Topic: Websites

Free SEO Tools: Optimizing Your Website

Posted on October 2, 2015 by - Development, Websites

If you haven’t already learned about Conversion Rate Optimization, now is the time to start. Testing different versions of your website is one of the easiest ways to maximize a website’s ROI. Whether you are writing new content, using new pictures or changing button colors, your website can always be improved to bring you more revenue, clicks, etc.

While Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) sounds complex, implementing it can be easy. Try it for yourself right now!  Optimizely is one of the most well-known CRO appliations available for free. The tool makes it easy for users to make basic edits to their website, then test those edits to see if it boosts conversions. Just type in your website’s URL in the tool to begin changing your website around.

Optimizely is free if your website receives less than 50,000 monthly visitors. This isn’t an advertisement for Optimizely though, this is a way to show business owners that CRO is for everyone. The tool is very user-friendly and makes it easy to start editing your website right away.

Take the picture below as a prime example of easy CRO. This is an edit to Thoughtwire Media’s homepage that took less than 2 minutes to perform. The products have been rearranged and the hosting column has been eliminated entirely. Let’s suppose that if we tested this new homepage that we saw a 15 percent increase in traffic to Thoughtwire Media and a 2 percent decrease in bounce rate. You can bet that we would implement this new page design as quickly as possible.

Thoughtwire Media Edited Page

Edited Thoughtwire Media Homepage

Thoughtwire Media Home Page

Original Thoughtwire Media Homepage

 

Basic changes like this to your company’s website can cause small 2 and 3 percent increases in goal completion per page. If you add up those small increases on every page, you may find that after a few months of CRO, your website is generating much more revenue. Even if changing button colors only increases revenue by 1 percent, isn’t it worth it? In the world of CRO, a little bit of testing can truly go a long way.

Interested in optimizing your website and increasing revenue? Contact Thoughtwire Media today to talk about how your website can make you more money.

Making Charity Easy

Posted on September 30, 2015 by - Websites

DonationWith great power, comes great responsibility. This saying is just as true for the power of the Internet and its applications. Over the years, we have seen Internet communities rally to support causes and projects they believe in through crowd-funding. More recently, however, we have seen companies beginning to use the internet to connect with customers by charitable means. We want to highlight a few easy ways for you to contribute to charities without changing any aspect of your daily life or requiring you to donate money.

Donate a Photo

When a company typically sponsors a charity, it is in the form of matching donations or allocating a percentage of profits. Johnson & Johnson has taken a different approach with its Donate A Photo website and app. The premise is simple: you take any photo and “donate” it. When you donate a photo, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1.00 to the cause of your choice. Your photo is not used for promotional purposes and can only be seen by others who donated a photo to the same cause. Each cause has a goal and tells you exactly how close it is to completing that goal. You can donate one photo every day. Instagram has over 75 million daily users. If every one of them donate the same photo they post, every single cause would meet its goal in less than one day.

Charity Miles

For those of us who run, walk or bike throughout our day, Charity Miles is a great way to give back. Simply select a charity, turn on the app and commence with your running, walking or biking. You don’t need to set up an account to begin. If you use a bike, $0.10 is donated per mile. Runners will have $0.25 donated for every mile ran. If exercise if a part of your daily routine, you can end up donating hundreds of dollars simply by staying healthy.

SurveyMonkey Contribute

Everyone has points throughout their day when they are bored. Fill those moments by filling out surveys on SurveyMonkey Contribute. You simply create an account, select a charity and start filling out surveys. For every survey completed, $0.50 is donated to the charity of your choice. You also are entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card for every survey you complete! Each survey can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, but every cent goes to helping those in need. So even if you take one survey in the morning and one in the evening, you will end up donating $365/year to the charity of your choice.

If the average person (who walks about 2 miles per day) used all three of these organizations daily, they could easily donate $1,000/year. Not to mention that using all of these takes less than 5 minutes to do! So if you are looking for a way to donate more to charity, consider using these easy, free methods to help others.

Why You Need Schema Now

Posted on September 25, 2015 by - SEO, Websites

Periodic Table of SEO

 

Earlier this month we heard rumblings of a new change in Google’s algorithm thanks to a Hangout with Google Switzerland’s John Mueller (read more about the talk here). While no announcements have been made, what was said may create a new checklist item for SEO workers. The importance and utility of structured data and Schema has long been understood, but it may become a part of Google’s ranking algorithm. In order to understand what it means, we need to break this down into a few parts and answer some questions.

What is Structured Data?

Structured data (synonymous with Schema) is simply a very clear way to tell search engines what your website is. Typically, search engines crawl your website looking for keywords, titles, headings, etc. to find out what your website deals with in order to rank it. As a website administrator, you can add code to your website that clearly tells search engines your company name, hours, phone number, address and even cite specific reviews. This data then helps search engines place you in rankings and even show your information more clearly. For instance, if someone searches “ABC Restaurant hours” and ABC Restaurant has informed Google what their hours are, Google can display the hours of the restaurant without requiring the user to comb through search results to find this information.

Why Do I Need Schema?

Currently, the biggest benefit of Schema is given to users. While it allows companies to somewhat control their search engine presence, it eliminates a barrier between a user’s question and the answer. By doing this, not only are you helping search engines display your information, but you are answering some of the most common questions asked by your customers (both potential and current). Every company should be using structured data because it is an easy way to clarify what your website stands for, which both customers and search engines appreciate.

What if I Don’t Have Structured Data?

What Mueller’s comments suggest is that not having structured data could very well hurt your search rankings in the long run. While your rank is not affected by structured data yet, in the future it may be. Suppose that your company sells used cars. If you are Google and are trying to match a user’s question of “Used Cars near me”, would you rather show them a website that has clearly told you it sells used cars or take a chance that your algorithm has correctly defined another website. For Google, there is no guesswork in showing the website with structured data. If you are the company without Schema, it makes perfect sense for Google to rank your competitor above you.

If your website has yet to add structured data, contact Thoughtwire Media to begin helping your customers find you.

Seeing the Future of Responsive Websites

Posted on September 23, 2015 by - Websites

Responsive Website Design

 

With a few months having passed since mobilegeddon, now is the time to start looking at the future of responsiveness in websites. Search engine results are now customized based on what device you use, but only to a certain extent. As search capabilities are delivered to more and more devices, how will algorithms adapt? While no announcements have been made, it is expected that search algorithms will change to tailor results to TVs, gaming consoles and even cars.

Earlier this month, Apple announced that Siri would be integrated with the new Apple TV. While this may seem like a small step, it could mark the beginning of a major search market. If customers embrace this search technology, it would not be surprising to hear that Google will change their algorithm to rank “TV-friendly” websites. Perhaps instead of mobile-only websites, companies may begin creating TV-only websites. This will cause companies to embrace responsiveness as a standard instead of a trend.

Back in 2014, Dominos worked with the Xbox One to develop an application that allows users to order pizza while gaming without interrupting the experience. This was the first time we saw non-gaming companies beginning to integrate with gaming consoles. More and more, companies are finding ways to integrate themselves with alternative forms of media. With search capabilities only growing on gaming consoles, we may eventually hear about algorithm edits to help rank “gaming-friendly” websites.

Only recently has Wi-Fi become available in vehicles, so it is ripe time for speculation. Just like with gaming consoles, as search becomes more available in vehicles we might see companies developing websites that do not interfere with the driving experience. For instance, restaurants might begin to develop a “website” that allows drivers to make reservations at a nearby location while driving. Perhaps GasBuddy will adapt their application to find the cheapest gas near a driver that takes into account a vehicle’s MPG. As search becomes more and more integrated with vehicles, search engines may once again adapt their ranking algorithm.

The future of the responsive website may be one that not only adjusts to screen size, but one that adjusts completely to the device. Whether you are searching for walkthroughs on your Xbox or finding the top 10 parks while driving, the idea of responsiveness will continue to change, with search algorithms following closely behind.

Is Parallax Right for You?

Posted on September 14, 2015 by - Development, Websites

Apple's Parallax Website

 

One of the most notable trends in modern website design has been the shift to Parallax. If you aren’t sure what Parallax designs are, it’s probably because you haven’t heard the name, but chances are that you have seen a Parallax site. These types of sites use scrolling in place of the standard navigation style. This way, a user can see the entire site simply by scrolling down. To see examples of Parallax sites, check out the Apple or Lexus websites.

The big question, however, is whether or not you should switch to a Parallax design. The design has its pros and cons, but its usefulness relies heavily on what type of website or business you are running. We are not here to break down the pros and cons of Parallax in general, but instead we want to focus on which websites are/aren’t well-suited for the design.

Large E-Commerce Websites

If you run an E-commerce website that focuses on selling hundreds of products, you may want to steer away from using a Parallax site. Firstly, the key to any large E-Commerce site is making it as easy as possible for your customer to find what they are looking for in your sea of product offerings. Parallax sites are notoriously confusing for first-time visitors because the design is so new. Secondly, the design does not work well with categorizing and organizing multiple elements into an easy-to-navigate manner. If your user is browsing, a Parallax site might work well for keeping them navigating throughout the site, but if they are searching for a specific category or product, the design may cause confusion and frustration.

Blogging or News Websites

Even though Parallax might not mesh well with large E-commerce websites, it has the opposite effect for blogging or news-based websites. Check out this free parallax theme designed for bloggers. You can see that navigating through the website is an experience. Many users may want to keep scrolling to see the new animations pop up. The reason Parallax works so well for these sites is because their goal is to engage users and increase the time spent on the website which is precisely what this design does well. If your blog or news website focuses on a specific industry, the shift to Parallax could bring a new level of user engagement to your site. If you focus on general news, however, then this design is less useful.

Small E-Commerce Websites

We talked earlier about large E-commerce sites, but what if you only sell a handful of products or services? Take a look at this parallax theme that focuses on small E-commerce sites. You can tell that the simplicity of the site makes it easy for users to compare products in a fun, interactive way. For a site that sells three to five distinct products or services, a Parallax design could work well.

With that being said, your website’s design should reflect your company culture. There are Parallax designs that work amazingly for large E-commerce sites like this one. If you believe your site could use a fresh coat of paint, contact Thoughtwire Media online or by phone at (800) 367-2570.

Critical Security Update for WordPress Websites

Posted on May 1, 2015 by - Hosting, Mobile, Websites

Millions of websites are powered by WordPress. The popular content management system is easy to use and has great plugin architecture. All that popularity and exposure comes at a price, however, as hackers and cyber criminals constantly go after the platform.

Wordpress_Blue_logo

In the last week of April, new threats to WordPress emerged, as cross-site scripting bugs allowed the attackers to change and add code into the HTML content. The bug gave the attackers the ability to retrieve passwords, manipulate content and perform changes to the website and layout.

WordPress was quick to respond with the WordPress 4.2.1 Security Release. After one week, it was downloaded over 6 million times. If you have a WordPress site, download the new version here.

In order to make sure your WordPress site is protected going forward, there are two key things to keep in mind. One, make sure you have the latest updates and secured WP Hosting. You don’t have the time to constantly monitor and maintain your site, so make sure it is protected with the correct hosting plan. Find out if your hosting plan has the WordPress security you need by clicking here.

Two, keep your passwords and personal information in a secured location. Never give out those details to a third party and if you notice something odd with your website, get it checked out right away.

Should you have a Responsive Website?

Posted on April 7, 2015 by - Websites

Responsive Website

 

If you’ve followed our blog for any length of time, you’ll quickly see that we are big fans of responsive websites, and for good reason. Here we’ll lay out the facts, and the difference between having a mobile website and having a responsive website – and tell you everything you need to know.

First of all, the biggest differences between having a responsive website and a mobile-website:

A. Your URL and HTML will not remain the same with a mobile website. This is huge. You don’t want any confusion out there on which website is yours; you want all the attention focused on your main website URL.

B. A mobile website does not and cannot provide all of the information your website does. It’s a completely different site. It’s usually designed for just a quick glance and nothing more.

Now, on to the benefits of having a responsive website. Responsive means regardless of what device you’re using: laptop, smartphone, desktop, or tablet – your website will automatically adjust and respond accordingly to ensure maximum user-friendliness. This prevents the dreaded pinching, zooming and turning just to read what your websites says. We have all been there, and you have likely just bounced out like we did.

So, if you want the same HTML code and URL, no matter where your customers are looking at your website, or from what device – a responsive website is the best way to go.

Finally, the last and one of the most-important reasons you need a responsive website? Google recommends it, and Google’s new algorithm this month ensures a decrease in organic results if your website isn’t easily understood, AKA responsive, on mobile devices.

Call today to see how we can help you, and for a free quote. 800-367-2570

Tips for Selecting the Perfect URL

Posted on March 4, 2015 by - Websites

Google just outbid Amazon and the world for exclusive rights and ownership to the top-level domain “.app.” Dot app only cost $25 million.

There was a time that you only had to worry about what came before “.com.” Now, as the Internet exponentially grows, your website address has to hit the mark. Here are a couple of tips to ensure you are choosing the best domain name and gTLD:

Selecting the perfect URL

 

 

Don’t overpay: Even if your store is called “Johnny’s Bagels,” and your feel like you must have johnnysbagels.com, it’s simply not worth getting into a bidding war or making a deal with the current owner that will cost you thousands.

Think locally: Come up with web addresses within your location, like bostonbagels.com, or considering your specific neighborhood. Remember, with the right SEO and web content, the web crawlers will know that you are a bagel store and that it’s called “Johnny’s.” The URL doesn’t have to be a perfect match.

Explore gTLDs: Google wouldn’t have paid millions if they didn’t think the future was in different endings besides “.com.” Investigate johnnys.bagels or johnnysbagels.food and similar gTLDs in your industry.

Buy common domains: As long as they are cheap, you can buy the “.net” and other versions of your URL. You can even do misspellings. If you misspell the Nissan Finance website, you are redirected to the Mazda homepage. They bought the misspelled versions of the Nissan web address.

Need help getting the perfect URL for your business? Call Thoughtwire Media: 800-367-2570.

Browser Wars

Posted on December 5, 2014 by - Websites

Browser Wars

If you are reading this right now, then you have accessed the content through the Internet. But as many of you know, you need a web browser to get to different websites to see the content. It’s the same for conducting a search.

Most Internet users don’t claim alliances to one search engine or another. It usually boils down to the default on the device or popularity. Google is number one for search, so a lot of people naturally use Google Chrome.

But is Chrome really the best option? You don’t see too many developers swearing by Safari or Explorer, so it really comes down to Firefox or Chrome. Let’s take a quick look at both and you can decide for yourself what is better.

Tracking

Google is connected to everything that is connected to everything. Yes, you can use incognito, but you should assume that what you do on Google+, what sites you visit and all of your Internet connections are tracked and recorded. You will have less of that on Firefox.

Look

Chrome looks better and is a cleaner platform. But Firefox is a more customizable browser, so you can configure ‘till your heart’s content.

Development

More developers use and like Chrome. Some argue that is because Google employs half of them, but realistically, it is simply preferred.

Extensions

It’s not a contest here—Firefox simply has better and more comprehensive extensions.  However when it comes to synchronization, Chrome syncs everything together very easily, no matter the device.

Security

The bottom line in this debate is the fact that Chrome’s password manager is not secure and can lead to security issues.

Mobile-Friendly Websites Are Not Optional

Posted on November 14, 2014 by - Mobile, Websites

The Increase in Mobile Usage, Google’s Recommendations, and the Rise in Technology Make Having a Mobile Website More Important than Ever

responsive

Web designer, speaker, writer, and marketing consultant Brad Frost probably put it best when he said, “Mobile users will do anything and everything desktop users will do, provided it’s presented in a usable way.”

He is right, and the statistics back it up. Regardless of age, location, and intent, people all over the globe are using mobile devices to surf the Web. If your business still doesn’t have a mobile-friendly website, here are 4 reasons why you need one:

1. Google Recommends Responsive Design

Not only does Google officially support smartphone-optimized websites, specifically Responsive Design, but they recently began testing a new icon in mobile search results that tells the user if the website they are about to click on is mobile-friendly or not.

They currently do not penalize a website in the search results if it is not optimized for mobile; however, based upon their recommendation and this new icon, it might be a matter of time before the next algorithm change benefits mobile websites. Considering that Google currently holds 83.3 percent of the US Mobile Search Market Share, you should probably consider following their guidelines.

2. Staggering Mobile Statistics

If for some reason you’re unsure about the rise in mobile usage, take a look at some of the statistics below. Yes, more and more people are adopting mobile devices, but those people are also a different kind of consumer.

Mobile Web Adoption is growing 8X faster (1)

3. Rise of Mobile Voice Search

As voice commands and the ability for users to speak requests into a device improve, more consumers are utilizing that technology to search for products, services, business locations, hours, etc.

According to one survey from Search Engine Watch which interviewed 1,400 Americans, 55 percent of teens use Google voice search more than once a day and 41 percent of adults use it each day.

No one is speaking these search queries into a desktop computer. They’re using their smartphones or tablets, and the results that come up need to be optimized for all devices.

4. Rise of Mobile Payments

Apple Pay and Google Wallet now allow consumers to not only browse with their mobile devices, but to complete transactions as well. For now, people are still in love with their plastic, but eventually this could revolutionize the way we shop online and offline.

The point is, as mobile technology continues to get smarter and more useful, there will be no reason to surf the Web on anything other than a mobile device.

The trend of creating mobile-friendly, Responsive websites has become a common practice. Why? Because businesses now know that if consumers have a poor mobile experience with a brand, they will flock to the competition. Creating a Responsive site for your business will keep you in line with competitors and open up a whole new world of mobile marketing practices.

Click here to let Thoughtwire create a mobile-friendly website for your small, medium, or large business today!