Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’

Improving Your Website Security – Seattle Web Development Tips

Whether you’re using a CMS like WordPress or Joomla, or have a custom design, security is a huge issue that affects every site on the web. With thousands of websites hacked every day, using strong security is essential for your site, your investment, and your customers. Not only do hackers mess up the work your web designers put into the site (that you paid for) they can also redirect your clients and customers to pages where you don’t want them to go, infect their computers with viruses and malware, and steal their information. If you want to protect yourself and your reputation, you have to take steps to secure your website.

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Make Site Backups

Site backups won’t protect your site, but they do allow you to cancel everything and immediately re-upload to your last working site if someone hacks it. If that happens, you will have to immediately change all of your passwords and add security, but it does allow you to get everything up and working again without losing money if your site is hacked.

Limit the Number of Failed Connections/Entries

You can limit the number of times that someone can attempt to log in before they are locked out. This is essential for blocking hacking bots, which input lets and numbers and words randomly until they gain access. Usually, 3 to 5 times is enough, after which you can require administrator assistance.

Change Your Login URLs

If you’re using ‘administrator’ or ‘login’ or ‘wp-admin’ to access your login, then you’re making a mistake. Change the database to change the URL. Your Seattle web development team can do this for you. What should you change it to? Make it unique, something you can remember, and short.

Use Stronger Passwords

If you’re using Password 123, or another similar, easy to guess password, you should try again. Don’t use anything related to your name, your business, signing in to an account, or your password. Try a password generator, or use an 8-15-digit password with lower case and upper case letters, numbers, and punctuation or special characters.

Be Careful

If you’re downloading and using free skins or site themes, they could include base64 encoding, which could allow hackers to distribute malware to your site. Only use themes from trusted sources.

Use HTTP Encryption

It is important that you use encryption on any pages where customers check out, pay for something, or input personal data. This is important to ensure that their data is not stolen, because you will be liable. If you store their personal data, you have to encrypt that as well. Put your security measures in your privacy policy document so visitors can check it. You can purchase a security certificate from a number of providers to set up HTTPS encryption.
Securing your website is important for your business and your reputation, so make sure you take the steps to protect it. Hiring a professional Seattle web developer to help you with making your site secure is a good step if you aren’t sure how to go about the technical aspects of security.

Do you want to know more about website security or features? Contact Rory Martin for more information.

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Website Navigation Tips for Businesses – Seattle Web Development

Your website navigation is one of the most important aspects of your site, because it controls how people get from one place to another, and can make or break sales, creating leads, and even reading more on your site. While it can be tempting to simply cram everything into your menus so that people can find it, they often find nothing at all. If you’re working with a Seattle web developer, or planning to hire one, these following tips will help you with making the right decisions regarding your menus and other website navigation.

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Use a Recognizable Style

It may be tempting to use a unique menu or navigation system because it makes you stand out, but the important thing to remember is that people will have to learn it. When helping people through your site, especially to making a purchase, the last thing you want them to have to do is take a moment to learn. Studies and real world reactions show that people hate things they aren’t familiar with. Use existing menu systems and layouts that people already know, understand, and can use without a second thought.

Ditch Drop Down and Sub Menus

Drop down menus and sub menus may seem like a good idea because they allow you to clean up your home page, but they aren’t usually a good idea. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to see where they have to go, which means using a menu that they can see. Hamburger menus are popular, but not always a good idea because they make finding the menu difficult, especially on small screens.

Optimize Your Navigation Order

If your navigation order is completely randomized, then you are doing it wrong. You want to figure out which pages people are most likely to visit, and in what order, and organize based on priority. You don’t really want an irrelevant page on the top of the menu, because it completely throws the menu off and makes it that much harder to use. If you’re upgrading an existing website, you can usually go about upgrading your menu by prioritizing the pages that get the most traffic, or using the path that most people take through your website. If you’re building a new website, you can ask your Seattle web developers to create a natural path through the website for users to follow, and organize navigation accordingly.

Use Links Not Buttons

Links are better for menus than buttons because they’re smaller, simpler, less likely to malfunction, and are better for search optimization.

Keep it Simple

Simplicity is the key to a good menu. Don’t make it hard to find the right things, don’t add too many items, and certainly don’t have more than 10 items. Sub-menus may seem like a good idea but they are most often messy, difficult to use, and can fail completely on mobile devices.
Good navigation makes for a good user experience, which boosts your SEO, your website’s usability, and your conversion. Discuss it with your local Seattle web development team during site development, and make sure that it’s easy to use before you launch.

Using Social Media to Reach Millennials – Seattle Social Media Tips

Millennials may be regarded as the ‘future’ of the Seattle market, but research and statistics show that they already make up a great deal in terms of purchase power and influence. Nationwide, millennials have some $200 billion in purchasing power, which is nothing to ignore. More importantly, while they’re difficult to reach through traditional marketing venues like ads, generation Y is extremely active on social media, and open to brands who want to engage. If you’re a Seattle business, here’s what local Seattle social media experts have to say about connecting with millennials via your pages.

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Be Authentic

Studies by the Boston Consulting Group show that most millennials value authenticity over any pitch or marketing gimmick. Unlike generation X, millennials want to see brands who consistently stick to the same ethics, and preferably who’s morals and behaviors mirror their own beliefs. While not always possible, being authentic is essential

Solve Problems

It’s not enough to share your products or even just funny articles and photos on your social media, you also have to solve problems. Whether that’s campaigning for social justice, helping with problems that millennials face, offering tips and advice, or a combination of all three is up to you. Millennials respond to social media that offers real value, interact more, drive up engagement, and then remember you more when they need something. This shows most often when you engage with and help consumers solve problems with your own products or services, and then watch as they turn into customers.

Don’t Share Content to Be Viral

No content is born viral. Sharing things with catchy titles but poor content is no longer enough to guarantee views, money, or sales. Instead, make sure that everything you share is relevant, interesting, or useful. If it’s not one of those things, it shouldn’t matter how shareable it is.

Customer Support

A study interviewing over 1,000 millennials showed that one of the things they value most about a business is availability and quality customer support. This means that not only do you have to be highly responsive (as in, the faster your reply to messages, the better), you also have to be polite, professional, and informative. Even if consumers aren’t exactly helpful or polite, you should always be as professional as possible when replying to them. You’ll also want to set aside at least two or three times during the day to respond to social media questions, or download apps for your social pages and try replying as quickly as possible during your day. Because many social media patrons are researching businesses they are planning to visit, this can benefit you even if you’re a brick and mortar Seattle business.

Personalize and Customize

One on one is the new trend, for both marketing and customer support. Personalizing your responses, making sure that every customer asking something receives individual attention, and giving everyone a good experience is extremely important, especially in today’s age where peer reviews mean more than expert ones. Taking the time to offer a personal experience means that customers will feel more important, even if that personal experience is just you replying to them on their comments on your Google + page.

If you don’t have time to handle the time consuming task of using social media to market to millennials, a Seattle social media company like Rory Martin can take care of the details for you, so you just have to worry about your real life customers.

Does Your Small Business Need a Website? – Seattle Web Design Tips

The first servers powering the web may not have been switched on until 1991, but in that time, it has expanded at a rate so exponential that it’s expansion could be said to be unprecedented. The technology, which was initially created to allow access to data from anywhere, has become such a common part of everyday life, that most of those born in the 90s quite simply cannot imagine a world without it. With over 640 million active websites on the web, it’s hard to imagine that there are businesses who don’t have one. However, with 27.9 small businesses in the U.S. and over 217,000 in Washington alone, there are literally millions of businesses that have not yet made it onto the web.

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While it is an undeniable fact that a web presence can greatly benefit a business of any size, and the dot com is undeniably the gold standard for establishing your brand on the web, there are other options.

The Size Of Your Business

One important consideration is that many businesses are actually very small businesses. Very small business owners often bring home between $20,000 and $120,000 per year in gross profit depending on their business. Small businesses, which can make upwards of $1 million per year, can typically afford a website without any problems, but for very small businesses who use most of their income for living expenses, renovations and small personal luxuries, the often high costs of a website are not always an option.

Social Pages vs. Web Pages

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Social pages are quickly replacing websites as the first place that customers visit. While anyone searching for a keyword or business type on Google, Bing, or Yahoo will most definitely find your website first, they can also reach your Google Plus page if it is properly optimized, your YouTube page, or even your Facebook page, depending on how you write your About description. Because services like Google Local allows you to put yourself on the map (literally) in search, web pages are becoming less and less necessary for simply telling people about your business. In fact, a busy social page with visible reviews, visible consumer interaction and fresh posts will leave the average consumer more convinced of the quality of your small business than most websites.

What You’re Selling

The last and most deciding factor for choosing whether to go with a website or a social page is your business. Depending on what you are selling, what you want to use the website for and what information you want to display, a website may or may not be right for you. For example, if you have a restaurant and you want an interactive menu, online booking and live chat, then you definitely need a website. If you have an auto-shop and you just want to let people know where you are and when you’re open, it’s significantly less necessary.

While statistically, more than 140,000 websites are launched per day, the truth is that with social media, the days of one page websites and web pages are virtually over. Not everyone needs a website when they can establish a web presence just as effectively, and without the hassle, using social media. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a website, it just means you might not actually need one.

If you want to know more, contact Rory Martin for a consultation.

Seattle Social Media : How Many Platforms Do You Need?

Social media is all the rage and if you follow it, you know that Seattlites frequently hop from one trending platform to the next. Whether it’s Snapchat, Ello, or Yik Yak, or any of a dozen other social media sites popping up around the web, you might be encouraged to join the platforms in order to expand your social media reach and customer base. But with dozens of social sites, which do you join and how many do you really need?

The Truth About Trend Sites

One important thing to consider is whether or not a trend site is really going to stick around and be valuable for your company. If you have the time to invest in another social media site, or are hiring a Seattle social media manager to do so for you, then you can join trending websites, but many of them eventually go the way of MySpace or end up like Line in that they are primarily niche platforms. For example, if you are primarily selling shoes and the niche audience is primarily for business you might not have much luck.

How Much Time Do You Have

One of the most important considerations when deciding on how many social media platforms you need is how much time do you have? Do you have the time to post to, engage with, and interact on five social media platforms? If so, then go ahead and open them. Unfortunately, if you don’t have the time, you will most likely end up with sporadic posting, no engagement, and very little actual benefit. While a Seattle social media management company can help, it’s important to consider your time budget there as well. You have to be engaged enough to make social media profitable, but you have to invest enough time that it also remains profitable. The truth is that for the most part, that means using a select few carefully chosen sites that fit your business and your demographic.

Do You Fit the Niche

Many social media platforms like Ello, Line, and Instagram are niche platforms, meaning that they are really only suitable for one type of business. For example, Instagram is a good platform if you sell clothing, want to advertise a restaurant then Instagram offers a good solution. On the other hand, if you’re selling business services, you won’t have much luck.

The Basics

At the end of the day, you can usually successfully establish your online media presence with one to five platforms. Anything over that, and you may be taking it a bit overboard. If you have multiple platforms, you’re likely to be sharing duplicate content, not engaging with your followers, and degrading the value of what you already have. If you want just one social platform, Google Plus or Facebook are a good essential. Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest add to those basics with a few additional options. However, you should check with your Seattle social media management company to find out which is right for your business.

 

Seattle Web Development: Do You Need Mobile Web?

Seattle Web Development: Do You Need Mobile Web?

If you’ve been looking around for a website designer then you’ve probably heard or seen the term ‘mobile web’ a few times. If you’ve been reading up on what your website should and should not have on a blog then you’ve probably heard it more than a few times. The mobile web is a vast and confusing place if you’re new to the world of web development, but, whether you have an existing website or you’re planning on hiring a local Seattle web developer to build one for you, you’re probably only wondering one thing about the mobile web, do you need it?

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What is the Mobile Web?

The mobile web is technically any part of the web designed for mobile use. For the most part, that means websites and menus which resize or adjust or are sized properly for phones and tablets. Because traditional websites are often too big to display properly, or display so small that it is impossible to read or select the menus comfortably, the mobile web makes using the web easier.

Do You Have Mobile Traffic?

If you already have a website, then the easiest way to see if a mobile website could benefit you is to check your mobile traffic. If you have any analytics program (the free version from Google will do the trick), you can easily check to see which percentage of your visitors visit on a browser vs. a tablet or phone. Some will even tell you the specific devices such as Samsung Galaxy or iPhone that you’re getting your traffic from.

If you don’t have a website or don’t have analytics (or don’t know how to use your analytics) then you can also go by general statistics. Right now, mobile usage is trending upwards, more than 60% of users research shops, restaurants, and stores on their phone before visiting them, and more than 70% of consumers research products and cross compare them on their phone before purchasing. Essentially, if you sell products, have a store, or have anything that users may want to research online first, then the mobile web could directly impact your sales.

What Are My Options?

There are multiple options for anyone who wants to have a website that’s compatible with the mobile web, but sometimes the best thing to do is to talk to your Seattle web developer about your needs and your site first. Some websites work well with mobile websites set up separately, although these do have their issues with search engine optimization and duplicate content. You can set your website to automatically re-direct to your mobile version whenever someone logs on from a mobile device. You can also have your web designer set up a responsive web desing that resizes based on your visitors, but this isn’t always ideal.

Do you want to talk about which mobile web option is best for your website? Try talking to one of the professional Seattle web developers at Rory Martin before you make your decision.

Is SEO Dead? A Guide for Seattle Businesses & Websites

If you’re into content or digital marketing then you probably use SEO, or at least plan to. SEO is one of the most popular forms of digital marketing, mainly because it offers a lot for what you pay. Rather than paying for what you get, like you do with PPC, you pay for a marketing strategy that could put you on top of search engine results for Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Unfortunately, time after time, we keep seeing articles with headlines reading some variation of “SEO is dead!”

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If you don’t work in the field of SEO, then you probably wouldn’t know any better than to believe it. After all, it’s on the Internet, right? Wrong, SEO is not dead. Search Engine Optimization will exist so long as there are search engines using algorithm and math based tools to find search results that match a keyword. That is actually the definition of SEO. Because we don’t imagine that search engines will have manually listed results to show when someone types in a search anytime soon, SEO is still alive and well.  You can still benefit from paying a Seattle SEO company to optimize your business, especially if you hire the right company.

Why Do People Say SEO is Dead?

One of the main reasons that you might keep seeing that SEO is dead is because SEO has undergone some very major changes in the past few years. By major changes, we mean that where two years ago, a couple of thousand links pointing back to your site might skyrocket you to the top of search, now it’s more likely to get you banned. And the same can be said of keyword stuffing, or the process of putting a percentage of keywords into your article (I.E. make “Seattle cupcakes” 2% of the article). These processes once worked, but they’ve been blacklisted on many search engines because they typically produce content that is spammy, irrelevant, and difficult to read. New SEO algorithms are more complex, harder to game, and offer better quality results. It also makes “SEO” harder for random people to get into selling a service and calling it optimization. So, scam SEO is dead. But actual optimization is still another thing entirely.

What Goes Into SEO?

If you want to know what actually goes into SEO and what you should be considering, we’d have to tell you, a lot. Google, the most popular search engine, uses over 300 signals in it’s algorithm, and most search engines have different algorithms. So there is a lot to consider. However, that’s one of the reasons why you probably want to hire a professional Seattle SEO company rather than winging it yourself. Some of the signals that search engines look for include quality, helpfulness, use of the keyword, a low exit rate, grammar, readability, site functionality, metadata, and even social signals.

Is that a lot to keep up with? Yes it is. Unfortunately, most search engines constantly change their algorithms, which means that policies, and strategies might be different tomorrow.

SEO is most definitely not dead, but many old ranking strategies are. That’s why you want to hire a professional SEO or digital marketing company that keeps up with changes, and offers you something that works, rather than a quick fix.

What Seattle Social Media Can Learn from Ello and Anti-Marketing

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Ello? What is it? It’s the thing that suddenly everyone seems to be talking about. Despite a March launch amid nearly zero fanfare, Ello has suddenly skyrocketed into fame and is currently one of the most talked about social platforms on the web. As something where most people do not yet have a profile and therefore no friends if you do have a profile, it’s not something that most people would expect. The truth is that Ello skyrocketed into a hot topic because of anti-marketing in the wake of Facebook’s many flagrant privacy and personal violations. Ello’s promise of no ads, no tracking personal data, and no selling personal data to big companies appeals to the many disgruntled social users who are, quite frankly, sick of having their personal data used for ads. The result is a clamor for invites, even though very few people seem to have one.

What is Anti Marketing

To better understand the concept of why Ello is currently so popular, let’s talk about anti-marketing. This is the concept of using a companies current policy, branding, or advertisement against them. GreenPeace does it almost constantly when they attempt to show the world how uneconomically friendly a company does. Usually they use logos and convert them into something a little less brand friendly. Essentially, anti-marketing is a form of brand-sabotaging, by using their policies or advertisements to point out flaws in the company, or to prove that your company is better. In Ello’s case, that’s the promise to not sell data or display ads in opposition to Facebook’s very ad-heavy platform. But anti-marketing isn’t the only reason Ello is currently so popular.

Ad-Free and Service Culture

One really major thing about users is that they like service, they enjoy clean, user-friendly environments, and they often find ads annoying. In fact, the click-through rate on banner ads and popup ads is depressingly low for advertisers. Ad-free is something that users see as a luxury, and more and more apps and now websites are beginning to integrate it into their business plan. Why ad free? How do you make money selling ads if you’re not charging for your product? For example, if you have an ap and you offer it for free or nearly free, you might think that you stand little chance of making an income without ads. However, apps and games like Whatsapp have long proven this theory wrong. Whatsapp had over 45 million downloads for free the first year, and 99 cents per year following. They did not display ads, but instead made money off of extras and additional sales. Many other web services, especially online games use this same business module to make considerably more than they would with ads, and without annoying their customers. So is Ello. They intend to sell additional site services to users who want to do more with their page. These services are wildly popular because they offer a solid service that is valuable and not annoying. In addition, Whatsapp has not spent a single penny on ads.

What you, and other Seattle social media managers can learn from it is that you don’t necessarily have to use a multi-thousand dollar marketing program to succeed, especially on the web. What you need is a great campaign that recognizes your target audience and your competition and then uses every bit of information you have to create a website, social media page, and brand that appeals to that demographic. Most consumers respond better to strong branding, value, and honest practices then they do to any amount of mass media marketing, although you shouldn’t abandon the latter.

Seattle Social Media Tips: Paid, Owned, & Earned Marketing

Digital marketing is quickly becoming one of the most important outlets for businesses that want to grow themselves, but most users don’t understand the differences between various types of online marketing except that some are free and some are not. Understanding various types of media is important for Seattle businesses that want to promote themselves in a digital setting, mainly because understanding means that you can use it to create strategies that work.

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What is Paid Media

Paid marketing includes most basic paid advertisements including PPC, banner ads, and paid coverage such as a paid blog or article on a popular website.

What is Earned Media

Earned media is media or marketing material that you earn without paying for. Examples include press release coverage, coverage in a local newspaper, unpaid coverage or reviews on blogs, and user shares. Earned media is often accomplished by sharing valuable information and data, such as infographics and videos, doing something noteworthy, or reaching a press worthy milestone. Earned media also includes partnerships, offering free content in exchange for a review, and generally any sort of PR efforts.

Owned Media

Owned media is the least important of these three, but still important for digital marketing. Owned media includes any media content or hype created by the company for the company. For example, a blog posted on the business website is a great example of owned media.

How to Use Them

While the ideal for almost any business would be to create a great deal of earned media through viral content, the truth is that it is rarely that simple. For example, earned media is usually either paid or owned media, which may confuse you at first until you realize that you have to create content that is either yours or have someone else create it for you.  The most common reasons that content goes viral is social sharing, which also means that you have to first get users to see it. Essentially, unless you already have a fairly large number of visitors to your company blog or YouTube channel, then paid media in the form of posting your content elsewhere, or paying for advertisements, is the best way to go to create earned media.

So earned media, which is created from shares and interest in your topics, is typically generated from paid media. The result is a marketing strategy that should include both paid and owned media options, both with the intention of created earned media through shares and additional coverage.

Any good local social media strategy will include paid and owned media with a marketing strategy for creating earned media. If you want to make it happen for your business, you need a Seattle social media company that knows how to work with all three to create results. Hybrid campaigns are the most successful option, and also the most logical. Companies ranging from General Motors to Orange are taking advantage of campaigns that maximize the use of every type of media, and you should be to.

Contact us to find out more.

Seattle Web Design Talk – Free Websites vs. Custom Designs

If you’re a business owner considering putting up a website for your business then chances are you’ve already done a fair amount of research into what it’s going to take. You might already realize that you have multiple options for both free and paid websites, and you may have already decided which CRM you want, if you want an open source one. That aside, you might not know whether or not you want to pay for a website or just use a theme. As a business owner, there are several things that greatly impact your decision, and you should consider them carefully before you go out and hire a Seattle web designer that you don’t really need.

Are You Going to Profit From Your Website?

First things first, the driving source behind any industry is money and no matter what your business is, it should be all about profit. Unless, of course, you’re running a non-profit. If you are not making anything off of the website, then it is a poor business decision to spend money on it. Consider what the website will be doing, try doing a little bit of keyword research, and consider the online market for your business. If the estimated ROI looks like it will at least cover the costs of a professional web designer then a professional custom website is the way to go. If you’re looking at $30 a month in revenue from it, you might want to stick with a low-cost theme until you figure out how to boost your revenue. While a custom site is more likely to engender trust in the user, you can’t justify spending money on something that isn’t ever going to make money

Do You Need Custom Web Design?

Another big thing to consider is whether or not you actually need a custom design for your website. The vast majority of websites are one or two page information pages that ask the customer to contact them without really providing any other information, or requiring any custom services. In this case, it would be a waste of your money to pay for a custom page. You don’t need it. On the other hand, if you want your website to have a custom menu that allows users to sort through dishes available at your restaurant, check pricing, and check ingredients, then you might want a pro designer. Essentially, if you want a basic website with no real features then web design is not necessary, but otherwise, a web designer gives you a great deal of flexibility, and allows you to offer real, unique value to your site.

There are a number of reasons that custom web design is more popular for businesses than templates, starting with uniqueness, Google search impact, and ensuring that the customer doesn’t immediately associate the site with another business they know who uses the theme. Having unique graphics and a unique web page tailored to meet your needs is invaluable, if you are going to be profiting from the site.

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