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Which Internet Marketing Chores Have You Been Putting Off?

Most of us, if we're being honest, have a list somewhere in our home or office that basically amounts to a catalog of unfinished projects and unfulfilled expectations. Whether it's cleaning out the garage or losing an extra five pounds, a lot of us have unchecked items on our "to-do" reminders that always seem important enough to write down, but never quite critical enough to actually devote time and energy to.

Not surprisingly, we see the same kind of thing in the world of business web design and Internet marketing all the time. There are a number of small jobs that clients tend to put off taking care of, or don't bother sending our way. The difference here, though, is that failing to attend to them can actually create some long-term difficulties when it comes to attracting online buyers, keeping up search engine optimization, etc.

With that in mind, here are a handful of Internet marketing "chores" that you should make sure you're taking care of right away:

Getting rid of broken links and erroneous pages. Not only do broken links lead customers to dead ends in your business website, but they do harm to your Google search engine rankings. Now is the perfect time to prune them, and to get rid of any missing or out-of-date information on your web pages at the same time.

Finally putting your blog back on track. Most companies start their blogs with high hopes, but abandon them once they realize how much time and trouble it takes to keep generating new content. Few things are better for tracking search engine visitors than producing new blog posts, though, so it's time to get your content plan back on track.

Filling in your social media profiles. If you have incomplete profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, now is the time to put a bit of energy into each one. That's particularly true for Google+, which is largely ignored by businesses despite its extraordinary potential.

Uploading a new marketing video to YouTube. Besides being owned by Google and considered "the world's second-largest search engine," YouTube shows billions of videos a day and is a great way to introduce yourself to new potential customers. Isn't it time you uploaded a clip that shows off your products or expertise?

We won't lie: We could probably go on and add a dozen other items, but then most of you might not ever start on your list, much less finish it. So, why don't we get together this month and see what we can do to get your Internet marketing plan in order?

How Small E-commerce Retailers Can Take On Big Competitors

 With giant online retailers like Amazon, Zappos, and even eBay constantly expanding their reach, it can seem like there’s no room for smaller e-commerce sites to grow and thrive. But, having a few really big fish in your pond doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be profitable… or that you can’t actually outsell them.

While it’s true your business might not have the resources they do, or the established customer base, you’re probably going to enjoy one advantage that the others can’t – you can focus on one market or industry while they have hundreds (or thousands) to stay on top of. In other words, you can dominate your niche without having to worry about competing with everyone else. You don’t have to beat them at everything, just the game you choose.

Leveraging that advantage takes a bit of strategy and an adjustment to your mindset, but it can be done. In fact, there are lots of small e-commerce retailers out there who are competing, and winning, against much bigger competitors every day. Here’s what you can do to follow their example:

Don’t try to outspend another business when you can’t. Simply pushing up bid prices on pay-per-click ads, for example, isn’t likely to work over the long term. All you’ll do is create a bidding war that you’re almost bound to lose. Think about spending better, not bigger.

Consider pricing very carefully. The same goes for lowering prices. If you’re going up against a major chain and trying to underbid them, where do you think that’s going to lead in the long term? There’s a reason these companies can sell products for insane prices during a Black Friday sales push – they have the extra cash to burn if it means winning a customer. 

Find ways to add value for customers. When customers visit your big competitors’ websites, they’re probably going to find low prices mixed with generic product information. One way you can set yourself apart is by giving “value-added” services. These could include customer reviews, videos, product comparisons, and other types of content that buyers won’t find elsewhere. These can be worth more than you might think in a customer’s mind.

Practice viral marketing. For as popular as the biggest businesses might be, buyers don’t usually have much loyalty to them. They’ll take their business elsewhere if they can find a lower price or a better deal. Smaller companies, on the other hand, can use a little more personality in their marketing, developing fervent fans and followers every day. Often, these men and women will “root for” a smaller competitor and keep buying from them even if it costs a little more.

Don’t merely accept it as a given that you can’t compete with the Goliath in your market. You might be surprised at what you can do to draw customers in, and keep them coming back, to your e-commerce site if you just give them a good enough reason.

3 FAQs About Cloud Computing and Data Centers

Forget being the biggest IT trend of the past decade – cloud computing might be the most important evolution of business and technology to come along since the initial Internet boom.

Even though cloud computing is seemingly everywhere, it’s something a lot of business owners and non-IT executives don’t quite understand. And so, next to the excitement they have about saving time and money, many of the men and women we meet with are a little bit confused and nervous when it comes to understanding the finer details of “the cloud.”

To help clear up some of the confusion, here are three frequently asked questions about cloud computing and data centers:


1. Does It Matter Where My Data Center Is Located?

 There are a lot of data centers out there, from facilities located here in Arizona to others situated halfway around the world. Generally speaking, it doesn’t really matter where your data center is located, so long as you have a strong, secure web connection. However, things like climate, politics, the availability of trained engineers, and language barriers can all come into play if you ever have an issue. For that reason, you’ll probably want a local IT team coordinating things, regardless of where your data center is located.


2. Is It Safe to Send Files Into the Cloud?

 Business people often worry about transmitting their files to a remote data center, fearing that sensitive information will be stolen or compromised. While it’s good to think about cyber security and all its aspects, the reality is that reputable data centers use bank-level encryption, and your files are very, very unlikely to be seen by unauthorized parties. In fact, they are probably much more secure being sent and stored at a good data center than they could possibly be in your own office or facility.


3. Should We Use Local Backups Along With Our Data Center?

Although some business people feel more comfortable having local copies of their most important files, a good IT partner is going to set you up with a reliable remote backup system that’s fast, secure, and effective. In most cases, keeping files around your own office is actually a liability, as it entails an extra expense and your backup drive can be stolen by thieves or vandals.

With cloud computing and data centers, most worries about security are unfounded, and having the right one is a great way to save your business time and money. However, not just any data center will do – you need the right IT partner on your side to enjoy these benefits and the reliability you deserve.

Contact Kinetik IT today to learn more about our data center services and see how they can save you money every month!

The Real World Math of Inbound Link-Building

Of all the parts of search engine optimization that give headaches to SEO professionals and clients alike, few are as frustrating as link-building. That's because, to get it right, you have to not only secure links from other sites and pages, but make sure that the ones that are coming in are high quality. And usually, that means doing it one e-mail or phone call at a time.

With that in mind, we'd like to offer a tip that can help you out, regardless of whether you're doing the work yourself or working with a search engine optimization partner: do the math and see the big picture.

Here's what we mean: when you first start looking for links, you'll probably feel an overwhelming temptation to contact anyone and everyone and ask them to partner with your site. You might even think about sending a mass e-mail, or looking for "link farms" that promise thousands of inbound links for just a few dollars. Sadly, those tactics don't work anymore, and could even irreparably harm your search engine position.

A better tactic is to look for good, high-quality links one at a time. This can come from having your search engine professional contact others, from writing articles and guest blog posts, or from reaching out to other webmasters yourself. Whichever way you're going, however, pace yourself a little bit. Think back to math class; if you can manage to contact just five people a day, that will work out to roughly 1,250 per year. Not all of them are going to link back to your site, but enough of them could agree to it to make a dramatic impact in your long-term search engine positioning.

It's easy, in search engine optimization and other forms of online marketing, to want to do everything right now. But exercise a little patience, remember the way the real world math works, and you'll be at the top of Google, Yahoo, and Bing in no time.

KINETIK NOTE: Don't just take the word of an SEO company.  Get your info directly from the source: Matt Cutts, head of Google Spam Team  and know what bad link building practices are. You might be surprised to find that many SEO companies use these practices and you can learn avoid them.

5 Web Analytics Details You Can’t Ignore

Admit it: You know web analytics can be useful and informative, but you don’t look at them as much as you should (beyond checking out how many visitors you had), and aren’t entirely sure you understand what you’re looking at.

The good news is you certainly aren’t alone in that conundrum. A lot of our clients check their web analytics somewhere between “rarely” and “never.” And of the ones that do, most peek at the convenient graphs to make sure someone is reading their blog posts and then move on.

The bad news is that you could be missing out on some really important details – including a few that could help you make your website significantly more profitable – by failing to study important signs and indicators. Getting the “big-picture view” you’re looking for doesn’t have to be that hard; you just have to understand a few basics.

Here are five web analytics details you can’t afford to ignore:

1. Your top traffic sources. This isn’t just important for the obvious reason, that you want to know which parts of your advertising and promotion are working, but also because you want to know what type of visitors are coming to your website and what’s on their mind when they click through. That knowledge can help you subtly change the way pages are written and constructed, because you’ll have a better sense of what your visitors actually want.

2. Popular referral keywords. If people are using your most important search engine optimization phrases to find your website, you’re in good shape. However, if you’re finding a lot of terms that aren’t relevant to your business, it might be time to adjust your SEO strategy. Also, you’ll want to see whether or not your focus keywords are leading to conversions, since getting lots of traffic doesn’t always lead to big results.

3. Time on site. This is a sneaky statistic – one that’s incredibly important but not always noticed often enough. If visitors are coming to your site and staying, that’s a very good sign even if they aren’t making purchases or calling your business right away. At the very least, they’re finding something that’s interesting and relevant to them. On the other hand, if you have lots of visitors but very little time being spent on your website, that’s a sign you need more content, better usability, or a different kind of visitor than the one you’re getting.

4. Bounce rates. While they generally get a bad name, bounce rates, the percentage of people who leave your site from a specific web page, don’t always indicate problems. In fact, a high bounce rate in certain areas could indicate that a visitor found what they were looking for and then moved on. High bounce rates on specific landing pages could tell you that conversions aren’t as strong as they need to be, though, so they’re important to keep an eye on.

5. Conversion goals. Presumably there’s something you’re hoping people will do when they visit your website. Maybe you want them to buy something from your online store or fill out a form with their contact information so they can receive a free e-book. Whatever it is, you’ll want to keep a close eye on those stats. Don’t just study the net results, but also what type of visitors are responding to your offer, what search terms your converted visitors used, and so on. That data is going to make your campaign stronger over the long term.

Your website’s analytics reporting can seem complicated and arcane when you first start using it. Spend a little time getting to know the major features and tools, however, and we guarantee you’ll be comfortable in no time. Better yet, you’ll understand where your web traffic is coming from and how you can make the most of it.

KINETIK IT NOTE: When you are inside the Customization tab, click on the gallery link.  Many smart and experienced analysts have put together a variety of high quality reports.  You can find what you need and easily install in your dashboard.  Here is a the Google  Analytics Custom Report resource:

Why Managed Services Makes More Sense Than Ever in 2015

With each passing year, more and more organizations are making the switch to managed services for IT – to the point that very few companies would even consider paying traditional hourly rates to technology vendors anymore. And yet, there are still some companies who haven’t yet made the switch.

We’ll admit it: We have to wonder why.

In case you aren’t that familiar with the concept yet (or need a reminder), a managed services agreement is simply one where your IT firm agrees to manage your technology for a small monthly fee, rather than billing you for hours and repairs as they are needed.

This type of arrangement saves IT clients time and money, and makes more sense than ever in 2015. Here are a few of the biggest reasons why:

IT Is Getting More Complex

With server replacements, network security, and cloud computing all changing the face of business technology every year, IT is getting more complex for organizations of all sizes. That means businesses have more needs than ever before, and are spending more on IT hours as a result. With a managed services agreement in place, all those different systems can be monitored, and optimized, without increasing your budget or staff size.

Putting Off IT Service Has Its Own Costs

Instead of switching to a managed services agreement, some companies are simply deciding to call their IT vendors less often in an effort to save cash. That may work in the short term, but it’s going to lead to disaster later. That’s because today’s installation error or network conflict can become tomorrow’s data loss, system outage, or security breach. At best, it’s going to leave you and your employees worried about technology instead of doing your jobs. 

In other words, putting off routine IT service has its own costs, and those costs usually far exceed what you’d spend on good technology help. Having someone work proactively to keep your systems up and running can be virtually priceless in today’s business world.

Organizations Need Predictable IT Budgeting

Under the old model of billable IT hours, technology expenses could be wildly inconsistent and unpredictable from one period to the next. At any given moment, a company’s technology might be working perfectly… or they could suddenly find themselves needing to call an IT vendor for lots of emergency hours and shelling out for new equipment. With a managed services agreement in place, IT expenditures can be forecast accurately. That means no more nasty surprises when it comes to the bill you get from your vendor.

It’s understandable that a lot of organizations were hesitant to make the switch to managed services agreements years ago, but now most companies are simply costing themselves money without getting any benefits in return. Are you spending too much on IT, and getting too little in return?

If you’ve been putting off managed services IT for all the wrong reasons, why not contact Kinetik IT and ask for a free network assessment? We’ll show you if, and how, you can save money on IT while decreasing downtime and improving performance.

4 Things You Must Know About Cyber Security

Cyber security is a big topic these days. In fact, hardly a week goes by when you don’t hear about some huge company losing millions because of stolen credit cards, website hacking, and other forms of digital theft.

Because these kinds of issues inevitably make the news, we are hearing from more and more business owners, managers, and executives who are putting serious thought into their own cyber security protection and procedures. Usually, they want to know where the risks are, and what they should be doing to keep their data safe.

Having a consultation with a professional team of technology experts (like the one you’ll find at Kinetik IT) is a great way to get the answers you need. To help get you started, however, here are four things you should know about cyber security in 2015:

1. It’s Not Just for Fortune 500 Companies

For every cyber crime that makes headlines, there are dozens of others that escape the public’s attention. Although they might not involve millions and millions of dollars, they can be absolutely crippling to the smaller businesses they affect.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that only big companies are targeted by thieves. The reality is usually quite the opposite, and that has to do with the fact that most cyber thieves are lazy…

2. Most Attacks Aren’t That Complicated

Just as most cyber crimes aren’t targeted toward huge companies, neither are most cyber criminals genius masterminds who sit in front of enormous computers with 15 different screens all going at once. Instead, most are hackers using simple tools, searching for the equivalent of an open window they can crawl into.

In the digital world, those “open windows” usually take the form of outdated software, easily guessed passwords, and missing security patches. That leads us to our next point…

3. Humans Are the Biggest Security Risk

Since most cyber crimes are simply a matter of thieves looking for easy exploits, the weakest link in your security probably involves yourself and your employees. Skipping updates, forgetting to change passwords regularly, and not maintaining regular backups are all extremely common in small and medium-sized businesses. They are also good ways to invite disaster.

With just a few simple steps, you can make your business much, much safer from cyber crime. That leads us to our final takeaway…

4. The Right IT Partner Can Keep You Covered

You don’t have to be an expert in cyber security to stay safe – you just need a team of trusted professionals who can put the right safeguards in place, monitor your technology, and keep up with backups and updates just in case.

In other words, having the right team on your side is almost always enough to prevent your business from having problems with cyber crime in the first place, and can help you recover quickly in the event that you ever do.

In cyber security for small and medium-sized businesses, there are probably a lot more threats out there than you realize, but they are also easier to guard against than you might think. Why not call our team today and let us show you how easy and cost-effective it is to get the sense of peace and security you and your customers deserve?

How Much Should You Spend On A New Business Website?

Before we begin, let's be absolutely clear that there's no single answer to this question. For one thing, different companies and different industries all require different kinds of websites. If your business needs custom web applications, advanced e-commerce features, tons of online video, or other time-intensive features, you're going to end up spending more than a small start up that needs none of these things.

But with that being said, we'd like to point out that more often than not, it's going to be a significant investment. That is, business owners tend to hurt themselves by spending less than they should on a commercial website.

You might think that answer isn't surprising, given that we design websites for a living. But, if you ask anyone who's familiar with web design, they’ll probably give you a similar answer. The reason why it comes down to simple math: even if you're running a very small company, the chances are good you’re hoping to attract at least 100 visitors per day. Now, it's entirely possible that you are aiming for 10 times that, or a hundred; but for the sake of argument, let's say that you're looking at 100 people per day.

If you take the time to think that through, you'll quickly realize that your website should be seen at least 35,000 times a year. Many of those visitors won't be people who can drive by and see you in person, and even if they could, they're likely to come to your new business website at least as often.

That makes your website an incredibly powerful marketing and public relations tool. It's going to be the first thing a lot of new potential customers see, the place where other potential customers go when they've been recommended to you, and the first stop for colleagues, journalists, and other interested parties who are researching your company. We wouldn't go as far as calling it the most important business decision you will make all year, but it's probably in the top five.

Remember that as you look through bids for your next business website. Spending more doesn't always mean getting more, but there's a strong correlation between high-quality, maximum effectiveness, and professional rates. It's always tempting to save a little here and there, but don't forget about the tens of thousands of people who will see your site this year.

4 Things You Get From Upgraded Hosting

To a lot of people who aren’t familiar with the details of web design and IT, web hosting is essentially the technology version of milk and eggs – something that’s on the shopping list with a new website, but to be purchased wherever it’s cheapest or most convenient.

All web hosting isn’t the same, though, and in fact even the packages offered by different providers (like Kinetik IT) can vary quite a bit. What’s more, getting the right web hosting for your business can save you time, money, and stress.

To help you understand why, let’s look at four things you get from upgraded hosting plans:

#1 Faster Web Performance

A lot of business owners and managers don’t realize this, but better web hosting often leads to faster website loading times. That means your customers can get to your content quicker, and that your website could benefit from a higher search engine ranking. Why? Because Google and the other search engines look at page loading times (along with hosting reliability and other related factors) and factor them into search algorithms. There are no downsides to having your website work more quickly and efficiently for visitors.

#2 Tighter Online Security

One of the biggest “hidden” features of an upgraded web hosting package is that you get dedicated on a server, or even your own server altogether. That means you don’t have to share space with a virtual “neighbor” who might not use the same kind of online security protocols as you do, or may not be as reputable. Sometimes, having a wall between yourself and other businesses makes good sense, especially when it comes to servers and web hosting.

#3 More Back-End Power

Because standard web servers are configured to work a certain way, and with certain kinds of software, you may be constrained as to which types of apps and tools you can use. That’s rarely the case with upgraded hosting and dedicated servers. Once you have a better package in place, you and your IT team are free to utilize any tool or technology that can help your company grow. In some businesses and industries, this can be a huge benefit, and one that can make your company safer and more profitable at the same time.

#4 Cost-Effective E-commerce and Programming Power

Along with the flexibility we just mentioned, it’s important to note that upgraded hosting allows for custom programming and e-commerce solutions to be installed. That means you can get more control over your online store, put tighter web security in place, and take full advantage of things like databases that help you track and contact buyers. Each of these becomes possible, or at least easier, with the right hosting platform.

You probably don’t think about web hosting all that often, which is understandable. But, considering all the benefits you can get from an upgraded hosting package – and the very slight differences in costs between the different levels of service – doesn’t it make sense to at least explore your options and see if you could get a better deal?

Click here now to contact a member of the Kinetik IT team and see if you could improve your web performance for just a few dollars a day with upgraded web hosting.

Is Your Non Mobile-Friendly Website Invisible to Google?

As you have (hopefully) heard by now, Google announced a new algorithm update which, beginning April 21, factors mobile compatibility heavily into search results. In other words, websites that are optimized for viewing on smartphones and tablets will now outrank similar non-mobile-friendly websites, all things being equal.

What’s interesting about this change to Google strategy is that, unlike past algorithm updates, it was announced and outlined well ahead of time. Instead of dropping hints, Google’s engineers told us exactly what was going to happen… and yet, there are countless businesses still trying to figure out what happened to their search traffic.

 What are the short- and long-term consequences of Google’s new mobile-friendly preference? And more importantly, does it mean your non-mobile-friendly website is now invisible to the world’s largest search engine?

Let’s take a look at a few of the things you need to know:


Google Made This Change for a Good Reason

 Although some business owners and marketers will undoubtedly react as if Google is targeting them individually, the fact of the matter is it’s just good business from the search engine’s point of view. With 64% of adults in the US owning smartphones, mobile web users are now in the majority; they want search results that show cleanly and correctly on smartphones and tablets. By updating its search algorithms, Google is just giving its audience what it wants.

With that in mind, there isn’t any reason to think they’ll backtrack on their new mobile-compatible stance. In fact, you should probably prepare for just the opposite…


Expect More Focus on Mobile in the Future

Google states that 94% of people with smart phones use their phones for local search and 77% of local searches happen at home and work, even with a desktop computer available.  That means that the standard, non-responsive websites are going to become increasingly rare as time goes on, and web users are going to take mobile compatibility as a given.

Think about that for a moment, and you come to an inescapable conclusion…

Websites That Aren’t Mobile-Friendly Are Falling Behind

Take the mobile-friendly test here and then give Kinetik IT a call. We'll make sure your website doesn't fall behind.