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Six Reasons to use WordPress

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.

WordPress logo

Here are six reasons you, too, should consider using WordPress:

1. Browser-based

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. 

INSTALL YOAST

4. Multi-user

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. 

5. Customization

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.

GET WORDPRESS

Spruce Up Your Logo, Set Up Expectations

Website design should reinforce brand by portraying culture, atmosphere and adhering to general design guidelines. And while it may sound like I’m stating the obvious… your logo is the pillar of your brand, with prominent website placement and from which all styles are derived.

A logo is your brand identity. And I bet you can count on one hand the number of times you’ve seen a website with the logo placed somewhere other than in the top left or center of the header. Right? This is because you want to use your logo to set up and meet expectations, both visually and functionally.

design and web icon

Setting Up Expectations

Your logo sets up expectations for customers with color, design and general “vibe”. If you’re not happy with your logo or don’t think your logo accurately portrays your business… STOP and redesign the logo. Don’t design a website around a brand you’re not 100% happy with. It’s an expensive mistake.

Recently, I was working with someone to spruce up a pre-built WordPress template, and she began to question her DIY logo. So, we put the website mockups on hold and focused our efforts on sprucing up her logo. It would have cost her more money in the long-run to design a website around a brand she didn’t love.

Spruce up my logo

A few recent examples in our portfolio include a logo recharge. Not a redesign, but rather an update to more accurately enhance a new website design and increase brand recall.

Sarpy County Cooperative Head Start didn’t even really have a logo on its website. So before our Omaha web design team tackled a redesign, we tackled that logo head-on. Here’s the website header on the current website:

Sarpy county head start old website header

And here’s the new logo we’ll be working with for the new website:

Sarpy County Head Start Logo

Another recent example is an Omaha pillar, I-Go Van & Storage. A simple logo spruce-up from our logo designer went a long way before we redesigned (new website to launch soon):

Old I-Go Logo
new I-Go logo

Meeting User Expectations

A website visitor has an expectation that your logo will be placed in the “usual spot” (upper left) – and expectations play a large role in user experience.

Case studies have shown that placing the logo in any location other than the top left-hand corner can hurt your site. NN Group found that centering your logos will make it roughly six times harder to return to the homepage of a site than left-aligned logos and that right-aligned logos hurt brand recall.

When designing the flow of a site, our web designers must account for the need to return to the homepage. Rather than providing a “home” button in the navigation bar, the logo has been the traditional and expected method for providing users with a way to return home. It’s beneficial to meet the user’s expectations and link the logo home. And for the visitor spending any time on your site at all, this continuous logo home-base can help reinforce your brand.

So, Don’t Use a Terrible Logo

Your take away: use a logo that reflects your culture, services and products. Don’t settle because it’s what you’ve always had, or because your DIY method saved you a couple thousand dollars. The gain from using the RIGHT logo in the right ways on your website is increased brand recall, increased conversions and long-term use of your current website design.

Spruce up my logo

JM Rolls Out New Bus Advertisement in Omaha-Metro

Omaha bus ad for JM Web Designs

 

If you’ve spent much time driving around the Omaha-metro this last year, you’ve likely seen JM advertisements wrapped on the back of a couple Omaha transit buses. After a successful effort in 2017, our Omaha web design and web marketing team is continuing down the route of more traditional branding, adding another bus advertisement to our fleet. This time, we wrapped a half a bus.

Bus advertising offers us a high impact and affordable method of branding. With a positive response from current customers and prospects, it’s clear that our mobile advertisements are helping to keep JM top-of-mind in Omaha. Additionally, advertising on an Omaha-metro bus ensures that we are promoting environmental responsibility and community improvement efforts. Public transportation reduces traffic, promotes individual health (walking to a bus stop), provides access to education and health care, reduces pollution, and increases public safety. Our advertising dollars also help go toward public improvements and to upkeep the roads we all use every day.

Our Omaha web design and web marketing team values supporting local, Omaha efforts that benefit the entire community, and we’re excited to see the results of our new bus advertisement.

If you see our bus ads rolling around the Omaha-metro, be sure to snap a photo and post to Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #JMonWheels.

 

Preserving SEO Value: Website Content

graphic showing all the moving parts of seo services

Launching a new website is exciting… and there are many critical steps to be taken pre-launch to carry over organic rankings from a current website. Because lost organic search rankings and decreased traffic is NOT exciting. This post is the third in a series about preserving SEO value when launching a new website. A website should not only keep its rankings in Google, Bing and other search engines with a new website launch, but it should also incorporate new SEO opportunities – which were either not utilized in a previous website build, or not yet known.

Website content is so much more than just content on a page. Website content, in this context, includes text, images, new pages, H1 tags and webpage titles. All these items working together (along with countless other criteria) help Google rank a website.

A website that’s been around for years has been ranked according to it’s content. And depending on the website, this could either be a great opportunity to implement quality content on each page, tag each image appropriately and properly title the webpages… or a devastating botched SEO effort with lost rankings.

The Data Doesn’t Lie

screenshot of Google Analytics pageview data

Good decisions can only be made by looking at data. If a website has little-to-no content, H1’s have never been optimized and images are not tagged… it’s fairly safe to say there’s a lot of room for improvement in a new website launch. However, if you’ve worked hard over the years to create good quality content packed with keywords, optimized each page with relevant H1 tags and properly tagged each image in an extensive gallery the data can tell us how to move forward with preserving work that’s already been done.

By sifting through analytics for bounce rates, total traffic, organic rankings, keywords and several other items, we can determine if your current strategy is successful or where it can be improved.

Room for Improvement

If there is room for improvement with the designing and launching of a new website, there are a few thing our Omaha web design and web marketing team would recommend implementing prior to launch.

  • Clear, concise, keyword-rich text on all pages
  • Strategically selected keywords and keyword phrases
  • Optimized web page titles and H1 tags
  • Clear calls to action
  • Strategic landing pages for AdWords/social campaigns

To be clear, building a strong presence in the search engines does not happen overnight. Implementing even just a couple of the items above is a step in the right direction and can contribute to a long-term strategy.

Carrying Over Success

If, upon evaluating the data, it seem that your current website is performing well in the search engines then it’s best to keep things as similar as possible on the new website – URLs in particular. If you can keep the URL structure and page names the same, it’s ideal. Any changes should be done strategically and for the greater good of website performance, and not just done for the heck of it. Also, where you have page content that currently performs well you’ll want little, or no, changes. There will be plenty of opportunities to tweak the content post-launch, after it is indexed and ranked. This includes well tagged images.

And as for carrying over webpage titles, H1 tags and META descriptions, your old site may allow you to easily export all the key on-page elements to import into the new website. By keeping these items the same, it offers the same benefit as keeping the web content on the page similar. You can always go back post-launch and make updates as-needed, but avoiding a severe loss in SEO ranking is more important than making any major shifts in webpage titles or H1’s before launching a new website.

 

So the bottom line: when it comes to webpage content, H1 tags, page titles, page names, etc., if your current website is performing well make little-to-no updates until after launch. This is less work on your plate up-front, and will give you a chance to evaluate the performance of your new website’s design and layout before considering how to update the text on each page.

 

 

Tips for Preserving SEO Value: 301 Redirects

Rebuilding and relaunching a website brings much anticipation and excitement. And while significant effort usually goes into designing, layout and population, the critical steps of launch preparation and post-launch support are often overlooked – causing catastrophic results in lost SEO value.

As we began to discuss last week, in preparation for launching a new website our Omaha web design team implements many strategies and methods for retaining a website’s credibility in the search engines. A website should not only keep its rankings in Google, Bing and other search engines with a new website launch, but it should also incorporate new SEO opportunities – which were either not utilized in a previous website build, or not yet known.

rocket launching graphic to symbolize new website launch

Best-Practices

Best-practices are often overlooked, because they can be laborious. It takes preparation, thoughtful execution and continued monitoring to ensure SEO value is retained. Let’s, first, hit one major checklist item in preserving SEO rankings in a new website launch.

arrow representing redirects

301 Redirects

If possible, try to keep the URL structure and page names the same. Less can go wrong this way. When your URL’s change, search engines can still serve the old pages they’ve indexed. When this happens, redirects must be implemented to avoid to serving your users the wrong content and to prevent old URL’s from displaying errors.

The 301 redirect is for both users and search engines and indicates to both browsers and search engine bots that the page has moved. For instance, www.examplesite.com/contact is now www.examplesite.com/contact-us on a new website. These will be considered two separate pages to the search engines until a redirect is in place.

Search engines take a 301 redirect to mean that not only has the page changed location, but that the content can be found at the new URL. It could take some time for the search engines to recognize this URL redirect and credit the new page with the ranking from the old URL.

Prior to launching you will want a spreadsheet of all URLs on the old and new sites, so you can implement and test 301 redirects. When the new site is live, you will want to crawl the old list of URLs to ensure everything 301 redirects correctly. Additionally, keeping the old website as a backup will aid in knowing how to implement unforeseen redirects.

Wait… there’s more

301 redirects are critical for ensuring success in the search engines after a new website launch. But this is just one piece in the larger picture.

A credible Omaha web design company will be able to execute these redirects, but it’s also possible for anyone – if you have the foresight and time.

Follow us in the weeks to come for more new website launch tips for preserving SEO rankings.

 

 

Drive Website Traffic and Revenue with Online Branding Efforts

Because we build websites, we often help build a business’ brand. Whether a website is strictly informational, used as a sales tool, intended to advertise a service or is an ecommerce website – a website is setting the tone in terms of credibility and branding.

Once a website is built it’s time to drive traffic. A website that’s not driving traffic is not driving revenue… and not making you money. Driving traffic online through Google AdWords text and banner ads is critical in such a competitive marketplace and excellent for targeted branding. But, partner this with additional branding efforts on YouTube – and a branding campaign is well underway, driving traffic and money to your website.

youtube logo

YouTube Marketing

We’ve touched on creating a video marketing campaign through YouTube on our blog, but basically YouTube provides an affordable platform with millions of eyeballs on which your business can brand itself. Like a Google AdWords Campaign, a YouTube marketing campaign is highly targeted and easily tracked.

Bumper Ads

And if you REALLY want to hit on branding, you’ll want to consider a bumper ad. A bumper ad is a six-second video meant to hit a targeted audience while watching YouTube videos. The best part? A user can’t skip it. Google looked across 122 bumper campaigns in the US last year and found that 70% drove a significant lift in brand awareness, with an average lift of 9%. On ad recall, over 9 in 10 drove ad recall globally, with an average lift of over 30%.

Branding in 2018 consists of cohesive design, a strong message and traditional avenues – as it has for many, many years. Heck, even our Omaha web design company utilizes traditional forms of advertising on occasion. But branding through online marketing is the branding of the now and future.

Allow our Omaha web design team to build a foundation for your branding efforts with a new website. And then, let our Omaha internet marketing team drive traffic to your website and revenue to your business with Google AdWords AND a professionally managed YouTube campaign – with bumper ads. Call us at 402.292.7500 Option 1 for more info.

5 Ways to Make Your Website a Marketing Tool

Your website has the power to be an effective, affordable and tenacious marketing tool. When a website is designed with the intention of growth, marketing possibilities are abundant. Here are 5 tips from our Omaha web design and internet marketing team to help make your website a powerful marketing tool:

Use the Right Platform

From design flexibility, to ease of development, to website security features, WordPress is our preferred platform. A WordPress content management system allows for website growth in a variety of ways with thousands (yes, thousands) of plugins. If you can think it, there’s probably a plugin for that.

 

screenshot from wordpress admin using all-in-one seo plugin

Optimize

You’ve likely heard the phrase “Content is King” hundreds of times, and it never gets old. A website with engaging content will drive business. Optimize web pages with appropriate H1 tags and page titles to direct hot leads to your website from search engines… and then sell them with engaging content. Did you know websites with active blogs receive 67% more leads  than those who do not?

 

website screenshot highlighting call to action

Clear Call to Action

Users should have a clear call to action on each page. Whether your website is ecommerce or informational, you can strategically lead people to action. Contact forms, click to call, live chats, express checkouts – just a small list of ways your strategically designed website can drive business.

 

screenshot of mobile traffic tracking on analytics

Connect with Users on Any Device

Analytics will tell you how users are viewing your website – desktop, tablet and mobile. In our experience, every year mobile users increase across the board. Considering the mobile layout of your website can make or break conversions. And continuing to use analytics to analyze user activity on all devices will help make user experience better and, in turn, drive business.

 

informational graphic about internet marketing

Visual Appeal

There are SO many options for building a website. From free drag and drop website builders to custom website designers, your price and quality vary. A website is an investment. Putting a bit of money into a website intended to grow and market your business will pay off 100-fold. An intentional design with visual appeal builds credibility and drives business.

 

A website is worth nothing unless it’s driving business. Competing in an online marketplace takes a multi-faceted strategy, with a quality website at the foundation. Never before has marketing been so affordable and attainable. The tools are HERE for you to take advantage of. Don’t let business slip through your fingers!

 

 

Your Website Content Matters

Many businesses seek a new, updated website to build credibility. And really – isn’t that what we all want for our businesses? Professional branding backed by the expertise and knowledge of trusted staff.

A sleek, professional website can go a long way in building credibility. But it’s the content that matters. Website content matters to Google and it matters to potential customers.icon with hands and keyboard

You’ve likely heard it before…. “Content is King.” And your website is no expectation to this often-understated mantra. So, if you REALLY look at your website content, does it do the following?

  • Clearly and concisely inform users of your product or service?
  • Carefully and thoughtfully utilize keywords for increased organic SEO rankings?
  • Portray the expertise and professionalism of your staff?

And while website design preferences have changed and search engine algorithms have adjusted over the years, good content has remained a constant for a successful website. Website content creates a connection with customers and prospects. Good design partnered with good content builds credibility with customers – letting them know you are the expert, your staff is capable and your products/services are the best around.

Good website content also increases conversions, because valuable information will help consumers to gain a complete understanding of what you do, the services you offer and how you can help them. As a result, your website will generate high quality leads from consumers who are truly interested in utilizing your products or services. And, most importantly, high quality website content that is optimized for the search engines will result in improved rankings (SEO) – bringing these high-quality leads through your virtual door.

Do you want improved performance for your website? Improve your content! Content is king. It matters to Google, and it matters to your customers. So, get writing, or ask us to help!

Google Chrome and Firefox Web Browsers Change Website Security Requirements

http browser security message

Google Chrome and Firefox have rolled out changes that affect all websites not using a secure connection (HTTP). As part of a gradual change, when users pull up an HTTP page with a form including passwords or credit card fields, they will get a warning indicating an unsecure connection.

HTTPS is shifting to the new standard. As security risks become increasingly prevalent, users will be warned if any form transaction is insecure. And, moving forward, all websites will be flagged as unsecure if not HTTPS, no matter a website’s features.

Our Omaha web design and web hosting team can assist in securing your website and ensuring an HTTPS connection and compliance to these new security standards. For $180/year our web hosting support team will purchase an SSL certificate and install it on your website, ensuring all visits and features of your website are secure. Call us at 402.292.7500 ext. 102 for more information.

JM Listed Among Best Web Developers in Omaha

Best of Omaha 2017 Web Developer OmahaOmaha has graciously voted JM one of the best web developers in the area, and we are so grateful! B2B Omaha magazine’s coveted Best of B2B Winners list for 2017 was released at the beginning of March, listing JM as second place for Omaha’s web developer category.

The is truly an honor, as Omaha’s business owners must take time to fill out and send in a ballot. Celebrating over 10 years, this Best of B2B list help build credibility and prestige among Omaha’s business community.

Our Omaha web design, internet marketing and development team is constantly striving to serve and advise our customers with honesty and integrity, and we’re thankful to be recognized in this way.

Website Holiday Tip, Optimize Ecommerce Settings for Holiday Shoppers

ecommerce-settings

Paying attention to even the smallest details on your ecommerce website will drive traffic, increase sales, and keep your customers happy this holiday season. The care that goes into each aspect of your store, marketing and support are important in gaining and closing website sales. So, before the holiday rush arrives, let’s make sure your website settings are set up for success.

Don’t be caught off-guard when your stock levels are low. You can set low and out-of-stock thresholds, and set up notifications if inventory is running low. During the busy shopping season, and depending on how quickly your products sell, you may want to increase the low stock threshold. Consider increasing to give shoppers an earlier warning that inventory is getting low.

Checkout settings should allow for efficiency and ease for customers. If possible, ensure guest checkout is available for users who do not want to create an account. Also, review the checkout settings for coupons. If you’re going to be offering coupon codes this year, you’ll want to make sure that setting is checked – or you may have some unhappy customers.

Make sure customer email notifications are in place. WooCommerce offers many email notifications that go directly to the customer – including on-hold orders, completed orders, refunded orders and customer notes. These emails can also be customized to fit branding. Keeping customers informed about your progress will create long-term, happy customers.

Implement store notices for effective communication. These notices can include holiday shipping cutoffs; sales, discounts, or other special offers; deadlines for redeeming coupons; or unexpected delays and issues. There are also cart notice extensions that allow in-cart messages for shoppers.

Call us at 402.292.7500 ext 102 for assistance in optimizing your ecommerce settings for the holiday season.

Integrating LiveChat for Increased Efficiency and Sales

Live chat has been around for years, but it’s something Omaha business owners rarely consider implementing into their website. Why? It’s likely they think there’s a high cost associated with set up, and/or they think it’ll take too many resources to manage. And while this may have been the case many years ago, website live chat is easier than ever to add to your website.

Our Omaha web design firm has used LiveChat for years and it’s proven to increase efficiency and assist in making an initial quick connection with sale prospects. The nature of our business requires us to be in front of and away from our computers – so while we’re gone LiveChat delivers a message directly to our email when users leave a message. (You’d be surprised how many users would rather leave a quick message on LiveChat rather than fill out a contact form).

JM was recently added to LiveChat’s list of industry experts. LiveChat is customizable, provides reports and analytics, integrates easily with WordPress and is secure. We believe this can help increase our customer’s prospects, revenue and efficiency – as we’ve seen it work for us – and for only $299 we are offering LiveChat integration on your website. All you need to do is signup for LiveChat, provide JM with the login details, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Interested in setting up LiveChat on your website? Call 402.292.7500 ext 102.