049. Internet Security: Ransomware Beware + Getting Indexed in Google


released May 25, 2021
(recorded May 23, 2021) - 1 hour, 30 minutes

Industry news links:
- Is Men’s Jewelry an Untapped Category for Retailers?
- Bulova Launches Youtube Collector Series
- Forevermark Gets a New Name

Ransomware: Ransomware has been in the news a lot lately.

What is it?
It's a form of computer attack that encrypts the files on your hard drive, which means they are locked up you can't open them. The cybercriminal asks you to pay them money and then they will unlock them.

The cost can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, payable to cybercriminals in Bitcoin. They use Bitcoin because it's untraceable.

Ransomware cybercriminals usually study their victims before their attack and they know what the financial burden would be for them to recreate the encrypted data, and they know what the victim can afford to pay to get it back without going through the recreation process. This is why you often hear about businesses and people who pay the ransom instead of recreating their lost data.

Other cybercriminals break into systems to steal personal information and credit card numbers for resale to the highest bidder. Sometimes they use the stolen information themselves and ruin lives and get access to millions of dollars.

With ransomware cybercriminals, they seem to be a nobler group of criminals because they would rather have you pay a fee directly without harming your life or your identity.

How do they get into your computer?
One of the most common ways is with email phishing spam. They send you an email with an attachment that looks like a file they should trust. Once you download and open the file they can take over your computer.

These phishing emails can look legitimate. We've gotten several from fake GoDaddy accounts that say things like "Your email will be suspended in 24 hours if you don't follow the attached instructions."

The goal is to trick you into believing that the message is something you want or need. Phishing scams often look like a request from your bank, website provider, internet company, or from someone you know.

How can you protect yourself?
Install a paid anti-virus program.

There's a very popular free anti-virus program called AVG. AVG seems to be available from many websites that do not belong to the actual AVG company. These non-official AVG sites give you all the instructions to download the AVG program and install it, when in reality you are installing some type of malware. Because it's so easy to get tricked with AVG, we recommend that you simply stay away from it.

Matt uses Norton Internet Security on his computer. George uses ESET NOD32 Antivirus.

If you do not have anti virus protection, and if you are using Windows 10, then you already have some built-in protection against ransomware.

Scam emails demand Bitcoin, threaten blackmail

“I have full control of your device”: Sextortion scam rears its ugly head in time for 2021

Follow the directions to activate the built-in anti-ransomware feature.


Getting indexed in Google

We want to talk a little bit about how Google finds your website, why it would think your website is important, and how to potentially get more of your pages listed in Google Search.

The word "indexing" refers to how Google will read your individual website pages so that they will appear in search results.

Google looks for reasons to index your site. These reasons are referred to as "signals" within the SEO world.

It seems like Google doesn't spend much time indexing small sites unless it finds other signals online.

What are some examples of signals?
The entire spectrum of search engine optimization is considered to have various signals to help Google understand your website, but the signals that Google really needs are things they find on other websites. In particular, links to your website.

Signals are especially important for small local businesses that have websites with fewer than 1,000 pages. Actually, it seems that Google classifies small websites as anything less than 50,000 pages, which is probably all of our listeners.

As a small business, you should look around your community for other larger organizations that would be willing to link to you. Some ideas would be:
• Chamber of Commerce
• LeTip Group
• BNI Group
• Trade organizations
• Town websites
• Local event websites
• Websites that have business listings

Some of these websites might require paid ads. Even though they are paid ads, they still appear as links to your website.

Another potential signal would be if you have a way of motivating your followers on social media to mention your site. They would have to include a link to your site and their social media profile would need to be public.
• Facebook personal profiles are not useful
• Facebook pages would be good because they are usually public
• Twitter accounts that are public are good
• Pinterest accounts that are public are good
• LinkedIn posts are good

The more off-site signals that Google finds, the more likely that they will realize that you are a legitimate small business and will index your site.

How many pages has Google indexed on your site? You can log into your Google Search Console account to see how many pages Google has indexed.

In there you will also see any pages with errors and reasons why Google isn't indexing a page. You will probably have to ask your website programmer to fix many of the errors, because they tend to be technical in nature. Once fixed, you can tell Google to reread those pages and index them.

For ecommerce sites, there is a common issue that often arises when you have lean product information. Many jewelers take the approach that all they need to do is show a photo of the jewelry, a price, and maybe a few other details. This terse information is easy to set up, but it's also a pitfall that jewelers fall into.

When you take a broad view at the code of all of the product pages, if only a few words change between the pages, then those pages will look virtually identical.

Google will look at the product detail pages and it gets confused because it only sees things small things like the price change and 4 words of the title. With those small changes, Google classifies all those product pages as identical, and it doesn't index them. This is why it's important to add a lot of detail to your product descriptions.

Google Search Console will give you a list of identical pages.

Setting up a new website: If you have a new website, or if you recently redesigned your website, you might have accidentally zapped your ability to have the website indexed.

Typically, when building a new website you will use a few commands known as "noindex, nofollow" to tell search engines not to read your website yet, because it's not ready for deployment.

Google, Bing, and Yahoo always honors the "noindex,nofollow" command, but there are search engines in other countries that do not.

When building a new website we always used a different website address for the site while it's in development. On the day the site goes live we switch over the domain name to the correct version.

Sometimes we are setting up brand new websites with brand new domain names, and sometimes we are recreating websites using existing domain names.

When building a new website with a new domain name, you might think it's okay to use that domain name from the beginning of the setup. After all, no one knows about the domain name yet. Since it's a development site you would add the "noindex,nofollow" just to make sure your site isn't listed in Google before it's ready.

This is another pitfall. Even though you might not tell the world about your new domain name and new website, Google will still find it. When Google sees the "noindex,nofollow" they will but your website on a block list. When go live with the site you would turn off the "noindex,nofollow" feature and tell all your online followers and customers about the new website. But since Google has you blocked, they won't reread your site.
You would have to go into Google Search Console and ask Google to reread the site, one page at a time. This will be a difficult task if you have hundreds of products on your site since Google limits those reread requests to about 20 per day.

Even if you ask Google to reread those pages, it could take months for Google to finally unblock your pages.

For this reason, whenever you are setting up a new website, you should always use a different website address for your site while it is still being developed.

AT: 05/25/2021 10:49:51 PM  

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