By Christy McNee at

Top Apps for Small Businesses in 2019

All small business owners even with only a handful of employees should take advantage of the range of free software being offered today.

Are you looking for ways to increase your company's efficiency and not spend a fortune doing it? We believe it is important for small businesses to have the competitive edge over the competition. We have taken the guess work out of you trying tons of different apps and are giving you are top list of the best business apps on the market with generous free plans that you can run just about every aspect of your small business.

Top Apps For Small Businesses:



Accounting Software, Receipt Scanning, Invoicing

Wave is a popular choice for small businesses looking to run their accounting in the cloud. It is designed specifically with small business in mind and the accounting, invoicing, and receipt scanning features are 100% free, and you can use them as much as you like with no limitations. With our three million customers, you can be sure Wave is a tested, reliable accounting solution featuring:

Banking feeds

Income tracking

Expense tracking

Receipt scanning

Customer invoicing

Check Out Wave's Website 



Productivity, Project Management

Trello is your team's to-do list on steroids. Manage tasks within your company with ease and collaborate effectively with Trello's fun and simple to use web and mobile apps. Their generous free tier is more than enough for small business and includes:

Unlimited boards

Unlimited lists

Unlimited cards

As many members as you need

Team checklists

Attachments as large as 10MB

One free power up each board

Check Out Trello's Website

SINC Employee Time Clock


Timesheets, Employee Scheduling

Timesheet fraud and inaccurate timesheets cost companies billions of dollars each year. A mobile time clock solution is one effortless way you can increase the bottom line of your business when you are just starting out.

SINC's founders have a firm belief that small businesses are the lifeblood of our society and that very small companies often need a helping hand in the early days. That is why small teams of under five can use the majority of SINC's features free of charge, including:

Access to the web version and mobile apps

Employee time clock

The ability for employees to leave notes and images on shifts

Exportable payroll reports that convert punch times to decimal hours

Staff clock-in notifications

Emergency contact collection

The premium version starts at only $10 USD per month for the first five users and includes: The option to have more than one admin on the account. Staff scheduling. Staff shift reminders. Health and safety reporting

Check Out SINC's Website



Company Communication, File Sharing

Slack is your ultimate business communication tool that brings all of your messaging into one organized, searchable platform. All of your company communication is available on multiple devices, wherever you go. Slack is the smart way to talk with your team. Their free service is more than enough for any small business and include:

Company Chat

Discussion boards

A searchable index of your companies last 10K messages

Mandatory two-factor authentication

One on one voice calls

5GB of storage

Check Out Slack's Website



Password Management

With data security at the front of everyone's minds in 2019, using long, randomized passwords to all of your online accounts in a must if you a running a business. The problem is trying to keep a secure record of all of these passwords, and that is where is solid password manager is needed.

Out of all of the password managers on the market, LastPass offers the most useful free tier that we have found.

Check Out The LastPass Website Here






With the advances in security in cloud computing, it is our opinion that you should move away from on-device mail services such as outlook and onto a cloud-based webmail service and Gmail is still the best choice and is backed by the power and speed of Google. Their free service includes:

Conversations organized into threads

Solid virus and malware screening

More than 10GB of mail storage

25MB file attachments per message

Keystroke shortcuts

Industry leading spam filtering

Check Out Gmail's Website

Google Drive

google drive one of the top small business apps

Cloud Storage, Productivity

Long gone are the days of carrying around portable external hard drives full of essential company files or not being able to send an attachment in an email because it is too large for your mail server to handle. Directly send the attachment as a drive link that everyone can access and collaborate on easily. With Drive, you can upload any file you want to your cloud storage and access them from any device, wherever you happen to be. Google drive is free for up to 15GB and includes:

Access to Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and more

Storage of any file

Drag and drop

Offline mode

Document scanning

Google photos

Check Out Google Drive's Website



Social Media Marketing, Management

Social media marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools in our arsenal. Small business owners often have to wear a lot of different hats when starting and managing social media profiles can suck up a lot of time. That is where Hootsuite comes in. Their free tier allows you to manage up to three of your companies social accounts enabling you to schedule your content in advance and effectively engage with your audience all from the one platform.

Check Out Hootsuite's Website

Mail Chimp

mail chimp great for small business

Email Marketing

Mailchimp's email marketing platform is popular among small businesses looking for a helping hand with their email marketing automation. Email lists are a great free growth hack that owner-operators can implement into their marketing plan, and MailChimp makes the process of managing lists, sending scheduled messages and complying with anti-spam laws a breeze.

Their generous free plan is more than enough to get good traction with your email efforts and includes:

Up to 2k Subscribers

Send up to 12k emails each month

Multiple users on your account

Online training resources


A/B Testing

And much more!

Check Out Mail Chimp's Website



Note Taking

One common trait of successful entrepreneurs is note taking, and no other application is more accepted as the best solution than Evernote. Their free plan is suited for individual business owners to manage their thoughts throughout the day and access them on any device through the cloud.

60mb monthly upload limit

25mb max note size

Two devices using the same account

Offline access on desktop



By Christy McNee at

In 2019 It Is Vital Your Website Be Mobile Friendly

On average, people are spending 5 hours on their smartphones a day. And no, it’s not all just YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat (though there is lots of that). More than half of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when searching on their smartphones.

Having a mobile-friendly website in 2019 isn’t just a good idea – it’s imperative. These are the top reasons why you NEED to make sure your site is mobile friendly in 2019:

Your Customers are Using Mobile Devices

The number 1 most important reason you need a responsive website is that your customers are using their mobile. 57% of all web traffic is done on mobile devices.  More than half of your customers are checking you out from their smartphones. What kind of experience are you giving them?

Build Trust

Here’s that same percentage again. 57% of online users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile website.

Yes. It’s that big of a deal to have a mobile-friendly website. It’s silly to risk losing customers when it is something that can so easily be fixed. 

Be Competitive

If having a responsive website for mobile devices isn’t a top priority for you, beware. Your top competitors have probably already made sure that their site is mobile friendly.  Which business do you think customers will choose when browsing from their smartphone?

Increase Your Visibility

One of the best things about having a mobile-friendly website is that you can reach a wider audience. Responsive websites make online sharing simple and so your web visitors are more likely to share on their social platforms.

Plus, mobile-friendliness is a ranking symbol on Google. That means that mobile-friendly websites appear higher in search results.  This should grab your attention immediatley.  Having a mobile friendly site automatically helps you rank higher in Google, this is an easy way to improve your organic search rankings.

Keep Their Attention

In our instant, digital age, people now have a shorter attention spans.  Sad but true. So, don’t lose a large chunk of potential customers. Make your website responsive.

One aspect of a mobile-friendly website is that it loads quickly. More than half of mobile web visitors will leave your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.  If your page takes too long to load potential customers will simply click off your page and move on to the next one.  Don't let that happen!

Make it Easy for Customers

The more convenient it is for customers to reach you, the more likely they are to do it. Having a mobile-friendly website means that your phone number is easy to find and is clickable.  All your customers have to do is click and the phone will start ringing.  Remember what we said earlier about our attention span, if you make it easy for customers: it takes out the guess work. This is better for your customers and for you because it will likely lead to a sale.

By Christy McNee at

Has Facebook Lost The Public's Trust?

Out of the major tech companies, people trust Facebook the least with their personal information. Amazon and Twitter come in a distant second and third, with 8 percent of people saying they trust these companies the least with their personal information.

Last week, the latest in a long string of Facebook privacy scandals came to light: According to a report in The New York Times, the company skirted its own privacy rules to give more than 150 companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify, special privileges to its users' data.

This came days after disclosure of a bug exposing up to 6.8 million users' private photos to third-party app developers. These are only the two most recent controversies surrounding the social giant, which has come under fire time and again since the 2016 election for everything from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal to high-profile security breaches.


According to a December survey of 1,000 people conducted earlier this month by research company Toluna, 40 percent of respondents said they trust Facebook the least with their personal information. That deep mistrust stems not only from the various data leaks and privacy fiascos but also from revelations of how the company and its top executives, Mark Zuckeberg and Sheryl Sandberg, have handled those crises.

Uber, with its own string of executive drama and shady programs now overshadowed by the tribulations of Facebook and the like, came in fourth at 7 percent. Lyft came in at 6 percent.

Rounding out the list are Apple and Snap at 4 percent, Microsoft at 2 percent, and Netflix and Tesla each at 1 percent.




By Christy McNee at

Our Top Ways To Get More Customer Reviews

Ask for Them

This is the most effective way to get reviews. Simply appeal to someone that you have an actual relationship with and just ask. You’d be surprised how saying “hey, it would really help me out of if you did this” will be the most effective way to get more reviews.

Send Email Requests

Again, this is all about asking. Don’t be afraid to send out an email campaign with the sole message being “Let us know what you think- Leave us a Review!” These emails should include links to your profiles on the platforms you want to focus on. Sometimes, using segmented lists of high-value clients or emailing individual clients directly with personalized emails can get you the best results.

Offer Incentives

Want results? Offer incentives.

Be careful with this one, certain platforms (like Google and Yelp) do not allow you to incentive users. Use carefully, and to be safe, stick to platforms where it’s allowed.

Promote Reviews You Already Have

Reviews work a lot like UGC; this makes sense since they’re a form of user generated content. If you promote and feature the reviews you’ve already gotten, more users will be more likely to leave some, too.  Google has a great platform #SmallThankswithGoogle that creates ready-to-share posts of reviews you have already received on your Google Business.

Place CTAs on Your Site

This is another form of “it never hurts to ask.” Many sites now have social media widgets or plugins somewhere within them where they display UGC and customer reviews. Place a CTA next to them that specifically encourages users to “Leave us a Review” can be extremely effective. Direct, clear, concise CTAs are used in marketing for a good reason, and they can work just as well here as everywhere else.

Incentivize Employees to Ask for Reviews

If you’re the business’s owner or head of a department, train your employees to ask more for reviews. Many employees take pride in their work but need to be reminded to ask for reviews. If you can incentivize them to ask for more reviews, everyone wins; have a contest, and whichever employee gets the most or best (or both!) customer reviews on social media, can win a prize. Whoever has the most direct interaction and relationships with the customers should be the ones to ask.

Use Timing to Your Advantage

If you ask customers at the right time, they’ll be a lot more likely to leave you a review on social media. For businesses who may not have continual clients (like real estate agents or mortgage brokers), contact the client 3-5 days after a purchase. Ensure that they’re still happy, thank them for their purchase, and ask for a review. This time frame is optimal; you’re fresh in their mind and they’re familiar with you.

Address Negative Reviews

Make sure to use negative reviews to your advantage by addressing them. Apologize for the user’s experience and offer a solution to resolve the complaint. If you can’t, ask to contact the user through email or private message. Other users will still see the negative review, but they’ll also see that you took ownership of the situation and tried to make it right. This counts for a lot.

Tell Users Exactly Where You Want Them to Review

In many cases, being specific can benefit you. Ask users to leave reviews on specific platforms. You can also ask them to mention the employee who helped them by name or ask them to mention how your business helped them. If users know what to write, they don’t have to think about what to put down; this makes it easier for them.

Utilize Display Plugins

There are a million and one plugins that we can use to help us promote our businesses, and some of them can help us get more reviews on social media. The Facebook Reviews plugin for WordPress, for example, lets you display Facebook reviews on your site. You can also use tools to showcase LinkedIn recommendations on your site. Most of these plugins let users easily navigate to your site to view the recommendations; when combined with a CTA, these tools can help you get more reviews fast.

Make Reviews a Contest Participation Requirement

If you want to generate conversation and get more reviews at once, you can make leaving reviews a mandatory part of a social contest. Make sure you clarify that to enter, you must write an honest review, and the contents won’t be taken into consideration. You can’t track this with social contest software, and make sure you aren’t breaking any platform violations if you host the contest on-site. You can always have a raffle for participants that you announce on social but carry out offline.

Print Requests on Receipts

This is another brick-and-mortar specific tactic; print out receipts with “Leave us a Review on Facebook/Yelp/Google” instructions on the bottom. Many people keep their receipts. If you’re in the B2B industry, many clients may scan their receipts into invoicing software later to keep track of business expenses. The more you can remind customers to leave you reviews, the better.

Follow Up

Following up is an important business strategy, and it can help you get more reviews. You must be gentle with this; don’t be pushy. But especially with customers you have close relationships with, you can say “hey, did you ever get a chance to write a review for us?” 

By Christy McNee at

Are Your Android Apps Committing Fraud Behind Your Back?

Popular Android Apps Have Been Committing Ad Fraud Behind Users’ Backs

Eight apps with a total of more than 2 billion downloads in the Google Play store have been exploiting user permissions as part of an ad fraud scheme that could have stolen millions of dollars, according to research from Kochava, an app analytics and attribution company that detected the scheme and shared its findings with BuzzFeed News.

Seven of the apps Kochava found engaging in this behavior are owned by Cheetah Mobile, a Chinese company listed on the New York Stock Exchange that last year was accused of fraudulent business practices by a short-seller investment firm — a charge that Cheetah vigorously denied. The other app is owned by Kika Tech, a Chinese company now headquartered in Silicon Valley that received a significant investment from Cheetah in 2016. The companies claim more than 700 million active users per month for their mobile apps.

The allegations are the latest shock to a vast digital ad tech industry that remains dogged by a multibillion-dollar fraud problem and a mobile ecosystem rife with malicious ads and fraudulent practices. BuzzFeed News reported last month on an ad fraud scheme that tracked user behavior in dozens of Android apps to generate fake traffic and steal advertisers’ money. Google estimated close to $10 million was stolen from it and its partners, and subsequently removed many of the apps from its Play store.

How It Works

App developers often issue so-called bounties for third parties to help drive installations. If a user clicks on an ad for an app and then installs and opens it, the app’s developer will pay the ad network. The key is to know who should get credit for driving that installation, as the money needs to flow to the network that served the ad, as well as to the publisher of the app or website where the ad appeared, for example. This is the weakness in the system. App install attribution, as it’s called, is often not an exact science because it can be hard to definitively identify which ad led to the installation of an app on a specific phone.

To attribute the installation to the correct party, information about the device used to click on the ad and the network and publisher that served it is passed along with the app installation. When the app is finally opened, the app does a “lookback” to see where the last click came from and attribute the installation accordingly.

Kochava found that Cheetah and Kika apps are gaming this attribution system to ensure they’re awarded the last click. This is true even in cases when no ad was served and they played no role in the installation.

Normal Android App Installation ProcessClick Injection Android App Installation Process













Source:  Buzz Feed News

By Christy McNee at

Our Top Ways To Be Thankful

Be Appreciative

Make sure to not take for granted the many things you have that you did nothing to earn, such as life itself, the beauty of nature, the great country we live in, or the love of family and friends.

A Gratitude Journal

Science has gone crazy over how gratitude makes you not only a warmer person but a healthier one. There is a strong link between gratitude and three different measures of well-being: satisfaction with life, subjective happiness and positive affect.

Gratitude journals require only a pen, pad and a handful of quiet moments. You can keep them anywhere. They’re meant to be mentally refreshing, spiritually invigorating, and free of expectation or reciprocation.

Be Grateful

I believe one of the greatest lessons in life we can learn is to be thankful for what we already have. But gratitude is something we must work at—to prepare our hearts to be reflective and thankful, to provide room for contemplation of our good fortune.

And if we want to be the kind of people who are characterized by thankfulness, by gratitude, then we must make sure that we always focus on it during the year.

Show You Care

“Thank you.”

It’s a simple phrase that is short and sweet. How often does it come out of your mouth? It’s kind of surprising how hard it really is to make saying thanks a “thing”—something that comes naturally, that you don’t have to put on your to-do list.

It may slip your mind, not sure how to say it, show it, or it just feels awkward. Complimenting doesn’t always come easily to everyone.

None of these excuses gets ride of people’s innate need to feel valued and appreciated.

The Feel Good Habit

At night before getting ready for bed, spend a few minutes thinking of all of the things that you were grateful for during that day. This is especially important when you’ve had a bad day and it seems as though there is nothing to give thanks for.

This can take work, especially when negative emotions are getting the best of you, but this is important. Maybe you closed a deal with a business associate or had a few laughs with a friend. Maybe you received a compliment. Or maybe you did something nice for someone or someone did something nice for you and it lifted your spirits. It is well worth the effort in creating an attitude of gratitude, a habit that’s conducive to making you feel good and enjoy your life.

Attitude Of Gratitude

Are you a grateful person? Thankful for the good things, big and small, in your life?

In our everyday life we often get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to be thankful for the precious gifts we are given every day.

Fake It Till You Make It

Often if we fake our own happiness or thankfulness it will soon follow.  The old adage of “power of positive thinking” is true, philosophers have always believed that where the mind goes, so goes the emotions.

By Christy McNee at

SEO Tips Heading Into 2019

Any business with an SEO campaign should know that the digital world is always changing.  If you are not changing, you will risk being left behind. The beginning of 2019 is fast approaching and now is the time to start thinking about how your strategy can be made better in the new year.

Here our 5 Tips to start your SEO off  the right way in 2019:

Keywords – Less is More

If you have been stacking dozens of keywords on each targeted page, now is the time to depart from that methodology. Over the past year or so search engines are favoring websites that incorporate highly pertinent and trustworthy keywords more than anything. It has moved to being more about quality than quantity!

Content – Quality is Key

Not only are keywords becoming more important, but so is the way in which you incorporate them into your website. Google has become better and better at reading the content on each page and discerning whether it is truly relevant to the business, or simply trying to fit in as many keywords as possible.

A new year is the perfect time to refresh your content and make sure you are giving your customers what they need.

Long-Form Content – Helps your Ranking

We have seen SEO grow to incorporate much more than merely your targeted product pages. Google is looking at long-form content further and rewarding those who do it well.

Research has shown that longer content such as blogs and eBooks have a good chance at ranking and converting the customers who read them. This is likely because, as Google themselves have stated, roughly 10% of people who use the search engine every day are looking for reliable information on a broad topic. Long-form content appeals to those who want in-depth information, and Google rewards businesses who take the time to create content that does just that.


Knowing where you’re standing from an SEO point of view is essential to keeping your campaign performing at its best.  

Video Content

Video has fast become one of the fastest growing and best ways of communication for audiences all over the world. In 2019, it’s a great idea to develop video content for your website that draws the audience in and provides information in a way that words simply can’t. People will often pass up the 1,200-word Product Page but take the time to watch the 30 second video that gives them the exact same information.

Make sure to contact McNee Solutions for all your SEO questions!  We look forward to helping you start 2019 with an SEO campaign directed to fit all your needs.

By Christy McNee at

New Social Media Alternatives Are Here

Many people are searching for other options for social media platforms that are less-censored. But what are the social media alternatives that are currently available?

There are several out there but understand that they are small, and you may not find your Aunt Annie or Uncle Steve on these platforms – not yet, anyway.  You will be able to voice your opinion without fear of censorship or worse yet, be banned.  We have comprised a list of the top new social media platforms below and the links to create accounts.

Top New Social Platforms


social media

MeWe calls themselves The Next-Gen Social Network. They raised $4.8 million and launched back in 2016 to take on Facebook and Twitter. They’re about 6 million members strong so far and Mark Weinstein, the founder, plans for it to be 500 million by 2022.

Go here to get a MeWe account. is a platform that is similar to Twitter. You have 300 characters with which to make your point. It has been called the Alt-Right’s social media alternative and although Gab itself doesn’t censor its users, Microsoft has threatened to take them down due to “hate speech.” A lot of folks who got banned, shadowbanned, or censored by Twitter are there.

With any social network, what you see in your feed will depend on who your friends are and who you follow.

You can join Gab here.

Real.Video (Brighteon)

Real.Video was started by Mike Adams of Natural News in response to mass deplatforming on YouTube.

This is the YouTube alternative to give voices and free speech to those who are being systematically targeted and censored by the larger existing Big Tech sites.

It’s still in the developmental stages, so there’s an occasional glitch but thus far it has been a relatively smooth user experience.

Check out Real.Video/Brighteon here.


Another budding network is Mastodon, which has the tagline “Giving social media back to you.” It’s a free, open-source network, which means that developers can contribute to it because its design is publicly accessible.

You can join here.


Diaspora is a social network built on three cornerstones: decentralization, freedom, and privacy. To join Diaspora, you must choose a “pod” which is a group of potentially like-minded people. Each pod is independently hosted which should lessen the likelihood of corporate censorship.

You can follow hashtags that interest you, and you can categorize people by how you know them (family, friends, work, etc.) Then you can control who sees the different things that you post.

Diaspora is decentralized which means no one person owns it. This means that it doesn’t have any form of advertisement and corporate interference. It also does not collect any of your data. When you create your account, you are responsible for your own data and retain the ownership of your personal data.

Go here to find yourself a pod on Diaspora.


contributing source:  zero hedge

By Christy McNee at

Protect Your Business From Cyber Threats

5 ways to protect YOUR small business from phishing and other cyber threats.

  1. Train Your Employees!

A majority of small businesses have fewer than 50 employees. Ensure your staff are trained on the basics of cybersecurity for their roles. There are a number of free (YES really free!) resources available online to provide the basics: phishing, passwords, internet browsing and data protection.

The number one threat that will impact your business is phishing. Start with the simple actions. Teach employees to diligently check links – hover to see the real destination. If they did click on that link, do they have someone to tell? What if it took them to a website asking for their username and password?  If there’s an attachment, did it come from a trusted sender – if so, were they expecting to receive that invoice or resume file?

In June this year, the FBI issued a warning about the dramatic increase in business email compromise (BEC), which results in financial loss for the business targeted. The BEC scam is a simple email from a fraudster masquerading as a legitimate business executive asking for funds to be wired. These messages are typically targeted to individuals in the organization that process invoices or payments.

With a small staff, it’s not always easy to build your processes to include segregation of duties. But having controls in place related to handing out funds will not only save you on insider theft, it will also reduce the potential wire fraud from a random email spoofing your email address to your finance team. If your business does become a victim, the FBI encourages you to report the incident.

Remember the Target breach? The malicious actors started with sending a phishing email to the HVAC maintenance technician – a small business.

  1. Get Cyber Insurance.

You have an insurance policy on your car to protect you if you’re in an accident. You purchase liability insurance to cover your risk, should you encounter an unforeseen disruption in your business. In order to protect your business from a security incident that could result in a data breach or business disruption, you should invest in a cybersecurity insurance policy.

  1. Invest in IT/Cybersecurity Services

Enlisting the help of your teenage nephew is great for setting up your new phone or laptop, but that’s not the best solution to support your growing business. There are plenty of managed service providers to contract support for your technology and cybersecurity needs. Tap into your local small business networks or professional sharing networks for recommendations.

  1. Protect your Online Business Accounts

I put it in the cloud! The cloud service offerings today are far more readily available and robust than even five years ago. Entering your credit card info to purchase a piece of the cloud is easy, but make sure you know what you’re putting where. Keeping an inventory of these services, along with the type of data your storing, is important if the service experiences a breach or an outage.

While it might be easy to use that same username and password across all your accounts, it only takes one data breach to put all these services at risk. Get a password vault to manage these accounts.

  1. Protect your Social Media Accounts

As a small business owner, your number one “go to” place for your marketing campaign is social media. Managing these accounts is critical to protecting your online identity. Who has access to post on your behalf? Limit who has access to the account. Review your profile settings to ensure you have the highest level of security enabled. If the provider allows you to enable two-factor authentication – ENABLE IT!

Learn what two-factor authentication is and how to enable it at

YOU can do this – small steps can make a BIG difference!

Whether your family business was handed down to you through generations, or you’re a new start up, or  a nonprofit, small city, county, or community organization – you have intellectual property or personal data that you need to protect. And you have employees that need to take actions to support your business.

You built your business to live your dream; don’t let a malicious actor take that away from you! As you grow your business, make sure you grow your cybersecurity capabilities right along with it.

source:  Stay Safe Online

By Christy McNee at

What Streaming Service Is Responsible For The Largest Internet Traffic?

Underlining the popularity of streaming services, Statista's Martin Armstrong points out that Netflix accounts for the most megabytes with 15 percent.

Youtube isn't too far behind with 11.4 percent.

Further back but still with a significant share, Amazon Prime Video is responsible for 3.9 percent.

Interestingly, the biggest streamers vary notably across geographic region...

international download

source: Sandvine

By Christy McNee at

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Make Your Home a Haven for Online Safety 

The internet is used at home to engage in social media, complete assignments, maybe even adjust the thermostat, and more. Therefore, it is crucial to learn to use the internet safely and responsibly, and to secure all networks and devices.

Basic Tips and Advice:

  • Take the time to secure home networks. Make sure that all devices in your home that use the internet have the latest operating system, web browsers, and security software. Also, secure your wireless router by giving it a unique name, complicated password, and using a firewall.
  • Use different passwords for each account or device and make sure that your passwords are difficult to guess. Use a combination of characters, such as uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters.
  • Avoid purchasing networked devices, such as children’s games and toys which are especially vulnerable to hacking.
  • Install anti-virus software on your devices. 

Raising Digital Citizens

The internet is a wonderful place for learning and entertainment, but like the world around us, it can pose dangers if precautions are not taken. Allowing free access puts your child, your computer and your personal data at risk.

  • Remain positively engaged: Pay attention to and know the online environments your children use. Surf the web with them. Appreciate your children’s participation in their online communities and show interest in their friends. Try to react constructively when they encounter inappropriate material. Make it a teachable moment.
  •  Support their good choices: Expand your children’s online experience and their autonomy when developmentally appropriate, as they demonstrate competence in safe and secure online behavior and good decision making.
  • Keep a clean machine: Safety and security start with protecting all family computers with a security suite (anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall) that is set to update automatically. Keep your operating system, web browsers and other software current as well, and back up computer files on a regular basis.
  • Know the protection features of the websites and software your children use: All major internet service providers (ISPs) have tools to help you manage young children’s online experience (e.g., selecting approved websites, monitoring the amount of time they spend online or limiting the people who can contact them) and may have other security features, such as pop-up blockers. Third-party tools are also available. But remember that your home isn’t the only place they can go online.
  • Review privacy settings: Look at the privacy settings available on social networking sites, smartphones, apps and other social tools your children use. Decide together which settings provide the appropriate amount of protection for each child.
  • Teach critical thinking: Help your children identify safe, credible websites and other digital content, and be cautious about clicking on, downloading, posting and uploading content.
  • Explain the implications: Help your children understand the public nature of the internet and its risks and benefits. Be sure they know that any digital info they share, such as emails, photos or videos, can easily be copied and pasted elsewhere and is almost impossible to take back. Things that could damage their reputation, friendships or future prospects should not be shared electronically.
  • Help them be good digital citizens: Remind your children to be good “digital friends” by respecting personal information of friends and family and not sharing anything about others that is potentially embarrassing or hurtful.
  • Just saying “no” rarely works: Teach your children how to interact safely with people they “meet” online. Though it’s preferable they make no in-person contact with online-only acquaintances, young people may not always follow this rule. So talk about maximizing safe conditions: meeting only in well-lit public places, always taking at least one friend and telling a trusted adult about any plans they make – including the time, place and acquaintance’s contact information. Remind them to limit sharing personal information with new friends.
  • Empower your children to handle issues: Your children may deal with situations like bullying, unwanted contact or hurtful comments online. Work with them on strategies for when problems arise, such as talking to a trusted adult, not retaliating, calmly talking with the person, blocking the person or filing a complaint. Agree on steps to take if the strategy fails.
  • Encourage your children to be “digital leaders:” Help ensure they master the safety and security techniques of all technology they use. Support their positive and safe engagement in online communities. Encourage them to help others accomplish their goals. Urge them to help if friends are making poor choices or being harmed.

More Ways to Keep Your Children Safer and More Secure Online

  • Keep your home computer in a central and open location: If your computer is in the open, you can physically monitor your children while they are online.
  • Be aware of all the ways people connect to the internet: Young people have many options to connect to the internet beyond a home computer. Phones, tablets, gaming systems and even TVs have become connected. Be aware of all the ways and devices (including what they do at friend’s houses) your children are using, and be sure they know how to use them safely and responsibly.
  • Talk to other parents: When and how you decide to let your children use the internet is a personal parenting decision. Knowing what other parents are thinking and allowing their children to do is important and can be helpful for making decisions about what your children do online.
  • Know the rules: Not all online services are for kids. Even some of the most popular social networking services and other sites are meant only for use by people 13 and older. There are many terrific sites designed specifically for younger children that provide a safer, more secure and age-appropriate environment.
  • Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online: The online world is ever changing. New services with great features continually emerge. Knowing about them and how young people use them can help you better understand the digital life your children experience as well as any concerns you may have for your children.
  • Consider separate accounts on your computer: Most operating systems allow you to create a different account for each user. Separate accounts can lessen the chance that your child might accidentally access, modify, change settings and/or delete your files. You can set up certain privileges (the things that can and can’t be done) for each account.

source:  staysafeonline

By Christy McNee at

Is Your Site Mobile Friendly?

The desktop version of a site might be difficult to view and use on a mobile device. The version that's not mobile-friendly requires the user to pinch or zoom in order to read the content. Users find this a frustrating experience and are likely to abandon the site. Alternatively, the mobile-friendly version is readable and immediately usable.

In the USA, 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones. Interestingly, 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be present.

Mobile is critical to your business and will continue to be so – whether you’re blogging about your favorite sports team, working on the website for your community theater, or selling products to potential clients. Make sure visitors can have a good experience on your site when they’re visiting from their mobile devices!

Google offers a FREE Mobile Friendly Test if you are unsure if your site is user friendly.

Below is what you want your Mobile Friendly site report to look like.  

site mobile friendly

However, if you run your Mobile site test and your Page comes back not Mobile Friendly it is in your best interest to transition your current site to a mobile friendly one.

not mobile friendly

Since 94% of people in the US alone use smartphones for local search information on their phones and 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work it is vital that all sites be mobile friendly. McNee Solutions can help you make the transition if you find your site is not mobile friendly. 


By Christy McNee at

The Difference Between SEO and SEM

What is the Key Distinction Between SEO and SEM?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has traditionally been thought of as a component of the umbrella term, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), encompassing both paid and organic tactics. Today, SEM is used to refer exclusively to paid search.  Search Engine Marketing is the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines, while Search Engine Optimization is defined as the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial or natural search results on search engines.

So, rather than viewing SEM as an umbrella term encompassing SEO, it’s more accurate to view SEM (paid search) and SEO (organic search) as separate entities in your Search Marketing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The industry and discipline of SEO is continually evolving to keep up with Google's ever-changing algorithms, but one thing is constant: SEO is made up of on-page and off-page (aka "on-site" and "off-site") activities as its two main pillars.

On-page SEO consists of:

  • Optimized meta data, including the page title tag, meta description, heading tags, and image ALT tag, which incorporate target keywords
  • Well-written and optimized page copy that incorporate target keywords
  • Simple and well-formatted page URLs with selective keywords
  • Optimized page speed
  • Social sharing integration within your content

Off-page SEO consists of:

  • Link building to attract and obtain quality inbound links (aka "backlinks")
    • This makes up the majority of off-page SEO
  • Social signals (e.g., increasing traffic to a website from social media sharing)
  • Attracting attention from social bookmarking sites like Reddit, Digg and Stumbleupon

A large part of SEO is creating valuable, high-quality content (e.g., blog articles and web page copy) that your target audience will find helpful. Over time, this results in increased organic traffic to your website, more opportunities for inbound links and, most importantly, more conversions.

Be sure to pay attention to these on-page and off-page tactics to ensure your landing pages, web copy and blog articles are optimized for search.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM strictly involves earning search visibility through paid advertisements on search engines like Google, Instagram Facebook and Bing. While these advertisements are commonly referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) ads, there’s a slew of additional terms used for paid search or SEM activities—cost-per-click (CPC) ads, paid search ads and paid search advertising.

PPC advertising allows you to target potential buyers through relevant ad copy and keywords that match their search queries. These ads show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs) next to organic listings, which gives your company the opportunity to increase the visibility of its web pages, landing pages, blog articles and more.

What Are Some Examples of SEM Activities?

Google AdWords is far and away the most popular platform for hosting ads, but there are some key activities needed for successful SEM on the platform, such as:

  • Launching ad campaigns with a specific audience (e.g., geographic) in mind
  • Creating ad groups that consist of target keyword variations
  • Writing relevant ad copy using these selective keywords
  • Setting an ad budget
  • Monitoring metrics like clicks, impressions, click through rates and average cost-per-click

So, Which is Better? Strict SEO or SEM?

Advocates on either side could argue one is more effective than the other, but I like to view high-quality SEO as a prerequisite for high-quality SEM. SEO lays the foundation for SEM through well-optimized content that prospects and customers find helpful. Without landing pages, web pages and blog content optimized for search, your SEM efforts will fall flat due to poor quality, and visibility in the SERPs will be extremely difficult. Organic SEO is also less costly long-term as you establish search credibility, as long as you maintain it with the consistent creation of quality content and social media usage.


By Christy McNee at

Is Your Smart TV Spying On You?

Vizio Smart TV owners who haven't heard that the internet-connected televisions had been spying on them may find out about it directly from their Smart TV itself.  

The secret "feature" was exposed in November 2015, when journalistic watchdog ProPublica revealed that Vizio TVs track viewing habits and share them with advertisers. 

Vizio’s technology works by analyzing snippets of the shows you’re watching, whether on traditional television or streaming Internet services such as Netflix. Vizio determines the date, time, channel of programs — as well as whether you watched them live or recorded. The viewing patterns are then connected your IP address - the Internet address that can be used to identify every device in a home, from your TV to a phone.

Following the report, several class action lawsuits ensued which were consolidated. The company argued in court that it was innocent and only recorded customers anonymously, however a California Federal Judge disagreed, once in March and once in July, in a class action lawsuit against the company. 

Vizio insisted that it was only collecting and sharing nonpersonal information such as IP addresses and zip codes, but the plaintiffs had researchers coming forward to say that it was easy to figure out who was watching what. 

Last Wednesday, attorneys in the class action suit asked the same judge to extend the deadline for a preliminary settlement - originally scheduled to be publicly detailed on September 12, so that they can notify owners through their TVs. 

According to a court filing, "The Parties are developing a class notice program with direct notification to the class through VIZIO Smart TV displays, which requires testing to make sure any TV notice can be properly displayed and functions as intended. The additional time requested will allow the parties to confirm that the notice program proposed in the motion for preliminary approval is workable and satisfies applicable legal standards." 

Attorneys leading the class action say they wish to detail the terms of the settlement by October 3. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also investigated the company, settling with Vizio for just $2.2 million - a slap on the wrist. 


source:  zero hedge



By Christy McNee at

McNee Solutions can improve your local ranking on Google

Local results pop-up when people search for businesses and places near their location. These places can be shown in mutiple places across Search and Maps.  If you were to search "Gluten Free Bakery" from your mobile device you would get local search results. Google tries to show you what you are searching for nearby that you’d like to visit. In the image below, Google uses local results to suggest some options.

local search 














Can’t find your business? We can help you!

You may find that your business doesn’t appear for relevant searches in your area. To maximize how often your customers see your business in local search results you must make sure that you provide and update business information in Google My Business.  This can help your business’s local ranking on Google and enhance your presence in Search and Maps.

Enter complete data

Local results favor the most relevant results for each search, and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches. We make sure that all of your business information is in Google My Business, so customers know more about what you do, where you are, and when they can visit you. We make sure that information is provided like (but not limited to) your physical address, phone number, category, and attributes. We also constantly monitor your this information and update as your business changes. 

Verify location(s)

We make sure that your Business is listed and your location is verified.  Verifying your business locations give them the best opportunity to appear for users across Google products, like Maps and Search. 

Make hours accurate

We ensure that your hours are accurate. These include: regular working hours, holidays and special events that let's potential customers know that you will be open when they arrive.


Add photos

Adding photos to your listings shows people your goods and services, and we help you tell the story of your business. Accurate and appealing pictures also show potential customers that your business offers what they’re searching for.

How Google determines local ranking

Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that's farther away from your location is more likely to have what you're looking for than a business that's closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.


Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.


Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn't specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.


Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results.

Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business's local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.

Let McNee Solutions help you improve your local ranking on Google!

About This Blog

This blog is a place to read about the latest news and activity going on at McNee Solutions