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Down For Everyone Or Just Me (#29)

Ever try a website only to have it not load and wonder to yourself, “I wonder if this is down for everyone or if it is a problem with my network?”

http://downforeveryoneorjustme.com

Because sometimes connections drop, or your DNS is somehow holding onto a change, or you have some kind of cookie or session issue with a website, to the rescue is DownForEveryoneOrJustMe.com

The beauty of Down For Everyone Or Just Me is that it form a triangle: You are accessing DFEOJM, then DFEOJM pings the real website, and then DFEOJM responds to your request.

Most of the time, if you can actually access DFEOJM, your internet connection is working OK so, in theory, you should also be able to access the website you are trying to get to. But every now and then you run into a DNS resolution related bump (that means a problem getting your domain name or subdomain to be found on the internet DNS, which kind of like a global directory.)

This tool is like having “a friend on another network” who can test to see if the website down for them too.

Also, you might remember the attack on DynDNS on October 21, 2016, which had regional effects: people on providers in North America were unable to get DNS resolution on certain domains because of a DDOS (denial of service) attack on DynDNS, which in turn affected most websites across America. (In that example, it was an attack on the intermediary SSL certificates.) Nonetheless, if the domain is experiencing some kind of regional resolution failure as was seen on 10/21/2016, DFEOJM could be used to test DNS resolution remotely.

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Tools

ViewDNS.info (#28)

http://www.viewdns.info

ViewDNS is the omnibus DNS tool for everything and everyone!

You can reverse IP (get the network name associated with the IP address)

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Tools

MX Toolbox (#27)

Ahh, the art of correctly configuring you domain to send and receive email.

The MX records of your domain goven where incoming email gets delivered to — specifically, the actualy server addresses themselves. (Or possibly, fully-qualified domain names.)

MXToolbox is

http://mxtoolbox.com

Google’s MX and DMARC settings
Settings for a website with DMARC

You would use MX Toolbox to examine three things about a domain name: (1) the MX records, (2) outgoing SMTP servers configured as SPF records, (3) DKIM settings, and (4) DMARC settings.

Remember, #1 is essential for incoming mail, and #2 is where you configure your outgoing mail.

#3 is DKIM is an advanced authentication system designed for large companies and banks who would be the target of phishing attacks— like Chase, PayPal, Bank of America, etc. It prevents email spoofing. Although most domains aren’t the target of email spoofing, you should be concerned if your website or domain has some kind of login or access to financial gain (like a “send money to my bank account” feature). If it does, hackers will wan to spoof your customers into believing emails from them are actually from you. This is easy to do in the email “from” header of the message, and so it is up to the customer to recognize if an email looks fake. Using DKIM, you can proactively prevent email spoofing by configuring your DNS settings.

#4 is DMARC is a policy related to both DKIM and SPF and is also applicable to large institutions. The reason for this is that DMARC is a technology where the domain owner analysis who is trying to impersonate them and gain the trust of their customers with fake (spoof) content. This is because many of the larger corporations have multiple outgoing mail servers— like hundreds— and DMARC lets a large IT infrastructure migrate to only allowing trusted senders via a graduate process.

You would use this tool if you were a domain owner and you wanted to understand how you mail is working (or not working) at the DNS level.

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Tools

What’s My Chain Cert (#26)

Ok and coming in for the home stretch we go into a Domain & DNS tools segment to close out the series

https://whatsmychaincert.com/

When you manually install an SSL certificate, you actually need to be concerned with probably 2 or 3 separate certificates: yours, the certificate of your issuing provider, and the certificate of their provider. It’s kind of like a pyramid scheme, but it ensures that only the trusted certificate providers are in control of what valid TLS/SSL certs are being used.

Note that if you correctly install your certificate but not the parent certs (also known as the “chain cert”), your visitors will see SSL warnings in their browsers. This happens also if one of the intermediary certificates (that is, the two above yours) has a problem (like they become expired).

As well, as this website handily explains:

To complicate matters, browsers cache chain certificates, meaning that an improperly-configured chain could work in some browsers but not others, making this an annoying problem to debug.

This site tests if your server is serving the correct certificate chain, tells you what chain you should be serving, and helps you configure your server to serve it.

Use the tool WhatsMyChainCert.com to debug and examine these.

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Tools

BuiltWith (#25)

BuiltWith is a quick and dirty tool that does one thing and it does it very well: It tells you what specific technologies any given website was created with: down to the Analytics/Tracking they are using, Widgets they have installed, their back-end technologies (also known as “the stack”), the technology they are using for mobile, payment processing, and JavaScript Libraries. You also see information about Advertising, email sending providers, SSL certificates, CDNs, the document encoding, and more.

It’s kind of like peaking behind the curtain.

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Tools

Google Trends (#24)

Let’s take a road trip! Google Trends lets us see what people are searching for by region, over time, and comparative searches.

Let’s see how people are searching for the term “road trip” across America.

When viewed over time, people stopped search for “road trip” right aroudn the end of March when the quarnatine for the COVID pandemic came across America.

We can also see “road trip” searches by state, and interestingly, based on this data can conclude that people from the Northwestern part of America (Washington state, Oregon, Montana) take more road trips (or at least search on Google more times than people from the Southeast.)

The top state for searches for “Road trip” is Oregon, followed by Colorado, Wyoming, Washington state, and Utah.

Google trends suggests related search terms to “road trip” helpfully giving us insights into other things we can explore.

Comparive

Google Trends also has powerful comparative analytics. Take a look at these two search terms; “beach trip” (shown in red) vs. “bike trip” (shown in blue)

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Tools

Facebook Audience Insights (#23)

Today I want to explore New York State, so I enter “New York” in this region selector.

This chart tells me that of all the New Yorkers Facebook can advertise to, the largest cohort is 25-34-year-olds. It also tells me that advertises to 54% women and 46% men in New York state, which is off by just 1 percentage point as compared to the whole nation.

This powerfull tool is uniquely valuable when buying Facebook ads, but has even more implications for market research and understanding target markets.

Take a look at this chart of the top categories of interest for New Yorkers:


Finally, look at this side-by-side chart of New Yorker’s relationship status and education level, and notice that Facebook has also included the change in these things.

According to this chart, people are currently getting divorced relatively a lot (the number of individuals who marked themselves as married changed by negative 13% and the number of people who are single is up by 19%). Education level also appears to be rapily changing, with a 29% uptick in people who are going to grad school.

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Tools

Facebook Page Insights (#22)

If you have a Facebook Page, did you know that Facebook offers you a sophisticated set of tools to gain insights into your page?

Here’s a quick summary of the Facebook page associated with this blog, which you can find at https://www.facebook.com/jfbblog (Incidentally, if you could head over there and give the page a ‘Like’ I would be most grateful.)

Some vocabulary:

Actions – are when someone interacts with the post, either by liking, commenting or sharing

Pageviews refers to how many times people saw the page.

Page previews refer to how many times someone saw a preview of the page (like in the newsfeed).

Likes refers to how many times people it the “like” (or another of the reaction options on Facebook) button.

Reach refers to how many people saw this at least momentarily, in passing, or at all. (that is, the “total reach” of your post or story.)

Recommendations refers to someone recommending your page when a 3rd party asks for recommendations in a post.

Engagements refer to any kind of interaction with your post. Videos show you how many people watched at least 3 seconds of your videos. Followers show a chart of how many new followers you accrue over time. And finally, Orders shows you how many orders were placed through this page (for example, for a Facebook-supported service.) Note that if you are advertising an external website, you’ll want to use the Facebook Pixel to correctly configure the tracking to capture the order and associate it back to the ad that Facebook shows to your customer.

Installing the Facebook Pixel on your website requires a developer, so it is beyond the scope of this introduction.

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Tools

Facebook OG Debugger Tool (#21)

Have you ever been on Facebook scrolling through the wall and see someone’s post linking to an article? You probably saw the message your friend shared when he or she posted the link, followed by a large image that seems to represent the page. Below the image are the article’s title and the first line of a description (shown truncated with ellipsis if it is too long.)

Here’s a post in my feed shared by Senator Elizabeth Warren about the housing crisis.

Notice the large image, above the website’s domain, above the headline of the article, above a portion of the intro text.

Today we’re going to cover how to set all of that for your page. In fact, there isn’t much you as the marketer do— this is a job for the web developer. When your CMS or blog correctly publishes what is known as “open graph” tags, all of this information is set for you: the image, the headline, and the description.

Meet the Facebook Open Graph Debugger, also known as the Sharing Debugger.

These things can be examined, debugged, and re-scraped if you want to clear Facebook’s cache. That’s correct: this unique tool both lets you examine how Facebook looks at your page and will display the preview when shared.

In particular, you’ll note that by default Facebook only re-scrapes and looks for changes to this URL once every 24 hours. However, if you use this tool, you will actually be making Facebook re-scrape the page in realtime (near realtime), which will affect the previews for all users across Facebook.

That’s an interesting quirk to be aware of.

For developers, the open graph protocol is documented here. In short, the HTML markup of the page should contain meta tags which determine how Facebook (and other social networks like Twitter) pull the preview content and display it.

Take for example this example from Facebook’s developer documentation. Notice there are 5 open graph tags: og:url, og:type, og:title, og:description, and og:image.

These five element insturct social media platofrm how to display the preview in the social media feed.

You will notice that both the title and description appear in the preview box, but sometimes the description is truncated for size, as is the case with the example above.

What great about the OG debugger is that you can use it to correctly confirm that your webpage is generating the right tags. Also, if Facebook scrapes it once (for example, if you share it in your Facebook timeline), remember that Facebook won’t re-scrape it again for 24 hours unless you use the OG debugger tool. When you do Facebook re-scrapes the content — changing the cache for all users of Facebook — immediately.

Beucase the preview is stored within the post, you’ll want to make sure your OG tags are correct before you start to publish or promote your article or page to social media.

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Tools

Mention (#20)

Another tool for Social Media & Trend Analysis: Mention.

Moreso than other’s I’ve explored in this series, Mention’s selling point is that it proactive monitors your interests (by specific topic, celebrity, a political issue, cause, etc).

Mention.com

Its first few steps require a bit of up-front knowledge about what you’re looking for, as it asks you this right away:

In the Feed view, we can see a mailbox-like view of all the places where this topic is picked up across the internet.

We add a filter by source and language

Specifically for a brand, we can tell mention our social media pages and profiles. Mention will create a feed showing any time someone mentions these social media accounts in their own timeline.

Insights

A “last 7 days” view gives us a trend over time view of how this topic changes.

Mention is the "be the first in the know" tool to get alerts and insights into how your topic of interest is being talked about online. This early warning system can give you braod overview into where your topic is mentioned online and on social media.

All-in-all, Mention seems like a slick tool for a specific brand to use but leaves some features to be desired for competative research.