How To Optimize Your Website With SEO

So, you’ve built your company’s website. That’s great news and a major milestone, for sure.  Unfortunately, your work is just beginning.  If you want anybody to be able to find you among the billions of sites that make up the internet, you’re going to need a little bit of help.

The first and best thing you can do for your new site is to optimize it for SEO.

SEO is shorthand for “Search Engine Optimization.”

A long time ago, search engines weren’t all that smart. Back then, site owners could get away with things like “keyword stuffing,” which is to use the same key word or phrase up to a hundred times in a given web page’s content, thereby ramming the point home.

The search engines took a dim view of that, and the phenomenon was thankfully short-lived.

These days, search engines are much smarter.  They can skim through your content and gain an understanding of what each page of content is all about.

The important thing to understand however, is that every search engine uses a different algorithm, which means that the optimization strategies are different for each one.  Given the fact that Google is the dominant search engine on the web, when most people talk about Search Engine Optimization, what they’re really talking about is optimizing for Google.

If you use a content management system like WordPress, you’re in luck!

WordPress has tons of great plugins that help you optimize your site for Google.  These will literally walk you through the process while helping to ensure that you’re making good use of titles and meta tags. Those titles and tags help web crawlers understand what your site is about.

If you’re not using an SMS, then you’re going to need to validate your HTML by hand, which is a somewhat time-consuming process, but well worth the effort.

The other big thing you can do is to make sure your website’s structure is logical and easy for a human  to follow.

If your site is just a random mishmash of poorly interlinked pages, then neither humans nor web crawlers will be able to find good information on your website. You can bet that neither will spend much time looking.  Organization is key!

Finally, make sure your content is “human readable.”

All the major search engines use LSI, which is short for Latent Semantic Indexing.  That’s just a fancy way of saying that if you build a site about the latest Apple products, web crawlers will “know” that your site is about technology and the results won’t show up when someone types in a search request for something else. Your site will not come up for “Apple Recipes”, for example, since that person is probably looking for food items.

SEO optimization is a very deep rabbit hole, but quite intuitive.  The basic idea is that you want to make sure your content is highly organized, clearly labeled, and easy to navigate to.

Apple To Settle Butterfly Keyboard Lawsuit

Do you have a MacBook with a Butterfly Keyboard?  If so, keep an eye out for an email regarding the Butterfly Keyboard class action lawsuit.

Recently, Apple has agreed to pay out $50 million to settle the suit that alleged that Apple knew about flaws with the butterfly keyboard’s switches it built into several MacBook models.

The keyboards were first introduced by the company back in 2015 and proved to be incredibly unreliable.  The least bit of dirt, dust, or grime could make it so that keys got stuck or stopped responding altogether.

For their part, Apple attempted several times to fix the issue, but each attempt failed. That was because unfortunately, the company never addressed the core issue, and the company eventually retired the butterfly keyboard in 2020.

The judge still must give final approval to the proposed settlement agreement. The important bit for Apple users is that if you owned a computer with a butterfly keyboard and spent money trying to have it repaired, you may be contacted once the agreement is finalized and be eligible for compensation.

There’s one rather significant catch, however.  You’ll only be eligible for compensation if you live in California, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, or Michigan.  People who live in other states were not included in the class.

Compensation under the agreement is broken into three tiers. First are those who got at least two top case replacements, second are those who got one top case replacement, and third are those who got one or more keycap replacements.

People in the first tier will get the most, and people in the third tier will get the least. Total payouts are expected to range from $50 at the low end to as much as $395 at the top end.  That’s obviously not enough to replace your system if you happen to still be using it, but it’s a good start.

Some US Mercedes Customers Likely Hit With Data Breach

Do you own, or have you recently test-driven a Mercedes? If so, or if you’ve created an account on their website for some other purpose, be advised that the company recently disclosed that they had been hacked.

They say that the attackers made off with personal and financial information belonging to more than 1.6 million account holders.

Based on the results of the investigation thus far, the company has confirmed that the stolen data included:

  • Customer Name (full names)
  • Physical address
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Credit/Payment card number
  • Customer phone number
  • Email addresses
  • And specific information relating to the vehicle that each person purchased

Additionally, the hackers made off with a small number (less than a thousand) driver’s license numbers belonging to prospective buyers. That’s bad, as the compromised data is more than enough for the attackers to steal the identities of those people whose data they now possess.

As is the case in a growing number of data breaches, the issue wasn’t the Mercedes Benz network itself. Instead, the attackers gained access via a third party vendor vulnerability. A spokesman for Mercedes Benz said that the vendor in question had isolated the weak spot in their security and made changes so that it won’t happen again.

That’s small comfort, however, for the 1.6 million+ customers who now have to watch their credit reports like a hawk.

In any event, the company is in the process of contacting all those who were impacted by the breach, and as is common in these types of cases, Mercedes Benz is offering two years of free credit monitoring if your data was compromised. If you haven’t heard from the company by the time you read these words, odds are excellent that you weren’t impacted, but if you want to be sure, check the website “Have I Been Pwnd” just to be safe.

Microsoft Windows Is Working On Windows 11 Update Release

Later this year, the Windows 10 era will officially come to an end with the release of Windows 11.

The latest version of the OS promises a raft of new features that will offer a “Next Gen” experience.

Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect to see in Windows 11 when it is rolled out:

A Totally Redesigned Start Menu and Taskbar

Unlike all prior versions of Windows, Windows 11 will feature a centered Start Menu and taskbar, making it aesthetically similar to ChromeOS. In addition to that, the Start Menu on the new OS won’t come with the live tiles you’re accustomed to. Instead, it will use static icons for Microsoft Store apps.

If you decide you don’t want your Start Menu centered, you can revert to more traditional Windows Left Aligned menu quickly and easily, and you’ll also be able to choose from among three different Start Menu sizes.

File Explorer Improvements

Windows 11 will include the same File Explorer that you’re used to, but it’s getting a much needed facelift and a variety of improvements. Most of these are aesthetic in nature and designed to give File Explorer a sleeker and more modern look, with new icons and rounded corners.

Snap and Widgets

Windows 11 sports four different Snap layouts, allowing you to choose between them, or switch from one to another at will. In addition to that, Microsoft is also introducing Widgets, which appears to be the successor to Window’s 10’s “News and Interests” feature. It utilizes your browsing history to create a customized news feed for you that updates constantly.

In addition to those things, you’ll find virtual desktop support, HDR support for color-managed, apps, a modernized, redesigned device manager, and a whole lot more.

Although there are bound to be kinks and growing pains when Windows 11 is initially released, we’re looking forward to seeing all this in action. Change is coming.

Ransomware Attackers Demand 20 Million From U.S. Kia Motors

Strange things are afoot at Kia Motors America (KMA), a subsidiary of Kia Motors with more than 800 dealerships scattered across the United States.

Recently the company has reported a nationwide IT outage that is impacting their mobile UVO Link apps, phone services, the company’s payment system, and a number of dealer-specific applications.

If you’re trying to make a payment online, or schedule a pickup of a newly leased vehicle, that might be hard to do. For the time being, you’re probably not going to be able to do that, and will encounter errors when you venture onto the company’s site.

There is considerable evidence that the company has been successfully attacked by the DopplePaymer ransomware gang. This evidence includes a ransomware note naming Kia Motors’ parent company as the victim, claiming that a “huge amount” of company data has been exfiltrated, and demanding a $20 million payment in Bit Coin to get their files unlocked and prevent the gang from releasing them to the public.

The ransom note contains a link to the Tor Victim page which again mentions the parent company by name. The curious thing about the incident so far, however, is the fact that when KMA was contacted for details about the incident, they released the a somewhat terse statement.

Their statement was:

Kia Motors America, Inc. (“Kia”) is currently experiencing an extended systems outage. Affected systems include the Kia Owners Portal, UVO Mobile Apps, and the Consumer Affairs Web portal. We apologize for any inconvenience to affected customers, and are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible with minimal interruption to our business. We are also aware of online speculation that Kia is subject to a “ransomware” attack. At this time, we can confirm that we have no evidence that Kia or any Kia data is subject to a “ransomware” attack.”

At this point, no one can say with 100 percent certainty what’s going on, other than the fact that many of the company’s systems have been offline for days. A few have begun to come back online, but at the time this article was written the story is continuing to develop and several of the company’s systems are still offline. If you’re a Kia owner, it pays to be aware.