Thursday, February 18, 2016

Securing Your Computer

Maintaining the security of your computer can be a challenging task.  Hackers often seem to be one step ahead of computer users, even those who are following the best security practices.  However, securing your computer is essential to protecting your privacy, reducing the risk of identity theft, and preventing hackers from taking over your computer.   Clint Kiser of Kiser Computer Service, LLC, shared his recommendations for protecting your computer privacy.

Tips for securing your privacy:

1.     Update your operating system regularly.
Use firewalls, Anti-virus programs, and Anti-malware programs.
Kiser recommends, “NEVER, click on anything that claims it can fix computer viruses and NEVER call any phone numbers that pop up for technical support.”

3.     Update your browser with the latest version of the software.

4.     Keep all system software updated.
Kiser advises, “Don’t be misled by malicious update recommendations for Adobe and Java.  Don’t click updates for these programs that pop up in your browser.  Instead update through the taskbar (next to date/time) or update through the programs themselves.”
5.     Back up all your data.

6.     Do not open spam email messages, unexpected email attachments, and beware of embedded links in email messages.

7.     Encrypt your wireless network, entire drives, folders and files.

8.     Restrict software and set up administrative rights so that nothing can be installed on your computer without authorization.
9.   Use strong passwords.

Friday, September 25, 2015

SolTerra Communications, LLC Launches New Website, Brand Refresh, and Graphic Design Services


SolTerra Communications, a web design and video production company, has expanded their services and is now offering graphic, print, and identity design services.

With the addition of Solterra’s new artist and graphic designer, Adam Hall, Solterra has become a full service design company, offering corporate identity (logo) design, branding, and print design. Hall holds a Bachelor of Visual Communication (Graphic Design Major) from Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio with a Dean’s Recommendation of Honors. Hall also holds a Certificate in Web and Multimedia Design from the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio and retains an impressive portfolio that includes freelance art, corporate logo designs, catalogs, brochures, business cards, posters, and innovative web designs.

SolTerra has also officially launched a newly renovated website and company identity. The new mobile-responsive web design was developed using the latest advances in technology, HTML5, and is compatible with today’s browsers and mobile devices. “We recognize the importance of innovating and adapting to new technology; it is critical for every business,” commented Jeff Huxmann, Solterra Owner and Senior Producer. The new site,, is designed to make it easy for visitors to learn more about SolTerra, while also showcasing the company’s history of success in the industry.

The basis for the company’s new logo is derived from the ancient cultural symbols for the Sun and Earth. “These symbols have been used for thousands of years, from the time of the ancient Greeks. SolTerra’s new logo is a bit interpretive, and people may see different symbols. For me the new logo is both modern and a nod to ancient times,” explained Huxmann.

Previous Logo
New Logo

About SolTerra Communications

SolTerra Communications® of Ohio, LLC is a dynamic team of individuals creating innovative online solutions, video productions, and branding for businesses and individuals to help them effectively represent their business and the products and services they offer to generate business growth and improve reputation. SolTerra offers website hosting, development, design, maintenance, media integration, database-driven solutions, and graphic and print design. SolTerra is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in West Union, Ohio, but serves clients across the U.S. and Canada. For more information about web or video design/development and branding services, visit or contact 937-779-4412.

Jeffrey Huxmann
Owner/Senior Producer
SolTerra Communications, LLC

Thursday, July 9, 2015


When a website asks you to enter your credit card information, do you look to see if the web address begins with https:// ?  If it doesn't, you should never enter sensitive information like a credit card number.

There are two primary protocols used to transmit data through the internet for websites, http and https.

Http or the hypertext transfer protocol is the language used to send information back and forth between web servers and clients.  The important thing is the letter S which makes the difference between HTTP and HTTPS.  The problem with http is that it is vulnerable to people who might want to eavesdrop on your activity.  It may not be a serious problem if all you are doing is watching YouTube videos or googling for information.  The true problem arises when you are sending or receiving data that is confidential or sensitive.  For example, when you buy something on-line and pay for it with your credit card, your credit card number gets sent across the internet.  If you are using http for an on-line transaction it makes it very easy for malicious people to gain access to your financial information.

The Internet’s answer to ensure your confidential information is protected is https, a secured connection that transmits data over the internet in an encrypted form.  This security method means that even if someone is eavesdropping, the data they get would not be comprehensible or usable because they don’t have the means to decrypt it.  The entire message is decrypted only when it arrives at its designated location.  Https is used in many situations, such as log-in pages for banking, forms, corporate log-ins, and other applications in which data needs to be secure.  However, if not implemented properly, https is not infallible, and therefore it is extremely important for end users to be wary about accepting questionable certificates and cautious with their personal information while using the Internet.

So why don’t we convert everything to https so that everything is secured?   Although that is possible, transmitting data via https requires additional processing power to encrypt/decrypt the data.  This could cause massive slowdowns on the servers that process millions if not billions of data each day.  That is why https is only used in certain pages that contain sensitive information like credit card numbers or passwords.

Never enter sensitive information in an http website!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

Mobile internet usage is increasing dramatically.  According to Google, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers.  With this rising number of mobile device users, it’s extremely important that your website is mobile friendly.
Many businesses have two websites, one developed specifically for desktop users and the other for mobile users, but with the development of Responsive Web Design, you only maintain one website that can be accessed across mobile devices and computers.  Responsive web design allows the web designer to create a web page that “responds to” or resizes itself depending on the type of device it is being viewed through, whether an oversized desktop computer, a laptop, a 10-inch tablet, or a 4-inch smartphone screen.

Benefits of a Responsive Web Design:
• Google strongly recommends responsive web design, favoring mobile-friendly sites when ranking search results on mobile devices.  Google finds it easy to find, index and organize content from a single website than from two sites, and therefore boosting SEO rankings.

• Responsive websites load faster since they only use one URL and the same HTML code across all devices.
• With responsive web design, you only need one website for all devices, which eliminates the cost of maintaining two different websites and separate SEO campaigns for each.

• When there is just one website and URL, it's much easier for users to share, engage and interact with the content on the site as compared to a site that has different pages for mobile and desktop users.
Responsive websites have lower bounce rates because content and functionality is not compromised when viewed on different devices.  If a website isn't functioning on a mobile device, users get frustrated and leave.

A responsive design offers users a positive experience.  Users don't have to fool around with zooming and shrinking the text or images on the screen.  Instead, all of the content automatically adjusts to the device’s screen size. This makes it easier and more convenient for users to read and navigate on your site.   A mobile responsive website is easier to navigate, fill out forms, make reservations, make a purchase, view images or videos, and a linked phone number on the website will connect without dialing when using a mobile phone.
• A responsive design has the ability to increase mobile user conversion rates.  With many people doing online shopping from a mobile device, if a user has to do more work than needed to complete a conversion, it's less likely they will make a purchase.  According to Google's Think Insights on Mobile, whenever someone arrives on your mobile website and is frustrated, or doesn't see the content that they are searching for immediately, there's a 61% chance they will leave and go to another website. However, whenever a user has a positive experience with your mobile website, that individual will be 67% more likely to buy a product or use a service.

• With a responsive web design, your site is designed to look similar on different devices.  Although, the content and images slightly simplify or scale down, the elements and appearances are basically the same on all devices.
A responsive site gives you a competitive advantage showing that you know what it takes to meet the needs of the consumers.   48% of users stated to Google that when a site doesn’t function on their mobile device, it makes them feel that the company doesn’t want their business.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Does My Small Business Need a Website?

When was the last time you used a phone book to search for a product or service? The convenience of internet searching means fewer people are using printed books to find products and services.  So how does a consumer find you?  How do you advertise your products or services?

The success of small business is the heart of the American economy, yet so many small businesses do not have websites.  Today the internet is the number one source where consumers look for anything and everything.  Consumers are continually searching the internet for products and services and many times judge whether or not to do business with a company based on a business’ web presence or… lack of.
In my recent internet search for a local service provider, I found that many small locally owned businesses are not advertising on the internet.   In my attempt to find a local service provider, I googled some related key words for the service I was looking for, but didn’t get many valid results.  I then asked around the community for recommendations, and again visited the internet to check out the recommendations I had been given.  I found some very poor attempts at websites, but surprisingly most had no web presence at all!  However, I did find a few businesses that actually had very nice websites that provided the information I was looking for – i.e. location, services offered, experience, and contact information.   In the end, I decided to contact the businesses that made the investment into establishing a professional online presence primarily because it demonstrated their credibility.
A website may be your first chance at making a good impression on a potential buyer.  A website gives your business credibility, it shows that you are committed to your business and the customer is important to you.  Many times customers are more willing to do business with you because you have a website.
So should your business have a website, even if your business is small and sells products or services you don’t think can be sold online?  YES, without a doubt, if you have a business, you should have a website.
Nowadays, there is very little that can’t be sold over the internet.  Millions of shoppers are online, purchasing everything from books to computers to cars to real estate.  Although you don’t want to put all your marketing efforts into selling your goods online, if your product is an easy online sale, you should certainly be considering it.  At the very least, you should have a web presence so that customers, potential employees, business partners, and perhaps even investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or services you offer.
A website is a very valuable marketing tool and is actually a very inexpensive form of advertising.  It allows you to offer much more information about your products or services than other forms of advertising.   You can make changes to your website at any time, add photos, special pricing, publicize events, etc.  You can build relationships with your consumers via your website by sending emails and newsletters to advertise sales, special offers, and communicate other important information to your customers.  A website is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week supplying information about your business to potential customers.  At any time you can see how many people are viewing your website, what pages they viewed and how long they stayed on your site.
You need to have a professional-looking website to be taken seriously.   Since many consumers now search the internet for information before making a purchase, even from a brick-and-mortar store, your site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer.  With a well-designed website, your small business can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company.  No matter the size of your company, if you don’t have a website you’re losing business to other companies that do.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Web 101

Domain registration and web hosting are two separate processes.  Both need to be completed in order to create a live website.  A domain must be registered by a domain registration company and then that domain name must be hosted on the internet through a web hosting company.

You must type an “address” into your computer to look up information.  For example, to go to google you would type in “”  These addresses are a name or a number called domain names.  Every domain name has to be completely unique so that the internet knows the correct website to pull up for the user.  A domain registration gives you the rights to use that specific domain name.  Registering a domain name allows you to secure a name, but it does not allow you to host a website or utilize your email.  A site visitor uses your domain name to access your page or website directly with an easy to remember address instead of using a numeric IP address.  Before registering a domain name with a domain registrar, verify that they are a credible domain registration company.  One way to verify credibility is by making sure the domain registrar’s website is featured on the ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) Accredited Registrars List.

Many companies offer both domain registration and web hosting, however some offer only web hosting or domain registration.  You can choose to register your domain and host your website with the same company or register your domain with one company and host your site with another.

Web-Hosting is simply a powerful computer, constantly connected to the internet that manages data and processes user on-line queries around the world.   The computer called a “server” is managed by the hosting company so the hosting customers do not have to worry about server maintenance, upgrades and configuration.  Your hosting is the actual location which holds your page or website.  You must have a hosting service as a place for your site files to reside.  The site files are what your site visitors actually see when going to your site.  A web-hosting server knows how to read these files, which explain how the webpage looks or instruct the server to do a series of computations.  These computations are things like figuring out what blog article it’s supposed to send back to the viewer, or what forum post it’s supposed to send back.

Reliability and customer support are crucial to quality web hosting.  You should expect 99.9% uptime and also know that your host has a functional business model and that it is a stable company that is not just going to disappear someday.   Your hosting company should offer prompt customer service and provide expert technical support.

Each hosting company differs in the hosting features they offer with their hosting plans.  Some standard features that are usually offered: 
  • A specified amount of web space depending on your chosen package
  • Easy to use web site control panel
  • Online account management facility
  • Full 24/7 ftp access to upload your web files
  • Free domain transfer
  • Unlimited domain aliases
  • Webmail
  • Send and receive emails using your own email program

Friday, October 31, 2014

Is Your Website Search Engine Friendly?

The majority of web traffic is driven by the major search engines – Google, Bing and Yahoo.  Search techniques used by these search engines are becoming more and more complex as humanity, technology, lifestyle and everything about our world becomes more complex.  There are now more categories than ever before for search engines to compile and categorize.  Implementing effective Search Engine Optimization SEO within your site can increase the number of visitors to your website.

Search engines are smart, but they still need help.  Google, Yahoo and Bing are using Schema, special code that makes it easier for search engines to identify what a site, or even a paragraph, is all about.  It is applied to the content of a web page to define exactly what it is and how it should be treated.  Schema elements and attributes are added directly to the HTML code (the markup language used to create your web pages) of a page to provide the search engine crawlers with additional information.  Schema markup is extremely important to SEO because it helps search engines better identify the type of information on the pages of your website, and in turn, increase your visibility.

Including Schema structured data in your web pages provides richer search results in order to make it easier for users to find relevant information on the web.  One of the benefits to using Schema markup is that it can lead to enhanced search engine result listings called “rich snippets,” like the one below from the Internet Movie Database that shows user ratings for the Hobbit movie:

Here is part of the html code with the schema code highlighted that creates the star rating for this Hobbit post:

<div itemtype="" itemscope itemprop="aggregateRating">
Ratings:<span itemprop="ratingValue">8.0</span>
<span itemprop="bestRating">10</span>

The  itemprop="ratingValue" assigns the rating and the itemprop="bestRating" assigns the highest value.  So 8 out of 10 translates to a 4 of 5 star rating and google applies this math and comes up with a graphic to display next to the listing.

Investing in SEO can have an exceptional rate of return compared to other types of marketing and promotion.  A study by ComScore found that 93% of all internet traffic comes from a search engine.  Another study by Optify, Inc. showed that the top ranking website has an average click-through rate of 37% while 60% of the clicks go to the top three results.  People search for anything and everything on search engines and ensuring your website is capable of ranking high in the engines is crucial to your company’s marketing efforts.