Help! I Bought the Wrong Web Site!

In recent months, we’ve run into multiple clients who bought poor web sites. Most weren’t very web site savvy (and, really, how many people are?) were approached by a “specialist” who focuses on their industry. These firms promise expertise in and prices that seem too good to be true. Unfortunately, in most cases many of these folks are delivering inferior web sites that are slow to load, questionably responsive, hard to update, or more. Many promise that they’re using WordPress as a development platform, but that’s a nearly meaningless distinction. Even a WordPress web site can be a poor site. One recent site we saw used a multitude of widgets to deliver the home page and had over two dozen plug-ins installed. The site loaded VERY slowly, frustrated users, and made changes and updates nearly impossible.

Fortunately, we’ve got a relatively affordable solution. We’re currently porting two WordPress sites into full responsive, user-friendly, search optimized use of a widely accepted WordPress theme. One site went very smoothly – it would appear that the developer was competent enough, but preferred to do things on a proprietary platform. The second was a complete mess. It had a home page built up of widgets, so Google couldn’t index anything, and had dozens of unnecessary plug-ins installed. It was clearly poorly constructed.
But, the bottom line is that we were able to get both clients into great new web sites that were:

  1.  Fully mobile responsive;
  2. Search engine friendly; and
  3. Easy to update and maintain.

This experience got me thinking, “What questions SHOULD you ask when considering a WordPress web developer?”. Here are our key questions you should ask a potential web developer:

  1. What theme are you using? If the answer is “custom” or anything other than something specific you can go look up on www.themeforest.net, walk away. With WordPress, there’s no reason for custom or proprietary code.
  2. Who owns what? Often developers will either use their development licenses for themes, plug-ins and widgets. If you leave that developer, then you’ll have to buy them again. Some developers even retain ownership of code they developed for you. If you won’t own all of your assets outright, this isn’t the partner for you.
  3. Can I see some of your sites? Then find a web-savvy friend and have them take a look. A lot of sites pass the Google Mobile-Friendly test, but don’t truly behave well on a smartphone or tablet. This should be your first test.
  4. Can you show me the user interface for updates? True WordPress is super-easy and intuitive. If they show you something that doesn’t look a lot like the image below, there may be an issue.web site
  5. Will you install and ensure Google Analytics? We’re shocked by the number of web developers who don’t do this. For most clients, it’s not obvious and they don’t find out that they have no usage data until 6 months or a year has passed.
  1. Can I talk to some customers? Then, make those calls. Ask about ease of updating. About the development process. If they’d use the developer again.

Bought the wrong web site and need a fix? Talk to us. Looking for a web developer who will deliver a top-notch site? Talk to us.

Sean

Failed Signage? Got SEO?

Have you ever heard the Bill Engvall comedy routine “Here’s your sign“? What do you think of this sign for SEO services? I discovered it during my morning commute recently.

I’m all for using various forms of marketing to get the point across, however I am not sure a sign advertising SEO services is the best delivery method. Perhaps website optimization would be better.

SEO services sign

Is a sign advertising SEO Services the best way to advertise?

What do you think about the “Got SEO” sign I found?

Image Sizes for Social Media Branding [Infographic]

A week ago when I logged in to a clients YouTube channel to upload some video, I noticed a prompt that made me grown. I was notified that the channel layout was about to change. Again.

youtube changes

“Upgrades” or changes often mean the creative needs to be edited when branding a social media site like YouTube.

What does this mean to me? It means that I will be busy for the next little while adding new creative to each client channel PWB manages. In this case it was alright though, since the client’s (Uniloy) YouTube channel needed new artwork anyway. What I discovered though is that as part of the process, you are “encouraged” to edit your Google+ page.For my personal reference, that is why I had one of our art directors create a new Social Media branding Infographic.

The changes to cover art sizing are frequent enough, and none of the channels – Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Google+, YouTube – have the same size images. Heck, they don’t even have image sizes that can be easily scaled when branding your social media pages!

So please feel free to use this infographic for your reference when adding branding to any of the popular social media sites! The infographic will help you create the correct size images for your LinkedIn or Facebook cover photos, Google+ channel art or Twitter and YouTube header!

social media branding infographic

When editing social media sites, it is important to remember what size images are for creative branding! Use this infographic as a reference to understand what size images you will need for your LinkedIn or Facebook cover photo, Google+ channel art or YouTube and Twitter header image.

One word of caution. Although my art director created the exact size image for Google+, we needed to trick the system by adding a couple of pixels to the height and width. Otherwise the image would not load to the site!

What Can a Business Review Do For You?

business reviews

Get leverage from your clients by soliciting for positive business reviews!

I’ve been working with several clients on their search and social media strategies. Of course one strategy does not fit every client, however I often recommend that clients make sure they have a couple of business reviews posted across the web – On Google Maps, Yelp and of course on social media sites of their choosing. It’s not as challenging as getting client testimonials, however it can help validate their products and services. There is one caveat though, I want clients to make sure that they get business reviews on the websites their clients are likely to frequent.

Not long ago I posted a review to Google Maps. While I generally liked the local physician, I was dissatisfied at how they handled a recent interaction. Guess what? The business read my comments, and responded with a hand-written note. Later when they found a small balance that I should have paid, they waived the fee. Want to know what I did? I went in and edited my review to tell others what the business had done!

I know several friends that live and die by business reviews of local bars and restaurants. They won’t go to an establishment with un-favorable reviews!

Have you ever searched to see what others are saying about you?

There may be industry specific sites applicable to your business so be sure to consider those, however you should also be aware of where your clients are looking for you. Check out your referring sites through your analytics. Generally speaking though, here are a few places you might consider soliciting business reviews from clients:

AngiesList.com
BBB.org
Bing
City Search
Epinions.com
Google Maps
InsiderPages.com
Local.com
TripAdvisor.com
Yahoo Local
Yelp.com

Do you check on your business reviews? Do you have any posted? Are they favorable or non-existent? Ask for opinions and monitor them – It’s a great way to attract new clients!

Focus

I participated in a panel presentation last night at Ann Arbor SPARK – the Marketing Roundtable, highly recommended – on developing a marketing communications plan. There was some discussion on the elements of a plan, but the real issue focused on having a plan that was aligned to your business objectives.

Years ago I worked with a career sales guy who taught me, “Plan your work, and then work your plan”. Perhaps some of the greatest advice I’ve ever received and one I see more companies fall down on in these trying economic times. Without a plan, you’ll never know what success looks like, or have the knowledge to adjust for changing environmental variables –  and in most cases you’ll squander money like a drunken sailor.

One key is clear objectives with metrics tied to them. At PWB we decided we needed to increase our web traffic to get more folks to sign up for our e-newsletter series. So Keith and I spent some time with the search marketing folks at Pure Visibility. Learned a lot –  key was that search success is all about focus and targeting. Pick the terrain you want to own, then work at taking it. We picked a key phrase we wanted to own, tuned up our site content, navigation, and structure to support that term. The results? We moved from being buried in Google to PAGE ONE. In about a week. All with organic search optimization. The benefit of focus. The ironic part is that most of the changes we made were things we already knew about. We just hadn’t taken the time and discipline to think them through for ourselves in a focused way.

My advice? Don’t panic. Think. Then do.

Content is King

Redone your website lately? Did you get held up when it was time to build out as all that content you thought you had wasn’t really there? Or it wasn’t in a form that was appropriate for the web?

We’re routinely finding that clients underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes to generate good quality copy that’s useful for branding online marketing. And most clients I talk to about this are quick to agree that it’s a problem in their organization.

We’re currently running a program on mechatronics (the integration of electrical, mechanical, and software design in a single device like a cell phone or a car) with a major industry publication’s website. Over the course of the year, we quickly discovered that having fresh content fuels tremendous increases in traffic and click-thru’s. And, that consistently getting this content is harder than anyone thought it would be.

There’s no magic bullet for solving this problem, but we find that the organizations who take the difficulty of generating good, web-friendly content seriously have fewer problems. We suggest designating an “owner” who’s responsible for ensuring that content is gathered and is consistent with company branding. Of course, if you need help with generating content, we can help you. But to simply figure, “Ah, I’ve got it in my brochures‚” is probably not going to result in the best outcome.