Someone’s making a list and checking it twice; but  it isn’t Santa. Due to rising e-mail abuse and spam, hundreds of servers at various companies now monitor e-mail accounts to make sure those accounts are not sending out mass e-mails. If that e-mail account is assumed to be sending spam it is put on the “blacklist”. Once on the blacklist, your e-mail account is virtually SHUT DOWN because your e-mail is blocked by hundreds or thousands of servers and your message can’t be delivered.  Big companies who give out e-mail addresses like AOL, Google, and  Comcast, for example,  will cut off e-mail service to anyone  who sends an e-mail to a large number of people at once.  Because of this, even if you or your employees innocently send a message to 100 of your clients, you could be without e-mail for days or weeks. So, how do you avoid this costly & frustrating downtime to happen to you? Read these tips to find out:

1. Protect Your Server. Spammers LOVE to find e-mail servers that don’t have a proper firewall , anti-virus, and intrusion protection. They get a high from hacking in to these servers and then using them to send out thousands of e-mails. Plus, with no protection in place, tracking and catching these spammers is nearly impossible.  The right protection will also prevent malware from being installed on your server, which can automatically send spam without human interaction.

2.  Don’t Allow Employees To Forward Messages.  Unless it is for work-only related purposes,  make a policy that no one is to forward messages  like jokes, photos  or videos  outside the company. If just 4 of your employees send out this kind of an e-mail to 30 of their contacts,  that’s well over 100 people receiving junk mail on the same day from the same e-mail server.  This puts you at high risk of being blacklisted.

3. Have Your Clients and Prospects “Opt-In”. Sometimes companies end up on the blacklist because someone on your list complained and reported your message as spam. If you have your clients and prospects agree via an opt-in form that they want to receive communication from you and confirm their permission, then you’ll have better protection against that. Also make sure you keep good records of these opt-ins. That way, even if you do get blacklisted, you should be back up and running fairly quickly.

4. Make Sure Your E-mail Is Set-Up Properly. In addition to protecting yourself from hackers and invasions with software and firewalls, you also need to be sure that your e-mail is configured correctly and is set-up to block outside relays. If you’ve got the wrong settings in your e-mail account, you could wind up blacklisted, without any e-mail for days or weeks,

5. Keep Your E-mail List Up-To-Date. If someone asks to be removed from your list and you continue to send messages to him, the changes of him reporting your company as a spammer is pretty high. Avoid this by using in-house lists (instead of purchasing one) and contacting your list to verify the information.

For Help With Keeping Your E-mail Up & Running And Off The Blacklist, Contact Us By December 31st For A

FREE Blacklist Avoidance Assessment (A $295 Value!)

209-477-4390  or visit


How To Secure More Sales And Clients Using FREE Search Engine Marketing

With the economy tanking and businesses looking to cut costs every way possible, it only makes sense that many are focusing more attention on

using free social media marketing to fuel sales and new customers. After all, almost everyone uses the Internet to research a company before

buying from them; and if you are not coming up in the local searches, you are definitely missing out on a number of potential prospects who are

ready to buy what you sell.

While there are dozens—if not hundreds—of strategies for being found online, I believe you have to walk before you run. To that end, here are a

few simple, key strategies you can use immediately to improve your search engine ranking locally.

#1: Add yourself to the local search engine pages:









 Other web sites to list yourself include:





#2. Figure out a handful of “seed” keywords you will focus on.

     While many online marketers will tell you to have hundreds if not thousands of keywords, the reality is that there are only a few key search terms people will be looking for.

     The goal is to get 10 very well selected TARGET keyword phrases that will be worth the effort. These target keyword phrases should provide enough traffic, a spot on SERPs (search engine results pages) that you can potentially get top ranking in, and will provide the type of targeted traffic you most want.


·         Page TITLES

·         Page <H1> headers

·         Sparse <b> bold or <i> italic words 

·         Internal linking (Coordinate things so that they match up; linked TEXT must go to a page with the same keywords in the TITLE)

·         External links coming into your site such as Twitter, YouTube videos, your blog (if hosted on an external web ¨ site), etc.

     Here are a few web sites that will help you determine what keywords you should focus on:

#3. Add a blog to your web page and update it with a new article or post at least once a week.

     One of the best is WordPress; however, you will need help from a web master to set it up. Another option is to set up a blog at or, which you can easily do in a few minutes.

     Whatever you choose, make sure you write relevant, keyword dense articles that link back to your main web site.






This blog replicates posts to, Tumbler and Twitter. To post something, simply send an email to and it will instantly update the pages on all sites, as well as embedding photos and videos.

#4. Start Tweeting!

     Twitter is nothing more than a mini blog that should be updated daily. The best Tweets include news, jokes, offers and quotes. Try to include at least one keyword in your Tweet.


Create an account here:

Read Dan Hollings’ work on how to use Twitter in your marketing:

Do You Know What Your Employees Are Doing Online?

If You Don’t, You’re At Risk!

The Internet and e-mail have become indispensible tools for business, but many companies are finding employees are using these tools as much or more for personal activities than job-related tasks.  In fact, many business owners have recognized that unrestricted use of the Internet by employees has the potential to drain, rather than enhance productivity and, at worst, can even have dire legal consequences. 


To reduce the risk and minimize non-productive activities, business owners are utilizing a two pronged approach: (1) Implementing an Internet Acceptable Use Policy (IAUP) and (2) installing a monitoring system to restrict and police employees’ online activities.


An AUP is nothing more than a written agreement that sets out the permissible workplace uses of the Internet and e-mail.  In addition to describing permissible uses, an AUP should specifically set out prohibited uses, rules of online behavior, and access privileges with penalties for violations of the policy spelled out, including security violations and vandalism of the system. 


Some common rules that should be included with most AUPs are:

·        All sensitive or confidential data must be encrypted before sending across the web. For example, many doctors’ offices use instant messaging (IM) to communicate from the front desk to the back office. However, many don’t realize that this is a violation of HIPAA because IM is not a secure way to transmit information about a patient or their health conditions.

·        A restriction on sharing confidential information about the company, its clients or the people working there. With social media as popular as it is, you don’t want an employee writing all about the latest company scandal on their MySpace page; it’s just not good for business!

·        Prohibition against visiting web sites that contain pornography, racism, sexism, gambling, or e-mail with any such content sent from your business. Remember, even “innocent” jokes with racist content can leave a huge black mark on your company’s reputation.

·        Absolutely no downloading of music files or other programs that are not approved by management. “Innocent” screen saver programs and jokes often contain nasty viruses that could bring down your entire system or invite a hacker into your network.

Not only does an IAUP reduce wasted hours on the net, it can reduce bandwidth and equipment needs, as well as shield you, the business owner, from possible sexual harassment and other lawsuits arising from your employee’s inappropriate use of the web.


An AUP Is A Good First Step,

But It’s Only Half The Battle Won


Unfortunately, not everyone follows policies, and some accidentally will violate your AUP. To ensure company policies are being followed, businesses are choosing to monitor all Internet activity initiated by their employees using a web content filtering software.


Tools available today, like Cymphonics and Surf Control, make monitoring of employee Internet usage simple and easy. Most companies choose to regularly monitor summary level activity like hours connected to the web, number of sites visited, and illegal or banned sites visited by the company while leaving detailed transaction reviews as necessary on a case-by-case basis.


And if someone complains that this is a violation of their privacy, rest assured that nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s not only legal but good business.  After all, they are using your company assets and if employees are focused on productive work and minimize personal use of the Internet, you’re likely to never need to address their Internet usage. Just be sure to include a clause about Internet monitoring in your AUP and have your employees sign the agreement.


If you’d like a FREE comprehensive Internet Acceptable Use Policy template or would like to discuss the simple options available to monitor your employee’s Internet usage, contact me today via phone at 209-477-4390 or via email at  Don’t wait until it’s too late to put the tools in place.


10 Early Warning Signs Of Impending Computer Disasters


Computers rarely stop working overnight. In most cases, there are early warning signs that problems are brewing. Below are 10 surefire signs that you need to get a professional to investigate your network ASAP:

1. Your workstation or server starts running very slowly, freezes up, or crashes.

2. Your web browser has been changed to another strange browser you’ve never seen before.

3. You are getting an unusual amount of pop-up windows, even when you aren’t surfing the web.

4. You don’t know if every computer on your network has the most current virus definitions.

5. You don’t know if you have a firewall in place or the last time it was updated.

6. You haven’t attempted to restore your data from a backup tape or other storage device in awhile, and you aren’t checking your backup log for errors.

7. You receive e-mails accusing you of sending spam, and/or you find e-mail messages in your “outbox” or “sent” folder that you didn’t send.

8. Your computer starts making a grinding, clicking, or loud whirring sound.

9. The fan is constantly running.

10. You are getting a growing number of error messages, and you are forced to create work-arounds to complete certain work tasks.


If any of these signs are present, you should contact a pro immediately to investigate further!

The old saying of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is especially true in the world of computers and all things digital; and if you are like most businesses, your computer network is critical to the operation of your business so make sure you don’t procrastinate if any of these signs are present.


Ideally, you should perform regular health checks and maintenance on your network to make sure problems don’t crop up. Here’s why:

 Critical security updates need to be applied at least once a month to protect you from a constant flow of new hacker attacks.

 Firewall, virus and spyware protection need to be monitored and updated on a daily basis because new attacks are released daily.

 Your data backup system needs to be monitored and tested frequently to ensure easy data recovery in the event of loss. The rate of tape drive failure is 100%; that’s why you need to frequently monitor your backups.

 Servers and workstations need regular tune-ups to keep them running fast and error free.

 Monitoring of disk space is important to avoid data loss, crashes, and storage problems.

 Server event logs need to be monitored for early alerts to network issues.


One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is taking a reactive approach to network support and maintenance rather than a proactive one.


In other words, they wait until something stops working and THEN they call in the professionals to fix it. This approach not only costs more in the long run, but it also leaves you vulnerable to more devastating crashes such as data corruption and loss, virus attacks, and extended downtime. Even NEW computers and equipment need regular maintenance because new threats are constantly evolving.


Raymond Smith

Backing Up Your Data?

If Disaster Strikes, How Fast Could Your Company Be

Back Up And Running?

    You hear it all the time from us-back up your data, keep your virus protection current, and install and maintain a firewall to protect yourself from hackers and other online threats.

    However, while these precautions will certainly help you avoid problems, they CAN’T do anything if you don’t have a good backup and disaster recovery plan in place.

Are You A Sitting Duck?

    We all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; yet, disaster recovery planning often takes a distant second to the daily deadlines and pressures of running a business.

    That means that most businesses, including your own, may end up offline and without your data after a simple lightening storm.

    Don’t think that could ever happen to you? Consider this: “data-erasing disasters” can also take the form of office fires and broken water pipes, not just earthquakes, floods and tornadoes. If a fire started in your building, the parts that weren’t burned beyond recovery would probably be destroyed by the firemen’s efforts. But even more common is software corruption, hardware failures and human error!

Disaster Recovery Questions You Need To Answer

    A disaster recovery plan doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming or expensive. Start by asking yourself the following questions…

1.)  Do you back up your company’s data daily to both an onsite and offsite location?

2.)  Are you absolutely certain that your backup copy is valid, complete and not corrupt? How do you know for sure?

3.)  If disaster strikes, HOW would you get your data back, and how long would it take? In many cases it takes days and often weeks; what would you do during that period of time?

4.)  Do you have copies of all the software licenses and discs in a safe location that could be accessed in the event of having to rebuild your server?

5.)  Would you and your employees have a way to access your network remotely if you couldn’t get to the office?

6.)  Do you store important passwords in a secure place that company officers can access if you are unavailable?

7.)  Do you have a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) device in place to keep your network and other critical data operations running during a power outage?

    This is NOT a complete list, but it is a good start to get you thinking in the right direction.

Our FREE Disaster Recovery Plan Helps You Prepare

      Since it’s the New Year, we’ve decided to help our clients get their “IT house” in order by giving away a FREE Backup and Disaster Recovery Audit. At no charge or obligation, we’ll come to your office, review your current plan (or lack of one!) and provide a simple action plan on what you need to do to make sure your business can always be up and running.

But take note! We can only make this available to our clients and friends during the month of January; after that, the fee for this consultation will be $395. For more information, please contact our office at 209-477-4390 and ask for Raymond Smith, or e-mail us at

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