Today, the world is abuzz with talk about the Heartbleed Bug, "A serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library".  This bug allows malicious users to pull sensitive information from web servers.  

The good news for Foremost Media hosted customers is that we host your sites on Microsoft IIS which is NOT vulnerable to this exploit.  

Microsoft’s IIS web server does not use the OpenSSL library for encrypting traffic so you can rest easy.  If you would like additional verification that your site is not vulnerable to this exploit you can run a test using this tool:  http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/

Please note that the above statement applies to Foremost Media shared hosting clients as well as managed clients with cloud servers or dedicated servers hosting with us.  If we built your site but you host it elsewhere please contact your web host.   For a more in depth technical analysis of this exploit including the specific versions of OpenSSL affected please refer to this URL for additional information:  www.heartbleed.com

But what about sites you have visited that may be vulnerable?

Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about this. The only way to fix this problem is for the vulnerable sites to update OpenSSL and reissue their security certificates.

If possible, try to avoid connecting to vulnerable sites and services until they notify you of a fix. Changing your password won't help until the site has fixed the bug, so wait for confirmation from your favorite sites before you go changing passwords. If and when you do get confirmation, audit and update your passwords as usual. If a site is not vulnerable but doesn't issue a statement, change your passwords just in case they were vulnerable in the past. After all, it can't hurt. 

Recently I was speaking with a client that was telling me Google had called him.  At first, I wasn’t alarmed because they have been calling a lot of people trying to get them to advertise on their Adwords platform.   Next, he told me they wanted to optimize his website for the search engines with a six-month program.   Then they guaranteed he would be number one in the search engines for his words.  This set off all sorts of red flags to me, because Google does not perform search engine optimization for anyone, and there is not a legitimate SEO in the world that would promise you rankings.

Unethical search engine optimization companies are cold calling people more than ever.  Why?  They can now claim themselves as a “Google Certified Partner”.  Here is how it works.  Google has an automated program that allows you to become a “partner” after very little work.  Once completed you are entitled to certain benefits. One of those benefits is the title of “Google Certified Partner”.  

“Hi, this is Abha and I work with Google as a partner. How are you today?” is what you hear when they call you.  It almost sounds like they actually work for Google, doesn’t it?  Well, they don’t, and the fact that they unethically represent themselves during the initial call often indicates that their SEO practices are equally as misleading.  This is not a good sign, because if your SEO is using “shady” techniques, then you will be penalized and lose your website’s traffic. 

Many search engine optimizers, especially those out of foreign countries, actually still use old pieces of software to do SEO work for them.  The problem is that Google has wizened up to this software and now penalizes people that they think are using it.  One of the most common techniques is “blog spam”.  A while ago, it was possible for people to use a fifty-dollar program to spam blogs in order to get more backlinks to their clients’ websites.  Those backlinks would then give their clients higher rankings and everyone was happy.  Google caught onto this several years ago with an update in their algorithm called “penguin”.  Now, if Google sees that your website has many backlinks from “blog spam”, they will penalize your website or even ban you from Google.  It is likely that if an SEO company is going to be unethical on the phone, they are probably the type of company that still uses the SEO practices that can get you banned.


So, in short, do not even bother continuing the conversation with someone pretending to be from Google.  Google only calls to try to sell Adwords, but most often only to upsell if you already have an account.  If the person is not calling for this reason, you know right away that they are a fraud.   I spend a great deal of time helping clients recover from unethical SEO practices these days because of Fraudsters.  While I would love to work with you, I would prefer to help your business’s web traffic grow instead of trying to recover it after someone else completely killed it.
Version History Capabilities In DNN
Content Staging is now available for the DotNetNuke CMS. Staging allows Content Editors to modify a site without their changes becoming permanent. In setting a site up this way, Admins of the site will be able to verify and approve any content changes prior to them being published live, allowing time for any necessary corrections.

Getting it Enabled
Contact Foremost Media to see how this recent upgrade can benefit your company, as well as how the implementation process works. We will partner with you to determine the best time to make the transition, as well as make sure all content editors for your site understand the changes.

Using Content Staging
Once Content Staging is enabled across your site, using it is very straightforward. You modify the content of an HTML module just like you used to. The only difference is the addition of a checkbox for Publish near the Update button. The checkbox gives you a little flexibility. In general, you will not want to check this, as it defeats the purpose of Content Staging. However, if you do check the box, you are able to revert back to content changes being published live.

Once you hit Update, the page reloads. It will appear as though your changes are now live. This is only because you are still logged into the site. When you look at the page in another browser where your login is not valid, you will notice your changes are not published.

Approval of changes is simple. An Admin of the site will login and go to the page where the changes are pending. Depending on the version of the CMS you are running, there are different instructions:

- DNN 5: Below the content, there is a green checkmark to Publish Content

- DNN 6: In the "Manage" menu, Publish Content

- DNN 7: Edit the page, hover Edit menu, Publish Content

Contact us at ForemostMedia.com for further information.
Sales and marketing teams run on limited budgets and time. Knowing exactly who to call and what to look for can help save time and money in the long run and help you close more deals.

Marketing automation tools can help generate more qualified leads and cut down on wasted time targeting bad prospects. These tools can track leads' activity, automatically email them in order to help push them through the sales funnel, identify when a lead is ready for a sales call, and send automatic alerts for lead updates. All of these features help nurture your leads automatically so you can save time and money by focusing on more important things.

Here are four of the top benefits to marketing automation:
  1. Reduce the need for large teams of people. Manually sending out thousands of emails daily and interacting with all of your leads requires a large marketing team. On the other hand, setting up and monitoring automated emails can be handled by a few employees.
  2. Easily segment your prospects. Quickly group your site visitors and leads by location, demographic, industry, job title, and more to help determine who your prime targets are.
  3. Ensure your emails are successful. Marketing automation tools provide the ability to easily test which versions of email are most effective. You can quickly test different subject lines, content, or links to see what your leads respond best to. Using what works best can help prevent wasting time on sending emails that don't convert.
  4. Track your leads' activities. Track your leads' activity on your site, email open rates, and much more. You can then set up scoring systems to determine when your leads are ready for your sales team.
There are several benefits to setting up marketing automation and these types of tools are excellent for helping small marketing teams succeed. Take a look at all the the benefits our marketing automation program has to offer here and sign up for a risk-free trial.
Online reviews can have a huge impact on whether or not a potential customer calls your business or not. Although good online reviews are good for potential customers to see, they're also important for SEO purposes. Search engines, like Google, crawl the web and look for reviews of your business to try to get an idea of whether or not they should recommend you.

Every business should take advantage of this opportunity and as current or past clients to review their business online. One of the best platforms to get reviews on is Google +. Reviews posted on here have the potential to automatically show up in search results. 

Here are some quick and easy steps to pass along to your customers when asking them to review your business on Google +.

If you already have a Google account (Gmail):
  1. Go to https://plus.google.com. Sign in with your current Google email and password.
  2. Fill out your name, gender, and birthday and click "Upgrade".
  3. Skip the next few steps until you reach a prompt that says "Finish". Click "Finish".
  4. Once you are finished go to this link: https://plus.google.com/+ForemostMediaJanesville [insert your business's Google + page here]
  5. Click "Write A Review".
  6. A window will pop up in which you can type your review. Select "Poor," "Good," "Very Good," or "Excellent" along the top by clicking on the words.
  7. Enter your review in the box provided.
  8. Click publish.
If you go do not currently have a Google account:
  1. Go to https://plus.google.com
  2. Click on the red box in the upper right corner that says "Create An Account".
  3. Fill out the information in the box with your name, gender, etc. Click "Next Step".
  4. Follow the steps provided to verify your account.
  5. Add a photo and personal information if you wish. Click "Next Step".
  6. Click "Continue to Googe+".
  7. Go to https://plus.google.com/+ForemostMediaJanesville [insert your business's Google + page here]
  8. Click "Write A Review".
  9. A window will pop up in which you can type your review. Select "Poor," "Good," "Very Good," or "Excellent" along the top by clicking on the words.
  10. Enter your review in the box provided.
  11. Click publish.
Inbound marketing focuses on drawing leads to you and saving valuable time and resources. Once those leads start coming in, it is important to have a plan of action for categorizing and reaching out to your most qualified leads.

Lead scoring is a method of assigning a potential customer points based on their demographics, actions, or online activities. These points will then help you determine which leads will be best to focus on.

The most efficient method for reaching out to qualified leads is through lead scoring. In short, this is a method of assigning scores to potential customers based on what you think is best.

For example, a client that not only clicks on the "About Us" page to research your company, but goes to and lingers on a specific product page may receive a score of 10. Visiting product pages indicates that that online visitor is considering a purchase. An email sign up may add another 10 points to their score. Based on the total points a visitor receives, you can decide when to pass their information on to your sales team. Here's an example of what a typical lead scoring system might look like:

Action:                                                               Point Adjustment:
Whitepaper Download                                       + 10
Brochure Download                                           + 10
Visit Product Page                                            + 5
Opens email                                                     + 8
Watches Video                                                 + 7
Signs Up For Email                                           + 15
Works in Manufacturing Industry                        + 20
Visits Career Page                                            - 20
Visits Investor Page                                           - 20

Foremost Media offers software tools that will help you gather this information and set up a lead scoring system to help ensure you are only focusing on qualified leads. For more information email info@foremostmedia.com or call 608-758-4841. Visit us online to set up your free 30 day trial today!
If you are familiar at all with search engine optimization, you probably know that the last couple of years have brought some major changes to the industry.  Google has not only accelerated their updates to their algorithms, but they are also making bigger splashes with them as well.  This recent, as of yet unknown, algorithm update on December 17th, 2013 is no different.

As the head of the SEO department here at Foremost Media I often find myself seeing these changes the very day they happen across the data we collect from our many clients' rankings.  For instance, many SEO's out there keep repeating the mantra that "nobody noticed" when the new Google Humingbird algorithm was released a month before it was announced in September (It was implemented on August 20th).  Well, they do not speak for Foremost Media.  I can tell you at the end of August we were all noticing MAJOR rank volatility and were wondering what was going on.  Now, I can tell you that another major update just occurred on December 17th.  This time, I figured I better get out ahead of it before the internet starts buzzing with SEO's claiming that nobody noticed.

Whenever I suspect an update is occurring I check Mozcast.  Mozcast does a great job at telling us when something is going on.  While you can't tell WHAT is going on specifically, you can tell when volatility is up.  Well, it was up very heavily on December 17th.  In addition, on the same day, Foremost Media watched as rankings across a half dozen clients dropped for a couple select terms each.  We aren't talking your standard two or three position drops either.  We are talking about two or three pages. So, what happened?  We started digging.

Mozcast showed that on December 17th, this update caused exact match domain influence to drop a little, but heavily increased both partial match domain influence and diversity.  The first thing we noticed was that for about a dozen clients or so, we were seeing major rank declines for just a couple of keywords, usually isolated by topic.  It wasn't all bad news.  There was a little upswing, and in the case of one client their rankings skyrocketed.  So, the most obvious question from looking at this data was, "Were the terms that dropped, terms that were ranking do to an exact match URL?  The answer?  No.  There was no correlation.  Some were EMD, but some were also PMD or no match at all.  The interesting thing was that every drop was for an interior page of a site, whereas the client who got a big boost got that boost on the home page only.  Coincidence?  It could be.  I don't have enough data to tell for sure.  Let's look further...

Naturally, there are a lot of factors here.  However, If EMD became extremely volatile, that usual means (simplistically) on some level they are either increasing/decreasing the effectiveness of EMD/PMD, or the end result of their change was EMD volatility.  Since it doesn't appear that I can substantiate the former, let's look at the latter.  What could cause EMD volatility?  Well, while the most obvious cause is usually an alteration of EMD/PMD influence over rankings, it could be that the net result of whatever the change was is simply something that causes diversity in domain names and weakens EMD.  At this point, I am on a wild goose chase because there are many things that could correlate with EMD domain names.  I am inclined to think though that Google is still after spammers.  So, I will start to look in that direction.

So, naturally I took to looking at the link profiles of every page that dropped.  I am pleased to say that their profiles were all very weak.  Why am I pleased?  Because I am hoping this indicates that increasing the strength of the profile will help bring the rankings back to normal.  On the other hand, this opens another Pandora's box.  Since there was not direct correlation with any of the pages that dropped regarding partial or exact match domains, but the profiles were very weak, either Google is analyzing the page and matching it with the link profile in a new way, or this is all about the link profile.  I think it is the latter, and here's why...

At Foremost Media we use a number of very sophisticated tools that helps us with on-page optimization.  We have a very high success rate with these tools and in every case, my tools are telling me that the pages are still very well optimized.  So, I am inclined to say that this update has something to do with back link authority and how it is calculated.  It may have something to do with "Hummingbird", mainly because even with the declines in rankings traffic did not decline as a result (though the holidays made that harder to determine).  This might indicate that while the term we were tracking decreased, they gained equally in another term we were not tracking.

Of course, I could be completely off base.  Algorithm changes don't occur in a vacuum and the "butterfly effect" exists heavily in the sea of the web.  There are so many factors involved that it is very difficult to guess with any accuracy what the algorithm update actually was unless we are told.  Chances are, we will know in a month or so.  In the mean time, I will keep crunching data because I enjoy it.  I also didn't see anyone else actually trying to tackle the issue at this point with any meaningful data.  So take all this with a grain of salt, and please let me know if you have anything to share regarding this update (Nfitzgerald@foremostmedia.com).  If you're an SEO and you are reading this, know that the sky is not falling and SEO is not "dead".  This isn't the first time a major update has caused some havoc and it won't be the last.  Rankings will return and we will will continue to learn how to please the almighty Google for our clients' sakes.

Update:  We ran an experiment by changing some links that we had control over to a couple of pages on some affected sites, for the exact match terms.  We found that by either eliminating the link with the exact match or changing the destination of the link to the home page of the site, instead of the page of the site, almost completely reversed the rank drop.  In this case, it almost appears that this could be some sort of Penguin refresh or update with the way it is behaving.