Tackling the Smart Meter Myths

Many articles have been written by industry analysts in an attempt to debunk some of the myths concerning smart grids and meters. For example, in 2010, Greentechmedia published an article dealing with some myths about the use of smart grids by consumers. In that article, the author made four points.

A. Consumers do care about monthly savings no matter how small.
B. Consumers do not worry about utility companies remotely looking into the effectiveness of their major home appliances.
C. Pricing dynamic works and that we don’t need to keep trying to prove it.
D. Consumer’s identity should not be pigeonholed as “singular” as consumers cut across many segments of businesses and society.

In other words, this area is constantly evolving and many consumers are giving smart grids a second look not only because of the savings that they will generate but also because of the less intrusive footprint that they leave on the environment.

Recently the above video was released on youtube discussing five myths about smart meters. Based on recent studies, the video pointed out that

1. Smart meters are more accurate than analog meters. Since manufacturers are required to meet standards set by the American Standards Institute, smart meters will continue to maintain its supremacy over analog meters.
2. Smart meters are safe and the amount of radio frequency used in their wireless signals are less than those that currently being emitted by standard appliances or home devices such as microwave ovens, baby monitors or cellphones.
3. Smart meters are not a security risk because they do not collect personal information on the consumer. They only collect data on the amount of electricity used and transmit the data through very secure connections.
4. Smart meters only collect the overall electricity used not the amount of electricity used by each device in the house, and therefore there is no privacy risk.
Lastly, small meters provide many benefits to the consumer. Beside reducing the cost of energy, they make renewable power possible and help maintain global competitiveness.

In sum, the benefits of using smart meters over analog meters are tremendous and one should not be fooled by people warning them about nonexistent dangers of smart grids and meters.

Whois Protection Myth

Domain Privacy ProtectionThere is a Whois privacy protection myth that you can only obtain domain privacy protection from only domain name registrars like enom or godaddy.  This is further from the truth.  For people who don’t know, whois or domain privacy protection is the process where for a fee a company replaces or gives you the authority to substitute your personal information with that of the company in the person’s domain registrar’s account.

Typically, when someone buys a domain name, that person’s personal information such as email address and the physical address of that person are available on the internet for everyone to see.  with domain privacy protection service, such as the one offered y Domain Privacy Pro, Inc, you don’t have to buy the service directly from the domain name registrar.  Now you can shield your personal information from the public while paying less.

The White Hat SEO Myth

For business owners who want their websites to get to page one in search results, a recurring concern has always been whether the SEO expert that they have hired to do the job would only practice white hat SEO.   As many people know, Black hat SEO – which is search engine optimization techniques that violate search engines’ rules, will get you penalized by Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.   The question now is, is there really a white hat SEO?  My answer is no.  To understand why I say that, you have to go deeper into what an SEO expert does.

For each SEO project, an SEO expert has to do both on-site and off-site optimizations.  An on-site optimization deals with the structure and the content of the website while off-site optimization deals with the number and quality of backlinks that refer to the website being optimized.   To achieve a great quality of backlinks for a site, an SEO expert uses different type of software(e.g. SENuke)  and strategies (e.g. Tier backlinking under a set of schedule) to fool Google and other search engines into believing that these backlinks were not posted by them.  The reason for that is if Google or other search engines find out it was these these SEO experts who were doing the backlinking, Google would have penalized the website in question.

Therefore, if SEO experts were truly doing white hat SEO work, they would not have to rely on software, proxies and other techniques to hide themselves from Google.  Doing this is an admission that they are not abiding by Google’s rules.  If these techniques were white hat, Google and other search engines would not be penalizing the website when they find out what these SEO experts are doing.  In Essence, What SEO experts are doing might not be considered black hat SEO by some, but they are definitely not white hat SEO.

 

 

Three Reasons Why The Anti-spam Technique Honeypot is Popular

The CAPTCHA Technique

An example of a CAPTCHA image

An example of a CAPTCHA image

When browsing the internet, most of us have encountered different forms of anti-spam techniques used by websites to reduce spams.  The most common anti-spam technique used by many websites is the CAPTCHA method.  CAPTCHAs are used online on message boards and blogs to prevent spam machines (bots) from posting spam links as comments or sending unwanted messages like advertisements to the owner or the operator of the site.

CAPTCHA stands for Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart.  It is usually an image of several distorted letters that is embedded in an an online form, like a contact form, that the user has to match correctly before the user is allowed to post a comment or send a message.  CAPTCHAs come in various forms. Sometime, it is a logic question that you are asked to solve.  It can be  a math puzzle or a simple human puzzle.  For example,  “What is the color of the ocean?”, would be a simple human puzzle. Other times it is an image that the user has to match. No matter what, CAPTCHAs require that an action be taken by the user before the user is a able to use the online form (For  a more detail analysis of CAPTCHAs, there is a very good article at  smashingmagazine.com.).

The Honeypot Technique

Honeypot is different than CAPTCHA and there are three main reasons why I believe it is so popular in 2014.

1. Honeypot does not interfere with the user experience

Honeypot does not interfere with the user experience.  Let’s say a website has a contact page with form fields like “name”, “subject”, and “email address” that a user needs to fill out. The way honeypot works is, besides the fields you can see on the form, the form will also contain an additional field that is made invisible to humans through the use of JavaScript  or CSS. However, spam machines will see it and believe it is part the form and will fill it out too. The form will then be programmed to reject any message or comment with that invisible field filled in, knowing that only machines will know it exits and fill it out . Please check out Scratchmedia for an example of the Honeypot method.

The Honeypot method is a big improvement over CAPTCHA, which can be very annoying to the user, because it is very hard to read and often the user has to type it several times before getting it right.  With Honeypot, it’s smooth sailing because the user does not even know that the anti-spam feature is there.

2. Honeypot works

CAPTCHAs have been around for a while and have worked well for the most part.  However, with advancement in technology, comes advancement in spam techniques.  Now, CAPTCHAs are routinely solved by bots.  I have a client who used a math question on its contact form.  However, the CAPTCHA was constantly being solved by bots that I had change to honeypot.  All spams have stopped for now.

3. Honeypot is still new

The Honeypot method was first suggested by Phil Haack in 2007. Since it is still new, it is still effective and that the bots have yet to develop new measures to uncloak the hidden fields.  At present, Bots do not to use JavaScript or CSS.  Therefore, Honeypot basically is taking advantage of that.   However, nothing lasts forever. I would not be surprised if the next generation of bots solves this issue.  In the meantime, I will keep using honeypot, until they do.
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Need more advice on site techniques and traffic?  Reach out to the Search Engine Optimization Specialists.

The Cheap SEO Myth

SEO processIf you are a business owner, often you would receive an email from someone telling you that he or she can get your website on the first page of search engine cheaply. Unless you want your website to be penalized by Google, I strongly suggest that you ignore those emails.  Being penalized by Google may prevent your site from ever being on the first page for the keyword that you are trying to rank.  In other to avoid that and not hire someone who is not qualified to do SEO work, you must understand that Search Engine Optimization is not cheap.  The reason for that is simple, Search Engine Optimization Specialists spend a lot of money every month for SEO services and software that they need to do  SEO work.  If you read online blogs of  SEO gurus like Matthew Woodward, they may have mentioned some of the tools that are needed to do SEO work.   However, these tools are not cheap.

For example,  a membership of majesticseo, one the leading online backlink checker and website explorer websites that most SEO specialists use can cost up to $1500 per month.   Semrush, another popular online research service can cost up to $149 per month.   Besides the various sites that SEO experts join and pay for monthly, there are also software, like Scrapebox, GSA, Xrumer, etc, that an SEO expert will have to acquire .  All of them are very expensive.  For example, SENuke, the very popular software that many SEO companies use for submission of articles, bookmarks, etc, cost up to $149 per month.  Doing SEO work means to rely on many different types of software that do some of the following

  • Competitive Analysis
  • Keyword Ranking
  • Keyword Research
  • Link Building
  • Link Research
  • Local SEO Software
  • Mobile SEO Software
  • On-Site Audits
  • SEO Report Card
  • SEO Suites

If you want get a sense about what these software do and the software vendors that sell them,  check out upcity.com.  All I am pointing out is that SEO experts spend hundreds of dollars per month on services and software.  Therefore, if someone professes to be an SEO specialist and offers you cheap SEO services, chances are you will not be happy.  You get what you pay for.  My advice to the business owner is to remember what the goal is, which is to bring traffic and customers to your site and make money.  You have to spend money to make money. You cannot do it on the cheap. Therefore, if your website is not on the first page or getting any traffic, and you want to employ a company like Seoauditpro.com to perform a traffic analysis and generate an SEO audit report  to discover what you website must do increase its ranking, you must be aware that these types of services cannot be done on the cheap.