Making Evernote Work For You! Tracking the Progress or Status of Projects & Tasks

Evernote Certified Consultant

Tracking the Progress or Status of Projects & Tasks

Whether you’re new to Evernote or a longtime user, using Evernote for personal or business, there are always clever and unexpected ways to use Evernote tags, notebooks, table of contents and other tools to streamline your processes and workflows.

We all have our own way of tracking the progress of projects & tasks or tracking a workflow. Here are two simple ways of using Evernote to help you track the progress or status of your projects or tasks …

… by moving notes between notebooks.

Evernote can help you track the progress of projects, tasks, processes, just by creating separate notebooks and dragging and dropping notes between them.

For example, you’re tracking the progress of a project …

Create the initial note about the project and put it in an Evernote notebook “Projects To Do”.

When the project is ready to start, you just drag the note to the “Projects Ready To Go” notebook. If it’s a shared project you can share the notebook with colleagues for feedback.

The idea is to create notebooks for each stage of a project that match your needs and then simply drag and drop notes between the notebooks to indicate the status as the project moves forward.

e.g. Create notebooks “To Do”, “Initial Discussion”, “Proposal Submitted”, “With Client” “Approved”, “To Schedule”, “In Progress”, “Completed”, etc.

Tip: Use #’s so that the notebooks stay in your defined status order.

Project Tracking Workflow Notebooks

… by using Evernote tags.

Or by simply using “tags” to manage and report on the progress the project.

A common mistake users make is to create up a single notebook and add a multitude of different notes. A simpler approach is to set up one notebook per project, that can be shared if needed, and then simply using tags to manage the status.

Create the project Notebook and the add notes as required.

Then create a range of “tags”, that suits your needs and then applied to the notes to indicate the project’s status.

e.g. Create tags “To Do”, “Initial Discussion”, “Proposal Submitted”, “With Client” “Approved”, “To Schedule”, “In Progress”, “Completed”, etc.

Tip: Did you know you could “group” Evernote tags?

You can even use tags to indicate the In Progress %.

Then simply update the note’s tag as the project move forward and report by sorting projects using the tags.

Project Tracking Workflow Tags

One of my goals for 2017 is to learn new ways to use Evernote for productivity and to share that knowledge. It’s already a great tool for managing client notes and projects, and for clipping and organising web articles.

 

What’s your tip for using Evernote?

WordPress Maintenance – The Cost, Time, Risk Formula!

WP Maintenance - The Cost, Time Risk Formula

What’s involved in maintaining my WordPress site and why do I need it?

 

This is a common question once a WordPress site has been setup.

Think that by installing WordPress, choosing a theme and plugins, and adding in your content, that’s all there is?
That’s only the beginning!

Yes, WordPress software is free and you can get ‘basic’ domain name, hosting & email packages for 10/month.
So the total cost is only $120/year, yes with a huge but

  • That basic package generally comes with limitations … shared ‘basic package’ hosting can produces low load times & intermittent downtime, and does not include the support if anything goes wrong with your website.
  • Are you willing to devote hours of learning the ins and outs of WordPress, your theme & plugins so you can maintain and fix your site. To start you will need a strong knowledge of WordPress and the technical side of WordPress maintenance before things go wrong, as well as PHP, MySQL and even CSS.

So now your $120/year cost starts to become $?/year.

What Maintenance Do I Need?

 

  • Backups
    Backup software, backup services, third-party offsite storage (i.e. Dropbox, Amazon S3). Hiring a developer to set up the backups correctly, test the backups, and restore your site in the event of a disaster.
  • Upgrades
    Simply clicking the upgrade button doesn’t take much effort. But fixing your site if the upgrades go wrong can cost a lot.
  • Security
    A secure site setup is a investment that can greatly reduce the chance you will get hacked. But ongoing monitoring is recommended to keep up to date.

 

Your WordPress Website Is Setup – Now What?

 

Once your site is set up you generally have 3 options for maintaining your website:

Option 1. The “don’t do anything – don’t back up, upgrade, or secure your site”.

Your ongoing cost and time commitment are zero. But you have a greater risk of something going wrong, and it will cost you more money to fix it. You will also have the highest potential downtime with this option.
This is, unfortunately, the common choice of most WordPress users.

  • Ongoing Cost: $0
  • Time Commitment: None
  • Risk of Hacking/Downtime/More $s: Extreme

 

Option 2. The “hire someone to do it all for you”.

Back up, upgrade your site and manage security. Regular weekly backups are done properly with the ability to quickly restore your website in the event of a disaster. You will likely lose changes made since the last successful backup  – posts, pages, comments, etc. Your site may be down for a short period, depending on how quickly you can identify the problem after it appears, and how quickly the site can be restored and fixed.

  • Ongoing Cost: Medium
  • Time Commitment: Low
  • Risk of Hacking/Downtime/More $’s: Medium
    Maintenance packages generally cover regular backups, updates & security, but do not cover recovery costs.

 

Option 3. The “educate yourself and maintain on your own”.

Regularly back up, upgrade, and secure your website. Know what themes and plugins to use, how to restore from a backup, how to fix broken PHP code, etc.

  • Ongoing Cost: $0
  • Time Commitment: High
    Hours to learn the intricacies of managing WordPress, and time each week/month to manage your site and stay up to date.
  • Risk of Hacking/Downtime/More $’s: Low to High
    Learning how to maintain your site correctly is the first stage, if there is a major problem you may still incur cost to help recover & fix.

 

If you don’t educate yourself or have a WordPress developer on call, you’re putting both your website and business at risk.
If you want to do things yourself you must devote the time to learn the technical side of WordPress maintenance before things go wrong. If not, then it could take even more time to master.

Understanding Your WordPress Website Security

Understanding WordPress Security

Why is WordPress the victim of so many security attacks?

 

Firstly with it’s $0 price WordPress is the world’s most used CMS (Content Management Software), so quite simply it is the natural target for malicious hackers. The reasoning is simple … if you are a hacker you will obviously want to break into software that powers millions of websites. If you can ‘hack’ the software, you have millions of sites at your disposal!

Secondly it is your responsibility to ensure that WordPress, themes and plugins ares updated and unfortunately not everyone is enthusiastic when it comes to keeping the backend updated. When security flaws or hacks are discovered, WordPress rolls out a security update, quickly followed by themes & plugins. From that point on it becomes your responsibility to update!

Thirdly a number of security issues in WordPress arise from ‘unreputable’ themes and plugins. WordPress has a number of themes in their official repository, along with many premium themes provided by reputable software providers. These official & premium themes are good for security, they offer, clean & tested code and regular updates.
Problems can arises when you install themes or plugins downloaded from unreputable providers. Themes obtained from official & reputable providers have a distinct advantage,  they are updated by the developers in order to ensure compatibility with the latest WP security fixes. Keeping themes and plugins updated is the third key element.

Six Simple Strategies to make your WordPress installation less vulnerable to attack.

1. Never use “admin” as your username

If you use “admin” as your username, and your password isn’t strong enough, then your site is very vulnerable to a malicious attack. If you have “admin” as your user name, hackers have half of the login information needed to access your website.

Until version 3.0, installing WordPress automatically created a user with “admin” as the username. Many people still use “admin” it’s become the standard, and it’s easy to remember.

Fixing is simple … create a new administrator account for yourself using a different username, then log in as this new user and delete the original “admin” account. If you have posts published by the “admin” account, when you delete it, you can assign all the existing posts to your new user account.

Also don’t use your name as your username!

2. Strengthen those passwords

According to research, around 8% of hacked WordPress websites are because to weak passwords. Keeping your passwords complex and changing them often is one of the best ways to keep your site secure.
This can be annoying, which is why most people choose to use the same easy-to-remember password for everything.

If your WordPress password is anything like ‘letmein’, ‘abc123’, or even ‘password’ … all are more common than you might think, you need to change it to something secure as soon as possible.

For a password that’s easy to remember but very hard to crack, we recommend coming up with a password recipe, a recipe that has the same number of steps but different ingredients.

Step 1: A unique number, e.g. 7011
Step 2: A unique name, e.g. mynamesfred
Step 3: Then use a mix of lower & upper case & special characters
The password becomes … 7011_my/N^me5/freD

3. Update all things … WordPress, theme & plugin versions

The best way to ensure everything stays secure is to keep everything up to date; this starts with your WordPress version. Every new release of WordPress contains patches and fixes that address real or potential vulnerabilities. If you don’t keep your website updated with the latest version of WordPress, you could be leaving yourself open to attacks.

Many hackers intentionally target older versions of WordPress with known security issues, so keep an eye on your WordPress dashboard notification area and don’t ignore those ‘please update now’ messages.

The same applies to themes and plugins. Security vulnerabilities can also exist in the plugins you have installed, so it’s important to also keep these up to date.

If a plugin provider does not update their plugins to address security issues, it may be worth considering removing the plugin or finding an alternative. Also if not updated regularly your plugins can fall behind when you upgrade WordPress … if not updated they might stop working or cause conflicts.

Make sure you update to the latest versions as they are released. If you keep everything up-to-date your site is much less likely to get hacked.

4. Backup

This is the simple strategy that many people put off until it’s too late.

Even with the best security strategies & measures, you never know when something unexpected could happen that might leave your website open to an attack.

If you experience a hack you’ll be thankful that you have kept regular backups of your website and you can restore a usable & up to date backup. It is also possible to run into issues when updating WordPress including plugin and theme conflicts that can impact the operation of your website.

If either happens you want to make sure all of your content is safely backed up, so that you can easily restore your site with minimal effort and time.

5. Use Security Plugins

As well as the strategies above, there are a number of security plugins you can use to tighten your website’s security and reduce the likelihood of hackers gaining access.
We recommend and use:

iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)
iThemes Security gives you over 30+ ways to secure and protect your WordPress site.
https://wordpress.org/plugins/better-wp-security/
https://ithemes.com/security/

Wordfence Security
Wordfence starts by checking if your site is already infected. Comparing a scan of the website source code to the Official WordPress repository for core, themes and plugins. Then Wordfence secures your site and makes it up to 50 times faster.
http://wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/
https://www.wordfence.com/

Securi Security
The Sucuri WordPress Security plugin is a security toolset for security integrity monitoring, malware detection and security hardening.
http://wordpress.org/plugins/sucuri-scanner/
https://sucuri.net/wordpress-security/wordpress-security-monitoring/

6. Managed Hosting

If you’re busy, or you aren’t tech savvy, you may not have the time and skills to keep your website backed up, up to date and secure … consider a managed WordPress hosting option.
Our “Peace of Mind!” managed hosting options provides weekly backups, update of WordPress, theme & plugin versions (including a full backup before and after) and installation, setup and monitoring of selected security plugins.
Read more …

… Finally Don’t Panic!

This may sound pretty intimidating, especially if you’re a beginner. It’s not intended to scare anyone, we just want to make sure you stay one step ahead of the hackers!

If you just remove the ‘admin’ username, start using stronger passwords and run regular backups your WordPress website will be that little bit safer!

Whether you choose to use managed hosting or look after your website yourself, we hope you benefit from the above strategies.

SEO (Part 2) – Why Good SEO is Essential!

Why Good SEO is Essential!

Part 1 of Why Good SEO is Essential! ended with Inbound Links.

Quality Content Delivers Quality Links

Let’s revisit the importance of quality content to inbound links. Producing quality content is the key to earning inbound links … the ideal content is insightful blog posts, videos that entertain or teach, infographics and informative analyses & reviews. This level of content will be shared generating the links back to your website.

It does require time and energy to produce this level of sharable and link worthy content.
SEO success or failure … your content is the key!

SEO content success will have two benefits:

Firstly direct SEO benefits, showing the search engines the content keywords that will rank your website and a growing list of inbound links … ticks of authority for your website and the information it contains.

Secondly a direct business benefit, establishing your website with visitors and prospective customers.

Usability

Is your website search engine crawler & visitor friendly?

Not only does your website need to deliver informative content, it also has to give visitors a great experience. If your website is hard to read or navigate, or take too long to load the information, most visitors will go back to the search results and choose the next website.

The search engine algorithms apply a number of aspects of your website’s usability:

Website Code

There are a number of HTML code elements of your website that should be optimised, i.e. formatted correctly and contain the relevant keywords for your business

To deliver a consistent message to the search engine crawlers ensure that following elements are in place:

Page Content: Each web page clearly expresses its purpose and its relationship to your business. Use keywords as appropriate but don’t overdo it!

Title Tags:  Title tags provide the names for the pages on your website, they are that clickable link in the search results and in the tab or top of web browsers. With a limit of 55 characters “Keyword | Brand Name” is the recommended format, hyphens can be used instead of the vertical bar “|”.

Meta Description:  This is the first description that visitors see of your business! On Google search results the meta description is the two lines of text that appear underneath the clickable title tag and URL.  Even though they don’t count for search rankings they provide the description to encourage visitors to click by giving them a preview of what they will find on your website.

H1 Tags:  H1 (Heading1) tag is the most powerful heading tags, acting as the headline for a page. There is no specific character limit for an H1 tag, but it is recommended to only use once on the page.

H2 Tags:  H2 is the sub-heading to the H1 headline for your web page. H2 tags carry less importance with search engines and can be used multiple times o the page.

URL Composition:  Another way to tell search engines the main theme of each page is to use keywords in the url structure. e.g. “https://sharreid.digital/why-good-seo-is-essential/“

Images:  Whilst search engine crawlers cannot see images they do see the additional information contained in the code around the image, the “image file name” and the “alt tag”. To ensure the search engine crawlers understand the image, include a descriptive image file name and update the alt tag text.

Easy Navigation:  Visitors should find it simple to find and move between pages on your website. Search engine crawlers and visitors are not impressed complicated navigation. View your website structure like the design for a house. There are all the different rooms (pages) where visitors can stay but they need hallways (navigation) to move between the rooms.

Consider creating pages that give an overview of your products and services, i.e. Catalogue, from these “hallway / navigation” pages, your visitors (and search engine crawlers) can move to specific pages for more details. On these overview pages give visitors a preview of what they will find if they click by simply including a sentence or two under each item listed.

Page Load Speed:  Search engine crawlers measure how long it takes for your web pages to load. With clean code and reasonable size images your web page will load quickly, make visitors wait for pages to appear and they will go elsewhere.

Missing Page 404 Errors:  A page that no longer exists is like hitting a dead end street. 404 errors occur when links to a page has been deleted still exist. If a web page has been deleted use a 301 redirect to send the search engine crawlers and visitors to an updated page.

Social Media, Reviews & Local SEO

SEO doesn’t just involve your website. A presence on external sites that the search engine crawlers index also sends additional information to Google about your business.
Some examples of external websites for your business:

Google My Business:  A Google My Business profile gives you a strong presence when visitors search locally, with your business name, address, contact details and website URL displayed in the Google search, maps and the Google+ social network.

Social Media:  Social media has become an essential part for businesses. While social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn do have some SEO benefits, Google+ does directly influence your SEO efforts.

Review Sites: These websites allow customers to review your business, sending additional information about your business to search engines. For potential customers they can also influence the selection and purchase process, with positive reviews helping your business stand out from your competition.

 

Feeling overwhelmed and wondering where to start?

Start by checking your website pages, pick the 3 or 4 major pages, and optimising your website code and content, so that the search engine crawlers get a best view of your website and business. Then move through the remainder of your pages.

Once completed you are ready to move on to on-going content, this is where the success or failure of page 1 search results is measured.

In Part 3 of Why Good SEO is Essential! we will cover a number of tools that can help you with your SEO … stay tuned!

SEO (Part 1) – Why Good SEO is Essential!

SEO

What is SEO?

 

SEO is simply making your website appealing to Google and other online search engines.

The workings of search engines are complex and continually being updated. Search engine robots, also known as “crawlers” or “spiders”, move across the web, collecting information, “indexing”, every accessible website that exists.

When someone searches for a specific word or words, the search engine processes all the “indexed” information that is has gathered and creates a page of results. Google and other search engines try to list the most relevant and authoritative websites at the top of the results.

The “win” is to be one of the first websites listed when someone searches for words related to your business. The higher your website appears in the search engine results, the more visitors your site is likely to attract and be converted into customers.

How does Google view your website?

To learn SEO, you need to understand what Google is looking for on your website.

Google sees the web as a source of freely exchanged information. This vision can be the opposite to how many business see their website … the website is seen as a funnel for new business … not a source of free information!

Offering valuable information on your website will impress both search engine crawlers and visitors to your website.

Once you realise that providing information is a great way to attract new customers, not only will your search engine ranking increase but also your expertise to potential customers.

What are the key points of SEO?

Whilst other search engines, Yahoo and Bing, work in slightly different ways to Google, the principles are the same. With SEO, what works for one works for all.

Content Is King

Quality SEO is simply consistently turning out relevant content. Your website content should showcase your business’s products & services, always keeping in mind the search queries that brings visitors to your website.

Content is anything that provides information to visitors and search engines … page text, blog posts, articles, videos, infographics, images.

Relevance:  It’s important to be clear about the products and services you offer, this ensures that your website will appear in the search results when people search for keywords that relate to your business.
Make sure your content is relevant for your business and your customers, straying from your business core, will confuse both search engines and your customers.
Your website should be simple and easy to access. This allows search engine crawlers to clearly understand it’s purpose and potential customers can understand how you can help them.

Authority:  Websites that are an authority on a particular subject will rank better than those that aren’t.
Does your website present your business as an authority on all the products and services that you offer?

Frequency:  Updating your content on a regular basis lets search engine crawlers know that it’s still active and new information is being added. Stale content can penalise your indexing, don’t let too much time go between updates.

Uniqueness:  Make sure your content is yours, never copy and paste from another source. Google may penalise your website with a drop in search rankings. You may also breach someone else’s copyright.

Quality:  If your website content is of poor quality and takes too long for a web page to load, search engine crawlers will produce a lower ranking and your website will drive humans users away.
Does our website should provide visitors with quality content, a pleasant experience and a quick response time when they click on their search query result?

Inbound links

Links from external sites to your website are very important in SEO. As mentioned, Google sees the web as a source of freely exchanged information and links enable this exchange.

Inbound links are basically saying …  “have a look at this website, it has more information”. Search engines view inbound links as a “tick” for your website and the information it contains.

You don’t need lots of inbound links, a single link from a quality website can be more beneficial than a number of links. Search engines place a higher importance on links from quality websites.

As quality inbound links are hard to come by, you should also welcome links from lesser known websites.

The key point for inbound links is that they are “natural” links, never force a link or buy links just for SEO purposes.

SEO has many different link building strategies, be careful as recent Google updates now penalise poor quality, over used and “bought” linking strategies.

 

In Part 2 Why Good SEO is Essential! we will cover more on Content Is King, Site Structure & Navigation, Page Load Speeds, Tags, Meta Descriptions and Image Alt Tags.

Website owners appreciate the importance of a quality website and social media, where they struggle is creating consistent quality content. This is where many business owners and websites fail, if you can create this consistent quality content your website will reach the top of search engine results for the keywords relevant to your business.

To reach the potential customers who are looking for your products and services simply set aside time each week to write a blog post or record a video!

Sharreid Digital