The Tortoise And The Bug

Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – A blurb in the weekly newsletter from the Chamber caught my attention: Develop an Online Boost for Your Business. When I read the words Google and Search Engine Optimization, I knew this was for me. Right downtown too. It was sponsored by the Small Business and Technology Development Center, a part of Henderson State University School of Business, and operates under the Arkansas SBTDC, – go to their site for other events and locations all over the state. My friend Rita Earles joined me there; she is a visual artist who does magnificent portraits and exquisite miniatures, and I write about our 50 amazing capital cities,, but we both wanted to beef up the functionality of our sites and learn what we can do to increase traffic and present ourselves in the most beneficial light.

Chelsea Goza, the Training Coordinator for HSU’s ASBTDC, hosted the well-attended august.chelsea gozaworkshop, beginning with a “thinking” exercise that needed two volunteers. You know me. Of course I volunteered. No doubt the oldest one there, I found myself pitted against what surely was the youngest person sitting at the table and YIKES, we had to assemble the pieces of a puzzle in three minutes flat. Rita stood behind me and cheered me on, but it was a tortoise against a hare. The nimble-fingered young person accustomed to texting zipped her puzzle together well before the buzzer sounded. I still had two pieces missing when the program began, but hey, what does a tortoise do? Right. I never quit. I finished the puzzle, confident that I’d carefully considered each piece and thought about its value to the whole. Which is what I do as I write about each capital city. But I digress. Chelsea’s part on the program focused on getting more attention locally; next was a segment about growing our business with Google (the reigning god of the internet), and finally that SEO bit, or, “how to get picked first.” (Does that remind you of grammar school?) I eagerly went straight home to follow through on Lessons Learned, and what happened next was the scariest thing I’ve experienced since I tried to rollerskate down Killer Hill.

I attempted to register with Google, that’s Step 1 in “Getting Recognized by Google, the Most Powerful Search Engine in the World,” and Google rejected me. Reason: my site had been hacked! Dear reader, I hope you weren’t one of the ones getting routed to the porn site that had wormed its way into the capital cities narrative. Google informed me what it was, and outlined the steps necessary to remove the offender and make my site safe again. Thank you Google! Working with my webmaster Jeffrey Shumate, we shut the site down and got out the scrub brushes. I hired a local tech expert, Eric Gillis, with ArkTech Services downtown, to do the heavy-duty cleaning. Finally, we got that treasured notification from Google – they reviewed the site again and called it healthy. We have the little green checkmark beside our listings now, and a McAfee Safe approval. Thank you Jeffrey, and Eric!

I sent Chelsea a note thanking her for a good workshop and telling her it was more valuable to me than she could have imagined when she planned it. Who knows when I might have discovered that well-hidden pornographic spam-slam-bug?

August was a really, really hot month, what with hackers messing with my work, critters bringing fleas under my house, and air conditioning pipes leaking condensation through my ceiling. I’m ready for some calm, and a simple, ordinary day. This tortoise has work to do.august.tortoise.w