.

Images are crucial. You are far more likely to attract attention with vibrant and effective imagery than with a purely textual post.

Start With a Featured Image

My own approach on the vWriter blog is to create and use a Featured Image with each post I create.

This means I then have an image not just for the blog, but for when the post is shared across social networks.

The image is also of course specified within social meta tags on the blog. This is crucial for when others share the content, encouraging shares and improving the visibility of the content when they do so. In fact, my social referral traffic rose steeply after making this change.

The same image can be reused elsewhere too, as you repurpose the same content across other content platforms such as LinkedIn Pulse, Medium and elsewhere.

How to Create Images for Social Media

There are a number of ways to approach creating images for use on social media and elsewhere.

Here are three such approaches.

1. Post a Photo

Start by sourcing a suitable photo from a stock photo site.

You can use just a straight photo, but I now overlay the title of the post along with some branding imagery.

To do this, I use the Mac image editor, Pixelmator. Photoshop could of course do something similar, or outsource it by posting a quick gig on Fiverr.

By adding the title of the post into the image, it means:

– The image gets more attention on social media. The title makes it clear what the content relates to, which helps attract your target market.

– It’s difficult for someone to re-use the image elsewhere without authorization.

– It helps attract additional targeted traffic when the image is shown in Google Image Search.

2. Purpose-Built Image Tools

Online tools have been created especially for the easy creation of images for social media, blog posts, and so on.

One I use fairly frequently is Canva. You can upload your own images, as well as use their in-built images, icons and photos. They also have various layouts and backgrounds available to make image creation quick and easy.

Creating a new image involves simply selecting one of their pre-set options, or entering in your own dimensions:.

You can then choose a background, add shapes, images and photos, and select from various text options.

3. Use Your Own Creative Art Work

Don’t think you’re restricted to using photos and images supplied by others. Try using your own creative art work, whether that’s your own photos, or even hand-created art that’s then scanned in.

For example, for a few weeks, I used both offline, non-digital art combined with some digital imagery.

Other ideas include scanning in an offline collage or even some cross stitch!

The idea is to simply be creative and help your images to stand out from everything else.

When creating your own social media images, find out what works best for you. Often this involves some experimentation, and a certain amount of going wrong before you find a formula that works for you and your audience.

What Should A Website Footer Contain? What To Add and When To Modify It

By Alex HD

We have often seen websites with things like “Powered by WordPress” or “Copyright (C) 2016” or “Mobile Friendly Website” or “Mobile Responsive” mentioned at the bottom of the page. But what should an ideal website footer contain? There have been numerous debates on various forums on what the ideal website footer should be. But there is obviously no ready made answer and it all boils down to what your website is about and what content goes on it. This article deals with some of the points you may want to add in your website footer.

Contact Details

Adding a contact number or email address is one of the most common uses for a website footer. Some websites also sneak in a contact form or call button in the footer to attract customers or potential clients to contact them. Some websites have a live chat section or even a phone number which is used for actual local calls. Footers are an ideal place to indicate how you would like to be contacted, as they have developed a known location due to passage of time.

Social Media

Almost all websites include social media buttons tucked away either in one of the top corners or at the bottom of the page. The advantage of putting it into a footer or sidebar is that it can easily be replicated and stays on each page at the same place, so that the user doesn’t need to go hunting for it. While most people put only buttons from Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and a couple of others, there is also growing popularity for some newer names. With the advent of plugins for social media buttons, it is even easier to integrate a whole set of buttons in a couple of clicks.

Website Search

Another important use for the footer is the Website Search box. When someone goes through the first page or any page of your website and after they scroll down they do not find what they are looking for, they would definitely find value in having an internal website search box which can guide them to the exact location of a certain keyword or product on your website.

Legal Stuff

The footer is also a good place to put up the less important stuff, i.e. the legal stuff like privacy policy, terms and conditions, terms of services, refund policies, exchange policies, shipping conditions and more. Although the legal agreements and disclosures are necessary, you would definitely not want it to come in the way of a buyers choice and thereby put them in doubt before they make a purchase at your website.

Disclaimer or Warning

Some websites also stuff a warning or disclaimer related to the contents or services offered on the websites. Some financial companies also put up warnings about fraudulent impersonation of their services and also set out the risks or statutory disclosures related to their services. Insurance companies in many countries are supposed to make certain disclosures about their services and coverage, similarly, even finance companies put up long statements and important information, which they require the user to know, before using the website or their services.

Copyright Information

Another common piece of information, one of the most common at that, is the Copyright information. Although content created by you is automatically owned by you, certain laws require that you clearly mention that all the rights in your work are reserved, so that a person cannot claim ignorance of your information.

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Is It Possible To Monitor Incoming And Outgoing Employee Emails?

By Alex HD

Many companies which deal with financial transactions or personal information of clients, have very strict security policies. This includes strict physical security as well as Infrastructure and IT security. No matter how much of physical security you have (like biometric door locks or CCTV systems) if your IT security is weak, then your security is meaningless. In today’s age of cut throat competition, it is very important to ensure confidentiality and data integrity. This article deals with how many companies and businesses are monitoring corporate email sent and received by employees.

Why do companies monitor employee email?

Most businesses which monitor employee communication are either very large corporations looking at protecting their trade secrets and business intelligence or they are third party processing or outsourcing firms handling sensitive customer information on behalf of the companies hiring them. In both cases, to prevent any leakage of information or any employee giving away details of new launches or new products to their competitors, employers setup surveillance measures on all their communications, especially on email, which is now a widely used form of correspondence for business. By doing this, they can track any suspicious correspondence or information which an employee may have sent or received, thereby indicating that the employee is sharing some confidential or important inside information with outsiders or with people who should not have access to it. This includes giving out of information to people within the organization who should not be having the privilege of accessing that data.

How it works

Simply put, employers can track emails through their email service or email servers, which are the focal point when sending or receiving the emails. This means that by placing certain filters and triggers on the email server, the bosses can track the email correspondence that employees are having with various persons. The emails that are sent out by the employees go through the email server, which then reads the messages and passes them through certain checks. If they pass or fail those checks, then certain pre defined actions can be performed on them and then they can be either blocked, or copied to the boss or sent through without any intervention. For example, if an employee is sending mail within their domain or to another department internally, the mail is not dealt with by the monitoring system. If it is sent to any external third party, then the mail is immediately filtered and checked for certain keywords or phrases. If the mail matches a certain pattern, a copy of the mail along with an alert can be sent to the boss or the IT staff.

Mail filtering

Normally, when a mail is secretly copied to a boss or staff member monitoring the employees, there is a huge amount of data to monitor. Instead now filters can be setup to separate and monitor mail based on certain criteria or keywords. For example, if a mail is sent from a mobile phone, it should immediately be copied to the boss. If the mail is sent from a desktop at the company location, it can be sent without filtering. Similarly, if the mail contains a number or money like $1,200,000 then a copy should be marked to the monitoring team. This helps to select the most important type of mail and allows focused tracking for the admin.

Legality

While it may not be legal in all countries to read the mail and communication meant for someone else, there is also a great need for companies handling sensitive personal information or defence information to track their employees. Most companies make their employees sign a waiver of their privacy before they are employed. Many companies also warn their employees about possible surveillance or when a mail has been specifically flagged or filtered or marked to their boss.

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Will Free Web Hosting Ever Become A Reality?

By Alex HD

There may not be such a thing as free lunch, but there maybe a lot of people touting free web hosting services these days. This means that your website files will reside on a server for which there are no charges. But doesn’t that sound too suspicious? It may sound odd, but there is definitely a catch to it. But can reliable and sustainable web hosting work if it is made free? This article explores the possibility of having free web hosting services use alternate forms of revenue generation.

Physical Hardware
A major expense for web hosts is the physical hosting infrastructure. The servers, switches, networking, internet backbone and even backup services cost a significant amount of money. A big question that will come up for consideration is how to fund this sort of infrastructure if there is no direct income from sales. Another consideration which they would need to make is the establishment of SAN / NAS Storage and backup systems to secure the data of the customers. If the very bare-bones system is starved of funds, it would be quite difficult to expect the entire business to last for long.

Reliability

What would be an alternate revenue model when providing free hosting? Would the other options be reliable, ethical and even legal? Currently many hosts who offer free space always introduce a catch to their offerings. They either inject ads into web pages or they simply steal their customers data. If they don’t do either, then they have various other side businesses like collecting market information or upselling allied products to their clients. The sites which genuinely offer ad supported free web hosting have so many restrictions and limitations in their terms of service, that it would be impossible for even a medium sized website to remain with them for a long enough period to be established.

Support

A free host will definitely not have enough money to provide you with technical support in any form. The only way you may get support for free products, like all free products, is from the user community or forums online. Maintaining a support team with the right kind of skills can be quite expensive, especially when dealing with high volumes of a free service.

Security

I would shudder to imagine what type of security and defence mechanisms the free web hosts have in place. Even big providers face huge costs for server security and firewalls, backup systems and redundancy. In a free web host, it just has to be absent. Would a free host be able to afford the expenses of proper server and infrastructure management? It is pretty doubtful. It is also unlikely that they have all their software, Operating Systems and applications running with the latest versions. Even the mail servers and web server softwares would remain unpatched and ancient.

To conclude, it would be prudent to say that the current way of selling free web hosting is not sustainable and is merely a marketing gimmick to penetrate the customer base of other web hosts.

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Want To Host A Blog? What Does Blog Hosting Need To Have?

By Alex HD

Starting a blog is pretty simple, but the challenge is in keeping it rolling and keeping the updates coming. This means that you need to dedicate some time, effort and energy apart from the initial money that you need to put in. Once you get the ball rolling, you can keep your blog self sufficient by collaborating with other bloggers for content or advertising products on your website. This article deals with what are the basic essentials you need to start a blog for personal or business use.

Web Hosting Control Panel

Most novice bloggers are pretty satisfied with having a control panel for their CMS system, like WordPress, Blogger etc. But what is most important is to have a Web Hosting Control Panel, which will give you control of the essential and critical aspects of your hosting account. The regular blog management systems have limitations with respect to file management and document editing. Web hosts usually provide a more advanced control panel which has all the online tools that you would need to manage a website.

Auto-Installer

One of the most important and necessary aspects of getting blog hosting is to ensure that an Auto-Installer Software like Softaculous or Fantastico or Installatron is included. These auto-installer systems basically provide a safe and easy way of installing, upgrading and backing up the entire blogging software, which is the framework for supporting your blog. This means that you no longer need to copy and paste or download files and folders and then upload and extract them in order to install a CMS or blog system. The auto-installer will do all the necessary tasks to give you a working blog.

Domain Name Control

Apart from controlling your web hosting space, it is also essential that you have full control of your domain name, which you will use to identify the blog. Even from an SEO perspective, having control of the domain name and being able to edit the DNS records is important. Although some providers do provide you with a domain management tool, it is not always comprehensive and is sort of restrictive.

Database Management Tool

Have a database management tool is essential when you get locked out of your blog or you forget the blog password. It can also be handy if you want to see the raw database structure and optimize the performance of your blog database. Web based tools like PHPMyAdmin are a must have for any serious blogger. Similarly, desktop based tools like SQL Client Management Studio also provide you access to the database and deep management capabilities using commands.

Ample Data Transfer

Usually blogging plans and packages have very basic resources allocated to them, just so that the customer can get their feet wet in the internet ocean of webmasters. Bandwidth is usually allotted sparingly so that it is just enough to start off with a small blog. To make a professional blog with regular updates, there is definitely a need for more data transfer per month. A good rule of thumb would be to have atleast 10 times the amount of data transfer, compared to your disk space usage. This should last you for a month, before the limits get reset.

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Setting Up A Hobby Blog? Here Are Some Tips To Make It Worthwhile

By Alex HD

Besides the regular grind of routine, many of us share some passions and liking for extraordinary hobbies. From Amateur Radio to Beekeeping – not everyone has the luxury of pursuing these. Hence, blogs which talk about hobbies and interests gain tremendous popularity, almost as though they are on a commercial level. But what does an ideal hobbyist need to include in her blog? This article deals with a few tips and suggestions, which you can add to a blog about your hobbies and interests.

Author’s Profile

A hobby blog is incomplete without the profile and contact information of the author. Some authors like to stay anonymous or use a pseudonym, but those who really want to promote and propagate their hobbies will share their contact information so that similar hobbyists and people from the same interest group can contact them to spread and share ideas. There are many ways to share your contact information and still keep certain sensitive details private. Having a contact form on your website is also another way of allowing people to contact you without revealing your email address or other personal information.

Related Links

The whole purpose of a hobby is to have some non-commercial activity, which is like a release or relief from your routine life. This means that you have acquired information which is not for professional use or for making money and the best way to give back to the hobby or enhance your knowledge of it, is to share the sources from where you learnt and give people tips and advice about them.

Basic Advertising

Although a hobby blog is not meant for commercial purposes, you could definitely do with some additional pocket money to offset the domain and hosting cost. Placing automated Advertising banners or setting up a Pay-Per-Click system can bring in a significant amount of revenue. Infact, if the blog is popular and well received by co-hobbyists, then professional product and services companies for your hobby may offer to place banners on your website and give you a regular compensation for it. This way, you don’t need to bother about sprucing up the website or hiring a design agency to help you give it a more stylish look.

Multimedia: Videos and Podcasts

Text blogs are a thing of the past. With audio and video streaming becoming more popular, bloggers are also resorting to sharing their hobby ideas and successes with the world using multimedia. While podcasts are also catching steam, video blogs or vlogs are an all time favorite for lazy readers. Putting up a gallery of videos will definitely attract more people to your blog or website. Since it is an amateur blog, there is no need to use fancy equipment or cameras, even a mobile camera and some sense can help you shoot great videos for the hobby. With GoPro and outdoor cameras becoming more popular, you can give your website or blog audience a birds eye view or point of view which you can actually see, making the experience even more realistic. This means that you can get a host of subscribers who will regular tune into your audio video feeds, thereby making you a sort of rockstar.

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Advertising On Facebook: How To Run Profitable Facebook Ads

Advertising on Facebook is one of the most powerful forms of online marketing now available.

Unfortunately, many people approach it in a way that loses rather than makes them money. They then reject Facebook advertising as a source of new leads and customers. This also means they lose out on revenue that’s otherwise sitting there waiting for them to take advantage of.

But with a slight shift in approach, they could run ads with a positive ROI (Return on Investment). By doing so, they can claim a new and often very profitable revenue stream for their business.

Here’s How To Make Advertising On Facebook Work

It all starts with your Facebook Page, or fan page.

Your fan page needs to be updated regularly with new content. This keeps it fresh and alive, enhances your business’s credibility, and connects with your audience.

In terms of advertising, truth is, it’s difficult to advertise on Facebook effectively for the long term without ensuring your fan page is regularly updated.

It’s been designed to work like that.

Facebook doesn’t just want a bunch of advertisers. They need those advertisers to be posting other content too. Otherwise they lose their user base and their whole business model starts to fall apart. Facebook users will simply go elsewhere to find content that interests them.

You start by running ads for the fan page itself.

(You’ll see how this ties in with running external ads soon. In other words, ads that link to your own web site for example.)

Here’s How It Works

Start A ‘Like’ Campaign For Your Page

Start by running a campaign for people on Facebook to Like your fan page.

Why do you need people to Like your page?

It means:

– You start building a profile of people on Facebook who are interested in your business and what you offer. When you do start running ads direct to your website for example, you can show them to people who have already Liked your page. As a result the ads are far better targeted and more cost effective.

– Your Likes are effectively leads for your business. They are an audience of people who you can continue to communicate with. Those who Like your page will continue to see your posts and updates to that page. This helps keep your business front-of-mind, and is key to increasing sales.

– Social proof is a vital part of the sales process. Your Likes help establish your credibility as a business.

In terms of social proof, think about this.

Which one of the following types of business would you be more likely to purchase from or want to connect with?

– A business with a handful of Likes, and the odd sporadic update every now and again if at all. The last post may have been some weeks or months ago, in fact; or

– A business with a few thousand Likes to their page, and regular timely updates. It also has obvious signs of engagement and interaction with their audience.

Obviously, most would pick the latter. All that social proof gives it far more credibility and trustworthiness.

Likes can also have a direct impact on sales and thereby your levels of profitability. Like it or not (excuse the pun), the Likes on your page have a direct impact on your sales conversion rates.

Furthermore, Likes positively impact your ad click-through rates. This makes advertising on Facebook more cost effective and profitable over time. Here’s how:

– Facebook users can hover over the profile pic on your ad. In doing so, they see the number of Likes your page has had. This helps them determine whether clicking through is worth their while.

– In your ads, users are not just able to click on the ad itself. They can also click through to your Facebook Page to find out more about you. The number of fans you have, and how regularly you post, form a key part of the overall impression they make about your business. This can again impact on whether they click on the ad itself or not.

– Once you have run a campaign, you can ask Facebook to create a ‘lookalike audience’ of people similar to those who have Liked your page. You can then run your ads to this new audience. This gives you better targeting, higher click-through and cheaper ads.

So you have your Like campaign up and running. This rewards you with a growing community of fans. These are all prospects who have raised their hand and said they’re interested in what you do.

You now have a couple of key advantages when you start advertising your business directly on Facebook.

Hopefully you can now see the importance of starting with an effective Like campaign when you begin advertising on Facebook. To ensure this is effective, as described above, this goes hand in had with regular updates on your fan page.

Start ‘tagging’ people who purchase from you and identify them as buyers. You do this by putting some Facebook conversion tracking code on your site.

This basically tells Facebook who has purchased from you. You can then ask Facebook, once again, to find you a lookalike audience who you can advertise to.

This has the potential to be incredibly powerful and valuable for your business. The more buyers you have ‘tagged’ in this way, the more effective and accurate the process becomes. Over time, your ads become increasingly targeted, cost-effective and profitable.

As you can see, by using Facebook advertising, finding a market for your business consisting of interested prospects and potential buyers becomes a largely automated process. When approached in the way described here, it can be very profitable.

25 Top Places to Publish Your Content and Market Your Business

Still only publishing your content in a single place? If so, you’re missing out on a huge amount of exposure, visibility and results you could otherwise be achieving.

To give your content the greatest chance of success, you need to publish it as widely as possible across a whole network of different content sites.

This involves repurposing content – in other words, creating new versions of the original content – to suit the specific platform you’re publishing on.

For example, let’s imagine your content is currently in the form of a blog post. Here are some examples of how you might repurpose it:

– Into an article such as this. Often they will be quite a bit shorter than the original post. Depending on the site it’s published on, it may not use the same amount of visual imagery.

– Into a presentation for publication onto say SlideShare.

– Into a video for YouTube. If you’ve already created a presentation, the easiest way is to use that as the basis of a video.

– Into multiple Tweets spread out over time, taking some of the key takeaways from the post.

– Similarly into one or more updates for other social networks.

I’ve mentioned a couple of key sites already where you can publish your content. There are of course many others.

Here’s a full listing of 25 such publishing platforms and content websites, starting with…

1. Your Blog

Your own blog should be central to your whole content marketing strategy. Through regularly publishing high quality content, you build credibility, authority and traffic.

Plus each post forms the basis for quality repurposed content you can then publish elsewhere.

Thanks to built-in audiences, these other sites can attract much higher engagement levels. This can also lead to your content spreading virally and reaching thousands you wouldn’t otherwise reach.

2. Twitter

As already mentioned, multiple Tweets can be scheduled to go out over time, using different key points from content you publish elsewhere.

3. Facebook

Each time you publish a new post – or publish content to some of the other sites listed here – schedule one or more updates for Facebook. Use an image such as your post’s Featured Image to boost engagement levels and click-through.

4. LinkedIn

Similar to Facebook, one or more updates can be scheduled out over time, linking back to the original content. You’d generally do this through your Company Page.

5. Pinterest

If you’re using a Featured Image whenever you publish to your blog, you can easily re-use it as the basis of a post on Pinterest, linking back to your blog. You can also post videos and SlideShares directly to Pinterest.

6. Google+

Google+ can be good for micro-blogging, where you create a longer synopsis of your content than you might do on say Facebook. Or even a series of posts based on the original content.

Publish content to your personal profile, your business page, and to different communities you are a member of in order to widen your reach.

7. Instagram

Instagram is gaining popularity with marketers, as it can have much higher engagement levels than Facebook. Try reposting your blog post’s Featured Image or perhaps infographics you can post here as well as say Pinterest.

8. Medium

Medium was created by a couple founders of Twitter, and designed to use all the best bits of the other social networks. As such, it can be a powerful place to publish your content.

9. Tumblr

A microblogging and social networking site, Tumblr is one of the top 10 most popular sites in the United States.

Posts will generally need to be visually-appealing to get good results. Experiment with say publishing an excerpt from your blog post with some images, and then linking back to your blog for the full post.

10. SlideShare

One of the top 200 websites in the world, and can give you a lot of exposure quickly. Simply create a presentation based on a blog post, and upload to the site.

As already mentioned, the presentation can also be used as the basis of a video for publication on…

11. YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine just behind Google, though most marketers focus mostly on Google.

By regularly repurposing content as videos, you can build up your presence here and take advantage of all the additional traffic and exposure it can give you.

12. Vimeo

Another site you can upload your video to for additional visibility.

13. LinkedIn Pulse

Because it taps into LinkedIn’s network, good content is readily shared and can easily reach thousands within just a few days who you wouldn’t otherwise be in front of.

14. Google Images

You can’t submit images here directly, but by using images within your blog content for example, it can still deliver some additional traffic for you.

Here are some tips, which also help your SEO in general:

– Reference your domain name within your blog post’s Featured Image. – Be liberal in your use of images within blog posts, while ensuring they add additional value to the visitor. – Use keywords in the names of your images.

15. Your Email List

All your content gives you ample material with which to stay in touch with your email list and keep your business front of mind. Re-use your content within a regular ezine, linking to the relevant content and driving up your engagement stats.

16. Other Ezines

Find ezines in your niche that readily publish content from contributors. Often you’ll find such content is added to a related website too. For example, I’ve been regularly published in ezines going out to hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

17. Guest Post on Other Blogs

Contact relevant blogs in your niche to see if they accept guest posts – many blogs do. This can give you valuable additional exposure.

Rather than create content from scratch, save time by creating a new, unique version of a post that’s already on your blog.

18. Printed Publications

Don’t forget offline opportunities to publish your content. Think about businesses that offer printed newsletters, magazines, newspapers, and so on.

19. Forums

Relevant forums can be a great place to publish your information. You’re not trying to sell anything, just attract people to you through your information.

Be sure to check out the forum’s rules and simply aim to add value. Contribute regularly for example by reusing some of the content you’ve created before. Link back to posts or other content where it’s relevant and helpful to do so.

20. Amazon

Think about repurposing blog posts as say content for the Kindle. For example, you can periodically create eBooks based on a collection of posts you’ve already published.

21. iTunes – Podcasts…

Content already on your blog can easily be repurposed into podcast content. Use a regular podcast to reach and grow an engaged and loyal audience who might not otherwise come into contact with you.

22. Reddit

Post content to subreddits related to your niche. You’ll find subreddits have their own rules, so make sure you abide by them, but good content can end up reaching thousands in this way.

23. Quora

Search for questions and topics on Quora on which you have created content. Post answers in which you deliver a lot of value within Quora itself, but then link back to your content elsewhere for further information.

Answer other questions without any links to give some balance, while also helping to build your profile and attract followers.

24. Yahoo! Answers

Similar to Quora in some ways, but a less sophisticated user base. Approach in a similar way to Quora by fully answering questions and linking back to other content for further information.

However, you do firstly have to spend some time on the site getting involved. You can only add links once you are at Level 2 or above.

25. Google Web Search

Of course, your content is ‘published’ on Google Web Search, similar to other sites. You don’t control your ranking, and therefore how visible you are, but you can heavily influence it.

For example:

– Focus on creating value for the visitor. The more value you create, the more visibility you’ll be rewarded with on Google.

– Publish content on other sites around the web, such as those here. That increases your exposure, leading to more links to your content and higher overall authority.

– Focus on building your social networks. This can again encourage links to your content. Plus more views for content such as videos and presentations can give them higher search rankings.

Finally…

Try republishing content to just a handful of your preferred sites from the list above. By doing it regularly, you’ll see your results really start to build.

Does it work? You’re reading this, aren’t you?

How Can You Encrypt Your Emails? Anti-Spying For Beginners

By Alex HD

With privacy and confidential electronic information being a hot topic, we decided to post an article which will be both useful and interesting to those who have a little inclination towards data security.

Why should you encrypt emails?

Your emails contain very important records of your life and may also contain traces or indications of various events. Email is so commonly used but so commonly misunderstood as well, that we thought it necessary to focus on the security aspect of it. Even though you may have “nothing to hide”, there is no reason why you should want a total stranger to have any information about you. Although you may feel that your email content is innocent or innocuous, it maybe of great value to someone wishing you ill-will or with malicious intentions. Even if you are not the target of a terrorist group, you may become easy prey for a script kiddie who just wants to be a nuisance.

Is my regular email hosting encrypted?

The short answer is No. You must remember that all email is stored in an unencrypted plain text format which can be easily read or intercepted by someone tapping the medium through which it flows. This means that when you reset a password and your password is automatically sent to you by some website, the email is received and stored in plain text. Any person with access to the hard disk where the email resides, can simply open the email file and read the contents. This is true for almost all email services online. Unless you have specifically encrypted emails using a key pair, your emails are not encrypted and can be easily tapped into.

But I’m using an https:// URL in the address bar. Doesn’t that help?

Not really. The https:// URL only encrypts or obfuscates the login name and password to access your email account. It only secures the login session of your account, so that from your computer to your sending server, the connection is secure. This could be useful in preventing other people on a public Wi-Fi connection from seeing what password you used to login to your mail server.

Once your mail is sent from your machine to the mail server, unless specifically encrypted, the mail server sends the mail to the recipient server in plain text. Similarly, when the mail is passed from server to server, it is usually sent in plain text only. Any leak in the middle could lead to your data being compromised.

Encryption

To encrypt the message, the sender needs to use a Public/Private Key Pair, which will act like a lock and key. The sender must first generate this key pair, using a software like PGP or GPG. The key pairs a unique key set which allows the public key to match with only one private key. The public key can be given to any one and is like a one way key which only does the work of “locking” or encrypting the email. The private key is a secret key which should be kept confidential and can only be used one way i.e. to “unlock” or decrypt the email message.

Sending encrypted email

If you want to send someone an encrypted email, you need to have their public key. If you want someone to send you an encrypted email, you need to send them your public key. The sending of keys must also be done in a confidential or predecided manner so that you know that you are receiving the correct person’s key.

Once the email is encrypted with the public key, no one can intercept it. Even if they do get a hold of your email, they will only see garbled text, since it is encrypted. To read the mail, the recipient must “unlock” or decrypt the mail using the private key corresponding to the public key that was used to lock the mail.

Most email clients provide support for encrypting email. Once you encrypt your emails from your email client, no one in between can retrieve the contents of the email, without the Private Key.

If you believe that your private key has been stolen or leaked, you can revoke your current set of keys and create a new pair, which must be shared with the sender.

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Why A Website Or Domain Name Is A Bad Valentine’s Day Gift?

By Alex HD

Over the past few years, we have seen many people gift a domain name or website to their near and dear ones, for different occasions. But websites or domain names make the worst kind of gifts, which become more of a liability rather than a thing to cherish. Over the past years, although we have been in the business of selling domain names and hosting space, we realize that there are some instances when a domain or website is just not the right thing to gift. It burdens everyone in the process and ensures that it will never get renewed. In this article, we discuss why Valentine’s Day is not the appropriate occasion for gifting a domain name or website.

Incomplete Content

Most people gift only a single page website with a photograph or a couple of pages with some poems or art work. The websites are relatively incomplete and do not have any quality content like a website should. Although it is not meant to be a commercial venture, the website should atleast have some aim or motive, rather than just symbolize a relationship.

Overt Publicity

A website gift may not go down very well with everyone. While some guys may appreciate suck geeky, nerdy gifts, there will definitely be a lot who may think that it is worthless or improper. When buying such a technical gift, there are lot of factors to keep in mind, especially based on the needs of the person to whom the gift is being given. Not everyone appreciates their relationship being advertised so overtly and publicly without any concrete basis. If the website is going to remain locked or private, what was the use of having it in the first place, instead why not just make a page on Facebook or Twitter?

White Elephant

Some girlfriends / boyfriends may appreciate the gesture of gifting them a website for their blog, home business, social campaigns or even hobby, but ultimately, a website which was purchased without thought is going to go to waste. They will definitely not update the website if they have not made some place in their mental schedule and the website was sprung upon them by surprise. It is exactly like gifting them a puppy or kitten, which they were never prepared to take care of. Not only are they saddled with it, but they may also feel bad to give it up, especially if it is gifted to them by a loved one.

Renewal Cost

What happens to a website gift after the first year is over? Will the gift giver renew it? Or does the recipient of the gift need to renew it? Whose name will it be registered on? All these questions pose a problem for both the donor and recipient. If the person gifting it renews it, it means that it becomes an additional burden for him, assuming he has to gift something new every year, in addition to the website. If he doesn’t renew it, and the onus is upon the recipient to keep it alive, then the entire life of the gift is cut short.

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