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Businesses that subscribe to industry-related blog or social media update services can get regular “news” on their website with the hope that fresh content will set them apart and improve their Google rankings. (Viewers and search engines hate stale pages!) But buyer beware – it’s not hard to spot duplicate content.  And it’s even easier to check it out with the latest browsers. Just highlight a couple sentences, copy & paste into the search box, and let Google do the rest. The resulting SERP (search engine results page) will tell you how many other sites share the same content.

So what’s the big deal about duplicate content?  Does it hurt my search engine rankings? How can I minimize it’s impact?  We’re going to answer all these questions in this post. But first, let’s walk through a quick example. A recent blog post on a realtor’s website caught our attention:

So we highlighted and copied the first couple of sentences and asked Google how many others had the exact same text (use quotation marks around your phrase to limit the search to that exact string): 


Voila!  We have 21,900 other websites that contain same verbiage!

So, how can this hurt?  Assuming you’re like these 21,900 websites and don’t include proper attribution with a link to the owner (and all the ones we checked don’t), then this won’t necessarily hurt your Google rankings, but it can subject your page to being excluded from the search results.  That’s because the search engine (e.g. Google) doesn’t know who authored the content. And without a clear authoritative source, the search engines will tend to simply ignore it.

Next, what does it tell your readers? Answers will vary by person, but overall, we think there’s more potential downside than there is benefit.  Especially if your supposedly original article gets noticed by a reader who saw the same thing on another website, or talked with a friend who read the same thing elsewhere. Perhaps on a competitor’s website. You run the risk of being tagged as disingenuous at best, and of plagiarism at worst.  Take it a step further and try one of the social media sharing buttons – on the social site, the resulting post usually begins, “By (website owners name)…”  This makes it look like the blog post was authored by you.

Why take a chance?  Sure, there are industry blog subscriptions for everything from real estate to car repairs, from acupuncture to landscaping. If you’re determined to use them to fill an otherwise sparse webpage, at least adhere to best practices (see Google’s own recommendations) and give credit where credit’s due. Better yet, put the time, thought, and effort into truly original content and you may be surprised at your visitors’ reactions!




Sign up for either of our website maintenance packages by Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 and get 1 month free!

Both plans include social media posts, search engine optimization (SEO), security updates, offsite backups, traffic statistics, and more.

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Piedmont Technology website maintenance plans


It takes a good bit of planning and effort to get a client, or prospect, to land on your website. Congrats! Now, don’t go and blow it by sending them on their merry way.

It’s very common to include links to other websites or resources within the body of your latest and greatest. And that’s fine! However – please be aware of one small detail that can make a big difference: whether your link is in the same, or a new, window.

If your link is within the same window, you’ve just lost ’em. Your visitor, and their online experience, is now managed by someone else. However, you can easily maintain your connection by opening any links in a new window. That way, when they “X out” they’ll be back at your page.

What’s your action step? What do you want a visitor to do at this point? Knowing how to handle question this can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your website.

The example below is a link that takes you to my personal webpage. It’s an example of how to insert a hyperlink using the current WordPress editor. When you click on it, notice your browser opens a new window. And, when you “x out” of that window, you’re back here! Your editor may vary; just look for the option to “open in new window” when creating the link:

Click here for Randy’s personal website.

If you’re comfortable with html coding, and have access to the “raw” or “text” version of your page, here’s how to include a link using html, that opens in a new window, using the qualifier: target =”_blank”:

<p style=”text-align: center;”>Click here for <span style=”color: #0000ff;”><em><span style=”color: #0000ff;”><a style=”color: #0000ff;” href=”” target=”_blank”>Randy’s personal website</a></span>.</em></span></p>

Piedmont 2.0

Thanks for dropping by!

Just a quick post to expand on what we mean by “Piedmont 2.0” and what it means for you.

After 10 years, we’re shifting our mission (from web developer & hands-on IT support) to that of a consultant, teacher, writer. In the coming weeks, you’ll notice an increased focus on our online storefront (Loudoun Valley Online), as well as a new emphasis on Tech Tips intended to help you navigate the world of “technology.”  From PC’s to web browsers, from virus protection to securing your wi-fi, from fighting spam to new electronic gadgets — and any tech issue you have a question about.

(No, we’re not abandoning current customers; watch your inboxes for specifics on your existing Piedmont services.)

What do you want to know more about?  Hashtags? Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Social Media? Accepting payments online? Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)? Just let us know!

Sometimes, the “ease of use” inherent with Google’s products can be confusing.  Particularly when it comes to logging into your Chrome (browser) and the Google search engine (assuming you have a gmail account).

It’s well worth the 2 minutes it takes to understand the difference between the Chrome browser (which now has the lion’s share of the browser market) and the Google search engine.  Using both in tandem can produce big productivity gains; but not understanding how these two services interact can also generate concern, agitation, and frustration — not to mention calls for “HELP!” from the nearest IT person.

Rather than re-invent the wheel, here’s a short, easy-to-follow youtube clip that explains the differences and shows you how to navigate both products:

This is a good article from DataDoctors that outlines the trade-off between security and usability in web browsers.

We use ’em all, but we prefer Chrome. This is just one good reason why…

At a recent hacking contest called Pwn2Own, Google Chrome came out as the most difficult to exploit, while Apple Safari and Microsoft Edge didn’t fare as well (Opera and Firefox were not part of this competition).

click the quote above for the full article

How fast does your home page load?

Speed-to-load is one of the most crucial factors in determining how Google, and other search engines, rank your website. This is a critical aspect of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), particularly with regards to your home landing page.

All too often, we see business owners thinking, “all’s well,” when they check their own website; they neglect to realize that a lot of their website’s data (pictures, css stylesheets, scripts) is stored locally on their own PC’s from previous visits. This can give a false sense of security that speed-to-load is okay.

A local business’ website that’s measured without clearing the local storage (or cache), of previously downloaded items appears to be average with a 5 to 6 sec download speed (actually, it should be in the 2 to 3 second range).  BUT, when you view it from the perspective of a first-time visitor, this is what they experience:



Whoa! Nearly 14 seconds!  No wonder their SERP (search engine results page) rankings are so low. There are many utilities you can use to measure your own site.  We recommend doing a measurement both before and after clearing all your browser history to see what John Q. Public sees.  If it’s more than a few seconds – you’re overdue for a tune up.

So, the natural question now becomes, “What can we do about it?” The answer can vary widely depending on the root cause: network congestion, server responsiveness, domain lookup, and on and on. Frequently, compressing script files, moving stylesheets to load up front, and re-sampling / re-sizing pictures are just some of the techniques we use to help overcome slow websites. Given the large number of possible contributing factors, you probably need a professional to do a thorough analysis – if only to target the biggest offenders. We invite you to contact Piedmont Technology if you’d like an analysis and quote for speeding up your own business website.

Are you involved with commercial real estate, business development, or marketing, in or around the 1Loudoun project?  If so, you can own this premium domain name by clicking the graphic below which will take you to the auction site where it’s currently available.

1Loudoun is for sale

Yahoo accounts compromised

Thursday PM update: Various media reports (including WTOP) now have the total at 500 million accounts.  There’s been some speculation that it was “state sponsored” and we’re hearing that the hack occurred in 2014.  User names, passwords, dates of birth, possibly phone numbers, plus answers to security questions, were exposed. So, if you had a Yahoo account in 2014 and haven’t since changed your password, you should do so now.  And keep it unique – not the same one you might use for other services. Then, change your security questions/answers as well!

We don’t know all the details yet. But we do know enough to strongly suggest changing your password(s) on any Yahoo accounts. We’ll update this post as the details become available; however, given the potential impact, we wanted to get the pre-alert out there…

Here’s a small sampling of today’s technology headlines surrounding this massive breach. Updates to come…

You can also click here to generate your own Google results page with up-to-the minute information


Galaxy Note7 Recall – Updated

UPDATE (Oct 18):  On a flight to Atlanta last week, we all heard the announcements insisting that Galaxy Note7 users turn off their phones and to NOT charge them during the flight.  On the way back, the notices had been elevated to “Do not even bring them on board!”  All carriers are offering refunds/replacements.  If you haven’t yet, why not?

(click the graphic below for the latest from Samsung’s own website)

Galaxy Note7 Exchange Program

Remains of Galaxy Note7 after battery fire. ( Source: )

If you haven’t heard already, the latest Galaxy Note7 smartphone from Samsung is being recalled due to problems with the battery overheating and catching fire and/or exploding.  Just over 1 million have been sold in the US since their introduction last month.

Initially, Samsung announced a voluntary recall without coordinating with federal agencies.  Perhaps well intentioned, it was less than effective.  As of today, several US government entities are formalizing, the recall. The Consumer Products Safety Commission, the FAA, and others are raising the awareness level due to the seriousness of the issue. Click the graphic for CPSC’s web page devoted to this issue:

CPSC's page on Galaxy Note7 Recall

As of this morning, less than 15% of units sold domestically have been returned.  That means over 800,000 timebombs are out there.  If you have a Galaxy Note7, turn it off and remove the battery — immediately. Then, please contact Samung, or your cellular carrier and follow their instructions for a refund or replacement.


Using a Mac? Read & Heed!

Last week, Apple issued an update for IOS (9.3.5).  See the related article for how to check and make sure your iPhone, iPad have it)  Now, the gurus* at Sophos are alerting everyone to the same “megaexploit” vulnerability in Apple’s OS X operating system – the operating system behind your Mac.

OS X update

A brief description of what the vulnerability can lead to if not patched.

Click the snippet above or click here to jump over to the full article.

* By using,”gurus” we are by no means being sarcastic.  The folks at Sophos are one of our primary go-to sites when faced with security issues. 

Windows 10 Anniversary Upgrade

A picture (slide show) is worth a thousand words.  Here’s a synopsis of several well-regarded tech outlets regarding the latest “anniversary” upgrade for Windows 10. Including how to postpone and manage the update installation schedule.

(Click on any slide to link to the original article)

[huge_it_slider id=”2″]




Windows 10 Upgrade Deadline July 29

Let’s start with a quick caveat (e.g. CYA) from the “about this blog” page.  “… we cannot assume liability for any actions you take as the result of reading this blog.” There’s a reason for this: time is money.  And, even though most cases we know of have gone without a hitch, there have also been a few that didn’t.  And recovering the data and PC configurations took them (or their contractor*) several hours.

This graphic links to another good article from CNET about Windows10

This graphic links to another good article from CNET about Windows10

Our view on the looming deadline for a free upgrade to WIndows 10 is this: If you haven’t yet, and your system is meeting your needs, why bother? Consider the time/effort required, and then weigh them against the potential benefits. Sure, it’ll save you $120, but why? Here’s another perspective from our friends at CNET:

If you do decide to upgrade, we recommend backing up both your data (desktop, downloads, music, pics, documents, etc) as well as making a complete disk image (incase you need/want to revert back afterwards). Then, set aside at least a couple of hours when your pc won’t be used, to allow for the download, and another hour or so for the actual installation.

VISTA USERS:  Read this article from the NY Times.  We certainly agree with their approach and suggestions!

*Footnote: From the “about this blog” page: Since 2010, Piedmont has been focused exclusively on internet-based services such as websites, email, and social media.  However, we still get questions about pc’s, viruses, wi-fi, and various tech gadgets. PC Support and Tech Tips posts are intended to offer guidance and provide the benefits of our own experiences.  If you need assistance locating a PC repair outlet, please send an email to

A compendium of thoughts, reflections, and suggestions regarding life online.

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While we do our best to offer easy-to-follow suggestions on maintaining your website, computer, smartphone, etc., we do not accept any responsibility for any damage or lost data you may encounter. All actions taken as a result of reading this blog are at the users’ own risk. Piedmont Technology strongly suggests that users make and test regular backups!