How your website can work against you
Earlier this week I approached members of a particular Facebook group to which I belong to help me find a virtual assistant.
There were several attributes I wanted in an assistant, not least that they were tech savvy and a wizard with blogs and social media. The Facebook group goes by the acronym GSD – Get Stuff Done – and I had several suggestions to follow up.
The follow up was an interesting exercise, mainly because it showed how easily people manage to filter themselves out of the running. One of the biggest turn-offs is going on to a site and finding a Twitter feed where the last activity was 103 days ago. This is closely followed by a blog section where the last entry was several months ago.
My feeling is that if they are not going to blog or tweet, they should take these elements off the site. I would pay less attention to the fact that there was no blog or Twitter feed, than I would if they were there but unused. I feel a bit of a fraud because while my website undergoes a substantial makeover the blog pages have seen little use. But like the pot calling the kettle black, I am sitting in judgement of people who are not maintaining theirs. It is my prerogative, I am the customer.
If I am in the market for a virtual assistant I am looking for someone that displays exceptional organisational skills, who understands and implements processes, and has a great communication style. They are all important, and even more so if we are working remotely from each other. Their websites should demonstrate all of these qualities – with knobs on. They should even be anticipating the questions I have not even thought of, whereas in most cases they were failing to demonstrate even one of the qualities I am looking for.
During my research I was rejecting one virtual assistant after another, and the short list was remaining stubbornly short. But I had been saving some of the better sounding suggestions until last so I was not getting too worried. And then I clicked on Jo’s site – Jo had been recommended by someone whose opinion I valued – and I was holding out a lot of hope that she would top the shortlist.
Jo’s site began to load on to my PC screen and then the page flickered and went blank. Immediately in its place popped up a fake Metropolitan Police page suggesting I had been caught violating the internet and demanding a credit card payment of £100 to unfreeze my computer. I had been attacked by some ransomware. Hardly a good start by Jo – if she cannot keep her own site from being infected by a virus I am not going to let her anywhere near mine.
Two hours later I managed to disinfect my machine, no thanks to my anti-virus software that did not even recognise the threat, never mind neutralise it. There are several lessons to be learned from this. First is that no matter how strong the referral, your website can either support you, or work against you. The second is to regularly check your site for viruses. Go on, do it now.
Dennis Hall is managing director of Yellowtail Financial Planning