The Website Performance Metrics That Affect SEO

website performance metrics

You’re ready to boost your site’s SEO. You know that your website performance metrics affect search rankings. But which metrics should you look at and why?

You know that your website performance metrics affect search rankings. But which metrics should you look at and why?

Turns out, user experience is key. Google places a ton of emphasis on user experience (UX) when ranking websites, and so should you.

User experience may be subjective, but there are ways to measure whether your site is pleasing to the average user. Some website performance metrics are good indicators of user experience, and hence, your site’s SEO.

Here are the website performance metrics to focus on for SEO.

Speed Things Up

For SEO, the tortoise certainly does not beat the hare.

Did you know that 40% of users will abandon your web page if it takes longer than three seconds to load? That makes speeding up your website and monitoring its status a good investment to make.

And making your site faster for users will pay off for SEO. Google uses page speed to rank web pages, especially for their mobile rankings.

In addition, if your website loads slowly, this will also negatively affect other metrics like your conversion rates, the time spent on the website, and your bounce rate.

Bounce Rate

In general, the lower the page speed, the higher the bounce rate. A page’s bounce rate is the rate at which users click off of the page as soon as they click on.

If your site is slow or down, your bounce rates will be high. Also, if users click on your site and don’t like what they see, then they will click off.

Google uses bounce rates to decide how to rank your page, so you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible. A good website will keep users reading and have a high time spent.

Time Spent

Like bounce rates, the time spent metric tells you if users are spending a significant amount of time browsing through your site.

A bounce rate will indicate if a user saw your site, realized they weren’t interested and clicked off. Time spent is a better indicator of whether your users are reading the content of your website and clicking through the pages.

Other metrics can help you look at what people are clicking on when they spend time on your site. In order to meet your website’s goals, though, you need to look at conversion rates.

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates may be most important when it comes to your site’s performance metrics. It tells you how successful your website is at doing what you want it to do.

If you want users to make a purchase, then the conversion rate will show you how often visitors make a purchase on your site. This can also work for signing up for newsletters or other success indicators.

Conversion rates and SEO are buddies. When you have a high conversion rate, it’s good for your SEO, and when you have good SEO, your conversion rates will be higher.

Of course, none of this will matter if you don’t focus on getting mobile.

Getting Mobile

You may have heard that mobile internet use has surpassed other devices. This means if you’re not making sure your site is friendly for all devices, then you’re missing out on some quality traffic.

Not going mobile will also affect your SEO. Google has stated that mobile optimization is extremely important for ranking your site.

Since so much of internet usage is on mobile devices, having a non-mobile-friendly site will negatively affect the above metrics.

You can tell how your site is doing specifically on mobile devices by looking at your mobile-specific metrics.

How to Improve Your Website Performance Metrics

How can you improve these metrics? Having a good web design and strategy is a win-win: it will make your customers happy, and in doing so, it will boost your SEO.

Optimize your site for SEO by making it more user-friendly. Up the page speed, make your site pretty, and make it easy to read.

Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. Focus on web design, including innovative designs that will make your site pop.

You should also have an easy way to know if your site is down so these metrics aren’t affected by web failure. Sign up for our plans so you’re never in the dark about your website’s status.

Agile Security: 5 Best Practices for Scrum Teams

agile security

We live in a new world with new possibilities. Data that was once easy to keep under lock and key has now become more difficult to manage. This difficulty has made cybersecurity a major concern for most companies.

To combat threats, businesses are looking into new solutions, one of which happens to be agile security. Companies need to be able to respond to data breaches, and faster response times are just the thing they need.

Businesses will no doubt be hard-pressed to keep up with all of the twists and turns which accompany developing agile security systems. That said, we’re doing you a service by giving you five tips that will keep your scrum teams on their toes.

Automate Security Protocols

Automation is the way of the future regardless of whether or not we’re talking about cybersecurity or less consequential things such as social media posts. It just has too many great uses in the digital age we live in.

As it turns out, automation can do wonders for teams looking to tighten up their security.

Programmers and engineers are talented, but human error is always a possibility. Consequently, coders need to refocus their efforts and start finding ways to automate the tasks which can be botched as a result of a single mistake.

Automation also allows for what we like to think of as a more all-encompassing method of keeping systems secure. Automated tools can monitor everything all at once, unlike humans.

They’re also a more agile solution for businesses nowadays. When an issue arises, it takes longer than some of us would like for tech teams to start attacking the issue.

Automated tools and programs, however, are always on the scene. When something goes wrong, they’re the first responders by virtue of being present. They may not prevent disasters as effectively as human detectors can, but they let engineers know something is off before companies have catastrophes on their hands.

Rapid Response Teams

As great as automated security protocols are, there is no reason to think that they could ever replace talented programmers. Computer programs run on coded instructions whereas programmers run on all of that and more.

Having said as much, scrum teams should at least consider having a rapid response team on standby. Though this team probably wouldn’t beat the automated tools to the punchline, it would certainly be neat to have one.

Having a whole team of qualified professionals is, after all, never a bad idea.

Just make sure that this team is a rapid response team in every sense of the phrase. The team should be on-call at all hours of the day if possible since things can go haywire at any moment.

And as an added bonus, rapid response teams have the potential to build customer value.

Cloud-Based Security

The cloud gets mixed reviews in some circles. Some believe that it isn’t secure while others are perfectly sure that it’s just as secure as other means of storage.

Regardless of what you think, though, it’s here to stay. As a result, we might as well make us of it in order to put some agile security protocols into place.

Cloud-based security, unlike traditional security, essentially lives in the cloud. It calls no hardware its home, which allows it to better protect portable data that travels from network to network.

This approach to security also has the potential to save companies money in the long run. Software which is stored on hardware expires when that hardware reaches the end of its life. Cloud-based software, on the other hand, is subject to no such expiration.

API-Driven Security

You’ve probably heard us mention API security at least once or twice around these parts. We don’t like to toot our own horns, but we’re right to be crazy about it.

API-driven security is a triple threat of sorts. First and foremost, it allows teams to make updates to preexisting systems and perform necessary integrations without upsetting entire systems. It makes updating systems quick and simple, and that’s the definition of agile security.

A second benefit of API-driven security, it makes automation that much easier for companies since the two play nicely together. If that wasn’t enough, the third benefit of this type of security is that it also plays well with the cloud. Mixing the two pretty much guarantees speed and ease for security teams.

DevSecOps

Many of you have probably heard of DevSecOps. If you haven’t, though, this is for you.

DevSecOps is admittedly more of a mindset than a practice, but it technically qualifies as both. It promotes the idea that security should be “added to all business processes.”

This approach might seem intense to some businesses, but you can’t deny that it embodies the idea of agile security. If all business processes incorporate elements of security, the likelihood of something going wrong decreases greatly.

Needless to say, however, the DevSecOps approach is easier said than done for some companies. It stresses the idea that “everyone is responsible for security,” but, realistically speaking, some people are better-equipped to handle security issues.

Still, adopting this model is a great idea. Big data is our future, and we need to prioritize its protection. We can only do so by giving our current methods and systems a complete overhaul.

Just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Start small and then make larger changes.

Agile Security At Its Finest

Your scrum team is well on its way to developing a killer agile security system. In fact, we’re willing to bet that it will be so good that it will anticipate problems before they even become…problems.

In any case, make sure that you and your team stay safe this 2017. Hackers don’t ever take breaks, so you can’t afford to either. Your days must be spent thwarting one hacker after the next.

If you find that you need a little help along the way, just reach out to us. We want you to succeed, so we’ll always make ourselves available to you. You can count on that.

Legal Boundaries Ecommerce Sites Selling Cannabis Products Need to Know

cannabis products

These days, eCommerce has become far more popular than shopping in brick and mortar stores. With an estimated $1.915 trillion spent online last year it’s important to have an online store. If that’s not enough to convince you, projections are estimated to at least double within the next 3 years.

And with medical marijuana now legal in a few states, cannabis products are quite popular. But selling cannabis products can be a tricky situation. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself in some murky legal territory.

Accordingly, you’ll need to know what you can and can’t do online. Here are some things that every eCommerce owner needs to know.

Legal Boundaries Cannabis eCommerce Sites Need to Know

eCommerce Law is Largely Similar to Commerce Law

The first thing you’ll need to know before setting up shop is that eCommerce isn’t as different as you may think. While the internet opens up all sorts of potential avenues, the law isn’t quite as fast as many would like.

In fact, quite the opposite.

Accordingly, many of the eCommerce laws are in accordance with traditional commerce laws. That means that you can’t sell anything online that you wouldn’t be able to sell in a traditional store.

For instance, in the United States, you can’t purchase alcoholic beverages until the age of 21. Thus, you’d need to be 21 to buy alcohol online, too.

What You Can Sell

You’re likely here to discover what you can sell online in a legal fashion. Since eCommerce laws have to follow commerce laws, you’re not allowed to sell cannabis.

Instead, you’re allowed to sell anything you’d see at a gas station, smoke shop, or similar store. This includes pipes, grinders, CBD dabs and more.

But online sales go far beyond your standard receptacles. You can even sell grow lights, hydroponics, and other equipment used to grow cannabis.

Restrictions essentially stop just short of selling the cannabis and seeds itself. You can even purchase plenty of CBD oils online and ship them nationwide.

What You Can’t Sell

As mentioned, you can’t simply exchange cannabis for money online. But there have been cases of individuals ordering cannabis seeds from other countries and shipping seeds to the U.S.

If you’re looking to sell your products nationwide, you’ll need national licensing. Once you have your license, you’ll need to do a bit of research and due diligence.

To sell cannabis in most states, purchasers must prove they have a license to obtain cannabis in a legal way. Don’t just accept any doctor’s note, either. Failure to follow federal regulations could result in fines and possible jail time.

This is in addition to a valid state identification card. While the burden of proof is on your customers, it’s up to you to keep them honest.

Be sure to check your state laws to make sure you’re in compliance.

Conclusion

Remember, selling cannabis products online other than simple edibles and accessories is tricky. Always make sure you’re complying with federal law, and get as much proof from your customers as you can.

There’s a ton of money to be made from online eCommerce stores, so make sure your site is ready!

How to Fix a Slow WordPress Site: 5 Essential Tips

slow wordpress site

A slow WordPress site can be annoying to your visitors, and the last thing that you want is losing site traffic because of this common problem. Studies show that up to 40 percent of visitors leave sites that take more than three seconds to load.

The good news is that you can fix this problem once and for all.

In this post, we have five essential tips you can implement to optimize your site for speed.

Let’s get right into it.

1. Use a Caching Plugin

For WordPress users, you have unlimited options, including WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache, and WP Super Cache, you can use to boost your site’s speed.

The caching system works by making a copy of the original request so that your website doesn’t need to process subsequent requests for a particular page. This reduces the processing times for serving your visitors with the content they’re searching for.

2. Optimize Your Images

Images are great for adding a visual aspect to your content to improve page times. But the higher the quality and size of the pictures, the longer your site takes to load. Graphics will affect your load times, too.

You can fix this by using Lazy Load, which involves loading images that are appearing above the fold only. A good plugin to use is jQuery Image Lazy Load. Another way is to reduce your image size using the Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin, formerly WP-Smush It.

3. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN works by delivering your website content to people more efficiently and quickly based on the geographical location of the visitor. It’s usually made of POP servers that are located in different places around the world to improve content delivery.

Popular CDNs you can use include MaxCDN, CloudFlare, Akamai, and Amazon CloudFront. When you use these services, visitors are served with static files from the server that’s closest to them. This also boosts your hosting server since the CDN is doing a lot of the work.

4. Optimize Your Database

In some cases, a buildup of unnecessary files in your database may be the reason for your slow WordPress site. Content, such as unapproved comments, post revisions, auto drafts, and trashed posts, can fill your database over time.

It’s best to get rid of all these unnecessary files, and you’ll notice an improvement in your load times. Some great plugins that you can use to do this include WP-Sweep and WP-Optimize. These tools also help to optimize your database structure and tables easily.

5. Uninstall Unnecessary Plugins

There are thousands of useful WP plugins out there that can assist you in many ways. That doesn’t mean you need to use most of them. It’s possible to have up to 50 active plugins but try to focus on what’s important and leverage the power of CDN.

If you’re not using a CDN or any site optimizing tool, try to keep the number of plugins under 20. Keep in mind that not all WordPress plugins have the same effect on your site. You can use a plugin called Plugin Performance Profiler to review your plugins and uninstall those that aren’t important.

Slow WordPress Site – The Takeaway

Well, you’re here.

Improving your site’s speed helps to boost user experience and your rankings on SERPs. Take the time to review your site to determine what may be causing the poor load times and implement the necessary fixes.

You can use tools, such as GTMetrix, Google PageSpeed Insights, WebPagetest, and Pingdom, to analyze your site’s performance. Don’t forget that you also need a good website host.

If you need help with monitoring your site’s performance, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Is Public Wi-Fi Really That Dangerous?

OB One Communications Target URL: http://www.ob-one.com

With the Internet becoming more and more of a basic human right, many shops, restaurants, and even public transportation systems like New York’s MTA are providing free Wi-Fi to the public.

Initially, this might seem like a great advantage in this fast-paced society. But do public Wi-Fi networks put wireless security at a greater risk?

Let’s take a look.

What Risks Are Involved With Using Public Wi-Fi?

As with everything that’s free, there is a price to pay for public Wi-Fi. Just because while there’s not a physical theft of a cell phone or laptop doesn’t mean thieves can’t still steal personal and confidential information.

Here are a few problems with using a public Wi-Fi.

Snooping

Private Wi-Fi systems are encrypted. This means that a private password needs to be used to access any information.

No one except the user can view what information has been accessed.

Not so when using a public Wi-Fi system. There, anyone can see what unencrypted pages are being viewed. Additionally, no password is needed to access unencrypted pages. This means that anyone can see what information is typed in unencrypted forms.

Finally, anyone can see which encrypted sites have been visited

And there’s literally no way to know when or if someone is looking into that type of personal information.

It’s not like they have to look over a shoulder to do the spying. All they need is an unencrypted Wi-Fi and an unsuspecting victim.

Device is Compromised

When a person walks into a room and sneezes without covering their mouth, germs are spread. Something similar can happen when a compromised device is nearby. These devices can easily spread their infection to other laptops.

To avoid any problems, always select “Public Network” rather than “Home” to ensure no files or sensitive data is being shared.

Malicious Hotspots Galore

Just like spam e-mails that claim to be from the bank, a malicious hotspot can claim to be a legitimate Wi-Fi spot. It’s not always easy to spot the legitimate Wi-Fi spots from the malicious ones, either.

How to Keep Information Safe and Secure

Luckily, there are plenty of steps to take to ensure any device is always kept safe and secure.

One step is to rely on security experts, like those at OB One Communications, who will install a safe and secure wireless system so you never have to worry about your data being stolen.

There are a few other steps you can take to protect laptops, cell phones, and iPads.

Only browse encrypted sites using the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension – this can be enabled to ensure all sites accessed will automatically have this extension. Then, make sure all security patches and firewalls are up-to-date. Always use a VPN (virtual private connection.)

Next, turn off sharing in public spaces. To do this, go to System Preferences or Control Panel. Always remember to turn off Wi-Fi when not needed – this will also prolong the device’s battery life.

Keep in mind that you can always buy an unlimited Wi-Fi plan and never rely on public Wi-Fi again.

Lastly, implementing a two-factor authentication for sensitive sites will prevent malicious hackers from logging onto the site, even if they’ve somehow gained access to the passwords for those sites.

Why and How to Prepare Your Website for Holiday Traffic

holiday traffic

Would you go into the holiday season without preparing if you ran a physical store?

No, of course you wouldn’t.

It’s just as important to get set for the holidays when you’re selling online.

In November and December 2016, online sales hit over $110 billion.

If you want a share of that cash, then you need to make sure that your website is optimized for the increase in visitors.

Don’t let increased holiday traffic be your downfall.

Why is it so important to prepare for holiday traffic?

A website that isn’t properly prepared for the increase in hits during the holiday season could face all sorts of problems.

You might deal with:

  • Too many visitors causing your site to crash
  • Pages loading slowly and putting customers off
  • Slow checkout processes causing customers to abandon their carts

That’s not what you want during one of the most crucial sales periods, right?

Right. So here’s how to stop it from happening.

Check your current speeds

Before you start making changes or assessing the effects of increased holiday traffic, you’ll want to get an idea of where your site currently stands.

There are a few methods for this:

  • Test the site yourself, and ask yourself if it’s fast enough. Use multiple devices, including PCs, mobile phones, and tablets.
  • Use free site speed testing tools – just Google ‘site speed checker’ and take your pick.
  • Pay for user testing. This is valuable for assessing user experience on your site, as well as loading times. A trained tester will record themselves while browsing your site.
  • Sign up for a service that notifies you when your site is down and gives tips on a resolution.

If any issues come up, take these actions before moving on.

Boost your hosting plan

Most eCommerce stores start off on the most basic hosting plan.

That’s understandable, since it’s the cheapest and might work fine most of the time.

However, as your business grows, and during busy periods, you might find that you need to upgrade.

Check your current usage with your hosting provider, and upgrade to the next level if you’re worried about hitting your limits during the holidays.

This ensures your customers won’t be hit with a pesky ‘site unavailable’ notice at a crucial moment during their purchase.

Update your theme and plugins

If you’re using WordPress, make sure all themes and plugins are 100% updated, and keep checking back regularly for new versions.

Out of date plugins can slow down your site, create errors for visitors, and may pose a security risk, making you vulnerable to hackers.

That’s not what you want during the holidays.

No matter which provider you’re using for your site, it’s crucial to keep everything up to date.

Cache your content

What’s caching, you ask?

Well, in simple terms, it means that when customers browse pages they’ve already visited before, they won’t have to wait as long for content to load.

Cached images will show up immediately, leading to faster speeds overall.

Add caching plugins to your WordPress site and they’ll do all the work for you – all you have to do it sit back and enjoy your speedy site.

This step is really important if you have lots of images per page or use very large images.

The holiday season could be the most profitable period for your online store.

Don’t let a poorly optimized website lose you valuable holiday traffic.

Start preparing today.

How to Fix Slow-Loading Images to Boost Performance

loading time

To keep your website attractive to consumers and up to date, it needs to be easy to use. Not only should the interface make sense, but your design should also be appealing and interactive.

For sites who have those two things, that’s great!

But what if even a well-designed site isn’t loading fast enough to make users stay on it? If the design doesn’t load quickly, it doesn’t matter if it’s high quality. No one will wait around to see it.

If your site is having this issue, don’t lose hope. Here, you’ll explore what can be done to fix slow loading images and boost your site’s overall performance.

Test your Site

If there has been an unexplained drop in web traffic lately, it’s worth running a few tests on the site.

These are available for free and will help identify if there’s an issue and what it is. Checking a site often is worth doing even if it’s experiencing great web traffic. If any problems were to arise, it’s best to catch them before they start affecting consumers.

Quick Fixes

There are still lots of ways to fix this issue. Their difficulty and pay-off will all vary. Quick fixes are easier since they don’t change anything in your website code.

Is this Image Necessary?

It’s worth noting that your website needs images. They catch people’s attention and provide information without taking up valuable word space. That being said, not every image needs to be displayed on your site.

The first and easiest solution to slow loading images is to get rid of some. The fewer pictures a site has, the lighter the page will be. This means it will load quickly. Use data from your website to determine what images are worth keeping and which aren’t.

For example, is there a specific page that customers leave quickly or don’t stay on as long? It might be because it has trouble loading. See what on that page can be taken off without sacrificing key information.

For those who are attached to these images, you don’t have to get rid of them for good! An easy solution is to take those pictures and use them as Instagram or Facebook content.

Consumers like to see different images than the ones they see on your site. Plus, this way you’ll have that much less content you need to produce. Customers also like it when websites keep them safe from hackers. Don’t know how? Check it out here.

If you don’t feel like getting rid of or re-purposing your images, don’t lose hope. Resizing pictures is another option.

Resizing Pictures

The quality of pictures can make a big dent on web page weight. The better quality it is, the heavier it will be. Downgrading picture quality sounds like something that will lower your overall web experience — but it’s not.

Keep in mind that when consumers load the site, it’s very unlikely that everything is displayed exactly as it was designed. Differences in computer processing and display change the way websites are presented to their audiences.

Additionally, over 50% of people are now accessing websites from mobile devices, which are less capable of loading high-res images. When we consider these facts, resizing your site’s photos seems like a worthwhile sacrifice.

At first, try going down one or two resolution levels then checking the results on both a computer and a mobile device. Since this image is familiar, it may be hard to see the difference.

To stay objective, show someone who is not aware of the downgrade in resolution the changes. If they can’t tell you’ve made a change, then you’re on the right track.

Then, test the speed of the site at the new resolution level. Hopefully, it will have made an obvious difference. If not, you may need to go down another level or consider a more complex solution.

Code-Based Fixes

If the fixes we looked at before weren’t enough to make a difference, then you may need to edit your site code. There are changes you can make to your code that will help with your image loading.

Not all of these coding changes will make your images load more quickly, but they will provide some improvement.

Simple Image Lazy Load and Fade

Simple Image Lazy Load and Fade is a JavaScript technique that was developed by David Walsh. This coding change changes the way that images load. Instead of the image being white until it’s fully loaded, it will have a fade-in effect.

With this change, consumers are able to see what the image will be — or at least know that the site’s design isn’t broken.

Progressively Enhanced Lazy Loading

If the site having issues has a lot of photos that are necessary for its functionality, there is this coding solution from Robin Osbourne. It works by loading the images at the top of the page first. Then, it will only load the later images if the user scrolls through.

This method tricks browsers into thinking that the images are on separate pages, so the page weight is dispersed.

Blurred Image Effect

Similar to the fade in effect, this coding change shows a blurred version of images to consumers as they load. Many sites are now using this method. This is because it gives the consumer confidence that there will eventually be something to look at.

However, this solution will take some serious code changing. It will have to be built into your code and developed for your specific site. The other two are coding add-ons. This means that you might need the services of a professional in order to get it to work correctly.

Many large and successful sites are using this method and it seems to be working for their customers. Don’t let the cost or workload of this method be frightening if it seems like the right choice for your site.

Well, functioning and well-designed websites are the most important things for keeping traffic steady. The second most important thing? Keeping customers safe from hackers.

 

5 Ways to Protect Your Health Website From Hackers

cybersecurity

If you’re running a health website, you do everything you can to protect the well-being of your clients.

But are you doing everything you can to protect their personal information against hackers and viruses?

Read on to find out how you can keep their data from being compromised.

1. Run Software Updates

When your customers are making inquiries about sensitive information like lap band surgery or a weight loss detox cleanse, the last thing they want is for that to be made public.

One of the easiest things you can do to keep this kind of data private?

Always run updates. Yes, it can be frustrating to have to wait for your computer to boot up. But it’s certainly a lot less frustrating than having all your customers’ personal information exposed.

2. Choose the Right Passwords

This should be a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by some of the phrases you find on this list of the most common passwords.

Is your password among them?

In general, it’s always a good idea to come up with passwords that include letters, numbers, and special characters.

You’ll also need to change your passwords frequently — about once a month to stay safe. Finally, don’t use the same password for all of your accounts. If you do this, you could face a complete disaster if hackers manage to guess it.

3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks

Sure, public and unsecured Wi-Fi is convenient, free, and available when you need it.

It’s also a great way for hackers to get a hold of your customers’ data, and then to hold it for ransom.

A hacker could be sitting at the table right across from you at the coffee shop, stealing your customers’ credit card information while you sip your latte, totally unaware.

Always instruct your employees to avoid public Wi-Fi networks. It’s just not worth the risk.

4. Beware of Suspicious Emails

Some spam emails that likely contain viruses are easier to spot than others.

But especially in today’s world, when so many employees are able to work remotely, you’ll need to take extra care to ensure hackers don’t get a hold of your website.

To ensure nothing goes wrong, it’s a good idea to ask your employees not to check their personal emails on their work computers. It can wait until they get home.

Additionally, avoid opening emails from addresses you don’t know. If you open a spam email and hackers begin infiltrating your network, get professional help immediately.

5. Consider Professional Virus Protection Services

When you’re dealing with sensitive information like someone’s weight, diet, and workout schedule, sometimes the “DIY” approach just isn’t secure enough.

Professional security services can routinely comb through your website and data and look for any suspicious activity. They can create backups of your information, update your software for you, and more.

They’re also always up-to-date with the latest techniques hackers are using.

Protect Your Customers — And Your Brand’s Reputation

With about 30,000 websites hacked every single day, there’s no such thing as being over-prepared when it comes to the security of your website.

Thanks to the tips in this post, you can start taking preventative action today.

 

Laugh Out Loud: 5 Writing Tips for a Humor Site

man and woman laughing over phone

So you’d like to write a funny blog, or at the very least, spice up the blog you’ve already got with a little more humor. After all, blogs are not just there to inform but also to entertain.

The only problem is, you’re not sure how to get started. Maybe you consider yourself a funny guy, based on others’ reactions. Or maybe you’ve been told you’re not that funny and you’d like to get some help.

Well, no problem! Here are some tips that can help you decide what to write about in a humor blog, or how to punch up a serious blog with a little levity.

1. The Unusual and Unexpected

A lot of people mistake shock comedy for the funniest type of comedy but all humor does tend to be based in eliciting some sort of surprise reaction from people. Think of slapstick.

Modern humor is a little more complicated than that, especially when it comes to the written word. But we’ve all had absurd “wtf” moments enter our lives out of nowhere.

Think of something that happened to you or someone you know, some anecdote that seemed really bizarre but still ended up okay. Cultivate a taste for the weird and learn how to spot it in everyday life.

2. Metaphors and Similes

A great way to punch up your writing with humor is to draw exaggerated, absurd comparisons between one set of circumstances and another.

Metaphors and similes often get confused: When you make a direct comparison between two things, that’s a metaphor, but when you say one thing is “like” another or “as” another, that’s a simile.

Wordplay, in general, is a great idea, but try to be witty about it: you shouldn’t use puns, for example, unless they fit the situation and the word perfectly. Bad puns are called “groaners” for a reason.

3. Sarcasm and Irony

These are two concepts that often get confused as well. Sarcasm occurs when you feel one way but pretend to feel the exact opposite; irony is what happens to all of us when life decides to reveal something we didn’t previously know.

Rain on your wedding day is not ironic, unless you’re marrying a meteorologist who insisted on having the wedding outside. If you sing “You Are My Sunshine” to her at the reception, that’s sarcasm.

4. Parody and Satire

Also confused at times, even though they form the backbone of a lot of today’s comedy. The “Family Guy” Star Wars episodes, for example, are parody: they take a sometimes loving, sometimes biting approach to something everyone loves.

Satire usually has a larger point to make about society itself. Think of the hilarious fake news site “The Onion” and all its many terrible imitators.

5. Quotes and Anecdotes

Finally, if you’re out of ideas, or you want to lighten the seriousness of your original ideas with some humor, you can always try funny quotes and anecdotes. Both work best when the subject is something people take pretty seriously: for example, football quotes or political anecdotes.

Again, you’re looking for an unusual or out of the ordinary situation or reaction.

So there you go!

Five pairs of ideas that can jumpstart your comedy blog or improve your serious one. Your tone can be as absurd or deadpan as you want it to be, but it’s your tone and you need to set it.

Laughs make your content memorable… and no matter what your blog is about, it’ll keep folks coming back!

What You Need To Know About Managing Your Digital Marketing Budget

digital marketing budget

In this day and age, marketing is all about dominating the digital space. According to Forbes, over the next five years, businesses in the United States will spend 120 billion on digital marketing alone.

Yes, you read that right. 120 Billion. With a “B.”

This spending shows the direction marketing trends are taking. With all that money swirling around, it’s important that businesses employ sound strategies to manage their marketing budgets.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best strategies your company should be using to manage your budget smartly.

Budget, Plan, Forecast, and Actual

It may seem obvious, but many businesses overlook this essential, yet ever important step.

Using a three-pronged approach to managing your budget is a surefire way to ensure you spend your money wisely and that you’re on track with expectations.

Your budget dictates where to allocate funds over an extended period, such as a year. It should be directly inline with your goals. Once you set your budget, it should remain untouched. Knowing that priorities change, you now introduce the planning portion.

The planning stage is where you can make changes and indicate where you need to spend more or fewer funds. Planning allows you the flexibility to grow with the changing business environment. This part of your budget is perfect for quarterly planning.

The “Forecast” portion is where you input what you actually spend on each area. You should update this mid-month, and when the month ends, you change this over to “actual.”

Using this strategy helps keep a clear focus on spending and your needs as they change.

Diversify Your Budget

Diversifying a marketing budget is an excellent way to make sure you’re hitting all the vital areas for growth.

A good rule of thumb to start with is the 70/20/10 rule.

This rule dictates that 70% of your marketing budget is devoted to tried and true methods. This area would include strategies or products that have a proven ROI time and time again.

20% of the budget should be allocated to safer bets, perhaps products that are newer on the scene but shows real growth potential.

10% is devoted to experimental channels, ones that with some risk, may lead to significant payoffs.

By employing this strategy, you are making sure you’ll hit your marks monthly, quarterly, etc. but also leave room for expanding and getting in on new and profitable trends.

Feel free to change the percentages around, as this is just a general guideline. Do what works for your business and risk tolerance.

Check In Often

Any successful business will tell you a budget should not only help manage your money but provide important insight as well.

To fully utilize the knowledge your budget can give you, you need to check in often. Experts suggest checking in on your spending middle of the month, end of the month, mid-quarter, end of each quarter and yearly.

By taking full stock of your corporate accounting, you can avoid surprises and adjust accordingly.

It’s also important is to analyze your ROI by employing services such as Google Analytics to make sure your methods are working, and that you’re on target.

While just one of the strategies can help you better spend your marketing money, using them in conjunction with each other is an excellent way to maximize your ROI potential.

Use these three strategies for managing your digital marketing budget, and you’ll be sure to have wisely spent your portion of that 120 billion over the next five years.