Bing Ads Phishing Scam Hi-Jacks Google Search Using Google Adwords Loophole

Do you trust Google search with navigating you to your trusted sites?

Most people do. But you shouldn’t. Or at least not without doing your due diligence.

This scam specifically targets Bing Ads advertisers but this loophole can be exploited for your online banking, financial institutions, email accounts social media accounts and anything you can think of that contains sensitive information. The hackers have swindled at least a hundred thousand dollars of which that have been confirmed from multiple undisclosed but reliable direct sources of mine.

I have broken this article into three critical sections:

  • What is a phishing scam?
  • How was money stolen using this phishing scam?
  • How can you prevent getting scammed and swindled of your hard earned money?

What is a Phishing Scam?

By definition, a phishing scam an email that falsely claims to be a legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information to be used for identity theft. The Bing Ads phishing scam extends the mechanism used for phishing from email to search, specifically Google search.

How Was Money Stolen in the Bing Ads Phishing Scam?

The Bing Ads advertiser would type in bing ads into Google, or a similar keyword. The advertiser, which is the business owner or proxy of the business owner, will click into the first link that comes up.


Bing Ads Phishing Scam

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Leveraging Seasons, Holidays, and Special Events to Generate Publicity and Traffic

Within the marketing world there are several times of the year that call for celebrations and a chance to show true innovation: holidays, seasonal changes, and special events. Knowing how to capitalize on the latter times can help your business generate additional positive publicity and more website traffic. In fact, in 2014 alone the top three retail sales events occurred around holidays and seasonal changes. The 2014 winter holidays generated $602.1 Billion in revenue, back to school and the fall season generated $72.5 Billion in revenue, and Mother’s Day brought in an astounding $19.9 Billion (sorry Dad’s you racked in only $12.6 Billion in sales).

Top Ways to Use Holidays, Seasonal Changes, and Special Events to Generate Website Traffic

To help you capitalize on the marketing potential for holidays, seasonal changes, and special events we have gathered together a few industry-expert tips.

The Holidays Are a Time for Publicity Marketing

The best part about a holiday is that you have instant access to hosting holiday-themed giveaways. Whether it is a large incentive or a smaller item, free items are always popular amongst consumers and always generate additional brand publicity. In this vein, you can create specialized themed pages for additional holiday Search Engine Optimization (SEO) value. The landing pages should be engaging and filled with user generated content, so that the 59 percent of consumers who are happy to share brand products for a simple reward, will continue to publicize your brand’s holiday-themed giveaway landing pages.

The holidays can also be successfully marketed through the following tactics:

  • Create holiday themed content for your blog. This content should engage with users and encourage them to partake in the conversation. The more connected the user the higher the website traffic.
  • Optimize your best pages and products. Know where buyers are going to be and optimize accordingly to boost publicity and site traffic.
  • Enhance your website checkout. The majority of brands lose consumers on the checkout page; don’t be one of them.

The Seasons Are a Time for Change

Bob Dylan may have coined the phrase “the times they are a changin'” but the seasons are also constantly in flux. Seasonal changes are the perfect time to host a marketing campaign that drives brand publicity. For example, partake in a widely publicized charity event. You can use the event’s publicity, combined with your own marketing efforts to truly connect with individuals on a whole new level.

At the start of each new season you should take a fresh look at your consumer base. Are they comprised of baby boomers ore millennials? Knowing the difference can help you to create highly targeted ads that will drive more traffic to your site. To capitalize on this idea, here are a few unique ideas:

  • Combine social trends with user generated content. A recent HubSpot report shows that user generated content is very likely to improve your sales to millennials (who are soon to be the biggest buying force on the Internet).
  • Run a multi-social media campaign. Use popular networks like: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Vine to create a multi-dimensional campaign that starts and ends with your site.
  • Ask customers to leave reviews on your website. It is great to have Yelp or Google+ reviews, but it is even better to have reviews directly on your website. In fact, starting in 2013 90 percent of consumers stated that their buying decisions were influenced by online reviews. Make the reviews count and improve your website traffic.

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Sauce Labs Review: Cross Browser Testing Across Every Desktop, Tablet and Mobile Platform

While you can resize your screen and use browser emulation such as the Toggle Device Mode within the Inspect Element tool in Google Chrome, you can get an idea of how your responsive website looks across different devices, there are still quirks within each device operating system that will render specific elements differently. To get an idea of how your website actually looks across the different platforms, you would need to test on the actual device or have an emulator that emulates everything from the operating system level—and that is exactly what Sauce Labs offers:

Pros:

  • Affordable for small business owners, entrepreneurs, web designers and web developers
  • Ability to rotate certain device platforms including iPhone and iPad
  • Automated testing is available for tech start ups and larger businesses
  • Cross platform test across virtually any major OS and browser
  • Can test across multiple OS (operating systems) simultaneously and toggling between OS by clicking the corresponding Tabs
  • Ability to view another user’s quality assurance session with Spy feature
  • Ability to create sub accounts
  • Detailed logs so you can recreate any previous environment and runtime settings via Appium Log and Metadata
  • Highly scalable for quality assurance professionals and large companies with the Selenium automation support

Cons:

  • Automated Testing is complex and not easily deployable by the average entrepreneur, business owner or webmaster
  • Cannot see in 100% zoom of emulation OS, which causes the screen elements to display blurry
  • Hard to manually log multiple bugs individually via video Snapshots since it captures the whole session with Manual Testing

Ratings:

Accuracy
Features
Pricing
Usability
Overall

Screenshots:



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Google Mobile Friendly Algorithm

This is a continuously updated blog post on the Google Mobile Friendly Algorithm that is scheduled to roll out on 4/21/2015.

The Google Mobile Friendly algorithm change will affect websites that are not mobile friendly. Google urges business owners to shift to responsive websites or at minimum, have a mobile website. Websites that are not mobile friendly will lose their rankings in mobile search, which makes up the majority of searches today.

Read my article published on Bloomberg Business:

bloomberg-business-logo

Yan S. Huang shares his tips to prepare for the Google Mobile Friendly algorithm change that rolls out beginning 4/21/2015:

1. Check Health of Your Website in Google Webmaster Tools

A. Setup: If you do not have Google Webmaster Tools, have your webmaster set it up. It should take no more than 15 minutes, assuming they have proper access to your website.

B. Adding URL Aliases: You want to add all variations of your website URL to Google Webmaster Tools including www.*, https://* and https://www.*. for e-commerce websites and m.* for your mobile website.

C. Check Important Updates: Once logged into Google Webmaster Tools, go to Messages to check if there are any issues that Google wants you to fix.

D. Check Crawl Errors: Click into Crawl and then Crawl Errors. Be sure to check under the Desktop, Smartphone, Feature phone tabs and underneath each device category, check the Server error, Access denied, Not found and Blocked sub tabs, if it displays errors.

E. Check Pages Indexed: Click into Google Index and then Index Status to see if the “Total indexed” reflects on how many pages in your website, roughly. If this number does not match up, check your sitemap.xml and possibly robots.txt, if there are any access denied pages.

2. Check Your Website Using The Google Mobile Friendly Test Tool

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

In rare occasions, if the Mobile Friendly Test tool indicates that your website is mobile friendly but Google Webmaster Tools indicates otherwise, listen to Webmaster Tools.

3. Check Your Website on a Mobile Device

The best way to see if a website is truly mobile friendly is to check on a smart phone and tablet, preferably on iPhone, iPad and Android. I have seen many occasions of web developers, especially for small businesses, launching responsive websites that appeared broken on an iPhone. It turned out their only method of testing was resizing their web browser window. This should be the first but of many quality assurance use cases.

 

Convert Word Doc to HTML

Convert Word Document to Clean HTML

Often times, I receive either website copy or press release articles in a Word document with links and formatting within it. The manual way of converting it to HTML would be to copy and paste all of the verbiage from the Word doc into Notepad or TextEdit in plain text, and then start replacing the special characters such as double quotes, apostrophes, etc., and adding the paragraph tags and formatting such as <strong> and <em> or <b> and <i>. If the copy is going on a WordPress site or a platform that automatically converts new lines into paragraphs, then you can omit adding <p> or <br /> tags.

The good news is I have a tool that will help boost your productivity in converting Word documents to clean HTML:

Convert Word Doc to HTML

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How to Find Out Competitors’ Website Traffic

Do you want to get a traffic estimate of your competitors? This would give you a broad understanding of where your website stands in contrast to your competition. It would also be beneficial to get a website traffic estimate for any websites you plan to enter an advertising or link exchange partnership. This would serve as a research tool to verify the traffic they are reporting to you.

Here are two websites that I recommend:

  1. Site Worth Traffic
  2. Similar Web

I ran a test across a series of websites where I have Google Analytics access and generally speaking, Site Worth Traffic reflected more accurately whereas Similar Web was more liberally. However, with a small fraction of the websites that I tested, the estimated traffic readings were way off on both sites so use these tools with a grain of salt.

I would also recommend cross referencing the traffic estimates with the website’s Alexa Rank. Alexa.com does not provide a traffic estimate but a ranking system in relation to other websites across the web where the higher the rank number, the more traffic they probably get. For example, if someone says their website gets 5 million a month but has an Alexa Rank of over 1 million, then you know they are full of it.

Similar Web

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Mass Ping Services and Mass Ping URL List

The purpose of ping scripts or services is to rapidly have search engines detect a new website or blog. Often times, Google is pretty good at detecting new websites, especially if you run a search query for your domain name. You can also add your website to Google Webmaster Tools and go to Crawl > Fetch as Google.

The benefit of mass pinging is to stimulate the discovery process, especially for all of the additional smaller search engines. If you’re lucky, you might also get some temporary back links from crawler sites such as Alexa.com, depending on the list the ping script or service uses.

Here are two free services for general SEOs:

  1. Rapid Indexer by Index Kings
  2. Website Submitter by IMTalk.org

If you’re an advance SEO and are familiar with Scrapebox, you can download my mass ping sites list, which is very comprehensive and has 50,000+ URLs. Please note I am against using Scrapebox to generate blog commenting backlinks, as those are spammy and can lead to getting de-indexed on Google.

Download Mass Ping List

IM Talk Website Submitter

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How To Find Files That Take Up Most Space

Hard drive running low on disk space? There are programs that will go through and empty your computer’s cache and temporary files. The problem is you may still have a bunch of unnecessary files taking up space. To identify these culprits taking up disk space, I recommend downloading WinDirStat, which stands for Windows Directory Statistics. After running the analysis, I found a ton of both automatically saved files and forgotten files generated from my screen recording software, GoPro Studio and VMWare—I was able to clear up 80GB of disk space.

Download WinDirSTat

Disk Inventory X is the alternative for Mac and KDirStat is the alternative for Linux.

WinDirStat creates a tree map of your hard drive where items that take up large amounts of disk space are take up more space on the map visually and vice versa, giving you a visual diagram of your hard drive space allocation. You can click into the large blocks and if they are files that you no longer need, you can right click, go to Explorer Here and then delete the file.

How To Find Files That Take Up Most Space

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Majestic SEO Review

Majestic SEO is a powerful back link analysis tool. Majestic SEO is in my plethora of go-to SEO tools when I take on an SEO project to do historical SEO research on their website and their competitors.

Pros:

  • Easy to get overview idea of when your competitors’ were aggressive and passive with their back link campaigns with their Fresh Index, Historical Index, Normalized, Cumulative and Non-Cumulative views
  • Unlimited reporting and data for websites that you own once you are on subscription once you very the website
  • Outperforms Moz’s Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, Monitor Backlinks and Google Webmaster Tools in terms of the quantity of back links discovered
  • Trust Flow and Citation Flow are neat proprietary metrics, although I do not know if I would put this above other metrics such as Domain Authority
  • Majestic SEO has a Google Chrome plugin called Majestic Backlink Analyzer that displays detailed SEO information on the website that you are visiting
  • Flexible and relatively affordable payment plans in comparison to Moz’s Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs.com

Cons:

  • There is some overlap in the way they organize their data which makes it confusing. They have folders, buckets, downloads, advanced reports and standard reports
  • While the Historic Index contains a very thorough volume of data, most of this may create additional noise rather than insight. I have noticed on multiple occasions that a website without canonical tags get counted thousands of times, which technically is the website owner’s responsibility but regardless, the numbers do get inflated.
  • The way they present the data isn’t necessary the most user friendly so in order to sort through their data, often times, I find myself exporting the CSV file and then doing my own analysis in Excel

Takeaway:

Majestic SEO is undeniably powerful and outperforms it’s competitors in terms of quantity of backlinks that it finds. The drawback is the UI is not as intuitive as it could be so analysing the data does take more time than I prefer.

Ratings:

Accuracy
Features
Pricing
Usability
Overall

Screenshots:


Majestic SEO Review

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HTTPS for SEO Tips

What is HTTPS? It stands for Hyper text Transfer Protocol Secure and is the secure variation of HTTP, which is the protocol you use to browse websites. HTTPS adds a layer of security by encryption all of the data transferred between you and the website. Unlike many other factors pertaining to influencing organic SERP rankings, this one has been officially confirmed as a ranking signal by Google.

My Tips:

  • Keep realistic expectations. Implementing SSL will not sky rocket your SERP rankings. Personally, I am skeptical the influence will be significant.
  • If you are doing this for the SEO brownie points, go with something economical such as Rapid SSL or Comodo SSL
  • Add the HTTPS version of your domain name to Google Webmaster Tools by using the standard “Add a site” button and typing https://yourdomain.com
  • Change absolute paths that reference to HTTP to relative paths. Otherwise, you may get SSL warning errors telling you there are unsecured items on your page.
  • After you have moved your website to SSL, Google recommends that you use the Qualsys SSL Labs tool to verify the status of your HTTPS.

My Tips for Business Owners:

  • Have your web host do the installation for the SSL certificate
  • Have your webmaster change the absolute paths to relative paths, and add the HTTPS version to Google Webmaster Tools

My Tips for Geeks:

  • I prefer to use /folder/file.jpg as oppose to folder/file.jpg when I am referencing files because it references from the root directory of the website so you do not have to worry about references breaking if you use slashes as part of your custom URLs for SEO.
  • If you have iframe or embedded elements, you may want to consider stripping the http: or https: so instead of http://example.com/iframe.html or https://example.com/iframe.html, you would reference to //example.com/iframe.html and this will pull up the same protocol as being accessed from the parent page.

Lastly, why do I think Google wants all sites to have HTTPS?

Accordingly to Google, they want websites to be safer but the problem with that is most websites that have e-commerce or transact sensitive information already have HTTPS. I don’t buy that explanation.

One of the inherent problems with website analytics tracking is search query data cannot be passed from HTTPS to HTTP, and Google Analytics is no exception. That means if somebody is logged into Google, Yahoo or Bing or simply goes to the HTTPS version of the search engines, types a search query and then lands on your website, Google Analytics isn’t able to capture that information. Notice in Google Analytics, sometimes you see “(not provided)” as the Keyword? That is the reason why. By having people to migrate their sites to HTTPS, Google will have access to data that they did not have before.


SSL for Search Engine Optimization