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How to Keep Your SEO When Redesigning a Website: 12 Things to Check
What's the best approach? The foolproof methods to keep your SEO when redesigning a website? And the chances that things go wrong are high: indexing issues traffic drop after the redesign ranking going down ... You need something like a... checklist. One that includes all the key elements to monitor during and after revamping your website, right? This is precisely what you'll get in this post: A 12-point list to check off along the way, so you can redesign your website without losing SEO rankings and traffic. But Does a Website Redesign (Really) Affect SEO? "If I change my website, will I lose my Google ranking?" Yes, you stand all the chances. Here are just some of the changes applied to your website that pose the biggest "threats" for your Google ranking: you remove/change content you change the current on-page optimization process you change your URL structure you change your domain/subdomain you move content around, to suit your website's new sitemap or navigation structure  From the: updates that you make for improving the user experience on your website to those aimed at rebranding to those changes that you apply to your backend ... it all bubbles up to your SEO ranking, traffic, and overall long-term growth of your website. Step 1: Audit Your Current Website This first step on your website redesign SEO checklist will help you gain a bird's eye view of: what needs to be improved/fixed about your existing website what are the high ranking areas that you shouldn't touch Use Screaming Frog data to inspect your website and put together an inventory of all the: duplicate page titles missing, multiple, or duplicate H1 tags missing Image ALT texts broken internal/external links missing or duplicate meta descriptions page titles over 512 pixels meta descriptions over 923 pixels Furthermore, manually scan key elements like: sitemap URL structure page loading speed (use Google’s PageSpeed Tools) duplicate content Google-indexed pages  robots.txt Tip: download and back up the URL structure of your "old" website; you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO to download the updated sitemap of your website. Step 2: Make Sure Your Test Website Is Not Being Indexed For you don't want the risk of Google indexing your test website to add to the pile of... other things that could go wrong during the redesign process. How do you prevent your test site from being indexed? you either block it in the robots.txt file or you click the noindex box in your CMS Step 3: Match Up The Old and the New Pages to Keep Your SEO When Redesigning a Website "How do I preserve rankings and traffic during a website redesign and rebuild?" By making sure that the data on your current website — meta descriptions, word counts, canonical tags, etc. — remain as such on the new site, as well. For this, crawl your test website and put it against the "old" website to identify all the "missing parts" and the areas that need improvement. This is a foolproof method to ensure that the updates that you're about to make are truly needed. Step 4: Check Your New Website for Broken Links Another critical step to put on your website redesign SEO checklist is crawling your new website for broken links.  Use Google Webmaster Tools for this. Step 5: Address The 404 Error Pages One of the major website redesign considerations to keep in mind is that you'll need to handle the 404 issues popping up on your new website. There are 2 ways that you can address a 404 URL: redirect the old URL to the new URL of your test server set up this URL on your test server Step 6: See that Your Live URLs Are Optimized, As Well  A foolproof method for keeping your SEO when redesigning a website is to make sure that those live URLs, that aren't yet on your current website (the most recently added ones) are properly optimized. Just use the following on-page optimization checklist, which includes all the key areas where you should add your focus keywords (or semantic keywords): page title tag H1 tag page URL H2, H3, H4 tags meta description  body content  image ALT tag Step 7: Keep the URL Architecture Identical  Since the SEO impact of changing URL is huge. Do you remember that you've downloaded the URL structure while auditing the old website (see Step 1)? Make sure to back it up and stick to it after the redesign process, as well. Step 8: If Some of Them Do Change, Set Up 301 Redirects If the unwanted scenario does happen and some of your URLs do change, keep in mind to map out 301s to their corresponding new URLs. That, if you do want to preserve your rankings and traffic, of course... How? by manually updating your .htaccess file: Redirect301/old/oldsite.html   by using a redirect plugin: the process is no more complicated than filling in a form Step 9: Leave the Content Unchanged on Your High Ranking Pages  One of the things to watch out for in order to keep your SEO when redesigning a website is the "temptation" of changing content on your high ranking pages. Tip! A safe way to redesign your website without losing SEO is to make changes to the pages' design elements only. Once you've launched the new website, monitor your rankings for a while and, unless you notice some alarming drops, go ahead and apply (some) changes to the written content, as well (if absolutely necessary). Step 10: Check Your Robots.txt File Make sure that your robots.txt file didn't get corrupted during the website redesign and rebuild process. Just click on the “robots.txt” option under the crawl section. Step 11: Resubmit Your Sitemap to Google A key step to take for avoiding new website Google ranking issues. Submit your new website's XML to Google (and Bing) so that its new structure gets crawled and indexed in due time.  Step 12: Check and Monitor Your Ranking Position So, you've finally launched the improved version of your old website. Your team's hard work over the last few months is now live. Still, you'd better remain vigilant and monitor your new website for 2-3 more months. During this time: keep track of how your top keywords are ranking make sure Google's not indexing the wrong pages for those keywords be ready to detect any sudden drop or... boost in your website's Google ranking Take this monitoring time as a way of... futureproofing all the efforts you've done to keep your SEO when redesigning a website. But maybe you are, indeed, planning to give your website a facelift and a performance boost. And yes: you do worry that this might affect your SEO rankings and traffic. Yet, you want some professionals — a team of experienced web designers, web developers, and SEO experts — to handle your website redesign process.  We're ready to help you. Just drop us a line and let's plan an SEO-oriented redesign process for your website. Image by k-images from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 08'2020
What Are the Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020? 13 Ways that You Can Sabotage Your Own Website’s SEO Performance- Part 2
Ready to dig up some more (all too) common SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020? As promised, in this post I'll be exposing to you another 6 bad habits that are costing you your website's ranking and traffic. They range from neglecting serious issues, that you consider "minor", to highly damaging practices that you're probably still doing. So, let's dive right in: 8. You're Ignoring Site Structure Issues That Are Affecting the UX And this is one of the biggest SEO mistakes that you could make. Here's how you can identify a poor website structure:   users don't get directed to your homepage once they click on the logo your service pages don't automatically load in new tabs your website feels cramped and cluttered; users need to work hard to navigate through   And since user experience is a huge SEO factor, you might want to consider scheduling a declutter and reorganizing process for your site. Aim for a clean, fluid, and intuitive navigation on your website. 9. You're Not Optimizing Your Web Presence for Local Search A bad practice that you'll find in any "top 10 SEO mistakes".  And which seems to be still so "popular" in 2020, as well (but you'll be bucking this trend, won't you?). Here are the opportunities that you miss when you don't optimize your website for local search:   you could have stepped ahead of your competitors, who may not have a region-specific strategy set in place you could have turned it into a huge advantage when competing against larger, national brands (with huge budgets to invest in SEO), that might be targetting broader keywords you could have turned all those potential local visitors into more traffic and... loyal customers   Source:   10. You've Updated Your Website But... Kept the Old URLs Another rookie and still so common SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020. So, you've updated your website. It's optimized for the best-fitting keywords, it has well written, SEO-friendly meta descriptions... but all these efforts are pointless if your URLs:   include underscores open HTTP pages and you've just enabled HTTPS on your website      See my point?  Updating your website, but forgetting to update the URLs, as well, is like... changing your oil, but forgetting to fill up your gas tank. It won't get you too far. 11. You're Using H1 Tags the Wrong Way: One of the Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020 Are you "guilty" of any of these 2 bad habits when it comes to using H1 tags?   there are no H1 tags, at all, on your web pages you're using multiple H1 tags on the same page (for aesthetic purposes) you're turning all the headings on a page into H1 tags It's the H1 tags that let the search engines know what the topic of a page is. By using none or multiple H1 tags, you're just confusing them and lowering your website's chances to rank high on the results page. 12. You Have No Link Building Strategy  Or you have a totally ineffective one, based on:   a too low number of backlinks low-quality backlinks   Start building more backlinks to your website, from relevant authority websites. 13. You've Overlooked to Add Your Sitemap to Your Robots.txt File And so you've left search engines with no clue on what URLs you have on your website. This is the surest way of sabotaging their own work — indexing your website's pages — and, implicitly, your website's SEO performance. Source: But you can still fix it: just go ahead and add a sitemap.xml file to your robots.txt file. Key Takeaway The common mistakes to avoid in 2020 are the... basic ones. Those issues that you might find too trivial to fix or to avoid. And these apparently insignificant SEO mistakes fall into 3 major categories that you should focus on:   content: too thin or duplicate content (stuffed with keywords) won't add any value to the user experience delivered on your website internal links: let your common sense tell you how many is enough; make sure they're relevant and useful to the readers website architecture: avoid poorly written, unoptimized descriptions and title tags, use H1 and H2 tags the proper way, add ALT tags to your images, look for broken or unoptimized URLs...   In short: don't underestimate the basic stuff, that's still being ignored or considered "acceptable" on too many websites. Now, have you decided to break your bad SEO habits, but you just don't know how to fix the mistakes?  We're ready to help you with that.  Just drop us a line! Let's identify all the SEO errors lowering your website's potential and get them fixed. Image by xiaoxinghai from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 03'2020
What Are the Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020? 13 Ways that You Can Sabotage Your Own Website’s SEO Performance- Part 1
Have you seen a downfall in your website's ranking (and traffic)? What if you're to blame? What if you're making the all-too-common SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020? Or at least some of them... "But which are they?" you ask yourself. This is precisely what I'll be pinpointing in this post: The 13 all-too-frequent bad SEO habits that you, too, might be guilty of. And which are harming your website's SEO potential. You're Optimizing for All the Wrong Keywords You're Leaving Broken Images and Broken Links Lingering in There You're Ignoring The Simplest Fixes to Your Site's Performance Issues You're Not Including the Target Keywords in Your URLs You're Using Automatically-Generated (Duplicate) Page Titles You're Not Optimizing Your Site Pages' <Title> Tags You're OK with Having One Internal Link and Even Orphan Pages You're Ignoring Site Structure Issues That Are Hurting the User Experience You're Not Optimizing Your Web Presence for Local Search You've Updated Your Website But... Kept the Old URLs One of the Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020: Improper Use of H1 Tags You Have No Link Building Strategy You've Overlooked to Add Your Sitemap to Your Robots.txt File So, let's dive in: 1. You're Optimizing for the Wrong Keywords And by "wrong keywords" I mean:   short-tail keywords keywords that are "out of your league" (i.e. high competition keywords) Instead, target long-tail keywords, that you can realistically rank for. It's the "2-step" formula to success when optimizing a website for specific keywords. Pro tip: if you're running an e-commerce website, target transactional keywords (they usually include terms like "subscribe", "for sale", "order", "apply", "reserve", "schedule" + the exact name of your branded product/service or general industry products/services) 2. You're Leaving Broken Images and Broken Links Lingering in There One of the top SEO mistakes (since it's still so "popular") that you, too, might be making on your website: You're being "sloppy" with your website's links and internal images. In other words, you leave behind "residues" like:   misspelled URLs images with no ALT-text images with poor file names image linking to files that no longer exist 3. You're Ignoring The Simple Fixes to Your Site's Performance Issues Has your website started to... slow down?  How about implementing the quickest fixes at hand to speed up things a bit in there?  Here are 2 simple and effective steps you can take right away:   minify your CSS and JS files enable a good caching plugin 4. You're Not Including the Target Keywords in Your URLs "What are some common SEO mistakes?" Sticking to a poor URL structure is one of them. And why would you bother including keywords in your URL structure? Since users can still find your website, even if it doesn't have keyword-optimized URLs? Because keyword-rich URLs make it easier for search engines to locate your website. 5. You're Using Automatically-Generated (Duplicate) Page Titles Another one of the all-too-common SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020: Generating your page titles dynamically instead of creating them manually. Especially if we're talking about key pages on your website. In this case, the risk of ending up with duplicate page titles, that will only confuse search engines, is very high.  6. You're Not Optimizing Your Title Tags: One of the Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020 And this is one bad habit that's going to cost you your website's high ranking in the search results. As a rule of thumb, keep in mind to always insert your target keywords in the pages' title tags, as well.  And to stick to the proper length: less than 60 characters. 7. You're OK with Having One Internal Link and Even Orphaned Pages "What SEO mistakes am I making with my website?" You're underestimating the power of internal linking. Or the negative impact that such a bad practice can have on your site's ranking if you want to put it this way. In other words:   having just one internal link on a page is not enough having orphaned pages, that are not linked to anywhere on your website, is... unacceptable   Source:   The END of Part 1! These are the first 7 common SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020 from the list that we've put together for you. So, stay tuned for the second series of SEO bad practices... Now, how many of them have you identified on your own website? Are you having trouble getting them fixed? Or maybe just not enough time or enough SEO expertise in your team? We're ready to land you a hand with that.  Just drop us a line and let's identify and fructify all those missed SEO opportunities on your website. Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay    ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 02'2020
Google PageSpeed vs Lighthouse: How Are They Different and Which Tool Should You Use?
Which tool should you be auditing your website with? In a Google PageSpeed vs Lighthouse “debate”, which score is right? What's the difference between running a Google PageSpeed test and running Lighthouse Audit in Chrome?  You have all the reasons to be confused about the fact that they use similar technology, yet they deliver you different results. It's time to shed some light here.  So, keep on reading to get your answers to questions like:   What Is Google Pagespeed Insights? What Is Google Lighthouse? What Are the Main Differences Between Them? When Should You Use Each of Them? 1. What Is Google PageSpeed Insights? Or: “What is Google PageSpeed score?” What does it measure? And what type of data does it use when evaluating your website? Lab and real-world data... In other words, Google PageSpeed will use both real-world data available in the Chrome User Experience report and lab data. Now, if I was to put together a short, yet complete definition, it would be: Google PageSpeed is a tool that analyzes the performance of your web pages, generating a report of the overall speed of your website. As well as actionable advice on how you can improve its score. 2. What Is Google Lighthouse? “How does Google Lighthouse work?” It uses lab data (only) to measure your website's performance, but also its SEO performance, PWA, and other best practices.  And here, you can already identify the first difference that any Google Lighthouse vs PageSpeed comparison reveals:  Lighthouse goes beyond the page speed metric when auditing your website. 3. Google PageSpeed vs Lighthouse: How Are They Different? What's the difference or, better said, “the differences” between these two audit tools provided by Google?   PageSpeed Insights measures the performance metric only, whereas Lighthouse audits other aspects of a website, as well (SEO, accessibility, progressive web app, etc.) Google PageSpeed uses a “combo” of lab and real-world data, whereas Lighthouse uses lab data only (under consistent conditions) to build its report   Lighthouse is now incorporated into PageSpeed Insights. It is PageSpeed's integrated analysis engine. 4. When Should You Use Google PageSpeed Insights? So, you have your answers to your “Google PageSpeed Insights vs Lighthouse” dilemma. You know now how they differ from one another. But how do you know when to use... PageSpeed, for instance? Here are the 4 main scenarios:   you need to share a link to your website's audit report you're only interested in checking your website's page loading speed you want an accurate report of the loading times experienced by your website's visitors you're not a big fan of using Chrome developer tools for analyzing your website's performance 5. When Should You Use Lighthouse? What are the specific scenarios when you should consider turning to Lighthouse for auditing your website's performance? when you want to run audits programmatically when you need to evaluate other aspects of your website, in addition to its loading times when you want to incorporate the Lighthouse API into your own systems   For instance, you can use Lighthouse API to automatically block those releases that don't meet your pre-defined performance and SEO standards. 6. Google PageSpeed vs Lighthouse: Key Takeaway If there was only one takeaway that you'd take from this post it should be that: While Google PageSpeed uses the information generated by Lighthouse, enriching it with real-world data, Lighthouse delivers you more than just one score. It goes beyond measuring your website's loading times. Do you need to know how fast your website loads from its visitors' perspective? Or do you need to dig deeper? To evaluate more than just its speed, knowing, though, that the results that you'll get are based on lab data only? Now, let's say that you've already made your decision. You've chosen the website analysis tool that best suits your needs and you've run the test on your site. With your list of optimization suggestions at hand... what do you do?  You can either put all your current projects “on hold” and ask your own team to implement those recommendations. Or you can drop us a line and leave it to us. Photo by Dids from Pexels ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 29'2020
What’s the Best Drupal Managed Hosting Provider? Here Are Your Top 4 Options
You want it to be easy to use, to provide you with as much automated maintenance as possible and... up to 100% uptime. So, what's the best Drupal managed hosting solution for your needs? And, let me guess: your “feature wishlist” is a bit longer actually:   autoscaling capability multi-site support: you want to be able to manage all your Drupal websites from a single dashboard CDN backups and easy restores on a daily basis support for migration Given your list of requirements, what are your best choices here? I've done my research and narrowed down your options to 4. 4 fully managed hosting solutions for Drupal that you should consider first. Here they are:   But First: Why Managed Hosting? What Does It Really Get You? Why would you want to go for a fully managed hosting solution for your Drupal website(s) instead of a... self-managed one? Because:   you gain so much time; time that you'd otherwise invest in setting the Drupal infrastructure yourself, from the ground up you avoid the risk of getting tangled up in software installation, configuration, infrastructure management (which can turn into a time and energy-consuming ordeal even if you have the know-how to set up a scalable VPS on AWS yourself) you avoid the headache of maintaining a whole infrastructure of Drupal sites you get remote administration that covers mundane, regular operations such as module updating   In short: you delegate your managed hosting provider with everything outside the codebase. Why spend time on the ongoing maintenance of your website when you can invest it in... improving it? In growing it?   1. Pantheon Drupal Hosting   Disclaimer: it's the Drupal hosting that we are using here, at OPTASY. But is Pantheon the best solution for your own use case? For your expectations of a hosting platform? It is if it's a simplified, easy to use hosting solution that you need for your Drupal website(s). One that provides you with:   great support solid tooling  almost instant patching great developer experience ease of use with Drupal high availability and scaling intuitive interface, which makes migrating and cloning your Drupal websites so much easier lots of integrations   But let's see precisely what services it provides you with.   Pantheon Drupal's Key Features   php7 Git 24/7 Drupal support  Once-click core updates  Built-in stagging environments: dev, test, live Global CDN Solr Developer dashboard   2. Acquia, One of the Best Drupal Managed Hosting Solutions   Acquia Drupal hosting is another great option to consider when you're trying to figure out which is the best service for you. Why? Because it provides you with:   some of the best tools: both powerful and easy to use enterprise-level security cloud hosting specifically tailored to suit Drupal websites unmatched scalability: Acquia Drupal 8 hosting powers some of the largest Drupal websites in the world    Acquia Drupal Hosting Key Features   Enterprise-grade security and recovery: a whole set of firewall controls and access and authentication controls; Acquia-hosted websites are known to be better equipped to recover from cyber attacks A hosting platform optimized for Drupal exclusively A turnkey solution: the built-in Node.js support enables you to develop your Drupal back-end apps, as well as your server-side rendered front-end apps, on the same hosting platform Robust development tools: APIs, integrations, and command-line tools that help you build and optimize your apps in no time Real-time monitoring, analyzing, and troubleshooting Close to 100% uptime: Drupal hosting Acquia makes the best choice for you if your uptime and performance requirements are way beyond basic Centralized dashboard for all your websites and a unique Drupal codebase Source:   3. SiteGround Drupal Hosting Another popular hosting option for Drupal websites is Siteground, a platform robust enough to withstand the challenges of user-heavy, high traffic sites. It's also the most versatile managed hosting solution on this list, for it meets the needs of both small website owners and enterprise and large organizations. But why would you choose if over other Drupal 8 hosting services? SiteGround Drupal 8 Hosting Key Features   Daily backups 1-Click Drupal installation Responsive support from actual Drupal developers by mail, chat, helpdesk ticket Dynamic NGINX caching (available only on some of the hosting plans) Website transfer assistance with zero downtime   4. Cloudways Managed Drupal Cloud Hosting     Cloudways is not just one of your best Drupal managed to host options. It's also one of the most... different. It allows you to choose the cloud hosting provider for your Drupal infrastructure. You're free to go for Amazon AWS or Digital Ocean, Google Cloud or maybe Vultr, you name it. Why cloud hosting? Because it's easier to scale, more cost-effective, and faster.  In short: it's top performance hosting that scales that you get with Cloudways. But there are also other strong reasons why you'd want to choose to host your Drupal website(s) on Cloudways. Cloudways Managed Drupal Hosting Key Features   Composer support  ease of use: just sift through all the different options that it provides you with through an intuitive UI, select the ones that you prefer via quick one-click access, and set up your Drupal website in no time  HTTP/2 support PHP migration support Free migration SSD-Based Drupal Cloud Hosting CloudwaysCDN you get to host multiple Drupal websites on one server you can add more team members and share server access across your entire team  built-in caching options auto-scalable kyup servers: they downscale and upscale, depending on the amount of traffic on your website(s), with zero downtime managed platform: you can spin up servers and deploy your apps in the blink of an eye   Final Word  The key takeaway is that choosing the best hosting services for your Drupal site(s) is crucial. Imagine that you'd buy yourself a Porsche, but you don't afford a... garage for it. Or its maintenance costs. See my point? When you run your website on a performance powerhouse like Drupal, you need to look for a hosting platform that can match such a robust setup. And speaking of keeping your Drupal infrastructure secure and well-maintained, we have an entire team of Drupal experts that you can delegate your time-consuming maintenance tasks to:   updating Drupal modules running security patches as they get released monitoring your website's performance monitoring it for suspicious activities ...   Just drop us a line and let's tailor a Drupal security and maintenance plan to suit your website(s) needs.   Image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 28'2020
How to Perform a Security Audit: 11 Things to Put on Your Checklist (plus, the best tools you could use)
So, you need to do a quick risk assessment of your site. How do you perform a security audit? Are there any quick and easy (and effective) things that you can do to evaluate your website and to detect any security risks lurking in there? And what are some of the tools that you could use? Here are the answers to all the dilemmas stemming from your main question: "Security auditing: what do to?" 1. But First: What Is a Security Audit Report? What do we mean by "audits" in this context?   pentests regular security assessments "security posture" tests auditing logs   And what is a security audit report, more precisely? Source: In short: when you run a security audit you evaluate your website's performance in relation to a list of criteria. And, more often than not, you'd want to include other types of security diagnosis into your workflow, as well:   penetration testing: where you (or an expert in your team) simulate the actions of a potential hacker, performing several attacks on your website to test its resilience vulnerability assessment: where you try to identify any security weaknesses  2. What Tasks Should You Put Into Your Security Audit Checklist? Top 11 What should you do in your regular security audits?  What security audit procedures to include? We've put together a list of 11 steps to put on your checklist. So, when conducting a security audit the first step is to: 2.1. Determine the Assets that You'll Be Focusing On Set the scope of your audit: Which are the high priority assets that you'll be scanning and monitoring? For example, your list could include key assets like:   sensitive customer and company data internal documentation IT infrastructure   You can't expect to future-proof your website's improved level security if you're going to use the same vulnerable IT equipment, right? Next, you'll want to set your security perimeter, as well: What are the things that your audit will cover and those that should be skipped? 2.2. List Out Potential Threats You can't build a shield around your website against a "no-name" threat, right? You need to go ahead and name those threats, so you know what to look for and how to adapt your future security measures: Here are just some examples of security threats that you might want to put on your list:    negligent employees using weak passwords for sensitive company data  malware phishing attacks denial of service attacks malicious insiders 2.3. Assess the Current Level of Security Performance Another key step to put on your security audit checklist. Your team could be using the strongest passwords. They could be sticking to rigorous security procedures and best practices. And yet, they might not be informed about the latest methods that hackers use to infiltrate systems... A good evaluation of your organization's current security performance will help you identify precisely weak links like that one. 2.4. Set Up Configuration Scans Using a higher-end scanner will help you:   detect security vulnerabilities  assess the hardening of the PCs   Are there any malware/anti-spyware programs in there? Turned on encryption, settings that are temporarily changed?  Therefore, keep in mind to run some configuration scans, too, when you do a security audit. They make a great "ally" for spotting any config mistakes that people in your team might have made. 2.5. Keep an Eye on Reports (Not Just on the Urgent Alerts) As you put all your focus on urgent alerts, you might be tempted to underestimate the value of the reports generated by your auditing tools. Now, that's one risky thing to do. Instead, you'd want to keep an eye on those reports, for they can be a tremendous source of valuable information. "Information" that might look non-alarming to you now, but, which — with time, if a suspicious activity becomes a routine — can turn into a major threat. One that you'd ignore by... overlooking to go through your reports. 2.6. Monitor DNS for any Unexpected Changes Are there any signs of sloppiness when it comes to the credentials used for your domain? The quicker you identify them, the lower the security risk. 2.7. Run Daily Scans of Your Internet-facing Network As you'll security audit your website, you'll want to be alerted (on a daily basis, if possible) about any "surprising" changes.   2.8. Mirror Your Website Why is this a "must" task to include in your security auditing plan? Because by mirroring your website you spot some otherwise hard-to-access files and directories. You'd be surprised at how many valuable:   internal IP addressing schemes email addresses and phone numbers of people in your team code-related comments software versions server names   ... you can find in those comment fields. 2.9. Perform an Internal Vulnerability Scan How? By opting for an enterprise-level vulnerability scanner. What it does is install an agent on each computer in your organization, that will monitor their... vulnerability level. How often should you run this type of scan?  Monthly or quarterly would be great. 2.10. Run Some Phishing Tests You'll want to set up a routine of sending out fake phishing emails to people in your team. It's still the most effective type of cybersecurity training that you could give your team:   they get a close-to-real-life experience of a phishing attack they can assess their own vulnerability to scenarios where they'd give hackers access to sensitive information (by clicking on links or attachments in a phishing email) 2.11. Monitor Your Firewall's Logs Watch for any inconsistent or unusual behavior in your firewall.  3. What Are Some of the Best Security Auditing Tools You Can Use? Top 5 Now that you have a plan put in place you need some tools to carry it out, right? We've done our research, put together a list, then narrowed down the options to 5 tools that you should consider evaluating first: 3.1. The OWASP Testing Guide A step-by-step checklist that'll streamline your manual testing efforts. Note: running an OWASP top 10 check is one of those "quick and easy" things you that can do for assessing your website's security performance. You'd be testing it for 10 of the most common security risks. 3.2. Burp Suite What if you wanted to put your security audit on autopilot? You could go for Burp Suite to manually analyze your website, then run an active scan. Note: the tool comes in two "flavors", a pro and a free version. 3.3. Nessus If you're looking for an easy to use tool, Nessus Tenable's the one. Use it to track down security vulnerabilities on your website. It's effective and it generates some detailed reports. 3.4. Qualys Web App Scans  Its main selling points:   great coverage accurate reports 3.5. Rapid7  You might want to try their vulnerability scanner.   And 2 honorable mentions: and Risksense. 4. Final (Wise) Word The keyword that best describes an effective security audit is "on-going": It's definitelty not a one-time event, but rather a routine made of several "healthy" habits that you stick to. A "routine" aimed at helping you formulate a custom set of security solutions:   network monitoring data backup employee education awareness software updates email protection   What if you don't have the resources — the time and the available people in your team — to run a security audit? We're here to help. Just drop us a line and let's tailor a security audit checklist that meets your website's specific challenges. Image by raphaelsilva from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 22'2020
Cross-Platform App Development: 6 Reasons Why You’d Want to Build Your Cross-Platform App with React Native
You've decided to jump on the cross-platform app development “bandwagon” and to build an app that targets both Android and iOS users. An app that works on multiple frameworks and caters to multiple audiences... at the same time. Now, the question that arises is: Why would you go for React Native? Over any other cross-platform app development framework? Why not... Flutter or Xamarin? Or maybe Ionic? What are the key benefits that, as a business owner, you'd reap from going for this particular framework? I've piled together all the reasons why you'd want to use React Native to build your cross-platform app with, then I've narrowed down the long list to... 5 reasons. The strongest ones. Here they are:   But First: What Is Cross-Platform App Development More Precisely? Compared to native app development, cross-platform mobile development refers to: Building a custom app meant to work on several platforms. And to be compatible to multiple software environments. In short: a versatile mobile app that works on both iOS and Android.  Having one codebase, one development team and just one app to test (and to maintain) translates into lower costs. And it bubbles up to the user experience, as well. Now, getting back to the best possible answers to your legitimate question: “What are the advantages of React Native for cross-platform app development?” … here are 5 key reasons why you'd lean towards this framework:   Reason #1: It's Cost-Effective Why? It's pretty obvious:   React Native allows you to code once and use the same codebase for any operating system; you get to (re)use the same code for both Android and iOS development it provides you with platform-specific UI elements there's only one JavaScript codebase to... test; fewer test cases for you to “juggle with” since you only need to fix all bugs and errors once   Reason #2: You Can Quickly Prototype an App React Native accelerates your prototyping process, so you can:   get a functional cross-platform app up and running in no time collect valuable user feedback much quicker   If you run a startup betting on a highly innovative app idea or a product company, the speed at which you manage to turn your idea into a prototype and to release it to the market is crucial.   Reason #3: Brand-Aligned and Consistent User Experience  “Why would I choose React Native as my cross-platform app development solution?” Because it helps you keep consistency in your app's UI design. Users get to interact with the same UI elements, irrespective of the platform that they use your mobile app on. Which instills a sense of familiarity and delivers them a uniform user experience...   Reason #4: You Expand Your Audience  And this is the first reason that you'd get in any “native app development vs cross-platform” debate. As a cross-platform mobile app development framework, React Native enables you to widen your app's reach: You build one app for both Android and iOS users. Reason #5: You Build Your Mobile App Faster Why go for React Native over other cross-platform app development frameworks?  Because it speeds up the development process: Your development team can put together a mobile app faster thanks to the pre-built components that React Native provides them with. Do they need to implement certain functionality into your cross-platform app? They stand high chances to find it, already coded by other React Native developers, and free to be deployed in your own app.   Reason #6: You'll Only Need One Development Team A single team, that has hands-on experience working with a set of technologies. Speaking of cost-effectiveness, right? Moreover, by having a unique team handling all the stages of your project you avoid a scenario where too many teams risk to... sabotage one another. And to compromise the app project itself.   Final Word: React Native's the Right Cross-Platform App Development Solution for You If...   you're a startup you're a small-medium company  the time factor is critical for you and you need to prototype a mobile app in no time ... with as little resources as possible   Don't have a React developer in your team? We've got you covered. There's a whole team of React Native developers here, at OPTASY, ready to help you. Just drop us a line.  Tell us about that innovative mobile app idea of yours, the functionalities that it should incorporate, and... we'll get back to you with a draft plan. Image by ijmaki from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / May 19'2020
How to Speed Up a WordPress Website: 11 Universal Ways that You Can Make It Faster (With and Without a Plugin)- Part 2
I'm back with the rest of 5 simple ways to speed up a WordPress website. So, grab your pen and paper and get ready to take notes. As promised, I'll pin-point only easy tweaks that you can make to your website and boost its performance. So, let's dive right in:   Add Page Caching via a WordPress Caching Plugin How to Speed Up a WordPress Website: Minify Your CSS and JS Files Clean Up Your Database Switch to a (More) Lightweight Theme Enable GZIP Compression, The Fastest WordPress Speed Optimization Technique   7. Add Page Caching: Use a WordPress Caching Plugin for That  Here's how caching improves your site-loading speed: It creates – and stores on the server – static files for each page/post on your WordPress site. So, once a user accesses any of those pages, your website delivers the content much faster. In short: by adding page caching, you speed up your WordPress website's response to search requests. For this, you'll need to consider choosing an effective caching plugin for your website. And you definitely don't run out of options there. But if we were to make a very drastic selection, we can honestly say that you'll find the best plugin to speed up your WordPress site with on this shortlist:   W3 Total Cache (vetted by Neil Patel himself) WP Fastest Cache WP Super Cache  Cache Enabler    Tip! Pair your Wordpress cache plugin with a powerful caching mechanism like Varnish and you'll double your website's page loading speed. 8. How to Speed Up a WordPress Website: Minify Your CSS and JS Files Another quick and easy way to reduce page load time on your Wordpress site is to minify your resources (aka CSS and JS files). To cut down on the number of calls and on these files' sizes, as well. How? You can either:   do some manual fixing, following the steps on the Google PageSpeed   or go with a plugin to streamline the whole process   9. Clean Up Your Database Since WordPress is database-driven, it's crucial that you clean up your database of all the:   spam comments old drafts fake users pingbacks post revisions tables transient options   A measure that falls into the “reducing overhead” category, like the technique of removing all the unused plugins, that I've mentioned in Part 1. This way, you keep the size of your database to a minimum. Which will minimize the size of your backups, as well. And why do everything manually when there's at least one plugin for it? One that'll put the whole database clean up process on autopilot. WP-Optimize, for instance.  Once enabled, it'll take you just a few clicks to delete most of your database build-up. Moreover, you can schedule it to remove residual content automatically.   10. Switch to a (More) Lightweight Theme Now, you might wonder also: “How do I speed up a WordPress website without a plugin?” Going for the lightest WordPress theme is but one valid option. In other words, resist the temptation of choosing a theme that “seduces” you with a parade of dynamic elements, social icons, sliders, widgets... glitz and glamour. In most cases, these shiny elements translate into:   higher page sizes a higher strain on the web server   Tip! Go for the most simple, lightest theme/template and build all the additional functionalities that you might need on top of that base.  When in doubt, choose one of the default WordPress themes! Tip! If your WordPress site's a particularly feature-rich one, go with a theme that uses a robust framework like Foundation or Bootstrap.   11. Enable GZIP Compression, The Fastest WordPress Speed Optimization Technique And this is the “simplest” technique, as well. Just enable GZIP compression and start saving valuable bandwidth usage and reducing the page load time on your WordPress site. Here's how it works: GZIP compresses different files on your website, so that when a user tries to access it, his/her browser will first need to unzip the site. This way, you bring down the bandwidth usage.  And, as you can guess, there's at least one plugin that enables GZIP compression. Take PageSpeed Ninja, for instance...   The END! Our list of 11 simple ways that you can speed up a WordPress website ends here. Struggling with low speed on your WordPress site? Do you need help implementing and adapting these optimization techniques to your own website? We're here to help. Just drop us a line and let's put together an optimization battleplan for your site! Image by deanmarston432 from Pixabay    ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / May 13'2020
How Do You Stay Productive When You Work Remotely from Home? 6 Advice from Team Members at OPTASY Who’ve Been Doing It for Years
The walls start to close in on you... You're overwhelmed. You just can't get as much done as when you were in the office. Then, you start to feel guilty and anxious... all the time. What can you do to stay productive when you work remotely from home? To give you an honest answer, I've run a small “investigation” inside the OPTASY team. I've asked some of my colleagues about the best advice they'd give to anyone who's now adapting to remote work. Most of us work from home, yet for these “interviews” I've selected those team members who've been doing it successfully for quite a few years now. So, here they are: 6 tried and tested tips for setting yourself up to perform when working from home.   1. Resist the Temptation to Work from Bed/Couch Our colleague Dinu Rodnichi, one of the web developers here at OPTASY, stressed out the importance of the “ass in chair time” for higher productivity. So, if you're wondering “How can I be productive working from home?” this is one of the right answers: Sitting at your desk (as you normally would in the office) tricks your mind into thinking that you're "at work". “For me, working from my desktop PC instead of my laptop is critical. It forces me to sit at my desk instead of laying in bed or lounging on the sofa. I've noticed that I always get things done faster by just sticking to this small habit.” Note! It would be unwise of me to advise you to buy yourself a desktop PC if you've been working from your laptop for some time now (at the office here included). But working at a desk, that's so doable (and budget-friendly).   2. Designate A “Work Zone” in Your Home  It could be your kitchen table when it's not used for... home cooking experiments.       Or your dining table, if squeezing in a new desk or turning an entire room into a home office sounds a bit too sci-fi to you. The idea that our delivery manager, Radu Camerzan, insisted on was: “Once you've turned a corner, half of a table or a room into your work space, use it for work and work only. At least during work hours. Don't get your mind all too confused by using the same designated work space to prep your dinner, sort out laundry or... watch Netflix, while still “at work”. Another reasonably realistic solution to implement when you work remotely from home, don't you think?   3. Set a Work Schedule (And Stick to It) The golden rule for staying productive (and keeping your work/life balance) is to force a work schedule on yourself.  And here is Radu's second answer to your legitimate question “Why working remotely doesn't work?”: “Set your work hours and get things done during that time interval. Setting a time limit for your daily tasks challenges you to be more efficient. To avoid the trap of working more, but doing less. It makes it easier for you to maintain the boundary between worktime and family or “You” time.”   4. Use a Good Pair of Headphones When You Work Remotely from Home “What do I need to work remotely from home?” You definitely don't want to be stingy with your headphones (another one of Radu's best advice for working from home novices):   they'll help you soundproof your work zone from domestic noise that might risk getting your out of the "zone" they'll upgrade your video calls (and there're going to be plenty of those these days) they'll do your favorite music justice (if you fall into the “Can't work without my music” category)   5. Hone and Adjust Your Communication Skills This is one of the "working from home" tips coming from Sandu Camerzan, our delivery manager (yes, we have 2 of them at OPTASY). If you have none... you'll need to start developing some.  Whereas if you think your communication skills are excellent, you still need to keep honing and adjusting them to the new context:   new communication channels (e.g. talking face to face, at the office, vs talking over the phone or engaging in video calls) planned communication (the new carefully scheduled scrum meetings and video calls replace the old “coffee breaks” and chats in the office about the projects you were working on) new environment (e.g. having phone calls while driving to the nearest the store, for more supplies, or as you fix yourself a quick lunch)   In short: you'll want to double your flexibility stocks in order to cope with these new types of communication challenges. Make it a goal to develop a new communication style. A more:   flexible: show a little empathy; those from the other side of the line/screen face the same communication challenges clear and concise sincere   … way of communicating with your team and clients.   6. Every Morning, Write Down Your 1-3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) My advice to you, from my own work from home experience (for I, too, work remotely from home... for +3 years now) is: In other words, be realistic: life happens and... even so more when you work from home. Unplanned homework needs to be checked, spills cleaned up, pets entertained. Or your better half has an emergency Skype video call to take. And maybe you two are sharing the same “work zone” these days... So, my best advice to you (which is not “mine”, actually, but learned from Leo Babauta, the one behind the “zen habits" method) is: Every morning (the earlier the better) write down your 1-3 most important tasks of the day. Those that you set yourself to get done that day, no matter what. Multi-tasking is so overrated, so mind you stick to those 3, 2 or just one “task of the day” and don't get your mind focused on anything else before you've carried it out. Better have even just one high priority task done by noon or by the end of your work day, than to juggle with multiple ones and... finish none.   The END! These are the OPTASY team's 6 advice for you on how to stay productive when you work remotely from home. What's your recently discovered hack for keeping yourself up to perform at home?  Let us know in the comments below. For we're constantly revising and adding new powerful habits to our personal routines, that could help us get even more productive while working in our slippers. Image by imperioame from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 12'2020