Friday, January 16, 2015

Is Your Non-Profit Eligible for a Google Grant?

The Google for Nonprofits Program offers qualified organizations access to free versions of paid Google products and special features designed for nonprofits.

These tools can help nonprofits find new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and get supporters to take action.

Google for Nonprofits members have access to the following products:
  • Premium branding capabilities on YouTube channels
  • Free AdWords advertising to promote your website on through keyword targeting.
  • Free Nonprofit Edition of Google Apps.
  • Free licensing for Maps API Premier
  • and more.
Your organization must be a registered and recognized 501(c)(3) in the United States.
  • Organizations must be recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations formed for charitable, educational, religious, literary, scientific, or other tax-exempt purposes.
  • Organizations that rely on the group 501(c)(3) exemption of a central (“umbrella”) organization can apply to Google for Nonprofits as a "related organization."
  • Organizations, such as churches, that are automatically considered tax-exempt must still obtain recognition of 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS to qualify for the Google for Nonprofits program.

Also make sure your organization is updated on, the go-to source when people search for information on a non-profit.

Interested?! - follow this link to Google for more information and the application

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Privacy PolicySome industries have specific rules they must adhere to for all their advertising and marketing, both offline and online.  The Healthcare industry has specific marketing regulations, codes and guidelines. Lawyers and legal associations must follow Bar Rules. In California,  this includes Rule I-400.
Any website, blog , internet site or application (app)  that wants to stay in good standing with search engines, must follow their specific terms and conditions. The two largest, Google and Yahoo, have these webmaster guidelines prominently posted, updated and available.
There are also State and Federal laws governing how ALL websites must behave to insure the privacy of their visitors.  There are additional laws (below) that are specific to protect the privacy of children. The following list does not cover all the internet privacy laws currently in force, or being proposed. You are advised to be knowledgeable of the laws that apply to your business – Federal, State and your specific industry.
  • CALIFORNIA – Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003 – California Business and Professions Code sections 22575-22579. This law requires operators of commercial web sites or online services that collect personal information on California residents through a web site to conspicuously post a privacy policy on the site and to comply with its policy. The privacy policy must, among other things, identify the categories of personally identifiable information collected about site visitors and the categories of third parties with whom the operator may share the information. The privacy policy must also provide information on the operator’s online tracking practices. An operator is in violation for failure to post a policy within 30 days of being notified of noncompliance, or if the operator either knowingly and willfully or negligently and materially fails to comply with the provisions of its policy. This law takes effect July 1, 2004.
  • Assembly Bill No. 370 (AB 370) amends Section 22575 of the state’s Business and Professions Code. Section 22575 requires the operator of a website that collects personally identifiable information on consumers residing in California who use or visit the site to conspicuously post its privacy policy on the site.  (The operator of an online service must make its privacy policy available by any reasonable accessible means.)As amended by AB 370, Section 22575 requires such an operator to include in its privacy policy a description of how the operator responds to do-not-track settings in consumers’ browsers. The law describes such settings as “signals or other mechanisms that provide consumers the ability to exercise choice regarding the collection of personally identifiable information about an individual consumer’s online activities over time and across third-party Web sites or online services.” An operator can satisfy the new requirement “by providing a clear and conspicuous hyperlink in the operator’s privacy policy to an online location containing a description, including the effects, of any program or protocol the operator follows that offers the consumer that choice.” The law also requires an operator to disclose in its privacy policy whether, when a consumer uses the operator’s website or service, other parties can collect personally identifiable information about a consumer’s online activities “over time and across different Web sites.”
  • CALIFORNIA NON PROFIT COMPANIES – California Ed. Code § 99122
    Requires private nonprofit or for-profit postsecondary educational institutions to post a social media privacy policy on the institution’s Internet Web site
  • CONNECTICUT Gen. Stat. § 42-471
    Requires any person who collects Social Security numbers in the course of business to create a privacy protection policy. The policy must be “publicly displayed” by posting on a web page and the policy must (1) protect the confidentiality of Social Security numbers, (2) prohibit unlawful disclosure of Social Security numbers, and (3) limit access to Social Security numbers.
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA”). COPPA imposes certain requirements on operators of websites or online services directed to children under 13 years of age, and on operators of other websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information online from a child under 13 years of age.
  • Calif. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 22580-22582 (2013 S.B. 568, Chapter 336) (Effective 1/1/2015.)
    California’s Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World Act, also called the “eraser” bill, will permit minors to remove, or to request and obtain removal of, content or information posted on an Internet Web site, online service, online application, or mobile application. It also prohibits an operator of a Web site or online service directed to minors from marketing or advertising to minors specified products or services that minors are legally prohibited from buying. The law also will prohibit marketing or advertising certain products based on personal information specific to a minor or knowingly using, disclosing, compiling, or allowing a third party to do so.
Laws regarding making false and misleading statements in website Privacy Policies
  • NEBRASKA  Nebraska Stat. § 87-302(14)
    Nebraska prohibits knowingly making a false or misleading statement in a privacy policy, published on the Internet or otherwise distributed or published, regarding the use of personal information submitted by members of the public.
  • PENNSYLVANIA 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 4107(a)(10)
    Pennsylvania includes false and misleading statements in privacy policies published on Web sites or otherwise distributed in its deceptive or fraudulent business practices statute.
Your privacy policy should be specific to  your website, blog, app, etc. and not simply copy of someone else’s. Your privacy policy should be as unique and specific as your business.
Is your website compliant? Contact us to discuss your specific industry website, your goals and needs. Click to e-mail us or call 800-569-8279
Additional Resources:

Friday, August 2, 2013

Adapting to The Change to Gmail Tabs

How do you feel about the changes to your Gmail inbox. Do you like how Google has separated your emails into specific tabs and made determinations on your behalf which emails go into which tab?

Some of your important and favorite emails may no longer be considered "primary" emails. Equally bad, your clients may not be aware that your emails are being filtered to one of the other tabs instead of your primary box.

It would be nice if Google allowed you to make your own custom tabs, however, they have limited you to only 5 of their designs described here in Google's words:
  • Primary: Messages from friends and family, as well as any other messages that don't appear in other tabs. Also messages from senders that you have previously starred.
  • Promotions: Your deals, offers and other promotional emails. 
  • Social Messages: From social networks, media-sharing sites, online dating services, gaming platforms and other social websites.
  • Updates: Notifications such as confirmations, receipts, bills and statements.
  • Forums: Messages from online groups, discussion boards and mailing lists.

You can  instruct Gmail to automatically send emails from certain senders into particular tabs.
  • Right-click on this email (if it has been filed under the incorrect tab heading), hover over the "Move to Tab" option that appears in the pop-up box, and select the tab where you want it to be.
  • Alternatively, you can drag and drop to your choice of tab.
Gmail will then ask you if you want it to "Do this for future messages from []?" Click "yes" and future emails from that address will auto-filter into the Primary tab.

Google Ads

Included in your "promotions" tab in-box will be targeted ads that are designed to appear more like email than an ad. The idea, of course, if for you to click on it and hopefully buy something. These are ads from Google advertisers, which has been selected for your inbox based on keywords the advertiser selected match similar words or phrases in your emails.According to Google "Ad targeting in Gmail is fully automated, and no humans read your email or Google Account information in order to show you advertisements or related information"  It's all handled by Google's algorithms. The only way to stop these ads, at present, is to delete the "promotions" tab, however, the ads may show up in another tab in the future.

On the Good Side

If you like the idea of mail being sorted for you into specific tabs so you can more quicky filter through them, you may like this new layout. You can choose which tabs your emails will be sorted into. If you take a look at the promotions tab you might recognize many of email blasts and newsletter subscriptions. This can be helpful to have them all in one place so you can easily delete the ones you don't want and see the ones you do.

Disabling Tabs 

If you dislike the new tabs functionality and want to return to the traditional inbox layout, click the "+" icon to the right of the tab heading, un-check every tab box (apart from "Primary" which is a default) and your inbox will revert to the old design., for now, or until Google decides to make this new layout permanent for all Gmail accounts.

Help Your Customers Get Your Emails

To assist your customers in seeing your emails, send them the instructions or a link to this blog post, so they know how to filter your emails to land in the primary tab.

One thing we all know for certain, is that there will be always be change.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."

~ Charles Darwin

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

When should you redesign your website?

Everyday at least one of my clients receives an email from someone stating they their website needs to be updated, and the unknown email sender is the best person to do it. Everyday new people enter the arena of webdesign. some take a software class, others an online class and some buy a program of templates.

I am asked, how often should a website be updated? And what is the difference between a web designer and website development?

 First, your website should be updated when:
1.) You have broken links, missing images, difficult navigation, outdated content or outdated firm image.
2.) Significant changes are made to search algorithms and your site results are beginning to decline
3.) You've added new personnel or new products/sservices
 4.) You have new success stories that your potential clients can learn from or be inspired by
5.) You have received acknowledgements or have articles newly published in significant journals.

When not to update:
1.) Someone guarantees you top placement in search results if they redesign your entire website. To guarantee something it to promise for absolute certain that it will happen. According to Google, there are black-hat techniques that can get your website in the top results - for a short time. However, long term success cannot be guaranteed. And black-hat techniques can come back to haunt you, including getting you black listed from search databases.
2.) You're bored with the look. Being pretty isn't always necessary. If your site is still bringing in new clients and referrals, it may not need a complete overhaul. You may need simple changes to colors and layouts to please your eye without losing the effect the content is making.
3.) You don't know if it's really pulling in results.  Before deciding your entire site isn't working, be sure to check the analytics and see what pages or content areas are drawing traffic. By analyzing your traffic reports, you will see your website's strength and possible weaknesses.
4.) Because the new kid on the block or the email you just received told you to do it. If someone is telling you that your website is broken, and they are the only ones to fix it - think before acting. If someone approached you with that logic on another areas of your business or personal life,  - not knowing you or your objectives - would you immediately hire them?

Many persons selling web services are offering their opinion, their companies opinion and the limitations of their designs. Some will use a marketing service, ( ie Yext, Citygrid, etc) to show you your results. If so, double-check these results. Many times these reports are incorrect, plus these are for-fee services, so the more their report indicates you need them, the easier it becomes to sell you their service.

A good web developer will use unrelated opinions, ie: other web developers who don't work or are paid by them, and focus groups. Always ask how they derived their assessment of your website and web presence.

Sometimes it's time to refresh your look. It's always time to keep your content current.

Analyze what you have before you agree to an overhaul, when a simple refresh is all you need.

Think of the big picture and long term.

If you've been told that your website needs an overhaul or you feel the need for changes, let's talk. Click to email us. We'll listen first, look at your online presence and then offer our recommendations.  One size does not fit all.The solution for you should be unique to your business and goals. Maybe you only need a refresh.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Have you ever wondered how search works?

Have you ever wondered how search engines actually work to deliver you the results you seek in the blink of an eye? The following link is an interactive inforgraphic by Google to give an insight into what happens between the request of a search query and the retrieval of results.

As you watch this, note how often "freshness" and "content" are mentioned.

Keeping the content on your website current and updated regularly with helpful and relevant information is very important. So if your website hasn't been updated in a while, regardless of how attractive it might be or how important you think that information is, it may be time to tweak, add to, change or restructure your website for better results.

If you think  your website needs an overhaul, let's talk. Click to email us. We'll listen first, look at your online presence and then offer our recommendations.  One size does not fit all.The solution for you should be unique to your business and goals. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

So What You Do Best

Whether you are a solopreneuer or you are a growing enterprise, marketing is essential if you want to keep pace and grow in today's marketplace. The Internet is a powerful marketing tool - when used strategically and correctly. A few common mistakes that can hurt you, might include:

A website that looks like everyone else, with common content.
      When your website looks like everyone else then how does your potential clients see you as any different. This mistake s usually made by using the same template you liked on someone else's site, or using a web company with limited knowledge or access to templates.

Entrepreneurs who post personal activities on their social media profiles.
     Most entrepreneurs (hopefully) know it's important to keep a balance between personal and professional activities. however, what you think is a cute joke or "no harm" comment just might show up in a search by a potential client and it could turn them away. I know one professional who loves to post "funny" jokes on her not-really-private profile, that are demeaning or poke fun at certain groups or behaviors. Not only will this send away potential clients in these groups, it will also alienate those who don't support these same attitudes.

Entrepreneurs who control it all 
     Some people do love to brag how they can wear all the hats, however, that well-known  figure of speech  "Jack of all trades, master of none" is used in reference to a person that is competent with many skills but is not necessarily outstanding in any particular one. This person is a generalist rather than a specialist. In your business, you should be the specialist. It is important that you have an understanding of what the Internet can do for you, however, the playing field is changing multiple times a day.  The learning never ends. What you are doing today may not hold up to the search engine algorithms, or the changes in various social media policies and offerings.  The biggest mistake in doing it all yourself is how much time you take away from what you do best -your business.

The worst mistake is to stop marketing
     Every day new entrepreneurs are entering the already competitive marketplace. Although the Internet is growing in persuasive power every day, it is only one component that should be included in your overall marketing plan.   Some entrepreneurs stop marketing because they think they have enough clients for now; then things slow now and panic ensues.  Marketing through print, personal networking, speaking engagements, associations and events should also be in your marketing arsenal. Each one is powerful, however, putting them together in a strategic marketing plan can be even more effective for you.

Whether you are looking to attract clients or referrals from other entrepreneurs, the image they see on the Internet will play into their decision about you.

So do what you do best, and trust your assistants or outside consultants to assist you in maximizing the potential of the Internet.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cheap yet costly SEO mistakes

How important is it to monitor your internet presence?

Unfortunately many individual and businesses assign the task of their website and internet marketing to an employee in their company or hire a service, and then just assume it will be fine.

Unfortunately, employees get distracted with other firm matters, or leave the company for another job; and with the ease of web templates, just about anyone advertising themselves as an internet marketing expert can give the impression that they know what they are doing.

What could possibly go wrong?

This week when monitoring the internet presence of a few potential new clients, I discovered a handful of dangerous yet preventable errors. Unfortunately this errors are more difficult to correct once they are online. With the change in search algorithms changing regularly, what worked yesterday may now seriously work against you today. What I discovered aren't tactics that a knowledgeable webmaster or internet marketer would use, especially since the introduction of Penguin and Panda.

 * Black-Hat Techniques.
Be cautious of companies that promise immediate first page Google ranking. “Black hat webspam” is referred to as techniques where the intent is to look for shortcuts or loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be ranked according to webmaster guidelines. Use of Black Hat webspam, once discovered by Google and other search engines, can get your site penalized and potentially de-listed. Short term exposure on the first page, could result in log term penalty.

* Bulk directory service.
This weekend as I did my internet research on a few new referrals, I found one company listed on several sites, but with a wrong phone number. In fact it was the phone number of the company they hired to provide their SEO. Their company name, address as well as the photos were correct, however someone calling the number listed would not have reached them. This happens when a bulk listing service is used. The bulk listing service uses the account holders phone number to verify the listings on directory pages such as: yellowpages, yahoo local listings and other popular online directories. The solution if you use a bulk listing service, is to have an account set up exclusively for (you) the client by the SEO company, and have the bulk service company phone verify your actual phone number. It's an extra step that involves someone at your office answering the phone and listening to a computerized code; however, those few minutes could save you from lost clients calling the wrong phone number. You also want to make sure that you are being listed on only legitimate sites and not content farms, which will also work against  you. The SEO company can still manage the account, however, the account is one of your internet assets. ( I've written about the importance of your ownership of your internet assets in another post.)

* Paid Inbound Links:
Years ago, cross linking (you list my website on your site, and I'll list yours on mine) was a popular way to increase traffic and give the impression of a site being popular. That tactic was quickly disregarded by all search engines and cross-lining was soon replaced by purchased inbound links. For a fee you could have your company and website listed on numerous worldwide sites which would offer a guarantee of high volume traffic to your site. This volume, again, gave the impression that your site was popular and therefore would rank high in search results. With the release of Penguin, these kinds of marketing ploys are considered web spam, an artificial inflation of the relevance of your website. Google penalizes sites for being deceptive and your site may not only lose it's ranking, it can also lose it's place in Google's index. People tend to forget that Google owns the database that indexes the search results. If you are no longer in the database, then your site will only be found by someone with your specific web address.

* Article Sites. 
If you enjoy writing, article marketing was once a long-standing highly used tool to post your same content several different sites with a link back to your website. This practice no longer has the search popularity it once had and at worst, it can cause your site to be penalized by Google and therefore not show up in search results. There are a few legitimate, well respected sites to post your informative articles and receive search benefits.

 * Content Farms. 
No time to write? Thinking about hiring someone to write your articles for you, or reposting someone else's article, blog or news story to add content to your site? These are all considered farming by Google's algorithm Panda.  Ghostwriters have a similarity in their writing and seldom provide unique content to their clients. Instead they rewrite certain phrases, leaving the bulk of the article or blog appearing very similar to the one they wrote for someone else. Using someone who writes exclusively for you is second only to you writing your own articles. According to Google's webmaster guidelines, Panda is designed to reduce rankings for sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.  Google likes original, timely content that is informative, educational and useful to the reader. You can take a news story and comment heavily on it, providing a new perspective or in depth analysis, however, simply reposting the original story will cause your site to be considered a farmer, and of low value to searchers.

* Over Optimization
Optimize and SEO are buzzwords that have been chanted by many internet marketers with such a passion that many attorneys repeat these phrases as the holy grail fro their website, yet without any real understanding of what is it and how it can help or hurt your site. One method of over optimization is taking a keyword or phrase and over using it or repeating too many sentences on several pages or multiple sites. Repeating your tag line is one thing, repeating your area of practice over and again is over-kill. There are several other over-kill techniques that can cause your website to fall below the search engine approval. To get the best attention fro search engines, websites should be written for the reader and not for search engines.

It is important to your online success and identity to stay alert of any exposure on the internet. Not only to make sure your contact information is correct, but to make sure that the person's posting about you are known to you; are doing so with your permission and/or are in your employ.

The longer something is on the internet, the more difficult it is to remove. I once heard that the more times a lie is told, the more people believe it, it soon becomes assumed as the truth and more difficult to correct.

It's easier than you may think for someone to post erroneous information about you or post information that helps them to steal your clients or your personal identity.

Conducting a regular Google search, or using Google alerts is important, however remember there are several other large search engines that also may be storing information about you. Be alert, be proactive and be in better control over your internet assets.