According to most recent data from Worldometer, the coronavirus has impacted over 1 million individuals worldwide — 240,000 of which are located right here in the United States. Unfortunately, according to many experts, we have yet to even near the peak.
COVID-19’s impact has devastated individuals and families as well as the workforce, businesses, industries and the global economy as a whole. The marketing and technology industries in particular are currently reeling from the after-effects of the pandemic.
However, the cold hard truth of the matter is that we as individuals, businesses and the world in general must continue to press on. If you’re interested in learning more about the impact of COVID-19 on marketing and tech as well as what you can do to ensure your business shines in the midst of the chaos, then this article is just for you.
The Effects of Coronavirus on Marketing, Advertising & Retail
The unfortunate truth is that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the marketing, advertising and retail industries has been devastating. In China alone, retail sales have dropped by more than 20% due to the pandemic, which has additionally caused the unemployment rate to spike to over
6% in February. According to the Washington Post, in the United States alone over
10 million individuals have applied for unemployment benefits in the wake of the economy’s collapse.
As a result, everything from retail sales to organic traffic and conversions have declined significantly.
However, there’s one industry in particular which has been booming. While brick-and-mortar retail sales have plummeted due to social distancing measures and closures, online sales have been increasing, with many shopping and grocery apps seeing a significant uptick in downloads. Many companies are quickly learning that a renewed focus on the customer is the key to sustainability in these trying times.
A renewed focus on customer-centricity
Marketers and advertisers will do well to take this information into account when redesigning their strategies in the midst of the pandemic. For many, an overarching theme has come to light: A renewed focus on customer-centricity. Many companies are quickly learning that a strong focus on long-term retention rates is the key to success.
Research has shown that it costs a whopping 5x more to bring on a new customer than it does to simply keep an existing one. The truth of the matter is that there is very little business to win during this time period. Companies must redirect themselves away from a focus on acquisition and towards a renewed focus on retention, building long-lasting relationships and increasing the lifetime values of their customer base.
Remaining sensitive to your customers’ needs during this time period is going to be crucial to your success and ability to thrive in the future. It’s going to be difficult to turn a profit now more than ever as unemployment rates soar. Don’t waste your resources trying to implement new and fancy marketing strategies which can come off as callous. Pause and take a moment to reflect. Many families have lost loved ones, many parents don’t know how they are going to continue to pay bills or put food in the mouths of their children.
As a company, it would be irresponsible and insensitive not to acknowledge these trying times your customers are facing. Strategies must be adjusted and perspectives must be shifted to take into account context. Now more than ever you are walking a very fine line and as a result, marketing with sensitivity is going to be imperative. Instead of focusing on acquisition, focus on improving the customer experience throughout the entire sales pipeline, both on and offline. Instead of mirroring the sense of panic and dread that your consumers are feeling, become the embodiment of support that they need.
Acknowledging the pandemic and assuring your customers that you remain steady in your ways is also imperative. As a company, you want to provide reassurance to your customers by showing them that you’re here for them and that you are dedicated to providing the same level of service to them that they have become accustomed to in the past. Your customers need to know that they can count on you during hard times. When you demonstrate this with your actions, you are effectively instilling trust and forging stronger relationships with your customer base. The public is paying attention to business practices now more than ever. Show them that you measure up.
The Impact of Coronavirus on Tech
The vast majority of all industries, including technology are seeing a marked slump in sales due ot the outbreak. As unemployment rates rise, consumers are now more than ever wary of spending their dollars given the uncertainty surrounding the timeline of the pandemic. Travel booking website
Expedia is one of the many companies out there who have been hit particulaly hard by the pandemic. They recently declined to provide a full-year financial outlook to investors because of COVID-19’s disruption of the travel industry and recenltly slashed over 12% of their workforce. Mass supply shortages, missed partnership opportunities and delays in services have now become commonplace.
Perhaps the most immediate business impact of this pandemic has been the major disruption of supply chains all across the globe. Hardware companies in particular have been hit quite hard given that so much of their manufacturing is done in China. According to the business research firm Dun & Bradstreet, a whopping 51,000 companies studied have at least one or more suppliers based in regions of China which have been impacted by the spread of the virus.
Apple in particular came out publicly stating that there would be a reduction in supply of iPhones. This comes as no surprise as Apple relies heavily on factories in Shenzhen and recently had to come to terms with Foxconn, their primary manufacturer, shutting down most of its production in China. Unfortunately, this has resulted in quite the hit to Apple, which is forecasted to see a reduction of as much as 10% in their iPhone shipments through Q1.
Tech giant Microsoft also relies heavily on customers who install their Windows software onto their devices. They are expected to take quite the hit as personal computers account for approximately one-third of their revenue.
Amazon on the other hand has found themselves scrambling to make sure that they don’t run out of popular products which are manufactured in China. However, many customers are being hit with messages about supply shortages and delivery delays for many popular items due to the pandemic. Prime Day falls on July 6th of this year.
The spread of the coronavirus has prompted the establishment of numerous social-distancing mandates by governments across the globe. One result has been countless missed partnership opportunities which otherwise would have been made possible through the attendance of some of the most important tech conferences across the world.
Most notably perhaps is the cancellation of MWC Barcelona, a global telecommunications trade show held annually in Spain. While the RSA security conference still took place, it suffered the absence of notable attendees such as IBM, AT&T and Verizon.
Facebook also was forced to cancel their annual Global Marketing Summit as well as their F8 conference, where they showcase new products and plans for future software to developers.
Other companies are switching it up a bit in an attempt to keep the party going. Google shifted their Google Cloud Next event to online and IBM decided to livestream their developer’s conference. According to recent data by Recode, the cancellation of major tech events has cost the economy a whopping $1 billion.
While many companies are still reeling from the fallout of COVID-19, there are a select few who have continued to thrive. Netflix’s year-over-year subscription growth in both the United States and Canada is expected to more than double what was previously estimated.
As the public continues to abide by social distancing mandates, ecommerce and grocery apps have begun to experience record numbers in terms of daily downloads. On March 15th, Instacart saw a whopping 218% increase when compared to download activity that happened in just the previous month alone. The company claimed that their sales had improved a massive tenfold during the first week of March as compared to the previous week. Walmart’s grocery app also saw a 160% increase in app downloads and Target experienced a 98% month-to-month growth. Steam, a global PC gaming platform as noted to have attracted a whopping “20.3 million concurring users on Sunday March 15th”. This number set an all-time record for the amount of users online at any given time according to SteamDB.
But perhaps the most notable company to have come out swinging during this time period is teleconferencing software company Zoom. Shares have skyrocketed over the past few weeks as more and more individuals are forced to continue their work from home. On an interesting note, the SEC recently had to step in when it was noted that many investors were purchasing the wrong Zoom stock.
All-in-all, the tech industry has been dealt quite a tough hand during these hard times. However, many companies in the sectors of gaming, ecommerce and home entertainment have been hit with substantial growth and continue to thrive in the midst of economic uncertainty.
There’s no denying the fact that the current outlook on the economic landscape is grim, to say the least. Supply shortages are running rampant, companies are going under, lay-offs and unemployment have skyrocketed, and social distancing mandates have impacted us in more ways than we can count.
However, there is a silver lining. In the midst of the chaos comes a heightened sense of awareness for consumers and their needs. Companies are quickly beginning to shift their focuses in these trying times in order to make a positive, palpable impact on their customer base, showing millions of consumers worldwide that they are more to them than just a dollar sign. Now is the time to reframe our perspectives, to view this as an opportunity to think out of the box and re-dedicate ourselves to a stronger focus on customer-centricity. Take the time to show your customers that you are here for them during these hard times, and they will cherish their relationship with you for years to come.
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your business? Share your story. We’d love to hear from you.
Did you know that a whopping 90% of the population never scrolls past the first page of Google? When was the last time you’ve taken a moment to check where your website shows up when you type in your business name or important keywords related to your company? If you just so happen to be like countless other businesses out there, then chances are your website might not pop up within the first 10 spots. Heck, it might not even pop up on the first page at all. The good news is – you have the power to change this. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can effectively monitor and improve your search engine ranking, then this article is just for you.
What are SERPs?
“SERPs” is simply an acronym which is widely used to abbreviate the term search engine results pages. SERPs are the pages which pop up when you type an inquiry into a search engine such as Google. There are countless pages which are often returned upon the input of an inquiry — far too many to go through. This is because Google alone indexes trillions of website pages. So, what Google does, is it prioritizes these results for you based on their likelihood of providing you an accurate and robust answer and then displays them to you in hierarchical order.
Why search engine rankings are crucial to success
Google’s search engine algorithm essentially attributes a SERP score to every page on your website. Your SERP score, or search engine ranking, is directly related to the effectiveness of your search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, your marketing campaigns, as well as the length of time that your website/brand has had to establish trust with Google’s algorithm. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that it’s extremely difficult to outrank major brands and companies for the simple fact that they have significantly deeper pockets than you. But, this doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. You still have a chance at ranking high for keywords, especially niche keywords and getting on the first page of Google. All it takes is some hard work and commitment.
How to improve your SERP ranking
Fortunately, there are numerous steps you can take to help improve your SERP rankings. However, in order to be effective, you’ll need to stay dedicated and focused. By crafting effective marketing and SEO campaigns and staying patient, you can work to begin to improving your SERP ranking one day at a time.
Crafting effective and compelling marketing campaigns is a crucial step when it comes to improving your SERP score. The more mentions, hashtags, articles your brand has, the stronger it becomes in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. To be honest with you — it’s pretty much a popularity contest. And to be blunt — the major corporations are always going to win. This is because they have countless resources they can pool into their marketing strategies, whereas the average business is often limited by their budget. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t create viral content, work on increasing your popularity on social media or work hard to get influencers to tout your brand/services!
Fortunately for you, there are numerous tools available which can aid in your efforts to craft more effective digital marketing campaigns. Much of it begins with performing diligent research and finding the right keywords, topics and trends to touch upon. Most recently, influencer marketing has become an extremely popular way to get your brand out there and repped by popular figures within the social media space. So, take the time to tap into some influencer marketing agencies to see how they can help you increase brand awareness and establish an authority presence in the digital space!
SEO is another critical component to improving your search engine ranking. Is your website optimized to the fullest? Are you leveraging niche and long-tail keywords as a way to combat against the monopoly that many large corporations have over SEO? We’re not just talking on-page SEO — technical SEO is just as important.
Lucky for you, there are also numerous tools available on the market to aid you in these efforts as well. Whether you use a plug-in such as YoastSEO or tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner, Backlinko or Ahrefs, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands. If you find that you just don’t happen to be the savviest when it comes to this, don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert and ask for help. Companies such as ours specialize in aiding businesses such as yours in increasing their search engine rankings effectively and efficiently.
3. Being Patient
The truth of the matter is that increasing your search engine rankings doesn’t happen overnight. So, naturally you’re going to want to be wary of any services which promote instant or unreasonably fast results. You simply can’t rush the algorithm. You can help it along by doing your best to implement strong and effective tactics, but overnight success is few and far between. Be patient. It takes a while to establish your brand/website as trustworthy in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. But the good news is that the longer you stay dedicated, the more you’ll continue to build up your trust.
Monitoring your search engine ranking
When it comes to establishing your presence on search engine results pages, you’ll need to do more than just implement tactics in order to improve your ranking. This is because rankings are far from static and constantly changing as information continues to be indexed by Google’s algorithm every second of every day. This is why consistently monitoring your ranking is so essential. When you monitor your rank, you gain access to valuable information which can help to fuel your strategies and tactics for improvement.
For instance, let’s say that you decide to implement a keyword strategy. You pretty much will be left mostly in the dark with regards to how effective it is or isn’t without monitoring. However, when you do implement a process for monitoring, you are able to see how effective your strategies are and how your website is performing in response to their implementation. Fortunately, there are numerous tools on the market such as SEMRush, MozPro and Ahrefs which can help provide you with in-depth analytics and tools which can be leveraged in order to help you monitor and track your rank.
Monitoring your competitor’s SERPs
Monitoring your search engine rankings is crucial in determining your status and driving your strategies. However, it’s not just your own website that you should be concerned about. Who are your biggest competitors? We’re not talking big name companies and corporations. We mean the companies within your niche which are performing slightly better than you. If you don’t know the answer to this, then you’ll have to dig in your heals and do a little research first. Once you know the names of a handful of companies as such, you’ll need to start monitoring their status, performance and progress as well. When you begin monitoring your competitors’ rankings, you gain access to valuable information which can help fuel your strategies for improvement.
For instance, let’s say you find that your competitors are ranking high for a certain number of keywords. This is great information to know, because it helps inform you on which keywords you should use in your strategy. Or perhaps, you’ve noticed that their ranking is fluctuating a bit or has taken a nosedive after the implementation of a strategy. This can help you be aware of things not to do so that your website doesn’t have the same fate. On the other hand, if they’re performing well, then gaining access to analytics on their performance can help you effectively mirror some of the positive tactics they’ve implemented. Remember: consistently monitoring your competition is every bit just as important as monitoring your own performance because it can help provide further insight into the steps you need to take in order to stay one step ahead.
Your SERP score is arguably one of the single most important things to focus on if you’re looking to improve your online presence and grow your business. If you’re looking to increase your search engine ranking, then you’ll need to focus on a combination of effective marketing, SEO and monitoring/tracking strategies in order to do so. Fortunately, there are numerous tools available on the market in order to help you achieve your goals. Use this article as a guide to keep yourself on track and to get off in the right direction when it comes to improving your website’s SERP score. And remember – nothing is going to happen overnight. Beware of any products or services which promote unrealistic results. This takes a tortoise versus a hare mentality. Improving your search engine rankings takes time, dedication and consistent effort. However, the benefits are extremely worthwhile.
Which tools do you use to monitor and/or improve your SERP score? Let us know your experience with them in the comment section below! We’d love to hear from you!
Exceptional project management skills are fundamentally critical to the success of every business regardless of background, size or industry. However, the truth of the matter is that a great majority of companies struggle significantly with this very thing. Did you know that according to 4PM, most organizations have a project failure rate of a whopping 70%? In fact, recent research from Harvard Business Review found that the average project goes over budget by a whopping 27%. However, the truth of the matter is that projects fail for several reasons including everything from poor planning, to weak goal statistics and projections as well as improper management and organization. Fortunately, there are numerous project management platforms on the market which can aid you in your efforts to stay on track. If you’re interested in learning about the top four project management platforms on the market to use in 2020, then this article is just for you.
Asana is an immensely popular project management platform — and for good reason. It’s interface is straightforward, simple, user-friendly and it does a great job when it comes to facilitating collaboration and teamwork. It also really assists with accountability and gives users plenty of options when it comes to breaking down projects into tasks and keeping track of them with due dates and calendars. However, it struggles when it comes to exporting features and has very limited functions in the mobile application. Email notifications can also get a little insane so you’re definitely going to want to customize the frequency from the get-go. It also could do a better job at highlighting things such as notes, attachments and discussions in the subtasks as these can be hard to notice if you prefer working from the main board. All-in-all it’s a great platform with excellent ratings.
Asana offers four pricing plans and gives users the option to choose from both monthly and annual pricing. Their Basic option is intended for individuals and teams just getting started with project management and is completely free of charge. The second option is their Premium plan ($10.99/month billed annually or $13.49/month billed monthly). This is intended for teams that are more established and interested in creating project plans “with confidence”. Their Business plan comes complete with additional features such as the ability to create portfolios, advanced integrations a custom rule builder and more. The plan costs $24.99/month billed annually or $30.49/month billed monthly. Finally, their Enterprise plan is geared towards large-scale businesses and includes numerous upgraded features in addition to those provided in the business plan. Companies interested must contact their sales department in order to receive a quote.
Trello is a great project management platform mostly in part because it’s super easy to use and get started with. It offers extensive customization when it comes to creating workflows and additionally offers impeccably fast real-time updates. Creating and assigning tasks is super simple and straightforward and it additionally offers integrations with numerous apps including Google Docs, which can be extremely helpful. It could however use some work when it comes to email integrations and keyboard shortcuts are relatively limited. Perhaps the most significant con is the fact that cards/tasks are limited to just one board/project. However, all-in-all it’s a wonderful project management platform which consistently receives solid reviews and is perfect for those just starting out.
Trello offers a convenient three-tiered pricing plan which has the option of being billed on a monthly or annual basis for companies interested in making the switch. Similar to Asana, they too offer a basic Free plan intended for individuals and small businesses in order to help them get started with the basics. Their Business Class plan offers an expanded set of features catered to more established SMBs and will run you $12.50/month if billed monthly and $9.99/month when billed annually. They also offer an Enterprise plan which can accommodate as many as 5,000 users depending on which option you choose. It also offers an expanded set of features such as organization wide permissions, public board management, attachment restrictions, power-up administration and more.
Bitrix24 is a robust, all-inclusive project management platform that really just so happens to ironically be the underdog of the list in terms of general public awareness of the brand. The platform is great at breaking down projects and makes creating various tasks, subtasks, checklists and deadlines super simple and straightforward. The interface is also quite intuitive and user-friendly so it’s relatively easy to get started regardless of whether or not you’ve worked with it before.
The streamlined CRM is extremely rich in features offering things like a high degree of customization, high-quality video conferencing, the ability to segment customers and leads based on location, activities or needs, an excellent mobile application and numerous integrations. Furthermore, the pricing is extremely competitive when compared to other comparable platforms on the market. Perhaps one of the most noticeable cons is the fact that it is so chock-full of features and tools that it can clutter the workspace and make navigation a bit complicated. However, this can be customized to an extent. All-in-all it’s a solid, simple to use, robust platform that is unfortunately quite underrated.
Bitrix24 also offers a three-tiered pricing plan, but unlike it’s competitors, it gives individuals and organizations the ability to customize a bit within each tier. Their Free plan is ideal for businesses just starting out and offers all of the basic essentials as well as 5GB of online storage. They also have a group of Special Plans, which range anywhere from $19.00/month t0 $55/month. These plans offer an expanded set of features, anywhere from 10GB to 50GB of online storage and can accommodate as many as 24 users. Their third tier is comprised of their Business Plans. These of course are catered towards more estabilshed SMBs and offer advanced business tools, the option to have unlimited users, online storage space and more. These plans range from $79.00/month to $159/month depending on your particular needs.
Pipedrive is an excellent, lightweight project management platform, especially when it comes to managing leads and improving sales. It’s also super easy to use and has quite a small learning curve when it comes to getting started. Users will be happy to see that it visually displays pipelines and is great at reporting sales efficiency, especially when it comes to moving leads through various stages of a pipeline. They also offer amazing support and numerous customization options. However, the platform has fairly limited reporting capabilities, could do better when it comes to automation and is lacking when it comes to API integrations in comparison to other comparable platforms on the market. It’s also known for being a “beginner”CRM — something that may not be an issue with individuals or small businesses but can quickly become problematic as companies and needs start to grow.
Pipedrive offers a four-tiered pricing plan with the ability to be billed either monthly or annually. Their Essential plan starts at $12.50/month and is intended to help individuals and small businesses organize activities and pipelines more efficiently. Their Advanced plan includes an expanded set of features including the ability to track and automate tasks and comes in at $24.90/month. Pipedrive’s Professional plan is intended to help more businesses become more effective at organizing and automating tasks, collaborating, communicating and growing revenue. This plan costs $49.90/month. Finally, they offer an Enterprise plan catered to large, established organizations which offers all of the previous sets of features a well as the ability to get custom onboarding and CRM support. This plan costs $99.00/month.
Solid project management skills are essential when it comes to ensuring that your business thrives and attains long-term success. Fortunately, project management platforms help make this easy. In the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping the world, we find that more and more companies are beginning to have to rely on remote operations in order to stay in the game. If you’re interested in stepping it up when it comes to project management, then use this article as a guide to help set you off with proper footing. The right project management platforms can make all of the difference.
What are some project management platforms you’ve used in the past? Are there any you’re a fan of that aren’t included on the list? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!
Over the past few years there has been a marked rise in the growth of voice recognition software and it’s easy to understand why. Many of us lead demanding, busy, on-the-go lifestyles and as a result, convenience has quickly become of paramount importance to the average consumer. According to a recent PWC report an astounding 71% of individuals surveyed said they would rather use their voice assistant in order to conduct a query as opposed to physically having to type it into their device. Voice search isn’t something of the future – it’s here – loud and clear. ComScore infamously predicted that 50% of all searches will be voice by 2020. We may not be there just yet, but that doesn’t mean we’re not close. If you’re interested in learning more about voice search and the various simple steps you can take in order to prepare your website for 2020, then this article is just for you.
A brief history of voice search
Voice recognition software has been around since the 1960’s so it isn’t exactly new, but mass mainstream adoption and commercialization voice assistants is. Google first rolled out Google Voice Search in 2010. The system required users to call into a telephone number at which point they were prompted to speak their search query and wait for results to populate on their mobile device. Needless to say, it didn’t catch on all too quickly.
In October of 2011 Apple introduced Siri as the first digital virtual assistant with their iPhone 4s and Google rapidly followed suit by introducing Google Now in May 2012. Microsoft and Amazon quickly threw their hats in the ring with Cortana and Alexa in 2014 and Google released Google Assistant in 2016. Now we’ve got Samsung’s Bixby and IBM’s Watson as well. Today, voice recognition software is encoded in everything from mobile phones to laptops to watches and personal home devices. Practically everyone wants a virtual assistant. Which leads us to our next section.
The growing demand for voice search optimization
Today, voice recognition software is encoded in everything from mobile phones to laptops to watches and personal home devices. Practically everyone uses voice search and as a result, the industry is a-booming. According to eMarketer, voice commerce sales peaked to an astounding $2.1 billion last year alone. Juniper Research further estimates that there will be a whopping 8 billion digital voice assistants on the market in use by 2023.
When it comes to voice search, Amazon leads in the voice-enabled speaker device market but Google still dominates the search engine market with a share of 92.71%. So, needless to say, when they start to make updates in order to further accommodate voice search, everyone takes notice. Their 2013 Hummingbird update changed search in profound ways by emphasizing natural language processing and taking into consideration things such as context and user intent. As a result, the focus became less on keywords and more on conversation and meaning.
This algorithm update coupled with the widespread popularity of smart devices using voice recognition software means that companies now more than ever need to be prepared to optimize their websites and content accordingly.
5 Ways You Can Start Optimizing for Voice Search Today
According to recent data from Location World, approximately 2 in 5 adults use voice search at least once daily — and it they use it for more than just finding out information. According to recent data from Amazon, the use of Alexa for shopping more than tripled in 2018 from the previous year (NOTE: at VisioneerIT, we offer voice search technology which can help you sell your products using Alexa voice). It’s important to note that there’s a significant difference between typed and spoken queries and as a result, voice search optimized websites will have a much greater advantage in 2020. If you’re looking to nab position zero, then we have 5 steps which you can use to get you started off on the right foot.
1. Use natural language
Let’s say you’re looking for some great grub in your area for the evening. If you head to your go-to search engine, your query ‘might look something like “best restaurants near me”. However, if you’re like the many individuals who use a voice assistant on your mobile device, your query is most likely to sound more along the lines of “what are the best restaurants near me?”. Our point here is that voice search queries tend to be longer than your average typed query. Not only that, they also tend to be conducted in a conversational tone. This is the exact opposite of what is expected when it comes to typed queries. Instead of ruthelessly optimizing for keywords, focus instead on what you need to do in order to optimize for semantic search. Use conversational keywords and phrases that are common when speaking and phrase these long-tail keywords in the same manner in which they are usually spoken. It’s not only ideal for voice search, long-tail keywords are furthermore a great strategy to use for traditional SEO.
2. Question phrases
When someone is conducting a typed query on a search engine, the goal is generally to get the main idea across as succinctly as possible. You’re not exactly trying to write a novel. If you’re looking for a black 1981 Pontiac Firebird you might type something like “1981 black Pontiac firebird for sale”. It’s not exactly a beaming example of English grammar. However, when using voice search, users tend to frame queries in the form of questions such as “Where can I find a 1981 black Pontiac firebird for sale?”. Keep this in mind when it comes to optimizing for voice search. It’s important to consider user intent as well as to think of ways to include potential questions your audience may have in your content, headers or subtitles. Not exactly sure where to start? There are numerous resources online which can help you identify the various questions your target audience may have surrounding your topic. Answer the Public is an immensely popular tool as such.
3. Aim for featured snippet quality
You may not exactly know what a featured snippet is by just hearing the name but you’ve definitely seen one. These little guys are the pieces of content that have been awarded the ever so coveted spot of position zero. They are above-the-fold snippets of useful information pulled from only the most worth of articles and featured in the spot before the rest of your search engine results. According to SearchEngineWatch, you can pretty much be certain that if the search results which get pulled up for your query include a featured snippet, your voice assistant is going to pull its answer from it. So, if you’re looking to rank highly in voice search results, you’re going to want to focus on making sure that you are delivering high quality content that Google would display in a featured snippet.
4. Structured data/schema markup
Structured data is a system where names are paired with a value in order to help search engines when it comes to indexing and categorizing website content. A while back Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex got together and came up with Schema.org (aka Schema) as a way to help people provide the information that their search engines need in order to provide the best search results possible. Schema is “a semantic vocabulary of tags” (aka microdata) that you can manually add to your HTML code in order to make it easier for search engines to read, interpret and represent your webpage. It often results in rich snippets of information being displayed (i.e. star ratings) underneath the title of your webpage. This tactic has been proven to not only increase click-through rate but to also drive traffic and provide a competitive advantage to websites which use them. While you will need to know a thing or two about code, you don’t necessarily have to be an expert in order to implement it. You can easily generate your own code for your webpages by using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
5. Improve your local SEO
Voice search tends to be more mobile and locally focused. In fact, one 2018 study conducted by BrightLocal found that a whopping 58% of individuals use their voice search in order to find local businesses. It also found that consumers are most likely to use voice searches in order to find additional information about businesses that they are already familiar with. This really comes as no surprise as people tend to use their voice search when they’re already on-the-go or planning on going somewhere. In fact, the phrase “near me” is extremely popular when it comes to voice searches. Most of these search bots use business listings in order to find the requested information. The quickest and most simple way to do this is to head on over to Google My Business and register your company. Fill out as much information as possible and make sure to keep it accurate and up to date.
Gartner predicted that by the year 2020, approximately 30% of all searches will be screenless. We still have 11 months to find out if that prediction pans out, but the truth of the matter is that you can’t afford to not be prepared. Optimizing your website for voice search is no longer an option – it’s a necessity. Use this article as a useful guide to help you get caught up on all things voice search related and to help strengthen your website so that you have an added edge over the competition in 2020.
Are you interested in leveraging voice search to help increase sales? At VisioneerIT, we offer voice search technology which can help you sell your products using Alexa voice. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can increase customer loyalty and improve your sales, contact us today at www.visioneerit.com.
A recent study conducted by University of Maryland’s Clark School found that hacker attacks on computers with internet access happen on average once every 39 seconds and affect one in three Americans each year. You may feel that your business may not be at risk for a cyber-attack, but the truth of the matter is that a whopping 64% of companies have experienced attacks as such and 95% of breaches are due to human error.
Here at VisioneerIT, we offer website security with all of our website hosting plans to help provide you with peace of mind that your company, its clients and website are secure. However, it’s still important to remain diligent when it comes to protecting yourself against threats. If you’re interested in learning about the various steps you can take to secure your company and its customers, then this article will provide you with 9 simple ways you can work towards enhancing the security of your website as soon as today.
1. Conduct regular and routine software updates
With the multitude of responsibilities you have as a business owner it can be quite easy to forget something as seemingly trivial as keeping track of when your software needs to be updated. However, this seemingly insignificant task can have a massive impact on your website’s security as well as the security of your business and its patrons. Believe it or not, according to BulletProof’s 2019 report, 22% of the “high and critical-risk” security issues which were reported were the result of outdated and/or unpatched software. Hackers aggressively target security flaws in website software and as a result, it’s essential to ensure that every software product which you use remains up to date.
2. Customize your admin path
According to recent data from IBM, the average cost of a data breach is a whopping $3.9 million. No company can afford this level of distress to their finances or corporate reputation. Fortunately, something as simple as customizing your admin path can help provide you with an added barrier of protection against harmful attacks. This is because that many attacks are implemented using automated techniques which look for standard configurations on sites. Brute force attacks are often implemented on username and password combinations and something as simple as changing your path from “website.com/admin” to “website.com/fksewr” (something randomized) can make it a lot more difficult for these individuals to find your admin page and initiate an attack. If you choose a plan with VisioneerIT, you can rest assured that our hosting plans’ websites are not accessible from the “wp-admin” path.
3. Keep only essential files, plug-ins or apps
According to a global survey conducted by Accenture, security breaches have increase by a massive 67% in the past five years alone. Something as simple as doing a quick inventory of the various applications you use can make all of the difference. We know, it can be pretty easy to go wild when it comes to the various plug-ins and apps which you utilize for your website. They’re simple, they make life easy and there’s a multitude of options for practically every concern on the planet. However, these same applications can leave you vulnerable to attacks as they also provide hackers with possible points of entry. Keep inventory of the ones you use. Make sure they’re up to date and delete any non-essential files, applications or plug-ins which you no longer have any use for.
4. Use strong passwords and update them routinely
You’ve heard it time and time again. Everyone pretty much understands how important it is to use strong passwords, but the truth of the matter is that many of us still rely on passwords we’ve used forever which often contain personal information such as birthdays, the names of children we’ve had or other information which can easily be retrieved by searching public domains and social media accounts. How often do you update your passwords? According to TechRepublic, 93% of companies do in fact have password rules, but less than 25% of these companies actually require something as simple and effective as mandatory password changes. Hackers use highly sophisticated software which uses brute force to crack through passwords. In order to protect against attacks as such, passwords should be regularly updated and complex. This means at the very least they should be at least 10 characters long and include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, special characters and numbers.
5. Backup your data
According to the National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, DC, an astounding 93% of businesses who lost their data for 10 days or more had to file bankruptcy within one year of the event. Furthermore, 50% of these businesses were found to have filed bankruptcy immediately. If you’re not regularly backing up your files, then you’re essentially playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette. While many web host providers such as us provide their own daily backups, it is still absolutely essential for you to maintain backups of your own files as well on a regular basis in the event your valuable data becomes lost or inaccessible. Lucky for you, there are a multitude of extensions and plug-ins which can help to automate this process so that it doesn’t have to be done manually.
6. Manage website users and their access to sensitive files
According to a global study by Varonis, 41% of businesses allow all of their employees to access more than 1,000 sensitive files. Sensitive files are those which are deemed to contain critical information such as credit card numbers, personal information or health records. Do you know every single individual who has access to sensitive information, even if just the login information to your website? If you don’t, then you should. Actively manage the various users and take steps to assign appropriate permissions to them based on their role in your company. In the event you find you may need to grant an individual escalate permissions, be sure to remember to reduce those once the task is completed.
7. SSL Encryptions
According to recent statistics by the Hosting Tribunal, approximately 21% of the top 100,000 websites still don’t implement HTTPS and approximately 32.6% of websites have inadequate security. We’ve all heard of SSL encryptions but many of us don’t know exactly what they entail. SSL stands for “secure sockets layer”. Perhaps you’ve noticed that some websites begin with “http” and others begin with “https”. Well, that little “s” is actually an indicator that the website you’re visiting uses SSL encryptions. Whenever you visit a site, fill out a form and click “submit”, the information which you’ve entered is subject to being intercepted by an attacker. However, SSL encryption ensures that there is an encrypted link between the website’s server and the web browser. It renders the information entered meaningless to any person potentially attempting to intercept it and thus provides valuable protection for critical information such as passwords, logins, bank accounts and credit card numbers. Security is of paramount importance to us at VisioneerIT — which is why all of our websites come with free SSL certificates.
8. Implement regular monitoring and testing
According to a recent SCORE report, a whopping 43% of cyber attacks target small to medium sized businesses. Think your company is too small to be on the radar? Think again. Hackers love to target these business because they often don’t have the level of resources available to implement proper security measures that are available to larger companies. If hiring a security expert simply isn’t a financially feasible option for you, then it is absolutely critical that you take steps to implement ongoing monitoring of your website and its activity. Purchase the appropriate software to do so or install a reputable plug-in or application which implements consistent monitoring and testing of your files and website activity in order to keep abreast of potential changes and/or abnormalities. Scans to consider are daily malware detection, file change detection (included with our website hosting plans), PAN scanning, security event log monitoring, vulnerability scanning, and penetration testing.
9. Choose a reputable hosting company
Believe it or not, according to Acunetix’s Web Application Vulnerability Report for 2019, 46% of websites have what are deemed as “high cyber security vulnerabilities”. Even more interesting is the fact that this same report also found that a whopping 87% of websites have what are considered “medium security vulnerabilities”. With VisioneerIT, we offer website security with all of our website hosting plans which include malware and firewall protection. However, this isn’t the case with all providers. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a cyber security expert in order to take steps to properly ensure the security of your company and its clientele. Something as simple as taking the time to vet your web hosting provider can make all of the difference. Also take into consideration the various forms of technical support they offer as well as its availability and the methods of contact which can be used. You want a provider which provides ongoing support who can be there in the event an issue should arise and respond efficiently.
Cybersecurity attacks are rapidly on the rise. According to Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2018 End-of-Year Data Breach Report, the instance of web attacks jumped 126% from 2017 alone. You don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert in order to take control of your website’s security. These 9 simple steps can be implemented by just about anyone regardless of their technical expertise in the field. Use this article as a guide to get you started on the path towards more enhanced website security for 2020.
When it comes to website security, how does your website hosting provider stack up? Here at VisioneerIT we offer website security as an added feature to our website hosting package in order to give you the peace of mind that your business and its customers are safe. To learn more visit www.visioneerit.com
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is largely considered a landmark legislative piece set in place in order to afford greater protections to consumers and their privacy rights in the United States. Enacted in 2018, the CCPA officially took effect as of January 1st of this year. If you’re a business owner who is interested in learning more about the CCPA, as well as the responsibilities required of you and the rights afforded to your consumers, then this article will serve as a great guide to get you in-the-know and compliant for 2020.
Right to request disclosure
The CCPA affords consumers the right to request that a business disclose both the “categories and specific pieces” of personal information that the business has collected as well as the categories of sources from which the information is collected. It also affords consumers the right to request the business/commercial purpose for collecting or selling personal information as well as the right to request that the business also disclose the categories of third parties with whom which the business shares this personal information.
Right to delete
A consumer has the right to request that a business delete personal information which they have collected from the consumer.
Right to opt-out
A consumer furthermore has the right to instruct a business which sells personal information about them to stop selling said information. This is referred to as the right to opt-out.
Right to non-discrimination
The CCPA additionally affords consumers the right to non-discrimination. This means that a business may in no way discriminate against a consumer due to the fact that they have exercised any of the rights afforded to them by the act. Examples of discrimination include denying goods/services, charging different rates for goods/services, providing a different level or quality of goods/services to the consumer or even simply suggesting that the consumer will receive a different price, level or quality of goods/services.
The CCPA furthermore provides consumer with a number of remedies in the event their personal information become subject to “unauthorized access, exfiltration, theft or disclosure” as the result of a business’ negligence. In the case of such event, the consumer has the right to:
1) Damages no less than $100.00 and no greater than $750.00 per consumer per incident OR actual damages (whichever amount is deemed greater)
2) Injunctive or declaratory relief
3) any other form of relief deemed appropriate by the court
These remedies are only available if the consumer provides the business with 30 days’ written notice in which they identify the specific provisions which they feel have been violated before pursuing any action against the company.
In the event the business has the option to and is able to cure the violation within 30 days’ time and provide the consumer with written notice of such, no legal action against the company may be taken.
CCPA Business Responsibilities and Compliance
Definition of a business
The definition of a business as defined by the CCPA includes businesses which:
1) Have an annual gross revenue of more than $25 million
2) Receive, purchase, sell or share for commercial purposes the information of 50,000 or more consumers, households or devices.
3) Receive at least 50% of their annual revenue from selling the personal information of consumers
4) Control or are controlled by a business as such and share common branding with said business
Providing notice to consumers
Collection or sale of personal information
The CCPA mandates that businesses must provide notice to consumers at or before the time of the collection of personal information that they intend to collect said personal information and how they intend to use it. Furthermore, if a business sells personal information to third parties, they must additionally provide “explicit” notice to consumers that their information may be sold and that the consumer has the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information. Children under the age of 16 years must provide opt-in consent and a parent or guardian must provide consent for any children under the age of 13 years.
Businesses must also disclose any financial incentives which may be applicable for the collection, sale or deletion of a consumer’s personal information. They must furthermore provide the consumer with the manner in which they calculate the value of their personal information and how the financial incentive is permitted under the CCPA. Financial incentives may take the form of monetary compensation or discounted goods or services in terms of quality or price. However, these financial incentives must be directly related to the value of the personal information which is provided to the business.
In the event a consumer gives opt-in consent to enter into a financial incentive program with the business, the business must clearly describe the terms of the program and the fact that it may be revoked by the consumer at will. The CCPA furthermore specifies that businesses may not use financial incentive programs which are deemed “unjust, unreasonable, coercive or usurious” in nature.
Providing reasonable access to consumers for submitting requests
The CCPA further mandates that businesses must provide “reasonable access’ to consumers for the purpose of submitting any requests to the business with regards to the collection and use of their personal information. A business must make available to consumers at least two or more designated methods for submitting requests which include at minimum, a toll-free number. In the event a business operates solely online and has a “direct relationship” with the consumer, it may instead only be required to provide an email address for submitting such requests.
In the event the business has a website, the website must be made available to consumers for the submission of requests regarding their personal information. There are also specific guidelines associated with this task. For instance, the business must provide a “clear and conspicuous link” on their homepage titled “Do Not Sell My Personal information” which directs the consumer to opt-out of the sale of their personal information. A business may also not require a consumer to create an account with them in order to direct the business not to sell their information.
The business must also ensure that any and all individuals who are held responsible for handling consumer inquiries are informed of all of the requirements associated with doing so and how to direct consumers to exercise their rights according to the act.
Responding to consumer requests
The CCPA mandates that businesses must verify the identity of consumers making requests to them regarding the collection and use of their personal information. However, a business may not require that a consumer create an account with them in order to make a verifiable consumer request. If a business is unable to verify the request, they are able to deny the request, but are required to comply to “the greatest extent” that they can.
Requests to delete information
In the event that a business receives a verifiable request from a consumer to delete their personal information, the business must comply and also notify any potential service providers to delete the consumer’s personal information from their records as well.
Businesses receiving opt-out requests from consumers must comply by refraining from selling their personal information. Businesses must also respect the consumer’s decision for a period of no less than 12 months before making another request that the consumer authorizes the sale of their personal information. Consumers may authorize other individuals to opt-out on their behalf and businesses must respect the requests made from said authorized individuals. Businesses must also treat any user-enabled privacy settings which signal a consumer’s decision to opt-out as a valid opt-out request.
Delivery of requested information
The CCPA also has various guidelines associated with the delivery of and response to requests from consumers. For instance, business disclosures must cover the 12-month period preceding their receipt of the verified consumer request and must be made in writing.
Disclosure and delivery of the requested information to the consumer must also be made available free of charge via the consumer’s account with the business, by mail, or electronically within 45 days from the date of the consumer’s request. In the event the disclosure of said information is sent electronically, it must be sent in a “readily useable format” which allows the consumer to easily transmit the information to another entity “without hindrance” (i.e. PDF file).
The CCPA also dictates that businesses are not required to provide personal information to a consumer more than twice in a 12-month period. Furthermore, a business may request an extension for the delivery of the information in the event one is necessary as long as the consumer is notified of the extension within the initial 45-day period.
Businesses are also entitled to charge an administrative fee for requests deemed “manifestly unfounded or excessive” or refuse to act on such requests altogether as long as the consumer is notified for the reason of refusal. However, businesses which take such action should keep in mind that they will have to bear the burden of having to demonstrate (potentially to the courts) that a consumer request was in fact “manifestly unfounded or excessive”.
The CCPA further mandates that businesses must maintain records of consumer requests and the business’ response to these request for a period of 24 months in order to remain compliant. If a business collects, purchases or sells information on more than 4 million consumers, they are subject to additional record-keeping and training obligations.
Businesses are deemed to be in violation of the CCPA if they fail to cure any violations within 30 days after they are notified of non-compliance. In the event the case of such event, businesses will be subject to an injunction and liable for civil penalties of a maximum of $2,500.00 for each violation. If found violations were intentional, businesses can be subject to as much as $7,500.00 in penalties for each intentional violation.
As of January 2020, the CCPA has officially gone into effect. As a result, businesses of all backgrounds and sizes are now liable for remaining compliant under this groundbreaking piece of legislation. If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of the CCPA, a copy of the code can be found on the California Legislative Information website. Getting compliant and staying compliant takes due diligence, time and commitment. Use this article as a guideline to stay ahead of the game and set your business up for success in 2020.
At VisioneerIT we provide automated access to compliance free of charge to all businesses hosting their websites on our platform. Our convenient plug-in has the ability to automatically update customer policies whenever there are changes in the laws. If you’re interested in learning more, visit our website at www.visioneerit.com.
Believe it or not, the spring internship season is almost upon us and many companies are already well into the process of selecting their newest recruits. Internships provide valuable opportunities for companies to give back to their communities and foster development in young and eager professionals with the hopes that they may eventually be recruited into valuable, long-term employees. So, the question begs to be asked, How does your internship program stack up? If you’re interested in learning how you can create a killer internship program that will have young professionals from all over breaking down the doors to work for your company, look no further than these next few lines.
1. Offer relocation assistance
Don’t let your cognitive biases prevent you from considering this worthwhile tactic. Offering relocation assistance for interns is becoming an increasingly popular tactic used by businesses. In fact, according to a recent NACE survey, 54% of respondents cited that they offered relocation assistance to their interns in some way, shape or form such as through housing stipends or moving allowances.
The truth of the matter is that college students are more than willing to relocate in order to gain the opportunity to work under a valuable internship program. This is especially the case given they have a blanket of security knowing that their work has a defined period of time and that they will be able to simply move back to their campus at the end of summer without worry.
Internships serve as a way for young and eager college students to gain valuable experience in the industry of their choosing, but it is also a big step for them in their lives. Helping provide them with a seamless relocation experience can ease pressure, anxiety or concerns they may have about stepping out into the real world in a new environment in order to jumpstart their careers in adulthood. Plus, testing the waters with a temporary relocation boost their confidence in the event that future job opportunities should arise within your company after graduation.
But it’s not just interns that can benefit from the prospect of relocation assistance. Companies too can reap the rewards of widening their candidate pool by making themselves available to candidates from all over the country.
2. Foster group cohesion
Humans to a certain degree naturally feel compelled to belong to a group. We need to feel a sense of belonging; a sense of community. We crave cohesion and togetherness and when it comes to the workplace, this is especially the case. Your interns will already feel somewhat isolated being that they are most likely the youngest and most inexperienced individuals working with your company. As a result, take steps to foster a sense of cohesion not just among your interns as a group, but with the entire company and other employees as a whole. Many individuals struggle to get the work-life balance just right and as a result, often times these lines are blurred. Help them find that sense of togetherness and friendship need so that your interns can truly thrive in the workplace.
The solution to this could be as simple as setting up an onboarding program for new recruits so they have the chance to learn about the company, their positions and their responsibilities together with one another. Or, for instance, you could host a company-wide welcome party for your new recruits to make them feel appreciated. Have a meeting with key persons in your departments and emphasize the desire to create an inclusive and cohesive atmosphere for your interns. Stress the importance of creating a friendly, open and agreeable environment where they are seen as peers rather than company errand-runners and paper pushers. This in turn will provide them with the opportunity to thrive and to truly enjoy the valuable experience they have working with your company.
3. Create a mentorship program
Did you know that according to Entrepreneur.com, a whopping 80% of CEOs have had mentors at some point in their lives? Even more interesting is the fact that according to HR Daily Advisor, 76% of individual with mentor believe that their relationship with these individuals are important to their overall success.
Don’t take for granted the value of mentorship on your employees, especially your interns. After all, for many of them, your internship program will be the first step they’re taking into the adult world and the future of their careers. Take the time to provide them with adequate guidance and help along the way by setting up a mentorship program within your company.
When it comes to assignments, mentors should generally be executives who work within the scope of your intern’s primary interest. However, selection is key when it comes to efficacy. Choose individuals who are enthusiastic about the role and eager to provide advice and guidance to your young recruits. Mentorship isn’t just about teaching young recruits about the ins and outs of their field, but also providing them with a level of wisdom and support about life as well.
Ideally, mentors should be assigned based on not just skill set, but personality. Do your best to break down any potential communication barriers as well. For instance, you could set up a closed social media group and invite company mentors to interact with interns on a regular basis. The goal isn’t simply to provide them with a professional reference to add to their resume, but a long-lasting relationship which truly makes an impact.
4. Give them a meaningful learning experience
Internships provide young professionals with the invaluable opportunity of gaining real-world experience within their industry and the ability to jumpstart their professional careers. However, this is only the case if the internship actually provides some sort of value. Keep in mind that you need your interns as much as they need you and as a result, you’ll need to do your part in ensuring your internship program provides your young recruits with a truly meaningful experience.
Designating your interns as company errand-runners or paper pushers is not the way to go. Your young recruits should be doing much more than making company coffee runs to the local Starbucks or shredding paper. When you force individuals into doing work outside of their skillset, you make them feel undervalued and unappreciated.
While “grunt work” is a necessary evil in any company, your interns deserve more than thankless menial tasks meant to keep them busy and out of the way. Provide them with rich opportunities and on-the-job experience that they can leverage for their future endeavors. Give them the opportunity to work across several departments and expose them to a myriad of roles. Include them in meetings and strategic discussions so they can understand how the business operates from the inside out. They provide your company with a valuable resource to tap into especially in the form of providing useful outside perspectives.
If you truly want to create a stellar internship, the key lies in providing your young recruits with meaningful and satisfying work and helping them develop the skill sets necessary for them to succeed in their future careers.
5. Provide networking opportunities
It’s essential to keep the right perspective when it comes to your internship program. Think of it less as an avenue to find your company’s next CEO and more as an opportunity to give back to the community and create a positive brand identity. Let’s face it, when it comes down to it, it’s safe to say that your young recruits most likely don’t have a Rolodex full of industry contacts at their disposal. We all understand the benefits of fostering and maintaining connections in the industry. It’s an essential element to any professional’s ability to thrive and succeed.
In fact, did you know that an astounding 85 percent of professionals surveyed in one study cited the they found their current jobs through networking? What could be more beneficial to a young burgeoning professional than the prospect of making invaluable industry contacts? Provide them with this in some way, shape or form, whether it be through company get-togethers, access to conferences or industry events or through a valuable mentorship program.
Allowing them to rub elbows with industry professionals can provide an immense impact on their future careers as well as their outlooks, perspectives and ambitions. Furthermore, you’re doing your part by providing them with a truly meaningful internship experience which will help them grow and succeed. In the end, you’re not giving them a leg up in the world, you’re turning them into a grateful and glowing example of an ambassador of your brand.
6. Get feedback on your internship program
When it comes down to it, you can do your best to create an invaluable internship program and experience for your young recruits, but you’ll never truly know how you stack up without feedback. However, don’t just save your feedback questions and surveys at the end of the internship during your exit interview. Take the time to create a process which cultivates feedback throughout the entire internship as well. Doing so will not only aid in your efforts to continually provide an excellent experience for your young recruits but it will also show them that you truly care.
When it comes to creating a killer internship program, the key lies in providing a meaningful and impactful experience which will help set your young recruits off on the right foot for their future endeavors. Use this article as a nifty guide to ensure your internship program truly makes a difference and stands out above the rest.
Have you ever held an internship? What was your experience? What are some additional tactics you feel companies could use to create stellar internship programs? Let us know in the comments below!