Blue background with white computer monitor displaying the word "SEARCH" in primary colors.

SEO Is for Everyone

You don’t need to be a techie to improve your website’s ranking and increase its traffic.

Your website is your business’s front door. But before you can harness your site to promote your business or connect with potential customers, people need to be able to find you online. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. While this can sound like a subject meant exclusively for a serious techie or marketing professional, the opposite is true. Everyone can implement basic SEO steps and start bringing more people to their website.

What is SEO?

SEO is designed to increase the quantity and quality of organic website traffic. Consisting of tactics employed both on and off your site’s pages, SEO allows you to achieve a better ranking for certain keywords that users type into search engines like Google and Bing. For example, if you are a company that sells birdhouses, SEO techniques can help your ranking for keywords related to birdhouses and similar products. If optimized correctly, your site will rank higher on search engine results pages. The higher rankings you have, the more traffic you’ll enjoy and the more sales you may potentially close.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO starts with keyword research. Think about the terms for which your site needs to rank. Use a paid or free keyword research tool. Pay attention to each keyword’s competition ranking as well as its total monthly search volume. The goal is to find keywords that have a modest amount of competition and a high amount of search volume. That’s the sweet spot.

Now pepper your keywords throughout your site. Include a primary keyword in the title and headline of each page, and ideally in the “alt” descriptions for any imagery. Next, include secondary keywords in the body of each page’s content that complement the page’s primary keyword. Don’t stuff keywords into your site, however! Weave each word naturally into your site’s content. Keyword stuffing can lead to consequences being imposed by the search engines.

SEO also involves improving the site’s technical performance. Start by investigating the load time of each page. A slow site will drag down your rankings. Additionally, a site that is not mobile responsive or one with broken links will harm how a search engine perceives your content. Search engines want to provide the most helpful content to their users. They do not look kindly on websites that cannot deliver content quickly and efficiently.

Lastly, don’t forget about the importance of your actual content itself. Develop clear, concise and most of all helpful content assets that are easy to read and provide robust information. Google can read all your content. Make sure it likes what it sees!

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO largely involves link-building. Links are important to search engines like Google and Bing, which perceive them as seals of approval from other websites. Of course, not all links are created equal. Some convey a greater sense of authority than others. Prioritize quality over quantity. Gaining a few links from popular and credible sites will help your rankings far more than having scores of links from lesser-known domains.

How can you best collect links? You could become a guest blogger for another site and include a link to yours in your blogger bio. You can get active on social media. While social media links do not impact SEO directly, by being active on social, there is a higher chance that more people will be exposed to your content and share it on their respective sites. You could even seek out notable websites that have broken links that overlap with content you own and offer a replacement link to the website administrator.

Take it one step at a time

You may feel overwhelmed at this point – and that’s ok. While the principles of SEO are straightforward, they require time to master. Take it one step at a time. Implement these basic steps to make tweaks to your website and collect some high-quality links. Additionally, never stop learning. There are abundant resources online that explain nearly every aspect of SEO. Keep moving forward, and before you know it, you’ll be looking at your very own optimized site.  

Blue background. A padlock with a castle as the body and the word security in white letters beneath it.

Ensuring Your Home Stays Cyber-Secure

Your home can still be your castle – even in the digital age

Home cybersecurity used to be fairly straightforward, but these days the situation has changed. With the internet playing an increasingly dominant role in how we live and work, you should take a moment to examine whether your personal Wi-Fi network is truly secure. Here are a few easy tips and tricks for how you can best protect yourself and your home in the digital age.

Your wireless network

Consisting of a modem and a router, wireless network devices are responsible for bringing the internet into your home and directing it to all your internet-compatible devices.

You need to change the default administrative password within the router to establish control over the configuration of your home system. Be sure to use a password that is difficult to guess. Try using a random series of words that are easy for you to remember. Employ numbers if possible and capital letters for extra security. At the end of the day, you want to protect yourself by making sure that only devices you know and trust have access to your Wi-Fi network.

For extra security and peace of mind, you can even consider installing a guest network. That way, you can let visitors connect their devices but avoid opening yourself up to potential security problems.

Passwords

To have confidence in your cyber security, you will want to take a hard look at the strength of all your passwords – from your wireless network to the passwords you use for each device and application.

You should try to use a different password for each device and account. This can be a daunting prospect, as it is now common to have dozens of accounts that require a password. Use a password manager tool if you are having difficulties. There are a variety of different services out there, and you can easily compare features and prices online.

Finally, don’t forget about enabling two-step verification wherever possible. Two-step verification is where two authentication steps are performed sequentially to verify whether an attempted login is legitimate. Often, this process involves a login through an online account and then the entry of a numerical code that is either emailed or texted to the account holder.

Devices    

It’s wise to become familiar with all of the devices you foresee needing to connect to your wireless network. While in the past this largely consisted of a couple of personal computers, it now could include everything from smartphones and television sets to printers, refrigerators and cars. Educate yourself not only on each device’s make and model, but also its IP address. You’ll also want to save yourself some headaches by enabling each device to download and install automatic security updates. 

Regular Backups

Unfortunately, no matter how cautious you are, you may still have a security lapse someday. You should have a contingency plan in place and regularly archive your important files and programs.

There are many different strategies you can take to make this easier. You can store your data on the Cloud with end-to-end encryption. You could save it to an external hard drive. Or you could even go the untraditional route of burning your data to a CD. Whatever you decide, you will want to make sure that you can reliably restore your data following a security breach. The good news is that many mobile devices already support automatic data backups, and there are numerous software options out there that are cost effective and relatively easy to use.

Final Thoughts Creating a cyber-secure home network can feel like a challenge. But the benefits of doing so far outweigh the costs. By adhering to these steps, you will be able to create an online experience that is fun and efficient but that does not skimp on security.

Graphic of falling yellow, blue, green and red envelopes with question marks.

4 Tips For Spotting Email Scams

As technology advances, so does the deception

The pandemic has amplified the number of scams and email attacks on individuals, companies and organizations. People are already in vulnerable places emotionally, socially, physically and mentally; Covid has only intensified fright and flight instincts. We are constantly interrupted by additional stressors.

What might have easily caught your attention on an invoice, bill or receipt, can now slip by when the mind is overwhelmed with the stress of daily life. The way people receive goods, bills, invoices and confirmations has changed during the pandemic.

Be proactive and take one worry off the list by preparing yourself and educating your clients, friends and family about current email scams. Here are four ways to identify obvious scams when shopping for company or personal resources.

The Sender

When opening an email, especially one that is unexpected make sure to check the sender address. This can be the first and last stop when identifying a scam. Do you order from Amazon or Office Depot often for your business? Typically, large companies have a very streamlined and identifiable confirmation process. It might have a logo, a reprint of your order, package tracking information, etc.

Most companies have emails such as a “confirmation@” or “receipt@”, and then the company. If your typical confirmation is now coming from a different sender or source, this is a red flag. Most purchases are automated; therefore, an email about a package and confirmation that is not expected or sent at strange times is also a red flag.

Grammar

The schoolteachers’ philosophy holds true: If it isn’t written correctly, it’s not correct. Many scams originate from outside of the United States and come from people who have never spoken English, or who might have only slight knowledge of English grammar and mechanics. This lack of familiarity with the language or even cultural communication can be extremely evident from the outset of the email. Unusual forms of personal address or improper labels are a signal of deceit.

Legitimate order confirmation emails should be free of spelling and punctuation errors, or words swapped for one another such as “their” and “there.” If you find such an error, take it as a signal that this email is likely a scam.

Strange Link     

Many people are already well versed on email scams that direct you to a link. Most know not to click the link. Use this same strategy when reviewing your confirmation and order. You are usually able to scan over the item or photo and it should direct you back to the home site, whether you were shopping on Home Depot, Office Depot or Amazon. If it directs you to another site, and you can confirm this by hovering your mouse over the link, then it’s a scam. Contact your original purchaser immediately.

Format

Most online retailers have the shopping, shipping and receipt process dialed in. Communications are auto-formatted and the email confirmation arrives in a clear, itemized order. Often items – the exact photo of the item and its link – can be found on an email confirmation.

Order receipts or requests for further action that are formatted in a strange manner should raise your suspicion. Are they asking you for additional shipping payments? Did they add your taxes incorrectly and are trying to collect? Do not fall victim to these scams. Your receipt of purchase should be clean, neat and easy to read and reference. If something is strange, then this is an identifier of a scam. In the end, trust your instincts. If something looks off, it likely is. Don’t be afraid to back out of an email or a link that feels like it might be fake. You know when something looks and behaves unlike the norm. Trust that and help yourself and your business stay safe.

Different colored silhouettes with talking bubbles.

Three Cs of Communication during COVID

How to appropriately address clients amid the pandemic

The pandemic has changed almost every nuance of our lives; however, it shouldn’t change your communication with customers. Now — more than ever — is a critical time to reach out to your clients, family and friends, and effectively show compassion and interest in them. Many individuals have more time than ever before to reflect and communicate.

Be authentic in your approach and seek creative ways to safely stay in touch with your clients. People appreciate the reassurance of being connected to familiar networks. Just because many aspects of life have stopped, do not let your connection to customers falter.

There are three key components of empathetic and appropriate communication during Covid. A genuine approach that is on target for your intended demographic is a thoughtful and ideal bridging of the lack of in-person communication. This effort also helps to maintain existing online and virtual relationships.

Classic Communication

Now is the time to engage and reaffirm relationships with customers. What worked in the past with you and your clients? Was it a phone call, in-person, a facetime call, email, text, or even snail mail? Whatever was working, never abandon that line of communication. Don’t suddenly start texting a client who up till now only communicated with you in person. Rather, educate your clients on the many options they have for engaging with you.

If your client base is on a newsletter system, this is an excellent source to reiterate ways to get in touch with you. Create a menu of options for clients and let them pick the communication method that is best for them.

Consistent Communication

Don’t recreate the wheel. Use the same information on all the types of communication that you have available, and make sure it is up to date on your website. If you have a physical address, you can always check in with Google address, Yelp, Yahoo, etc., to make sure all of your information is up to date.

You need not wait for a website to fail or a phone line to go down for a client to become extra stressed. Create multiple means of communication to ease your clients’ potential stress. This way, there is a consistency to your relationship and they will have numerous ways to get ahold of you in emergency and non-emergency scenarios.

Clairvoyant Communication

Customers have been inundated with robotic communications, automated messages, spam phone calls, excess emails, random texts, etc. Make your communication channels honest and simple. A customer in crisis does not want to wait on hold for 20 minutes only to be connected to another operator for assistance. Be extremely up-front and honest about how you want people to communicate with you during business and non-business hours.

Society is stressed. Individuals are stressed. Now is not the time to add to your customers’ agendas. When you reach out to communicate needs, wants or even future plans, be clear about timelines and expectations.

Communication is how we maintain human relationships. While in-person meetings and group sessions are not possible, clients still want to communicate. Use your existing resources like eblasts, newsletters, phone calls, and social media to reiterate the numerous ways you want to engage with your audience. The result will be that when the pandemic passes — and it will — you and your company will have maintained a seamless and helpful communication line with your clients. They will be happy and you will too.

Graphic welcoming Eric Anderson and Russell Gonzales as Southwest Agency Representatives

Eric Anderson and Russell Gonzales Join the Southwest team

Alliant National Announces the Hiring of Two New Assistant Vice Presidents and Southwest Agency Representatives

Longmont, Colo. – (September 29, 2020) – Alliant National Title Insurance Company, a unique title insurance underwriter that partners with independent agents to improve their competitive position, announces the hiring of Eric Anderson, Assistant Vice President and Southwest Agency Representative, and Russell Gonzales, also Assistant Vice President and Southwest Agency Representative.

Anderson has enjoyed career success in the pharmaceutical industry. Specifically, his background includes more than 20 years in medical, pharmaceutical and vaccine sales. He has served as an analyst and has spent decades in field sales and marketing. “It is exciting to bring my sales background and management experience from another industry to Alliant National,” says Anderson. “I look forward to being part of Alliant National’s continued growth.”

Gonzales brings more than 28 years’ title insurance experience to Alliant National, serving in a variety of capacities, including as a title examiner for an independent agent in Fort Bend County, Texas, and as a policy services director, agency services manager and national commercial closing specialist for a national underwriter.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring my experience in various aspects of title insurance to Alliant National,” says Gonzales. “The company culture is one of inclusivity and ‘agents first,’ which is part of my own professional credo.”

Both are charged with responsibilities that include: sourcing, targeting, and signing new, high-quality policy issuing agents for Alliant National. They will also serve as active members within the southwest agency staff and will participate and influence the development of Alliant National as a strong, national underwriter. 

“These gentlemen are a perfect fit for the Alliant National vision,” says KC West, Senior Vice President and Southwest Regional Manager. “We look forward to the varied and seasoned experience Russell and Eric bring to our team.”

Gonzales is married with two children in college. He enjoys cooking and working out. Anderson enjoys birding, fishing and golfing. He is married with a college-age daughter and a son in high school.

Alliant National distinguishes itself from competitors by combining strong underwriting capability with independent agents’ in-depth knowledge of local markets. The result is a nationwide network with deep roots in local communities, and a wealth of expertise that is flexible, nuanced, and continuously growing.

Visit alliantnational.com for additional information.

MEDIA INQUIRIES

Cathie Beck
Capital City Public Relation
e : cathie@capitalcitypr.com
p : 303-241-0805

ABOUT ALLIANT NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY

The Independent Underwriter for The Independent Agent® – Alliant National believes in empowering people to thrive.

The company protects the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance and partners with 500+ trusted independent title agents as a licensed underwriter in 27 states and the District of Columbia, with annual revenues exceeding $126 million.

This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.

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