WHAT WE LEARNED THIS WEEK: Watch your web rankings constantly

Google often changes the way its algorithm works – several times a week, in fact – and businesses don’t always pay attention. But last week the company made some pretty drastic changes to its ranking system.

Basically, Google is changing the way it ranks websites by punishing those that use a technique known as webspam. Sites that do this create articles, fill those articles with nonsense and links to their own website, then distribute them throughout the internet.

It’s cheating, in a way, as you’re creating links to your site that haven’t been produced organically by other people. So Google is punishing sites that do it.

If you’re using this type of method, then you should really stop. Not only is it bad practice, but Google has started cracking down on you – and it’s not going to stop any time soon.

Learning from the Webby Awards

The Webby Awards were announced this week, and as usual there were a few Australian businesses getting a gong alongside some of the biggest names in technology.

There isn’t a theme to the awards, but certainly the websites that win have a few things in common – they’re impeccably designed.

Good design is so critical. It gives people a first impression of your business, and your personality. Poor design reflects incredibly badly on your company.

Design your business well. Invest in your appearance. It won’t make up for a bad product, but will definitely give you a strong starting position.

Protect yourself from fraud with tech

The KPMG fraud barometer revealed this week that frauds against commercial businesses are still on the rise, possibly due to the economic turmoil the country has been in during the past six months.

Accounting frauds against commercial businesses are still the most popular category, and the average fraud is still costing businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yet many don’t even take the simplest precautions to stop getting hit.

There’s one thing you can do to make sure your money is safe – set up electronic warnings whenever anybody makes some unusual activity on your accounts.

You can set this up with your bank or your financial institution. If an unauthorised person accesses the account, or if some money is moved when it shouldn’t be, then you can set up alerts to let you know.

You can also have access logs sent to your email every day to make sure no one is accessing your money that shouldn’t be.

Keep your business safe. Technology has allowed businesses to stamp fraud out better than ever – use the tools available to you.

Don’t give in to price disparity

The Federal Government has finally signed off on an inquiry to investigate the price disparity that affects buyers of technology. It’s something Federal MP Ed Husic has been calling on for a while, and now Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has given it the green light.

The inquiry will investigate why businesses are charging Australian users far more than American users, especially in cases where products are distributed digitally and costs aren’t significantly increased.

It serves as a good lesson for SMEs – customers won’t accept massive price disparity.

There are plenty of dangers with discounting, and they should all be avoided, but don’t think you’ll get away with much if your prices outstrip those of your competitors by an unsustainable amount.

Pricing is a delicate thing to get right. But set it too high, especially for tech products such as software, and you’re begging for trouble.

Malware in social networks – it’s a real threat

AVG released its quarterly threat report earlier this week and found some alarming trends. More cyber attackers are using social networks as a way to spread malware through mobile devices.

This is also a problem as businesses allow more employees to bring devices from home and use them for work.

The solution – businesses need to ensure staff know about the risks of downloading links through social media, especially when on mobiles. Malware can attack through any type of link, and staff need to know how to safely use their mobile phones.

Distribute some information to your staff about how to use these devices properly. Speak with your IT staff, and ensure they’re up to speed as well. You don’t want to be caught up in a malware attack that affects your entire work network.

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