New and Important Website Security Issues


Google has once again flexed its mighty muscle and is forcing the online world into totally adopting secure websites. Previously only considered for sites that conducted financial transactions and maybe had an online enquiry form to submit, it would seem that everyone is going to need a secure site if they wish to remain reasonably high on search engine rankings and not subject their visitors to warnings that may make them hightail it out of their site!

The original World Wide Web was built on an electronic protocol and programming language known as HTTP (HyperText Transport Protocol). It was the original “lingua franca” of the web. Buried in that HTTP code are the instructions of what is placed and where it is placed on a page when you visit a website. It also contains other information – too much to detail in this posting and irrelevant. The primary problem with HTTP is that it isn’t very secure; it can be “eavesdropped” upon by others who might spot some interesting information being transmitted (e.g. credit card details) and use it for nefarious purposes.

The way to stop this from occurring is to use the HTTPS protocol (the ‘S’ stands for “secure” or “Secure Socket Layer – SSL”), which is built on HTTP2 and encrypts all of the electronic communications passing between the user and server. You know you’re on a secure HTTPS connection when you not only see the added S in the URL but also a little green padlock icon in the address bar of your browser.

One significant advantage to using a secure channel is that the performance of the website increases significantly. That is, pages and media load a lot more quickly because HTTP2 is inherently faster than HTTP.

As I indicated earlier, there is another good reason for having your website run under HTTPS: Google will like it better and rank it higher in its search engine. Google has taken that a step further. As of the time of this writing, anyone using the Chrome browser (which is, of course, built and supported by Google) who is visiting an unsecured site will be warned of such directly in the browser:town of stony plain website not secureFew things will scare away a potential customer more than warning them that their computer’s security is potentially about to be breached! As of this writing, approximately 60% of web users employ the Chrome browser. (Yes, at the time of this writing, the Town of Stony Plain did not have SSL on its website.)

So, to summarize, you want to update your website to be delivered to users via HTTPS because:

  1. Your customers and prospects will be able to access and browse your site much more quickly.
  2. You will get a ranking boost from Google. (At least you’ll get a boost until all of your competitors follow your lead.)
  3. Your site will be interpreted by visitors as being one they can trust and the credibility of your business or organization will increase.
  4. Nothing that passes between your website and its visitor will be intercepted, no matter how benign.
  5. Any visitors browsing your site using Chrome will not be scared off.

Without going into a lot of detail, the first step in getting your website upgraded to the current secure standard is to acquire an SSL Certificate. Once a costly item, such things are now free and can be acquired from a number of online sources. The next steps are considerably more difficult because your website will need to be rejigged to work properly with a new URL. That is, where you used to be you are now As well, any external links you might have on your site will have to lead to other secure websites. Doing these tasks can take a lot of time and effort and things might still not work properly if there’s even one lingering “http” as the needle in the proverbial haystack.

Fortunately, if your site was built using WordPress or I built it for you, I’ve acquired a number of software tools that will allow me to accomplish this task in an hour or two! This job can be accomplished with a day or two of notice – and I can even acquire the SSL Certificate for you.

Get your website secured. Now. Resistance is futile.



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SEO and the SEO Plugin Installed On Your Website

SEO - search engine optimization

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” Fundamentally, SEO is the art and science of having your website be easily found by prospects and information-seekers who are using a search tool – like Google or Bing. The point of SEO is that you want to be as close to the top of the listings when somebody enters a search term that’s related to whatever your business or organization provides.

Your website was built by me using the WordPress platform. There are thousands of WP plugins available that help in building and maintaining your website, among many other reasons. All of these plugins can be accessed and configured from the WP dashboard, to which you have access.

Not long ago, there were numerous “SEO tricks” that one could use successfully to achieve high search engine rankings. For example, if you ran a pizzeria, putting the word “pizza” dozens – or even hundreds – of times in the copy of a web page might get you near the top. However, the search engine algorithms were tweaked to avoid this happening. So now, if a word or phrase appears too many times in a given page, it may actually go down in the rankings. In the end, there needs to be an appropriate density of that word or term within the copy of the page.

I’ll put the subject and discussion of web page keywords aside for the time being and get back to the subject of this post: The three other reasons why I’ve installed an SEO plugin on your website.

Using an SEO plugin gives you control of how a search engine looks at your website and how it represents it to the world. Most people don’t realize just how much control they actually have. Using this control properly will send considerably more searchers to your site – and isn’t that what you ultimately want?


An SEO plugin automatically generates an XML sitemap for your website. (Don’t worry what XML stands for.) This sitemap, which resides in a file on your website that’s logically named “sitemap.xml,” essentially tells Google or Bing, “Please look at these pages and index the information that’s on them.”

I will have set this up in the SEO plugin for you, so there’s no need for you to tinker with this aspect.


Every page in your website can have metadata associated with it. Rather than explain metadata, it’s easier just to illustrate it…

When I search Google with the term “microphone reviews” I get these two entries as the top results:

google microphone search

Note that the website authors of the first-listed record did not exert any control on their home page’s metadata; they let Google decide what the metadata would be. Google failed miserably to adequately describe the purpose of this web page. The second-listed website did have its metadata edited by its authors. Now, which one looks more inviting and compelling? You’ve got about 150 characters to describe and pitch your page to the world and what you want displayed here – and what you have total control over – is going to decide whether people move forward by clicking the link, or moving on elsewhere.

No Index

The sitemap tells the search engines what pages are important on your website. The “no index” directives tell the search engine what not to consider when indexing the site. It’s telling Google or Bing that pages that are of certain types contain superfluous or meaningless information.

WordPress generates a few pages that it uses for its own purposes that have nothing to do with what the outside world wants from your website. These pages, in effect, should be overlooked by search engines and that’s what the XML sitemap will tell them.

These three aspects are significant if your website is going to be found. Trust Websmithian to ensure that all of them are properly enabled.

Contractor or Consultant? So, which hat am I wearing today?

When you contract with somebody like me to do work on your website, are you hiring a contractor or a consultant? While the differentiation might seem subtle to some, in the world of website designing and building, these terms – and most especially the expectations of the client and the contractor – are not interchangeable! I recently did some work for a new client on their evolving website. The site was not running under the platform I’m used to working with, but I do have some familiarity with this other design platform and its available tools and figured I could still provide significant value to my client. Unfortunately, I didn’t do an adequate job of setting the expectations of this client at the outset, nor the ground rules for my work. They thought they were hiring a website-building contractor and I presumed they wanted a website consultant. Wearing the latter “hat” is the way I work the majority of the time. I believe we finally got things worked out – but not before working through some awkward feelings as the result of the misunderstanding. I think the easiest way to explain where the disconnect was is by putting it into a short story; a parable, if you will, regarding a similar situation that would be much easier for me to illustrate and explain.
Doris and Robert want to renovate an old restaurant in their town to match the look and atmosphere of an old-fashioned soda fountain and candy store. They’ve signed the lease, begun the renovations, and now need to develop a logo for their new venture. The name “Sips N Sweet Treats” is what they’ve decided on for the operation. Because they both have some talent in the area of visual design and Robert can draw basic illustrations, they sit down one night and begin to ponder and sketch out what their logo is going to look like. Eventually, they settle on something that Robert draws on some lined paper that looks like this: sips logo sketch Through her church, Doris knows someone who’s involved in graphic design. She contacts this person, Mary, who she learns has a knack for taking logo concepts and making them into neat and clear graphic files on her computer. Of course, once they’re in a standard computer graphic file format they can be used by everyone from the printer, who’ll be printing their business cards and menus, to the web designer who’ll use the logo on the restaurant’s website. Mary agrees to do the work at $60/hour, working as a contractor. After all, she’s got a pretty good specification in her hands regarding the design of the logo and really just needs to reproduce it using her computer graphics program’s drawing tools. In half an hour, Mary comes up with this:sips logo 1 She presents it to Doris and Robert who do some further pondering and decide it might be kind of nice to have the two letter S’s that begin the end the main word of their restaurant (i.e. Sips) to be larger. Mary then spends another 15 minutes reopening the job on her computer and changing the two letters so that the logo now looks like this:   In the end, Doris and Robert have received exactly what they wanted and it only took Mary 45 minutes to do the work. As a contactor, Mary is able to invoice her clients for $45.
Now, consider the story retold with a few subtle changes…
Doris and Robert develop their rough logo in the same way as in the previous story. However, this time Robert seeks out and phones Alice, a graphic designer who’s come highly recommended from a former work colleague and who specializes in logo design and development and corporate branding. Robert chokes a bit when he learns that Alice charges $100/hour for her services, but moves forward nevertheless, telling himself that she did come highly recommended. Alice agrees to participate in the project as a designer and Alice insists that an initial meeting takes place where she can understand everything about the fledgling business and they can eventually come up with a suitable logo design. Alice works from home, so meeting there isn’t going to work. Fortunately, there’s a suitable meeting place in a nearby office where a friend of Doris works. Unfortunately, it’s a half-hour drive for Alice the designer, but she’s game to meet nevertheless. The meeting of the three people takes place and, over the course of two hours, the concept of the restaurant is discussed and the dreams of what it will eventually become are expressed. As a professional graphics designer, Alice is very up-to-date on the latest colours and concepts of logo design and she now fully understands the business where the logo is to be employed. Alice returns to her home office and, in one hour, creates this:sips logo final At this point in time, Alice has made herself available to the project for a total of four hours. To put it another way, she’s been unavailable to work on any other client projects for four hours while being involved in developing the logo for Sips. So, how much should Alice bill Doris and Robert for the work? Most designers or consultants would put it this way:

2 hours of logo consulting @ $100 = $200 1 hour of logo design @ $100 = $100 1 hour of travel time @ $50 (Invoicing a client for half the regular rate for travel is a fair compromise for when the service provider cannot be earning income elsewhere, yet the client isn’t getting any direct value from the provider.)

So, in the end, using the logo designer instead of the contractor in the second scenario ended up costing Robert and Doris over seven times as much! However, I think we’d all have to agree that they got considerably more value in the end when they employed someone who added significantly to the overall success of the project through by adding their expertise. When building a website, I can most certainly act solely as a contractor. But that implies that my client has a set of crystal clear specifications to give me and expects me to only follow a blueprint and do only as I’m told. Few can provide such a thing because most need people like Websmithian to collaborate with them in designing and creating their website. Incidentally, I will regularly and happily subcontract work that required the talents of a true graphic designer – because I sure ain’t one!  

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Best website designer in Spruce Grove?

best website designer
Some of my clients say that I’m the best website designer in Spruce Grove! That’s very nice of them to say. I’m not sure it’s the truth, but I’d like to think it is! These days, designing and building websites is a lot more than it use to be. Back in the old days (the dawn of the Internet – the early 1990s) most websites were simply “online brochures” or “online billboards.” They were static and simply heralded a company or organization’s purpose and benefits. Oddly, many websites in the past – including those of my career business – didn’t even have the name of the business embedded into the domain name. So, your company may have been called “Acme Widgets” but your website might have been named “”. These days, designing and building websites involves more than just erecting an internet-based brochure. Website building has become a full-fledged marketing project that eventually needs to align perfectly with the organization’s branding, purpose, reputation – and a host of other criteria. Being the best website designer in Spruce Grove now means that one has to have a high sense of design and esthetics. But it also means the designer has to be fully cognizant of other important aspects of website design that have nothing to do with how it looks and functions! Underneath all of that beautiful and user-friendly design lies a whole batch of smart under-the-hood tinkering that affects a number of website aspects:
  • Loading Speed Websites that don’t load quickly – no matter if the device is a desktop computer or smartphone – don’t do well. In fact, statistically speaking, many users will abandon a website if it’s home page hasn’t loaded in three seconds or less. There are a myriad of things that affect website loading speed. “The best website designer in Spruce Grove” will see to it that as many of them are implemented as possible! Want more info? One of the pages of the Websmithian website is totally dedicated to the subject of website loading speed.
  • Keywords Enterprises and organizations that want their websites to be found know what keywords to use. Sometimes, these are not all that obvious. Many tools are at Websmithian’s disposal to search for and analyze not only the obvious ones, but also those that are somewhat hidden. Strategies that use keywords (which are really combinations of two or more words that become a phrase) that have relatively high competition are often not nearly as successful as those that aren’t as competitive.
  • Responsiveness When used in the context of website design, this word actually indicates just how well your website displays and functions on a small-screened device. A decade ago, everyone designed websites based on a relatively large desktop computer screen. Now, with half the world accessing websites via smartphones and tablet computers, websites need to dynamically adjust accordingly. In reality, a highly-responsive website is one that has actually been designed and tested to automatically reformat itself depending upon whether it senses a full (desktop or laptop) screen, tablet screen, or smartphone screen.
  • Secure There are tens of thousands of broken people all over the planet who would like nothing more than to break your website – even for fun! (What they actually gain from doing this and the reasons why are for someone a lot smarter than me!) But being the best website designer in Spruce Grove means that I have to know how to totally lock down a website and keep it safe from intruders. In this situation, I use a number of traditional methods, mostly involving regular software upgrades, to combat infiltrators. I prefer, however, to have all of my Websmithian clients subscribe to my special high-speed and ultra-secure website hosting. It’s like no other in the world. Contact me to learn how I can literally make your website unbreakable, from a security standpoint.
Yes, being in the website-building business isn’t what it used to be! Rest assured that I, Websmithian, is always on the leading edge of site design. That is, not only delivering exquisite websites to my clientele, but also sites that are fast, secure, easy-to-find, and mobile-friendly. In the spirit of full disclosure – and with some admitted bragging – please note that I wrote this article about myself as a bit of an experiment. I wanted to determine if, when properly using the longtail keyword “best website designer in Spruce Grove,” I could make this page rise to the top of the Google rankings. And it pretty well did! That’s probably how you got to this page. This proves that, using the proper SEO strategies and by finding some nice longtail keywords that aren’t all that popular, one can get their business’ listing up in the rankings. I admit that it would have been significantly more polite to place the previous paragraph at the beginning of this blog post. However, had I done that, the longtail keyword I was using wouldn’t have appeared in the first paragraph and, therefore, wouldn’t have been as highly-weighted by Google! Sorry about that.

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And that's nothing compared to what I can do!