Improve Your Website with Google’s Test My Site

Having a modern website doesn’t just mean good design. Today it means being mobile friendly and quick to load. If your website doesn’t look good on a smartphone, Google pushes it down in page ranks. If your website is slow, a potential client may take their eyeballs elsewhere out of impatience. Make sure that your website is up to snuff by going to Think with Google’s tool, “Test My Site” testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com.  Type in your website’s URL in the bar and you’ll get statistics on mobile friendliness and loading speed on both a phone and a desktop.

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If you click “Get My Report,” you’ll receive a more detailed analysis of your website in your inbox that will tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Common problems such as needing to optimize images or leverage browser caching can be a little complicated to tackle on your own, but the report does give you even more detailed guides on how to fix the problem yourself. You can give the report to a webmaster to fix any troubled spots you might have.

Think With Google, Google’s trends and marketing insights arm, says that people are five times more likely to leave a website if it isn’t mobile-friendly, and almost half of all users will leave if your site takes longer than three seconds to load. Don’t lose potential clients and referrals because of short attention spans. Find out your website’s potential weaknesses at testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com

 

Want more information on SEO? Check out our video, Make SEO Work For Your Law Firm on our BRAND NEW HOW TO LIBRARY hosted by Vimeo. You can even watch your phone or tablet! https://vimeo.com/213885271/ec347df759

 

What Lawyers Need To Know About Accepting Credit Card Payments

You should be accepting credit card payments. Clio’s 2015 Legal Trends Report observed a 35% reduction in the time it took to receive payment compared to waiting for a check. You may think that the way you process payments now is just fine so why fix it? Because the way we pay for things have changed. A little over 10 years ago, checks were the biggest form of noncash payments in the US, but in 2007, according to the Federal Reserve, the combination of debit cards, credit cards, and ACH payments overtook checks. Many of your clients are already paying online in other places. Four out of five households with internet access opt to online bank, and this isn’t only millennials– more than 70% of online or mobile bill payers are 35 years of age or older. By not collecting on invoices immediately, you’re effectively extending your client’s credit.

Every credit card processor will provide you with a “payment gateway.” A “payment gateway” is what clients use to submit their credit/debit information. It can be a physical swiper or an electronic form. Which type of account you have then determines where that information from that gateway goes. A merchant account is a one-to-one relationship. It will briefly hold the client’s money and then transfer it to your firm’s bank account. Processors made specifically for attorneys are usually merchant accounts. In fact, some legal-specific credit card processors handle trust accounting, depositing the transaction the correct account right away and only deducting fees from your operating account. Examples of these types of processors include LawPay, LawCharge, and MyCase Payments (only available with the MyCase practice management software).

credit card chart

In 2011, a new type of account came on the market – the aggregator account, making way for all sorts of new processors you may have heard of: PayPal, Stripe, Square, and Authorize.net. Aggregator accounts merge the money from your transaction with the money from transactions of other businesses and then move it to their own merchant account. This process reduces their fees from the credit card companies that they then theoretically pass on to you with lower transaction fees. In my comparison chart, however, you can see that merchant accounts have lower fees per transaction, with LawPay having the lowest published transaction fee (see column M for a test of running a $1K transaction). Double click the image to see all the data in Google Sheets.

If you decide to accept credit card payments, it’s important that you remain PCI compliant by following the PCI guidelines for protecting credit card data: 1. Build and maintain a secure network; 2. Protect cardholder data; 3. Maintain a vulnerability management program; 4. Implement strong access control measures; 5. Regularly monitor and test networks; 6. Maintain an information security policy. Every year you should submit a self-assessment of your compliance to your acquirer bank. To make the process easier on yourself, select a processor that is PCI Compliant on their end as well as yours. LawPay actually includes a free guide and support through the assessment. Other processors are PCI compliant but do not offer the same level of support LawPay does. PayPal Payments Pro actually puts the onus on the merchant in order to take on higher risk merchants. Consider if the benefits of using PayPal Payments Pro outweigh the headache of maintaining PCI Compliance. You can learn more about PCI and take a look at sample self-assessments, check out PCI Security Standards Council’s Document Library: https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/document_library?document=pci_dss

For more information, see our CLE “Accepting Online Payments Ethically and Securely” at http://bit.ly/2mpiCcB

 

*Bankruptcy attorneys and debt collectors: be diligent in reading the fine print when selecting a credit card processor. Stripe considers your practice too high risk, but there are plenty that don’t.

Does your Windows computer take forever to start up? Disable unnecessary programs at startup.

Do you avoid shutting down your machine because of how long it will take to get running again? You could have too many programs launching at startup. We often have these programs running in the background all day, slowing us down, even though we only use them for five minutes.

 

You can determine which programs really must begin at startup and disable those that don’t by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Esc to open the TaskManager, and going to the Startup tab in Windows 10. Right click on the program you want to disable and select “Disable.”

windows 10
If you’re still running Windows 7, open the Start menu, type msconfig, and press enter. The System Configuration window will appear. Select the Start Up tab.

windows 7

After you have unchecked the programs you want to disable, click Apply and then OK.

Saving little bits of time may not seem like much but it can add up to something big, and it’s something you can do right now.

 

Did You Know Google Docs has OCR Technology?

You may already be storing PDFs in Google Drive, but did you know that you can use it to turn them into searchable and editable documents? Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology,the ability to convert PDFs and images into malleable text is usually a part of your PDF program, but if you’re storing documents in Google Drive, you don’t have to open your PDF program to
take advantage of it. In Google Drive, right-click on the file you want to convert and select Open with > Google Docs.

 

OCR Google Docs

A new browser tab will open with PDF converted to editable/searchable text. You can then download it to Word, save it as a new PDF, or keep it as a Google Document.

Create a LinkedIn Company Page

You may be on LinkedIn, but is your firm? Separate from your personal LinkedIn profile, a LinkedIn company page lets you showcase your firm as a whole, publish news, and highlight your services as a brand. Firms of any size can benefit, but there is criteria in creating one:

  • You must have a personal LinkedIn profile set up with your true first and last name.
  • Your profile is at least 7 days old.
  • Your profile strength must be listed as Intermediate or All Star.
  • You must have several connections on your profile.
  • You’re a current company employee and your position is listed in the Experience section on your profile.
  • You have a company email address (e.g. john@companyname.com) added and confirmed on your LinkedIn account.
  • Your company’s email domain is unique to the company.

 

If you fit this criteria, create your LinkedIn company page today at https://www.linkedin.com/company/add/show

Control Your LinkedIn Profile

If you have avoided creating a LinkedIn profile because you are in a practice (prosecutor, judge, advocacy, healthcare, etc.) that requires more personal privacy, or for you are hesitant to use social media, the good news is that with a little know-how you can have a LinkedIn profile for professional development and networking and keep it as open or closed as you want to.  If you already have a LinkedIn profile make sure you know what you are sharing, with whom and that you have some control over the settings with these tips below.

LinkedIn has organized the settings for your account, privacy and communications into a new and easier to use portal. To get there mouse over your avatar (your picture) in the upper right corner of LinkedIn on a browser (or the gear icon in your profile in the mobile app).  Click on “Manage” next to “Privacy and Settings” that appears in the drop down menu.

One thing to keep in mind as you adjust your settings – there are two levels of exposure to your LinkedIn profile – public (anyone can see) and connections (must be connected with you on LinkedIn and logged into their to see).

Public Exposure

Unless restricted, your full LinkedIn profile is available to search engines such as Google and Bing, as well as those searching LinkedIn. You can change what information is available to those who you are not connected with by going into Privacy and Settings – Manage – Privacy – Edit Your Public Profile. On the right hand side you can choose to make your profile visible to no one, or make certain portions visible by toggling the boxes on and off.  To maintain a high level of privacy, but still be found by friends and colleagues, choose “headline” and perhaps “summary” which provides your name, your location (Chicago, Greater Chicago Area) and your industry (law, etc.) and the summary you wrote.

Keep in mind, any time you add new information such as publications and organizations go back and make sure this information is left off your public profile.

Want to see what your profile looks like to the public? In LinkedIn through a browser go to Profile – Edit Profile and in the box with your name and picture click the blue button that says “View Profile As”.  On the resulting page look at the top and toggle to see how your page looks to connections versus the public.

You Looking At Me?

In LinkedIn if you look at another person’s profile they will be alerted and aware that you have done so. If you are researching a judge or juror, looking up opposing counsel or your client you may not want them to know you are looking at their LinkedIn profile. You can choose to look at people’s profiles in “private mode” which will show them that an “anonymous LinkedIn member” viewed their profile. The downside is that by choosing to be anonymous you do not get to see who is looking at your profile. To do this go to your privacy settings and click “Profile Viewing Options” and choose which mode you want to be in. You can toggle this setting on and off as desired.

 

Check Your Connections

LinkedIn is all about connections. You are connected to individual people, companies, organizations, groups, schools and other networks. This is why LinkedIn is such a powerful tool. However, you may not want to share information about who you are connected to, as well a list of other profiles people view when they look at yours.

In your privacy settings scroll to “who can see your connections” and then choose “only you” from the drop down list and no one else will see who you are connected with on LinkedIn.  Scroll a little further to “viewers of this profile also viewed” and toggle the switch to “no” so that people do not see a list of people in your profile.

Also, if you do not want people to send your connection requests just because they have your email or phone number in their contacts scroll down in Privacy to “Data privacy and advertising” and choose “Nobody” in the drop down options for “Suggesting you as a connection based on your email address” and “Suggesting you as a connection based on your phone number”.

TMI (Too Much Information)

You can control how much or how little information you put into your LinkedIn profile, and you can update your profile at any time. However, LinkedIn will share any updates you make with your connections. To be able to update your profile without notifications being sent out go into your settings and under “Privacy” toggle to “no” in “Sharing profile edits”.  Continue to scroll to the Data Privacy and advertising section to toggle off sharing data with third parties.

Finally, if you are newer to LinkedIn or not as active you can turn off “How You Rank”, which compares you to your connections and colleague in terms of profile views.

In Case of Emergency

While you can control the information LinkedIn shares about you and with whom, you still need to apply best security practices.  Use a unique, strong password and change it occasionally (password managers like LastPass and Dashlane make that a lot easier). Also, turn on two factor authentication. You will need to enter your cell phone number and then when you log in you will also need a 6 digit code sent to your cell phone number, in addition to your password, to log in. You can choose to trust certain devices, like your smartphone and laptop, so you don’t have to add the code every time you login. What two factor authentication does is it keeps a third party who may know your email address and guess your password from logging into your account, since they don’t (hopefully) have your phone as well. To turn on two factor authentication go to settings, then to privacy then security and activate two-step verification.

Conclusion

Locking down your LinkedIn profile will help keep your privacy intact. Choose who you connect with carefully, as there is no granular permission for connections and they can see everything that you publish or add to your profile. As long as you know who you are linking with LinkedIn can be a great extension of networking in person, and often now people “meet” in cyberspace before they meet in person. So, tweak those settings and enjoy one of the biggest business communities in the world!

To learn more about LinkedIn you can set up a consultation with the LPMT team, watch a How To… video at www.chicagobar.org/howto or sign up for a hands on class.

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of the CBA Record.

Simplified eNewsletters with TinyLetter

tinyletter

If you find the prospect of setting up an eNewsletter to be daunting, you might consider the free-to-use TinyLetter, a subsidiary of MailChimp. With TinyLetter, it is more like sending a long email or blog post to subscribers, rather than “creating campaigns.” It’s very simple to use (there are no templates to set up), and it lets you read replies to your letter, unlike with traditional eNewsletters.  Though eNewsletters are still best practices for businesses because of their robust features such as surveys and ROI tracking, TinyLetter is a way to get your thoughts out, send holiday greetings, or position yourself as an expert in your practice area. You can archive your letters and make them accessible like a blog, or you can have them be email-only. Because of the intimate nature of email and the fact that it was sent by you the individual and not a business, Tinyletter can be a breath of fresh air in a cluttered inbox. There is a 5,000 subscriber limit, and you can add your contacts either through Gmail or a csv spreadsheet.

Signature Stamps in PDF documents

Did you know you can insert your signature into a PDF document if you have Adobe Acrobat or Reader DC or Nuance PowerPDF? It takes a few steps to go from a scanned image of your physical signature to an electronic stamp, so first follow these handy steps from LPMT and the Paperless Chase that walk you through the process in Adobe’s products. The process for Nuance’s product is very similar – create a new stamp and upload your transparent signature, then stamp away! The problem is that sometimes the signature doesn’t appear for some who open the document, most often when you are adding it to a fillable PDF form. To remedy that there are a few options.

In Adobe Acrobat DC there are a few ways to ensure the signature stays put:

1.) Once you have applied the signature stamp and saved the document, print the document to PDF. The biggest downside to this method is that any and all hyperlinks will be rendered plain text.

2.) Flatten the file in Adobe. This will only be an option for Adobe Acrobat (not the free Reader) and while the script available for download from this post on the Acrolaw blog by Rick Borstein was written for Acrobat X it will work in DC. Flattening takes the additional layers (comments, stamps, markup, form fields, etc.) and makes them a permanent part of the document. The script is much easier than the instructions, trust me!

In Nuance PowerPDF Advanced try this:

1.) To flatten a document in Nuance PowerPDF go to “Advanced Processing” in the toolbar tab then choose “Flatten File”. A dialog box will appear with options you can toggle on or off via checkboxes. Make sure the checkbox next to “Stamp” is selected and click “ok”. You signature stamp is now a permanent part of the document.

Acrobat DC fill and sign and Nuance PowerPDF’s Sign Document both make it possible to create a self-signed digital ID and customize them to use your transparent signature. This will add additional protections such as locking the document against editing.

 

Improve Your Website with Google’s Test My Site

Having a modern website doesn’t just mean good design. Today it means being mobile friendly and quick to load. If your website doesn’t look good on a smartphone, Google pushes it down in page ranks. If your website is slow, a potential client may … [Read more]

What Lawyers Need To Know About Accepting Credit Card Payments

You should be accepting credit card payments. Clio’s 2015 Legal Trends Report observed a 35% reduction in the time it took to receive payment compared to waiting for a check. You may think that the way you process payments now is just fine so why fix … [Read more]

Does your Windows computer take forever to start up? Disable unnecessary programs at startup.

Do you avoid shutting down your machine because of how long it will take to get running again? You could have too many programs launching at startup. We often have these programs running in the background all day, slowing us down, even though we only … [Read more]

Did You Know Google Docs has OCR Technology?

You may already be storing PDFs in Google Drive, but did you know that you can use it to turn them into searchable and editable documents? Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology,the ability to convert PDFs and images into malleable text is … [Read more]

Create a LinkedIn Company Page

You may be on LinkedIn, but is your firm? Separate from your personal LinkedIn profile, a LinkedIn company page lets you showcase your firm as a whole, publish news, and highlight your services as a brand. Firms of any size can benefit, but there is … [Read more]

Control Your LinkedIn Profile

If you have avoided creating a LinkedIn profile because you are in a practice (prosecutor, judge, advocacy, healthcare, etc.) that requires more personal privacy, or for you are hesitant to use social media, the good news is that with a little … [Read more]

Simplified eNewsletters with TinyLetter

If you find the prospect of setting up an eNewsletter to be daunting, you might consider the free-to-use TinyLetter, a subsidiary of MailChimp. With TinyLetter, it is more like sending a long email or blog post to subscribers, rather than “creating … [Read more]

Signature Stamps in PDF documents

Did you know you can insert your signature into a PDF document if you have Adobe Acrobat or Reader DC or Nuance PowerPDF? It takes a few steps to go from a scanned image of your physical signature to an electronic stamp, so first follow these handy … [Read more]