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We know that sometimes dishing up thousands for a new website is not an option, especially when you are starting your business. You want your business to be found and you want it to be custom made to promote your business. What you don’t want is to pay for a website that will put you out of business. You want your website to generate business and help you grow without nickel and diming you around every corner.
Be a HERO and not a slider
We have never been fans of sliders as we found them distracting, not helping with your call to action or sales funnel. We won’t deny that having a slider can “look cool” but a website is more than just looking cool. You want to bring people into your sales funnel and buy from you. I will take a sale any day of the week over being the cool kid on the block. There’s more though than just your sales funnel to think about when it comes to a slider on your homepage (or any page for that matter). Let’s look at some of the drawbacks of sliders as well as how you can still have that cool kid wow factor and get rid of those drawbacks.
What is a domain registrar?
A domain registrar is whom you purchase your Internet domain name from. For example, jm2marketing.com purchased their domain name from a company called GoDaddy. They are not the only game in town. There are names like Network Solutions, 1&1 Internet, and Namecheap is just a few of the main players in the United States.
The power of two marketing channels
We are JM2 (JM Squared) Webdesigners & Marketing from Valparaiso Indiana but that is not what we are talking about today. We are going to talk about the power of two great digital marketing products that separate are good but together can be great. We hear many social media marketers say you need social media and a website is a waste of your dollars and marketing time. We hear the opposite from those that do websites but not social media in that you only need a website and social media is a waste. Both thought processes are the furthest from the truth. Quality marketing requires you to use both and use both effectively! They should work together, complement each other, and help drive traffic to each other. Why you need both we will describe in this article and this will certainly not be a complete list, but it surely will show you why you need both.
Twelve elements to have an effective website
Having a website that is effective is a requirement of any business that wants to grow. If you are from a small city like Valparaiso Indiana or a large city like Chicago Illinois you need a website (and social media) that work together to tell your story. But why is it important for both small and big cities alike? We all can understand the big city as there is a lot of competition, big budgets, and a desire to grow to be bigger. Well, big city folk, the small city and small towns want the exact same thing and often have as many competitors and many times even more demanding customers. In big cities, you have companies that often have large marketing budgets and in small cities and towns you have a lot of startups that want to grow and become bigger than they are today. Big and small cities want to grow, make money, and contribute to their local economy. But what is needed for a website to truly achieve these results? This is something we are continually asked and we are going to cover twelve items that are required to have an effective website.
SEO: 5 Keys to Writing Quality Content
The quality of your website content is essential not only for search engine rankings but for business credibility as well. Your content should include the keywords and phrases that you want to rank higher for, but it should also make sense and not be repetitive to your readers. Writing good content that also helps your SEO can be tricky, which is why we've compiled a list of easy ways to help improve your content.
SEO: How Crucial is Mobile Optimization?
In 2016, mobile overtook desktop as the primary device used to access websites. People use all sorts of devices today to browse the internet, including cell phones, tablets, laptops, and even smart watches. 'Responsive design' is the term used to describe how a website responds to the screen size, orientation, and resolution of each platform. Even though responsive design has been around for a while now, the majority of sites still fail to meet usability standards. Most websites are built for desktop and then dialed down for mobile. Having a mobile optimized website will not only make your website more user-friendly and universal, it will help your search engine optimization and get you ranked higher in search results.
SEO: How to Optimize Your Web Pages
Web page optimization is the first step to increasing your website's search engine optimization (SEO). Optimizing your web pages means designing them to get the best use out of them. Whether it's search engine optimization, which increases your website's ranking on search engines, or performance optimization, which ensures that your website runs quickly and smoothly, it is extremely beneficial for you and your visitors to have your web pages be the best they can be.
Back to the basics of SEO
What exactly is SEO and how does it affect my business? Let's break things down and start from the top! SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and we already know what a search engine is, right? Google, Yahoo, Bing, and many other websites serve as search engines, where a visitor types a phrase or word into a search box and a list of results pops up instantly. These sites look through every page of every website on the world wide web and matches results to the phrase or words searched. Optimization means making the best and most effective use of this resource, or in our case, designing your website so that search engines list it near or at the top of their search results list.
The 24/7 Employee and How to Have One
Business owners are the ones who truly understand the time-tested concepts of time and money. Businesses cannot afford any wasted time, as this misused time leads to a loss of revenue, something that all businesses, no matter their size, will suffer from.
The internet has been insecure for far too long. Google with the largest browser share is doing something about it. The question is how many people will listen. Based on the size of Google I would say that the Google Chrome Security team will achieve this much-needed additional security.
Trump your competition with a maintenance plan
When it comes to getting your business online having a strategic plan that is optimized to grow your business is crucial. With a maintenance plan, you can take care of not only your website, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media needs but take it to a level never thought of. There are many companies that have solutions that do one and not the other. We're going to outline our 'Web + Social' plan. This is our most popular plan as it takes your business to the next level.
Throw it away and start over
Many of our new clients will already have an existing website that isn't converting and the results that they are receiving are not what they want. When we inquire to what types of results they want they cannot answer right away. The reason is that there is no plan, no definition of what success is, and equally no definition of what failure is. The information is subjective and not defined which breeds the 'throw it away and start over' syndrome. This thought process is not the right solution for any business.
Differences between SSL, TLS, and HTTPS
We are routinely (multiple times per week) creating Digicert SSL certificates for our clients in Northwest Indiana and outside of Indiana. We are often asked what is the difference between SSL, TLS, and HTTPS. In this article we are going to do a very high-level explanation so that everyone can easily understand what this very important security is.
Why your website needs a staging server
As more content management systems (CMS) having automated updates built-in the need for a staging server is critical. In our environment we have a development environment which is our development machines, a testing or UAT server, a staging server which is verification of a move right after everything having been tested, and finally a production (prod) server. With a UAT and staging server you will be as close to the production environments as possible. The reason is for this is so that you can closely test performance and usability before moving items into the production environment.
Let's Talk Maintenance Plans
Coming off of Labor Day weekend we thought we would talk and discuss maintenance plans. Maintenance plans are specific tools for getting the job done in a timely and efficient manner. A form of labor that JM2 Webdesigners from Valparaiso Indiana does to help your business grow. Your employees are dedicated to helping your business grow in the real-world. We become employees for you in the virtual world and help them come to the real-world to learn about your products and services for a lot less than you think. In this article we go over everything in our 'Web and Social Media Package'. If you only want search engine optimization (SEO) take the social media away and that's that package. These are designed to be simple and complete to meet every need your business has when doing digital marketing.
Are you Overwhelmed with website, social media, or SEO?
Today we had the water turned on for our new office. This sounds like a simple ordeal to have done. The week before as we had it scheduled we found out that it had been seven years since water was on. This raised a flag so we looked over all the pipe by feeling every inch we could see and it was relatively all new with shut offs, etc. We set all the shutoffs to closed so that we could test each section one at a time. When the city turned on we had leak number one and it was in a wall. Five hours later and that was fixed. Water back on and good. Turned on the next shutoff valve and another leak (again in a wall). Repeat this four more times. Have you ever felt overwhelmed with your website, social media, or SEO as we did with our water today? We will go over some ways to ease that feeling so that you can grow your business with today’s article.
Structuring URL's for SEO Success
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) one of the core items when developing your overall site plan is to design the site architecture. Having your sub-pages more than three layers deep is not good from a search engine perspective as no normal human can remember items that deep. We always shoot for a maximum of two layers deep when possible; three at most. URL structure doesn't stop there. There are many areas that should be looked at when developing your site architecture.
Creating Organic Content versus Sharing Content
We have a lot of clients that we talk to about the true difference between creating unique quality content and sharing quality content. We have and will continue to state that high-quality content is the best way to get the search engines to start taking notice of your business. The problem with this process though is it takes time to get the search engines and users to notice this quality content. Sometimes taking years to achieve results. So what can be done to get your high-quality content out there as fast as possible?
Difference Between On-Page versus Off-Page SEO
Depending upon who you talk to you will find that there is a true divide when it comes to on-page versus off-page search engine optimization (SEO). We are one's where we actually fall right squarely in the middle and we feel that both are equally important to your overall search engine strategy if you want to reach page one results on the search engines.
Boost Your SEO with Quality Original Content
It is pretty much impossible to create content that hasn't been talked about in the past. What can be done is put your heart, soul, and your personal expertise into the content and let it shine and resonate with your audience. When writing your content, you need to think about your audience rather than the search engines. When you write quality content that is targeted at your users your content will be seen by the search engines.
SEO Tips to Increase Traffic
No matter what your content management system (CMS) is you will find that they all have several things in common that can help you achieve a great search engine optimization (SEO) for your website. Google has very clearly stated that content is king, links rank right next to the king, and that they utilize machine learning artificial intelligence (RankBrain) as the third most important ranking factor. With all of this public knowledge of how Google works can we take advantage of this information to better promote our website? Today, we are going to look at some core ways to improve your SEO to increase your website traffic.
Value of a 24x7 Employee
What is the value to a business to have an employee that works for you 24x7 and constantly promotes your business in a way your business wants in a consistent way to every customer? This is what we are going to cover today as your website is actually not a website at all. It is an employee, that works for you. Not only is this an employee it has the potential to being your most diverse employee. A website is typically seen as a sales tool and it is. A website is much more than that. It is a public relations tool. It is a customer service tool. It is a way to connect with current and future customers.
Why You Need Evergreen Content
Evergreen content can drive visitors to your website weeks, months, even years after it’s been created. Evergreen content is content that can and does stand the test of time. When your content is able to last you will gain more visitors to your website. Many of the blogs we have written a year or more ago are still to this day some of our most viewed articles. When we see this in our site statistics we know we have some great evergreen content. In today’s article we will cover what evergreen content is, what we have found out over the years makes ever green content, and how you too can have this type of content.
Define Your Website Success
One of the core problems people face with a website is that they plan for success. They make a list of items they want on a website. They make a list of items they do not want on a website. What people tend to miss is what 'defines success' to be considered a success. In this article we will discuss items to make your website a success.
To Force or Not to Force
No we are not talking the force from one of our favorite movies; Star Wars. What we are referring to is forcing users to provide you with their name/email address on your terms to read articles and information on the internet rather than their terms. There are two beliefs and we will cover both of these along with what we do and how we have increased our business. Let's go on this debatable journey.
Can color stop you from smoking?
As a web design and becoming more everyday a marketing company we find that color theory is in our life more each and every day. When reading an article this morning we found the ugliest color in the world; Pantone 448 C. This color according to studies can actually persuade users to stop smoking and more. So what can the ugliest color in the world do? Read on and find out how color can play a part in your life whether you living in Indiana, United States, or even Australia.
Website Redesign Basics
We deal with a lot of website redesigns on a monthly basis. We see just as many that do it themselves or hire someone only to see their rankings on the search engines drop because of basic items that are forgotten. In this article we'll cover some of the basic items to look for in a website redesign. Many will apply to new sites as well but for this article we are going to focus solely on website redesigns.
Being Stronger Online
You may have started your business solely on social media due to being quick to get online, you already knew social media, the price being free is a great price, you didn't think you needed branding, and it's where all your customers were and still are today. You've since learned that part of branding and building your relationship online requires more than just social media. Your business requires a positive message that you control and your customers can find you quickly and easily on mobile search. With a website you have control over all aspects to promote your business positively online in the way you want by your online employee that works for you. This doesn't mean that social media isn't important. It is and you should not neglect it; just like you shouldn't neglect your website.
Starting each month off on the right foot
Would you hire someone, assign them a desk, hand them your company brochures & flyers, tell them to sell, leave them be, and pay them? We think you probably wouldn't. This is why the first of the month is an important time for any website. Your website or as we call it your online employee is your cheapest employee that can help drive revenue, customer adoption, increase engagement, and more. In this article we will go over what we see as the first of the month checks every business online should do.
Mobility is still important
In November of 2014 Google came out with a mobile site check and validation tool. Many businesses scrambled to get their business website mobile aware. Many still two years later fail at mobility in many ways. This week Google released an updated Mobile Friendly Testing tool. This updated tool allows for greater growth, shows blocked files, and better explains where faults might lie.
Crafting Page Titles and SEO
When it comes to finding your business online the first stop for many is the search engines. The search engines contain billions of pages of content and you want to be found in the top free organic spots. To do this one of the items you need to focus on is your page title. As we take on more customers as part of their monthly SEO we've developed a checklist that we use to optimize the page titles of a website. We will cover a good portion of these items below.
Website functionality is only the beginning
OK, so you’ve got your great website! It has that perfect design and graphics that will set you apart and spark the interest of your viewers. Your website says it all. It represents your business, your image, and everything you symbolize. But once you have those great visuals to draw your visitors IN, you need to keep them engaged with compelling content.
When Security is NOT Important
In this article we will cover a story about a potentially new client coming to us about their website not performing to their expectations. As you will find in the article during the conversation we found some pretty scary items that we hope will help educate those to be more aware of their surroundings and get everyone to do a little more due diligence in keeping up with their content.
Do you know how your website is being used?
A website is only as valuable as the information that you put into it. Wrong! You also need to get information out of your website that allows you to provide even greater value to your customers. This is what customer service is all about. If what you are using is Google Analytics for everything you are on the right path as that will get you 'in the door'. There are other steps you can take to further improve your online experience for your customers.
Do your forms convert?
When you build a website one item that is rarely thought about is the conversion rate of your online forms. You can see in your Google Analytics or other analytics program that people go to a specific page. But how do they use that page once they are there? Standard analytics products will not give you that valuable information. You are up to guessing and 'assuming' what your visitors are doing. With form analytics you can see clearly how long a user is using each individual field of a given field on a form, where they abandon, and how long they are on each individual field.
Engaging Your Target Audience with Quality Content
The rewards of content marketing are really too rich to ignore. With high-quality content you can build your brand, establish trust, create a positive reputation, and gain authority with current and future clients. People look for this content to help them make decisions and solve problems they are current facing. Once you've achieved this you will gain a loyal follower that not only comes back for information but will routinely share and promote your content to further inform others that they know.
The making of a $695 website
We recently built a website for one of our Valparaiso Indiana clients. They heard about us because of our membership in the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce but also because of our new Business Finder Directory where every JM2 Webdesigners customer receives a Platinum membership free of charge ($180/year value). During the process we thought about what goes into building a professional website solution for our clients. The entire process took around 20 hours to complete and as we dug into what was involved we thought we would share so that others can see what we feel was a great effort by our entire team.
Why Your Small-to-Midsize Business Needs a Website
As a web design, eCommerce, and software development company we are obviously biased that a company needs a website to be successful. We will do our best in this article to step back and explain why your business truly needs one and why just having a Facebook page (or no page at all) is not a good business decision.
Internet Predictions for 2016
In 2016 we see a continued growth from what started out in 2015 with a true emphasis on the customer experience. Whether this is the interface of your website or the personalization to provide content rich information for consumers. We do see some shifts in the way the Internet works with the improvements in computer algorithms (had to say we are programmers after all). These are due to the major players (Google, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, and Facebook) taking on more personas to make the Internet a more personable experience for users.
Increase Your Website Traffic
No business wants to have low website traffic. In this article we will discuss how we help businesses increase their website traffic from our Northwest Indiana Valparaiso office. We will cover many areas people might forget about or don't put enough emphasis on when building and maintaining their website.
Mobile Website Needs
Every time the latest search engine report comes out about how people are utilizing search on mobile devices you why are many websites not mobile friendly. The other question is why treat mobile as a second class citizen when more people are using search on mobile devices than desktop devices. We build every site in a mobile first thought process using responsive web design (RWD).
Common Social Media Mistakes
Whether you perform your social media on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any of the other popular sites the possibility you will make a mistake is truly great. Before you began you have most likely used the social media outlet you're going to be working on. You also most likely investigated your competitors that are both local and across the nation if not the world so that you can 'do it better'. By moving to social media, even with an expert, there will be uphill battles as well as mistakes that are made. In this article we will cover some of the common mistakes we see people make as well as how you can avoid them for each of the core areas.
Prepare your website for the holidays
With Halloween being our favorite holiday it's sometimes hard for us to think of the coming holidays. Our clients though may not have the same love for our love of chocolate and want to work on gaining conversions on their website for the holiday season. Whether you are a restaurant, industrial, or a retail shop the holidays are unique for each one. The holiday's present each company with some unique opportunities to build on their existing and new customer relationships.
Hidden pieces of website building
There are many components that are visual to your site visitors when you build a website. These are the graphics, look-and-feel, search, forms, and the content the site is written for the site. There are actually more items on a website than just these visual aspects. In this article we will be covering some, not all, of the hidden aspects of a website that you should consider. Whether you get a dozen visitors to your website per month or hundreds of thousands of visitors these items are all important aspects that we consider for each client project that we take on.
Big Ideas, Small Budgets
Whether your business is a large corporate group with millions in marketing dollars or a brand new business just getting off of the ground there are several items you can do to achieve big results without a large outlay of capital. If this sounds appealing to you, and we hope it does, then this article will shed some insights of how, and why, these techniques can help your business succeed without having a huge budget. You don't need to spend hundreds, even hundreds of thousands, of dollars for every marketing campaign. The big marketing companies live for the big marketing pitches and who can blame them? Those campaigns make them tons of money in help you define your brand, generating radio, print, and video ads. Small gains grow to those big gains that will help your business grow.
Steps to a Successful Website Redesign
Your website is the way that you sell your products and services through your brand on the Internet. Many companies have chosen a Facebook only approach which makes your brand Facebook and not your own. Having a Facebook, or other social media outlet is definitely beneficial but that is not what defines your brand. A successful website will also meet the objectives that you have set forth. This could be for increased visibility of your company, generating sales, handling customer service, generate leads, or a combination of these items.
When it comes to updating your existing website the first thought is to focus on a new and stunning graphic design. This will definitely get you noticed when people come to your site as being a truly beautiful work of art. What needs to happen more than a beautiful visual aspect is making certain it works the way your site visitors want it to work. This will cover working on desktop, tablet and mobile devices, increasing the content effectiveness and having an effective 'call to action' for what you're currently promoting through your brand. When doing any website redesign we work on covering the following core elements so that your site is a true success.
Why User Experience (UX) Matters
User experience (UX) is how a person feels when interacting with your website or your employees feel when they interact with your business applications. UX encompasses a lot of factors, some that are controllable by designers and developers and some that are environmental or just user preference. These factors include usability, accessibility, performance, design/aesthetics, utility, ergonomics, overall human interaction and marketing.
But UX is not exactly the same thing as usability, although they are closely related. UX is the experience, emotion, intuition and connection a user feels when using a site or product. Usability is more about the effectiveness of a site design and how user-friendly it is. Usability is a key component of the overall user experience. When working with and designing your user experience the usability aspects should be equally thought of during the process.