All posts by Mark

Creating a Website: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

I recently learned that 50% of small businesses in the US don’t have a website. I don’t think time and money are the issue. I believe the biggest reason is that there are so many options available, it’s hard to decide which one is the best. If you’re not a computer person, websites seem complicated. Without good information, the simple solution is to just ignore the problem.

Continue reading Creating a Website: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

Negative Facebook Reviews

A client recently sent me this question about Facebook reviews.

If you search for me in the Facebook search box, it brings up our studio with places being at top.  If you click “see all” you see a negative review by an irate customer that happened a while back. Is there a way to push that review down because we have had so many 5-star reviews since then? I do not want that one bad review to be the first one everyone sees.

I appreciate your frustration. With so many positive reviews to choose from, it has to be annoying when Facebook highlights your single 1-star review first. It appears from comments from other Facebook users that highlighting the lowest rated review on a business page is a common complaint.

Continue reading Negative Facebook Reviews

Protect your credit and accounts from identity theft

Equifax Inc. is one of the four main consumer credit reporting agencies in America. If you’ve ever bought a car, a house, or used a credit card they have all your personal information on file.

Equifax was recently struck by a cyberattack that affected 143 million U.S. customers. Intruders stole user’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers. Credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers were also accessed.

As a result of the data breach, millions of Americans are now potentially at risk for identity theft. I’ve met people who were victims of ID theft and it is terrible.  Once your ID is stolen, you can easily spend years trying to get your credit back in order before you can purchase a car or a house or even apply for a new credit card.

Here’s a quick list of links to websites you should use to protect yourself.

Continue reading Protect your credit and accounts from identity theft

Real Estate Widget Plugins

This is an example of a Realtor’s listing search in an iframe container. An iframe container “contains” the contents from a website page. It allows you to search a page on one website from another website.

Here’s another example using only a single input form. It is not formatted with CSS:











Local Business Search Results on Amazon Echo and Google Home

Millions of Amazon Echo and Google Home devices where sold this Christmas. They are great at answering questions. That’s why sometime in the near future someone in your town is going to say:

“Alexa (or) OK Google: who’s the best (insert your business or service here)?”

Obviously, you’d like both Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home’s Assistant to mention you or your business. To do that, here’s what you’ll need to do:

Google Home

To start, the odds of being mentioned on Google Home increase drastically if you have a Google My Business account with lots of positive reviews. When you type “best something” in Google – and you’re logged in with your Gmail account – it assumes you mean “best something near me” and returns the top search results in your area.

This means that if your business shows up today in Google’s local 3 pack (the first 3 search results on the map) it’s likely you’ll be mentioned when someone asks Google Home to search for local businesses.

There is one challenge, however. Starting this year, Google will show different search results to desktop and mobile users. The big difference is that on mobile devices, websites that are mobile friendly will get preferential treatment on mobile devices. However, you’ll still have to be in the local search results to even be considered for a mention by Google Home.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo uses Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Since Bing doesn’t offer reviews like Google, Amazon’s Echo uses Yelp.com’s search and rating results. This means that to get mentioned on the Echo, you need to have a Yelp account with several positive reviews.

While it isn’t clear if the Echo uses you Bing Places for Business account, it may in the future, so it wouldn’t hurt to set it up now if you haven’t done so yet. In addition, a Bing Places for Business account will make it more likely your studio is found on new Windows 10 Desktop PCs that use the Microsoft Edge browser, since it uses Bing search by default.

Facebook Business Page Cover Photos Best Practices

Facebook makes it easy to change cover images. It also makes it easy to end up with poorly cropped cover images that make your business page look unprofessional.

When Facebook changed their business page layout so that the logo image was no longer on top of the cover image, they didn’t make it easy to figure out how to align the image for both desktop PCs and smartphones. The problem is, they said to upload a 828 x 315px image to the desktop, and Facebook will crop the image to 640 x 360px for your phone!

This didn’t make any sense, so it was time to experiment.

After screen grabbing the a cover image from both a desktop and a smart phone and manually resizing and lining them up in Photoshop, it turns out that the mobile subject area is only 563px wide. Facebook starts with your original cover image, crops out a 563 x 315px image in the center, upsizes it to 640 x 360px, and displays it on mobile devices.

Fortunately, this 24-bit transparent .png Facebook cover guide sorts this all out for you.

Click here to download the Facebook cover image guide. The cyan strokes show both the is the final cover image size and the subject area which will be displayed on mobile devices. It’s easy to use, too.

1. In Photoshop, open the image you want to use for your Facebook cover and make a duplicate layer.

2. Open the Facebook-guide.png file in Photoshop, duplicate the layer, and drag it over your cover photo as a new layer. (Tip: you cannot drag the transparent part of the image. You must put your mouse on the cyan stroke to drag it.)

3. Move the Facebook-guide over your cover photo until you’re happy with the outside crop. On smart phones, the cover photo will be displayed using the inside crop. You can add text layers if you want – just keep them in the mobile subject area (inside crop). You can also resize the image layer beneath the guide, but make sure you don’t make the image layer any smaller than the outside crop stroke.

4. When you’re happy with your subject area alignment, set Facebook’s crop image size to 828 px wide x 315 px height @ 72 dpi and crop the image over the guide.

5. Hide the Facebook-guide layer.

6. Select File > Save for Web and Devices. Save your final cover photo image as an JPG file. I typically use 80% quality. Facebook recommends you use sRGB color, and keep the final file size under 100kb.

7. Exit Photoshop without saving so you don’t destroy the original image files.

To update your logo image, use a 180x180px square image.

Pro tip #1: If you don’t have an image editing program, try pixlr.com. It’s free.

Pro tip #2: If your cover photo or profile image doesn’t look right, don’t be afraid to upload another one, then delete the post that says “updated his/her cover photo.”

  1. Make sure your name and business classification are correct. Facebook will overlay them on your image. If you use a business page, take a moment to set up your call to action button.

Don’ts

When someone visits your Facebook page the first thing they see is your cover photo. Because of its prime location, you may be tempted to use your cover photo for promotional purposes. According to Facebook, your cover photo can’t contain any of the below items:

  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s “About” section. Use the About section instead.
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as “Call now” or “Tell your friends”

Moving Your Business Online

movingMoving a business online is hard. Moving to a new location, changing the business name, or even changing your website URL are all considered “moving your business” according to Google.

The problem is that there are hundreds of places your oldbusiness name is listed online: Google, Google Maps, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, and MapQuest just to name a few. When your listings don’t match in these places, 2 things happen. First, potential clients may see your old location and get confused, and second, Google ranks your page higher when your name, address and phone (NAP) are consistent across the Internet (read more about NAP here).

If you change your business name, address, or phone number, you need to make a plan to update your information online. I recently helped a friend move their business, and here is the plan I followed: Continue reading Moving Your Business Online

Protecting Yourself from Copyright Infringement by Others on Your Website

A lawyer I know passed sent me a link to an article by Brian Wassom titled, “You’re responsible for copyright infringement by others on your website – unless you’ve done this.” Brian Wassom is a partner and the chair of the Social, Mobile and Emerging Media Practice Group at the law firm Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP. In the Michigan legal world, that’s an impressive position.

Continue reading Protecting Yourself from Copyright Infringement by Others on Your Website