Don’t Let Banking Online Make You the Next Fraud Victim

Online banking is a convenient way to manage money without the hassle of bank closing times or waiting for a cheque to clear. Yet there are risks with accessing financial information over the internet that shouldn’t be ignored. Numerous cyber criminals browse the web looking for personal data that can yield a cash payoff. All it takes is a few security oversights to make your account easy to hack and to turn you into the next target.

How to Stay Clear of Hackers

At Reputation Defender we warn our clients about the dangers of personal information becoming publicly available through careless online privacy. Data leaks can cause reputational fallout and they will also help a hacker to access your bank accounts and fraudulently transfer money. Here are some of the most important precautions you should take to stay safe whilst banking online:

• Avoid Public Networks – Never access a bank account on a public computer or a free Wi-Fi network. These are inherently insecure and may be regularly monitored by cyber criminals.
• Bank on a Single Device – Keep your banking limited to a personal laptop or an iPad that isn’t used by children or other people who may be careless online.
• Use Secure Passwords – A strong password is one that combines numbers, letters and symbols, but does not include any guessable information such as birthdays, names or addresses. It’s a good idea to change your password several times a year. If you have trouble remembering complicated passwords, invest in a password manager.
• Avoid Phishing Attacks – One common online scam is a fake notice advising that an account is insecure or the password has been reset by someone else. If you receive an unsolicited notice like this, never click on the link contained in the email. It likely contains a virus that will allow the scammer to steal your banking details. Instead, sign in via another secure app or call the bank to check your account status. Do not give out financial details in an email or over the phone. If someone is asking for this information they are not from your bank; they are a fraud.
• Keep a Close Eye on Accounts – Check into your account regularly to make sure you recognize all the transactions. Report any suspicious activity immediately so your bank can take action before further hacks take place.
• Set Privacy Controls on Social Media – This might not seem important for banking, but poor privacy elsewhere on the web can give a hacker the answer to many security questions (such as your mother’s maiden name, the name of your pet, your first car etc.). Details like this quickly become a reason for a thief to target your account.
• Protect Your Pin – Never give your pin to anyone, even someone you trust. Take measures to protect your pin in physical locations by shielding the console and checking for observers.
• Shred Physical Documents – Documents containing account numbers, social security numbers or any type of personal information should never be thrown in the trash.

Statistically, only a small number of people get hacked, yet this doesn’t mean criminals aren’t already checking out your account looking for a way in. Any account can be breached given enough time and effort, so the key is to put enough security measures in place so that criminals will lose interest.

How Can Social Media Help Business Strategy?

Social media is one of the most important, fastest growing parts of the internet. This term loosely refers to platforms and apps that allow users to create and share content, whilst at the same time participate in social networking. At first glance, social media might seem to be geared toward private individuals, but more and more businesses are finding these platforms to be a vital marketing asset.

Professional social media pages are key in any reputation management strategy. At Reputation Defender we help company brands to boost their online profile by improving search rankings and presenting a positive cohesive brand message. Official social media profiles are a target page one result, as well as a place to promote other content.

Social Media for Business

Business focused social media is all about using social channels to connect and engage with customers and build long term relationships. Of the many social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most important for focusing an initial business strategy.

The social media audience is vast. Globally, 1.55 billion people use Facebook per month; about 72 percent of all people active on the internet. Of these, 70 percent say they interact on a daily basis. By contrast, only 38 percent of Twitter users and 22 percent of LinkedIn account holders are active daily. None the less, Twitter is one of the most popular microblogging platforms with 341 million active monthly users, whilst LinkedIn is largely seen as the most official social media business directory.

Facebook

A business Facebook profile offers a chance to interact with customers on a personal level via a trusted platform. Followers will begin to see the business in the same way they view their friends. They’ll look forward to regular posts that are genuine and thoughtful.

At the same time, Facebook offers a way for new clients to find out important details about your business such as location, history and contact info. It’s important to claim your brand name as a keyword and link back to the company website through your business profile. You can also add a “Like us on Facebook” button to the company website. Facebook will offer different templates depending on the type of business to let you target the audience you want to reach.

Many Facebook features are designed to make the platform accessible and useful for business purposes. Call to action buttons introduced in 2014 offer suggestions for customer activity such as “contact us”, “book now” or “sign up.” One click will take the client straight to the desired page, so this is a very effective way of driving traffic to your website. Typical business posts can share brand-based videos, images and blog articles. A Facebook page can also be used to advertise a special offer or promote client feedback. Sponsored advertising campaigns disseminate material even more efficiently and ensures that all followers see all your posts, while Facebook Analytics will help to pinpoint your current activity level and target improvement.

Twitter

Like Facebook, Twitter can be used to interact with customers, promote material and increase awareness for your product. A business profile should promote the business name, target an important keyword and link back to the official company website. A logo and other professional images can give the account a more personal touch.

Tweets can be leveraged for business purposes by promoting a specific marketing message. Tools such as TweetDeck and Periscope allow for multimedia tweets, while the hashtag system targets a specific topic zone. Like Facebook, Twitter offers paid advertising for businesses that want to maximize the marketing aspect of their account and Twitter Analytics offers tools for analyzing strategies and measuring success.

LinkedIn

As a professional networking site, LinkedIn carries more authority than Facebook or Twitter. This platform offers the opportunity to connect with colleagues and industry leaders, recruit potential employees and gain referrals. Managers will need a personal page to set up a business profile on LinkedIn, so this is the perfect opportunity to build your own career along with the company’s reputation. A Premium Account offers enhanced opportunities for profile viewing and targeted searches.

Like Facebook and Twitter, a business profile on LinkedIn should include all the company’s details and link back to the website. LinkedIn allows several different administrators, so it’s easy to delegate account management tasks to other employees. Showcase Pages on LinkedIn lets you target additional keywords and highlight specific company products and services. You can also post job applications and send targeted email marketing.

Fine-tune Your Profiles

In contrast to traditional advertising, social media is about connecting personally with customers whilst sharing the brand message. Especially on Facebook and Twitter, it’s important to strike a balance between promotion and providing genuinely interesting content that will make people want to follow your page.

  • Keep advertising in check – Out of 7 posts, only 1 should be obviously promotional.
  • Ask questions – Find out which industry related topics interest your followers the most.
  • Post fun facts – You’ll gain authority and help clients learn more about what you do.
  • Provide valuable tips – People will keep following to learn more.
  • Offer rewards – Organize a contest or offer points for virtual check-ins at your business.

A dedicated group of social media followers is a valuable reputational asset for any business. It increases customer retention and provides a long term client base which will help to counteract negative publicity in the future.

How Can I Get People To View My Website?

Getting people to view your website is a vital part of any internet marketing campaign and also an important ORM tactic. A high organic click through rate (CTR) translates into conversions that will boost the company’s client base. While CTR isn’t formally listed as one of Google’s direct algorithmic ranking factors, it does indirectly affect the SERP and helps to determine whether a website will hold its place at the top of the search page.

Reputation Defender’s online brand promotion services include a wide range of strategies that will drive up traffic to your company’s official site. There are multiple reasons why people may be directed to your site, from finding it on a search page, to hearing it mentioned on social media, or seeing your name on a conference flyer.

Here are some of the ways to create buzz around your company site:

Become a Social Media Expert

Official social media profiles are a must for any company interested in developing an online profile. Once these pages are created, use them to generate activity and direct people back to your website.

  • Start with the basics – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and of course Google+.
  • Share articles – It’s important to share blog articles and other brand content.
  • Share pictures – Profiles on Instagram, Flickr, and Pinterest are good places to upload images that can be shared on other pages.
  • Include video content – Post videos to YouTube and share them on social media sites. Use Periscope and Facebook Live to incorporate a live feed to your page.
  • Create content that is innately shareable – Use SlideShare or design infographics that maximize the visual impact of the message.
  • Add links – Make sure there is a website link on all social media profiles.
  • Call to action – Adding these buttons on Facebook and other social platforms will let you direct traffic to a specific action page.
  • Add social sharing buttons on blog articles and website pages – This will encourage people to link to your content on their own pages.
  • Re-share articles – Don’t assume all followers have seen an article after one share. Buffer and Edgar are 2 apps that will automatically re-share content at scheduled times.
  • Do a “Share Exchange” – Reach out to a similar sized account and offer to share their content (including a website link) if they will return the favor. This can open up reach to a whole new audience.
  • Don’t forget about these sites:
  • Quora – Generate material by answering questions that relate to your industry.
  • Reddit – There are a lot of rules against spamming on Reddit but if you take the time to build a profile that’s known for posting genuine and informative content, there can be a big payoff in site traffic. Once you have a following, try showing off your expertise by hosting an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session.
  • Product Hunt – Submit a physical or digital product to Product Hunt’s “list of cool new things”.
  • Lesser known social media – Tumblr, Snapchat, Buzznet, WhatsApp, About.me etc.
Target Your Email Audience

There’s a narrower exposure window but email can still be an important way of gaining regular customers who visit your site often.

  • Email outreach – Send targeted emails about new products on your site and include a link.
  • Embedded link – Put a website link in your email signature.
  • Autoresponder – Add a link and an invitation to find out more on the company website.
Get the Company in the News

If your brand is in the news regularly, people will start to recognize it as an authority.

  • Pitch an interesting new product – Blogs are always looking for good stories. They may be thrilled to learn about something that would interest their audience and you will subsequently gain exposure.
  • Google News – If the site puts out regular updates, you may be able to register it a news source with Google. There are specific content rules here, since Google is resistant to news releases that are basically marketing, but sites that comply will gain a big audience.
  • HARO (Help a Reporter Out) – Sign up to be interviewed as an expert in your industry and link to the article on your website and social profiles.
Convert Offline Contacts

In person, contacts can turn into website traffic when people go online to learn more about your business or product. Here are some ways to make this happen:

  • Business cards – Create a personal or brand business card that includes your company’s website address.
  • Posters – Display the website address prominently in all physical locations.
  • Pass out promotional gifts – Hand out pens, stickers or tote bags bearing the company logo and website.
  • Build a mailing list – Ask face-to-face customers for their email.
  • Network – Attend an industry related conference. Share information about the conference on social media pages and write an article about your experience. You could even offer to sponsor relatable events.
  • Help customers get to know you – Organize a workshop or conference where people can learn more about your product and how to use it.

Generating fresh website traffic will be an ongoing campaign. It begins with generating interest in the brand through genuine content and personal interaction. It is then important to give clear and easy directions to additional information via the company’s website. Use a variety of platforms, as suggested in the list above, to give the company the best chance of connecting with the most people. For more help with building an effective campaign, contact our online marketing experts at Reputation Defender.

UK E-mail: uksales@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (+44) 800 131 0700

US E-mail: support@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (888) 851-9609

What Is Off-Page SEO?

You’ve probably heard the terms “on-page” and “off-page” SEO. On-page SEO is individual page optimization aimed at improving search engine ranking. It includes techniques such as keyword usage, meta-tags and webpage analytics, as well as basic content quality and formatting. Off-page SEO, on the other hand, is a bit harder to pinpoint. Off-page SEO is often associated “with link-building, but it is not only that.” Off-page SEO can include any rank building activity not carried out on or related to the page itself. At Reputation Defender we use many off-page techniques to help make sure the internet is reflecting an accurate and positive image of the client’s brand name.

How SEO Professionals Influence Ranking

Google discloses many direct ranking signals that can automatically improve search results. Of these, keyword usage, language and load speed are on-page factors controlled directly by the administrator, whilst incoming or backlinks are the most important off-page factor. SEO professionals do not just focus on direct ranking signals however; they also employ many indirect methods to add incoming links and boost search results placement. These off-page techniques can include anything from activity carried out elsewhere on the web, to physical location-based networking.

Some Off-Page Techniques and How They Work

Off-page techniques are aimed at increasing interest on your site which will boost organic links, either directly or indirectly.

  • Become a guest writer for other blogs – Anytime you generate content on another domain it can be linked back to your site, however incoming links hosted by a third-party will have added authority. You’ll also gain a new audience that may visit your site regularly and add other links.
  • Build Relationships – Guest blogging will be more effective if it’s reciprocal. Offer to host another author or share their content in return for a slot on their site.
  • Co-occurrence and co-citation – If a page mentions your brand in connection with an important keyword, Google will associate them and this will help to raise the site’s ranking for that term. This can also occur as a citation when an article mentions both your site and another that is more authoritative in your industry.
  • Interact with your audience – Figure out the brand’s target audience and then a devise a way to connect with these people. Social media pages are a prime example. Follower feedback will let you know what clients are looking for and help you design content that serves their needs. Encouraging followers to share your pages will directly add to incoming links.
  • Add value to the discussion – Share your expertise with clients in ways that will really help them. Reddit is an excellent site for going beyond marketing and posting in-depth content on topics that really matter to people. It may take longer to gain a following in this way but genuinely good content is more likely to attract long-term clients who read, share and link-to your content.
  • Advertising – Basic, old-fashioned advertising is actually an off-page SEO technique. If you don’t let people know about your brand, they won’t be able to look you up online. This can take the form of flyers, billboards, business cards etc. Make sure the website is listed in large letters with a tag directing clients online for more information.
Don’t Forget On-Page SEO

Off-page SEO won’t work unless you’ve already put work into optimizing the sites internal pages and ensuring quality content. It’s important to interlink target SEO pages according to hierarchy so that incoming links to the homepage will transfer SEO throughout the entire site. Pages that are visually striking and contain quality readable content with appropriate keywords will also be more likely to attract organic links and mentions. For more on on-page and off-page SEO, talk to the experts at Reputation Defender.

UK E-mail: uksales@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (+44) 800 131 0700

US E-mail: support@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (888) 851-9609

Online Abuse – What Does It Look Like in Other Parts of the World?

A recent Guardian investigation has looked at how internet-based harassment is handled in various countries around the globe. The study was a part of the Guardian’s “Web We Want” series, which focused on the “dark-side” of online activity. At Reputation Defender, we assist clients struggling with online abuse, so we have direct experience of the difficulties inherent in prosecution, especially across international boundaries where a patchwork of different laws apply; few of which are really geared toward internet-based crime. Our privacy services work to help clients remove unwanted information whenever possible, but instances of online abuse continue to grow making this a pressing issue for legislatures around the world.

This is a brief look at how online abuse is dealt with in six different countries as reported by the Guardian:

China and Russia – The Horror Stories
  • China – China has at least 688 million people using the internet and in spite of the government’s well-known censoring capacity, few resources are spent on preventing or stopping abuse. Cyberbullying on social media sites happens frequently. A recent study across approximately 1,500 secondary school students found that 57 percent of respondents had experienced bullying, whilst 35 percent admitted to have taken part in the mistreatment. Mass attacks in which large numbers of people band together to destroy one person’s reputation are common. These are known as “human flesh” search engines or search groups. They often occur in response to a minor offense, but there is usually little proof and the attack goes far beyond the perimeters of the original crime committed. The case of Ding Jinhao, a teenager who allegedly defamed an Egyptian temple by carving his name into the wall, is one example. Thousands of strangers shared personal details and accusations across the web and his school website was hacked. A public apology from his family did little to undo the damage.
  • Russia – In Russia, the government also pays little attention and may even be behind many forms of online abuse. So called “troll-farms”, which are probably linked to government connections, are bursting with professional bloggers writing to fill the internet with spam propaganda and harass leaders who criticize the Kremlin. Opposition blogger, Ruslan Leviev, says he has faced numerous internet threats and phone calls after a pro-government site published his address and phone number. Leviev is unsure how sympathetic the police would be and says they rarely follow up on this type of internet case.
Europe – Moving in the Right Direction
  • United Kingdom – In the UK, legislation is beginning to tackle the issue of online abuse. In April 2015, a law criminalizing revenge pornography went into effect. Revenge porn is the public sharing of sexually explicit material without consent. This type of individually targeted attack is one of the most common forms of abuse in the UK. It begins as a personal vendetta, but much like the “human flesh” search engines in China, it can spread far beyond people who know the original target. In the 6 months after the stricter law was introduced, the police received almost 200 reports of revenge porn in Britain and Wales, leading to 13 convictions. Most victims of these revenge porn cases were women, whilst the majority of perpetrators (12 out of 13) amongst those convicted were men. The new law is expected to continue reducing instances of revenge porn, however these cases can still be difficult to prove. One particular clause that requires proof that the offender “intended to cause distress” makes conviction more difficult.
  • Sweden – In June 2015, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (NCCP) published a study showing that only 4 percent of the reported cases of online abuse actually result in conviction. This is because either the offense cannot be classified as criminal under existing laws, or because there is not enough evidence to identify the perpetrators. The NCCP found that, like the UK, most cases of abuse in Sweden were targeted: 44 percent of instances reported by women were fuelled by an ex-partner, whilst half of the cases reported by children were carried on by someone they knew from school. Men were more likely to be victims of defamation that included a criminal accusation, while women faced more sexually orientated abuse. One well-known Swedish case from 2012 did result in prosecution. Two teenage girls took revenge pornography to a whole new level when they invited teenagers in the local city of Gothenburg to send photos of other teens to their Instagram account, accompanied by testimony of alleged sexual activity. This resulted with a collection of 200 photos, usually with a name attached and an allegation of sexual misconduct. The site quickly sparked a brawl at the local school. The two girls were tried the following year and found guilty of defamation. Under juvenile law they were sentenced to community service and a payment of compensation to each of the thirty-eight  victims.
Elsewhere in the World
  • Australia – Australian law directly prohibits “menacing, threatening or harassing” via a “carrier service” such as Facebook, but recent cases suggest that this law is not well enforced by police. One woman who accused a man of making a rape threat via Facebook said the local authorities were “not responsive to her allegations” and seemed to have little understanding of how Facebook worked. Specific provisions can vary in different states and territories; in some cases “mere words” are not taken seriously, whilst in others they may be considered as assault. In February 2016, a Senate committee recommended a new law addressing revenge porn specifically, but as yet none exists.
  • United States – In 2014, a Pew study found that 40 percent of internet users had first-hand experience of harassment – with young women being the most common target. Well known cases exist, such as Anita Sarkeesian; the feminist gaming activist who has received repeated death threats, yet little action has been taken. Laws vary from state to state, but few are aimed at directly targeting online harassment. Like Australia, police often show little understanding or interest when reports are made. In 2015, the Supreme Court decided in favor of defendant Anthony Elonis, who threatened to kill his ex-wife on Facebook. According to the court, there was no proof Elonis intended to follow through with the threats, therefore the incident did not constitute a crime. It is generally considered a defeat for online privacy and safety activists. However law professor, Danielle Citron, pointed out that the case did set a precedent for online harassment to be considered in the same category as other threats, which could help with successful prosecution in other cases.