Author Archives: Don Harris

Why does Google say my site is “Not Secure”?

If you don’t have an SSL/TLS certificate, your site will show “Not secure”

If you have paid any attention at all to Internet industry news in the past year or so, you know that Google (and others) are pushing for the adoption of security certificates across the board for all websites. Technically, your website does not really NEED a security certificate unless you are doing online transactions or capturing sensitive data from your visitors. In those cases a secure site is not just recommended, it is required. However, there are a few things you might want to consider before you dismiss the idea of a secure certificate on your run-of-the-mill web presence.

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Beware the Tech Support Pop-Up Scam

scam page image from MalwareBytes

scam page image from MalwareBytes

Once again there are reports of the scam that went around some time ago where you are innocently (at least we presume you are) browsing the Internet when a pop-up window reports that your ISP HAS BLOCKED YOUR PC. It even gives a helpful, though completely bogus, error #268D3. If you call the number (PLEASE DON’T) you will be asked to provide credit card information so they can fix your PC. All of this is, of course, a scam to rob you of your money and your credit card information.

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What Happened To My Email?

Another Episode in the Continuing Saga of Email Woes and Worries

If you have not had email problems in the past few months, consider yourself one of the lucky ones (plays Fortunate Son by CCR). In their ongoing attempts at stemming the onslaught of spammy and spoofed email, the large service providers (AKA #BigEmail) have instituted a variety of measures to check where email is coming from and verify its validity. These measures include coordinated sets of text records with the sexy and thrilling names of SPF, DMARC, and DKIM. Space is too limited here to go into an in-depth explanation of what they are and how they work (besides the fact that I probably don’t understand it as well as I’d like to think), so Google it if you’re interested.

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Scam Alert

Last year, in my post called “Spam, Scams, and Flim-Flams“, I reported on a company that uses a deceptive form of advertising, apparently because they are unable to get customers otherwise. Domain Registry of America (aka Domain Registry of Canada), has a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) injunction against them for their deceptive practices (filed in 2003… but they are STILL doing it). You can read the details here. Continue reading

Location is key in mobile searches

It’s an age old adage in real estate that the three most important factors for success are “location, location, location”. Well, it seems that may be the most important factor for mobile searches also. A new study released by AT&T Interactive and Nielsen conducted in March 2011 indicates that location is a key part of the mobile experience, that an incredible 43% of local mobile searchers actually walk through the door of the establishment, and upwards of 22% made a purchase. That is a significant number to consider.

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Don’t Wait For Santa to Go Mobile!

If you’re waiting for Santa to bring your business a mobile web presence you’re going to miss out on a significant number of holiday sales that will be transacted on mobile devices.  Black Friday sales were up 26% this year over last and mobile shoppers represented 17% of those sales. Is there any reason to think that trend won’t continue through the holiday season and into the new year? We don’t think so, either.

Take a look at a few more interesting statistics while you snack on your milk and cookies:

  • 10.8 – The percentage of people who used a mobile device to access a retailer’s site on Cyber Monday (up from 3.9% last year).
  • 43 – The percentage of mobile users who have downloaded a retail app to make their shopping easier.
  • 52 – The percentage of mobile users who will use their smartphone to research products, redeem coupons, and make purchases.
  • 65 – The percentage of mobile users who said they used their mobile device to FIND A STORE so they could make an in-store purchase.
  • 80 – The percentage of mobile users who immediately QUIT SHOPPING because of a poorly working mobile site.
  • 100 – The percentage of mobiles sales you’re going to miss if you don’t have a web presence at all.

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Shop Online Safely

The approach of the 2011 Christmas Season will no doubt bring an increase in online shopping. Business Insider announced that predictions for online purchases on Black Friday alone top 800 Million Dollars, a 24% increase over 2010. This is good news for retailers and a major convenience for shoppers who can search and compare prices on items from numerous vendors and make purchases without having to fight the crowds or stand in lines.

If you plan to do any of your shopping online, you should be aware that there are also those who are planning to attack you if you give them the chance. Just as you need to be cautious of strangers and dark places when shopping at the mall, you also need to be wary when you’re shopping while sitting in front of your computer. However, you don’t have to be afraid if you know you are protected.

How can you be attacked?

  1. Your computer could be vulnerable to attack. If you have not taken steps to protect your computer from viruses, malware, and other kinds of malicious code, attackers could gain access to your computer and all the information in it.
  2. Phishing sites and email messages – “Phishing” is a type of attack called “social engineering” whereby you are tricked into giving up personal information. Once you do, you lay yourself open to criminals and thieves who will plunder and pillage your personal assets.
  3. Purchasing from insecure websites – If you shop on a website that does not use encryption, an attacker could intercept your personal information while in transit.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

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Spam, Scams, and Flim-Flams


SPAM

With all due respect to Monty Python’s hilarious skit, as well as that most-favored canned meat that Hawaiians seem to love so much more than the rest of us, SPAM is basically any email or message you receive that you didn’t ask for and don’t want. As much people hate it, most SPAM is fairly innocuous, merely wanting to sell you something that may or may not make you richer, better looking, or otherwise more attractive to either or both genders. It can easily be relegated to the trash bin, assuming your SPAM filter didn’t already catch it and put it there before you even looked at it. Most SPAM filters are getting pretty good at that and, while it does waste a lot of time, it doesn’t usually cost you more than the time wasted to deal with it.

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Search Is The Dominant Model

Search is dominant model

It just makes sense if you think about it, but a new survey published by Harris Interactive validates the fact that Search is how most people look for business information online. Almost 60% of respondents said that search engines were the first place they went to research local businesses. For those under 35 years of age, that number jumped to a whopping 83%. Only 8% said they go to the merchant’s site first, preferring instead to find the information from a neutral source.

When the question switched from desktops to mobile devices, the results changed a bit. The study showed that 17% “base their decision” on search engine results when researching local businesses and restaurants and another 15% rely on sites that publish customer reviews, such as Citysearch, Yahoo Local, Merchant Circle, or Yelp!. Similarly, only 8% use the actual merchant websites as qualitative.

So what does all this mean to you?

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The Paradox of Choice

The Paradox of Choice
Decision Theory
is a diverse subject that attempts to research, analyze, and sometimes predict what decisions people will make when presented with certain choices. The simpler the choices are, the easier the decision is to make (and predict). Would you rather have $100 or a sharp stick in your arm? Not exactly hard to predict. Would you let me poke you in the arm with a sharp stick if I give you $100? Not quite as easy to predict.

If there are a variety of choices and they are equally desirable, the decision becomes more difficult to predict simply because the decision is based more on personal preference. Will your customer choose a blue one or a red one? It depends on what they prefer (although in the Western world, blue is generally a more popular color than red).

As a retailer, you want to be sure you offer enough variety to satisfy a broad spectrum of customers. However, the way you PRESENT that variety is critical because, when presented with too many choices, your customer may suffer what is known as The Paradox of Choice, a concept studied by psychologist Barry Schwartz in his 2004 book “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less”. What happens is that, when too many choices are presented at the same time, a customer may become unable to make any choice at all. This could be from what is known as “analysis paralysis” in which they are constantly comparing, trying to figure out the best choice, or it could be simply that they are overwhelmed by the amount of input and cannot choose.

How does this relate to you and your website?

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