Five Ways Your Business Can Improve Its Search Engine Rankings

In an age where most business happens online, not showing up in Google search results can really hurt you. While there’s no real shortcut to showing up consistently on web searches, there are a few quick fixes to get your site to show up on your potential customer’s search results…

1. HTML tags – Important HTML tags include the title tag, meta description and meta keywords. Make sure each page of your website has appropriate HTML tags. The title tag of each page should be unique and relevant to that particular page.

2. Alternative text images – Ensure that most of the images on your website have alternative text tags. Alt tags are basically descriptions for images. By adding relevant alternative tags to images, you are allowing search engines to recognize them, which will improve the likelihood of your page showing up in search results.

3. File hierarchy – How simple is your HTML file hierarchy? Check to see if your website’s pages are logically situated and avoid too many unnecessary folders. For example: ‘NFL=>Teams=>PittsburghSteelers’ is a better folder structure than ‘NFL=>Teams=>NFCEast=>PittsburghSteelers’, because here ‘NFCEast’ is redundant and only serves to push the Steelers page deeper down the order. This complexity makes your site less likely to show up on search results for people searching for Steelers websites.

4. Sitemap – A sitemap acts as a navigational guide for your visitors as well as search engines. Does your website have one? If not, then it’s time to put up a site map on your website.

5. Content quality – Read your website content to determine its quality. Is your content written for search engines or actual visitors? Is it stuffed with keywords? Does it truly add value to your audience, or is simply there to fill up the page? Answer these questions and make sure it has value for your audience. Value for your audience translates to better search engine rankings.


Five Things You Should Do Right Now to Preserve Your Network and Systems

1. Backup Files Every Day – As catastrophic as data loss is, the number of businesses that still are not backing up their network is unbelievable. According to the Symantec Small to Medium Size Businesses (SMB) data, only 23% of SMBs are backing up their data on a daily basis and fewer than 50% are backing up data weekly. Any number of events can result in data loss, so the importance of frequently backing up your network cannot be overstated.

2. Ensure Backup Procedures Are Checked Regularly – Many times business owners think that they have a backup system in place only to find out after it’s too late that it hasn’t been working properly. It may seem like your files are being backed up daily, however, the backup could have become corrupt or it is not backing up huge chunks of critical data. Check your backup procedures regularly to ensure they are working properly in order to be sure that ALL of your data can be recovered. In the age of BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Devices) it is also important to frequently backup data on your employee’s personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys, so make sure you have a procedure in place to check those backups as well.

3. Make Sure Updated Virus Protection and Firewalls Are Always Enabled – Far too many companies either have no virus protection, expired virus software licenses, or disabled virus programs that aren’t running at all. This makes their business technology vulnerable to virus attacks from emails, spam, data downloads, and unreputable websites. Further, because of inadequate firewall protection about 40% of small to medium businesses will have their network accessed by a hacker. Chances are, when these businesses are attacked they will be entirely unaware it is happening. In order to protect your valuable data and assets, ensure your virus protection is adequate, up-to-date and functioning properly and that your firewall is intact. Finally, don’t forget to update security patches and change passwords when an employee leaves in order to deter hacking attempts.

4. Monitor Server Drives – Dangerously full server drives can bring their own set of problems – ranging from program and server crashes to sluggish email delivery. Proactive monitoring and maintenance of your server can spare your business a lot of problems down the road.

5. Regularly Check Critical Built-In Logs – Very few problems with technology emerge suddenly. These problems typically progress over time and evolve into more serious problems. Frequently review your critical built-in log files to help identify the problem before it has gotten out of control and wreaks havoc on your business infrastructure.


Data Loss Can Cause You to Shut Down

Small and medium sized businesses today are relying more than ever on IT systems to efficiently run their business, support customers and optimize productivity. These systems house sensitive digital data ranging from employee and customer information, to internal emails, documents and financial records, sales orders and transaction histories. This is in addition to applications and programs critical to daily business functions and customer service.

While corporate-level data losses and insider theft are well publicized, many smaller businesses have also become casualties of data loss and theft. Following a significant data loss, it is estimated that a small-to-medium sized business can lose up to 25% in daily revenue by the end of the first week. Projected lost daily revenue increases to 40% one month into a major data loss.

According to The National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, 93% of companies that have experienced data loss, coupled with prolonged downtime for ten or more days, have filed for bankruptcy within twelve months of the incident while 50% wasted no time and filed for bankruptcy immediately. Finally, 43% of companies with no data recovery and business continuity plan actually go out of business following a major data loss.

Still, a survey conducted by Symantec SMB revealed that fewer than half of SMBs surveyed backup their data each week. Only 23% of those surveyed said they backup data every day and have a business continuity plan in place.

Businesses play on a much bigger playing field than they did two decades ago. Any disruptive technological event – even the smallest of incidents – can have an amplified impact on day-to-day business and profitability. Being proactive with data recovery solutions, and having emergency response procedures in place prior to a disruption or data disaster, is the only way to minimize downtime and soften the impact of such events.


Can You Really Afford Not to Have a Backup Plan?

According to Symantec SMB, 50% of SMBs admit to having no backup and disaster recovery plan in place. 41% of those surveyed confessed that they had never even given much thought to implementing a disaster recovery or business continuity plan. If you are one of them, then you really need to think about whether you can afford the status quo. Answering these questions will help you decide.

1. How often is employee productivity and customer accessibility or service stalled each day from a downed network or system?

2. How much downtime can your business truly afford and what kind of backup or recovery solutions are in effect when systems are unavailable?

3. What level of IT support can be accessed? Can it be accessed quickly enough to minimize damage? Are you confident that your business can either be back online or be able to access lost data with minimal disruption, no matter what?

4. Is your most critical data frequently backed up? Is the data on the personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys of employees backed up? Are all backups stored in a location off-site and quickly accessible in the event of theft, fire or flooding? Are you using any custom installed software and is the supplier still in business should this software need to be re-installed or updated? Are account details, licensing agreements, and security settings somewhere on record, and is it duplicated off-site?

5. Are your systems truly protected from theft, hackers, and viruses? Are passwords to sensitive data changed whenever employees leave the company or business unit?

6. When was the last time you tested backup processes to ensure they are working properly? How quick were your back ups?

Answering these questions will help you understand if you are needlessly bleeding money every day by subjecting your business to the high hourly rates, service charges, trip fees and wait times of on-call IT support. If you are an SMB, you don’t have to fear technology failure. A trusted MSP can help you resolve these challenges in a more effective and efficient manner.


Hello world!

Welcome to our new dedicated blog site for news and IT information in the MSP world.


Downtown Public Wi-Fi and Outdoor Music Project a Real Hit

The Challenge!

In approx. 2016 we were approached by Bob Sheddy of Century 21. He had a vision and a dream of being able to play music throughout the downtown business district.  This dream was the inspiration that kicked off a two year planning phase in which several solutions were investigated and discarded as they did not meet the key requirements laid out below.

  • The system had to be easy to maintain, we were not going to have paid staff to manage it
  • We needed to be able to control the music content easily, for special events and special holidays
  • We needed to stay within a tight budget, getting most of the equipment through sponsorship and/or donation

Some of the discarded solutions and challenges were; a low powered FM broadcast, a wired speaker system, various wireless systems for broadcast, other Wi-Fi speaker solutions, and ways to power up the devices. There were pros and cons to each method, but in the end, we settled on a fairly high-tech solution that was reliable and also extremely cost effective.

Local Business Support was KEY!!

None of this would have been possible without the support of local businesses, who helped cover the majority of the costs associated with this project. All of the capital and ongoing costs for Internet services, and music content were donated by local businesses.

Local Businesses who have sponsored/donated:

Reality Bytes Incorporated / BYTEsurfer Communications – WiFi & Internet sponsor, SONOS Connect Sponsor, Installation & Ongoing Support donated, power & cabling costs, network & Internet equipment donated

Bob Sheddy / Century 21 – TWO Speaker Sponsor

Drumheller Chiropractic Clinic – Speaker Sponsor

Napier Theatre – Speaker Sponsor

3rd Avenue Arts – Speaker Sponsor

Ascend Financial – Speaker Sponsor

Drumheller Chamber of Commerce – TWO Speaker Sponsor

The Brick Drumheller – Speaker Sponsor

Clarity Cannabis Solutions – Speaker Sponsor

Western GM Drumheller – Plaza Speaker Sponsor

We would also like to give a gracious thank you to the Town of Drumheller for providing access to the street lamp posts, and their assistance with the SOCAN licensing.

Here’s how we built a professional quality sound and Wi-Fi system on a tight budget!!

 For the those of you who are into lists, we used:

  • ​Sonos Speakers
  • Custom built speaker enclosures
  • Ubiquiti Commercial WiFi Access Points
  • Mikrotik routing technology with a custom layer 2 network
  • Multiple Internet access locations
  • Various strategic locations outdoors throughout the downtown core
  • Virtual Machine technology & Tablet/Mobile devices
  • Google Play Music
  • LIVE broadcasting capabilities using a Sonos Connect
  • Lots of creativity, outside the box thinking, and automation rules
  • A HUGE partnership with the local business community


We are utilizing Sonos Play 3 (and soon some Play 5) speakers as the primary speaker solution. The Sonos platform is ever expanding and works with common automation technologies such as IFTTT (IF This, Then That), allows for scheduling of on/off and several other automation factors. It’s also a rock solid and proven technology.

Sonos speakers run on a layer 2 IP network, either wired or wireless through WiFi. They cannot interact with each other if multiple separate network subnets exist, or if there is any layer 3 routing involved. This made for another challenge…. How do we create a “flat” layer 2 network so that all the Sonos speakers can see and talk to one another when they are not in the same room, or even the same building?

Protecting the Speakers / Outdoor Enclosures

The SONOS speakers, while very resilient, are NOT fully outdoor rated speakers. This meant designing a custom enclosure for them to protect from the elements, while also protecting them from vandalism and theft. We researched a few options for pre-built manufactured enclosures and ordered one in as a prototype. We really were not happy with the design though, and it wasn’t all that exceptionally strong. So, we designed our own custom enclosure using “puck board” as the material. Puck board is the same product on the sides of the hockey rink! It’s very strong, provides a weatherproof and vandal proof enclosure, and because these enclosures were fabricated by a local contractor, we were able to design them to our specification. 

Wi-Fi Solution

We utilized a WiFi MESH technology from Ubiquiti Networks, (or UBNT for short) and, co-located the WiFi Access Points to be at each speaker location. This allowed for two things, one being that we had stable and fast network access for the SONOS speaker system, and two being that we could provide a separate “public wifi” service to people walking throughout the downtown core. Providing free WiFi for visitors to the area is an economic driver for the whole downtown, and statistically causes visitors to stay a bit longer downtown, which in turn translates to increased traffic, and increased business for the downtown area. We really felt it was important to incorporate a free outdoor WiFi into the project, and we were able to do this for essentially ZERO additional costs!

IPv4 Networks and Routing

As we mentioned earlier in the article, the SONOS speakers are truly designed for a whole home music solution, not for spreading across several square kilometres! SONOS speakers need to “believe” that they are all on the same layer 2 network, basically what everyone has in their home. So, again we went on a outside the box brainstorming session, and we came up with an idea to tie multiple “core” locations together using a EoIP tunnel. Layer 2 networks need to be “flat” as if they are all on the same router/switch. This is where EoIP tunnelling comes in to play. We utilized a cost-effective router model from Mikrotik that has this featureset. A separate VLAN, and subnet was setup on the core WiFi network for the outdoor speakers, and then an EoIP (Ethernet over IP) tunnel system was created between the multiple segments of the network.

DHCP services were provided by the Mikrotik from the core network at Reality Bytes, along with DNS resolution, and Internet access. 

Internet Access

Reality Bytes provides Internet services throughout the entire Drumheller area under the brand “BYTEsurfer Communications.” They donated Internet service costs, and all Internet equipment to the project at the several jump point locations.

Ongoing Internet access costs are also fully donated by Reality Bytes. In addition to providing Internet access for streaming audio content, the Reality Bytes’ BYTEsurfer network also delivers reliable and high speed Internet to the other VLANs for Public WiFi.


The Town of Drumheller was contacted to get their permission to locate the speaker enclosure and WiFi MESH Points on the Town’s streetlight poles. We felt this would look the best aesthetically, and also give a consistent volume level whenever possible. In certain locations, we were able to get permission from the business, or building owner, to mount the speaker and WiFi MESH point directly to their building, or on a non penetrating roof mount where street light poles did not exist.

We also asked about the possibility of using the street light poles to power up the speakers themselves. While they are quite low power usage devices, they still need some way to get powered up. Unfortunately, for “phase 1” we could not utilize the street light poles and had to incur the additional expense of running power cords to wherever we could “find” power (with permission of course). However, in “phase 2” of this project, the speakers will be powered directly off the street light poles themselves. (The Town of Drumheller is planning a replacement of the street lights some time in 2019, and with that the new poles will have the added benefit of a power outlet for us to utilize)

Playing the content. Tablet vs Virtual Machine

SONOS has an easy to use and intuitive app for both Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) platforms. They also have a desktop software that runs on Microsoft Windows. Initially we ran the entire project off an iPad (also donated by Reality Bytes) and this worked decently, but the issue was that the iPad needed to be attached to the WiFi to communicate with the speakers.

To counteract this, we decided to build a virtual machine hosted on the Reality Bytes Cloud Hosting infrastructure, allowing the VM to be directly tied to the network at all times, and for us to be able to remote into the virtual machine whenever needed to make adjustments. Reality Bytes graciously donated the full costs of building, hosting, and supporting a Microsoft Windows 10 virtual machine on their cloud platform. 

Streaming the Audio Content

We decided to utilize Google Play streaming music services to provide 100% ad free audio content that we can schedule and sort of “set and forget”. Google charges a monthly fee for this, and Reality Bytes is also donating this ongoing fee to the cause.

Because this is a public audio broadcast, the audio in the streets needs to be licensed through SOCAN. We approached the Town of Drumheller to assist with this for multiple reasons. They technically “own” the street so the license needed to be in their name, and they already had a SOCAN license in place for the Badlands Community Facility. The Town of Drumheller graciously assisted in this, and we very much thank them for being a partner in the project. 

LIVE Broadcasting

Shortly after getting the music content playing, it was brought up several times to us that it sure would be nice to use the speakers for special events. We had a plan for this contingency. SONOS developed a product called the “SONOS Connect”. The SONOS Connect device plugs into power, auto connects to the WiFi network for the Outdoor Music, and allows for a live broadcast to push to the speakers. This is really handy for special events, and other times where you may want to have a person speaking on a microphone, or a live music event downtown. And, because the SONOS connect utilizes the MESH WiFi technology, it can be connected anywhere in the downtown core! 

IT Automation Systems

We have compiled an automation schedule that auto starts the music and auto stops the music each day. This ensures that the music isn’t left playing overnight, and because it is fully automated, it just happens, without any human interaction. Also, because the platform we have designed is compatible with open automation standards such as IFTTT (IF This Than That) we can integrate TONS of other automation rules in the future. We could tie this system to a Google Home AI speaker, smart lighting technology, Amazon Alexa, just about ANY sort of custom automation can be achieved down the road. 

The story continues….

As we add and expand on the speaker network, we’ll be updating this blog post with more information and details.  So check back for further information anytime!


Would you like a custom solution such as this for your community, business, or college campus?  Reality Bytes can partner with your IT department to deploy and maintain this type of system anywhere in North America.  For more information please contact Reality Bytes.