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Great Websites for Small Businesses

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Abledragon’s Blog

The pages of an open book

The excerpts below all link to articles on different aspects of setting up and running a WordPress-based website for a small or medium sized business.

If you’re interested in a specific subject-area please check out the ‘Articles by Category’ section in the sidebar to the right, or use the ‘Search’ box.

Click the headline in the excerpt below to read the full article and please contact us if you have any questions.

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Unless you have a specific interest in cyber security you probably don’t stay abreast of the latest trends in hacking and cyber-crime. I do have an interest – a keen interest – because I want to make sure that Abledragon websites are as secure as possible. Same for the websites that we build and maintain… . . . Read more

I’ve written here, here and here about ransomware, probably the fastest growing type of cyber-crime at the moment, and steps you can take to protect yourself. I talked about making sure you have backups of both your computer system and your data (stored off-line so they are safe from infection). As long as you have… . . . Read more

Here’s an interesting question I received recently: “Have I installed enough plugins on my WordPress website?” I was a bit taken aback by that, because the short answer is that you need the smallest number of plugins possible that are necessary to deliver your website’s purpose. My questioner believed that the more plugins you installed… . . . Read more

What is a Zero Day Attack?

A zero-day attack sounds like something out of ‘Starship Troopers’, or ‘Back to the Future’. But it’s much more boring, I’m afraid. A zero-day attack is one that exploits a zero-day vulnerability – a code vulnerability that slipped through the cracks and has been discovered by the bad guys, who plant their malware or otherwise… . . . Read more

Robert Mueller (special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US election) indicted 13 individuals and 3 companies a few days ago. If you read the summaries of what he’s discovered so far in the course of his investigations you should be having a serious think about your own personal security online. To summarise the… . . . Read more

“. . . Just a simple design,” they said. “An all-white background with a gallery below, of course the menu, our logo and a search function. . .” I have had many variations of that ‘definition of requirements’ over the years and, these days, I generally walk away from them. What they are actually saying… . . . Read more

I’ve worked with a number of people whose focus when they talk about the design of their website is purely on aesthetics. But they’re missing the point: graphics and colours are only a part of website design – and not the most important part, either. Why? Because they are subjective. Graphics and colours that one… . . . Read more

Back in December there was a massive brute force attack on WordPress-based websites. Around 190,000 websites were attacked, from 10,000 different IP addresses, and up to 14 million attacks were made, per hour. This was one of the largest attacks ever, and I learnt of it from the Wordfence blog – you will find the… . . . Read more

I recently took delivery of a new laptop – a top of the range, powerful workhorse, with Windows 10 preinstalled. And before I had added even one program I had to do a complete reset – the full monty kind: delete everything and start again by reinstalling Windows. Why? Because as I was configuring the… . . . Read more

Just a short note today about an (apparently) pointless website threat. . . I just read this post on the Sucuri blog that describes a hack, the only purpose of which is to completely wipe out a website. As that article points out (and as I have said many times) hacks generally have an ulterior… . . . Read more

The reason for describing this interim case study here is to give an indication of how we work at Abledragon – giving as much free advice as possible and explaining in detail why we are taking whatever steps we take. Hopefully it’s useful! I’ve just finished a project with a beauty blogger in which they… . . . Read more

The WannaCry (WannaCrypto2) ransomware attack that crippled the NHS in the UK and locked up more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries, and demanded a payment of US$300 each, in 28 different languages, to unlock them, was wholly and easily preventable. By anyone who owns a computer. The attack was successful because the computers that… . . . Read more

Some time ago I explained why a business should not rely on Facebook for its online presence (you can read why here), but there are, in fact, businesses that thrive very well with only a Facebook presence. One of them is my local pub. Let me be clear: all the reasons I listed in that… . . . Read more

Ever been told you’ve just lost your job? How about ‘Hello…, this is the police – we need to advise that we’ve arrested your son’..? That twisting feeling in your stomach when you hear those words is exactly what you’ll feel when you discover someone has illegally accessed your bank account and cleaned it out… . . . Read more

Think your website is too small to be hacked..? Think again: Google reported recently on its webmasters blog in the section on the State of Website Security in 2016 that the number of websites hacked during 2016 was 32% higher than in 2015. As I’ve written before on this site: hacking websites is one of… . . . Read more

We are delighted to announce that we’ve moved our hosting business to Siteground. Apart from its top quality, superfast servers, Siteground focuses on the highest level of security protection and the highest levels of customer service – which exactly matches our focus here at Abledragon. From Siteground: Our security experts constantly monitor for WordPress related… . . . Read more

Another twist on what can happen if you don’t keep your plugins up to date: your website visitors can be re-directed to a site that, at the least, will present them with spammy ads and, at worst, will attempt to infect their computers. A recent article on the Sucuri blog reported on a plugin that… . . . Read more

A nasty new phishing scam has been revealed by Sucuri in an article posted this week: legitimate e-commerce sites are being hacked and a re-direct inserted into the checkout page. This redirect takes buyers to a fake checkout page, from where the hackers steal the buyer’s credit card details, or PayPal email, and the website… . . . Read more

With more than 40,000 plugins available in the WordPress repository alone, and many more that are not there because they are premium (paid for), you will inevitably face several options to choose from when you search for a plugin for your website. So how do you choose the best one – that is, one that… . . . Read more

Sound too much like science fiction? Unfortunately not. Anything that is connected to the Internet can be used in a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack – as Sucuri has reported. In that instance Closed Circuit TVs were used – 25,513 of them, scattered around the globe. So, as the Internet of Things develops and… . . . Read more

An interesting blog post on Sucuri talks about a domain renewal scam being carried out via normal mail, as opposed to email (the usual medium). Domain scams are where you receive an email (or, in this case, a snail mail) urging you to renew your domain, but which is not from the company with which… . . . Read more

Ransom Ware goes Commercial

The ransom ware that I’m covering here is mostly a threat to computers, rather than websites, but I’ve covered it because keeping your computer clean and safe is a key part of keeping your website clean and safe – as I explained here. A new iteration of ransomware has appeared that threatens to greatly increase… . . . Read more

Sucuri has just released a report on a study they did through the first quarter of 2016 on hacking trends affecting Content Management Systems (of which WordPress is one). The report is available from the Sucuri website but you can also download it by clicking here. In that study they analysed the hacks on 11,485… . . . Read more

I wrote back here about why doing things on the cheap (particularly important things) is a false economy. Today I have another example of how easy it is for the cheap option to end up costing you more. I was approached by a company that, in order to save money, had asked an acquaintance to… . . . Read more

Why would your website’s page-load time be important. . ? Apart from the obvious answer (that people won’t hang around if your page takes an age to load), it’s an increasingly important factor in the algorithms Google and Bing use to rank your website’s pages in the search results. For visitors using mobile devices it’s… . . . Read more

When your website is hacked bad things happen: it will be removed from the search listings and the major browsers will prevent anyone from reaching it (if visitors type in the address themselves). Basically, you go dark. That will cut off all sales or leads you were getting from your website overnight. I wrote about… . . . Read more

You go to all the trouble of finding high quality plugins from reputable authors (or from the WordPress plugin repository) for your website and suddenly you find you’ve been hacked. “How can it be?” you ask yourself. One possible reason is that, somehow, that carefully chosen ‘good’ plugin has gone bad. How do ‘good’ plugins… . . . Read more

I’ve written several times about steps you can take to strengthen your WordPress website against hackers – you can find the articles here. But strengthening your WordPress site itself is not enough. You need to consider everything you do online, starting with your own computer. The two most successful types of attacks on WordPress websites… . . . Read more

This is not really related to websites or working online, however, a heads up for new migrants to Windows 10 . . . I migrated a month or so ago and deliberately did not activate Cortana and any of the other functions that require you to have a Microsoft Account. All was well and I… . . . Read more

There’s a question that has come up more than once! The answer, of course, is that a WordPress website can be cheap – if cheap is what you want. But, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Here’s how a WordPress site can be cheap: Find and sign up for… . . . Read more

For those of you who have sites built by us, but who are doing your own content updates, the recently released Thesis 2.2 makes adding or updating content easier and safer: the layout in the Visual editor now exactly replicates the front of your site, so formatting is a cinch. The process you use does… . . . Read more

Here’s a question that was put to me the other day: what are categories and tags in WordPress and how would I use them? Simply put, categories and tags are WordPress’ filing system. They enable you to group together posts (not pages) that cover the same or a closely related subject. I like to think… . . . Read more

Some time ago I wrote about the website security risks you need to manage. But the Internet being what it is, times have quickly moved on. Cybercrime is growing at an extraordinary rate and the hackers are becoming increasingly vicious with their victims. The article I linked to above refers to 3 situations in 2015… . . . Read more

If your website is based on WordPress you already have a good start as far as optimising your posts and pages for the search engines goes. But there are some simple things you can do to give your content an extra boost. Before we go too far let me make an important point: when you’re… . . . Read more

Another article on passwords and online security – but I make no apologies, it’s a serious subject! Cybercrime is growing ridiculously quickly and causes its victims very serious damage (I wrote back here about how it puts businesses out of business). I am continuously surprised at the number of people I talk to who dismissively… . . . Read more

Back in this article I described the difference between SEO titles and page titles. Today let’s take a closer look at the relationship between the SEO title and the META description. Both of these elements perform dual functions: they tell the search engines what your page is about and they entice searchers to click through… . . . Read more

I am often asked to explain the difference between the SEO (or Custom) Title and the Page Title by those who update or add your own content. So here goes . . . Both titles are important and their job is to do the same thing – attract attention and cause people to stop what… . . . Read more

I described the difference between posts and pages in WordPress back here. Although they function differently, the process of writing a post is exactly the same as that for writing a page. For the purposes of this article, therefore, I will use the term ‘page’ throughout, but the process will be exactly the same for… . . . Read more

A good question and one that I come across often. WordPress started life in 2003 as a simple blogging platform. The word ‘blogging’ comes from ‘web log’, which was originally (way before 2003) a simple log of events that was stored online. The word ‘post’, in this context, comes from posting an entry in a… . . . Read more

DNS stands for Domain Name Server – and, normally, you wouldn’t care. Unless, that is, you wanted to buy an already-registered domain from someone, or move your website to a new hosting provider. But let’s start from the top: Domain names and website hosting are two different services although, in many cases, they are provided… . . . Read more

I was at a session on cyber security yesterday, presented by KPMG. It comprised presentations by leading experts on trends in cyber-crime and the steps large organisations should be considering in order to secure their IT systems. While Abledragon does not deal with large corporates, the lessons around securing your website are as relevant, and… . . . Read more

I’ve mentioned on many occasions (to anyone who will listen!) the importance of using long, complex passwords. I recently came across an article on WordPress security that touched on the importance of creating strong passwords. This was written in the context of comparing the benefits of adding just one character to your password against being… . . . Read more

As the web moves to mobile it’s becoming ever more important to ensure that your website renders well on screens of all sizes. We recently did a redesign for a local hair and beauty salon whose old site was just that – old (and not responsive). Cherdchai’s previous website was nearly 4 years old and… . . . Read more

I’m often made aware of the level of knowledge that many business people have about what goes into setting up and promoting a website for their business. It’s not high, and there’s no reason why it should be because their businesses are about structural engineering, hair-dressing, raising capital or selling bespoke jewellery – not about… . . . Read more

Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend in the US, saw online sales totalling US$1.98 Billion this year, a 17% increase over 2011, and IBIS World research forecasts online revenue growing at 8.6% a year over the next five years. Compare that to the GDP growths of most major economies, which is somewhere in the… . . . Read more

I know you want the cheapest price possible for your new website design but, unfortunately, you usually get what you pay for. If you want something professionally done, that works reliably, gets you the visitors you want and benefits your business, you are going to have to pay, I’m afraid. That said, here are some… . . . Read more

I often find that it’s difficult to get people who are not familiar with working online to appreciate the risks and effects of being hacked. Recently the website of Jon Morrow, whose site I visit occasionally, was hacked. Luckily Google had spotted it and warned me before getting into the site that it had been… . . . Read more

I’m often told by clients that they want me to make sure their website pops up at the top of the search results. One client had a group of investors in San Francisco and their sole criterion for whether the site was any good or not was whether it was returned in the first position… . . . Read more

“Why should I pay for a website when I can set up a free page on Facebook?” That’s a line I’ve heard more than once over the past couple of years! Here’s my response: Would you pay for a major redecoration job on an apartment you only rented? You would be paying for the privilege… . . . Read more

If you’re going to sell stuff from your website then you need a means to take payment, and that’s done through a payment gateway. The best known online payment gateway is PayPal – it’s easy to set up and it’s familiar to millions of people. And this familiarity is important. Many people are still reluctant… . . . Read more

Why Cheap is Expensive

Trying to get things done on the cheap inevitably ends up being the most expensive option, because you have to pay extra to fix the things that should have worked properly in the first place. Nowhere is this truer than when you’re setting up a website for your company, so let’s look at some of… . . . Read more

When I talk to new businesses in industries that aren’t related to the Internet – F & B, Accountancy, Investment Services, etc – I come across a couple of myths that it’s worth dispelling right now. So here goes: The myth: You can pay to get a better position in the search results The truth… . . . Read more

A blog can be a powerful addition to your small business website, but only if you know how you want to use it and you carry out your plan. There’s little benefit to having a blog where the most recent update was 2 years ago and comments left by your readers (and, possibly, your customers)… . . . Read more

Unfortunately websites don’t market themselves. There are so many millions of websites out there now, thousands of them promoting the same or very similar goods or services, that to maximise the effectiveness of your website at attracting new business takes some thought and planning. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if… . . . Read more

Your website is your online property and you need to take the same approach to securing it as you do your ‘real world’ business premises. As importantly: failure to properly secure your website makes the Internet less safe for other users because you are helping the cyber-criminals to carry out their dirty tricks. It makes… . . . Read more

One of the things you need to set up when you create a website for your small business is a domain name. Your domain name is your business’ online address, and it comprises 2 parts: The name itself A Top Level Domain (TLD) – .com Is the most well-known one Domain names do have an… . . . Read more

One of the tools of the trade you need when you get a website for your business is a server on which to store it. Luckily this is neither expensive nor complicated because there are legions of web hosting service providers queuing up to grab your business. Do beware, though: you’ll see offers of free… . . . Read more

For most small businesses your website should be a source of new business. Because of that, you need your website to figure well in the search results so that new customers find you when they search for what you’re selling. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is often thought of as a mysterious, complicated subject (and you… . . . Read more

You hear it every now and then: Email marketing is dead It happened when RSS first became big and, again, when social media took off. But is it really? I don’t think so. Selling successfully online requires that you overcome a major difference from traditional selling: your prospect cannot see you. When they can see… . . . Read more