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There are many great articles, tutorials and videos here on The Web Sellers’ Circle. Please take a look around.

We have articles and videos on eBay and Amazon, on using the technology that keeps online businesses humming, and on mobile as well as desktop computing.

You can search by Category or by Title. Click anywhere on the sidebar to begin.

So dig in!

Make Your Web Site Mobile Friendly for Google

Mobile Friendly

On Tuesday, April 24, Google will make an important change in the way it ranks web sites for search.

For at least a year, Google has been pushing web site owners to make their sites more mobile friendly. In fact, they’ve even noted in the search results which sites are optimized for mobile devices.

The biggest change of all in this new mobile front will come when sites are actually demoted in search results if Google deems them not mobile friendly.

Are you ready?

Google’s Mobile Friendly Test will tell you: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

mobile ready

WordPress Makes It Easy

If your web site is built with WordPress, you are probably all set.

Here are the things you need to check:

  • Are you running the latest version of WordPress? Update if necessary
  • Is your theme up to date?
  • Is your theme mobile ready? WordPress calls such themes “Responsive Themes.” They look good on either a desktop or mobile device. If you are planning to update the look of your site, now would be the perfect time to switch to a new responsive theme.

Jetpack to the Rescue

If you like you web site the way it is, but it isn’t mobile friendly, there is a quick and easy WordPress solution – a plugin called Jetpack

JetPack has lots of useful tools, but for the big Google re-ranking, the most important part is its built in Responsive Theme. It will leave your desktop theme as is while adding a new, mobile friendly theme that will be detected by mobile browsers (and Google!)

Jetpack’s Mobile theme. Instant and customizable lightweight responsive theme designed for phones and tablets.

To use Jetpack, you’ll need a WordPress.com account.

You don’t actually have to build a blog on WordPress.com to open an account. You just have to select Create Account Only at sign in.

Make a note of your WordPress.com user name and password, and return to your own WordPress powered web site.

Download and install the Jetpack theme, sign in with your WordPress.com credentials when prompted, activate the plugin, select Mobile Theme, and you are done.

Your site is now ready for Google’s Mobile Friendly search.

 

Google 2 Step Verification – Part 1

2 step pc and phone

Stay Safe with Google’s Two Step Verification

One of the handy things about Google’s apps is that they are “platform agnostic.” It doesn’t matter if you use Windows or a Mac, iOS or Android. Google Maps, GMail, Google Docs, Google Drive etc will work in similar ways on any computer.

This is a boon to those who use devices with different operating systems (Android smartphone and Windows desktop, for example) as well as to those who collaborate with people who may use entirely different devices.

Google’s mantra of “One Password, All of Google” adds greatly to the convenience.

If you have to edit a spreadsheet with someone using Windows 8, but you only have your iPhone handy – no problem. Open GMail, find the sheet in your Google Drive, and email it to your Window using friend.

This degree of interoperability and convenience, combined with 15 GB of free cloud storage, encourages users to store lots – lots and lots! – of information in Google apps.

But with convenience comes vulnerability. A stolen GMail password gives a hacker the keys to your kingdom: years worth of archived email, gigabytes of documents, your calendar, your contacts, even your YouTube account are all laid open.

Fortunately, Google’s Two Step Verification is as easy to set up and use as other Google products – and it will do a very good job of keeping your information safe.

ENABLING TWO STEP VERIFICATION

get started

Begin by going to https://www.google.com/landing/2step/

If you aren’t already signed in, sign in to your Google account.

About half way down the page, you’ll see a link to 2 Step Verification. Click  Set Up.

Remember, two step verification works with
* Something you know: your password – and
* Something you have: your phone

verification codes

To start, enter your phone number. You can then choose to receive your verification code via an SMS (text) message sent to your smartphone or through the Google Authenticator app.

In most other circumstances, SMS is simple and direct, without the need for an additional app, and it is the method many people choose.

(Google Authenticator is a downloadable iPhone or Android app that generates one-use verification codes. It is useful if you frequently find yourself outside the reach of cell service. If you later decide the method you selected isn’t right for you, just revisit the page and pick the other method. You can switch back and forth freely.)

Click Send Code and you’ll receive a 6 digit verification code via text message on your smartphone. Enter the code and click Verify.

registered computers

Once verified, you’ll probably want to check the Trust This Computer check box. (Of course, never do this on a public computer.) This will allow you to use any Google app or service from this computer without having to enter a verification code again. Like other 2 Step Verification settings, this can be changed later.

Click Next, then click Confirm.

Congratulations! You have enabled 2 Step Verification for your Google account,. Your private information, email account, and documents will be much safer.

Next: Using Google 2 Step Verification Part 2: Backup Phones, Backup Codes, Google Authenticator

Two Factor Authentication

two-factor-authentication

Using Two Factor Authentication

Strong passwords are the necessary first step in prottecting your data. But they are only the beginning.

If you want to ensure that you remain safe, even if your password is stolen, you’ll need a second defense: Two Factor Authentication.

The theory behind Two Factor (also sometimes called Two Step) Authentication is simple: a log in from an unknown or untrusted source requires two different types of verification

  • Something you know: your password
  • Something you possess: usually your phone

Two Factor Authentication Stops Hackers Before They Get Into Your Account

How does this protect you?

Consider this familiar scenario: the password for your email account was stolen in a data breach. Sadly, you had no idea this happened, and thousands of SPAM messages were sent out under your name in a matter of minutes.

Unless you had Two Factor Authentication enabled.

In that case, even if the hackers have your password, they cannot log in to your email account because they will not know the one time code sent only to your smartphone.

Hack attack foiled.

Setting Up Two Factor Authentication Is Easy

Setting up Two Factor Authentication isn’t difficult. Nor is it especially cumbersome to use.

First, find out if a particular app or service or web site you wish to use supports two factor authentication.

The Two Factor Auth List is a good place to start for a comprehensive overview.

Next, you need to enable Two Factor Authentication for the site. There are actually many possible ways to do this, but in general, the web site will have an option to enable two factor authentication, if it is available, somewhere in its security settings.

Finally, you will receive a text message with a one-time use code you will need to enter on the web site to prove you are you.

At this stage, you are usually able to designate the computer you are using as a trusted source – meaning you will not have to be verified again everytime you log in.

If you primarily use a desktop or notebook computer, congratulations – you are probably done.

If you use a smartphone or tablet, you’ll have to authenticate yourself within particular apps on those devices.

We’ll look at Google as a specific example next, to see how authentication works across platforms as well as how to use something called, “App Specific Passwords” on a mobile device.

Password Security

Passwords Passwords Passwords

It is time to get serious about your passwords.

The list of major hacks and attacks against retail chains, web sites, health care networks, and banks is long and troubling. You can’t do anything about their poor security, but you can take steps to protect yourself.

UNIQUE PASSWORDS
Don’t Reuse Passwords. You’ve heard this advice for years, and maybe you’ve been meaning to change that easy-to-crack but also easy-to-remember password that you use everywhere. But you just haven’t found the time.

Here’s the problem: maybe you used AOL email sometime in the distant past, but you switched years ago. However, you used your son’s name as your password with AOL. It was so easy to remember, you also used it at Amazon, at work, with Google, for eBay, for Yahoo, and for some web store you’ve completely forgotten about.

If that web store you’ve forgotten about is hacked, the hacker now has the password for your bank account. Or he can buy stuff on Amazon and charge it to you. He can log in to your email account and change your recovery email address to an email account he controls.

Because you used a simple password 10 years ago at some site whose name you can’t even recall, your personal information and your bank account are now at risk.

You may not be able to go back to every service you’ve used or abandoned and create secure passwords. But you can change your passwords for the services you use now.

STRONG PASSWORDS
Use Strong Passwords – this is also common advice.

Hackers sometimes use “brute force” attacks to steal passwords. They run a program designed to enter word after word into a password field. They also substitute common numbers or symbols in place of letters. For instance, “letter” might be spelled “l3tt3r” with “3” substituted for “e.”. Software can crack these passwords in minutes, if not seconds.

Strong passwords mix upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols in a nonsense phrase. The longer the password, the better. But it should be at least seven characters long.

2@13f6dg2?97V?N

That’s a strong password.

It is also impossible to remember, which is why everyone resists strong passwords.

Even if you manage to remember that one particular password – can you remember another, and another, and another … for all the sites you visit on the web?

PASSWORD MANAGERS
If you are worried about strangers, rather than co-workers or family, stealing your passwords, you can keep a password notebook by the computer. That might work, although the typing is cumbersome.

A better solution is a password manager.

Password Managers can securely encrypt and store your passwords and then fill them in on web sites when you need to log in. Although features vary from program to program, they usually also include a strong password generator.

Some password managers will work on your mobile devices as well as your desktop or notebook computer.

Some are free, some have a one time fee, and some require a yearly subscription. Many will offer different free and paid versions, depending on which features you want.

Both LastPass and 1Password are popular and easy to use. They are certainly worth a look if you want to increase your online security.

TWO FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
The final step in securing your online identity is Two Factor Authentication.

This doesn’t protect your passwords – what it does is ensure that, if your password is stolen, a hacker still can’t access the account that you’ve enabled Two Factor Authentication for.

Here’s how it works: when you enable two factor authentication for a web site – let’s say Google – you are then required to enter not only a password, but a one-time code that will be sent to your cell phone. So even a hacker who has your password cannot log into your account.

We’ll look at how this works in more detail in another article.

Photo Credit: Ron Bennetts
Creative Commons License

Use Amazon S3 for Inexpensive Screencast and Podcast Storage

Screencasts and podcasts require lots of bandwidth. Amazon S3 provides an inexpensive alternative to free sites like You Tube or expensive video hosting sites like Screencast.com

While S3 can be complicated and difficult to use, S3 Fox, a Firefox add on, provides a graphical interface that greatly simplifies the process. This tutorial will introduce you to both Amazon S3 and S3 Fox.

What Is Payments By Amazon

azpay

What is Check-Out or Payments by Amazon? Much like PayPal — Payments by Amazon is a payment gateway between the online seller and the customer. It allows a customer to conduct a payment using the same account they have set-up as an Amazon customer. This doesn’t mean that you must use an Amazon store or the Amazon site. You can put the payment link on your independent website.

How can it help your business to have another payment option?

A recent study found that sellers are enjoying a 14% increase in conversion rates when they offer 3 or more types of payment options (not just different credit card types).

By having more than one payment option your customer can decide which method they prefer. Now, on the same check-out page you can offer PayPal, Google Check-out and Amazon Payments as their choice. Many consumers dislike PayPal and will do just about anything to avoid it — and still, other non-PayPal savvy buyers think you must set up an Account and assume they can’t use their Credit Cards using PayPal. I like Google check-out, but know many buyers are still new to it.

One online retailer, Jockey, recently added Amazon Payments and has seen that 30% of it’s customers are using the Amazon Check-out service to buy.

As Jeff Pandolfo Amazon Business Development Manager puts it you can “leverage the Amazon retail experience.”

With Payments by Amazon — if a customer has purchased from Amazon (and Amazon has millions of customers) they are familiar with the payment process. In addition, the customer may prefer the Amazon ‘one click check-out’ for its convenience.

Another aspect of having more than one payment option helping your customer’ book keeping. I know personally, that while I have a business and a personal PayPal account — if I had the option — I’d choose the Amazon checkout. Using Amazon I don’t have to go through all the extra hassle of logging out of my business account and into my personal one.

Using Payments by Amazon also helps build trust between your site and the customer. Amazon is a familiar interface and payments through the service are protected under the Amazon A to Z guarantee.

Amazon has a suite of tools to help you manage the payment process including:

  • Setting up shipping charges, per zone, per product — fully customizable (PayPal gives you limited shipping set-up).
  • You can set up promotions — and use promotion codes (none offered by PayPal)Sales tax per zip code (this is a big issue for me as my state collects tax based on destination).
  • Easy refund, cancellations and charge back capability.

These functions are set up through Seller Central, or for more advanced user through their own payment platform.

Other features include an ‘up sell’ feature that cross promotes your other products as the customer is going through the payment process. Most shopping cart features take the customer off site to complete the checkout, but by using Amazons check-out you can display products from your catalog.

Here’s the really nice part — if you don’t have an up-sell product of your own, that’s OK. You can add similar Amazon products and receive an affiliate commission when a purchase is made.

The customer’s money is deposited into your Amazon seller account as soon as you mark the item as shipped. Unlike PayPal where you must go into the account and toggle the payment transfer, Amazon payments are sent direct deposit to your account on file.

How much does it cost to use?

No monthly fees, you only pay when customer uses the service. Here’s the breakdown:

If monthly receipts are: % of transaction Per transaction

  • Under $3,000 2.9% .30
  • $3,000 to $10,000 2.5% .30
  • $10,000 to 100,000 2.2% .30
  • $100,000 –plus 1.9% .30

Here’s the sweet part for sellers who have smaller value items for sale. Amazon lowers the fees on items under $10.00 — the fees for under ten is 5% plus .05 cents per transaction.

As an online seller using Payments by Amazon is certainly worth looking into. Their prices are competitive, services robust and using the familiar Amazon brand will build your customers confidence.

PS: Did I mention that it’s compatible with Fulfillment by Amazon? It is!

More information can be found at: https://payments.amazon.com

How To Win The Amazon Buy Box

azbuybox

Customers naturally choose the yellow “add to shopping cart” button on most amazon.com sales. If Amazon doesn’t have the item in their inventory but third party sellers do, winning the all important ‘buy box’ placement is possible.

Here’s how amazon.com chooses which vendor will be placed in the top spot:

    • Best price – lowest cost, including shipping
    • Best ship time – the seller who overs the quickest turn around time
    • Sellers with the most volume of sales on the site are more likely to be promoted

Seller with highest seller performance (fewer returns and A to Z claims)

Things that don’t necessarily affect the chances of you receiving placement in the Amazon buy box include the quantity on hand. As long as you have at least one in stock and you have outperformed the competition you will win the buy box.

If there is more than one seller and they both have prices within a penny of each other and all the other performance criteria is the same, amazon.com will rotate sellers in and out of the buy box placement.

Ready To Start Selling Media On Amazon – but don’t know which books to buy?

When I first started selling used books, dvds and video tapes online in the late 1990’s it was a guessing game. I knew there was a huge market online for the right books, but it was mostly trial and error.

azbook1

There were bestselling and most wanted lists on half.com, and others. I spent every extra second scouring them before heading out to the sales – but I was competing against seasoned book pickers.

I wish these tools had been available then! Now, with the help of a PDA or cell phone you can get all the information you need in less than a second.

Here is a short list for vendors – who provide these services:

Of course they are all subscription based, but well worth it – if you are not a seasoned book picker.

A subscription to one of these services can save you time and many trips back to the donation site (to return those lemons).

The Amazon Detail Page

Amazon just released a new video about the Amazon Detail page. It’s filled with tips on how to create a listing if you have a Pro Merchant account.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/amazonservices/merchant/DetailPage/detail_page_sc.html

(you may need to log into your Amazon Account to view the video)

The highlights of the video include information about:

Specifications about the title. Whenever possible use exactly what the manufacture calls the item to prevent confusion and make it easy to find.

Use the unique identifiers that the manufacture provides. Use either the UPC, EAN or ISBN number to make sure you are listing in the correct detail page. Even if your item is slightly different (ie: box color or item color) if you use manufacture provided numbers you’ll match it to the correct listing.

An ASIN number is the Amazon assigned number to identify the product in the Amazon Catalog. The acronym stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number. This number is also part of the item’s URL.

When uploading a picture, use only white backgrounds and make sure they are at least 500 pixels on the largest end.

When creating the bulleted list include information such as size, material and any accessories that may come with the product.

If you see an error on the page notify Amazon by using the feedback form on the lower part of the listing page. An Amazon employee will review the page and update it if required. If there is a URL that backs up your correction be sure to include it when you contact them. Product pages can NOT be deleted by users. If you see a page that should be removed, contact Amazon through the feedback area on the page.

Finally more tips on how to win the Amazon Buy Box

While this may change, here is the latest information about winning the buy box. Amazon bases the results on the seller criteria below:

  • Price (lowest price including shipping)
  • Item Availability (how many of the SKU you have in stock AND how fast you ship)
  • Customer Feedback (number of refunds and A to Z claims)
  • Sales Volume

You may not meet the criteria, even if you are the only seller of the item. In that case no items show in the buy box, but they are still listed on the “all seller listings” page.