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Defining your Audience, Refining your Keywords for Search Engine Ads

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It’s more and more obvious that search engines are trying to show the most useful and relevant information to us, according to our online behavior. As I stated in my last article, when I searched “electric bike” on Google, I ended up getting 23.5 million results from it. But when I looked closely, I realized Google map displayed shops with reviews near my physical location, tailoring the search to me specifically.

Google can tell my location from an IP address (Internet Protocol address) – sort of like a telephone number for your computer’s internet connection. Every internet connection has an IP address consisting of four blocks of numbers ranging from 0 to 255. So, for example:

The point is, it’s impossible for us to do a search that doesn’t take into account our location data – whether using your PC, smart phone or tablet. My search results will always be somewhat different than yours based on our IP address and past searches.

Now that you know how search engines work for individuals, let’s take a moment to figure out your potential customers. The combination of understanding both will help you pick out the right keywords for your online ads.

If you are an electric bike manufacturer, let’s start with your price point. If you have high-end bikes, your target audience must be able to afford your prices. On my own Google search, I see prices ranging from $300 to $7000! If you make and sell expensive bikes, most likely you don’t want to use the word “cheap” or “inexpensive” within your keywords because you won’t be attracting the right customers and you won’t see the return on your ad investment.

By this process of elimination, you’ve just begun “defining” your audience and “refining” your keywords. As we discussed in a previous article, knowing your target audience will really help you refine those keywords yet to come. In the next article, we’ll dig deeper into getting more specific with your keywords.
#PSPinc #Blog #Advertising #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #DigitalMarketing #Marketing #Google #GoogleAdwords #SERP #Keywords #SearchEngines #SponsoredAds #SEM #SearchEngineMarketing

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Understanding the Behavior of Search Engine Result Pages

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Before you can go to work picking out your keywords, first you need to understand that a specific keyword search may produce different results for different people.

Search engines have gotten very smart. They know our location, interests based on previous searches, purchases, and a lot more about us based on our online behavior over time. What does that mean to us? It means the example I’m going to use may give you different search results than it gives me.

For this example, I’ll use the keyword “electric bike.” To make things a bit less bias, I’m going to log out of my Gmail account and type for you what I’m seeing in real time:

So here I am on, typing the word “electric bike” and Google tries to autofill other possible popular keywords as I type, like “electric bike reviews.” I stick with “electric bike” and get about 23.5 million results from those two words. That is a huge number. How can a business expect to be found even once by someone in such a big pool of results!

The search result page before me shows sponsored online shops selling electric bikes (so paid-for ads), as well as the definition of electric bicycle on the side. And just below some top story news, I finally reach some “organic” search results, along with the Google map of local shops that sell electric bikes. If you search for “electric bike” you may see something similar with slight variations to something very different.

Now, if you’re in the business of selling electric bikes, what can you do to be found among all those results? We’ll start discussing that in the following articles…
#PSPinc #Blog #Advertising #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #DigitalMarketing #Marketing #Google #GoogleAdwords #SERP #Keywords #SearchEngines #SponsoredAds

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Before your Business Goes Virtual, Know your Target Audience

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People search the internet for information almost every single day. Equally important is the fact that small business owners use the internet to get in front of potential clients on a daily basis. More than ever, consumers and companies are being connected over the internet through virtual searches. So how, as small business owners, can you get in front of potential clients successfully? We’ll explore some ideas in November.

First thing’s first: the assessment period. Before you go virtual and buy ad space using keyword terms, you need to figure out the audience to whom you want to market your business. Being found online is a good thing, but not if you’re being found by a demographic of people that don't fit your target customer base. That only costs you money. So, ask yourself these questions to help pinpoint your ideal customer base…

1) If you are a new business owner, what was your motivation to start your business?
2) Why should people choose you?
3) Where should people find you?
4) If you are an existing business owner, who are your satisfied customers?
5) What are the demographics of your customers and repeat buyers?
6) How did they find you the first time?
7) What is your competition doing?

With social media at your fingertips, you may also learn more about your customer base simply by looking at the type of people who like or follow your page(s). As you answer the questions above and try to understand your customer base, here are some characteristics to consider:

- Age
- Location
- Gender
- Income
- Education level
- Marital status
- Ethnicity

You may have a broad range of customers within some of these characteristics and a very specific type of customer in others. Let's say you sell cosmetics --the gender of your customers is most likely women, but you may sell to a wide age range. If you sell high-end skin care products, the income level of your customers may reflect that. These are things to consider when pinning down your customer base. Once you have completed your target audience assessment, then you can move onto tuning up your keyword searches.
#PSPinc #Blog #Advertising #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #DigitalMarketing #Marketing #VirtualBusiness #TargetAudience #Customers #Clients

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A Spooky Tale of Real-Life Hackers

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Happy Halloween, everyone! Today, I want to wrap up my month-long discussion on cyber security with a scary story about a cyber crime that happened in real life. Hopefully, it tunes you into the dangers of cyber thieves and helps you steer clear of their traps…

An acquaintance of mine received a call from Microsoft saying his computer was sending infected (with virus) files. Fearful that his computer was the source of the problem and infecting others, he agreed to work with the person on the line.

First, the agent told him to give her an email address so she could send him a link which would enable her to access his computer and see if his Windows program was being compromised. When he received the link, she asked him to click on it to grant her access to his computer so he wouldn’t need to do anything on his end. And he did.

Once she gained access to his computer, she looked around while he watched his mouse and Windows being remotely accessed and clicked on here and there. A few minutes later, the agent said his Windows program had a security breach and he needed to upgrade his version -- for a fee. She asked for his credit card information, and finally he started to get suspicious.

He checked the phone number which showed a New York area code. He realized he exposed himself (his information) and his computer to an unknown person, so he hung up the phone. He’s lucky he didn’t hand over his credit card information, but his computer needed to be cleaned up because who knows what she did or what malware she left behind.

This story is a prime example of social engineering where someone seemingly legitimate tries to hack your computer and steal your credit card information. They can be very deceiving.

If you ever notice your computer is running slowly, or your cursor is moving without you being in control, or if you receive any notices via email or by phone asking you to take action, DO NOT PANIC! The best remedy is to take your computer offline and consult with someone who can scan your computer to determine whether or not it’s infected. Don’t trust the person who calls you, hang up, and dial a trusted number.

We live in a very convenient and connected world, but the price we pay could be high because of it. Always be on high alert for cyber hackers and be prepared with a plan if you get targeted.
#PSPinc #Blog #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #DigitalMarketing #CyberAttacks #CyberSecurity #CyberCrime #Equifax #Malware #EmailSpoofing #EmailVirus #EmailPhishing #ComputerVirus #Hackers #SocialEngineering

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How to Prepare for Cyber Attack Disaster

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Most confidential data like your personal information is stored in a secure database when you submit it online, but the recent issue with Equifax shows even companies with multiple firewalls and security measures can be vulnerable at times. Hackers are becoming so sophisticated and technically savvy, that sometimes it’s out of your control and your information may be compromised not because you weren’t prepared, but rather because those in which you trusted your information were breached.

So what should we do? Like our health, we should periodically test and check our information for early detection and signs of something amiss. Also have a plan in case you are victimized.

Here are some points to consider:

1) Check your bank accounts or credit card. Many hackers start with a penny or small transaction to validate your information. If you see unrecognized small transactions, call the bank.

2) Make sure your employees are trained not to give information to someone without first confirming their identity, and test this process on a regular basis. If it’s very sensitive information, you should consider having two layers of approval before giving out the information. Have a procedure in place!

3) Stay current on updated software versions for your websites and devices. Many of these patches and updates are for security reasons.

4) Backup your important data in case you need to recover it. If your server is breached, sometimes it’s very hard to figure out where those programs are installed. You may need to take the server offline right away in order to avoid any further damage.

5) Scan every computer in your office for malware on a regular basis.
#PSPinc #Blog #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #DigitalMarketing #CyberAttacks #CyberSecurity #CyberCrime #Equifax #Malware #EmailSpoofing #EmailVirus #EmailPhishing #ComputerVirus #Hackers #SocialEngineering #Passwords #PasswordProtection #SSL

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Password Protection: Important Ways to Avoid a Security Breach

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There are multiple points where a cyber security breach can take place – on your computer, through your email inbox, on your server, over email form submissions … no matter the technology, you must take extra precaution not to allow a security hack.

Many email programs, servers and websites are now secured with SSL (Secure Socket Layer) which encrypts your information and transactions between your device and servers. For your emails, you might need to change the settings to adapt the SSL transactions, so reach out to your service provider and make sure that’s set up for you. Many devices such as the iPhone, by default, will set up your mail servers via SSL.

Even if you do have SSL turned on for your emails and online forms, such as your online banking logins, etc., we still recommend you give some thought to your passwords and update them on regular basis.

Although requirements are different from site to site, or server to server, you should consider these basic Dos and Don’ts for creating secure passwords:

Don’t use “password” or “1234” as your password – it’s too easy to guess.
Don’t use your username as your password.
Don’t use confidential information like your social security number.
Don’t store these passwords on your desktops, or on a sticky note somewhere.
Don’t use the same password for all sites.
Don’t use any public information like your phone number.
Do combine words and numbers, if you want easy to remember.
Do select “do not save passwords" when using someone else’ computer.
Do combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and if allowed, special characters.

Even if you have a hard-to-crack password, you should still update it every 3 - 6 months. We recommend you update all your passwords at the same time so you don’t forget one or the other.
#PSPinc #Blog #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #DigitalMarketing #CyberAttacks #CyberSecurity #CyberCrime #Equifax #Malware #EmailSpoofing #EmailVirus #EmailPhishing #ComputerVirus #Hackers #SocialEngineering #Passwords #PasswordProtection

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Best Practices for Businesses to Combat Hackers

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In our last blog, we discussed the harm of social engineering and how hackers are getting the information they need for cyber crimes without programming a single line of code. As business owners, we have to be aware of this spoofed communication and create a practice to catch information thieves before you become a victim. Whether it’s to protect your internal company information, or your customer’s information, it’s time to put safe measures in place.

Here are some important steps to consider for your business:

Security Protocols and Policies

First of all, if you don’t have any protocols and polices in place to combat cyber attacks, you should ask a professional to come up with the framework ASAP. Depending on your business model and clients, your main goal is to protect your business from a data breach. So think through possibilities, and be prepared with a policy in place in case something happens.

Training and Testing

Once you have your security protocols and polices in place, you need to train your employees first, then test it to see if it works. Remember, social engineers are good at getting the answers from you instead of answering your questions. Practice withholding information until you’re able to verify someone’s authenticity.

Monitoring and Tracking Performance

Although we want a perfect track record of blocking cyber crimes, humans make mistakes and something could fall through the cracks. The best thing to do is have a way to track all interactions when it comes to outsiders’ requests for information. Ask multiple layers of questions to ensure you can authenticate a person’s real identity. Keep track of such interactions and time stamp them in activity logs so you can review them as needed.

Random Audits

Once you have protocols and policies in place along with activity logs, perform random, unannounced tests to make sure you get the results you wanted. Test more than once, on multiple occasions on a continuous basis.

No system is perfect and people forget, but awareness along with policies in place can help reduce social engineering crimes within your company significantly.
#PSPinc #Blog #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #DigitalMarketing #CyberAttacks #CyberSecurity #CyberCrime #Equifax #Malware #EmailSpoofing #EmailVirus #EmailPhishing #ComputerVirus #Hackers #SocialEngineering

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Social Engineers: The Human Element to Hacking

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There wouldn’t be internet crimes without humans involved. The human component is the source of cyber crimes, unfortunately, and many of those criminals use a technique called “social engineering.”

According to, “Social Engineering, in the context of information security, refers to psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. A type of confidence trick for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or system access, it differs from a traditional "con" in that it is often one of many steps in a more complex fraud scheme.”

Some say 60% of cyber attacks use social engineering to gain access to important data within corporations. Famous social engineers you may have heard about are Kevin Mitnick and Stephen Wozniak. These master-mind hackers used a variety of means to trick people into giving out their sensitive information like passwords, access codes, and more. Their social engineering skills are not related to how well they can program, but rather how well they connect themselves to people.

Watch this short eye-opening (and shocking) YouTube video about how social engineers can cleverly and quickly work to get your sensitive information:

Another common scheme includes a social engineer posing as a grandchild over the phone and calling a grandparent to request money for bail or some other emergency. They don’t say their name, but Grandpa and Grandma will give it away, for example:

- Hey Grandma, it’s me, your grandson. I need your help!
- Oh, is this Joe?

It’s so important to make sure you’re in control of what information you give out at home or at the office. Make sure no one else is giving it out on your behalf. And unless you are absolutely sure about the person you are speaking with, don’t give any answers right away. Instead, call them back or email them to verify who they say they are.
#PSPinc #Blog #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #DigitalMarketing #CyberAttacks #CyberSecurity #CyberCrime #Equifax #Malware #EmailSpoofing #EmailVirus #EmailPhishing #ComputerVirus #SocialEngineering #Hackers

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The History and Evolution of Email Phishing

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Phishing is another term used for cyber crimes, where emails are sent to users attempting to gain their personal information. You’ve probably seen scam emails asking you to reclaim your shopping rewards, or initiate a bank transaction, or check your Apple ID logins. Those emails are clever tricks trying to get you to login with your username, passwords, credit card information, and sometimes your social security numbers.

Phishing comes from the word fishing, it is a combination of “phone phreaking” and “fishing.” According to the January 2004 edition of Computer World:

"The word phishing was coined around 1996 by hackers stealing America Online accounts and passwords. By analogy with the sport of angling, these Internet scammers were using e-mail lures, setting out hooks to "fish" for passwords and financial data from the "sea" of Internet users. They knew that although most users wouldn't take the bait, a few likely would. The term was mentioned on the alt.2600 hacker newsgroup in January 1996, but it may have been used earlier in the print journal 2600, The Hacker Quarterly.”

(Source -

So as you can see, it’s nothing new, but phishing techniques are becoming more sophisticated and deceitful as their emails improve - making them look more realistic and believable.

Here are some things to think about:

- Banks and the IRS won’t send you unsecured links in which to enter your personal info.
- Links may contain viruses as you click through via browsers.
- Never send personal info via email.
- Don't panic over scary notices that come via email - it could be scammers.
- Call to confirm any suspicious email notifications.
#PSPinc #Blog #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #DigitalMarketing #CyberAttacks #CyberSecurity #CyberCrime #Equifax #Malware #EmailSpoofing #EmailVirus #EmailPhishing #ComputerVirus

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How to Recognize Email Spoofing

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Beware: What you see in your email may not be what it seems. Although an email may appear to come from someone or an organization you know, the actual email address or the location of the sender’s server may tell you otherwise. Forged emails are the result of what is called “email spoofing.”

Just like any website, all emails contain what we call a header. Email headers are on the back-end (shown in email properties) and they can contain very valuable information about where your email originated from. It contains basic sender information along with the routing information.

Sometimes that basic sender information on the back end header does not match with the sender information you see on the front end in your email’s “from” field. Sometimes that from field won’t even show an address, just a name. And sometimes you’ll see a familiar name with a return-path email address next to it that doesn’t match what you have in your contacts.

Luckily, most email programs can spot these inconsistencies and direct them to a spam folder, but not always. It’s still a good idea to look for these inconsistencies if an email seems suspicious, comes unexpectedly, asks you to reply with personal or financial information, or asks you to open an attached file or click on a link you don’t recognize.

Just know the “from” field in your email may not always be telling you the truth. The name may look familiar, but it could be forged by a third party trying to cause harm.

To see your email header information in Outlook, double-click the suspicious email and go to “file,” then “properties.” For Mac Mail, select the email and go to “view,” then “message” to view either the default header (header only) or the row source. It will come in handy when you need to ask your IT person to troubleshoot the spoofing.
#PSPinc #Blog #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #DigitalMarketing #CyberAttacks #CyberSecurity #CyberCrime #Equifax #Malware #EmailSpoofing #EmailVirus #EmailPhishing #ComputerVirus

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