Posts

Website Performance and Site Speed Tests Revisited

In a previous post from April 2018, Testing WordPress Performance and Site Speed, I discussed an article describing five online tools for testing the page load speeds for your website. Google PageSpeed Insights Pingdom GTmetrix WebPagetest YSlow Browser Plugin Most of these simply test a webpage from the URL submitted and report relative site speed of that page (it’s not always clear relative to what exactly – presumably all other webpages that tool has tested) and then make suggestions on how you can improve the performance of that page. Pingdom allows you to select from one of three locations to use to test your page load speed. WebPagetest expands on this by offering a choice of several locations around the world and in addition allows you to check your page speed with a choice of browsers and devices. More recently, I learned about a new online tool which is similar to those discussed above but with several significant improvements: Website Speed Test | Dotcom-Tools. Dotcom-Tools adds the following features to those offered by their competitors: Tests browser-based load time of all page elements Detects slow or missing elements Tests from your selection of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or  various mobile web browsers Provides a complete waterfall report with  charts and graphs Displays results from nearly two dozen global locations all in the same report Conducts tests from each location twice, with the second visit cached to allow you to estimate the effectiveness of the various caching systems used by your page These tests are all absolutely free with no sign-up required. Dotcom Web Site Monitoring also offers a selection of various paid plans as well. In addition to the features of the free service described above, the Pro plans offer Website Performance Monitoring starting at $7.99 USD per month for

Will Canada follow the GDPR lead in privacy legislation?

Many business in Canada and the US have already updated their privacy policies to bring them into line with the General Data Protection Regulation legislation in the EU. While not everyone was happy about the new regulations, it may well be that Canadian websites who resisted will have to comply with similar regulations in the not too distant future. House committee says privacy laws should apply to political parties by Aaron Wherry, CBC News Jun 19, 2018 MPs recommend expanding data protections and empowering privacy commissioner The House of Commons committee investigating the Cambridge Analytica scandal is recommending significant changes to Canada’s privacy laws, including new rules to govern the activities of political parties. In an interim report, the committee recommends that Canadian privacy laws be updated to offer data protections similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. The privacy commissioner, the committee says, should also be given the power to make orders, conduct audits, seize documents and impose fines for non-compliance. The committee also proposes that privacy laws be extended to cover political activity. It recommends that online political advertising be subject to new transparency requirements – including disclosure of who paid for an ad and how the ad was targeted at specific audiences. Read more… I don’t think this is a bad thing for consumers and the general public. They should be more aware of what data is collected as they surf the net or search for information, and if they so choose they should have the right to request that their information be deleted and to have that request honored. I do think the GDPR goes too far, both in what they define as privacy data and in the penalties for breaching the act (they seem to have a special hate on for Google and

Social Media Outperforms Google for Small Business

Google still dominates the search market but for small business social media, especially Facebook, may be the best marketing tool. How social networks usurp Google’s local search dominance by Wesley Young, Search Engine Land June 18, 2018 Google may dominate most results, but not local search: How Facebook and other social networks take a significant share of local search away from Google. Google claimed that at the end of 2013, it had 540 million monthly active Google+ users. According to SmartInights, quoting data from StaticBrain (paywall), in 2017, it was estimated that only 4-6 million were active. Compare that to almost 1.5 billion daily active Facebook users. In other words, Google’s social media presence is less than 0.4 percent of Facebook’s. Why social will win local search market share A Local Search Association study conducted by Burke in 2016 showed that word of mouth or referrals from friends and family was tied with company websites for second place among resources that consumers used to look up or learn about local products and services…. According to Nielsen’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising study, consumers trusted recommendations from friends far more than any other source…. In the US, 82 percent of respondents trusted recommendations from people they know. For comparison, 66 percent trusted online consumer opinions (reviews), 61 percent trusted branded websites, 49 percent search ads, 47 percent video ads and 39 percent mobile ads. …. Is it more likely for Google to attract social users or for Facebook to adopt search and commerce into its platform? Based on results to date, Google hasn’t been successful in several attempts at social media. Yet Facebook has incorporated maps, reviews, recommendations and search functions into its platform. Edge: Facebook. And it seems that the changes are having their desired effect. A recent study by

When Windows 10 won’t open links from your email in your browser

I have used Microsoft Outlook as my email client for years and I’m currently using Outlook 2019 (after a year with the very buggy Outlook 2016). Periodically, after an update of some kind or just seemingly out of the blue, clicking on a link in an email no longer opens that link in my default browser, Firefox. There are reports of the same thing happening in Chrome and Internet Explorer, as well as with links in the Windows 10 Mail app. Yesterday, it happened again. When this happened in the past, there was a quick and easy Microsoft Fix-It script that would resolve my problem. Of course, I went immediately to my trusty Fix-It script only to pop up a message that it would not work with Windows 10. The next step was to google the problem for Windows 10. The suggested fixes I got through Google either didn’t work or seemed unnecessarily tedious and complicated. Not encouraging. But there was a common thread, both in the old Microsoft Fix-It and in some of the suggestions from what Google found for me: Resetting the default browser to the Microsoft product (previously Internet Explorer, now Microsoft Edge in Windows 10). The following solution works for me: Exit from Firefox or your default browser (it turns out this is not required). Go to Default Programs in Windows Settings or Control Panel. Select Microsoft Edge as your default browser. Click on the link in your email to make sure it opens a tab in Edge. Then close Edge. Restart Firefox (or your preferred default browser). Reset your default browser back to the one you prefer: Under Options for your browser, select “Make Firefox (or Chrome, etc.) my default browser”; or Go back to Default Programs in Windows Settings or Control Panel and reset

Other ways to market and promote your local business

Here are some ideas for participating in your community and raising positive awareness of your local business… You can’t buy better advertising than this, especially in smaller communities. How Businesses Can Give Back to the Community by Ivan Widjaya, NoobPreneur.com June 9, 2018 Participate in Food Drives If your community ever has a food drive, do what you can to contribute to it and show your good will. Encourage your employees to participate as well… and make sure you don’t forget to arrange for transportation for all the items your company has collected. Sponsor a Youth Organization Chances are good that there’s a youth organization or sports team in the neighborhood in need of a sponsor. Help kids get and stay active by buying them equipment or supplies. Consider offering a space to youth groups needing a place to they can raise money selling candy or cookies. Volunteer If you don’t have the money to help support your community, you can donate your time instead. Look for volunteering opportunities for yourself and your employees, or develop your own. For instance, if you operate an accounting firm, you might offer free classes to help people manage their finances better. Support Local Businesses Support other locally-based business in your community. If there’s one you particularly like, be sure to support it by sending some business their way. Be conscious about how you spend your money, and do what you can to support your local community. Make It Easy for Employees to Support Their Community Offer employees paid time off to volunteer within the community. Look for Ways to Address Local Problems Every community has its share of unique problems. If you’re aware of them, do what you can to solve them. For instance, if you run a restaurant and know there are

Chrome and Firefox Extensions Alert You to Stolen Passwords

With new stories about hacked websites and stolen passwords emerging almost daily, here are some new browser tools that alert you if you sign in anywhere using a password that has been breached. Here’s How To Find Out If Your Password Has Been Stolen By Hackers By Robin Andrews, IFLScience.com May 27, 2018 [Statistically, you] are likely to be someone who uses the same password for several logins, across websites or computers. There’s a fairly decent chance that at some point, one or several of your passwords have been stolen and posted on forums for other hackers to try out. Enter, Okta, whose plug-in for Chrome (a version for Firefox is coming soon) lets you know how safe, or unsafe, your passwords really are. Okta is described by CNET as a login management company, which doesn’t sound particularly thrilling. Popping over to their website, it appears that this is indeed what they do, but to put it in a mildly more exciting way: They are the guardians of the virtual gateways, those that stop nefarious hackers getting to you as you log in to whatever digital platform you or your company are using. They’ve recently gone one step further and released a browser plug-in named PassProtect. When you use a password to sign in to Twitter or anything of the sort, it’ll inform you just how many times the password in question has been exposed in a data breach. As noted, PassProtect is currently available as an extension for Chrome only, although they say a version for Firefox is in the works. In the meantime, if you are a Firefox user, you can try a similar add-on called Prevent Pwned Passwords. Prevent Pwned Passwords helps make sure you don’t use any password that’s known to have been part of a

Facebook Users Visit Local Business Pages Weekly

Here is another study showing the importance of both smart phones and social media in how the potential customers of local small business research and conclude the purchase of products and services. If you don’t have a responsive internet presence coupled with social media marketing, consumers won’t find you. But they will find your competitors! Nearly 2 in 3 Facebook Users Visit Local Business or Event Pages Weekly by Courtney Dobson, LSA Insider May 29, 2018 A recent Facebook study of over 6,000 local businesses and over 10,000 people around the world found that 2 in 3 people on Facebook visit the page of a local business or event at least once a week. The study defined local businesses as, “one that isn’t part of a chain, franchise or non-profit and isn’t purely online, but has fewer than five store locations in a single market.” Additionally, while ecommerce is seeing growth, in-store experiences offer a personal appeal that is unparalleled to digital experiences. In fact, 87% said trust and security was the main motivator for local-based purchases, and 40% said that the store offers a more personal customer experience. When looking further into the motivations for in-store vs. online, people prioritize things like conveniences, ease and cost savings. According to the survey, the top three reasons people shop in-store are goods being immediately available, goods that are close by and not having to pay for shipping costs. On the other hand, the top reasons for shopping online included not having to leave the house, not being limited to shopping during store hours and comparing costs easily. Mobile-first shoppers, however, pave the way for opportunity, as they seek to interact with and learn more about a business and its offerings. Eighty percent of people surveyed said they use their smartphones to

Small businesses may face sanctions under the GDPR

Canadian business may face sanctions under EU’s new privacy law CBC News May 25, 2018 The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation covers everything from giving people an opportunity to obtain, correct or remove personal data about themselves, to outlining rules for disclosing security breaches, to providing easily understood privacy policies and terms of service. Any Canadian business that collects personal information about residents of the European Union — whether they’re tourists, students or online customers — risks maximum fines of $30 million or more if they violate a sweeping new EU privacy law that takes effect Friday. But privacy experts say many small- and mid-sized Canadian companies have only recently become aware that they may be covered by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which was adopted by the 27-country regional government in 2016 with a two-year delay before enforcement starting on May 25, 2018. “Anybody that is collecting personal data from European residents — not only citizens — needs to comply with this,” Ale Brown, founder of Kirke Management Consulting, said in a phone interview from Vancouver. That’s equally true for a boutique fashion company selling purses, a university with students from a European country or a website using cookies or other information tracking features, she said. The GDPR could even affect small tourism-related business such as a resort or tour operator, because they have guests from all over the world. Besides having potentially hefty fines, the GDPR’s scope is also sweeping. It covers everything from giving people an opportunity to obtain, correct or remove personal data about themselves, to outlining rules for disclosing security breaches, to providing easily understood privacy policies and terms of service. One of the criticisms of GDPR has been that it could impose higher administrative costs on every company that wants to comply with

A Plain English Summary of GDPR

The new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): What is it? Does it apply to you? What do you have to do to be in compliance with GDPR? Here are some helpful resources: The Ultimate Guide to WordPress and GDPR Compliance (in Plain English) WPBeginner.com May 22, 2018 Are you confused by GDPR, and how it will impact your WordPress site? GDPR, short for General Data Protection Regulation, is an European Union law that you have likely heard about. We have received dozens of emails from users asking us to explain GDPR in plain English and share tips on how to make your WordPress site GDPR compliant. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about GDPR and WordPress (without the complex legal stuff). To help you easily navigate through our ultimate guide to WordPress and GDPR Compliance, we have created a table of content below: Table of Contents What is GDPR? What is required under GDPR? Is WordPress GDPR Compliant? Areas on Your Website that are Impacted by GDPR Best WordPress Plugins for GDPR Compliance Read more… ……. Some other sources you might want to consult: 5 steps to sustainable GDPR compliance | SAS GDPR Compliance Checklist What is the GDPR, its requirements and deadlines? | CSO Online 6 steps for GDPR compliance | CSO Online 5 Ways to Make Your Database GDPR-Compliant – DZone Security GDPR Compliance and Data Collection: How To Make It Work – EContent Magazine GDPR: What it Means for Google Analytics Online Marketing

Google: Final Warning on HTTPS for Websites

Google Chrome Issues Final Warning on HTTPS Search Engine Journal May 18, 2018 Google Chrome announced that it will show a prominent “Not Secure” message in the browser bar starting in October 2018. Consider this your final warning. After October 2018 Chrome and likely all other Chrome based browsers like Vivaldi will display enhanced security warnings that may create higher bounce rates for your site and concomitantly lower sales and conversions. Currently Google is displaying a green icon to indicate that a website is secure. Google reports that because so many sites are now secure, they will begin to flag the insecure sites with a prominent red warning. Additionally Chrome will stop displaying the green icon for secure websites. The reasoning behind this decision is that HTTPS should be considered the default state of a website, particularly now that so many websites are secure. User expectations should be that a site is secure. Thus it makes sense that a warning should be reserved for a dangerous situation, not for a safe situation. Read more…
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