A question we have had a lot of late is whether or not there are benefits to having an SSL Certificate for your website. To push that even further, there are questions about if having an SSL is a requirement for all websites. Let us break this down for you and give you our advice.
First, let us explain what an SSL is and what it does for your website.
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. That alone means very little to anyone. It’s what the SSL certificate does that is important. A SSL certificate is a tiny data file. It’s job is to digitally bind a cryptographic key to a website. It is installed on your server and when it is installed you will see a little padlock icon in your browser by the website url. You will also notice that the prefix to the url changes from http:// to https:// to indicate that a certificate is in use.
It ensure people that their connection to your website is secure, or safe. The cryptographic key is used to encrypt all transmitted data from the website. It also authenticates the identity of the website it is installed on. It is sometimes called a digital certificate. So, in simple terms, it makes things safe and gives people a warm fuzzy feeling when they come to your website.
A SSL certificate sounds pretty great right? What would be the downside? It does cost a bit extra to have one installed and has to be renewed annually.
But aside from that warm, fuzzy feeling, WHY do you need one?
REASON NUMBER ONE: Search engines like Google may rank your website better if you have one installed. Back in 2014, Google indicated them as a ranking factor for SEO. This is one VERY good reason to have one installed. Read more about this revelation by clicking HERE.
REASON NUMBER TWO: There are indications that browsers will show sites as not being secure, and some browsers have already started to point it out to users visiting sites not secured with an SSL. User trust is going to become more and more important as more and more sites install SSL certificates. You don’t want to be left in the dust.
REASON NUMBER THREE: SECURITY. Simply said, we live in a time were digital security is an issue. You can help protect visitors to your website by having an SSL certificate installed.
We can install and maintain your website’s SSL Certificates. We make it easy by keeping track of when it is set to expire and we will make sure it gets reinstalled annually. So maybe it is time to jump on the security bandwagon. SSL certificates go beyond banks and online stores in today’s online world. Let us help you get secure and stay that way.
I only wish it were that easy. It’s a question we get quite frequently from clients when they complete their website or after they redesign their website and are looking to expand their online presence. I get a lot of comments and questions like these:
“I want to rank number one in Google.”
“I want everyone to know my brand.”
“My website is online now, why can’t people find me?”
There is no simple hook or answer to these comments / questions. It takes research and time to find the best process for each individual client to determine the best digital marketing strategy for their business. So where do you begin?
To start, ask two simple questions.
If you don’t know the answers to the questions above, you don’t know if the investment you make in your website is worth it. The biggest goal that most businesses have for their website is get get leads from their website, real business. The biggest problem is most people don’t know if that is happening. By working with a smart digital marketing company, they can use tools such as call tracking and Google Analytics goals to determine if people are reaching out to you via your website and how. This can help you make a more educated decision on what types of marketing work for you.
Once you are setup to measure return on investment, it is important to consider what methods of digital marketing would work for you. So what are the most common methods? There is no magic hook to get you positioned for greatness on day one of digital marketing. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Understanding the tools in the digital marketing toolbox are key. Click on each item below to learn more!
Search Engine Optimization or SEO: SEO is a long term strategy to consistently improve your website so it ranks better for keyword searches relevant to your business on search engines. Your digital marketing team will need to develop keywords using keyword research for words and phrases that will bring search volume to you. This is something that always should be evaluated and re-evaluated. The site should then be optimized for those keywords. There are numerous onsite and offsite tasks that need to be constantly worked on to position you for the ever changing landscape on search engines. SEO takes time and research but will lower your cost per lead over time.
Pay Per Click (a.k.a. Adwords, Paid Advertising, SEM): This form of digital marketing works well for businesses with large budgets, or businesses just starting out online where SEO is not bringing them a ton of search volume yet. Ads are positioned high in search engine results to provide you viability, but you need to keep in mind you are bidding against your competitors for the top spots for keyword searches.
Online Reputation Management: People right reviews, and give their opinion about your business whether you know it or not. Knowledge is power when it comes to your online presence. By knowing what reviews exist online, you can respond to them and look for ways to get positive information about your business online. Reviews can actually play into your search engine rankings, especially local results. It’s important to know where you stand.
Social Media: Such a powerful and inexpensive tool. Using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social platforms you can reach out to people and direct them to your website. Using social media marketing in the form of ads and boosted posts, you can reach out to people in almost any area or demographic that might not otherwise know you are there.
Email Marketing: Staying in front of your existing client base is an excellent way to retain them and build awareness as to what’s going on with your business. It’s a great way to offer specials, get feedback, promote new services or products, and more.
This can be the tricky part. On your own, you might not know where to begin. By using a digital partner like Websites to Impress, you can make a marketing plan. We have tools to compare you to where your competitors are on the digital landscape, and we can build a custom digital marketing plan to put you a step ahead. Our digital marketing plans are built in a way that we can use ALL of the tools above based on your current needs, as well as the results. We can look at how your digital marketing is working and do more of what is working and less of what isn’t.
So, while there is no easy answer to what digital marketing works best for everyone, we do have the ability to figure out what will work FOR YOU and YOUR BUSINESS. For a free estimate as well as an analysis of your current web presence, contact Cindy or Tammy at Websites to Impress. Let us come up with a custom digital marketing plan built for you.
While most business owners know that it is important to freshen up your website design every few years, we are finding that this year is a big year to make a change. The reasons are actually quite a few reasons to update your website in 2017, and they don’t all have to do with design per say. Quite a few of the reasons have to do with your visitors and your search engine rankings. Who would have thought!? Let’s break it down.
As we mentioned in a blog in February, the user is now the biggest “ranking factor” for a website. So what does that mean exactly? It means that many of the ranking factors that Google considers important bank on how a user behaves when they visit a website.
By making your website easy to maneuver and understand, and by adding elements that engage your users, you can actually be more appealing to search engines as well when it comes to both organic and paid search. Landing page experience has been a factor for Adwords and has more recently been considered for organic results as well.
FACT: What is Landing Page Experience? Read Google’s Definition
As Google Partners, one of the biggest things we have learned about SEO is that ranking well for keywords means nothing if it doesn’t contribute to your bottom line. Using your WEBSITE DESIGN to improve user experience (also referred to as UX) can actually keep people on your website, and by designing in a way that is always keeping your users in mind, you can lead them exactly where you need to. You can get them to convert into a call, email, or chat session which in turn betters your bottom line. So that is where current design trends come in.
So, we asked our design team what the current trends are. Oddly enough they fit exactly what we would expect from our comments above on user experience. Here is what we learned.
Arturo is right! By creating a site that isn’t cluttered, has more concise content (still keyword rich when appropriate!), and visual we are finding that users are staying on the site longer, thus stats in Google Analytics for time spent on pages, pages visited per session, and bounce rate are showing better performance.
Cynthia is ALSO right! By using tools such as engaging 360 videos or drone videos when users initially come to your site, you immediate engage them in something visual, while providing them information about your product or services. While you still want content on your website (content will NEVER stop being a ranking factor!) web designers and SEOs are recognizing that when you optimize for the user vs. the search engine, site performance for both organic and paid search results seems to follow suit.
Look at your site as if you were a visitor. If you aren’t impressed by your site compared to other sites you have seen, it’s likely you are loosing potential customers for the same reason. Why not get a FREE ESTIMATE on an updated site? At the same time we can evaluate your site, make sure it is responsive, and recommend digital marketing strategy specifically for your business. We can make sure you love your website, but will also guide you to make sure you are following the trends that will keep people on your site and adding to your bottom line.
We are so proud of our company, but is really is special when others find your company to be interesting and special as well. Yesterday our segment aired on the 5pm newscast for KWQC for their segment “Made in the QCA”. Every person in the office ran out of here as fast as we could to get home and watch the segment last night. We all thought it was excellent. Considering when you have a camera on you, it feels like you sound and look like a deer in the headlights, David Nelson and the photographers and editors made it look great! Thank you so much to the whole team at KWQC for taking the time to create the segment for your show. We are truly grateful.
What our president and owner Kim Gehling said is true. While we didn’t plan to be a company run by women it definitely is something that we are proud of. Each of the women in our management team are strong leaders, but it is also our team of employees that made this such a special place to work. One of the best things about Websites to Impress is that it is a place where your job NEVER gets boring. Web design always changes, search engine optimization always changes, and Adwords is always changing as well. Everything we do is always in flux. We are able to educate ourselves each day on new tactics, methods, and ideas to keep our work current. It is always a challenge and always interesting. We are also lucky enough to have a team that works so well together. Our youngest team member is a junior in high school and our oldest is in their 60s. To say we have a diverse group is definitely an understatement!
The city of Geneseo and the Quad Cities area is a wonderful place to call home! To all the local businesses we have worked with in the area – THANK YOU! While we work with companies all over the country, the local communities are what gave us our start, and we are happy to call the QCA home. Thanks again to KWQC-TV for featuring our business on “Made in the QCA“. Enjoy the segment below!
In days of old (you know, like, 5 years ago, that’s days of old right?) the major concern that SEOs focused on was content. When creating a website and optimizing it for search engine optimization the first priority was creating a ton of keyword rich content for search engines to read through and hopefully find the website a credible source. Today, things have changed in a big way. Don’t think that content has been forgotten, it hasn’t. But it isn’t the only key to success with SEO. There is much more to the picture in 2017.
It seems that the things that really do show that someone trusts a website are now true ranking factors for search rankings. As search engines are constantly striving to provide the best search results, it seems they have stumbled over a reliable formula: Content + User Experience + Usability. The user is now, more than ever, helping determine what results other users see in their search results. So when you are building your website, what should you pay attention to so that the user behavior reflects what the search engines expect?
Google and other search engines are depending on site interaction factors to determine what is going on with site pages themselves. Since a search engine can’t watch a video or understand content completely, it’s using behavior triggers (that you can gain insights to in Google Analytics!) to help determine rank. By observing factors like bounce rate (when users click on a result and then immediately hit the back arrow bouncing away from your site) or time spent on a page, a search engine can better determine the quality of the page to the user.
Google released the Panda update to the search ranking algorithm in 2011. It has been updated many times since, always changing and bettering the way it can judge content quality. Since then they have added machine learning (scary!) that can “think” like humans can to predict what humans would judge as low quality content.
The moral of the story is to create and optimize a website that is easy to user with quality content. Don’t forget mobile when creating your site. Make sure your site is responsive, and looks great on tablets and phones. Consider that people will be reading content on their phones more and more frequently, so don’t keep them scrolling through content forever. Keep it interesting, interactive, and clean.
Websites to Impress, Inc is excited about where SEO is going. When we build a website we build it with all of the factors above in mind. If you start with great design and clean code, you can start your digital marketing off on the right foot. With a full service digital marketing company like WTI, you can take right off with SEO, social media marketing, pay per click, and more to expand on your website. We also user all the tools available, including Google Analytics, to monitor the behavior of users on your site. So let’s get started today. From design to digital marketing we have content, plus user experience, plus usability in mind!
Sometimes small business owners are doing everything they can just to have a web presence. They figure that if they can just get a website out there, that should be enough. Then they hear about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and figure they will never be found in a world full of businesses that are already doing SEO and trying to target the same keywords they would.
What small business owners don’t always know is that there is a great thing called local SEO. When someone searches in a local area local businesses should be returned in the results. Google will even display a map with listings in some cases pointing potential customers right too you. What great news, right?
To get shown in the local results the way you would like, you need to be consistent. All of your listings that are found online should be claimed and the NAP+W information (or Name, Address, Phone and Website Information) needs to exactly match your website. You need to be setup with Google tools and have Google My Business setup and verified on Google. Social media profiles are always a huge plus, especially when they list your NAP+W information as well. Not to mention social media profiles show up in search results too! Not sure if you have noticed but YouTube and even Pinterest results show up many times on page one in a search.
Websites to Impress, Inc incorporates local SEO into our SEO plans. It can bring huge results for local businesses that offer products and services to a local service area. We have an SEO plan that is surely right for you. If you visit our SEO page on our website, we provide a free SEO audit of your business and your website to let you know what we recommend. Our SEO packages differ from other digital marketing companies because we don’t force you to sign a contract. We believe in our SEO skills so much, that be believe you will want to stay with us once you start, because we can show you results and return on investment – AKA – LEADS!
Call today to get your free SEO Audit. See if local SEO is right for your business. Don’t let SEO intimidate you. Get a team behind you that can show it who is boss – YOU!
Read More: Why Local SEO is More Important than Ever
It’s that time of year and as a business owner with a website you want to make the best of all the traffic coming to your website. Here are a few small tricks that you can do to help convert those people visiting to sales.
By offering a percentage off a purchase or free shipping you can easily make up someone’s mind about a sale. You can even have a pop-up offer right when people come to your site.
Make sure your offer or free shipping graphic is front and center and make sure it is on each page so that where ever people enter the site they will see your promotion.
This is a great way to gain subscribers to your emails. You can offer an email specific promotion if people subscribe.
If someone has been to your site before, a remarketing campaign can help bring them back by showing your ad on other sites they visit. It’s a great way to make your brand visible during the holidays to previous visitors.
Add banners, blogs, graphics to your site that are stylish but definitely say the holidays. It’s a great way to get people in the mood to shop! Don’t forget to update your social media with banners and graphics with the same theme and look for branding purposes.
If your website has a fun look and feel, people will feel good when they visit.
Happy Holidays from Websites to Impress, Inc!
The ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act, and there is a section of this act that deals with websites for publicly funded schools. Whether your school or school district has an old website or a freshly designed one, chances are you aren’t aware of standards that are supposed to be met by all school websites in the country. Having a fresh design may help with some of those standards but it’s likely that you have certain compliance items that you didn’t even know about. We can help. Here’s a short to do list of items you should definitely address regarding the ADA Section 508 and other standards.
Based on the Section 508, publicly funded school websites need to be easily accessible to people with disabilities. The laws for 508 can be found HERE. W3C or the World Wide Web Consortium has a great article to help you understand what this means. From this article you will see that the idea is to provide insight to people on the things that people run into on the web that give them problems and helps provide solutions for them at the same time. Do you know if your school or school district website is doing this? We can help you find out!
Each state’s laws regarding bullying are different. You can CLICK HERE to find out what the laws are in your state. You can add your policy to the header or footer of your website to it is easily accessible to everyone, on every page.
Just like the Anti-Bullying documentation, Non-Discrimination Policies vary as well. School websites should display their policy on their website and again, it is wise to put it in the header or footer so that it can be found easily on each page of the website.
Again, each state has a different definition of what a homeless student is. We work very frequently with Illinois and Iowa schools on their websites. Here are links to the laws for Illinois and Iowa:
This should also be displayed so that it can be easy to find on the school website.
A language translation option on your website is highly recommended. This should be placed somewhere on your website that people can see when they first come to your website and be on every page. We recommend placing this in the header of the website. When you add a translate feature to your school website it shows that you are inclusive of all of your users by making your website easy to understand by everyone.
For many, the school or school district website for their child is a first impression of that school or school district. It is also the first impression for people thinking of moving to a community if they have a student. You need it to follow laws such as the ADA Section 508, but you also want to make sure it is easy to use for all, easy to understand by all, and inclusive to everyone. While not required a great design and ease of use is much appreciated by visitors, and surely staff as well!
Websites to Impress can help you maneuver through these laws and help you make sure that your school website is meeting any laws that are required.
To learn more, call 309-489-0026.
By: Cindy Whiteman
As the SEO Manager at Websites to Impress, more and more frequently I have been having an email like this sent to me by my clients:
My name is “BEST SEO GUY EVER”, SEO expert of a Leading SEO service provider company. As per my analysis, your website is not performing well in the Google organic search as well as your traffic / visitor is poor from the last couple of months due to some of the reasons.
Some of the aspects are given below:
Areas of Improvement:
We will be optimizing your website in the major search engines like: Google, Yahoo & Bing, which results in improvements in keyword ranking, traffic, link popularity, goal conversion, and ROI from the first month.
“BEST SEO GUY EVER”
I’m here to tell you that this is a LOT of promises and information with nothing to back it up. Let me explain.
First off, NO ONE can promise first page of Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Algorithms for search engines change constantly and there is no guarantee you will be on the the first page, especially when they don’t even mention for what keyword. So how to do you handle an email like the one above?
First off, ask questions – What errors are occurring for my site? What keywords are they saying you should target and be on the first page for? How are they seeing a decline in traffic when the only way to tell that is through Bing Webmaster Tools or Google Analytics which they have no access to? What is the name of their company even? What tools do you use to improve brand awareness?
Secondly, take all of this with a grain of salt. These types of emails are mass emails they send out trying to get clients in the door. The proof is in data that they aren’t providing you in that email. Websites to Impress has a keyword ranking report based on the keywords we have determined as important for your business to show where you are ranking in the top three search engines for each month. We can track both forms that are filled out on your website and calls that come to your website through search engines so we can literally provide you with a cost per lead for your SEO dollars. You can even see a breakdown of what search engines are sending your callers, on what day of the weekend and what time of day. You can get an idea of what your cost per lead should be by industry to see where you fall. I can tell you that for our SEO clients you can’t beat the return on investment because the cost per lead is always lower than the industry standard, especially if you stick with SEO over time.
The fact of the matter is that with SEO, nothing is certain. But what we DO know is that by constantly researching the latest SEO methods and by monitoring algorithm changes we can make a difference for your website and your bottom line with search engine optimization. So ask questions, even of us. What keywords would we target? What are the current SEO methods? Do you use Google Analytics and Search Console? (called “Webmaster Tools” in the old days and oddly still mentioned in the email above! Oh, and by the way we are Google Analytics and Adwords CERTIFIED!)
Lastly, make sure that your SEO Team can provide return on investment in the form of solid numbers of leads. That means tracking form fills, calls, and other events to SHOW you return on the investment. Believe me, we are passionate about SEO here at Websites to Impress. We want to show you how it works! Call us today with your questions. We are ready for you!
It is a fact in the modern world that websites and servers are under constant attack from outside sources. According to Sophos Labs, an average of 30,000 new websites are identified every day as being hacked. Sometimes these attacks are for financial reasons. The hackers may be trying to gain identity or other information to sell or to gain access to bank or other financial accounts. In other cases, hackers want to harm the target by causing a DoS, or Denial of Service. This occurs when a system is infected with a Trojan horse virus, causing the system or machine to be unavailable to its intended users. Lastly, many times, hackers just like to attack a site to show off to others. There are sites out there where they post screenshots of their “trophies” to their peers. To these types of hackers, it’s just a game to see if they can outwit the security systems that are in place. No one is immune to these kinds of invasions. Google, Amazon, NASA and the Federal government have all been hacked at one time or another, sometimes repeatedly. It doesn’t matter what size company you are or what industry you are in, you will probably be a victim of a hacker at some point.
It is tempting to use one of the many do-it-yourself website programs that are on the market, such as Wix or Website Tonight by GoDaddy. It can be a cheap and easy way to get a website out there, but you don’t have the protection and expertise of a team of professionals behind you. A good website host can fend off many attacks and even though they can’t stop 100% of them, they can minimize the damage caused by the ones that do get through. In addition, if your site is hacked, an experienced team of web designers and programmers is going to know how to quickly repair the site and bring it back to the way it was before the damage was caused. If you built your site yourself, you may have to completely start from scratch, wasting valuable time and money.
Protecting yourself from hacking isn’t the only reason you should hire professionals to build and host your website. Many people think that building a website is mainly just choosing colors and a logo and plugging it into a template. There is much more that goes into it. The process can take one to two months to complete and make sure everything is working correctly. This isn’t a weekend project, if you want it done correctly.
The purpose of your website is to generate leads, so you need a website that will not only be found in search engines but will keep the visitor from bouncing once they land on your page. You need to generate sales or revenue with your site or you are just throwing money away. A company that specializes in websites, like Websites to Impress, has designers, programmers SEO specialists and other experts that make your site stand out and bring people in and then keep them there once they click on your site.
Our project managers will work with you to develop a site that not only matches your company but works within the “rules” of the search engine world. Things that sound good on paper don’t always work well when trying to attract customers. Our project manager will work with you throughout the process, keeping you updated and informed, so there are no surprises at the end. Our talented programmers, designers, and writers will make your website stand out and once it’s live, our marketing and SEO people will make sure you are doing your best in search engines like Bing and Google. Your new website will stand out in Google and Bing searches and bring customers to your site. They’ll look around your website and then hopefully contact you or purchase your goods or services. We’ll give you the tools to bring the customers in!
Give Websites to Impress a call and you’ll quickly see how cost-effective having a professional team of experts build and host your website can be. You’ll rest easy knowing your website is working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ready when your customers are looking for answers. You’ll be able to do what you do what you do well which is concentrate on your day-to-day business, while we take care of your website.