Tag Archives: websites

Don’t Get Caught Looking Like Your Business Is Unethical

Imagine you’re searching the internet looking for someone to provide services for you. Imagine that you come across a website that looks pretty neat and professional. It not only offers the services you’re looking for but many others. And look, there are lots of testimonials on the site, and even pictures of the people who gave those testimonials, just like this one:

contentproz

Looks pretty good, right? Now imagine you’re someone going about your business, and you find out about a site like this, go to take a look, and lo and behold, there’s your image clear as day, supposedly advocating for a site you’ve never heard of, with a totally different name and in a business that’s not your own.

In this case the lady’s name is Kristi Hines of Kikolani, not Pamela, and she’s one of the top internet writers in the country. She knows a lot about SEO, but that’s not her primary focus. She was stunned to find out that this company had someone obtained her image and used it in their advertising.

I’m not going to mention the website because I don’t want to give them the publicity; she might be trying to do something about removing her image as we speak. It’s possible that the company hired someone else to do the work and that company scarfed up the image from somewhere, figured no one would ever find out, and, well, it’s a super cute face with a great smile, so why not.

As you can imagine, within her circles this is getting a lot of buzz. And since these people profess to do something among their multitude of services that she does, and I’d have to say does better than them, word will be getting out all over the internet & social media circles (that’s where I learned about it), and it will put this company into a compromised situation because this is someone a lot of people like.

The point is that it shouldn’t have come to this. Most of us know that the people shown on many websites, especially in the header area, don’t really work for the company. We’re used to stock images and the like; we get it, because no one stands around posing like they do in some of these pictures.

There are so many sources for finding images that one can use for free that it’s amazing whoever decided to grab this image for its use didn’t go that route. It makes them look bad and, online, once word spreads that you’ve possibly done something unethical, even if it wasn’t specifically you, it’s hard to regain any momentum you or your business might have gained.

Remember, your website is your business, not the business of the person who created it. Don’t get caught up like this, and if you’re thinking about doing it don’t do it. I might say who this is one day… let’s see if someone comes along to identify them so I don’t have to.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

Hacked, And How I Recovered From It

In July 2013, on a Monday night, as I was getting ready to head to bed, I started having some trouble on one of my blogs. I didn’t think much of it, figuring all would be right the next morning.

SIGNAGE
Neal Fowler
via Compfight

Next morning I woke, came to the computer and tried to access that blog; access denied. I then tried accessing other blogs; some I could see, others said access denied. I then tried to look at my websites; some I could see portions, others access was denied; yeah, that’s a big problem.

I called my friend Kelvin, with whom I share the space, and asked him to look into it, as I had to get to work. He wrote me with the bad news; per the host, I’d been hacked through two of my blogs. Luckily, the host caught the attack and froze access, which was why I couldn’t access anything. He forwarded me the email which explained part of the problem, and what I had to do to fix it.

When I got back to the hotel (as I’m out of town right now) I went to work on the problem. I’m telling you what I did so and what you should do if it happens to you you’ll be able to fix it quicker than I did.

First, the email mentioned that I’d been hacked through the footer of themes on two different blogs that I wasn’t using. Truthfully, when I saw the names I didn’t even remember having those themes on those sites. It didn’t matter; they had to go. The email recommended certain files to remove through a FTP (file transfer protocol) program. I mainly use WS-FTP, but I’m going to recommend Filezilla for those times when you have to delete lots of stuff. WS-FTP lets you delete things, but it won’t delete any folders that have files in them, which can be a pain as I’ll bring up; Filezilla will take care of the entire thing for you.

I went in & deleted the files recommended, and while I was at it I decided to delete the entire theme as well off both blogs. However, all my sites were still closed down afterwards.

The next thing it recommended was for me to go in and update all the software on my blogs. Here’s where, if I’d known something I’ll mention in a little bit, I’d have bypassed. The reason I’d have bypassed it is because I had already updated all the blogging software; all I ended up doing later on was delete and re-add what I already had. If I hadn’t updated it would be a different story; I wasted a lot of time on this step, one I could have skipped if I’d had Filezilla already on my laptop, as I have it on my main computer at home.

Hacked
Nina Helmer
via Compfight

Here’s the problem. My assumption was that the hack, which wasn’t major but still problematic, had infiltrated all my sites. What happened instead is that once my host, 1&1, locked everything down, it shut down all my sites, not just the two blogs that were hacked. If I’d thought of what I’m about to tell you now I’d have saved at least 3 1/2 hours, as I spent 4 1/2 hours on the problem.

The other thing I want to tell you about is using free themes from other people. Most people who create free themes add things into the footer and hide them with some type of scrambling program. I learned that a long time ago when one of my blogs was being found for certain terms that I’d never written about. I obtained some software so I could see what was in there, stripped it out, and never had another problem with those terms after a month or so.

However, the blogs hacked are my oldest blogs, and I had downloaded a bunch of other themes that I never used, thus I never thought about those footers. I got away with it a long time, but in retrospect I should have deleted themes I was never going to use, other than those that WordPress gives you; take that as a major hint and recommendation.

Anyway, I spent hours deleting files and folders, first with WS-FTP, which took a very long time on the one blog I used it for, then with Filezilla, which went way faster but I’m on a hotel’s internet connection, not the speedy 30 MBPS I have at home, so it still took awhile. Truthfully, it’s possible that if I hadn’t reloaded that software I might not have been able to get into my dashboards and would have still had to go through the process, but I should have done this other thing first, which would have been a snap and maybe might have saved a lot more time.

Ondra  Soukup via Compfight

When the host locked down my sites, what they did was change the file permissions to 644, which basically shuts everything down; at least it did for me, as I couldn’t see any of my files online, though I could get in through the FTP. To make sure everyone else can see what you want them to see, you need to change the file permissions to 755.

You can do this a number of ways, but the fastest and easiest way to do it is to use a FTP program that can do it for you. WS-FTP can’t do it, but Filezilla can. I went online and downloaded it, as it’s free, loaded it up, then used the username & password that accesses all my sites at once so I could work on multiple accounts at the same time. What you do is right click on the file or folder you want to be accessible, see what the permission is, and change it by typing in 755 over the 644 or, possibly, xxx if that’s what you see. Then you hit okay and it releases those files and your stuff can be seen once more. When I was done, all my sites were back up, looking like they were supposed to; whew!

By the way, you might have an occasion to have files on your site which you don’t want anyone to know exists, hence you’ll want to be perspicacious in determine whether you want all your folders or files having their permissions changed.

Here are the major lessons to take away from here.

Preparing maize samples for molecular analysis, Kenya
International Maize
and Wheat Improvement Center

via Compfight

One, stay cool; by staying cool I didn’t do anything really stupid.

Two, if you don’t already have a preferential FTP program I’d recommend Filezilla. The program I use is pretty old, but I’m most comfortable with it for the most part, even if it can’t do everything Filezilla can.

Three, follow the initial instructions recommended by deleting bad stuff they tell you to get rid of.

Four, I should have tested the file permissions on one of my blogs first to see if I could regain access and if I could get into my dashboard before reloading everything; I could have always done it if I hadn’t gained access after the test.

Five, always keep your software up to date when recommendations for upgrading come your way for security reasons. At least I had that part covered.

And six… well, lucky for me I was hacked only to mess with me. They couldn’t get into my blogs or content because I have some plugins on it that protects the blogs, as well as passwords hard enough to figure out to make it more of a chore. That and quick thinking from my host saved me.

Lots to learn here; I hope it helps someone in the long run if this situation comes your way.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

Getting The Most Out Of Shutting Down A Business And A Blog Online

Back in July I wrote a post titled Are You Spreading Yourself Too Thin. In that post, I talked about how sometimes we all try to do too much and how I had way too many things going on, especially with all the travel I was doing at the time.

I listed some things to think about, but point #4 was especially telling, though most people seemed to have missed it:

Don’t be afraid to let go of certain things, but make sure you look at it from all sides first before doing it.

For those who don’t know me, I have a main business. With that main business, which is incorporated (which means, by law, that officially I’m both the president and CEO of my organization), I had basically 3 business divisions, two of which I market off one website.

First off, I’m a health care finance consultant. In essence, I help hospitals generate more revenue and bring in more cash while making sure they stay compliant, which means aren’t doing things that are illegal. I’m very good at that, with my biggest success being that I helped one hospital increase their revenue by $730 million in one year; not many people can say that.

Second, I write about and talk about leadership issues, which includes diversity, communications, and all things that involve employees and, well, people in general. With that part I’ve spoken in 9 states and given presentations, and over there on the left, under the Twitter bird, you see the first book I wrote on leadership (I have people reading what will be the second book, coming out sometime early in 2015).

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Third… I have a business called SEO Xcellence. The purpose of that business was building websites, doing SEO work and writing. Because of that business I presented in public 4 or 5 times locally and, well, y’all know that I have written for lots of folks other than myself, and still do on occasion.

Let’s talk about this last one.

This business started kind of on a whim. I gave a presentation to a consulting group I belong to as a last minute replacement because our scheduled speaker notified us she couldn’t make it. In one day I put together a presentation on social media marketing, and I gave that presentation the day after. It was such a hit that within a week 3 of the people in that room were clients of mine.

That was quite a rush! Over the course of the next few years I’d build some websites for people and organizations, optimize them, and write some of their content. It was a nice way to make some extra money when I wasn’t traveling as much, which came as we changed presidents and the economy was in the tank. Hospitals weren’t hiring consultants, companies weren’t doing any leadership training, organizations weren’t hiring speakers outside of their area to save on costs… but writing gigs were everywhere.

Over time, it got tiring building websites, and it also wasn’t overly economical anymore. I’m not a designer; I build basic websites that tell the story of a business; in other words, SEO friendly sites. These days, websites are either templates or monsters, both extremes from what I do, and I just don’t have the time to keep up with the technology.

I still know SEO, but marketing it to people who have no idea what it is and learn that it doesn’t necessarily conform to ROI (return on investment) like other businesses do was very difficult. Frankly, it’s hard enough marketing my health care talents without trying to figure out how to market for something that, based on a person’s business, might not work for them.

So, I stopped marketing overall, but I kept up with blogging. Not as much as with this blog, but I was still putting out the articles on some kind of schedule.

Then I got my last gig in Memphis, and I was gone for basically 18 months. Some of my blogs started to suffer.

IMG_20141110_190214
you can only buy this
apple in central New York

My local central New York blog probably suffered the most, but that was okay because it’s a personal blog. My finance blog started to suffer as the quality of guest posts seemed to get worse, and I didn’t have the time to read and fix all that stuff and still, hopefully, write my own articles here and there.

The blog on SEO Xcellence? Truthfully, many of the articles I wrote there work just as well on this blog. The differences were twofold, but neither major. One, the audience for that blog was, hopefully, business people who might be looking to hire someone to do the services that I was writing about. Two, most of those articles were much shorter than things I’d put on this blog. I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past about how what you write changes depending on who you’re writing for.

Anyway, during my week at home over Labor Day week I came to a decision that it was time to shut down SEO Xcellence for good. As an act of serendipity, while thinking about it that week I got the notice from GoDaddy telling me that the domain would expire in the middle of December.

That’s pretty perfect timing if you ask me. What I did next was go to the blog and highlight articles I thought I could use on this blog. Then slowly, over time, I moved all those posts over to this blog and saved them as drafts. I also went and looked at any articles I thought I could use here and saved them as well.

Whenever I did that I immediately made those posts private on the SEO blog. I did that because I knew that after some time they’d drop off the search engine’s record, meaning that when I re-posted them over here I’d be good, and there wouldn’t be any question of duplicate content. Actually, since all my sites are on the same server and under the same account I might not have taken a hit anyway, but why take chances right?

How many articles did I move? Well, let me just say that many articles you’ve seen over the last few months started over there, and if I decided just to pop what I brought over here up twice a week until they were gone, I wouldn’t have to write another post until the first week of May. Now that’s valuable stuff!

Not only that, but with some help from Mitchell Allen I’ve marked many articles on that site to be used to help create an ebook about blogging. Yeah, I know, there are lots of them out there, and our buddy Adrienne Smith just created her new course on building a blogging community (by the way, that’s not an affiliate link for me; anything you buy goes totally to her) but at least it would be another product for me; gotta keep making stuff. 🙂 Anyway, more proof that there is always a use for old content.

In about 40 minutes or so, the very last blog post on that site will appear. It’s very short, telling anyone who’s ever read it (very few people I might add) that it’s all going away, and to come here to look at why. Truthfully, I probably should have consolidated these two sites a long time ago. It’s so much easier having all my similar content in one place, don’t you think? Also, I’m not linking to it because, since the link would go bad in less than a month anyway, I’d have to remember to come back here to remove it.

Closed
slimmer_jimmer via Compfight

Shutting down the other site and the other business takes a great load off my mind. I will never build another website unless it’s for myself or a friend. If I get writing gigs, I’ll get them because of this blog. If I get asked to speak at another conference, it’ll be because of this blog.

I’m not the first person to shut down a blog, but I’ve seen many people do it, go on to something else, and not think about the content they have on that site. I’m also not the first person to shut down a business, as my buddy Peter and his brother shut down a business a couple of years ago. It’s not an easy thing to do but sometimes it’s necessary.

By the way, this actually aligns with some of the goals I set for 2014, and I actually mentioned that other business. Nice to see I will accomplish at least one of the goals I set for myself.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I’ll be thinking about more things as time moves on also. Focus needs to be my goal because my eventually wished-for outcome is to have $10 million in the bank in 10 years. Yeah, it’s pretty audacious; but remember, every rich person who made it on their own started with a dream. 🙂

And I can resume trying to build the audience up for this blog again; yay!
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

CNET: The Site That Was Cool Isn’t Anymore For Downloads…

When I was first getting acclimated to being online a couple of decades ago, everyone used to say that the place to go for downloading things was CNet. Back in the day, even PC World used to always send you there to download many of the things they found that they thought were great free programs for all of us to use.

Malware
mdaniels7 via Compfight

Even though PC World still does this sometimes, they’re a lot less likely to do so these days, and there’s a major reason why. At least from my perspective, it seems like every file one downloads from there is loaded with bloat ware and, dare I say, a lot of malware, to the extent that if you’re not paying attention to what you’re loading onto your computer, the next thing you know you’ve added toolbars, coupon and sales software, and who knows what else.

It’s gotten so bad that I refuse to download anything else from them. Unfortunately, my friends haven’t learned their lessons yet, so who keeps getting the calls because something’s gone wonky with their systems? You guessed it; sigh. Thing is, it’s hard to tell someone not to download things from a site that’s so highly ranked and well known. What happened to CNet?

I’m not the first one to talk about this, and it’s not really all that new. Back in December 2011 the Inquirer talked about it in relation to a forum poster of some significance who was irked with the process. In Early 2013 botcrawl.com confirmed the malware coming through CNet’s new download site, correctly called Download.com (nope, not giving them a link).

What’s funny is many of their bigger accounts put out warnings to their potential customers saying that consumers need to make sure they’re clicking on the correct button when downloading products because it could lead to other problems if you’re not downloading the right thing. You think?

If you can, find another place to download your stuff, paid or free. Otherwise, unless you’re technically savvy, you’ll find yourself awash in ads and unable to get out from under it. That is, unless you have a friend like me who lives close enough to fix it for you.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

10 Years Ago

Yes, another video post for you, but of course I get to do a brief setup for it.

I was watching a video by Lynn Terry of Clicknewz.com on her video channel which she titled What Would You Say. She was asked a question as to what advice she’d give her past self about 10 years ago. I thought that was an intriguing question, and I liked how she answered it so much that I decided to address it myself, and thought it would be neat doing it by video.

In the video, I give one personal tip and one business tip, which actually ends up being more than one business tip and that’s the reason you should watch it. One other thing that’s new in the video is that I’m wearing a white shirt that I didn’t even know I had. I don’t have a lot of white shirts. I have one dress white shirt for emergencies, a white t-shirt with a picture of my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family, and a Syracuse University white shirt that I don’t even think they put out anymore (I actually have two of these t-shirts), as I haven’t seen anyone locally supporting the team wearing white. That’s what happens when your team is called The Orange. lol

It’s a relatively short video of around 6 minutes, and this time I recorded it without so much density so it uploaded much faster, which didn’t depress me at all. It looks fine on this side; I hope it looks fine where you are as well. Here we go!

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell