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CitrusKiwi's Web Design, Internet & Marketing blog

Get hints and tips about web design, SEO, and things internet. We also discuss online security issues, showcase new client websites and offer hints on marketing and networking.

Behind the Scenes

I've had a client, from time to time, ask why they should keep paying their monthly subscription. Fair question. As business-people, we all need to be looking at our expenses and trimming where necessary. First though, let me ask a question.  Why have a website? With nearly 90% of all purchases starting life as an internet search there's really no question why. The fact is, whether it's a new hair product, a vacation, a car or even a house, we all head to one of the search engines to start our hunt. And if a business doesn't have a solid web presence, then they're already well behind the pack. So, back to the original question... Why continue paying every month? What the client is really asking is, WIIFM (What's In It For Me)? And, again, that's a fair question. Some business-people see adverts on somewhere like Craigslist for a website...
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Time to revamp your site for 2015

Wow - already January 17, and, to our embarrassment we look at the date of my last post..... The truth is, it's been pretty busy since late last year and then with Christmas and New Year, the blog got a little neglected. And now we're neck deep in revamping our CitrusKiwi site as it needs an overhaul. There have been things we were never totally happy with and we have tons new content going on it; so keep checking back! Expected launch date is the month's end (hopefully this month!! LOL!) Every year... We recommend that you look very critically at your site at least once a year. If you're one of our clients, then you'll be getting regular updates about traffic and rankings. From the traffic reports you can determine which pages visitors most frequent, and then you can spend time honing those pages to new-client-producing dynamos! And the...
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Mobile v Responsive v App v Nothing

I was asked this week, whether, 1) A "mobile type" website is needed at all, and 2) if so, what type? That's a great question and, at least, showed that the asker was engaged with basic website design ideas, or, at the very least, wanting to know. As the old saying goes, "The stupidest question is the one never asked!" Do I need a mobile version of any type? First part - "Do you need a mobile ready version of your site?" An unequivocal, "YES!" There is no doubt that a website that is not easily viewed on a mobile device is already at a serious disadvantage. And, with 60% or more searches conducted on some type of mobile device, that puts your business in a bad internet state. Which type to have? The 4 types are in the headline - Mobile, Responsive, App, or Nothing. They all work a...
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Why your website is a hacking target

I quite regularly hear clients and non-clients alike boldly proclaim their website is safe because it's small and insignificant. It doesn't have sensitive data such as credit card or social numbers on it. The reality is quite different. The 3 main hacking reasons Malicious "joyriders" For want of a better term (and to be polite!) I'll liken them to someone who steals your car, races it round town, then crashes it into something and runs off. These hackers are in it to either hack you because you're there, to see if they can, or to deface your site, either with nasty stuff or to promote something that's "dear" to them. This sort of hacking is usually very evident when you, or you client, visit the site. Data thieves These hackers are out for information, stuff they can either make use of - credit card details, social numbers, etc - or...
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Flashlights apps stealing your data

A few weeks back, someone on Facebook alerted me to the raft of permissions I, and every other app user, blindly says "Yes" to when installling them. We give them permission to take photos and videos, send and receive messages, snoop round in our data. The list of permissions is truly staggering. But this last week, I read that one of the worst culprits is the humble flashlight app - or more correctly, some of them. It seems that some of them have taken noseyness to a whole new level sending all types of info back to their authors. Take the "Super bright LED Flashlight" app. This is what it can do (YOU gave it permission to when you installed it!): control flashlight - well that's what you'd expect, but... retrieve running apps modify or delete the contents of your USB storage test access to protected storage take pictures and...
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Google ordered... and complies

It's a truly wonderful thing to see giant, Google, lose one (or 2 in this case). From a designer's and SEO's point of view, Google is like living in olden days when one felt the need to "please the gods". With over 60-70% of search traffic, getting it wrong with Google is bad for business. Because of their economic situation, they have huge power to do pretty much whatever they feel like - even if it's wrong, who can afford to sue them? However, 2 recent court cases have brought at least the glimmer of a smile to the "Google haters". First in Europe, and now Japan. Courts from both areas have ordered Google to "forget" individuals pasts - including debts, convictions and other "embarrassing" data under Europe's and Japan's tough anti-defamation legislation. This all seems wondeful, and, for the individuals concerned, it probably is. However, when we view the...
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2 for the week

We're pleased to launch 2 new sites this last week, both sporting the new slider module we've recently gotten hold of. In the past we've avoided these types of sliders as they've been, in the main, Flash based and Flash doesn't display on Apple devices. As we try very hard to make sure your site displays correctly across all devices, then Flash was out IMHO. However, with the advent of CSS3 and HTML5, the options have opened up, allowing sliders like these to be within the reach of everyone. To all my existing clients, we can now offer you this free of charge if you want it - that's the power of having 12 hours free maintenance every year - you never have to worry about how much it'll cost. A slider like the ones on these pages will use about -35 hours to set up depending on its complexity....
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Lessons from a Lovebird

"Out of the mouths of babes, oft time come gems." This well-known saying, probably derived from Psalms in the Bible, should remind us to always be on the lookout to learn a life lesson in the most obscure of places. Today, I have 2 posts, as I felt compelled to write this second one, not about how to exponentially multiply your traffic, guarantee 100% click through, or how to have the best website in the world, but rather to share a few "gems". When you're down, sing louder! Life is full of ups and downs, good and bad, want and plenty. How we react during these times determines who we are. When Kenya, our Lovebird, was getting low on water or food he'd sing and chat to us even more than normal. Without being a whinger, when life is tough, gather your friends around you and ask for support. A...
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1 sentence email grabs cold clients' attention

If you've been in business more than 6 months, and especially if you've tried some sort of internet marketing, then you'll undoubtedly have a bunch of names and addresses of people who looked, but never bought. Here's a 1 liner email that will really grab their attention and garner a pretty good response rate. Firstly, I have to admit that this isn't my idea, but I loved it and unashamedly nabbed it to send to all my customers, because I thought it was brilliant. An Aussie firm is using and is, reportedly, doing great things with it. And, let's face it, if they contacted you, then did nothing, what have you got to lose? What emails get opened? I get lots of "buy this" emails every day. Most I delete without opening, some I open, scan, and delete. All that effort is just wasted on me. "Make $xxxx in 5...
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21 tips to stay healthy at your desk

With the world becoming more and more based around computers, here's a list of ideas to keep healthy even if you're stuck at a desk or computer every day. Take a break at least once an hour. Every hour (set a timer on your computer if you need to), get up & take a quick walk somewhere (workmate’s desk, farthest restroom, photocopier, water cooler). Just get moving. Stretch and move where you sit. Can't go anywhere? Bend and touch your toes, walk or march on the spot a few minutes, rev it up with jumping jacks (who cares what the office thinks!). Mobile meetings. If you have a brainstorm session or meeting scheduled, do it on the move! Walk & win! It's not only good for fitness & health, but can help reduce stress & increases creativity! Elevators, escalators and moving walkways - Public Enemy #1! Maybe you work on...
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Internet costs & speed - are we being ripped off?

We switch on our computers and expect the internet to flood into our room. And, usually, that happens. But are we getting the speeds we deserve, or even, that we are paying for? By the end of this year (2014), Americans will have paid about $400 billion (yes, with a "B") by major players, AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink to "future-proof" our network with fiber optic cabling. Cabling that NEVER materialized! Though varying between states, once all the fees, taxes and surcharges are taken into account, every household would have been fleeced about $4-5,000 from 1992-2014. Back in 1992, state laws mandated that broadband speeds should be 45mbps in both directions. My current Cox connection (in Phoenix) gives me about 65Mbps download, and around 11-12Mbps upload - a far cry from 45 each way. It might be comforting, at least, to know that, poor speed aside, we in America at least...
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Free internet advertising on Craigslist

It's not often that you get something worthwhile for free. In the realm of internet marketing, many people think of AdWords when the topic comes up. But did you know there are many great opportunities to advertise for free on the net, and quite successfully? The more obvious ones are sites like MerchantCircle, Yelp (though I have issues with some of the less-than-reputable dealings), & your local city business directories. But the one I'm going to mention in more detail is Craigslist. Yes, it has a worse look than a 980's website done by an amateur, but, for many industries, it can yield great results. It also seems to be better in some cities than others. When we were in Citrus Heights, CA (part of Sacramento) we got 1-2 inquiries off it every week. And many of those became customers. However, Arizonans (specifically in Phoenix) web design at least on...
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You website NEEDS video too

There are 3 main learning styles, auditory, visual and kinesthetic. It's hard to do kinesthetic on your website - they're the touchy feely group - offer them a free sample by filling in a SIMPLE form. Visual is what you're already doing (I will assume you have a visually appealing website - if you don't talk to us about a redesign). But where is your site on auditory? If you're at zero, join the club - most are. As many as 60%+ of the population learn by visual primarily. For those people, lack of video seriously underpowers your site!  With the price of video production falling dramatically, it's now easier than ever to add video to your site. And, if a pictures says 1000 words, then a video says 1000 pictures. You now have the ability to showcase your business and your products and/or services like never before. Here's a...
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Malicious code in Joomla templates

A coule of weeks back, I blogged about using add-ons/extensions for Joomla that came from warez sites, and the potential security problems associated with that (see "How to get a free lunch on the internet" ). A joomla website is just a bunch of images, text, HMTL files , PHP files and CSS files . Whilst it's possivle to attach "nasties" to an image, or embed in text, when it comes to websites, usually the most common is adding code to one of the last 3. And of those 3, PHP is the "best" (from a hackers point of view) as it's the most powerful for wreaking havoc. Templates for Joomla, or any modern CMS , are a collection of HTM, CSS and PHP files, so are just a good a target for hackers as the core website files. When we're doing sites we code our own templates - we...
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Small business should benefit from Pigeon

In the ever-changing world of search engine rankings, Google recently released a major upgrade to their algorithm - the first major release in quite a while. Nicknamed "Pigeon" it promises to be good for local based businesses, which make up a huge percentage of the nation's businesses and covers almost every "Mom and Pop" one. Local business directories - you've all used them before, they're Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc - have received a boost and the long-running fracas between Yelp and Google seems to have been fixed, with Yelp results now showing up properly in searches. So what's in it for me? If you're a local business, that is, you don't try and grab your customers right throughout the nation, you could see a significant improvement in search rankings - depending on the search phrase of course. If someone searches for "Pizza, Phoenix", or "sporting goods, surprise az", then, assuming your...
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60% of small business websites have been hacked

According to the latest statistics from the British Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), 60% of small businesses had a cyber security breach in 2013, slightly down from 64% in 2012. I'm doubting that the stats are any better anywhere else. Current statistics show you have a better than even chance of having your website hacked! Often, hacking is just an annoyance, requiring deletion of the existing upload, and reinstalling of a (known) clean backup. Oh, you DO do regular backups right? DON'T rely on your host to do it - mostly they don't care as long as you don't infect their servers. Assuming you have a backup, you can restore. But does your website, or the server it's on, have security holes? An article I was reading this week talked about one such small business from the UK who got hacked. The owner had had a great holiday...
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How to get a "free lunch" on the internet

"There's no such thing as a free lunch". It's a well known saying, but do you know just how it applies to the internet? What IS a "free lunch" on the internet? "Free" download Yes, there are many great genuinely free programs and content you can download. I run a number of free alternatives to paid programs. Though I actually own a legit copy of Photoshop CS3, I have never invested the time needed to learn it, so I use a reasonable alternative called Inkscape - free download. However, a quick Google search will also give you dozens, if not hundreds, or links to sites offering full copies of Photoshop for free. So why not? Well, because it's illegal (plenty of reason on its own), but also because the download has a high probability of containing one or more viruses. What you don't know about website add-ons/extensions So you don't...
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The pot and the kettle

I'm sure most people know the old saying, "The pot's calling the kettle black!" and what it means . Recently, search giant Google has been drawing a lot of attention in Europe for "antitrust" matters and is poised to come to a settlement with the EU. However, there has been some very vocal outrage at this settlement from the likes of Microsoft (read Bing). Just recently, Yelp, who has been critical of Google and its practices in the past, has added its voice to the verbal barrage. Yelp's CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman, wrote to European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso recently to add its disapproval. Part of his letter says... Upon reflecting on our discussion about the European Digital Agenda, and my company’s historic role as a concerned observer of Google’s anticompetitive actions, I realized Yelp’s current status as a mere witness within the DG-COMP deliberations was inadequate; in order to truly...
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Back links v Content - who wins?

In early web days, back links didn't exist so this was an easy question to answer,, well, it never got asked! The last 4-5 years have seen back links take on enormous weight, which lead to link farms, and link buying. Depending on who you are, this was either good or bad. Today, Google takes a very dim view of either of these practices, and regularly penalizes sites caught doing it - even if they did it a few years ago. So it's not uncommon to receive "link removal" requests from webmasters or SEO people in an attempt to get into Google's good graces again. So, does this mean that all back links are bad? No, but you need to be careful where they're coming from and how. If your site had 5 backlinks yesterday, but today has 500, Google is going to smell a rat. It's about a natural...
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5 simple rules for a safe internet experience

As a web designer and webmaster, internet security is a huge issue. Not only for myself and my company's site, but for all my clients. Part of my job is protecting my clients from my other clients. It's like this..... For the last couple of months, I've had all manner of high power techs chasing a spamming bot that's very sophisticated and tenancious. As soon as we block one avenue, it morphs and starts using another. We were all convinced it was some sneaky piece of code buried deep in one client's site. But multiple scans and digging revealed nothing. In the end, we've concluded it's very much off-site and, in fact, on my client's computer (one or more of them). Why didn't we go this route sooner, you may ask? The simple fact is, as a host and webmaster, internet security for my clients is my job, and it's...
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