WordPress Security: Five Essentials for Today

Don’t take your WordPress website security for granted. Timely advice from Dan Parrington of The Parrington Review.

The Ink Blog

Wordpress SecurityDrop Cap For those of us who work and wander in the online business world, the value of maintaining a privately owned website cannot be overstated. Our websites are our offices, shopfronts, even second homes. In the bustling metropolis that is the world wide web, we carve out a presence and identity. Our websites provide the foundation for professional credibility, branding and transaction.

The criminal element of the online community applies itself relentlessly to the task of finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in online property. Invaders dig for private data, plant malicious code and hijack sites for their own purposes. Make no mistake: your digital assets are as much a target as the vehicle in your driveway!

We lock our vehicles for good reason. No one expects to have their car stolen, but neither is anyone immune to the possibility. Countless websites have been stolen or otherwise compromised even in the past year…

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How to Setup Google Plus Authorship for Better SEO

This month, Philip Day Communications features a guest blog titled: “How to Setup Google Plus Authorship for Better SEO” from Brian Loebig of Loebig Ink.

The Ink Blog

google authorship seoGoogle Plus Authorship enables writers, authors, bloggers and even guest bloggers to digitally claim their online content. It also makes Google search engine results appear with ones profile image next to the web page or article. Linking your online content to a personal Google Plus account will help increase your credibility and will likely boost your search engine rankings as well. Clicks to search results that have an author thumbnail will undoubtedly generate higher click through rates which will in turn influence search engine rankings. Matt McGee, Editor in Chief of Search Engine Land, described one of the hidden benefits of Google Authorship as increased links that appear when a Google Author verified site is visited. Since the process to setup Google Plus Authorship is relatively simple and cost neutral it is definitely a recommended and worthy exercise for businesses taking their SEO strategy to the next level.

Step…

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Always Relevant: Creating Fresh Content for Websites

“You are irrelevant.”

That is one of the worst insults a person can hear. When something is “outdated” or “out of touch,” it at least implies that you have hopes of becoming “updated” or “in touch” some day.

fruit basket Philip Day Communications blog“Irrelevant,” however, seems so dismissive. So…permanent.

In the world of website content, “irrelevant” can also mean “out of business.” If your business website content is old, stale and inaccurate then you’re losing new customers and website traffic.

Additionally, search engines  will not respect your site. You may have the best racing bikes  or chocolate gelato or cleaning services in the area, but if your content is old, your company website  may not show up until the third or fourth page in the major search engines. Most people will only go to the the second page, if that far.

Your site, then, has become irrelevant as search engines go.  Even worse, your competitors in the first two pages bring in the new clients with their fresh content and you bring in nothing.

There is a way, though, to resolve this dilemma: add new content. It’s not that difficult but if you do the following (as I do with clients of my company, Philip Day Communications), you may crawl your way back up the all-important search engine pages so you your new customers can find you:

  1. Write new, fresh content: add new keywords, key phrases and descriptions; edit or delete entire pages of old content; add new pages of fresh content; add lists
  2. Write quality content: use proper grammar; avoid cliches and trendy terminology; use full sentences (when appropriate)  
  3. Stay away from the “hard sell”: avoid pushing your content on the reader; present your  product(s) and then give them an easy way to purchase it (conversion)
  4. Add images and graphics: photos, logos and other illustrations always add interest for the reader and makes it easier for search engines to find your pages
  5. Use descriptive titles and headlines: “About Us” may work in some industries but having, “About our Transmission Services” as your page title may bring in even more website traffic and interest

Websites are similar to a giant brown basket of fresh fruit. When the basket first arrives, the bananas are bright yellow, the apples are polished red and the grapes shiny purple. Your mouth waters as you gaze at the splash of colors. They’re almost too beautiful to eat. You grab a fresh, juicy apple, take a bite of it and walk away.

Three days later, as the still-new basket sits in the center of the kitchen table, the uneaten bananas darken a little and spots appear on the peelings.

Five days later, the apple skins show signs of bruising and the grapes get mushy. The bananas are dark and mushy.

In just a few more days, the stale content of that nice new basket will be unsightly and inedible. (Even though, the basket will look the same, except maybe a little sticky.)

Your website is like that basket of fruit. Five years ago, your web pages were brand new. You were still selling polka-dot bikes and Ms. Janeway was the CEO.

Since then, however, polka-dot bikes are outdated and out of stock while Ms. Janeway has retired and moved to South Florida. Your site resembles that fruit basket: stale and unsightly.

So, now is the time to load fresh, new content onto your site and become relevant again.

Or, it can fade away like so many now-irrelevant business sites.

It’s an easy choice to make, right? Just do it soon.

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Being Real in the Voiceover World

“Make it real. The audience has to believe in and trust the character. If you fail to build that trust by just reading your lines, then your acting is in vain.”

fiddler-on-the-roof posterThose were the words of my college drama instructor at Liberty University as I stood on the stage rehearsing a scene for the play, “Fiddler on the Roof”. I stood there, imagined myself as a the “real Russian soldier” not the “pretend Russian soldier”. Within minutes, I began to relate to my character and feel the emotions he felt according to the script.

Then, I manifested those emotions in my scene with the other characters. After only a few takes, I had “become” the character I sincerely believed him to be.

Following opening night, several members of the cast and crew approached me after the play and said how convincing I was in that scene. They believed the emotions that I expressed because my performance was sincere. I sympathized with the character and “became” him.

The audience perceives if you’re just acting or if you have actually “become” the character. They will see if you’ve only memorized the lines and simply walked through the blocking (movements of the character). If you’re seen as just an actor playing the part, you have done a disservice to the cast and to the audience as it brings everyone down. The play is not quite as believable and that can be difficult to overcome.

When it comes to voiceovers, the same rule applies. The voiceover artist needs to believe in the product or the audience will hear it and probably won’t believe it or, most importantly, not buy it, either. Have you ever heard a radio or TV commercial where the voiceover actor(s) sounded like they were insincere about the product?

Sadly, I’ve heard quite a few commercials like that. They’re painful to listen to and I’ve actually been embarrassed for the company that paid for the advertisement.

Some characteristics that I’ve noticed in an “insincere” voice track (or narration) are these:

  1. flat delivery
  2. rushed delivery
  3. forced enthusiasm
  4. “reading” the script instead of “performing” the script
  5. incorrect pronunciations

When I hear any or all of those inflections in the narrator’s voice, I immediately ignore or disregard it. If they don’t “buy into” or believe in the product, why should I?

As a voiceover artist, the importance of being “real” in any track that I do for a client is of paramount importance. I should believe in the product and want you, the potential consumer, to do the same.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we’re not similar to actors. We do have a script that the agency or client has written for us. We are directed in how we read the copy. They tell us what details we have to emphasize and direct the pacing to meet the time limitations.

However, the principle is still the same: believe in what you are selling. I would never, in my role as a voiceover artist with my company, Philip Day Communications, agree to record a commercial if I didn’t believe what I was telling you, the listener/customer. I’m sure there are some pretenders in this industry who can be insincere and sell anything (even if they would never buy it and badmouth it to their friends and colleagues) but I’m not one of them. It’s unethical and you would figure it out-quickly.

So, next time you’re listening to your car radio, pay attention to a few ads, particularly the ones you like, and notice the enthusiasm of the voiceover artist. Do they make you want to buy the car? Attend the concert? Eat at the restaurant? See the movie?

Trust and sincerity count above everything else. Without it, you have nothing.

In the voiceover world that’s as “real” as it gets.

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Four Ideas on Writing a Business Blog

Business blogs are an effective way of bringing in business for you and your client. A well-written blog, using keywords and metatags, can be a creative and useful method of bringing in new business by sending the reader back to the blogger’s website so that they buy the services and products thus increasing profits.

classroom Here are four things to keep in mind when writing a business blog for you or your client:

  1. Educate them. Tell the reader how your barista brews her popular pumkin spice mocha or how you install a granite kitchen countertop. Describe what you do and how you do it. Brian Loebig of Loebig Ink (www.loebigink.com) uses blogs to update his clients on all things digital. He wants them to be knowledgeable of the latest trends and his website is a textbook example of how to do it. It’s both educational and entertaining. I know. I’m one of his clients and have learned a boatload from his site.
  2. Tell stories. People love to read about how someone learned a better way to do something. One of my clients has an endless supply of plumbing stories illustrating the need for a certain type of service or product. Sure, a blog can be a “clinical how-to” and may be appropriate in some inductries. I, however, find them pretty boring. Jane Doe’s SUV, which shut down in freeway traffic because she put off getting a tuneup, makes for compelling drama and shows the importance of keeping our cars maintained. After telling the story, the blog writer then describes how he tunes up a typical Sports Utility Vehicle at his garage. True stories bring home the point of the blog and describe something with which many readers can relate. Stories are interesting, effective and drive home (pardon the pun) the point. Use them.
  3. Keep it short. Your blog should take only two or three minutes to read which means it should be approximately 500 words. Look, a 2,500-word dissertation on how a vacuum cleaner operates is good for engineering white papers but not good for your blog. Make it simple. I seriously doubt that the typical reader wants to spend fifteen minutes reading something chock-full of technical jargon. They will quickly depart your blog site and may never return. (You could always hyperlink the technical version for the detail-oriented reader who just can’t get enough.)
  4. Lastly, reply to your readers. When someone takes the time to read your blog then comment on it, you have done very well. Your respectful reply, even if it’s just a “thank you”, acknowledges the reader and lets them know that you appreciate their comments. You never know: they may even become a client one day! So, check your blog often and be sure to reply. It’s common courtesy and just a smart thing to do.

Well, there’s a lot more to say here but then this blog would be too long. After all, that’s why “Part 2” was invented, right?

Philip Day is the owner and CEO of www.PhilipDayCommunications.com.

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How to Choose a Good Copywriter: Honesty is Number 1

French FriesTwenty-some years ago when I was a college student, I remember watching a TV commercial from a major fast food chain promoting its new chicken sandwich.

Ironically, my best friend, Doug, and I were watching this commercial closely as we ate the very sandwich being advertised.

While I held the small sandwich in my left hand and crammed French fries in my mouth with my right, we laughed uproariously at one scene where three cowboys were sitting around a fire holding this paperback novel-sized sandwich in both hands. It was so big that that it could fill even the ravenous appetites of these cowhands!

“Oh come on, they make it out to be this huge sandwich,” Doug scoffed as he waived off the commercial with his right hand and looked at the puny sandwich laying in its paper wrapper on the coffee table between us and the television. “Give me a break.”

The exaggeration of this product has stuck in my head ever since. We knew the truth but the unsuspecting customer who saw this same commercial would not be too happy after believing the premise of the ad, driving to the restaurant, ordering this “grand chicken sandwich”, sitting down and unwrapping it only to find that it’s only a shadow of its media representation.

Some would call the “Chicken Sandwich Bait-and-Switch Caper” a simple exaggeration.

I call it dishonesty.

Whenever a company advertises its product and says it’s one thing when it’s really another, it’s fraud.

The Number One Rule in Copywriting: Be Honest.

Now, being honest doesn’t mean you can’t brag about your product. In fact, it frees you to do so.

For instance, if your business was rated #1 by the local newspaper, tell them in your site. Have a link taking them to the article. That’s an accomplisment and should be trumpeted, whenever possible, on your site or in your copy.

Also, if you have a customers who say you have the “Best Fondue in Town” post that on your site, too.  Yes, it’s a subjective comment but it is from an enthusiastic customer who loves your product and wants everyone to know. (Make sure you have their permission, of course.)

Look, honesty doesn’t mean boring. It just means being enthusiastic about your product or service and telling the world about it without exaggerating or stretching the truth.

Good copywriting is honest copywriting. It will increase your business and create a loyal customer base.

You won’t regret it.

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