Carter Tech Blog
Nathan is Carter Tech's Managing Director and has been involved in the Information Technology industry for over ten years and has been self-employed for the last five. Nathan has a wealth of experience in IT, holding a Bachelor of Information Technology degree and having experience in developing systems and applications for the non-profit, local government, agricultural, technology and education sectors.
Many SEO providers still use archaic methods which worked a few years ago but have little effect today. The algorithms behind search engines have gotten smarter and the old methods simply don't achieve results now - metatags, automated random backlinks and rehashing content. Unfortunately many SEO providers still use these methods that haven't worked since Google's update in 2012.
Today, improving your search rank involves improving your content, ensuring keywords you want to be found under are in text not hidden in images, regularly updating your site and making use of blogs and social media to get your website out there. These are all activities which can be done for just a few hours a week without spending thousands on something which can't realistically guarantee results.
Both methods had their advantages and disadvantages - video conferencing equipment was expensive and required a fair amount of space but allowed for good quality calls and supported features like group video calls; while instant messaging was cheap (only needing an Internet connection and webcam) but had poor quality and didn't have features like group video calls.
Today, instant messaging applications like Skype provide advanced features like group calls and provide good video and voice quality. It's hard to now suggest to a SME to spend $5,000 on a dedicated video conferencing system when you can use Skype on a TV for around $1,200.
Any SME needing a video conferencing system can contact us to discuss the best solution for them.
Content which is copied from another website will just lower your search ranking as the search engines crawl your site and the site you copied it from will end up with a higher ranking (because someone else is using their content). Why give your competitors an advantage? While it is perfectly fine to look at someone else's website for ideas you should never copy content. You might get ideas on what topics to explore on your site, even rough ideas of layout but these should guide the creation of your own content.
Good quality, original content will not only improve your search ranking but also shows your potential customers that you know your business and know the market. Your website should reflect what your business does, how it does it and why a customer should use your business over someone else's. You want your visitors to come to your site and think "Gee, these guys really know their stuff." Doing so leaves a lasting impression which only helps to cement your business position.
The final advantage of original content is that it avoids legal problems. Material on the Internet is copyrighted and the copying of other's work infringes their copyright in that work. You could potentially end up paying thousands for copying someone else's material in both legal fees and damages. It's just not worth the risk!
Many of our new clients come to us after using a computer technician to look after their business' technology. Common complaints new clients have about their former computer technician are that they didn't understand how they operate, they wanted to change how they did their job to suit the computer and they didn't appreciate how important their computer system is to the business.
It's amazing how many times I have walked into a new clients' server room and noticed a trusty external hard drive sitting on top of their server - entrusted with the backing up of their critical data. When asked "Do you have backups kept elsewhere?" I am often met with a blank look or asked why backups should be kept elsewhere.
Would your data be safe if a fire went through your business tomorrow? Are all your backups kept on-site? It's crucial for your backup strategy to include some form of off-site backup - whether it be on a disk someone takes home (no less than once per month) or using an online backup solution. While it is probably more common to have to restore a backup because of system failure or an accidental deletion it is still a possibility that some disaster could affect your business - destroying your premises and any data held there.
Having some form of off-site backup as part of your organisation's backup strategy is critical for every business should the unexpected occur.
Nearly every business these days relies upon email for both internal and external communication. Email is now commonly used at work, at home and on people's phones. Whether you use webmail, your ISPs email service or your own email system email is more complicated than you might realise.
You may have seen in your incoming email settings on your computer or phone the terms POP and IMAP. These are the protocol (or language) used to communicate with your email server.
On numerous occasions I have started with a new client and discovered that their last support person/company left their wireless LAN unsecured. The most common reason I am told for this is because "it wouldn't work properly with the key turned on". Instead of fixing whatever caused the network to not work with a security key enabled, they have simply left a gaping big hole in the organisation's network that anyone could exploit.
All the firewalls and security systems in the world won't protect you if your network is open to anyone within wireless range. It's like locking the doors of your car and leaving the window down. Do you really think the thieves are going to jimmy the locks when you have left an alternate way in? Networks are the same.
Not only is having a security key on your wireless LAN important but so is the method of security you use. Having a security key with no encryption is pointless - every piece of information sent over the network can be snooped by someone within range (including the key). Using WEP is a little better, however a WEP-secured network can be hacked in as little as three minutes by someone who knows what they are doing.
To better protect your network, set the security on your wireless access point to WPA2 (or at the absolute minimum WPA). If you have devices which can not use this method of encryption you should check to see if they can be updated or replaced - only if the device is essential to your business and can't be replaced to another that is WPA compatible should you consider downgrading your network encryption to WEP.
After keys and encryption the next layer of security which you can use to enhance your wireless security is to use MAC filtering. Every wireless device has a unique identifier known a Media Access Control (MAC) address. Most access points will allow you to only allow connections from specified MAC addresses (and therefore only devices matching one of those addresses), however this security isn't as valuable as it may appear as MAC addresses can be easily faked but it does provide another layer of security.
No wireless security method is guaranteed to keep the bad guys out, however using WPA2 and MAC filtering will make hacking into your wireless network a little harder. We always suggest that businesses with a wireless network should consider using a system based on 802.1x authenticaation which issues each user with a unique username and password and changes encryption keys on the fly. This provides the best possible security on the network. Keep your eyes out for a new post about why you should use 802.1x soon!
Every business wants their website towards the top of the search results in Google and other search engines. Being towards the top of the search results allows for your business to be easy to find by potential clients. You may have heard of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), a process which makes web content more accessible for search engines and searchers.
Many SEO companies will tell you they can get you the #1 position on Google by going with them. These companies are selling false hope as there are no guarantees about where your site will appear in the search rankings. SEO is a science and an art and all you can do is improve your search ranking for your chosen keywords by having a site which is easily indexed by the three major search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo).
You can improve your search ranking by using keywords that people would search for when looking for a business like yours in your content. Your content should be relevant, unique and concise. Just as your potential customers don't want to see pages of keywords when they click a search result, neither do the search engines - they are looking for content to show searchers.
Did you know that more security breaches occur on computer systems due to the use of poor passwords than by any other method? A poor password is like leaving your car parked outside the shops unlocked with the keys in the ignition. Why make the job of compromising your system easier?
Common security breaches are caused by either hackers accessing your computer system or from someone inside your organisation accessing something they shouldn't. The risk of these can be reduced by having a good password. A good password is one that is complex but also easy to remember. There is no use having a complex password you can't remember stuck to a sticky note on your monitor (yes, I have seen this before!).
Having your own domain name shows that your business is professional, proud of its brand and wants to be taken seriously. It also allows you to change your ISP without losing your email address.
Your own email address is extremely easy to setup, you purchase a domain name from a registrar and either redirect it to another email address or obtain email hosting. Most registrars will provide email hosting for a small additional fee. Alternatively, if you don't want to setup your own email yourself you can call Carter Tech and we can do it for you!
What is cloud computing?Despite the hype, cloud computing isn't exactly new. Many of us have been using cloud-based applications for some time without even realising it. If you have ever used webmail like Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo you have used software in the cloud - your emails are stored on your webmail provider's server and accessible from any internet connected device. Instead of having to have your own IT hardware and software, you can utilise the capacity of others and purchase services to suit your own needs.
My philosophy is simple. Technology should support how your business operates without you having to adjust how you work to suit your technology. Your computer system should work for you, not you having to work to suit it. Why then is this rarely the case?
Technology is complicated and despite there being a wide range of products on the market, most IT professionals stick with what they know (or who they have supply contracts with) rather than on what their clients need. This is where Carter Tech is different - we are 100% independent of any vendor and base our solutions on what our clients need. If we need to work with something new, we are happy to learn it, test it and implement it. We see it as part of the service we provide to our clients.
With technology becoming integral to most businesses today it is crucial that technology does not only what it promises but also what you need. There's no use implementing a system which only burdens how you do your work. Our solutions work around you (not you working around it) to make life easier not harder.