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Thoughts & Articles

What is a DMARC and why do I need one?

Jim Infantino

Email is finally tightening up. This is a good thing. Services like Google Workspace, Gmail, Yahoo, and gradually, every email service will require authenticated, validated emails to be set up for all email they receive from and for you.

I keep hearing about DMARC, DKIM, SPF, and SMTP? What do these stand for?


SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework and is an ani-Spoofing record - tied to the domain - this is the weakest measure against people pretending to send out email disguised as you.


DKIM is Domain Keys Identified Mail - tied to the domain, it is a long string of secret random characters like a password. There are two keys, a public key and a private key. These are used to ensure that your email was sent from your outgoing mail server and were authenticated for your domain.


DMARC is Domain Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance - tied to the domain, it is a policy stating that only authenticated verified email sent from your domain is authentic. This policy as you set it up can contain records that say how you want to handle emails that have apparently not been sent by you (via SPF and DKIM misalignment) and where you want a report sent with this information.

Important to note:

The above records are set at the nameserver for your domain. This might be handled by us at Slabmedia if you are a client, or at your domain registrar (Network Solutions, GoDaddy, NameCheap, etc.). They are attached to your domain name (the that appears after the @ sign in your email address). You need only be concerned with email that is coming from your domain, not email that ends in or hotmail or yahoo.


SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol - it is older than the web itself. So old, in fact, that when it was introduced, the number one song was “Call Me” by Blondie. The important thing about it is that it sends email using your username and password each time. There are some other methods for sending email that don’t require a username and password, such as simple scripts from websites that send out email from the server, unauthenticated. This didn’t used to be a problematic way to send newsletters or other messages, but it is now. Soon, it will be gone for good.

So, does this mean if my email gets hacked, the hacker won’t be able to send out emails from my address?

Sadly, no. If a hacker has your email username and password, they can authenticate your email as they send out spam, the same way you do. What it prevents is a spammer, not a hacker, sending out emails with your address in the From: header, and Reply-To: header of the email. Those emails will not be authenticated, will not pass the SPF test, the DKIM test, and DMARC will either reject, quarantee, and/or notify you, if you have those features set up in your DMARC record.

We are working to get all SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records up and running for our clients, but each client’s email situation is different, and must be dealt with one at a time. Please contact us with any questions about these changes to the world of email.

Slabmedia wins Web Excellence Award for design

Jim Infantino
Slabmedia wins Web Excellence Award for design

Slabmedia designed the website and organized content using our own web publishing platform. We made it easy for the clients to add and modify content while keeping the site organized and tidy. This website continues to amass new information. Slabmedia will provide a home for it in the coming years.

SEO and Web Accessibility – Things You Must Know

Christopher Oldman
computer monitor reading -designers should always keep their users in mind-

Photo by fauxels:

Oftentimes, when we discuss website user experience, we think about improvements to loading speeds, better navigation, better formatting, easier mobile access, etc. But, what is often overlooked is the accessibility side of website UX.

What does this mean? It means that, in our pursuit of impeccable UX, we are actually ignoring the people that benefit from UX improvements the most - people with disabilities.

There are many disabilities that would render one unable to interact with your website. Blindness is the first thing that comes to mind.

Around 3.37% of men of all ages and 3.77% of all women worldwide suffer from medium to severe vision impairment. That is to say, these people suffer from conditions that aren’t correctible with simple lenses, or aren’t correctible at all.

Second, you might think of people with dyslexia. It is estimated that over 40 million Americans are dyslexic to some degree, but only 2 million have been diagnosed. This means that there are potentially millions of people that would like to interact with your website, but can’t, because of their impediment.

Thirdly, there are people with hearing impairments. Such people will have trouble engaging with video, or audio content, and they need to be accommodated as well.

And these are just the three most common impediments we think of. There are a range of other physical (loss of use of limbs) and cognitive (ADHD) disabilities that people live with every day, and they want to enjoy the wonders of the internet as much as anyone else.

But, catering to these people seems like a monumental task, and one that would require a website dedicated to people with disabilities. Well, we’re here to tell you that is not entirely true - there are ways you can use your standard SEO practices to improve your website’s accessibility, and here’s how you can do it.

  1. Title Tags

Title tag optimization is pretty much the first thing you do when taking care of your SEO. A good title tag can entice a visitor to come to your website instead of going to a competitor’s, and it is just as important for attracting the attention of people with disabilities as it is for the rest of us.

From an SEO perspective, clean and optimized title tags are good for first impressions and indexing. A good title tag immediately signals to both the search engine and the person browsing the web what can be found on your website and each individual page.

From a disability perspective, it is extremely useful for people that rely on screen readers, or persons using voice-assisted navigation.

For those using screen readers, these people might have impaired vision, and rely on your website title tags being short, readable, and to the point in order to understand the content of your website.

For people using voice-assisted navigation, they might be unable to use a mouse due to a physical disability, and they need you to have a simple title tag that their voice assistant can easily pick up and understand.

This bit about voice assist also ties in well with SEO. Modern trends dictate a rise in voice search popularity. More than 128 million people are using voice search more intensely, and almost a half of those are mobile users. Since mobile is becoming a preferred way to browse, not optimizing your website for anything mobile-related is certain to hurt you in the long run.

  1. Headers

When it comes to navigation and indexing, the headers on your website will prove absolutely vital.

You’ve probably encountered these websites - their headers are all over the place, so the entire thing looks like a hastily-assembled college kid’s notebook, rather than a professional-looking, well-structured website.

Good website design dictates that no piece of information should be more than three clicks away from the title page. And this is where good header hierarchy will help you create a clean, easily-navigable structure that your visitors will greatly appreciate.

But, good structure goes further than just user satisfaction; it also allows Google’s web crawlers to index your website better.

By indexing it, the engine gains a better understanding of the contents of your website, and can, in the future, better present pages from your website to relevant queries.

The same sentiments apply to accessibility. Again, using voice assist and screen reading as an example, you are much less likely to frustrate those people with a poor header hierarchy, leading to terrible website composition, than you are with a clean and easy-to-navigate structure.

Finally, headers are a vital component of featured snippets, aka position zero. Position zero is highly-coveted, as it is placed before all other organic search results and is a great way to gain exposure for one’s website, thus increasing its authority.

It is also the first thing read by voice assistants like Alexa, and similar screen reading technology, thereby making it invaluable for the visually impaired.

  1. Alt Text

Proper alt text for pictures is an extremely useful SEO technique for image indexing. Since computers can’t exactly “see” pictures or videos, they rely on alt text in order to understand what the picture portrays.

By entering a short but descriptive alt text, you’re allowing Google’s web crawlers to better understand and then catalog your content. If your images are relevant to the query, then they will appear in organic search along with your website.

The same thing applies to people with visual impairments. As they cannot see your photos, they’ll rely on screen readers to describe them.

Of course, if your images don’t have descriptive alt text, then your visitor won’t be able to fully enjoy your carefully selected images like a non-visually impaired person would.

  1. Video Transcripts

Just like images, the AI can’t “see” videos either. This makes indexing such content that much harder, especially when you consider the importance of video in today’s content marketing, and the fact that 54% of people would like to see more video content from their favorite brands, according to Hubspot.

This is why most SEO experts advocate providing transcripts for your video content. Just like alt text, a transcript provides context to the browser, allowing it to rate its relevancy and determine its position in the SERPs.

When it comes to accessibility, it goes without saying that a video transcript is invaluable to the blind, as their screen reading software is going to read it out for them, so they can, essentially, “watch” the video like the rest of us.

A transcript is very valuable to the deaf community. If your video doesn’t have subtitles, or if the subtitles aren’t available in your desired language, then writing a transcript is of great help to those with impaired hearing. It allows them to watch the video, and combine it with the transcript to gain the full picture.

Video transcripts also have another, more situational, use as well. They can be very useful for people that can’t play audio at a certain moment, either due to not wanting to create a disturbance, or if their audio equipment fails.

With a transcript, they can peruse its content just as if they were watching it.

Finally, transcripts can be useful to people with photo-sensitive epilepsy. If your video contains flashing, bright lights, you may not want to show it to people with this condition. Instead, you can provide a transcript so they can enjoy your content without endangering themselves.

  1. Schema Markups

One of the most powerful SEO practices is creating schema markups. Schema markups are not too dissimilar to meta descriptions, but are much more detailed and allow you to display more information within such a confined space.

Schema markups are used when a website wants to display more complex information than just a general description of their webpage.

A schema markup can include things like ratings, curated snippets taken from reviews and testimonials, product prices, and/or product/service descriptions.

However, schema markups require a bit of coding knowledge to implement successfully. If you’re not a tech wiz, you can always hire an agency to take care of your SEO for you.

Choosing the right SEO agency can make or break your website, but most will be familiar with this technology, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help.

All this allows you to make your website more transparent and more readable for the browser engine. In turn, Google will value your website more highly, as now it can use it as a direct and relevant answer to a query.

In terms of accessibility, again, this is extremely useful for screen reading technology. It allows a disabled person to browse your website without having to essentially browse it, as they can glean all the information they need without having to navigate the website.

Schema markups are also highly popular with people who cannot use their input devices due to injury or loss of their digits and upper limbs. Since they use voice assistants, site navigation can be daunting and difficult for them, so a schema markup is often very widely appreciated.

  1. Conclusion

And there you have it - SEO can not only be compatible with accessibility, but we’ve proven a direct correlation between the two.

So, the next time you sit down to create a website, or optimize your existing one, try to include accessibility considerations in your plans, as they can have a direct, positive influence on your SEO.

Author’s Bio

Christopher Oldman headshot

Christopher is a Digital Marketing specialist, Project Manager and Editor at Find Digital Agency and a passionate blogger. He is a devoted and experienced author who loves to pay attention to quality research and details. Focused on fresh digital insights and voice distribution across different channels, he starts the day scrolling digest on digital trends while sipping a cup of coffee. In his free time Christopher plays drums and Magic: the Gathering.

Developing or improving your brand identity

Jim Infantino
Wooden crate with Arbuckels Coffee Brand next to barrels

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo:

Understanding your project or organization is a key step in the development of your presence online and everywhere. Any web design project must begin with a deep understanding of your existing identity materials such as logo, mission statement, unique proposition, so that your online identity is in line with who you are and what you represent.

Most people think of this process as simply logo design. In reality it goes deeper than just your logo. Your logo is an immediate visual representation of your core principles. To design your logo effectively requires a comprehensive understanding of your values, offerings, culture, and philosophy. Sometimes, all that is required is a representation of your name in the right typeface. Often it requires a symbol that distills your uniqueness down to an icon.

Modern branding was evidenced in marketplaces during the 19th century with a literal branding iron that would burn a name on a barrel of goods. The practice actually goes back over 5000 years to early farmers laying claim to their cattle, and early vendors painting signs at fairs and markets to symbolically represent the nature of their wares to a mostly illiterate populace.

In the digital universe, your brand identity is represented in your social media posts, in your website’s browser tab, and of course, in the header of your website. The design of your digital and print materials flows from your branding. Your choice of typeface, color use, contrast, shape and informational architecture is based on the understanding of your identity and your branding materials. A change in the design of your logo, or a deeper change in your organization’s values or mission should be reflected in all your internally and externally facing materials, especially your website.

Here is a quick talk by Philip Dubrow of Marshall Strategy on Organizational Identity which shows the importance of understanding your company or organization, which is invaluable in developing the materials that will set you apart.

So, how is your organization identity? Is it optimally reflected on your webste? Here at Slabmedia, we are eager to help you align your web presence with the best representation of your identity. It’s enriching work we love to do.

When is “good enough” not good enough?

Jim Infantino
a rack of sweaters

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

We all know the process. We think we are moving in the right direction, gathering the right tools to finish the job and when we see the results we think, “it’s okay. It’s good enough.”

Too many times, this is how some people approach web design.

Perhaps the platform you chose promised the fabled combination of fast-cheap-good, perhaps you saw a template that looked exactly right when you saw the demo but less than great when you put it together. Perhaps you hired someone who promised that the results would be customized to your standards, but spent most of their time managing your expectations. This is the promise of cheap and quick website building.

The truth is, you can either accept these limitations or you can up your game.

Your project is worth going the extra mile. Your brand deserves more. Your website should represent your best ideals and represent your unique offerings. Your website should be the optimal expression of who you are what what you do.

Templates are always going to center around an average. Often they are over-engineered with bulky code to provide limited customization. They offer good design, but it may not be the right design for you.

The template you choose may seem good at the time, but when your site is completed, it probably isn’t good enough.

This is why we build the way we build. We start with a blank slate and design in harmony with your brand from the ground up. We work until we get it right.

We encourage you not to settle for good enough. Instead, let’s build something great.

SEO basics

Jim Infantino

If you're new to search engines or just want to make sure your website is competitive in search, you need to understand a few basic ideas about content and meta information for your pages.

First: What is a page?

For the purposes of search engine optimization, a page is what shows up for each url on your website. That may sound self-explanatory, but each page on your website might be made up of multiple entries. Your homepage may contain a few different entries or articles, but to a search engine the homepage is always just with or without a slash at the end. Each url is indexed seperately by the search engines, so it's important to be mindful of your meta information (see below) for each unique url on your website.

Second: What is content?

a. Volume

What you write on each page is critical to search. There are no shortcuts to quality, unique and authoritative content. Content is any text and/or images on each page (see above). Search engines like google like to see unique and complete content on each page. This can be a problem for pages that are just a few lines of text, like your contact page, where long content may not be very helpful to a human visitor. Search engines like to see at least 300 words on a page to have enough data to determine what the page is about. That doesn't mean you should stuff every page with useless information. Remember, it's not worth optimizing for search engines if you sacrifice intelligabililty for your visitors. If you so that, people might be able to find your website easier, but once they are there, they might browse away too quickly.

b. Relevence

The copy on each page should be informative and have agreement with your meta information (see below). Search engines have complex algorithms to determine whether your page is an authoritative source. The more the search engines see you as an authoritative source for the information you provide, the higher your score will be and the further up in search results for relevant searches you will place.

c. Accessibility

This is becoming a big issue of late. It's important that your website is easy to read for people who have trouble seeing. In the website design phase, your Slab website should have standardized font-sizing and color contrast to work well for people who have trouble seeing. Our websites are increasing accessible to people who rely on tabbed-based brwosing as well. However, the one thing we encourage you to do is to add ALT-TEXT to ALL of your images. This is in a short text field next to the image upload when you create a new entry on your website. ALT-TEXT should be a simple description of the image you added. If it's a picture of a cup of coffee, it might read "cup of black coffee on a table." Imagine if you couldn't see the page, and you needed someone to tell you about the images on the page. Simpler is better. Do not try to stuff search terms into your image alt-text unless it's directly relevant to what is in the image.

Third: What is meta-information?

If you have our new SEO tool installed you will see an orange tab on each page of your website on the left-hand side, above the SLAB MENU. If not, you can find a meta information button in the controlbar or in the SLAB MENU. There are a few important things to pay attention to the fields in this tool.

a. Meta Title

This is the description of the page that you see in the browser tab. Sometimes it's obscured, but if you hover over it, you will see it there. More importantly, this is the text that shows up at the top of a search result for your website. A good meta title should be unique to the website between 40 and 60 characters long. If your meta title is too long, search engines will rank that page down. Here is a decent example of a meta title:

SEO Basics | Help with Meta Tags | Guidelines | Slabmedia

Notice that the name of our company is at the end. In all likelyhood, getting found for the name of your company is going to be easy, but that doesn't help you win the search wars for terms that people who don't already know about you are searching for. It's good to have your company name in your meta titles on some or most of your pages, but the other text is the priority. This meta title is 57 characters, which is good. You don't want to get to 60 every time. That might actually count against you in the algorithms that run search engines. Getting close is better. This is what will get someone to click on your link in the search results. Make sure your meta titles are relevant to the content on the page and contain phrases that people might actually search for. Determining the optimal search terms is the job of SEO professionals, but it's fine to guess.

b. Meta Description

This is a short description of what is readable on your page. It should be a pithy description of what the page is about. You can pick some content that's already on the page if that content is compelling and descriptive. The guidelines are that these descriptions should be between 150 and 160 characters but you don't need to be exact about that number. You can go a little over, but it's best not to go below 120 or over 220. Using search terms in your description is recommended, but it's unclear if it has a direct effect on your search position. A decent meta description for this page might be:

If you want to make sure your website is competitive in search, here are a few basic ideas about content structure and meta information to keep in mind.

This is (hopefullly) an enticing bit of information that might increase the likelyhood a searcher will click on your link. One last thing to keep in mind is that search engines do not want to see duplicate meta descriptions on your site. Each description, like each site-title should be unique.

c. Meta Image

This is not used for search engines, but they are useful for social media. When you post a url on twitter or some other social platform, it pulls the image from this value. In our SEO tools we allow you to choose an image from the content of your page or related content from the same section to set the meta image.

Are we done?

Those are the basics, according to us. Remember, the algorithms are constantly changing, and SEO is highly competitive. We believe you should be able to take control of your own organic search profile, which includes all of the above points. You may, however, decide that you need more help with your position in search. If so, we have a number of professional SEO packages that can help you when you are ready to invest in better results.

Contact us to find out more.