Say hello to Sam, our new content delivery manager

Sam Carney - Content Delivery Manager

Sam Carney – Content Delivery Manager

Hi folks! I’m Sam and I’d like to introduce myself as the newest addition to the Copify team.

I will be joining the team as a content delivery manager, having completed an 11-week internship through the Santander Internship Programme.

I’m originally from Preston, but I spent three years studying English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University.

Since graduating last July (has it really been that long?), I’ve pulled pints at my Dad’s pub, packed parcels for a computer parts company and planned a pre-entry programme for autistic students with Lancaster University Student Services.

It was during the latter placement that I came by the opportunity to work for Copify. I applied for the position through the university, and I’ve spent the last two-and-a-bit months in the Copify office, moderating and editing content, supporting writers and clients, drinking excellent coffee and listening to BBC Radio 6 Music. I will now be taking up my position on a permanent basis at the end of the month.

Writing has always been a great passion of mine, and I spent much of last summer pursuing work experience opportunities in journalism. I packed a great deal into week-long placements at the Lancashire Evening Post and Deadline News agency in Edinburgh, but the cherry on top of a glorious summer was undoubtedly the time I spent at FourFourTwo in London, where I was afforded the opportunity to write a feature and interview Sky Sports News presenter and transfer deadline day supremo, Jim White.

The Sir Tom Finney Stadium - home of the great Bamber Bridge FC!

The Sir Tom Finney Stadium – home of the great Bamber Bridge FC!

I’m a big football fan and I do quite a bit of writing on the subject in my spare time. I’m currently match reporter for my local non-league side, Bamber Bridge FC, who play at the eighth tier of the football pyramid. I also have my own blog, and have written for popular original football writing sites, These Football Times and In Bed With Maradona.

As you might be able to guess from my degree choice, I like to relax with a good book. American literature and dystopian fiction are my preferred genres, and Cormac McCarthy and George Orwell are my favourite authors. My favourite book? Catch 22 – I read it once a year!

I did enjoy my trip to the Guinness Storehouse!

I did enjoy my trip to the Guinness Storehouse!

I love visiting different places on holiday and sampling vibrant, new experiences; a few Guinness’s in the backstreet pubs of Dublin, a visit to the ruin bars of Budapest and a trip to Tenerife’s Siam Park, Europe’s biggest waterpark, were personal highlights of 2014!

I also enjoy learning new things, which is probably for the best; as a Copify moderator, you never know what you’re going to be asked to read through and edit!

Review – SEM-Tool.com

There are hundreds of SEO tools out there, each with different features and pros and cons.

One of the most in-demand features right now is keyword research and ideation. As Google continues to refine its algorithm, and reward those who are regularly publishing quality, relevant content, SEOs are increasingly looking to create this content on a regular basis.

Finding the phrases that people are commonly searching for when creating this content is a constant challenge, and a new platform, SEM Tool, has been designed specifically to help with this. In this review, I’ll look at the product in more detail.

SEM-Tool.com homepage

SEM-Tool.com homepage

First impressions

The site has a clean design and a clear user interface with a box to enter your desired head search term, as well as check boxes for various different search engines and other sites. Users can search for results on the following sites:

Google
Bing
YouTube
Amazon
DuckDuckGo
eBay
Google Play
Qwant
Wikipedia
WolframAlpha
Yahoo
Yandex

Users can also filter results by country. To test out the tool I entered the term blog writers.

Free vs. paid features

For free, users can search for keyword ideas based on data from the sites above. For an additional fee, they can see search volume, estimated cost per click and view their domain’s position for the terms listed in the results.

Shortly after signing up, I received an email from an account manager informing me that I had received some complimentary free credits to use some of the paid features on the site, which was a nice touch and enabled me to try out some of the paid-for features.

SEM Tools results page

SEM Tools results page

Accessing and using the data

Once you have performed a search, you can view the results in a series of columns, which can be toggled to view data in ascending/descending order. You can also download the results in a .xls/csv spreadsheet, which enables you to manipulate the data further.

Summary

As I started out by saying, there are hundreds of SEO tools on the market, many of which contain the features of SEM-Tool.com and more. Whether or not this product will be able to compete given its fairly limited functionality remains to be seen – the addition of a more detailed Rankings Tracker and ‘Potential Analysis’ features listed on the site as ‘coming soon’ may broaden its appeal.

This is a simple, useful tool, which will be a great help to those in need of keyword ideation for content marketing. It won’t, however, replace your chosen suite of SEO tools just yet.

Is your ecommerce site ready for the new PCI Data Security Standards?

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If you process card payments, read on…

In April 2015, The PCI Security Standards Council released version 3.1 of its “Requirements and Security Assessment” procedures.

The new document, which has outlined the minimum security standards for online stores since 2008, will be familiar to any ecommerce business processing card payments via their website.

In the aftermath of recent SSL vulnerabilities, mainly the BEAST and CRIME exploits, the way in which your server processes HTTPS requests is now under scrutiny.

The good ol’ trusty lock symbol you see in your browser’s address bar when you access a secure page, is no longer an indication your data is encrypted to the new PCI standards.

I have a SSL certificate, does this still affect me?

Yes.

When you visit a “secure” page on the internet using HTTPS, the method in which the data you send and receive is encrypted will depend on your operating system, and browser.

If you’re using the most up-to-date version of Google Chrome, then most likely your request uses the secure TLSv1.2 protocol. However, if you’re using an older version of Opera or Internet Explorer, you may be using a potentially weaker protocol such as SSLv2.

What’s new in PCI 3.1?

The latest round of requirements in the PCI DSS document state the following;

SSL and early TLS are not considered strong cryptography and cannot be used as a security control after 30th June, 2016.

The SSLv2, SSLv3 and TLSv1.0 protocols are all now considered non-compliant, and if your site is subject to a regular PCI DSS scan, and you still support these protocols, you will see these issues being raised very soon.

How the browsers stack up

Internet Explorer breaks the internet. Again.

Internet Explorer breaks the internet. Again.

What’s most worrying about the new standards, is how far behind browser support is for the new PCI compliant protocols.

At some point soon, you’re going to have to make a very difficult decision: Do I comply with the PCI guidelines even if this means losing customers who use older browsers?

Quite simply, by disabling TLSv1.0, any customers using one of the following browsers would not be able to access the secure pages of your website;

Browser Oldest version not to support TLSv1.1
Google Chrome 22.00
Google Android OS Browser Android 5.0
Mozilla Firefox 24.00
Microsoft Internet Explorer 10.00
Microsoft Internet Explorer Mobile 10.00 Mobile
Opera 9.00
Apple Safari 7.00
Apple Safari mobile iOS 5
Google Chrome 22.00
Google Chrome 22.00

That’s right folks, to remain PCI compliant users on browsers as late as Internet Explorer 10 will no longer be able to access your site. Eeek!

How to disable non-PCI protocols

If you’re not on managed hosting, configuring your webserver to only accept TLSv1.1 or above is quite straight forward. On Apache 2.4 for example, simply remove unwanted protocols using the ‘-‘ option in your config directive;

SSLProtocol All -SSLv2 -SSLv3 -TLSv1

We hope this helps! If you’re unsure of your website’s current setup and whether you might be falling foul of the new PCI guidelines, try the handy tool over at SSL Labs.

CC Images by Perspecsys Photos and Andreas Åkre Solberg

5 Easy ways to get more out of your blog posts

We all know that we should be blogging more. At the same time, there’s nothing more frustrating than spending ages on a great post, only to see it ignored by your audience. Here are 5 really easy things that you can do to get more from your blog posts.

Mention influencers

Everyone loves to have their ego massaged once in a while. Use Buzzsumo to find influential people in your sector and mention them in your posts.

Before writing this post, I did a search for content marketing. This showed that Joe Pulizzi, Michele Linn, Stephanie Tilton and Micheal Brenner are influencers in this area – perhaps one of them will consider that this post is relevant to their audience and will give me a Tweet.

Use Buzzsumo to find influencers

Use Buzzsumo to find influencers

Write a killer title

When you write your title, think about whether or not it will drive click through. Simon Edelstyn of content sharing platform Outbrain has some great tips for this, which include using questions, lists and exclamation points.

Don’t be afraid to sensationalise in order to get those clicks.

Sensational titles get clicks

Sensational titles get clicks

Link strategically

Links can be used to drive traffic to other pages, position your post as authoritative and alert your audience to similar content that they might enjoy. In your posts, link to:

  1. Landing pages on your site to help with SEO, lead generation and conversion.
  2. Sources you have used and you believe your audience will find useful.

Add images

When you link to your posts on social media, be sure to include an image. According to research by Buffer, posts on Twitter with images have been proven to get a much higher click through rate than those without.

Automate sharing

Providing your blog has an RSS feed, you can set up If This Then That to update all of your social media profiles as soon as a new post goes live.

Automate sharing with IFTTT

Automate sharing with IFTTT