The Pelland Advertising Newsletter
May 18, 2017
Pre-Summer Newsletter
Following up on snowfall at high elevations in Northern New England last weekend, much of the East Coast where we are based is facing record-breaking summer heat this week. There is no doubt that summer is coming, with Memorial Day weekend less than two weeks away. We were pleased to meet with many old and new clients at recent trade events in New Hampshire and Colorado, in several instances having the opportunity to actually meet clients face-to-face for the first time. Whether you have been one of our clients for 25 years or longer, or if you are yet to work with Pelland Advertising, we hope that the content in this newsletter will be useful, timely in nature, and helpful in the day to day operation of your business.
Google and SSL

Secure - SSL Encryption

Up until recently, SSL was generally only used on e-commerce sites that were asking customers to enter secure personal information such as credit card numbers, but the rules of the game are changing. As of late January 2017, Google and its Chrome browser now show sites that are not running SSL as not secure. Coming in late October, with the scheduled release of Chrome 62, the display of expanded warnings will begin if sites are not running SSL and are gathering any sort of personal information. Browsers other than Chrome are expected to follow suit. This warning will apply to sites that require a password or sites that use any type of form to gather personal information, including the reservation request forms that are commonly used on campground and lodging websites. If your site is already running SSL and shows the https protocol, you are fine.

If your site is hosted by Pelland Advertising, is not running SSL but is gathering any type of personal information, Pelland Advertising will be migrating the site to SSL and https in the coming weeks at no charge to you. Any other sites that we host will be included in a second tier of migration. This is just one more example of our commitment to our clients and doing everything possible to enhance their websites in the eyes of Google. Back in 2014, Google announced that SSL was one of its so-called ranking signals that influences search engine placement, in itself an incentive to switch. More recently, studies have shown that sites with SSL load faster than the same sites without SSL. If we host your site, nothing needs to be done at your end, but we will be contacting you soon to notify you about the free upgrade.

The Internet Makes Headline News

When the Internet is the lead story on the evening news, it is usually not a good thing. Over the past week, the big news story has been about the WannaCry ransomware attack. As you have probably heard, this attack originated with e-mails that were sent to computers worldwide. Companies and individuals that are running outdated Microsoft Windows operating systems such as Windows XP were highly vulnerable, as was any computer that had not been updated since March 2017, when Microsoft discovered a vulnerability and issued patches for all currently supported operating systems. Since then, Microsoft has even taken the “highly unusual” measure of issuing patches for earlier operating systems that are otherwise no longer supported. The vulnerability had been uncovered by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) some 5 years ago, with their programmers hacking a way to exploit that vulnerability, naming that hack EternalBlue. Unfortunately, the NSA itself was hacked, and that hack was widely shared amongst cybercriminals who combined it with a distribution network based upon an e-mail worm, and WannaCry was born.

WannaCry ransomware screen capture

The victims of the ransomware are located around the globe, including major companies and organizations such as the British National Health Service, Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica, and FedEx. The countries that were most highly impacted included Russia, China, and other countries that are notorious for the use of pirated software (which, in this case, is not updated by Microsoft). Imagine your business being disrupted by a ransomware attack, along with the potentially disastrous implications.

It could still impact you. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal on March 17, 2017, a new attack named Adylkuzz is already underway. Rather than holding your computer hostage, this attack will slow down your system while it hijacks processing power to accumulate a digital currency known as Monero. As if that is not enough, a hacking group that calls itself Shadow Brokers has promised to unleash a new cyber attack in June that would target Windows 10, routers, browsers, and even smartphones

Follow these steps to protect your computers:

  • If your computers are running Windows 10, they have not been affected, at least so far. If you are running an older operating system, this is an argument in favor of updating to the newest version of Windows.

  • If your computers are running Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8.1, run Windows Update on your computers immediately.

  • If your computers are running Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, or Windows 8, run the patches that are available from Microsoft.

  • Run the latest, updated version of a robust security software option on all of your computers. Both Avast and Kaspersky were capable of stopping the WannaCry ransomware even on an otherwise unprotected system.

  • Back up your data to an external source, such as network attached storage (NAS) or a cloud-based backup solution. In the event that you become a victim, you should be able to restore your system to its pre-attack state.

  • Limit the access to e-mail by your staff members, and instruct them to avoid opening e-mail attachments.

  • Needless to say, never run pirated software!

The “Google Docs” phishing scam that proliferated in e-mails on May 4, 2017, said to be the most effective e-mail worm since the “I Love You” virus that caused havoc back in 2000, could very well have been the launchpad for the WannaCry ransomware attack. The scam was effective because it looked legitimate (it is so easy to copy the appearance of a legitimate website!), came from somebody you knew (rather than some random name chosen by a hacker in Belarus), and was spread through the type of shared online document that we have come to accept as routine. Even cautious recipients who would never open an e-mail attachment from a stranger thought that it was safe to download the same sort of document that appeared to have been shared via a cloud service by a known sender.

This story is unfolding literally as fast as it can be reported. The bottom line is to run the latest operating system and anti-virus software and to exercise an extreme degree of caution.

Parlez-vous français? / ¿Hablas español?

Hispanic Family

A prospective client recently asked us about foreign language versions of websites, after somebody had incorrectly suggested that sites using the Google Translate widget would be penalized in search rankings. The fact is that Google is NOT penalizing sites that use its translate widget, which is effective enough to allow non-English speaking visitors to understand the content of your site. What Google is penalizing are sites that have foreign-language versions that have used an automated translation tool (such as Google translate) to then copy and paste text into foreign-language versions of their pages. Even though Google Translate is good enough for somebody to get a fairly acceptable translation from the English language on a website, that translation is NOT suitable in quality to serve as the basis for dedicated page content. This is just as bad as having an English language version of a site that is full of spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors. It will hurt you with both search engines and human beings who read the content.

If a significant portion of a business’s customer base is made up of people who speak specific languages (such as Spanish or French), the best approach is to have the site professionally translated by a human translator. Several of our campground clients have French language versions of their websites because they are located in areas that historically get a significant portion of their business from the French Canadian market. (These areas include Old Orchard Beach, Maine; Hampton Beach, New Hampshire; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; the Wildwoods and Cape May, in New Jersey; Ocean City, Maryland; and Virginia Beach, Virginia.) We have had clients with French language websites who have told me that they have had guests at the time of registration tell them that they chose that specific campground because of the quality of the translation. It was demonstrating that the clients are not simply paying lip service to the Canadian market, but have actually demonstrated their commitment to serving their French Canadian guests. Our translators are human beings based in Montreal who understand camping.

Here are links to two of our client websites that are dedicated to reaching out to their sizable French Canadian clienteles:

Cape Cod Campresort
East Falmouth, Massachusetts

Tidewater Campground
Hampton, New Hampshire

Tidewater Campground

If you are interested in a dedicated foreign-language version of your website, contact us. A foreign language version of your site will send a very positive message to your French- or Spanish-speaking clientele while enhancing your business by increasing its international geographic presence. Click here to read our blog post on the subject of foreign language markets from back in 2013. We are not newcomers when it comes to marketing to guests who prefer to communicate in a language other than English!

Security and the Social Media

On the topic of Internet security, think twice about divulging your personal information on Facebook or other social media sites. I don’t know how many times I have seen friends on Facebook post a complete set of answers to 50 personal questions such as the name of their elementary school, their first phone number, name of their eldest sibling, and so forth. Whenever I see this being treated as a harmless and fun exercise, I cannot help but ask myself, “Are you insane?” If any of these questions and answers seems familiar, it is because they are among the same ones that are used as security tests on your online banking or an e-commerce site when you reset a password. Yes, the name of your first pet can lead to the theft of your identity. Think twice before you participate in a survey, especially an online survey. The only thing for certain is that the personal information that you provide is being compiled by somebody. If you are lucky, it is only being compiled for marketing purposes. Your personal privacy is not being violated when you are the one who has disclosed your own private information. Click here to read my latest blog post on this topic.

Reputation Management Is Mission Critical
Insider Perks

Understanding the importance of reputation management, we invited Brian Searl, the CEO of Insider Perks, to provide a brief explanation of the service that his company provides. Brian’s company will keep an eye on your reviews, monitoring sites like TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, Yelp and RV Park Reviews. They will then respond to those reviews on your behalf, keeping you directly involved in a positive conversation. In his words, “When campground owners think about their online reputation, often the first and only thing that comes to mind are their reviews. To be sure, that is the most critical piece to the puzzle and monitoring as well as engaging with the guests who leave you good and bad reviews is truly vital to your success. Most campground owners stop there, though, and do not consider the other impacts on their business.

“An owner once presented me with some stunning statistics he had gathered about one of his properties. A study that showed he lost nearly $15,000 in revenue as the result of a TripAdvisor review. One that stated incorrectly that he had bed bugs and one that sat on the first page of TripAdvisor for weeks. Had we been working with him at the time, we could have negated much of this for him. Another cautionary tale comes from the exit strategy. A brand new owner who had purchased a park we had worked with for years told me, in a very frank conversation immediately after closing, that they would have never bought the park had it not been for our review responses. The park in question had customer service issues and without our work he would have considered them too big to overcome.

“Your reputation means so much to your success and allowing someone with expertise in the campground industry to help you manage it is just as vital. Insider Perks can help you respond to your reviews, but we can also help in dozens of different ways that have yet to cross your mind.” Click here to begin a free 30-day trial.


That’s it for this edition of the Pelland Advertising newsletter. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read it. Feel free to share our newsletter with your colleagues and to contact us with suggestions for future content. We are always here to listen ... and to be of assistance. Thanks!

Peter Pelland, Joshua Pelland, and the Staff at Pelland Advertising
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