How to exclude semalt from Google Analytics

Google Analytics Semalt

There is a bot going around poisoning thousands of Google Analytics data with referral spam for semalt. As far as I can tell this is a pointless service. There is a useful blog posts on how to block it using htaccess. The problem is it can upset your referral reporting and bounce rate.

iIf you are unable to block using htaccess still want to remove it from your Google Analytics it is fairly simple. While viewing your statistics click Admin then Filters. You want to create a new Custom filter with the details set as per my screenshot. This should then stop reporting on any referral traffic from semalt. Existing data will remain but future reports should no longer contain it.

How to keep your Twitter account safe

There are a lot of people on the web who want to do nasty things. One of those nasty things is trying to hack in to your twitter account. They will try and do this by convincing you “verify your password” or get you to authorise an app via twitter.

Here are a few hints and tips on keeping safe when using twitter and not letting it fall in to evil hands.

Check you are on

Whenever you are using twitter make sure you are on the actual twitter website. Because twitter using an EV SSL Certificate this is now a simple check.

You should check whenever you are logging in, going to enter your password or posting a tweet.

If you look in the Address bar you will see the phrase Twitter, Inc in green. It may looks slightly different depending on your browser. The Twitter name should be in green (Internet Explorer will turn the whole address bar green). If it does not look like this then you may not be on the twitter website. Do not do anything to authorise your account or log-in.

If you are using the twitter mobile app it can be very difficult when you click a link to verify you are on the twitter website due to how it is displayed. If you check the top part of your screen you should see the URL.

The example below shows that you are NOT logging in to twitter. The URL will Always start with

Check any authorised applications

While using twitter you may have authorised other applications to use your twitter account. This could have been a “Log in with Twitter” button or a popular photo sharing application. You should periodically check the Apps you have authorised and Revoke any you no longer use or that you do not recognise.

To check the Apps you have authorised either click here or while logged in to Twitter Click Settings > Apps.

Unusual Messages

Often hack attempts come from people you know (which normally means they have been hacked). You will receive a Direct Message or mention asking you to check out a link. The wording is often strange and most likely not how that person would normally write. For example “I figured I’d show you this [link] a must view!” If you get such a message and you really want to click the link make sure you follow the above to check you are on Twitter. Alternatively contact the person who sent you the message to verify if it is genuine.

You have been hacked

If you find you have been sending messages to others or you believe you have been hacked make sure you change your password. Do this via your computers web browser and manually type in the address bar.

What is SuperFast North Yorkshire – SFNY?

The aim of SuperFast North Yorkshire (SFNY) is to enhance the broadband infrastructure of the region with 90% of the regions population receiving  broadband services greater than 20mbps.

They are achieving this in partnership with BT and NYNET. To help boost the uptake of superfast broadband they are running a series of workshops, training events and providing business mentors that provide help with using the many internet based services available.

Access to the training sessions and business mentors is completely free. For more information visit the SFNY website

Personally I have been invited to sit on the SFNY steering group (first meeting in September). The aims of the group are to help SFNY provide the appropriate services and ensure value for money is received from the ERDF funding they have received. If you have any comments or issues you would like raising at the steering groups you can make those on the blog below or contact me.

The 4 steps you need to take to comply with the new cookie law

The EU Directive on website privacy came into effect on 26 May 2012. The so called ‘Cookie Law’ has – to no-one’s surprise – been woefully implemented by the EU. In addition, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has provided very non-specific information about how to comply. This has led to a lot of confusion and many people simply saying they will a) ignore the directive b) file it in their ever-increasing ‘stupid legislation’ folder.

On D-Day (May 25th) the ICO posted some additional clarification on its website. My interpretation of this is that the ICO has realised 99% of websites were simply going to ignore the law and that web browsers do have the ability to determine what cookies can be set. This is something the industry has been saying all along. (There was also the small matter of 99% of Government websites not complying with the new law – something else the industry had repeatedly pointed out.)

If you can stomach listening to how the ICO has spent 18 months preparing for this law yet failed to provide any clear guidance (another surprise) here’s 11 minutes 46 seconds of Dave Evans from the ICO waffling. (Warning: watching the video sets a cookie!)

If you skip to 08:30 in the video (the only part worth watching) Dave Evans kindly says we can use the options configured in a user’s browser to determine implied consent. So the ICO will accept implied consent, despite saying previously it would not do so. This is what’s technically known as a humiliating u-turn.

So what are my recommendations for compliance?

  1. Place a prominent link to your Privacy Policy on your website
  2. Make sure your Privacy Policy clearly states what cookies your site uses
  3. Tell the user that by continuing to use your website they have consented to your Privacy Policy and the use of cookies. You could also include this in your website terms
  4. Make sure the link to your Privacy Policy is on every page and that it’s easy to find

If you are struggling to come up with a suitable Privacy Policy, take a look at our new product the TRUSTe Privacy Policy. By answering a few simple questions about your website a carefully worded and expertly displayed Privacy Policy will be generated, providing a means for your visitors to manage their own cookie preferences. No coding knowledge is required. For an example take a look at the Privacy Policy for my website.

Tidy up your Inbox with Boomerang

I am a die hard Gmail fan. Google Apps is the power behind my business. I do not struggle with Outlook crashing or taking 10 minutes to start up. I can access my emails, contacts, calendars and documents from anywhere with an internet connection. If you had not guessed – I love it!
I try my best to be inbox zero (see Managing Your Inbox). However there are times I get an email and think ‘I wish I received that tomorrow morning when I had time to deal with it’. I am sure you feel the same. Well there is an amazing tool called Boomerang. This lets you select an email and ask it to disappear but come back in to your inbox in 2 hours, tomorrow, next week or anytime you specify. Check out this video clip for more information.

If you use Gmail then you have to install this add-on!

Don’t worry if you are still using the frustratingly slow and archaic Outlook. There is hope – you could always switch to Google. Alternatively there is an Outlook plugin.

Now excuse me while I procrastinate some emails!

7 Constructive Ways For SEOs To Use Pinterest

  1. Connect with relevant users. Comment on posts, cc users with @mentions, repin original content, or “like” pins when it’s not appropriate to repin. Engage with other users as you would on any other social media site. One of Pinterest’s huge advantages is its relatively young age — your outreach efforts may get much more attention on Pinterest than they would on a saturated network like Twitter or Facebook.
  2. Use Pinterest for linkbuilding outreach campaigns. Thunder SEO’s Monique Pouget wrote a terrific guide on creating linkbuilding personas with Pinterest.
  3. Optimize your page to get found by other Pinterest users. Trick out your Pinterest page by linking to your website and optimize your “about” section with relevant keyboards.
  4. Expand your brand-controlled search results. When someone searches your brand, your Pinterest profile can appear in the SERPs along with your site and your other social media profiles, so you’ve now got another brand-controlled site to appear on the first page (always useful for brand reputation monitoring). Make sure your Pinterest page is set to show up on SERPs by ensuring “Hide your Pinterest profile from search engines” is switched OFF in your account settings.
  5. Focus on targeted, brand-friendly pins that will result in click-through traffic. Pin only for your target audience and pin images that encourage click-throughs (partial infographics or infographics with small text are great for this). Optimize your landing page to encourage Pinterest users to hang around or check out your services.
  6. Use Pinterest to curate useful content for your industry. Pinterest is an insanely effective visual bookmarking tool. Instead of pinning your own content, build your authority and add to the discussion by pinning relevant content from others.
  7. Always measure your successes and failures. Analyze your site’s Pinterest traffic to see which pins are effective and which aren’t. You can also use tools like Pinreach to measure your Pinterest profile analytics.

via Why Pinterest Is NOT Your SEO Miracle Worker.

How to stop targeted adverts from tracking you

Yesterday I was browsing the B&Q website looking for some new shelving (I really need to tidy out my garage). For the rest of the day every website I visited with adverts tried to sell me shelving. This is targeted advertising and it can feel a little creepy. I have mentioned previously how you can find out what Google knows about you.
TRUSTe provides an easy way for you to opt-out of this kind of tracking. Visit the Your Advertising Choices page. This will show you the major advertising networks on the internet and allow you to op-out of individual networks or all of them.

TRUSTe Adchoices Screenshot

As you can see from the screenshot above it will also tell you if you have an active tracking cookie on your computer from the ad network.

Some important points to note about using this service.

  • You will still see adverts but they will be generic
  • The settings only apply to the computer you are on now
  • If you clear your cookies in the future you will need to do this again
  • The ads you now see may be out of context and boring (but a lot less creepy!)

Vibrating tattoo Linked to your Mobile Phone

Vibrating magnetic tattoos may one day be used to alert mobile phone users to phone calls and text messages if Nokia follows up a patent application.

According to the BBC News this technology could be used to provide haptic (touch based) feedback. There is also the potential for the magnatic tattoo to be used as a security feature. Preventing access to a device unless the user (or at least their tattoo) is close by.

Our research suggests that once a user become accustomed to haptic feedback on a phone or tablet screen, other devices that don’t offer it can feel ‘dead’

— Marek Pawlowski, editorial director at the mobile industry research firm PMN

There are many medical cases for the use of implants such as hearing aids and pacemakers. However this could be the start of elected implants that provide interface enhancements. The thought does make me feel a little creepy. What do you think?