Eight Things To Consider Before Investing In SEO

Founder and CEO of Markitors, a digital marketing company that connects small businesses with customers – and has a good time doing it.


SEO can be confusing. Build backlinks here, insert title tags there, make sure to optimize your page speed scores – where do you begin?

Over the years, I’ve gotten our website to rank on the first page worldwide for the keyword “digital marketing company,” a term that brings in the majority of our new business leads and fuels our company growth. Search engine optimization is certainly a high-value marketing tactic in a digital strategy but that doesn’t mean it happens overnight.

Here are a few things to consider before investing in SEO:

    1. Patience. It took me about three years to rank on the first page for “digital marketing company” and I’ve had clients wait three years to rank for their target keywords. The payoff is great, but it takes a lot of patience to get to that point.
    2. Impatience. Not every company can afford to wait until SEO kicks in. To see immediate results, companies need to be impatient and invest in digital marketing activities outside of SEO. Specifically, pay-per-click advertising (PPC) can deliver immediate results while determining whether a keyword is worth ranking for.
    1. What content will you create on an ongoing basis? Being viewed by Google as a “resource” helps with your ranking. To be viewed as a resource, you need links and content. Ask yourself if there are 52 blog posts (one per week) that should be created on your website. If you have good content, the path to ranking for target keywords will be easier.
    2. Not every organic search visit will convert. We’ve gotten sites to rank No. 1 for keywords, only to find out that those keywords had a low conversion rate. Ranking No. 1 for a search term isn’t always a good thing.
  1. When you do find a keyword that converts, do everything you can to protect that search position. When I was managing SEO for a client, we were ranking in the top 10 search positions and making $5,000 a week with no advertising costs. One day, Google dropped the search rankings back to the third page of search results. Revenue dried up. When you rank well for a converting keyword, monitor it and continue to build on it like you were still on page three.
  2. Competition dictates actions. Some industries are highly competitive when it comes to SEO. Do a competitive analysis of the companies controlling the top 20 search positions for your target keyword and see if how realistic it is to overtake them. How does your website stack up to the competition?
  3. What are the costs? Who is going to do the work and what do they cost? What are the expenses associated with doing business through your website? Adding up all the costs provides key insight into your return on investment.
  4. Profit is what matters. Investments need a positive return. Given the points above, how many sales would your business need to amass over a 12-month period to be profitable? Knowing the competitive landscape in search result pages, how long it takes to rank for a target keyword, and how much you’ll pay an SEO professional to get your website to rank – is it all worth it?
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

SEO offers incredible value to business owners and marketers. There are a couple key takeaways from these points that determine whether you are ready to invest in SEO.

  • Will you make more money than you spend?
  • Do you stand a chance at ranking for your high-converting keywords?

If the answers are “yes,” then good luck creating content, backlinking and monitoring Google Search Console. If the answers are “no,” then consider starting a Google AdWordsaccount and pay for your clicks.


With ‘The Dark Tower’ and ‘It’ in theaters, Stephen King’s family themes hit mainstream America

Ilze Kitshoff, Sony Pictures

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Idris Elba, left, and Matthew McConaughey in the Columbia Pictures film, The Dark Tower.” (Ilze Kitshoff/Columbia Pictures/Sony via AP)

Stephen King is a writer who opens doors to a number of worlds. And this fall, he’s inviting moviegoers nationwide inside some of his most famous works.

On Friday, one of King’s earliest works, “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” will be adapted for film as “The Dark Tower” and in September moviegoers will get a new — and if the trailers are to be believed — terrifying version of his 1986 novel “It”.

Based on the first book in The Dark Tower series, the film “The Dark Tower” will tell the story of Roland (Idris Elba), a gunslinger who lives in a fantastical world that runs parallel to our own. As a peacekeeper of that world, Roland’s only goal is to protect the dark tower — a literal tower that keeps all worlds, including our own, alive and well — from falling due to the hands of the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey).

Actors Idris Elba, left, and Matthew McConaughey participate in “The Dark Tower” cast photo call at The Whitby Hotel on Sunday, July 30, 2017, in New York | Evan Agostini, Invision, Associated Press

Aiding Roland in his quest is a young boy named Jake (Tom Taylor), who hails from our world (New York City, specifically). Roland and Jake develop a bond that lingers close to the line of father and son.

In King’s Dark Tower series, which includes seven books and one novella, Jake and Roland’s relationship grows into a father-son relationship, with the boy going as far as to call Roland his father toward the end of the saga.

This short thread of a story reveals something consistent throughout King’s tales. No matter how dark, twisted or malevolent, at their core, his stories are often family, even love, centered. Take any King tale written or adapted for television, movie or miniseries, and viewers will see familial themes shining throughout.

While it’s true that King’s tales often contain overly sexual content with plenty of irreverence and violence, they still highlight the idea that family can help people through anything.

Take a look King’s famous story “It,” which opens in theaters Sept. 8. Most people know the general idea of this tale: a demon clown terrorizing a group of youngsters who are working their way through adolescence.

The book’s characters go through a number of experiences that define modern boyhood — winning the heart of the prettiest girl in school, facing the bully and his cronies and seeking out mystery on a boring summer evening. And while King knew childhood from his growing up years, he was a father by the time he wrote “It,” and the book is peppered with parental guidance.

One prime example comes from Edward “Eddie” Kaspbrak, a boy with asthma problems and a loving — perhaps too loving — mother. As the story progresses, readers learn that her love has led her to do dark things, but while her actions are extreme, it is clear that she is a parent trying her best to protect her son.

Horror author Stephen King sits atop the television set in his Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel room, July 26, 1986. Not content with producing one chilling hit novel after another, King has directed his first movie, “Maximum Overdrive.” | Michael Tweed, Associated Press

Love — in all its forms — is a theme that crops up again and again in King’s novels. In “Christine,” the story of a demonized 1958 Plymouth, nerd Arnie Cunningham grew more handsome the more times he spent with the possessed car. His best friend tried to save Arnie as did his parents, who constantly argued with their teenage boy over his obsession with the car. Arnie saw his parents as overbearing, but it was their love that kept them working to save their increasingly disturbed son.

These themes of love and family appear in King’s shorter works as well. His novella “The Mist,” which was previously adapted for film but more recently became a TV show for Spike TV, tells of a father, David, who got caught inside a grocery store with his son, Billy, as a supernatural mist overtook their town. It becomes up to the father and son to work together to save themselves and their neighbors. The movie’s dark ending forces readers to look at what sacrifices they would make for love, family and survival, highlighting once more King’s fascination with family.

From his newer work to the older pieces, King’s reliance on family continues to present itself. Not all tales are focused on family, but many have familial themes sprinkled throughout and many touch on the idea of what it means to be a family.

To understand why these themes are important to the author, it may be helpful to look at King himself. The New York Times profiled the best-selling author back in 2013, highlighting what they called King’s “family business.”

King, a modest man with his mind stuck on Halloween, has a family full of writers. His son Joe, who changed his name to Joe Hill, and Owen, who stuck with Owen King, both write successfully. His wife Tabitha is also a writer. His daughter, Naomi, is a minister, but she too has writing experience.

In fact, King often had his family help him with his writing and reading, teaching them storytelling in multiple ways.

Author Stephen King hugs his son, Owen, at Book Expo America, Thursday, June 1, 2017, in New York. The pair have co-written a novel, Sleeping Beauties, to be published in September. | Mark Lennihan, Associated Press

“If reading was a common escape in the King household, it was nonetheless deeply social,” The New York Times reported. “They read on tape, but they also took turns reading aloud after dinner, passing around ‘The Hobbit’ or the Narnia chronicles. It followed that writing came to feel like something they all could share as well. Stephen and Tabitha did not take themselves off to quiet sheds or off-site offices to write; they wrote in their home, upstairs, as their kids, below, wondered what words were being put on the page and played elaborate role-playing games of their own.”

That long-standing tradition morphed into something greater. Hill and Owen King often write books alongside their more famous father. Interested readers can find all of their books at Barnes and Noble or on any best-seller list.

In fact, King and Owen are releasing a new book this fall called “Sleeping Beauties.” That book, which will be released Sept. 26, takes place in small town in West Virginia where all women across the world fall asleep, leaving men to fend for themselves.

King said the experience of writing with his son was “a blessing” and a “thrill,” according to USA Today.

He even posted a Father’s Day video of him and Owen in preparation for the novel.

Family too isn’t just a theme in King’s stories — sometimes, the people themselves inspire his tales. The idea for “Sleeping Beauties” came from something his mother used to say.

“The first thing that came into my mind was something my mother used to say,” he said at a Book and Author Breakfast at the BookExpo America in June. “She raised my brother and me alone. We were latchkey kids before there were latchkey kids, back in the ‘50s. She used to say that if you go into a house and you use the bathroom and there is no ring around the toilet, there’s a woman around somewhere because men don’t do that.”

Once again, even with his latest work, like “Sleeping Beauties,” King presents the connection to family, one that weaves its way inside and outside of his stories. There’s some core element of family buried deep inside each tale. It may not always be positive, but it is there, waiting to be explored.

Moviegoers may see it this weekend with “The Dark Tower,” as Roland and his compadre, a young boy who is more or less a son, work to save this world and all worlds together.

A father and son traveling to save worlds sounds like a family story to the last.


This Plugins Lets You Run Active Time Contests In Moodle

This Plugins Lets You Run Active Time Contests In Moodle

The Course Dedication plugin, created by Aday Talavera, gives you an estimate of the time each student has been active in Moodle.

It works by keeping track of student navigation throughout a session. When the plugin is active, it tracks every click made by students. When a logged in users clicks any link in Moodle within a given time, the session starts. The session ends when a specified amount of time passes after the last click. With these settings, the plugin can track the number of sessions the student is studying in Moodle and the duration of each session. By keeping track of user activity independently from logins and logouts, it encourages students to navigate within the site to rank high in Moodle activity.

The plugin can remain hidden from student view, or a personal overview can be enabled. Teachers will be able to access a dashboard with session information. The dashboard shows individual, team, and whole course information. Session data can also be downloaded as a spreadsheet.

The plugin is maintained by Talavera with support from CICEI – ULPGC, an academic institution in Las Palmas, Spain. It is available in English and Spanish.

Course Dedication is available for Moodle 2.7 to 3.2. Install or download it from its Moodle directory page.

Moonami LogoThis Moodle Technology related post is made possible by: Moonami a company that provides a full range of Moodle services that combine the flexibility, scalability, and power of Amazon’s world-leading cloud platform (AWS) with fanatical Moodle support. Click here to learn more.


Twitter shares tank as micro-blogging platform fails to add any new users in Q2

Twitter now has 328 million monthly active users, the same- India Tv

Twitter has added zero users since first quarter, posting $574 million in revenue in the second quarter this year which is a decrease of five per cent YoY (year-on-year).

Twitter now has 328 million monthly active users (MAUs) — the same number it reported in the first quarter of 2017.

On the contrary, Facebook has over two billion users, WhatsApp now reports over one billion daily users and Instagram ‘Stories’ has over 250 million users.

The not-so-good results brought Twitter’s stock down almost 12 per cent in trading on Thursday.

“Monthly active usage (MAU) increased five per cent YoY and daily active usage (DAU) increased 12 per cent YoY, marking the third consecutive quarter of double-digit growth,” said Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, in a statement.

Last quarter, the micro-blogging platform had daily active usage growth of 14 per cent YoY.

Twitter’s net income in the second quarter was $56 million, or eight cents per share.

“We’re strengthening our execution, which gives us confidence that our product improvements will continue to contribute to meaningful increases in daily active usage,” Dorsey added.

“We continue to invest in revenue products and services that leverage Twitter’s unique value proposition and are delivering more value to advertisers than ever, with double-digit growth in daily active usage, improvements in ad relevance and better pricing,” added Anthony Noto, Twitter’s COO.

Twitter was now more focused towards video streaming on its platform.

“We’re proud of our strong growth in video, which remained our largest and fastest growing ad format, and we received a positive response from advertisers around the live premium video content debuted at Twitter’s Digital Content NewFronts,” Noto said.

Despite stalled user growth, Twitter was now exploring new revenue streams and ways of innovation.

When it comes to “Promoted” tweets, the number of brands using Twitter for advertising has been on the rise.

Globally, in the first quarter of 2017, Twitter streamed more than 800 hours of live premium video from content partners across over 450 events, reaching 45 million unique viewers — an increase of 31 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2016.


From The Editor’s Desk: Women In Hockey Reporting and Blogging

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In some circles of hockey twitter, a few people are firm in the fact that women shouldn’t cover/write about hockey at all.

This isn’t a new concept.

I have been told many times that I don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t know anything about the team, or shouldn’t be running this website. I’ve also seen friends being told that their article is bad/wrong and the person telling the writer exactly the point they made in the article. Some people just look at the byline and say it’s wrong because of who wrote it. Some people find all the mistakes and assume you cannot continue to run the website and that if they harass you enough, you’ll leave.

That’s not the reality of hockey blogging.

Here at Five For Howling, we have four women on staff.

Jessica, who is our Social Media and Community Manager and fills in when needed as an editor and contributor. She also is a growing photographer and we hope to have her photos hosted on the site soon.

Rose, who is our research, graph, and number-loving contributor. Rose works on highly detailed pieces that involve a lot of research, reading graphs, and sometimes even going to the source of a new metric and asking about it.

Liz, who is the co-host of Den Talk and general cheerleader for all of us and what we do.

Then there is me, Sarah, the Managing Editor of this website. I write, I edit, I encourage and educate my young writing staff, and I curate the content on Five For Howling.

Women deserve to have their voices out there when discussing hockey. That voice needs to be louder than just ‘bloggers.’

Women’s voices should be heard and not just for the ‘sensitive’ topics. Women writers are not just there to make sure you cover violence against women properly. They aren’t there to just ‘double check spelling and grammar’ and they aren’t there to stroke your ego about a badly written piece that they want to deconstruct and rewrite.

Women are reporters. Women are bloggers. Women can scout and, sometimes, women know more about a subject than any other person in their office or site.

The ‘Old Boys Club’ of hockey is starting to take a shift. More women, young women, are wanting to start covering sports. It’s time for the media to start changing. This is no longer a ‘women don’t belong in the locker room’ issue. This is fundamentally being told that women cannot cover hockey, or sports in general, ‘correctly.’ It isn’t about women being too emotional to cover a team or too unprofessional. When someone shows up to the arena to work, that’s what they are doing there, working.

Fellow Managing Editors, encourage your young women writers, help them grow. Don’t let them stall out over one piece that they don’t think is just right. Help them through it. Encourage your writers to speak to each other. Don’t let their voices be drowned out by the loudest male voice in the room, and if it’s yours? Take a step back and listen.

Women will and can do anything they put their mind to. In the blog setting, it’s already starting to boom. With people like Hannah Stuart who writes amazing prospect profiles for FanRag. Steph Driver does amazing audio things at Broad Street Hockey and Broad Street Radio. Kate Fresetakes some of the best in-game photos. Megan of The Oilers Rig deals with the Oilers fan base on a day to day basis, much praise for that.

I can go on and on about women who cover teams/the league on a daily basis. Sarah McLellanfor AZ Central, Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press just to name a few. Jen Neale also covered the league amazingly on a daily basis for Puck Daddy, and I hope she lands somewhere soon, her voice is needed.

There are the women who help run the SB Nation NHL sites, Taylor for Defending Big D, Katyaof Pension Plan Puppets, Achariya of RawCharge, and Hildymac of St. Louis Game Time.* There is also Hannah Bevis who is running The Ice Garden and keeping everyone up to date on women’s hockey, and Mary Clarke running the news desk for SB Nation.

On TV you have Kathryn Tappen, Cassie Pascal-Campbell, Tessa Bonhomme and Leah Hextall. Canada is very lucky to have Pascal-Campbell and Bonhomme, amazing players in their own rights, but having them talk about hockey on a big stage is huge. Pascal-Campbell is on Hockey Night In Canada, the largest stage for hockey. Bonhomme is with TSN, the second biggest stage. Tappen with NBCSN and Hextall with Sportsnet. This sort of visibility is making women want to cover hockey visually instead of just in words.

I can keep going on and on about women who write about and cover hockey, but I will never be able to mention them all.

How do you feel about women reporting on/writing about NHL teams?

Who are some of your favorite women hockey writers/announcers? Leave their names below and their twitter info if you have it!


Are fireworks legal in your town? Find out with this map

Image result for Are fireworks legal in your town? Find out with this map

When Maine legalized fireworks in 2011, it gave local governments the ability to set their own restrictions.

Since, 46 municipalities have banned sale or use outright. Another 53 have passed restrictions for either sale or use and two have taken a straight not-in-my-backyard approach, banning only use.

So, before you set out with explosive Fourth of July plans, check this map to see just where fireworks are legal to use (and to link to specific local regulations).


For areas with no local rules or restrictions, state guidelines apply, laying out when and where one may set off fireworks in the state.

Those guidelines prohibit flying fireworks, require buyers to be 21 or over and require permission from the owner of the property where the fireworks are used.

Speaking from a childhood growing up around nearly annual fireworks mayhem in Southern California, I’ll add a safety reminder: legal fireworks can still burn you or the acres around you, so be careful.

The Maine Fire Marshall’s Office has safety tips and more on its website (did you know sparklers burn at 1200º Fahrenheit?).


Xiaomi Teases MIUI 9 Themes; Mi Mix, Mi Note 2, and Mi 5 to Receive the Update in Coming Days

Xiaomi is all set to officially release its next MIUI update, the MIUI 9, on July 26 along with the unveiling of a new smartphone called the Xiaomi Mi 5X. However, reports suggest that the Chinese smartphone maker has already started testing the Beta version of the MIUI 9 for Mi 6 and Redmi Note 4X and they will most likely be the first devices to get the much anticipated MIUI 9 platform.


Apart from the above two devices, a new Weibo leak suggests that the next batch of Xiaomi smartphones receive the MIUI 9 update include flagships like the Mi 5, Mi Mix, as well as the Mi Note 2. A previous leak had mentioned Xiaomi Mi 5s, Mi 5s Plus, Redmi 4, Mi Max 2, and Mi 4 to be a part of the second batch, however, the latest report does not mention any of these devices.

To sweeten the whole deal, Xiaomi has teased some of the features that the MIUI 9 update will bring to your phone. Starting off with the themes, the MIUI 9 will have three new themes in addition to the default one named No Boundary, Cool Black, and Color Fantasy. The one significant change you may notice in these themes is the lack of text below the app icons in the dock, giving them a neat look.

The MIUI 9 will also bring with it an improved lock screen feature with shortcuts that can be accessed by simply swiping on the screen. These revamped lock screen shortcuts include Torch, Mi Remote, Mi Home, Mi Pay, and Transport Card, to name a few.


Another highlighted feature of the MIUI 9 is the multi-window split-screen mode. However, this feature will only be accessible to Xiaomi devices that run on Android 7.0 getting the MIUI 9 update. The MIUI 9 ROM has been optimised so that you can keep tabs on its size for smart usage. The new ROM has also been improved by adding several new features to it while removing a few redundant ones.

Interestingly, the company claims that it has a few technology breakthrough features in store for the Xiaomi customers that will be unveiled on July 26. We have to simply wait for the grand launch next week to get more information.


How to get tickets to The Script’s Irish dates in Dublin and Derry when they go on sale on Friday – pre-sale information, prices and how to make sure you don’t miss out

IRISH rockers The Script will be back on home turf for two intimate gigs in Dublin and Derry next month.

Danny O’Donoghue and the lads will play in The National Stadium, Dublin on August 21 and The Millennium Forum in Derry on August 22 as part of their world tour.

The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue

The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue

Tickets will go on general sale at 9.30am on Friday July 28.

Here’s the lowdown on what you should do to be in with the best chance of getting tickets.

How does pre-sale for The Script’s Dublin and Derry dates work?

Pre-sale for The Script’s Irish dates begins in three days time – on Wednesday July 26 and ends on Friday July 28 2017 at 8.30am.

Fans must pre-order the band’s album Freedom Child from their store to get early access to tickets for the shows.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

How much are tickets?

Tickets for both shows, The National Stadium, Dublin and The Millennium Forum cost €54.15. There is a ticket limit of two per person, per transaction, per household, per credit card.

Bookings that exceed this amount of tickets will be cancelled.

And here’s everything you need to know as tickets go on general sale at 9.30am

1) Make sure to get yourself signed in on Ticketmaster. Don’t have an account? You best get that sorted straight away. Don’t leave it until the last minute and risk losing out on tickets.

2) Take note of your Ticketmaster account name and password so you’re not left scrambling on the morning of the sale. Also, make sure you know your password for Verified by Visa. You don’t want to get caught out by this either.

3) Your best option is to click quick when the ‘view tickets’ button pops up. Select the number of tickets you want and away you go.

The three members of The Script

The three members of The Script

4) Set the default ticket search to ‘best available’ so you don’t have to waste precious time deciding on seating or standing areas.

5) Make sure you get the annoying ‘captcha’ code on the first go. You have two minutes to fill it on, so make sure you get it right. Once you get this sorted

6) Ensure you get your computer set up and sorted in good time as tickets go on pre-sale at 9.30am on Wednesday July 26. And general sale starts at Friday July 28 at 9.30am. But to give yourself the best chance, you should have everything ready to go from at least 9.15am.

7) At this stage, you should have selected the option for either the Dublin or the Derry date, and be ready to wait until the ‘More info’ options changes to ‘view tickets’.

The Script will rock Irish fans

The Script will rock Irish fans

8) Make sure that you don’t mistake the concert ticket for a car parking ticket or a VIP package in your rush.

9) Do the whole transaction on one browser window. If you try to load multiple browsers, you might end up with an error message.

10) If possible, have as many devices on the go as you can to increase your chances of getting a ticket. Grab your tablet, mobile and laptop and log into Ticketmaster on all of them.

The Script haven’t released any material in three years, until they dropped their new single Rain on July 14.

The Script’s lead singer

The Script’s lead singer

Freedom Child, the band’s fifth studio album, will be released on September 1 2017.

The album was recorded between London and Los Angeles and the band worked with outside writers and producers for the first time to deliver a fresh new sound.


Cisco plugs command-injection hole in WebEx Chrome, Firefox plugins

Cisco has patched its Chrome and Firefox WebEx plugins to kill a bug that allows evil webpages to execute commands on computers.

A malicious page, when visited by a vulnerable Windows machine, can exploit the security flaw (CVE-2017-6753) to run arbitrary commands and code with the same privileges as the browser. In other words, the page can abuse the installed plugins to hijack the PC.

The hole is present in the Chrome and Firefox plugins for Cisco WebEx Meetings Server and Cisco WebEx Centers, and affects products including WebEx Meeting Center, Event Center, Training Center and Support Center. Internet Explorer and Edge are not considered vulnerable, and both OS X and Linux versions of Chrome and Firefox are also safe.

The bug was discovered by Google Project Zero researcher Tavis Ormandy and Divergent Security’s Cris Neckar.

“A vulnerability in Cisco WebEx browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the affected browser on an affected system,” Cisco said on Monday.

“This vulnerability affects the browser extensions for Cisco WebEx Meetings Server, Cisco WebEx Centers (Meeting Center, Event Center, Training Center, and Support Center), and Cisco WebEx Meetings when they are running on Microsoft Windows.

“The vulnerability is due to a design defect in the extension. An attacker who can convince an affected user to visit an attacker-controlled web page or follow an attacker-supplied link with an affected browser could exploit the vulnerability. If successful, the attacker could execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the affected browser.”

Those running Chrome and Firefox plugins for WebEx should already have the patches running on their machines. Cisco kicked out the automatic update for Chrome on July 12 and Firefox on July 13. Users can see if their versions are the fixed release (1.0.12) by going to the extensions menu in the browser and, if an older version is run, selecting the “update extensions now” (Chrome) or “check for updates” (Firefox) option.

Cisco says that while only the Chrome and Firefox plugins on Windows boxes are vulnerable to the flaw described, shared code between those browsers and the Internet Explorer/Edge plugins means that an update for Microsoft browsers has been released as well. ®


Lessons I’ve learned about the internet in 5+ years of blogging

Lessons I've learned about the internet in 5+ years of blogging

After blogging for more than five years, I have logged a great deal of time on the internet. As a result, I’ve had a wide variety of experiences and I have learned a lot. A whole lot. Because knowledge is power, I wanted to share that information with you. Hopefully it starts some conversations with your kids.

There’s a lot of good on the internet.

I’ve seen some remarkable acts of true kindness, often between people who have never met.

People online share helpful information and resources, support each other, and build communities – all of which is wonderful.

People have united to change the world.

When I see goodness, I point it out to my teen. I encourage and expect her to put kindness into both the visual and real worlds. Help kids understand what a wonderful tool the internet can be.

There is also a lot of bad on the internet.

Few things in life fall into the categories of all good or all bad, and the internet is certainly no exception. It is a double-edged sword, to be sure.

There are scary people, including a fair number of child predators. There are also people looking to do harm to others, physically or financially.

Aside from the scary people, there’s a boat load of negativity. I’ve had commenters tell me that I am unfit to parent, that I’m perpetrating sexism and that I am awful excuse for a human being.

I’ve been called a host of really offensive names for a variety of reasons, including that I occasionally drove my child to elementary school and that I dislike Starbucks’ smores frappuccinos. (The horror!)

I’ve even had someone set up an email account with the name “[email protected]” to tell me how much I suck. I’m guessing that with the unusual spelling of my first name that that wasn’t just a coincidence, but hey, you never know.

Frankly, “delete your account” seems downright polite now.

When you go online, be aware. Know how you are going to handle threats. Remember that taking a screen shot and reporting are among the first actions you should take. Be prepared for criticism, often when you least expect or deserve it.

The internet is powerful.

As the two prior points illustrate, the internet is remarkably powerful.

Remember that with power comes responsibility.

In fact, there are television shows made about how quickly and dramatically the internet has changed people’s lives, including The Internet Ruined My Life.

There is a surprising number of people online with a surprising amount of free time.

I’m guessing that you rarely sit down at your computer and think “I have nothing at all to do and no responsiblities to tend to right now.” You have a full life that often keeps you busy, I suspect. Most people I know would say that’s true for them.

That is not, however, true for a lot of people online. Take the gentleman above who created an email account just to express his dislike of me. I know that’s not a huge time investment, but it did take at least a few minutes. There are people who have commented on things I’ve posted, saying “I don’t comment on posts that do X, Y, and Z.” I want to point out that they actually did comment, but, well, I don’t. Which brings me to my next point.

You can’t fight crazy.

When it comes to trolls, haters, people having really bad days and taking it out on bloggers they don’t know, I have a rule: don’t engage. It took me a while to learn this one, and I’d love to save you the time, if I can.

I tried to be polite, but it turns out that even “let’s agree to disagree” is a waste of your time (because you really do have better things to do) and it is giving them exactly what they want – interaction, or a reaction. Don’t feed the beast.

Trust that the rest of the reasonable world will see that you were logical, insightful, funny, and more. And you might be surprised that others will be upstanders for you.

You have very little control of what you post online. Actually, you have no control. None. 

Once you share words, photos, images, anything online, you have released it to the universe. And literally anything can happen after you do that, including:

  • people claiming your work as their own,
  • companies using what you’ve shared for commercial purposes without permission,
  • individuals posting your links on a webpage and encouraging others to head to your site and tell you that you suck,
  • websites using your photos to sell products that are not actually in the photos,
  • people completely misinterpreting what you’ve written,
  • posts going viral and being read by 1 million people.

All of those have happened to me as least once. And I’ve had posts go crazy viral twice. If you want to feel vulnerable, have 1 million people read something you’ve written. It’s oddly terrifying, in part because you can’t control how people interpret your work. That lack of control is scary. Invariably, people will take something in a manner other than what you intended, even those close to you.

The best way to address it is to be very careful when you post. Think about it. Then think about it again. Remember that there is no requirement that you post something online. If you’re not certain, don’t share/post/publish it.

The internet can be a great way to bond with your tweens and teens.

Whether laughing over a funny animal video, sharing a great meme or using a headline as a conversation starter (because kids are far more likely to start taking about people other than themselves). It can be a great way to find resources and support.

The internet can be a wonderful way to find a community of parents on the same or similar roller coaster ride of raising adolescents that you are.

May you and your family use it in good health and may it bring good things your way.