Information Technology related posts

It’s Official. If Your Website Isn’t Mobile Friendly, Google Won’t Like You.

Hi friends!  It’s Jason with this week’s blog post.

I hope the title of this post got your attention.  Because it should.  It’s official.  Google is going to start penalizing you in search engine results if your website isn’t mobile friendly.

April 21, 2015 – The clock is ticking.

Here’s a quote from Google’s blog that I think you should read… (for the whole blog post, click here.)

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

You may appear on the first or second page of Google search results today.  Once Google changes their ranking system, it’s likely your position will drop if your site isn’t mobile friendly.  If your competitors have a mobile friendly site, there is a good chance they’ll appear higher in the results than you do.  Keep in mind, this is going to apply to searches done from a mobile device.  That said, we typically see between 25% and 50% of traffic to our client sites done from a mobile device when reviewing Google Analytics reports.

I talked about this back in a blog post in February, but wanted to follow up now that it is official.

Companies are getting notices from Google that their website isn’t mobile friendly.

Have you gotten an email from Google like the one below?

NotMobileFriendly

Google is doing their best to let companies know there’s a problem before they make the changes to search rankings.  If not, your website developer probably hasn’t hooked up Google Webmaster Tools for your site.  (And if you’re a current website client, you haven’t gotten this because your site is already mobile friendly!)

Test Your Site

If you didn’t test your site back in February when I first mentioned it, this is another reminder for you to do it.  Simply click on this link, type in your website address and click Analyze.  You’ll know in less than a minute where you stand.

If you need help getting a new site in place that’s mobile friendly, give me a call or shoot me an email!

It’s 2015. Is Your Website Mobile Ready?

Post by Jason Terry

Mobile Ready 2015Did you know that more people use a mobile device to access the internet than a PC or Mac?  Do a search on Google for “website traffic from mobile higher than desktop” and you will see about 259 million results with more information.

I did you a favor and grabbed three of my favorites from the first 50 results:

What Does This Mean For You?

The fact that more people use their cell phone or table to access the internet has been missed by many businesses.  Pull up ten websites of companies that you do business with… I’d be surprised if more than two or three of them are mobile friendly.  You can test their sites as well as your own with the free tool from Google that I link to below.  Odds are your site isn’t mobile friendly either.

Potential Penalty in Google Search Results

There are rumors that Google is going to start giving more credit to mobile friendly sites when presenting search engine results.  In other words, if your competitor’s website is mobile friendly, it could be listed before yours just because it’s mobile friendly.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I think it makes complete sense, especially if the search was done from a mobile device (and Google knows that when it happens.) Read more

Evercontact Is Awesome… It Automatically Updates Your Contacts in Google Or Outlook

Hey there…it’s Jason with this week’s Blue Gurus blog post!

Every once in a while I find a tool or service that blows my mind.  Evercontact wins that prize for June!  Thanks to Tony and Joe at Umzuzu for recommending it to me.

Evercontact

How often do you find yourself pulling up a contact record in your phone and realize you don’t have the business address listed as you’re trying to drive to their office? Okay, maybe I could plan a little better, but that really does happen to me more often than I’d like.  What about when you are trying to call someone and all you have is their email address and no phone number?  I am happy to tell you that this rarely happens to me now because of Evercontact.

Why Was My Mind Blown?

Evercontact is this magical service that goes through your email inbox every night.  It looks for email signatures from all the people that are sending you email.  When it finds an email signature, it grabs all the information it can… street address, main business phone, mobile phone, email address, website address and more.  It then looks in your Google Contacts or Outlook Contacts to find a match.

When a match is found, Evercontact updates your contact record automatically with the new information. If you don’t want to trust it right away, you can choose to have Evercontact send you an email that shows you the new information it found, and you can update your contact record by clicking a single confirmation link.

How It Works

So let’s say that I have Mic Johnson in my contacts with just his name and email address.  And then Mic sends me an email that has a signature at the bottom with his mailing address and cell phone number listed.  Evercontact finds the match and adds the mailing address and cell phone number to my contact record in Google Apps, and I don’t have to do ANYTHING for that to happen.  And then, because I have my mobile phone connected to my contacts, Mic’s record on my phone will be updated automatically with the new information as well.  Can you see the value in that???

TECH TIP: If your company or organization uses Google Apps, you can install Evercontact for everyone in your Google Apps account at one time, as long as you are an administrator.

I have email conversations with a lot of people every week.  Evercontact is always there looking for updated contact information for me.  It is worth every penny of the $59/year that I pay for the service.  I highly recommend you check it out and save yourself the time of manually updating your contact records!

How PaperKarma Saved Me From 20+ Years Of Junk Mail

Post written by Mic Johnson, Blog Coach | LinkedIn Trainer | WordPress Web Site Guy | Rational Optimist | Jayhawk | Sushi Lover | Cancer Volunteer

Medicare MailingThere’s been an interesting phenomenon happening to me over the last couple of months. Out of nowhere I suddenly started getting “You’re Eligible For Medicare” mail. Every week, I’d get a couple of new pieces.

I’m nowhere near the age where I qualify for Medicare and I quickly realized that if these mailers didn’t stop, I’d be getting them for the next 20+ years!

I called the local Medicare office and asked if I’d been put on a list of some sort that I could be removed from.

They told me that the mailings didn’t have anything to do with them. They also said that there are several list companies out there, but there was no way to alert them all at once. I also called the people that sent the mailers and asked to be removed from their list.

But the pieces of mail kept coming.

I relayed the story to my friend Drew Hinrichs. Drew is one of those “Hey, have you heard of that app?” guys and he told me about the FREE app PaperKarma.

Now, when I get those annoying and unwanted Medicare mailings each week, I simply scan a picture of it with my iPhone, make sure my name, address info, and the mailing barcode are included, and upload it to PaperKarma. And they take care of the rest!

It’s super easy to use, saves me time from contacting everyone that sends me a mailer, saves me time from tearing up and recycling all of those mailers, and will save a few trees along the way. They also have a “status” tab that shows you whether an uploaded item is “Pending”, “Success”, or “Failed”.

So the next time you find yourself routinely getting unwanted junk mail, use PaperKarma!

PaperKarma (1)PaperKarma (2)

Happy Turkey Day… And Why 501(c)(3) Not-For-Profits Need to Know About Tech Soup!

Post written by Jason Terry, Entrepreneur | Social Coach | Web Developer | Scuba Instructor | Guitar Player | Cruise Traveler | Lego Collector

Happy Thanksgiving from Blue Gurus!

Happy Thanksgiving!Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!  We appreciate you so much, regardless of how we are connected.  Friends, family, clients, peers, referral partners, vendors and more… lots ‘o love.

It has been a great year and it wouldn’t have been possible without all of the people that believe in us and cheer for us.
THANK YOU!

Traveling for Thanksgiving?

If you are traveling this week, be sure to have back up plans in case of airport closures on the east coast and other delays based on weather.  (More info on that here.)

Tech Soup for Not-For-Profit Organizations (NFPs)

Tech Soup LogoIn the spirit of giving, I wanted to share a conversation I recently had with Theresa at Marian Hope, one of our web and social clients.  They are a 501(c)(3) not for profit and were asking me which Adobe software they should purchase for working with images.

I started talking about how much the Adobe Suites cost (hundreds of dollars before Adobe came out with Creative Cloud licensing) and then remembered that they were probably a not-for-profit that would qualify for Tech Soup! Read more

Is Your Website Down? Pingdom Will Tell You for Free

Your Website Will Go Down

It is a fact that your website will go down at some point every year.  Do you know how often that happens?  Think about the consequences of your website being down… a prospective client might pick that exact moment to go to your site.  Error page.  Ugh.  A business friend might be trying to find information about your products or services to forward on to their referral.  No dice, it’s down.  Your social media posts that link to your blog article don’t work.  Your visitor might be thinking, “Are they a trustworthy company if they can’t keep their own website running?”  None of it is good, and most companies have no idea when or how often this happens.

Pingdom.com is the Answer

If you have never heard of pingdom.com, you should check it out right now.  It is an excellent web service that will monitor your web site for you 24/7.  Pingdom will send you an email (or SMS text message if you prefer) when your site is down.  Sign up for a free account by clicking the FREE SIGNUP in the lower right hand corner of the site.  With a free account, you can monitor a single URL.  I recommend you monitor the home page of your site.  You can also set up how often Pingdom should check that URL (every 15 minutes is probably a good starting point.)

Read more

Why You Should Consider Migrating to Google Apps [VIDEO]

Time for another video blog update from Blue Gurus!  The topic this week is our recent switch to Google Apps.  We did this for many reasons ranging from features to price.  Watch the video for more on why, and below the video I have included some important links that I mentioned.  I would love to hear from you if you are using Google Apps, and if you have any great tips or tricks to share that I could include in a future video!

 httpv://youtu.be/XFcKs28WCEI

Important links:
Umzuzu – Kansas City based, Google Premier SMB Partner that did our migration from Hosted Exchange to Google Apps
Rapportive – Excellent social plugin for Gmail (recently bought by LinkedIn), hover over a person and see their social media info from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter
Backupify – Google Apps backup solution for $3/user/month, recommended by Umzuzu as well

Gobble, Gobble!…10 Things We’re Thankful For This Year

It’s that time of year again when people are gearing up to celebrate Thanksgiving. I also know a lot of people (including yours truly) that are really excited to have some downtime to relax and do nothing!

With that in mind, here are 10 Things We’re Thankful For This Year…

1) We are thankful for our clients and the opportunity to help people accomplish their goals every day.

2) We are thankful for those people in our personal and professional networks that help us grow. Every new client for Blue Gurus comes from word-of-mouth referrals.

3) We are thankful to have launched more than 20 great new WordPress-powered web sites, including  AdventureTech Group, Corporate Fitness Works, Downtown Council of Kansas City, Galvmet, House of Diamonds, LPF Coatings, Picture Perfect Interiors, Shapiro & McMullen, P.A.,  and many more.

4) We are thankful that we were able to get past the infamous “2 year mark” for small businesses and that we are quickly approaching our third year of helping small businesses get bigger.

5) We are thankful that LinkedIn continues to grow at an incredible rate, now with two people joining LinkedIn every second. Oh, and did you know that over 390,000 people in Kansas City have LinkedIn profiles representing more than 5,200 companies? It’s all about relationships.

6) We are thankful for applications like CardMunch, Dropbox and RoboForm that save time and allow us (and many of our clients!) to work more efficiently.

7) We are thankful that we were able to take a cruise this Fall with our wives for some much needed rest and relaxation. We believe you have to take time off to recharge your batteries and maintain a healthy balance between life and work.

8) We are thankful that, for the most part, we have successfully avoided people that suck!

9) We are thankful that, in spite of today’s economic environment, small businesses are working hard every day to make things happen.

10) And last but not least, we are extremely thankful for our wives, Trista and Missy, and our families and friends. Without their support, we wouldn’t be who we are or be able to do what we do.

We would love to hear from you… 

What are you thankful for this year?

DNS, WHOIS, Registrar… WTH?

Whenever you start talking with someone about your web site from a technical perspective, terms like DNS, WHOIS and Registrar will come up.   This is all part of the language of technical mumbo jumbo.  However, it is important that you or someone on your team has this information and knows what it means.  Here is a quick primer with descriptions of the terms and instructions for documenting the information.

WHOIS
WHOIS is a service that allows you to type in your domain name and figure out all kinds of important information about your domain.

Instructions
1) Go to http://www.networksolutions.com/WHOIS/index.jsp
2) In the “Search all WHOIS Records” box type in your domain (example: bluegurus.com) and then click search
3) Look at the results.  A lot of it is technical, but there is a lot of important info there…
4) Take note of who your Registrar is and make sure that the Administrative and Technical contact information is correct

If your Administrative contact is not you or someone you trust in your organization, you need to get that changed IMMEDIATELY.  This is basically the person that owns your domain name and that should be YOU, not your web development company or the guy that set it up 10 years ago and is no longer with your company.

Registrar
A Registrar is a company liked Network Solutions or GoDaddy.  You buy your domain from a trusted Registrar and then control the settings of that domain using the Control Panel provided by your Registrar.  (The Control Panel is a web site where you log in with a username and password to maintain the domain settings after you purchased the domain)  There are thousands of Registrars out there, but we prefer Network Solutions and GoDaddy because their Control Panels are powerful easy to use.

Instructions
When you did the WHOIS search above on your domain, the Registrar information will be included in the response.  This is how you figure out who the Registrar of your domain is.  You can contact them directly to ask for “Control Panel access to my domain settings”  Get this documented or make sure your technical people have it documented.

DNS
The term DNS is short for Domain Name Services and is basically a lookup service for communications on the internet including email and web site traffic.  The simple way to think about DNS is that it is the phone book for your domain.  If someone tries to send you an email, their computer talks to a DNS server and learns what server it should send the email to.  The same is true for someone trying to go to your web site.  When they type in the web address for your domain in their browser, the browser asks a DNS server where the web server for your site is located and then goes there.

Instructions
DNS is too technical to go into much detail.  If you are adventurous, use a web site like http://www.dnsstuff.com/ to learn understand more about your Domain Name Services.  One interesting thing to look at is to type your domain name (example: bluegurus.com) into the Traceroute box on the home page and click the little play button.  You will see from your computer through the internet and then to your web hosting company all the different computers on the internet that relayed your request to the final destination.  In my case, there were 12 “hops” or 12 devices involved.

 

Conclusion
Keep in mind… if there is ever a problem with your web site or if you are ever going to switch web hosting companies, this information is required.  We have seen delays of up to 2 weeks for cutting over a new web site as a customer tried to get this information gathered, so take the time now to get it documented.  If you need more help on this stuff, please give us a call!

 

iOS5 – Top 25 New Features

If you haven’t updated the operating system (iOS) on your iPhone, iPad or iTouch, get on the stick.  This is a major release and there are over 200 new improvements, many of which are kind of a big deal.  You have to connect your device to your computer via USB and then use iTunes to get the update.  iTunes is helpful with dialogs on how to get this done.

Make sure that you do a full backup of your device and transfer all purchased apps before you do an upgrade.  You can get to these 2 options by right clicking the device when it shows up in iTunes.  Transfer purchases first, then do a full backup.  Make sure you have a good internet connection because the iOS5 download is almost 800MB.  Also, one tricky thing not mentioned is that this update will remove and then replace ALL OF YOUR APPS.  It is important to go to the Apps tab and make sure the “Sync Apps” checkbox is checked before you do the upgrade.  Otherwise, your device will be pretty empty when you finish the upgrade.

The things I really like so far are:
– Turning the iPhone sideways when looking at a day in the calendar switches to show you week view
– The new message center is a more concise way of seeing alerts
– From here on out, iOS updates will be delivered over the air instead of having to tether to a computer running iTunes
– iCloud for backing up content on your device

The following list of top 25 iOS5 features is from a list provided by iPhoneHacks.com.
(I agree with the list and didn’t see any reason to recreate the wheel.)

  1. Revamped Notification system with Notification Center, Lock screen display and lots more – more details here and here
  2. Siri – Apple’s new intelligent personal assistant that is currently exclusively available only on iPhone 4S – more details here and here
  3. Integration with iCloud – Apple’s new Cloud based service
  4. iOS 5 includes two new features that will allow Apple to finally cut the cord and usher us in the post-PC era. The first one is PC Free – more details here
  5. The second one is Wi-Fi sync, will sync and backup content such as movies, TV shows, home videos, and photo albums from your iOS device to your Mac or PC whenever its using the same Wi-Fi connection and the iOS device is connected to a power source – more details here
  6. iMessage – Apple’s new messaging service For iPhone, iPad And iPod Touch users – more details here
  7. iOS software updates can be downloaded over-the-air (OTA). The iOS software updates will be delta updates, so instead of downloading the entire OS, you just download what has changed. This probably falls under the PC Free feature, but in our opinion this is one of the major new features of iOS 5. Video
  8. Earthquake Early Warning Notifications For iPhone Users In Japan – more details here
  9. Improved Camera app – more details here
  10. Improved Photos app – more details here
  11. A new Reminders app that allows you to store list of things to do that can be associated with a date and also assigned to a location – more details here
  12. A new Newsstand app that essentially organizes your magazine and newspaper app subscriptions in one place to access them easily and quickly – more details here
  13. Twitter is deeply integrated in iOS 5 and several apps including Camera, Photos, Maps, and Safari – more details here
  14. Mobile Safari gets a number of new features such as Reader, Reading List, full tabbed browsing for iPad users and ability to tweet from Safari – more details here
  15. Mail app gets a number of new features and improvements such as rich text formatting, ability to flag important messages, access to built-in dictionary etc. – more details here and here
  16. With the improved Game Center app, you will be able to add your photo to your Game Center profile, see friends of friends, compare yourself with your friends with Achievement points per game and lots more – details here
  17. AirPlay Mirroring for iPad 2 – more details here
  18. New Multitasking gestures for iPad – more details here
  19. AssistiveTouch feature that allows you to use your iOS device if you have difficulty touching the screen or if you require an adaptive accessory – more details here
  20. Nitro Javascript Engine Performance Improvements To Home Screen Web Apps – more details here
  21. iOS 5 also brings number of improvements to Calendar app such as ability to see year view on the iPad and week view on the iPhone and iPod Touch, ability to view event attachments directly within the Calendar app and other iCloud features – more details here
  22. FaceTime – Apple’s video calling feature gets number of improvements such as improved video quality and FaceTime calls over 3G – more details here and here
  23. Download multiple apps simultaneously over Wi-Fi And 3G – more details here
  24. Weather app also gets a number of improvements in iOS 5 – more details here
  25. Music App gets some minor improvements – more details here

Let us know how you are having any problems upgrading to iOS 5, and let us know what enhancements you like the most once you get it installed!