Backup Your Data

You went to your computer and moved the cursor around. Nothing happened. Panic has set in. All your pictures, documents and files are on that computer. Your family pictures from the past 10 years, vacation pictures from last summer, tax files, grad school papers and more are saved to that computer. And now, it’s all lost. If you had purchased an external hard drive and backed up your computer you would still have all of those files. But you didn’t, so now they’re all gone. Hopefully you’ve never found yourself in this situation but, just in case, we’ve done a megaton of research to make our recommendations for the best external hard drive in various categories so you can pick which will work most effectively for you.

5 steps to optimizing your site for Google’s mobile-first index

5 steps to optimizing your site for Google’s mobile-first index

Now that Google is officially testing a mobile-first index, columnist Ryan Shelley believes it’s well past time to get aboard the mobile-friendly train. Here, he provides some tips to get you started.

Google has started testing its mobile-first index. This new index will look first at the mobile version of your website for its ranking signals and fall back on the desktop version when there is no mobile version.

Google has been slowly moving toward a mobile-first index for quite a while now. Google first hinted at their intentions of a mobile-first index about a year ago, but November 4 was the first time Google has posted details about the mobile-first index on their own blog.

So if you have been slow in joining the mobile revolution, now is the time to take action. As mobile continues to dominate search, Google and the other search engines are going to place more and more emphasis on mobile.

Here are five steps you can take to optimize your site for Google’s mobile-first index.

[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]

How to Optimize Your Images for the Web

Images on your website, social media or newsletter are much more than a simple decoration.
Did you know that:
  • The load speed of your product images is a crucial factor for your conversion rate
  • Every image can bring you organic traffic if uploaded in an SEO-friendly way
  • You can do all the image-related work without Photoshop?
Check out our guide to make sure the images you use are both shining and effective.

Why does image optimization matter?

The most obvious benefit to optimizing your images is that it’s better for you in the long run.

It makes users want to stick around on your website (because they can clearly see your images and they aren’t taking forever to load).

It makes your website easier to find in search results (because good image optimization is also search-engine friendly).

There’s also the fact that it’s good for your users. Image optimization, aside from generally being more user-friendly, also helps make your website more accessible for people with visual impairments (who might be using screen-readers that draw off of the alt-tags to describe the image to the user).

Which means more visitors for your websites and potentially more sales.

Image optimization 101

So what goes into image optimization?

File names and code

The first and easiest thing you can do is change your image filename to something descriptive, rather than 10934.jpg.

Describe either what’s depicted in the image (“RedCorvette.jpg”) or what’s in the post, if this is for a blog post (“MaintainingYourCorvette.jpg”).

After that, you can add an “alt” tag.

This is a tag that goes within the image code that gives a brief description of what the image is — you want to describe the image in a few words while using relevant keywords.

Going with the above example, you might have an alt tag of “2010 Red Corvette Maintenance.”

But don’t keyword stuff the alt tag — you wouldn’t add “car red corvette maintenance 2010 automobile shop buy” as an alt-tag because that can set off spam filters in search engine algorithms, and it’s also not user-friendlyto visually impaired viewers.

Most sites have an easy way to edit the alt tags, but if not, you can click “view source” or “view HTML” in the text editor to access and edit it yourself.

Aside from filename and alt tag, many site builders (like WordPress) will give you a space for image title, caption, and description (and will easily let you edit the alt tag) when you upload an image, as shown below.

Filling out all available fields is the best rule of thumb for optimization. The caption will be shown to your average viewers, but everything else will be mostly be used by search engines and screen readers (for visually impaired viewers who rely on image descriptions).

Size and format

Reduce your image file sizes. Obviously, you want the images to be big enough to see, but you don’t need to be uploading images that are thousands of pixels wide and tall.

Make sure not to upload the full-size image and then just change the dimensions that it appears as via the image code. If you do that, the visitor’s computer will have to load the full-size image and it’ll slow your load time down.

There isn’t a hard-and-fast rule for file size or dimensions, but the general gist is “the smallest file size possible without making the image too small or unreadable.”

For in-line blog images, many sites are going with a width of 500-800 and a height of 300-600. You can always include a link to the full-size image so that people can get a bigger image when they click.

As far as file size goes, your images should never be larger than 1MB, and ideally, most of them will be around 100-200kb.

You can also reduce the resolution to make the file size smaller, but with the rise of retina displays, you don’t want to reduce the resolution too much or the images will look blurry on those displays.

To change file size, you can usually choose to export an image at a slightly lower quality, change the dimensions of the image, or change the file type (see below).

Use the right file format for the job. For most uses, .jpg will be your best bet. It supports the most colors with the least amount of size possible.

Gifs tend to be larger file-size wise for static images, but they’re great for animated images (Giphy, anyone?).

This is a great way to show your product from all angles or in motion without making users load a full video — Ecwid lets you use animated gifs for that.

For images with text, .png is a good choice — those images tend to be larger in file size, but have crisper text (and also support transparency).

Best practices for images

On your site:

  • Make sure to include all of the additional description possible, to make your product pages and blog posts search-engine friendly.
  • Include multiple angles of your products.
  • If you have the option to set an image as featured, make sure you do so, as that’s usually the image that’s pulled for social media previews.

Ecwid supports retina-ready thumbnails created from your product images, so don’t worry about your shop looking good on retina displays!

All you have to do is log in to your Control Panel, then go to Settings and then “What’s New” to enable the feature.

On social media:

In general, you don’t want to use the same image across multiple social networks — it’s better to tweak the image to optimize it for each social network. Check out Hubspot’s social media image cheat sheet to get the exact image specs for all the networks.

If you have important text in your images, make sure that it’s easy to read as someone scrolls through their Facebook or Twitter timeline.

Make sure you optimize your listings to have featured images that look good on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The apps you need to optimize your images

If you want a free Photoshop replacement, check out GIMP. It’s free, open-source, and works on Windows, Mac, or Linux.

The downside is that it has a slightly steeper learning curve than Photoshop, but there are plenty of online tutorials to help walk you through things.

That said, GIMP (or Photoshop) is probably the overkill for your average blog post/product image. PicMonkey can help you do basic image editing, along with collages and image creation for social media.

If you want to edit your images on the go, Pixlr has several app options plus an online option. If you’re editing photos, VSCO is a great choice for

Last but certainly not least, there’s Canva, which is less of an image or photo editing app, and more of a graphic creation tool for online images. You can easily add text, photo frames, backgrounds, and it also offers social media ready image templates.

info courtesy of euclid

What is FTP – What is an FTP Client?

What is FTP?

As its name suggests, the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standardized network protocol used to transfer files between a client and a server over the internet or any other TCP/IP network. FTP has been designed to promote sharing of files, across all types of computers. A strength of FTP is the reliable and efficient bulk transfer of files. FTP is popular with website owners and web designers to upload files to the servers of their web hosting company. Another common use case is the exchange of files between companies; FTP is in many organizations the de facto method for transferring large volumes of data.

What is an FTP Client?

An FTP Client is a program designed to transfer files between two computers. While most web browsers support FTP file downloads, to upload files and to perform other FTP tasks a dedicated FTP Client is needed. By using an FTP Client users can upload, download, delete, rename, move and copy files on a remote server. While FTP could be accessed via terminal, programs with a graphical user interface are preferred, and Filezilla Client represents an easy to use multiplatform solution.Filezilla is the most popular and easy to use FTP Client, it is feature rich and available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Before You Use the Public Wi-Fi, Read This

Is public Wi-Fi safe? Hell, no. But there are steps you can take.

Is public Wi-Fi safe? The short answer: Hell, no. But if you must use the free wireless at your hotel or the satellite office (i.e., Starbucks), here are some precautions you should take.

Keep it impersonal. Never online-bank via public wi-fi. Obvious, right? But you shouldn’t even check email — that can give hackers access to a trove of personal info. This applies even to secure websites, those with https (hypertext transfer protocol secure) in the URL. “Public hotspots are susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks” — where the hacker intercepts communications — “which will strip out the ‘secure’ part of https,” warns David Lee, a product manager for mobile at security software company Norton.

Beware fake networks. Check the network name with the staff of wherever you’re working. “You might see ‘Free-Starbucks-wifi,’ but this could easily be a fake,” says Jérôme Segura, a lead malware intelligence analyst at internet security software maker Malwarebytes. You’d be able to get online like everything was normal, except all your traffic would be visible to prying eyes.

Turn off sharing. Your device’s sharing function is designed to be used in a collaborative work environment, making it easy to let other computers on the same network access your files — something you definitely do not want on public wi-fi. When you disable sharing, it makes your phone or laptop invisible to others, and thus a less likely target.

Get your own network. Install virtual personal network (VPN) software, which establishes an encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic. But VPNs aren’t invulnerable, so you should stick to using https websites (which, sigh, still won’t guarantee safety). Also, look for a VPN that offers an anti-malware scanner and a mobile app.

Related: 7 Ways to Shop Safely on Your Mobile

Use your phone. You can use your smartphone as a hotspot for your laptop (it’s called tethering), which offers a secure connection. It does have a couple of downsides, though: First, you’re at the mercy of your carrier’s performance and data rates. Second, the websites you’re looking at know who you are and what device you’re using, whereas a VPN will make you completely anonymous.

15 Indispensable Content Marketing Tools To Launch Your First Campaign

There’s no denying the value of content marketing for any business.

Whether you’re an e-commerce company, a SaaS startup or a brick-and-mortar business on a mission to establish your online presence and capture more leads, content marketing can generate tangible impact for you.

According to CIM, 42% of B2B marketers report positive impact of their campaigns and year-over-year growth of website traffic is 7.8 times higher for those who choose to invest in content marketing.

Yet, at the same time, only 27% of marketers mention having an established tracking system for their content marketing. Even less people actually know the exact CAC (customer acquisition cost) for their content. And 70% of produced content is often left unused.

Granted, developing your first content marketing campaign can be overwhelming and time-consuming. But of course, there are some great tools out there to take off some of the pressure. I asked some veteran content marketers and entrepreneurs what content marketing tools they can’t live without. Here are 15 of them, grouped according to your needs.

Pre-Planning and Content Discovery
1. DrumUp
“DrumUp can serve a double-purpose. It shows you all trending content based on the keywords you provide from different websites and social media platforms, which you can use to brainstorm topics for your blog. And you can also use it to schedule and curate content on social media – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – and build relationships with other publishers.” – Melinda Hakim, CEO of DoctorCPR.

2. Quora
“We use Quora to solve a variety of problems. First, that’s where we find content ideas for our new blogs based on the common questions asked about our industry. Next, we use it to test our content assumptions and ask questions ourselves to discover the pain points of our clients. And finally, we occasionally promote our newly published pieces there within the replies to existing questions. In case of the latter, always add value prior to dropping your link.” – Alexandr Kraminsky, CEO of Prestige Barbers.

3. Divvy
“This software may look a bit advanced, but in reality, it’s very simple and efficient. Divvy allows you to create editorial calendars, collaborate on new pieces (handy if you have more than one contributor to your blog), assign tasks, track statuses and promote your new pieces efficiently afterwards – all through a single web interface.” – Robert Carter, CEO of Capital Office.

4. TrendSpottr
“Wondering what is hot in your niche and where all the buzz is coming from? Tap into TrendSpottr. This tool will help you discover the key industry trends, viral pieces and major niche influencers in real-time. It aggregates the data from different social media networks, notifies you about popular hashtags and rising topics. Use it to create timely content or newsjack.” – Anita Khurana, CEO of Vision Tech Camps.

Content Production
5. Venngage
“Venngage is a free-to-use, drag-and-drop infographics maker with loads of sleek templates, custom design elements, fonts, icons etc. We use it to create pretty much all the graphics for our blogs and social media. The response from our community has been overly positive and we’ve seen a drastic increase in social shares, especially from Pinterest.” – Louis Swingrover, CEO of 1031Gateway.

6. AtomicReach
“If you’re struggling to create engaging content, try Atomic Reach. This tool will analyze your piece based on 20 different impact factors and rate it on a 0 to 100 scale. Based on the provided suggestions, you can tweak your copy further in the built-in editor. You can adjust the audience proficiency levels (from general public to specialists, academics, or even geniuses) and the tool will highlight whether the content is appropriate or not.” – Aric Shelko, CEO of Battery Clerk.

7. Hemingway App
“Hemingway was the master of short powerful sentences and this app will teach you the same art. Writing for the web means that you have just a few seconds to trigger the reader’s’ attention. Long sentences won’t do you any good in this case. The app will rate the readability of your copy, highlight too complicated structures, point out grammar mishaps, and other small errors. If your aim is to write more coherent and powerful copies, give this tool a try.” – Denis Holmes, CEO of Beachway.

8. Apester
“Apester is a great tool to experiment with digital storytelling and new types of content. You can use it to create personalized customer polls, quizzes, and interactive native advertising materials. After experimenting with a few new content types, our average time on site has increased by 34%.” – Brad Butler, CEO of Oakland Spine.

9. Lead Pages
“The goal of your content marketing is to generate leads. And of course, you should have a few dedicated landing and squeeze pages to capture those leads with higher efficiency. Lead Pages has plenty of attractive and high converting templates, which you can add to your website without calling the developers. Use it to entice more prospects to your email list and warm them up with great content before pushing a sale.” – Alex Perelmuter, CEO of New Jersey Videography.

10. Active Presenter
“How-to product videos ensure high conversion rates for a variety of industries. We’ve been using Active Presenter – a free screen-recording tool to create simple explainer videos both for our customer support library and for standalone video marketing content for YouTube. It’s feature-rich, allows tweaking both video and audio, and add annotations whenever needed. Creating a great video takes less than 20 minutes.” – Ines Cohron, CEO of Total Home.

Content Promotion
11. IFTTT Recipes
“Monitoring all mentions, interacting on social media and scheduling your content for sharing can quickly eat up your entire day. That’s why we started using various IFTTT recipes to automate certain processes – from notifying people on Twitter about a recent mention in the post to sending quick “thanks” messages to folks, who have shared or content online.” – Bill Henry, CEO of Robinson And Henry.

12. Traackr
“Traackr is a great platform to record, manage and track all your outreach and influencer marketing campaigns. Creating collaboration campaigns and measuring the results/ROI is very efficient through their interface. I also love the way you can keep all your contacts organized in one place and search for the best matches using different filters and metrics.” – John Quaif, CEO of Choice Financial Solutions.

13. Zest
“Zest is a great marketing community and Google Chrome browser add-on, where anyone can suggest new content for respective categories. Use it both for content discovery/inspiration and to promote your latest pieces (as long as they are stellar!).” – John Fitch, CEO of The Fitch Law Firm.

14. BuzzStream
“BuzzStream drastically reduces the time for outreaching. This app suggests you how to personalize your outreach emails better, when it’s time to follow-up again and schedule email blasts. Additionally, BuzzStream automatically tracks your email and Twitter conversations with existing contacts and reminds to you to send relationship-building letters more often.” – Eric Ritter, CEO of Digital Neighbor.

15. StumbleUpon
“Having a viral StumbleUpon can result into massive exposure on other social networks, link mentions and even press coverage from top publishers. However, make sure you submit only your best and most relevant content to this network. That is interesting visual pieces, first-person stories, and listicles. A paid ad boost for your post can pay off lavishly as well.” – Tim Johnson, CEO of Ink Factory.