A website is an investment. And to make the most of this investment you want both beautiful and robust.
WordPress is often our preferred platform. Because of it’s flexibility for design and development and it’s countless plugins, WordPress provides our Omaha web design team with the tools for a customized website at an affordable cost.
Here are six reasons you, too, should consider using WordPress:
WordPress is a browser-based, meaning you can manage your website from any computer, tablet, or phone with an internet connection. They even have an app for easier on-the-go editing.
2. Endless Plugins
Plugins, Plugins, and more plugins! WordPress currently has over 10,000 plugins for you or your developer to choose from when building your website. These plugins add functionality, extend the life of your website, customize the user’s experience, and are a vital part of any good website. Better yet, most are free or well-priced.
3. SEO Benefits
Having trouble with your website ranking? Well Google is pretty fond of WordPress. Compared to other platforms, WordPress gets the edge in Google Rankings. Updating your website regularly with valuable and authoritative content is a must, but WordPress provides several SEO plugins to assist in optimizing your web pages with appropriate titles, H1’s and Meta Descriptions.
WordPress also released WordPress 5.0 in November 2018 that includes the latest version of Gutenberg – a block editor that allows for simple and functional page editing. The Gutenberg editor, in conjunction with the Yoast SEO Plugin is powerful for search engine success.
WordPress allows multiple users. As an administrator you can add other developers and even assign access levels for each user. Monitor user updates and add or delete users as your business grows and changes.
It also provides plugins (yes, more plugins) for user groups, user permissions, wholesale eCommerce customers, and user profile and membership management.
WordPress is 100% customizable to the user. If you have the knowledge, or a great developer, almost everything in WordPress can be updated, customized or changed to fit your needs.
A business providing services to a local market should not underestimate the importance of local SEO services. Local SEO efforts often produce more website traffic and more leads. Higher conversions result when your local listings are optimized to accurately reflect your business information, products and services.
Our Omaha SEO team can tell you over and over about why local search engine optimization is important, but how about I just SHOW you. But before I do… let me tell you one more time.
GMB, Apple Maps and Yelp are all big players in local SEO
An optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing will help you pull up in Google for relevant searches – as this information pulls into the local map-pack (see graphic below), which has high visibility. If you haven’t yet setup your Google My Business account, start there. You can use our Step-By-Step Guide to help get you started.
Apple Maps listing helps your business rank well for Siri voice command searches. And with over 700 million iPhones currently being used worldwide, many users are using Siri search on their Apple devices. And, Yelp provides Apple with access to some of its business page information, including reviews. So, optimizing your information and managing reviews for Yelp could not only assist you in organic rankings, but can also help with visibility in Apple Maps.
To help you visualize
Here’s an example Google search for Dentist Omaha.
You will see the paid ads appear at the top of the page, then the map pack, then organic results. Then at the bottom of the page are more paid ads.
What does this mean?
This image shows us two things. First, it shows us the importance of having a local SEO strategy. The map pack pulls in GMB pages organically based on the search query, matching the GMB listing with the keyword(s) being searched. And, the first organic result is from Yelp. While that isn’t the case for every search result for every product or service, Yelp still ranks well for local product and service queries.
Second, this image shows the need for a holistic approach to your search marketing strategy. A Google Ads strategy partnered with local search optimization AND website search engine optimization efforts will help your business appear in all three sections.
Local Search pulls results into the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) based on businesses and places near a user’s location. These local search results appear in the map, commonly referred to as the map pack or three pack, and results.
Being present in local search for relevant searches can dramatically affect your impact, pushing quality traffic and increasing conversions. Three critical places our Omaha SEO team pushes for local search impact is Google My Business (GMB), Apple Maps and Yelp.
Why is local search so important?
If you’ve done a Google search for a product or service, you’ve noticed that Google is putting more and more emphasis on serving results from its server instead of pages from individual websites. This is by design and is only the beginning of how Google plans to morph into a source of knowledge, instead of serving up a knowledge buffet.
Considering these ongoing changes, local search is more important than ever. With its prominent placement on SERPS, the map pack can provide big results for your local business in the search engines. This information is pulled in through Google My Business account information.
Google serves its local results based on three main factors: relevance, distance and prominence.
Of course, you should care about Google My Business.
Knowing that Google serves its results by relevance, distance and prominence, and that the most visible results are being served by Google’s servers, its easy to see why GMB is an important factor for local SEO success. All three of these factors play upon your accuracy and investment into the page. There is no way to pay for better local ranking on Google yet, but by filling your GMB page with accurate information and actively managing the listing you’re going to make progress toward being found on local search results.
Why care about Apple Maps & Yelp?
If you’re not an Apple user, you probably don’t use Apple Maps. But you’ve likely heard of it having been marred with bugs and broken data partnerships. Nevertheless, Apple has put big money into fixing its Apple Maps app and its reputation over the last couple of years.
As for Yelp, it provides Apple with access to some of its business page information. And instead of building its own database for reviews, they utilize Yelp reviews. So, by optimizing and managing your Yelp listing to include accurate information and responses to reviews, you are syncing with Apple Maps to provide it better data.
Get in on local search optimization NOW
Do not wait to use these free tools for local SEO. Not only will these tools help you be found in local results, but when optimized and managed well, will help you to complete on Google amid its changing algorithms.
Remember when the only way to watch your favorite TV show was to sit on the couch at the exact time the show was set to air? Oh… and you could only use the bathroom or grab a snack during the commercial break. How did we even SURVIVE this inconvenience? Needless to say, the way we consume TV content has changed.
More than half of 18-to 49-year-olds watch very little TV or do not subscribe to TV, according to Google, and the number of households without a traditional TV subscription rises each year. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but traditional cable and satellite providers are struggling, having lost about 415,000 subscribers in the second quarter of this year alone.
And while the struggle is real for cable providers, traditional TV content is not dead (and won’t be for the foreseeable future). Many factors, including video streaming services, digital ad spending and mobile user growth factor into the shift in TV entertainment. Social media growth, particularly that of YouTube, is among the top reasons why TV entertainment is a changing landscape.
Why should you consider YouTube?
As of September 2018, the total number of monthly active YouTube users was 1.9 billion. People are not just watching YouTube on their mobile devices and they’re not just watching cute cat videos. In fact, people are spending twice as much time watching official TV channels on YouTube as they did two years ago, and they are watching it ON their TV.
YouTube is the second fastest growing search engine and the second most trafficked site, the first being Google. Owned by Google, YouTube applies the same principles of enhanced user experience and user-focused algorithms as the traditional Google search engine. And just as Ads on Google search offers affordable and targeted opportunities for web marketing, YouTube also offers targeted, affordable and effective marketing opportunities. In fact, more than half of marketers are advertising on YouTube, reporting that they see YouTube content driving views, engagement and purchases.
If your marketing goals and dollars are conducive to producing YouTube content and running ads, it could be worthy of your time. The data and projections can be compelling. Google estimates that by 2025, half of viewer under the age of 32 will not subscribe to a paid TV service. And it’s not because they’re not watching… it’s because they’re watching online video content instead.
Users view more than 500 million hours of video each day on YouTube. And if your customers are among them, targeting them on YouTube and re targeting them can increase click-through rate and conversion rates.
In a time where Google puts its highest priority on user experience, and users are not willing to wait for much of anything… website load time is a critical factor for search engine rankings and retaining potential leads.
There are many factors to consider: browser, website host, device, page content, mobile network, etc. But first, let’s start with YOUR website’s load time.
What’s my website loading speed?
You can check page load time through a couple avenues. If you use Chrome, you can use the Chrome extension “Page Load Time” or a separate tracker like Pingdom. You can also check if your website is loading fast enough for you visitors by checking your bounce rate. Bounce rate can be seen through Google Analytics. If the bounce rate is high, it can indicate load time is too slow. High bounce rate can also negatively impact Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Google Webmaster recommends a maximum of 2 second load time for an ecommerce website, but Google aims for a half a second. That’s fast.
How to make my website faster
Compress: The file size that the browser renders is king. The smaller the image the faster the load time. Here are some tips to optimize your images for faster website load time.
Resize your images before you upload them onto a page. Don’t load a 5000x3500px image when your image on the page displays at 500×300. Your browser needs to calculate this resizing, and this takes time.
Use the correct thumbnail size. WordPress automatically generates a set of thumbnails. You should select the smallest thumbnail necessary to reduce your page weight.
Remove all the metadata from an image to reduce the image size. For example, you don’t need to know what camera was used, where the photo was taken, etc… This can bloat the filesize that the browser needs to render. This takes time.
Consult your website hosting provider about how to utilize gzip to serve your website files to browsers. Compressing the resources that the browser requests can allow your browser to get information faster.
Design, Coding & Content: The three main factors when building a website, all contributing to website load time. Here are some tips to optimize website design, coding and website content for fast website load time.
Remove the junk. Many prebuilt templates are built to sell and have ALL the features. By the time you have your content, images, page structure, etc. established, you’re left with a lot of dead weight you’re not using. Delete as much unnecessary data from your template as possible, including images, plugins, and posts.
Avoid animations and motion. While these make the website feel alive, it does require resources. So you need to decide if they are necessary.
In your design, pay attention to if your backgrounds and graphics are images or if they are just color fills. Eliminating large background images can go a long way to making your site load faster.
If speed is a top priority, consider getting a custom-built template. Often, prebuilt templates are built in a complex way to hide code, making it harder for others to “borrow” code. These hiding techniques are good at making it difficult to borrow, but they also sometimes make a browser load more files, or the structure of the code causes render-blocking (some sections on the site cannot render until all the appropriate files are loaded). This can increase load time and create the illusion that the page loads extremely slow.
During the website design process, don’t force a ton of heavy elements into your design. More isn’t always more. The simplest designs are often the most elegant, and always faster.
Consult your website development professional to have them help you develop a custom website that is engineered for your needs and the needs of your design.
Other Considerations: Consider utilizing the open-source Accelerated Mobile Pages provided by Google. Basically, Google renders a snapshot of your site instead of reloading it for mobile users, so it loads lightning fast. But be sure to understand the problems with caching for this method of Google displaying your content.
If you’re working with a team that builds websites to look beautiful with best SEO practices in mind, website load time will be considered through every step of the process.
Building a website today much less resembles the lawless open plains of the Wild West and more closely relates to open freeways, endless roads to travel, scattered with check points and signs along the way attempting to guide you.
With technology so rapidly evolving, so many companies offering their services, and so many options when building a new website, staying up on the latest and greatest trends in technology can be overwhelming. That’s why I’m going to cover a list of the top 6 things our Omaha web design team recommends considering when building a new website.
Building a good website requires a lot of work. You will need research, coding, design work, population, testing, security, and finally to launch the website. When it is all said and done, who owns the rights to the website – you or the company that created the website for you? Make sure you own the rights to both the design and content of your website, and ALWAYS ask this during your first conversation with a web design and development company.
Content Management System (CMS)
Think of the CMS as the brain of your website. Always research a CMS before choosing one. Google it! Read about its strengths and weaknesses, read reviews, and peruse websites built on the platform. Much like test driving different cars, different website platforms have a different feel to them and it will make a huge difference in user happiness and interaction. You will also want a well-known CMS, as it makes hiring new people to work on your website much easier. And just a quick tip, WordPress has rapidly reached its way to one of the most highly used platforms on the web, and it is one of the preferred platforms for our Omaha web developers.
Each website needs a purpose and goal. Some websites have a purpose to educate with a goal of helping to expand your brand awareness. Other websites have a purpose of generating online sales, or making your business money. A common goal includes collecting payments online to make your life a little easier. No matter the purpose or goal of your website, the navigation, content, and calls to action all need to work cohesively to accomplish this.
Mobile Friendly (Responsive) Design
Your website needs to be responsive. End of story. Most websites easily have above 50% of their users visiting the websites on a mobile phone or tablet. Without responsive technology the website will not look nice or function properly, which leads to high bounce rates and lower user satisfaction. Not having a mobile friendly website can also negatively affect your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking.
Anything that is worth doing is worth doing correctly. Don’t know who said it, but it’s true. Yes, you can build a website for very cheap and have it up in a week, but in the business of web development you get what you pay for. Set a realistic timeline, and be open to learning. As with anything good in life – a new car, a new home, a website is an investment – take your time, do your research and save up for what you want.
Apples to Apples
There are a number of services and things required to properly build a new website. When comparing companies and pricing, make sure you receive an itemized list of exactly what services they will provide, the estimated timeline for those services and, of course, cost. The reason why you ask? Two companies may have similar pricing, but one may be offering you a great deal more for your money. The bottom dollar gets all the attention but the details are what makes a beautiful website.
Phising is an attack often used to steal user data, ranging from email addresses, to login credentials, to credit card numbers, to Social Security numbers. The attacker disguises themselves as a trusted entity and uses this credibility to trick users into opening an email or text message that can lead to the installation of malware, a ransomware attack or the reveal of sensitive data. It can be difficult to spot a phishing attempt quickly, so here are 5 ways to spot a phishing attempt to help protect your email and your computer from the nasty effects of a phishing attack.
Message URLs are Mismatched or Misleading
It’s not uncommon that a phishing message contains a URL which looks valid. Hover your mouse over the top of the URL to see the hyperlinked address, and if the hyperlinked address is different than the address displayed, it’s likely malicious. Additionally, look for misleading domain names. Attackers often utilize big names like Apple or Microsoft in a domain name to disguise a malicious link. The DNS naming structure is ChildDomain.FullDomain.com. An example would be, info.LegitDomain.com. A phishing attempt, on the other hand, would restructure to FullDomain.com.MaliciousDomain.com. For example, Microsoft.com.MaliciousDomain.com.
Spelling and Grammar Errors
Any official message sent from a legitimate company will likely be reviewed for spelling, grammar and legality. If a message is full of errors it’s likely malicious, so delete it!
It Gets Too Personal
If an email is requesting personal information, be wary. A reputable company will never request a password, credit card number, or security question. It’s even be likely that a phishing attempt will request money to cover expenses, taxes or fees.
You Didn’t Initiate the Contact
If you receive an email stating you were selected as a winner for a lifetime supply of magical, age-reversing skin care, but you never heard of the company and you never entered the contest… delete it. If you are announced as a winner or provided a promotional opportunity, but never initiated contact with the company, it’s a scam. And, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Some phishing attacks use intimidation to trick people into giving up sensitive data. Some key phrases for these messages include, “Urgent Action Required!” Your account has been compromised!” “Your account will be closed!” Scammers pose as banks, credit card providers, email providers and government agencies to scare people. Financial institutions and government agencies will not request sensitive data over email, so do not be tricked! If something just doesn’t look right in an email, trust your gut reaction and delete the email. It’s always helpful to have an email hosting support team to assist in identifying phishing attacks. We take website security and email security seriously. Many email hosting support teams are not readily available to offer quick advice or assistance in the event of a phishing attack. But, it’s just one of the many benefits you get when you choose our Omaha website hosting team – real human support when you need it!
The short answer… quality content is important because it’s important to the search engines. There’s not a single client who walks through our door who doesn’t care about success in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). And if Google loves good content, then you should too! The strategy of website design has made major shifts over the last few years. The goal has always been for good user experience; and years ago, our Omaha web designers and web developers would put most of the focus on functional and beautiful design for the best experience possible. Functional and beautiful design are still important to user experience, but now we must also put heavy emphasis on website content. So, let’s approach your website from a more holistic point of view. Let’s build a website that is both beautiful to the eye and rich in valuable information.
Where should you start?
You can start by understanding how results are served on Google. Google’s algorithm is multifaceted and based on more than 200 factors. But Google’s focus when serving results is relevance. Google does not see the design of your website, but instead sees the words and their location. Because of Google’s commitment to serving relevant websites and content, high quality content serves itself. This is not keyword stuffed content. This is content that is readable, that is appropriately placed on the correct page, that is keeping a user on your website. This is more than just plunking in a keyword every-so-often.
So, you think you optimized your pages…
You’ve selected your primary keywords based on what you think your potential customers are searching. Or even better, perhaps, you’ve partnered with our Omaha SEO team to do some in-depth keyword research and analysis. And you’ve tried to integrate your keywords into your web page titles and H1’s, and as frequently as possible into your content. But if your website content is only a few sentences per page, with very little substance, your efforts hold very little weight in the search engines. In fact, it’s often more beneficial for you to invest in creating valuable content than implementing our one-time SEO optimization.
What’s the next step?
The only way to know your best way forward is to analyze how your website is performing. Though Google Analytics and Search Console you can see how each page is ranking, how you’re performing for your desired keywords, and what your user time on site and bouncerates are for each individual page. Quality content is going to establish, at least three critical factors for SEO success:
The search engines will read it and rank it according to its context and value.
Users will likely be funneled into the website, decreasing user bounce rate.
If your questioning the value of any page on your website, I’d venture to say you probably need to rewrite it. And as a website design company who approaches your website from a holistic point of view, quality content is not only important from an SEO perspective, but also from a design perspective. Did you know that we have a copywriter on staff? Quality content is worth the time and financial investment because it can, and will, bring in new business. So, let us help you improve on every facet of your website – design, performance, content.
A Nebraska small business owner recently called us asking about our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services. He had signed up with an “SEO service provider” who promised a #1 ranking in Google for only $100 a month. And it worked – for one month. The next month his site dropped to page 6 in search results, far worse than before. Now the “service provider” (Can you read my sarcasm?) was telling our caller that he would have to pay a lot more money to fix the damage. Damage caused by this provider’s “services.”
Unfortunately, this provider took actions that not only didn’t help our caller’s ranking but likely severely damaged his website’s reputation with Google. Recovering from such penalties will take much longer than 1 month and more than $100.
You can protect yourself from cheats and liars by knowing a few facts about SEO.
No one can legitimately promise a #1 ranking
Even the best SEO agencies in the world are limited by one fact: SEOs are not Google. Google’s engineers make their own decisions and they carefully limit public information about how it all works. SEO practitioners depend on close readings of everything Google engineers say and on research by industry leaders. Legitimate SEO practitioners are experts on the research but they also know their powers are limited.
Link schemes are a bad bet
Some “SEO service providers” say they’ll get thousands of social media mentions and many thousands of links to your site. Run, don’t walk, away from someone offering you that “service.” Google knows these schemes exist, are constantly uncovering systems that operate them, and penalizes sites that receive those kinds of links and mentions. In the case of the business owner that called JM, his story had all the tell-tale signs of receiving a Google penalty. If your prospective SEO doesn’t show concern for good quality links, their work is likely to cause your site more harm than good.
That being said, there is a correct way to build links to your site: Creating good content that’s valuable to your audience. I’ll cover this in a future post.
More than a few charlatans are willing to sell you empty promises for easy money. The truth is SEO, done correctly and without causing harm, requires months of work and costs a lot more than $100. If you can’t put that much trust in a prospective SEO, then trust your instincts, walk away, and find one you can be confident in.
A good SEO should be interested in your business
The point of a website is for new customers to discover your business and for everyone to buy your products or services more easily. SEO is one set of tactics to support that strategy. If your prospective SEO isn’t interested in your business, what you sell, and who your desired customers are, they’re not prepared to make decisions that will support your strategy and benefit your business.
When you’re considering hiring an Omaha SEO service provider, it pays off to take it seriously. Don’t look for a cheap deal. Find an SEO who knows what they can and cannot promise and who is interested in helping your business succeed online.
It all comes back to user experience. Whether its design, functionality or content – a successful website provides a user with value.
User experience is so important that it’s become the main driver for Google’s algorithm updates over the last several years. And it’s been said in some major SEO studies that one of the most critical factors for SEO success is user time on page.
User time on site is directly correlated to user experience. If your website design is pleasing, if your functionality is friendly, and your content is engaging and valuable the overall time on site will increase. Abandoning visitors increase the bounce rate (user gets to your website and leaves without clicking anything), which reduces conversions and profits.
You can find out your average user time on site through Google Analytics under Audience > Overview.
Here are five tips from our Omaha web design and SEO team for increasing user time on site:
Spruce up design
Your website design gives users a first impression. The design entices or turns away a user before they even start reading the content. So, make that first impression count with a website design that’s clean, functional and accurately reflects your business.
A user-friendly website will also be mobile-friendly. Make sure your website is using responsive technology. Google will reward your website for responsive technology and the added value and readability will increase time on site for mobile users, also increasing your organic rankings.
Among Google’s guidelines for content is “make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.” Contrary to the old-school way of thinking, keywords stuffed into mindless or irrelevant content will not increase SEO value. Your website content, page structure, design… everything… should be geared toward adding value to your users.
This is relevant to pages relating to your core services and to your website blog. Feeding Google consistent content through a blog/news page can be great. But the quantity of content is no longer a key factor for SEO success. Instead, focus on quality of content. If you are unable to produce quality content for your blog, then get rid of it (or hire JM to do it). A blog that’s not being updating with quality content is likely doing nothing for your SEO value and it’s not building credibility for website visitors.
Keep users interested by pointing them to the next thing they’ll want to read. Across your website, link to related services or key team members when relevant. On blogs, link to other related articles whenever possible. This will help provide more relevant information that will appeal to user’s direct interests and be good for your website’s SEO.
Links are crucial SEO ranking signals. Inbound links, outbound links and internal links help Google figure out what is relevant and authoritative.
Optimize website performance
You have less than one minute to keep a visitor on your website. And if even a small portion of that minute is being spent on load time… you’ve likely lost your visitor. You can check your website load time using free tools like Pingdom, and if you’re load time is more than 4 second… you need to make some changes. You can consider:
Getting a new website host: Nothing you can do to optimize your website will make any difference if you have a bad website hosting company. There are VERY cheap hosting options available. I, for one, love a good deal. But you’re not looking for a good deal when it comes to website hosting… you’re looking for reliable, secure and support-focused website hosting.
Use a caching plugin: Caching can result in a 10x speed gain over a non-cached website. And the plugin is free!
Remove unnecessary plugins and update: WordPress (our preferred platform) has lots of cool plugins. But they may be slowing your website down. So, you need to weigh the options and get rid of the ones you don’t need. Also, updating your plugins is critical for site performance AND security.
Optimize images: There are plugins available that can compress and optimize images for faster load time. Or, you can make your images smaller to increase load time.
Attract the right users
A great design, good content, internal links and fast load times are not relevant unless you’re attracting the right users to your website in the first place. Use keywords and long-tail keywords that your ideal customer will search, bid on these keywords for Google Ad campaigns, and create good meta descriptions so users will understand what they’re clicking on before they get to a page.
After making modifications to your website and strategy to increase user time on site, check your Google analytics and analyze the success of each page, individually. Your data will help you make informed decisions.
Don’t know how to analyze the data? Our Omaha SEO team can. Don’t have time to write valuable content? We have an experienced copywriter. Don’t have the ability to make the changes that need to be made? No problem. We can help!