This is a brand new Marketing Matters article!  It’s something I’ve wanted to write for a long time, especially since it deals with one of your school’s greatest marketing tools, and the security that it requires.

If you’ve never signed up for Google Alerts, it’s a every eye-opening service.  You can set different topics that you want to be informed on, and whenever an entity posts something online about the subject you’ve signed up for, you’ll get an email that lists a good number of the items that are published online the previous day.  Since I have a number of them set up, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately.  I’ll see the name of a school…but the Web site associated with the name of the school has nothing to do with the school, has an extension (like a .io or a .de rather than a .com, .org or .school) that looks as if it’s from a country other than the United States or Canada, and some preview content that looks like it could pertain to the school…but probably doesn’t.

These “fake” sites can be created by a process called “Web scraping” (see for details).   While its purpose is a noble one (such as for extracting data from a Web site for archival or referral purposes), it can also be done for nefarious purposes.  A simple Google search reveals a news story about how Web scraping led to the leak of 1.1 billion data records.  Therefore, it’s important to make you Web site content as secure as possible.

While your schools Web site host may have particular tools intended for this purpose, Web sites made with WordPress have a plug in that will eliminate the “right click” function of the computer mouse or keyboard.  On a PC, Web contact can be highlighted, then “right clicked” to allow a menu to pop up with a list of commands, like “cut” or “copy,” and then can also allow the cut or copied content to be pasted somewhere else, like in an email, a social media posting, or another document.  A right click on most Web sites will also produce an option to “View Page Source,” which allows the user to see the html code of the Web site.  By stopping the “right click” function, the ability to copy data is disabled for the typical user, but it may still be able to be accessed by bots or web crawlers.  Since not using such a tool can put your site’s content at risk, be sure to check with you Web site’s provider to see how this access can be prevented.  This would be a great project to look into now that summer’s here, and prior to the time where things ramp up and get going for the 21-22 school year!

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2021 (Original Publication Date: 20210628)