Archive for the ‘Foundational Articles’ Category

Backing up Your Computer Data Doesn’t Have to Hurt

Friday, February 1st, 2008

I once had a boss who had so many piles of paper in his office that once a year, one of the three secretaries in the office would spend a couple of days in his office with him sorting through it all. The running gag was that we had to tie a rope around the unlucky secretary’s waste so we could pull her out when she got buried under an avalanche of paper.

Fortunately, I’m much more organized than that so when I cleaned out my office last weekend, it only took about half a day. Once I had all my papers filed and put away, I had two file drawers. That’s it. Two.

That’s not necessarily a good thing. Why? Because it made me realize how much information I have stored on my computer. For years I didn’t worry too much about that because all the websites I’ve done and the related files are stored on servers out on the internet. Then I thought about the Word docs representing hundreds of hours of research I’ve done, the irreplaceable digital photos and the lifeblood of my day-to-day business: email. Wow. And I thought I was bummed when my wallet got stolen. At least with my wallet all I had to do was shut down credit and debit cards. If I lost all the stuff on my computer, my business would be seriously debilitated for several weeks if not months or years.

So why haven’t I done anything about this yet? I’ve looked into backing up my computer data but each time I did it quickly turned into a Pandora’s Box of technological questions I couldn’t answer and exorbitant expense. First of all, more than one computer guy has told me that “All you need to do is” and then describes a multi-step process completely outside the realm of probability. Secondly, when I first looked into online data backup in 2003, it cost about $100 a month. $1200 a year made that impractical backup process sound reasonable; but still, I didn’t do it.

So after I cleaned out my office, I researched “reviews of online back up systems” and came across a very helpful article on InformationWeek called “Review: Five Online Backup Services Keep Your Data Safe.” In the article, they describe five different online backup systems tested by someone who knows what they’re doing. I thought I was going to go for Carbonite but after reading about Mozy, I tried them out.

Carbonite might be perfectly good but I’m pretty happy with Mozy. Two things really stood out with Mozy. First, their phone support was excellent. I called twice about separate issues and each time I didn’t have to wait more than a minute to talk to someone who was very helpful and treated me like I was a sentient human being. Each time, they stayed on the line while I figured things out and even anticipated future issues and offered solutions to potential problems I might have. Second, I really like that the Mozy online back up system scanned my computer and created a suggested list of folders I would probably want to back up. I didn’t have to figure out what to back up; they did.

Beware: purchasing and setting up an online backup system is not the same as buying a book on Amazon. It’s definitely more involved but it’s not rocket science. If you’re fairly comfortable with buying things online, aren’t in a rush, and understand how folders work on your computer, you can do it. If you feel like an internet newbie, you might want to do this with a more tech savvy person handy so they can help you answer some questions and configure the set up process.

Ready to give online back up a try? Here are a couple of tips to help streamline the process:

  • Be sure to check how big your folders are. When I purchased my plan, I thought 2 GB of space would be enough. Little did I realize that the folders I wanted to back up were closer to 16 GB! (Here’s how to check your folder size: Assuming you have a PC, right click on the folder, then click on Properties, and then select the General tab.)
  • It’s certainly not a requirement but you also might want to clean up the files on your computer first. I didn’t realize that I had a bunch of music files I didn’t want that where taking up a bunch of space.
  • Music files and pictures are WAY bigger files than your Word docs, spreadsheets or PDF files so if you’re looking to reduce files, clean those out first.
  • Don’t forget to clean out your email! If you’re one of those people who pride yourself on keeping every email you ever received, get over it. There’s a good chance your Outlook file is going to be pretty big. My general rule of thumb is to delete emails older than a year unless they relate to financial stuff or important decisions made by clients.

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Okay. This is kind of funny…

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

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You’ll Enjoy Opening This Pandora’s Box

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I’m embarrassed to admit it but sometimes I can be a real Luddite. A few months ago a client started a weekly podcast I needed to listen to in order to help her market it. Listening to her podcast was no simple matter. I had to crank up the volume, lean in to the speakers and focus all my energy on deciphering the whisper in the distance. When I thought about it, I realized that I’d purchased my computer speakers in 1999. In computer years, that’s so old you’d need carbon dating to figure out their true age.

So last weekend I finally splurged and got new speakers. For $30, I got two speakers and subwoofer that make my surround sound stereo speakers sound like two tin cans and a string. I couldn’t believe the difference. It was like my monitor went from black and white to 3D color. All of a sudden, I’m willingly spending more time at my desk.

The first thing I did with my new world of audio was try out the music website Pandora. Pandora instantly became my new favorite website. You create “stations” by telling it what bands, composers or songs you like. Pandora then searches its database and plays music akin to your selection. You can then give it feedback, telling it what songs you like and which ones you don’t. It then further customizes play list. You can also listen to stations created by other users to find more music. Oh yeah, did I mention it’s free?

Check it out!

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How to Use Title Tags to Your Advantage

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Many of us have heard that meta tags are important when optimizing your website for the search engines but most of us don’t really understand what they are, how they help and what we can do to use them to our advantage.

Wikipedia defines meta tags this way, “Meta elements (or meta tags) provide information about a given webpage, most often to help search engines categorize them correctly, and are inserted into the HTML code in the format illustrated above, but are not visible to a user looking at the site.”

One of the most important meta tags is the title tag. If you go to Google and do a search on “eMarketing Strategist”, the following is the first result returned. The title tag is the text that reads “eMarketing Strategist – Internet marketing that gets results…”

As you can see from this example, your title tag is usually the first text a searcher sees so you definitely want to have a good title tag. The challenging part is writing a title tag that makes both the search engines and searchers happy.

Recently, Jill Whalen, author of the great SEO newsletter High Rankings Advisor, wrote a very helpful article on title tags called All About Title Tags. Check it out and be sure to sign up for her newsletter while you’re on her website.

Jill Whalen of High Rankings® is an internationally recognized search engine optimization consultant and host of the free weekly High Rankings® Advisor search engine marketing newsletter. Jill’s handbook, “The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines” teaches business owners how and where to place relevant keyword phrases on their Web sites so that they make sense to users and gain high rankings in the major search engines.Jill specializes in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, site analysis reports, SEM seminars and is the co-founder of Search Engine Marketing New England (SEMNE) a local networking organization.

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Thinking about blogging? READ THIS FIRST!

Friday, February 9th, 2007

I was browsing the most read posts on Guy Kawaskai’s blog and came across a gem of a post on blogging “The 120 Day Wonder: How to Evangelize a Blog“. It’s a good companion piece to my article “How to Blog With Out Having a Blog“.

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The Many Uses of LinkedIn

Friday, February 9th, 2007

I’ve been trying to figure out how to utilize profesisonal networking sites such as LinkedIn and Soflow for a couple of years now. Professional networking websites pre-date MySpace but are only now being looked at as a serious source of clients and partners.

Guy Kawasaki has wirtten an article Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn that’s got some interesting facts about people with a LinkedIn profile page such as “People with more than 20 connections are 34 times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity than people with less than 5.” He also describes some great potential uses of it such as gauging the helth of a company or industry.

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The Google Sandbox Scoop

Monday, February 5th, 2007

If you’ve launched a new website in the last couple of years, whether you know it or not you’ve encountered the Google Sandbox. What happens is that when you launch a new website, Google watches it for several months before displaying it in search results. This can be a big negative for a new company or an existing company using a new domain name. Google started the sandbox to make sure that websites they display in the search results are “real” websites and not just link farms or websites with duplicate content.

“Google Sandbox” is a rather euphemistic phrase. It should be called the “Google Quagmire”. SEO consultants have been trying to figure out how to get out of the sandbox since it first sent shock waves through the industry in 2004.

Andy Hagans—who knows his stuff when it comes to SEO—has written a very helpful article “Secrets to Beating the Sandbox” on what you can do to minimize the amount of time your website spends stuck in the sandbox and maximize the time it spends attracting visitors.

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The Cleaner the Code, the Better the Deliverability

Monday, January 29th, 2007

The quality of the HTML code you have in your newsletter greatly affects whether or not your HTML newsletter gets to your recipient’s inbox. Programs like FrontPage add gobs of extra code that will trigger the spam filters for email addresses at MSN, AOL and Yahoo. It’s hard work to write, format and send a newsletter so why not make sure your message has the best chance of getting into inboxes?

I recently came across an article “How HTML Code Affects E-Mail Deliverability” that gives specific examples of what to do and not to do to maximize deliverability.

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