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Using IT Consulting to Save Costs and Meet Your Business Goals

When it comes to IT consulting, many business owners will tell you it’s something they either don’t need or can’t afford. In both cases, though, these men and women are losing the forest for the trees. That’s because regular IT consultations are inexpensive, and can be used to lower technology costs while meeting bigger business goals.

To help you understand why, and to convince you to meet with a member of our team for your own good, here are a few things you should keep in mind…

IT Consulting is Advice, Not a Sales Pitch

Many business people assume that an IT consultation is going to turn into a sales presentation very quickly. The reality, though, is that we charge for our time so we don’t have to push other services. Instead, we devote our attention to learning about your business and answering the questions you have about hardware and software. Don’t put off getting the advice you could use because you think you’re going to be sold something. A good IT vendor doesn’t work that way.

Technology Should be Part of Your Business Plan

Making the most of technology isn’t just a part of business these days, it’s a core strategy for maximizing your investments and getting ahead of your competitors. Whatever you are hoping to do with your company – such as sell more products, recruit new employees, or lower your customer service costs – you can do more easily and cost-effectively with the right hardware and software in place. For that reason, it only makes sense to review your business goals with an IT expert to see if we can make any personalized suggestions for the future.

You Can Save Money by Looking Ahead

Many new clients who come to us for the first time do so because they’ve had a difficult time forecasting IT expenditures in the past. What they don’t necessarily realize is that it gets a lot easier to create accurate budgets when you can assess what kinds of technology a business is already using, look ahead to see which pieces of equipment might have to be replaced in the coming months, and align the financial figures with other business goals. With some smart planning, your IT budget can become more effective and less of a mystery at the same time.

A Good IT Vendor Can Help Your Bottom Line

The more often your IT vendor works with you, the better they’re going to get to know your company and the technology you rely on. That means they can be proactive in making suggestions and looking for cost-saving opportunities. Lots of businesses are using hardware and software they don’t really need, and renewing subscriptions that aren’t helping them. During the IT consultation process, your vendor can help you trim the fat from your bottom line.

IT consulting is in about selling new services to your business, it’s about using our expertise to ensure you’re making the right investments for your business, and taking advantage of the opportunities that are in front of you. If you’d like to learn more, why not schedule a complementary technology review with a member of our team and see how we can help?

Ready to Boost Your Search Visibility in 2017?

Search engine optimization is both evolving and getting more competitive all the time. Not only are there hundreds of times as many websites online today as there were when Google first launched, but algorithm updates and artificial intelligence have changed the way search spiders crawl the web.

With all of that in mind, it’s not surprising that a lot of businesses need an update when it comes to their approach to search engine optimization. If you’d like to boost your search visibility in 2017 – and get more buyers coming to your website as a result – here are some steps you should think about taking today…

Re-Evaluate Your Keyword Strategy

Over the years, we have learned that a lot of marketers stick to the keywords they know out of sheer habit. That sometimes remains true even if their potential customers aren’t using the same search terms anymore, or if the competition for search rankings around those terms has gotten intense. The point is that you should re-evaluate your keyword strategy at least once a year to ensure you’re doing everything you can to attract buyers and bring them to your pages.

Clean Up Your Website

Through successive algorithm updates, Google has gotten aggressive in weeding out websites with broken links, scraped content, or out-of-date information. So, if you have any of these issues with your website, the odds are good that you’re either being filtered out of Google’s search results or are losing ground to competitors who are keeping their pages in better shape.

Upgrade Your Web Hosting

Premium web hosting is the new “secret weapon” in search engine optimization. For one thing, it allows websites to load more quickly and consistently. And for another, good web hosting allows for secure SSL connections, which were recently revealed to be a search signal within Google’s rankings. All in all, it almost always makes sense to upgrade your web hosting for a few dollars a day when you consider the added security, performance, and search visibility.

Make Mobile a Big Priority

Mobile web use has been growing rapidly and steadily for a few years, and Google’s emphasis on mobile compatibility has increased step-for-step. This is true to the point that the world’s largest search engine recently announced that positioning for desktop searches could be affected by mobile functionality. If you want to keep Google happy, along with the thousands of people who are likely to visit your website from an iPhone, android, or other mobile device this year, it’s time to invest in responsive web design.

Develop a Content Plan

It’s not enough to just have content on your website anymore – if you want Google to crawl your pages and send visitors your way, you need relevant, current, and insightful articles that invite comments and interaction. That’s not going to happen by accident, so you should develop a content plan that lets you plan ideas and updates for the months to come.

Ready to put your new search engine optimization knowledge into action? Call our creative team today so we can schedule a free website review and talk about the next set of steps you should follow.

Does Your Website Need an SSL Upgrade?

If you read the occasional article about web design, IT, or Internet marketing, you may have noticed that lots of experts are advising business owners to upgrade their web hosting to include SSL connections. Is it something you should consider?

To get to the bottom of the matter, there are a few questions we should try to answer first…

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and basically amounts to creating a more secure connection between your website and the visitors who arrive at it. You’ve undoubtedly used many SSL connections this week, and probably several already today. You can recognize them by the “https:” designation in your browser, and the different icons or shading that sometimes show up when you have a secure connection.

Beyond that, most users associate SSL connections with banks and online merchants. So, even if your customers don’t understand exactly what they are, they are probably aware that an SSL signifier means more safety.


How do You Add SSL Capability to Your Website?

While the actual technical process of adding security certificates to your server can be complicated, the decision to move forward is an easy one for a business owner. It basically amounts to upgrading your hosting package, adding SSL to your package of services, and telling your web design team that you want it installed on your site.

The cost of adding SSL protection to your website is essentially negligible (less than $20 a month through most providers), so it shouldn’t be financially prohibitive to most companies.


What are the Benefits of SSL?

There are a few reasons you might want to upgrade to SSL on your business website.

The first is that it makes every connection safer. That’s important in situations where you’re transmitting data back and forth to users or customers, particularly if there are going to be financial details or transactions involved. The more sensitive the submissions are, the more important SSL protection becomes. Once it’s in place, it becomes much harder for thieves and hackers to get access to things they shouldn’t.

Almost as important as the safety of data is the perception of your website. Because most customers and users associate SSL with security, they feel more comfortable seeing it on your pages. So, there is an issue of credibility that comes into play.

And finally, SSL is getting more attention these days because Google has identified secure connections is a search engine signal. In other words, by adding this feature to your hosting, there is a chance you could draw more search engine traffic to your pages. Given that Google currently processes more than 2 billion search queries every day, and competition for the top spots is intense, marketers will (and should) take any advantage they can get.

Given the minimal costs involved, it might make a lot of sense for your company to upgrade its web hosting package and add SSL capability if you don’t have it already. You’ll gain a lot in safety, prestige, and visibility, and all without giving it much in return.

Looking for great advice on web design, technology, and online marketing? Call our team today to arrange a free consultation where we can talk about your goals.

Notes from the 2016 MVP Summit

Each year, Kinetik I.T. Software Development Manager and Microsoft Access MVP, Tom van Stiphout, attends the Microsoft MVP Summit. His takeaway in this conference shares some insight into Microsoft's successful products.

For me reading the tea leaves at MSFT is mostly about momentum. It's a company that undertakes major initiatives and responds to its customers. Not all products make it. There are trial balloons, and failures to ignite.

Azure is one of those major initiatives, and it is growing in reach almost every week. 

PowerApps is one of those products with momentum. It just reached General Availability status (GA) but that's just the beginning. It has synergy with the rest of the Power platform including PowerBI (another product with lots of momentum) and Flow. It will be able to connect to the new Common Data Services on top of Azure as well as most if not all data sources PowerBI can use, and new ones are coming online all the time. I'm going to closely watch this product, get to know it, and maybe in 6 months or so we can use it to build simple task-driven applications that run on any device. First only in our tenant, but if customers are asking for it …

The Access desktop application also has some momentum behind it. It is far from dead. It just got added to several more flavors of Office 365. If I read the tea leaves correctly we will see it being able to connect to some of the same modern data sources.

More Users Are Going Native

Americans spend more time looking at mobile apps than they do watching TV reads a headline from Tech Crunch.  When watching TV accounts for 50% of leisure time in the US, that stacks up to A LOT of mobile viewing. The demand for mobile engagement has grown so rapidly that 90% of mobile apps have appeared in the last three years as the leading digital platform according to a research whitepaper on The 2016 Mobile App Report. Paying attention to these numbers are important, not only for us as a web tech service company, but also for you as a business owner. 

Let’s say you’ve upgraded your company site from a static boring brochure to a responsive design that looks and functions well on a tablet and a phone; you’ve done the first major step in engaging modern technology. (BTW, if your site isn’t mobile friendly by now, then you are alienating your customers and losing business!  Let us know and we’ll fix that for you. )  If your developer did a good job, you will see a boost in page rank, visitors, and maybe even conversions. What if you could increase your brand loyalty and engagement level by 27%?  


Mobile or native apps are not to be confused with web apps. The conversion of your static site to a responsive design so that it looks good on smaller devices is a web app.  It usually includes some coding to show specific information that your users want to see immediately by getting rid of the fluff.  A native app takes your web app to the next level by giving your users distilled information they want within seconds.  For instance, your app can encourage repeat customers by putting them on a waiting list for a haircut or to pick up a takeout order.  You could have push messages that send a text to your customer’s phone letting them know their dry cleaning is ready.  You could deliver coupons and accelerate customer service contact to your company that customers will surely appreciate.  Your branded mobile app becomes a complement to your responsive website and brings your business brand into the light with major economic dividends.

A native app doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, but it does have to make sense for your user’s needs. Kinetik I.T. has been developing software solutions for clients of all sizes in a wide range of industries.  Native / mobile apps are just part of what we do.

The Kiss of Death in Social Media Marketing

Given that social media marketing has been around in earnest for a several years now, you would think there wouldn't be a lot of rules or guidelines to follow, and for the most part there aren't. But when it comes to getting the word out about your company on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, there is actually one ironclad principle to stick to: being boring, overly "corporate," or mundane is the kiss of death.

Why? Because the men and women who typically use social media sites – no matter what age they are – are already savvy to all kinds of advertising. They've lived through Super Bowl spots, Internet pop-ups, stealth marketers, and enough variations on print, radio, and TV solicitations to stop the shopaholic in his or her tracks. We've even gone through spam. When they go on to social networking sites, it's primarily to see how friends and family been doing, or even to ask for advice and products, but not to be sold in a heavy-handed fashion.

That means you have to promote yourself, your business, and whatever you’re offering in an entertaining way, or at least one that can attract enough attention to compete with the dozens of other things that can be immediately clicked on. It's okay to talk about great savings, but you'll get a lot farther if you can wrap it in some kind of joke, photo collection, or fun story.

Does this mean you should sell out your marketing plans and just hope that people will reward your creativity with their attention and business? Absolutely not. What it means is that you're in the same boat as every other company on the face of the earth: dealing with a public that's tired of boring marketing messages and wants something more. You should still envision your offers in the same way, just be sure to wrap them in a package that's a little more entertaining.

For the past few decades, it's been getting harder and harder to convince people to buy if you have an uninteresting message. With social media, the only thing that's changed is that it's harder to run from that fact.

How You Can Improve Your Internet Marketing in Seconds

One of the hardest things about Internet marketing is that, even though it moves and changes at a rapid pace, progress never comes as quickly as most of us would like (and especially those of us in the business web design industry). And so, when we come across a rare opportunity to improve what we do instantly, it's important to jump on it.

With that in mind, we'd like to share one of our top tips for getting more from all the things you do online. It's so simple, but so effective, that it can make an enormous difference in a very short period of time:

Stop repeating the same mistakes you’ve been making in the past.

For most companies, following this one single piece of advice can prevent them from losing time and money that has been slipping away for months or years. To get a sense of what we mean, here are some common mistakes that businesses tend to make again and again:

  •  Choosing the lowest-cost Internet marketing provider even though they have a poor track record, or can't offer the ROI that someone else can.
  •  Emphasizing the look of their website over its functionality or the viability of a long-term Internet marketing plan.
  • Placing too much importance on search engine optimization and not enough on the process of converting visitors into actual sales opportunities.
  • Making inconsistent investments of time and/or money that lead to big gaps in the Internet marketing plan, or periods where nothing gets done.

Obviously, we could go on and on, but the point is that old habits are easy to slip back into – even if you know you're not getting the kinds of results you should be. But, if you're really serious about making things happen this year, it's time to shed the ideas and habits that didn't work in the first place.

If you're ready to get to the top with your Internet marketing this year, contact a member of the Kinetik team today and ask for a free consultation.

4 Ways to Protect Your Small Business From Ransomware

Even business owners who don’t pay a lot of attention to tech trends have heard quite a bit about ransomware. It’s been in the news frequently, mainly because hackers are getting so good at writing these types of viruses that they’ve successfully extorted big money from individuals, corporations, and even hospitals.

In case you aren’t familiar with the specifics, ransomware works like this: a malicious application is loaded onto your computer (usually through a suspicious download or email attachment). Then, the software launches and freezes your computer – or even your entire network – until you send money overseas through an untraceable account.

These types of attacks get their name because they hold your data and communications up for ransom. And, the worst infections can be incredibly difficult to deal with. So, let’s take a look at what you can do to protect your small business from criminals using ransomware.

#1 Use Basic Protections Against Hackers

The first step in keeping your computers free from any kind of malicious code is using basic safeguards. These include strong firewalls, up-to-date antivirus software, and sturdy spam protection for your email. It also helps if you use strong passwords, and leave the standard security features on your operating system fully-functional. None of these will guarantee you won’t be the subject of a ransomware attack, but they do make it harder for thieves to target you.

#2 Be Careful Where You Surf, and What You Open

Even if you follow our first piece of advice, it’s easy to become the target of a ransomware scheme if you visit questionable websites, or have a habit of opening email attachments you don’t recognize. Like many viruses, ransomware applications are often hidden within other things people download, such as pirated movies, risqué photos, and items that have been made to look like business documents. Good antivirus protection can help here, but you still have to be careful about what you and your employees allow onto your computers, phones, or tablets.

#3 Back Your Drives up Frequently

Most people treat the advice to back up their files on a daily basis in the same way they do a dentist’s tip to floss each morning and night: as a good suggestion, but something they won’t get around to doing. But, when you are the victim of a ransomware attack, being able to restore your systems to a recent (but unaffected) status can make an enormous difference. Plus, running regular backups is a great way to protect your company against other types of IT disasters, as well.

#4 Get Expert Help

If these measures fail and you find yourself with computers or devices that are locked up by ransomware, do not attempt to fix the problem on your own. Instead, take the ransomed devices offline, shut them down, and make sure they can’t infect other machines on your network. Then, call our team to take the next step. We may be able to remove the virus… or at the very least, ensure it doesn’t affect you or your business more than it already has.

Ransomware is a nuisance, but given its success for hackers, you can bet it isn’t going away anytime soon. So, it’s up to business owners and managers everywhere to know how to prevent attacks and deal with them when they occur. Use these tips to avoid finding yourself in trouble.

Need an IT vendor your business can count on? Call our team today to set up a free consultation and review your technology plan.

Part 7 of 7: You Don’t Want to Move or Expand Without IT Help

Most IT disasters can’t be foreseen. In fact, what makes them disasters in the first place is that they seem to come out of nowhere. A hard drive that was working fine one day is an accessible the next; an employee scheduling platform works flawlessly one afternoon and fails to start up the following morning. Even with all the preventative care in the world, these kinds of issues pop up from time to time.

#7 You Don’t Want to Move or Expand Without IT Help

One IT crisis that you definitely can anticipate has to do with moving your operations or opening new location. When that happens, things are going to go wrong, and lots of money is going to be wasted, if you don’t have the right technology vendor on your side.

Even the smallest business is likely to have a complex set of hardware and software configurations that have been put together over time. Trying to simply unplug the mall, transport them, and put them back together again can be an impossible task for someone who isn’t used to the job. By having a good IT team there to help, you can prevent the biggest problems from occurring in the first place, and make sure the smaller ones are resolved quickly so your newer, bigger businesses ready to start turning a profit from the first day.

Moving and expanding always entail a big investment, and it can be tempting to attempted without the help of an outside IT team. But, you’ll probably end up paying for assistance one way or another, so why not make it easier and cheaper by getting the experts involved from the start?

Who is Looking Out For Your Bottom Line?

Every small business relies on technology, and yet most business owners don’t have an IT vendor they can truly trust. If you’re ready to start cutting costs and looking for ways to improve your technology performance at the same time, you need a partner who can step in and make sure you’re making the right decisions for your bottom line.

Why not call or email a member of our team today and set up a free consultation? It won’t take long, and you might be surprised at just how affordable good technology service and advice really are… not to mention what the right experts can do to keep your company running smoothly.

Part 6 of 7: Backup and Disaster Recovery is Cheap IT Insurance

As a business owner, you might take it as a given that your computers and devices are going to turn on when you press the power button, or that your most important spreadsheet files are going to open up quickly once you click on them. As IT professionals, we can tell you that’s not always the case.

#6 Backup and Disaster Recovery is Cheap IT Insurance

There any number of things that can cause your technology to stop working. Power surges and shortages can damage hardware. Hackers can break in and steal data, or a race critical records. Employees can accidentally format drives, lock themselves out of workstations, or make unintended changes to your website. Each of these calamities happens every day, and we haven’t even gotten to floods, fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes yet.

For this reason, one of the most important things you can do to protect your business is invested in backup and disaster recovery (or BDR for short). A good BDR system is secure, and expensive, and thoroughly tested. It will include offsite backup options that allow you to restore your business and technology to working condition in a matter of minutes or hours, even in the midst of a severe emergency.

Take it from us and we tell you that you really don’t want to be the kind of business owner who just assumes everything is going to be all right and work the way it’s supposed to. Technology is like anything else, and that it will eventually break and let you down. And at that moment, the decision you’ve made to have a backup plan or not could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars… or even decide whether your company continues to exist at all.