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More Organizations Launch Anti-Bullying Campaigns

AscentiveCyber Safety news from the Ascentive team

More and more organizations are launching their own campaigns to stop bullying and cyber-bullying. Tanda, a pioneer in energy-based at-home beauty devices, announces its Zap Bullying campaign to raise awareness among parents and teens about this epidemic and to empower teens to feel confident and secure in their own skin.  The multifaceted campaign from Tanda Zap, the powerful acne clearing technology endorsed by leading dermatologists and successfully used by thousands of users across the country, will include a partnership with the national leading anti-bullying organization STOMP Out Bullying™, a social media awareness campaign and a limited edition blue Zap device to support the cause.

“We envision a world in which young people feel safe from bullying and we’re thrilled to partner with the STOMP Out Bullying™ organization. We share their commitment to help people take a stand against bullying in schools and communities,” says Fabian Tenenbaum, CEO of Syneron Beauty, the maker of Tanda branded products.  “Tanda Zap offers ground-breaking acne clearing technology to help teens feel comfortable and secure in their own skin and we hope that this initiative will raise awareness and dialogue around this issue and that ultimately it will serve to help foster greater understanding and mutual respect among teens.”

Tanda Zap invites consumers to “Zap Bullying” and pledge support to this social campaign by visiting its Facebook page, http://www.Facebook.com/Tanda.  “Like” Tanda and then “Vote” to Zap Bullying.  Tanda will donate $1 for each Vote to the STOMP Out Bullying™ organization.

“We are so grateful to have Tanda Zap as a philanthropic partner,” says Ross Ellis, Founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying™. “Together we can reach more schools, kids, teens and families affected by bullying with the critical educational resources and support services they need.”

As part of the campaign, the brand will introduce a limited edition blue Tanda Zap acne spot treatment device, from which a portion of proceeds will be donated to STOMP Out Bullying™. The limited edition blue Tanda Zap device will be available for $49 for Back to School 2012.

PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, a partner in The Bully Project and a supporter of Lee Hirsch’s new documentary “Bully,” offers educators, students, families and individuals the tools they need to address bullying in schools. By downloading free resources at PACER.org/bullying, communities can find ways to help change the culture of bullying.

“The Bully movie gives everyone a heartbreaking look at the reality of bullying,” says Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. “Our hope is that the movie will be a call to action, and that more people will work together to create a climate that doesn’t accept this behavior.”

Resources available at PACER.org/bullying include bullying prevention classroom toolkits, activities and videos for K-12 students; toolkits for organizing community events around bullying prevention; tips for how parents can talk with their children about the subject and work with schools and more.

PACER’s TeensAgainstBullying.org website offers relevant and interactive information in a teen-friendly way. Teens can find strategies to deal with bullying, ways they can stand up for other kids, and ideas for how they can bring the bullying prevention message to their school. PACER’s KidsAgainstBullying.org website is also specifically designed for elementary-aged children and uses a cast of animated characters to share bullying prevention strategies.

In addition, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLB), AbilityPath and Autism Speaks are partnering with The Bully Project to raise awareness about how bullying affects children with disabilities. Resources and a toolkit will be available soon at specialneeds.bullyingproject.com.

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Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Sprint team up to fight cyberbullying

AscentiveInternet safety tips from the Ascentive team

Young people grow up hearing all kinds of safety warnings like “Look both ways before crossing the street,” or “Don’t talk to strangers.” But traditional safety tips are changing as today’s youth spend more time navigating an expansive online world.  Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and Sprint today announced a strengthening of their work to educate young people and the adults who care for them about Internet and media safety.

BGCA and Sprint enter into their third year of working together with a $409,772 commitment aimed to highlight important online safety practices to nearly 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. BGCA and Sprint will provide tools and resources to educate Club youth, parents and staff throughout the year with strong support around June’s Internet Safety Month.

This year’s funding will provide Clubs with a comprehensive media-safety strategy through the utilization of the NetSmartz and NSTeens programs, developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, along with resources that include media-safety discussion cards, social-networking and mobile-phone usage guidelines, and resources for Clubs to host their own Internet Safety days. Additionally, Clubs will be provided with teen-friendly video packages and media-safety articles, polls and contests for their members.

“Understanding media safety issues and knowing how to be safer online is critical for Club youth and parents,” said Judith J. Pickens, senior vice president for BGCA’s Program & Youth Development Services. “With Sprint’s ongoing support, Boys & Girls Clubs of America will continue to find creative ways to educate our young people on how to safely navigate the online world and be proactive with protective issues surrounding online safety.”

The goal is not only to educate, but allow for interactive engagement among youth. Creative avenues to communicate critical information are provided, such as the recent “Caption This!” contest, which was hosted on myclubmylife.com, BGCA’s website for teens.

The contest provided five sample posters representing critical media-safety topics: cyberbullying, password protection and online information sharing, sexting, Web chat safety, and mobile-phone recycling. Participants were challenged to produce an original slogan for one of the posters, and the winning slogans will be used in an educational poster series to promote the importance of media safety to some four million youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs.

“Sprint is pleased to continue its work with Boys & Girls Clubs of America,” said Ralph Reid, vice president of Corporate Responsibility for Sprint. “With so many young people accessing the Internet, it’s critical that they have ready access to information on how to stay safer; BGCA has been invaluable in seeing that this content gets into Clubs across the country.”

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Center for Safe Schools Launches Toolkit to help parents address Cyber-Bullying

Ascentive

Internet safety tips from the Ascentive team

Center for Safe Schools has partnered with the Highmark Foundation to produce the Pennsylvania Bullying Prevention Toolkit that will help parents, educators and professionals serving youth prevent bullying and support children affected by it.

The toolkit is available in print and online and includes specific information about how to differentiate between bullying and conflict, how to respond to cyberbullying, and potential legal implications of bullying-type behaviors. In addition, it contains tools such as a step-by-step guide for connecting children to relevant assistance, a sample letter informing the school of a bullying incident, and a list of vetted resources on bullying prevention, intervention and support.

The new toolkit was supported with funding from the Highmark Foundation and developed by the Center for Safe Schools with input from an interdisciplinary group of stakeholders focused on identifying strategies for improving the availability of resources and supports for children affected by bullying. This group includes Pennsylvania Department of Education, PennsylvaniaCommission on Crime and Delinquency and Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General; along with other state agencies, nonprofit and public health organizations and parents.

 

“In addition to helping parents, the toolkit is especially valuable to schools that do not have bullying prevention programs in place and to agencies typically called upon in crisis situations,” said Center for Safe Schools Director Lynn Cromley. “It ensures that families and various agencies have a fast-track to assessing and meeting needs when a bullying situation occurs.”

The toolkit is a continuation of the Highmark Foundation’s commitment to bullying prevention. Through Highmark Foundation funding, nearly 400 schools and approximately 210,000 students in Pennsylvania have had access to the research-based Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. The toolkit extends the foundation’s public health strategy by bringing information and resources related to bullying and bullying prevention to communities.

“The Highmark Foundation appreciates its continued partnership with the Center for Safe Schools. By working together we are helping to ensure the health and well being of all students,” said Highmark Foundation President Yvonne Cook. “The toolkit will help achieve the Center for Safe Schools and the Foundation’s shared goal of placing more adults in a position to help children so they can intervene appropriately in bullying situations.”

“Pennsylvania leads the nation in the breadth and scope of its bullying prevention efforts. Together, the partners in this work are changing attitudes, behavior and practice through cultivating safe and nurturing schools and communities for Pennsylvania’s children,” Cromley added.

To promote the new resource, the Center for Safe Schools will offer a webinar providing an introduction, content review and suggested uses of the toolkit. Besides parents and teachers, the Pennsylvania Bullying Prevention Toolkit is designed as a resource for anyone working with youth – including childcare workers, healthcare professionals and coaches. The pre-recorded webinar will be available beginning January 23, 2012.

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New Survey Shows Gap Between Americans’ Online Security Perceptions and Actual Practices

AscentiveInternet Safety News from the Ascentive team

More than nine in ten Americans (92%) believe that a safe and secure Internet is crucial to our nation’s economic security and 81% of Americans want to learn more about being safe and secure online, but there still exists a visible disconnect between Americans’ perceptions of their online safety practices versus the reality of their actual safety practices. These insights were revealed in the 2011 National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)-McAfee Online Safety Study, released today by the NCSA and McAfee.

While the study found progress in a number of areas regarding online safety awareness, perception versus reality gaps continue to exist in critical areas:

70% of Americans say that they represent their child/children’s primary source of information for online safety, yet 48% of parents are not completely confident that their children can use the Internet safely.

32% of consumers either back up data only once a year—or never (20%).

15% of Americans have never checked their social networking privacy and security account settings.

According to the survey, only 7% of U.S. parents are worried about cyberbullying even though 33% of teenagers have been victims of cyberbullying, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Survey.

“This new study shows that vast majorities of Americans believe that cyber security is important for our personal safety and our nation’s economic security,” said NCSA Executive Director Michael Kaiser. “Yet this survey also shows that we can do a better job of protecting ourselves and those around us and really focus on the notion that a safe and secure Internet and digital experience represents a shared responsibility.”

“As our digital usage grows exponentially each year with a multitude of different devices connected to the Internet, cyber threats have grown more sophisticated and widespread than ever before,” said Todd Gebhart, co-president, McAfee. “This new survey demonstrates the fundamental importance of better online safety and security awareness for ourselves, our communities, our schools and our businesses.  Consumers need to think beyond just PCs, and also protect their web experiences, their data, and very importantly, their children on all the devices they use.”

Key Findings:


Security Perceptions

Less than half of the population (46%) reports that they feel safe from viruses, malware and hackers while on the Internet.

When it comes to the issue most Americans are concerned about regarding online safety and security, 43% of respondents reported they were most worried about identity theft; 13% were concerned with loss of privacy; and 12% reported their biggest concern was someone monitoring or recording their online activity.

When asked how people would like to learn about staying safe online, 37% of Americans are willing to receive regular information from an organization about safety best practices; 15% are willing to educate others; 13% would attend an in-person education session; 20% are not willing to do any of these and 15% are not sure.

Crime and Law Enforcement

When asked what puts Americans most at risk of a cybercrime or a loss of personal information the largest number of respondents, one-third (33%) said they believe connecting to an unsecured wireless network puts them most at risk yet more than half (53%) of Americans said they have logged onto a wireless network without entering a security password.

One in 5 (18%) Americans have been the victim of a cybercrime and 38% know someone who has been victimized, and 65% of all respondents do not think their local police department is equipped to handle reports and investigate Internet crimes.

Of the 17% who were victims of cybercrime but did not report them, 34% were either unsure what exactly happened or were not sure who to report it to.

More than half (53%) of Americans indicated they have received fake anti-virus warnings but 87% said they did not believe the warning was legitimate. From 2008 to 2010, fake anti-virus scams have grown by 600% and are estimated to victimize one million Internet users per day, according to McAfee research.

Safe Computing Practices

54% of Americans don’t back up their data regularly; with 21% backing up just monthly; 12% backing up only once a year and 20% of consumers never backing up.

21% say they don’t think it’s necessary to change account passwords regularly even though experts believe this is a basic online safety practice.  More than a million password-stealing malware samples were discovered from January 2011 –June 2011, according to McAfee Labs.

25% say they never change their passwords unless prompted.

Social Networks

26% say they are sharing more information on social networks today than one year ago.

Nearly half (47%) of Americans are confident in their ability to use privacy and security account settings in their social networks, but another 47% are only somewhat confident with 24% saying they are not confident at all.

15% of respondents have never checked their social networking privacy and security account settings and only 18% said the last time they checked their settings was in the last year.

Meanwhile, one out of ten (11%) Americans reported that their social network has been hacked in the last year, while 81% did not.

Children and Online Safety

70% of Americans say that they represent their child/children’s primary source of information for online safety, yet 48% of parents are not completely confident that their children can use the Internet safely.

According to the survey, parents worry most about contact with strangers (38%) online, 7% worried about bullying and harassment and 9% were worried about identity theft even though 140,000 minors are the victims of ID fraud each year according to ID Analytics.

The concern that ranked second according to parents was exposure to adult content yet 44% of parents admit they have not discussed Internet pornography with their children and 44% don’t have content-filtering software on their computers.

48% of the parents surveyed say they know their child/children have seen pornography online and of the parents who aren’t sure if their kids have seen adult content, 68% think it unlikely that they have.

Of those parents who don’t have content-filtering software, 34% say they trust their kids.

Workplace Cyber Security Practices

The survey also polled a sub-sample of Americans cyber security practices and attitudes in their workplace.  The survey found that a majority say their employer has a formal work Internet usage policy (59%) while 26% do not.

But respondents are split as to whether or not they have had training on keeping their work computers safe and secure (43% to 43%).

Seven in ten (69%) say that a safe and secure Internet is dependent to their job, 45% of which say it is very dependent. Six in ten (61%) say that losing Internet access at their job for 48 consecutive hours during a regular business week would be disruptive, 43% say it would be extremely disruptive.

A 2011 NCSA/Symantec study of small businesses finds that two thirds (66%) say that their business is dependent on the Internet for its day-to-day operations, two fifths of which (38%) would characterize it as very dependent.  Two thirds (67%) of small business owners describe their businesses as more dependent on the Internet than it was 12 months ago.

Age Disparities

Respondents ages 18-54 feel that individual users are most responsible for keeping the Internet safe and secure, whereas users 55 and older believe that it is the Internet service provider who is most responsible.

As the age of the user increases, so does their concern over identity theft, with 40% of 18-29 year olds, 39% of 30-49 year olds, 47% of 50-64 year olds, and 50% of those 65+ citing this as their largest concern.

As respondents’ age increases, a smaller percentage feels safe using smartphones with 23% of 18-29 year olds, 11% of 30-49 year olds, and 2.5% of 50-64 year olds feeling safe accessing the Internet using their smartphones.

Gender Attitudes Towards Cyber Security

If a computer were infected by a virus or malware, and the user was provided step-by-step instructions to fix it, only 31% of females feel very confident in fixing the computer on their own versus 53% of males who feel very confident about pursuing this task.

Nearly one in every five males (or 19%) backup their data and digital information on a daily basis while a less amount of females – only 12% – do so each day.

Thirty-eight percent of females have undergone training to keep their computer safe and secure at work, while 48% of males received training about safe and secure cyber security practices in the workplace.

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More Social Media Marketing Tips

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

Social Media Marketing is a style of online marketing that enables businesses of all sizes to get the word out about their product or service, as well as boost brand awareness, build loyalty, and attract and retain customers. You want to use Social Media Marketing to increase your visibility, improve your search engine results, and drive more traffic to your company’s website.

Without a doubt, Social Media Marketing has become a crucial element of successful online marketing and brand building. All content that adds value and markets a business, directly or indirectly, can be considered a form of Social Media Marketing. The material can be distributed in long form (blogs, articles, and eBooks), short form (Twitter updates, Facebook updates and images), or through conversations and sharing (start or join Twitter conversations or share content in a forum comment). Social Media Marketing allows you to build lasting connections with influential customers who in turn share your content and your message.

Here are some more easy ways to integrate your Social Media Marketing efforts and surround consumers with branded experiences:

•   Always include social media icons in your blog’s sidebar.

•   Provide links to your branded online sites in your email signature.

•   Place your branded online destination links in your forum signatures.

•   Add links to your online content in the comment forms whenever you publish comments on blogs.

•   Always put links to your content in your ads.

•   Include links to your content on your business cards.

•   Insert links to your content in your email newsletter.

•   Incorporate links to your content on your sales receipts.

•   Include Facebook social plugins on your blog or Web site from Facebook’ Developer suite.

•   Include Twitter widgets from the Twitter Resources section of Twitter.com on your blog or Web site and other points of entry.

•   Add your YouTube videos on your Facebook page and profile.

•   Feed your blog content to your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles, your Facebook page, and any other social networking portals where you have a profile.

•   Share your blog’s content in LinkedIn groups that pertain to your niche.

•   Use the SlideShare app to display your business presentations on Facebook and LinkedIn.

•   Include links to your blog in your online profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other Social Networking Portals.

•   The bio you include in guests posts for other people’s blogs should include links to your online content and destinations.

•   Include LinkedIn plugins from the LinkedIn Developers Community on your blog and Web site.

•   Include the URLs to your online content in brochures and other marketing materials.

•   Always list the URLs of your online content in your store or event signage.

•    Feed your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook updates to your company’s blog.

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Cyber-Bullied Teens twice as likely to Use Tobacco, Alcohol, and Marijuana

AscentiveInternet Safety tips from the Ascentive team

American teens ages 12-17 who in a typical day spend any time on social networking sites are at increased risk of smoking, drinking and drug use, according to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parents, the 16th annual back-to-school survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia).

The survey asked 12- to 17-year olds whether they spend time on Facebook, MySpace or other social networking sites in a typical day. Seventy percent of teens report spending time on social networking sites in a typical day compared to 30 percent of teens that say they do not. This means that 17 million 12- to 17-year olds are social networking in a typical day.

Social Networking Teens at Increased Substance Abuse Risk
Compared to teens that spend no time on social networking sites in a typical day, teens that do are:

  • •Five times likelier to use tobacco;
  • •Three times likelier to use alcohol; and
  • •Twice as likely to use marijuana.

Teen Substance Abuse Photos Rampant on Social Networking Sites
The CASA Columbia survey found that 40 percent of all teens surveyed have seen pictures on Facebook, MySpace or other social networking sites of kids getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs. Half of teens who have seen pictures of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs on Facebook and other social networking sites first saw such pictures when they were 13 years of age or younger; more than 90 percent first saw such pictures when they were 15 or younger.

Compared to teens that have never seen pictures of kids getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs on social networking sites, teens that have seen these images are:

  • •Three times likelier to use alcohol;
  • •Four times likelier to use marijuana;
  • •Four times likelier to be able to get marijuana, almost three times likelier to be able to get controlled prescription drugs without a prescription, and more than twice as likely to be able to get alcohol in a day or less; and
  • •Much likelier to have friends and classmates who abuse illegal and prescription drugs.

Teens Viewing Suggestive Teen Programming at Increased Substance Abuse Risk
This year’s survey explored teen TV viewing habits in relation to teen substance abuse. One-third of teens (32 percent) watch teen reality shows like Jersey ShoreTeen Mom, or 16 and Pregnant or teen dramas like Skins or Gossip Girl in a typical week.

Compared to teens that do not watch suggestive teen programming, teens that typically watch one or more such programs per week are:

  • •Twice as likely to use tobacco;
  • •Almost twice as likely to use alcohol;
  • •More than one-and-a-half times likelier to use marijuana;
  • •Twice as likely to be able to get marijuana within a day or less; and
  • •More than one-and-a-half times likelier to be able to get prescription drugs without a prescription within a day or less.

“The relationship of social networking site images of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs and of suggestive teen programming to increased teen risk of substance abuse offers grotesque confirmation of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA Columbia’s Founder and Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. “The time has come for those who operate and profit from social networking sites like Facebook to deploy their technological expertise to curb such images and to deny use of their sites to children and teens who post pictures of themselves and their friends drunk, passed out or using drugs. Continuing to provide the electronic vehicle for transmitting such images constitutes electronic child abuse.”

Parental Perceptions Out of Touch with Reality
Eighty-seven percent of parents said they think spending time on social networking sites does not make it more likely their child will drink alcohol; 89 percent of parents felt it would not make their child more likely to use drugs.

Cyber Bullying and Substance Abuse 
The CASA Columbia survey also found that 19 percent of teens ages 12-17 (more than 4.5 million teens) report being cyber bullied (having someone post mean or embarrassing things about them on a social networking site). Compared to teens who are not cyber bullied, teens who have been cyber bullied are more than twice as likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana.

“The anything goes, free-for-all world of Internet expression and suggestive television programming that teens are exposed to on a daily basis puts them at increased risk of substance abuse,” said Califano. “The findings in this year’s survey should strike Facebook fear into the hearts of parents of young children and drive home the need for parents to give their children the will and skill to keep their heads above the water of the corrupting cultural currents their children must navigate.”

Other Key Findings Related to Teen Substance Abuse
Teens whose parents don’t agree completely with each other on what to say to their teen about drug use are more than three times likelier to use marijuana, and three-and-a-half times likelier to expect to try drugs in the future, than teens whose parents agree completely on what to say about drug use.

  • •Teens whose parents do not agree completely with each other on what to say to their teen about drinking alcohol are twice as likely to use alcohol, than teens whose parents agree completely on what to say about drinking.
  • •Teens who agreed with any of the following statements − “If a friend of mine uses illegal drugs, it’s none of my business,” “I should be able to do what I want with my own body,” or “It’s not a big deal to have sex with someone you don’t care that much about” − are three times likelier to use marijuana, twice as likely to drink alcohol, and much more likely to smoke cigarettes, compared to teens who disagreed with the statements.
  • •For the fifth straight year, more than 60 percent of high school students say they attend schools where drugs are used, kept or sold on school grounds.
  • •Forty-two percent of 12- to 17-year olds report knowing at least one friend or classmate who uses illegal drugs, like acid, ecstasy, methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin, a 24 percent increase since 2007.

CASA Columbia’s back-to-school survey was conducted using two concurrent surveys. CASA Columbia used Knowledge Networks to do an Internet-based survey administered to a nationally representative sample of 1,037 teens (546 boys, 491 girls), and 528 of their parents, from March 27 to April 27, 2011. Sampling error is +/- 3.1 for teens and +/- 4.4 for parents. As in the past, CASA Columbia used QEV Analytics to do a survey of trend questions at home by telephone that was administered to a nationally representative sample of 1,006 teens (478 boys, 528 girls) from March 29 to May 9, 2011. Sampling error is +/- 3.1.

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Quick and Easy Ways to Improve Your Website

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

A well designed website is a vital ingredient to every business. It’s crucial to avoid designing a website that takes way too long to load, has poor accessibility, doesn’t load correctly, is too cluttered, or even too sparse. If one of your visitors leaves your website within eight seconds, it’s time to fix something on your site pronto. Here are some key suggestions as to where you should start:

Speed up your site

When your website fails to grab someone’s attention and compel them to order one of your products or services or even add their email to your mailing list, it may be time for you to check and see your problem is a home page that take too long to load. It’s possible that large resolution images or animated Flash Files may be slowing you down. Try viewing your site over a slower Internet connection or use an online speed test to check your site’s speed.

Use Keywords on Your Pages

Remember, the goal of search engines is to provide relevant results according to the terms that people are using for their searches. This means you need to provide the most relevant, high-quality information that your audience is looking for out on the Internet. One way to do this is to bold the keywords in your headlines and in the “bodies” of your web page content. However, here’s no need to bold all your keywords. In fact, although it’s important to have proper keyword density, you should avoid “keyword stuffing.” Keyword stuffing is when you overload the content or your webpage’s meta tags of the web page with every possible keyword or phrase that relates to the site in many different forms. For example, a bad meta description for our a paper site would read as follows: “paper, copy paper, printer paper, laser printer paper, Xerox paper, typing paper.” Note that this example has only keywords, with no sentence structure. If your site contains an unnaturally high density of one single keyword, your site will actually drop in search engine rankings.

Use Image Tags

Another way to improve your traffic is through the use of optimized graphics in order to get listed in the Google Images’ database. When you build your website, be sure to use Image Tags and Alt Image Tags to code all of your images. And name your image files with popular, relevant, descriptive keywords.

Update Your Website Dates

When your website has the current date, it’s letting visitors known that it’s fresh and current. Search engines take this into consideration when they crawl through your site as well. Always update your website dates on a regular basis.