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    A Fix for the TimThumb Vulnerability in Your Blog

    September 19th, 2011

    Unless you are a techie, you probably don’t know about TimThumb script that is included in most WordPress themes for resizing images. I know I didn’t and I also didn’t know that just last month a major vulnerability was found that allowed hackers to invade your host. Here is a story that describes what happened.

    Peter Butler, a web developer, has created a plugin called the TimThumb Vulnerability Scanner that will scan your content folder for vulnerabilities. I just installed it and found one after the scan. The plugin will fix vulnerabilities that it finds.

    Here is a video explaining how to install the plugin.

    Jeannette Paladino helps organizations to leverage social media to build brand awareness, increase revenues, and engage employees as brand advocates. 

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    Are Alexa Rankings Influential and Accurate?

    July 16th, 2011

    Image representing Alexa as depicted in CrunchBase

    Image via CrunchBase

    That’s a question I posed on LinkedIn recently. While the results can’t be extrapolated to represent all internet users, I found the answers to be quite revealing. Alexa, according to its website – “… is a useful resource for people to discover information about websites. You can use Alexa to learn how popular a site is, to find new sites, to learn who owns a site, and a lot more.”

    Many marketers rely on a website’s Alexa rankings to evaluate the company behind it. In order to be ranked you must install the Alexa toolbar, so in effect it becomes a self-selected universe.

    Here are the answers I received (edited for brevity).

    YES

    - Alexa rankings are somewhat accurate and offer limited value, yet they’re something you should keep your eye on. Due to such, install the toolbar! When potential clients contact our company and I initially review their website, one of the first things I look at is the Alexa ranking. Checking the ranking and getting a rough idea of website traffic takes no more than 3 seconds, so why not take a peek? One thing to note is Alexa rankings have hardly any (if any) influence on search engine rankings. They simply provide a rough estimate of traffic derived from SEO, PPC, social media, etc.

    - The value in Alexa lies with in how it reveals your presence within that specific realm. If you’re a coder or web developer, than a good Alexa ranks tells you some valuable insights. If you’re a marketer or blogger, then not so much. As with any niche, you want to have a strong presence within a certain group your niche is targeting. Alexa is NOT a tool for determining search engine ranking or true site popularity. Alexa is valuable for instance, because it can tell potential investors or customers if your domain and site is getting good exposure among their desired audience. When trying to flip sites, sell web real estate, or just convince potential customers that you have a hold of the right audience for their needs, it can be very valuable indeed.

    NO

    - Not accurate, not influential…

    - I did and deleted it a few weeks later as a waste of time and effort…

    - Not accurate at all and not influential at all, as my post below will tell you. (Jeannette: I recommend you read this very detailed evaluation at husdal.com)

    - I wouldn’t worry about it Jeannette. The only ones who seem to take note of it are the ones that need to show traffic to attract advertising, etc., for their site. You can see how inaccurate it is by just comparing the information to Google Analytics.

    - Alexa is absolutely worthless unless you’re trying to flip a site, selling it to someone who believes Alexa counts for something. The system can be gamed so easily, it definitely should be relegated to the garbage bin. If you want an easy assessment tool, Website grader, as suggested previously is one route. So is using Compete, or my preferred tool, the SEOMoz authority measurement tools for domain and page.

    YES AND NO

    - As you may see from the other answers you received, the Alexa´s Ranking is not a very influential measure, especially if you use it as an absolute parameter. You must never forget that this ranking is made from the data harvested by the users that use the Alexa´s Toolbar as an add-on of their browsers. This amount of users is just a small portion of the whole Internet users mass. Anyway, if you are improving your ranking, you are getting more visitors, so it should be a good signal. If you use it as a complement of other tools, you are going to be ok.

    - Jeannette, you can get your Alexa ranking through www.websitegrader.com. Just look at the bottom and there it is. I tried to install Alexa but it was so complicated I didn’t do it since I’m not technical. The catch with Alexa is that people who write about issues related to the web get higher rankings than you and I do even though they have fewer visitors. So it’s slightly inaccurate but still a great measure for us.

    I also asked if I should install the tool bar. If companies are looking for your blog’s Alexa ranking and you don’t have one, is this damaging? Or, because it is a flawed measurement, is your ranking going to convey the wrong impression?

    Would love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

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    Why Meta Tags Are Important in Writing a Blog

    April 9th, 2011

    A friend just told me her web designer advised her not to bother with writing meta tags and descriptions for her blog because Google doesn’t consider these in your search rankings. That’s true.

    Google Logo officially released on May 2010

    Image via Wikipedia

    But I think it’s a big mistake to ignore them and I say this from experience because I did for a long time. Then I started using meta tags and showed up in more searches with greater click-throughs to my site.

    If you write a punchy headline and a compelling description of the blog, that’s most likely what will show up in the “snippet” that Google uses in the search description. A snippet is basically the little piece of copy next to each search. Google doesn’t necessarily have to use your copy. But it will if its mysterious algorithms determine your copy provides a better description than the search engine can by crawling and picking out words in your content.

    For example, I showed up on page one in Google with this snippet that I wrote in my meta tag description:

    How to Write a Blog Post | Write Speak Sell

    Mar 23, 2011 You’ve got to put your personality into a blog. Visitors want to know what you stand for and your honest opinions about things – both good

    In summary, meta tags will not increase your search rankings. That’s direct from Google. But also from the mouth of Google: a well-written “snippet” from your meta tag description is likely to increase click-throughs to your site. And isn’t that we want?

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    Want to Write a Blog for Bloomberg Businessweek?

    February 19th, 2011

    Want to write a blog for Bloomberg Businessweek?  You can and I did.

    The online magazine has a Small Business Department and every day it carries a blog in a section called “Today’s Tip.” My post, Why Small Business Owners Need a Blog appeared in the January 21st edition and has since received several thoughtful comments.  Here are the instructions from the site for submitting your blog:

    About

    Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.

    To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you’re not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.

    If you click on the link to my article and look to the right you’ll see the link to write to Michelle. It took several weeks for her to get back to me, so don’t despair. And, because she receives so many submissions, it would be a good idea to send a reminder after a couple of weeks. She actually thought she had replied to me when she hadn’t – not that I fault her she has a lot of material to read through. After the blog post ran, and I sent her a thank-you note, she wrote back and suggested I submit another blog if I had a good topic to write about.

    So if you want to brag to your friends about appearing in this well-known business magazine, start writing and good luck!

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    Sharing is Simple with AddThis for Firefox

    January 13th, 2011

    Firefox just updated a cool tool called AddThis for Firefox.  After you download the app to your computer, a navigation bar will appear across the top of your screen.  As Firefox describes it, AddThis for Firefox makes “sharing and bookmarking simple. Have all your favorite web 2.0 social networking, bookmarking, blogging, and e-mail services at your fingertips. Share any page, anytime, with anyone.”

    "Firefox AddThis navigation bar"

    Firefox AddThis screen shot

    I’ve been using this tool for months (see navigation bar above) and it makes it so easy to share a magazine article, a blog post, or other information with your followers on Twitter, Facebook and many other social networking services.  You just click on the icon and you’re taken to your account where you can post the news.

    Here’s How it Works

    For example, I just read a story in the New York Times about the predicted public offering of Groupon entitled, “Groupon I.P.O. Said to Value the Company at $15 Billion.”  I clicked on the Twitter icon on my navigation bar, and it took me to my Twitter “What’s Happening” message box, with this micro-blog already there, “Groupon I.P.O. Said to Value Company at $15 Billion – NYTimes.com: http://nyti.ms/fcOem0 via @addthis.”

    All I had to do is hit the Tweet button.  I could have deleted the @addthis but it wouldn’t have been polite.  By the way, this particular page in the Times didn’t have any Twitter or Facebook share buttons.  So, I probably wouldn’t have bothered Tweeting this story, which I thought would be of interest to followers because Groupon is such a hot story.

    While I use the navigation bar, you can choose from other options, including a Sharing tool bar for your blog, a context menu and URL bar icon (I’m not sure how all these work because I haven’t used them, but you can give them a try).

    There are other goodies, too, like bookmarking and accessing your address book.  All will be explained when you go to the AddThis for Firefox site.

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    Register Your Blog With Amazon’s Kindle

    December 8th, 2010

    Thanks to a fellow Blogger, Pat Weber, I learned that you can register your blog on Kindle — and it is actually for sale to Kindle readers for $1.99. Not enough to earn a living but it is gratifying to see your blog on Amazon and to potentially grow your list of subscribers.  The easy instructions are located on Kindle Publishing for Blogs.

    Here is how it works:

    Cover of

    Cover via Amazon

    1. Sign in or create a new account.  Your Kindle Publishing account will enable you to add blogs and apps.
    2. Add and preview your blog.  Complete the simple one page form, then preview how your blog will be displayed.
    3. Publish.  With one click your blog will be made available on the Kindle Store.

    When you visit Amazon all you need to do is enter  your name and up comes your blog.  This is how mine looks and Amazon’s promotional copy.
    Product Details

    Write Speak Sell – Kindle Edition – Blog Subscription (Nov. 30, 2010) by Jeannette Paladino
    Buy: $1.99
    Includes a 14-day free trial and automatic wireless delivery

    Here is the link to my blog on Kindle.  Feel free to write a review (if you want to visit my blog first click on Write Speak Sell).  I’ll be happy to reciprocate when you get your blog on Kindle.

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