Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

AttyDC.com’s SEO and Social Networking

Friday, November 5th, 2010

A few months ago we finished a redesign for attydc.com and started a renewed SEO push as well as a social networking campaign.  I was talking to a different attorney (located in a different state from the existing client) today who mentioned that she was needing to redesign her website and do some search engine optimization.  I sent her the following stats information about attydc.com’s Google ranking.  These are the search terms followed by the site’s ranking for that term.

  • Wilmington NC Lawyer (#1)
  • Brunswick County NC Lawyer (#5)
  • Pender County NC Lawyer (#9)
  • Bolivia NC Lawyer (#1)
  • Burgaw NC Lawyer (#1)
  • Carolina Beach NC Lawyer (#4)
  • Caswell Beach NC Lawyer (#3)
  • Hampstead NC Lawyer (#3)
  • Holden Beach NC Lawyer (#1 and 2)
  • Kure Beach NC Lawyer (#4)
  • Leland NC Lawyer (#3 and 4)
  • Oak Island NC Lawyer (#6)
  • Ocean Isle NC Lawyer (#4)
  • Supply NC Lawyer (#3)
  • Surf City NC Lawyer (#1)
  • Sunset Beach NC Lawyer (#5 and 6)
  • Topsail Island NC Lawyer (#1 and 2)
  • Wilmington Beach NC Lawyer (#1 and 2)
  • Wrightsville Beach NC Lawyer (#1)

In a lot of the cases where attydc.com is not the #1, there are usually directory websites (as opposed to a direct competitors) ranked above them.  This doesn’t even factor in that there are 12 or 13 practice area pages for each of the above locations that are also optimized; I just don’t have the time to look up and report over 225 search engine results.

High ranking doesn’t mean much if you’re not gaining extra traffic, but looking at the stat reports I noticed that visits and unique visits are both up about 49% from when we retooled the SEO and started the social networking.  I’ve been told by the client that they’ve definitely noticed an increase in phone calls as well.

This stuff works, folks.  Contact us today to discuss how we can help your website rank high in search engines and increase your traffic.

Share on Facebook

What Our Sitemap Does that Yours Doesn’t

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

A sitemap, put simply, helps your website communicate better with search engines by telling them what pages are on your site.  They’re very useful if you have a large site or you update it often.  There’s really nothing too complex about them and they’re basically essential if you’re concerned with search engine ranking.

Our sitemap does a lot more than just list pages, though, and it’s even more beneficial if you’re doing SEO (search engine optimization) work.  In addition to communicating with search engines and building a list of pages in your site, ours generates two important reports: a broken link report and an SEO report.

The broken link report simply informs you of any bad links on your site, whether they’re linking to internal pages or other websites.  Some SEO experts believe this is a factor that can hurt your website’s standing with search engines, not to mention that it can lead to a poor user experience.  Let’s face it- if someone clicks a link on your website and the page can’t be found, it reflects poorly on the professionalism of your website.

The SEO report, really, is pretty amazing.  It gives a breakdown of 16 different SEO factors for every page of your site.  Click the details link next to any of the summaries and you’ll get a list of every page on your site that needs attention.  I thought about including a screenshot of the SEO report, but I don’t want to give any secrets away.

At any rate, there are lots of sitemaps out there that simply list pages for search engines, but I haven’t heard of any others that do what ours does.  If you’re really into making sure your site is fully optimized, give ours a try.

Share on Facebook

Causes and Solutions for Slow Websites

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Does it take forever to load pages on your site?  Does it feel so much like you’re on dial-up that you can almost hear the modem noise?  In case you forgot (or you’re too young to remember), here it is:

There are a number of reasons your website could be running slow, even if you’re on a high-speed internet connection.

Slow Server

This is something you’ll have to discuss with your hosting company.  There are a lot of different reasons that a server can be slow, but there’s not much you can do about it if you’re not a server admin.  In the interest of brevity, I’ll just say that if the server is the issue and your hosting company can’t do anything about it, it might be time to search for a new website hosting company.

Large Files

In particular, I’m talking about images.  I’ve probably seen hundreds of websites where someone uploads a full-size digital image and then uses the image properties to shrink it down.  Sure, the image only takes up 300 x 200 pixels on the screen, but it’s actually a 3000 x 2000 pixel image scrunched down to that size.  Unless you change the size of the before you upload it, it’s still, in reality, a really big picture, and a big, full-quality picture is always going to take a lot longer to load than one that has been optimized for the web.  And when you try to create your own photo gallery of images that haven’t been optimized for the web, you’ll definitely feel like you’re back in the dial-up age.  Besides, a scrunched-up image looks terrible compared to one that has been properly optimized.

There are a few of options you can use for resizing a picture prior to uploading it.  There are lots of programs out there, such as Photoshop, GIMP and even MS Paint that easily take care of resizing picture.  There are lots of websites out there too.  Just do a search for image resizing and you’ll find plenty of them.

Another option is to see if your web designer can install a program that will resize the images for you automatically when you upload them.  For example, if you use our ecommerce solutions and upload a category or product image, we can set the parameters of the uploader to set the image to a specified height and/or width.

While I’ve mainly focused on images here, you could have the same issue with any sort of media such as Flash, music or videos.  Remember that the web, as nice as some things look on it, is geared (at least for now) towards low resolution.  For example, a client of ours recently sent me an audio file of a radio commercial she wanted to play on her homepage.  I noticed the large file size, re-sampled it to a lower quality and cut down the file size by about 75%.  And you know what?  It still sounded fine on her website.

Just remember that in order for your page to load fast, you’re going to want to make all your files as small as possible while still maintaining an acceptable quality.

Coding

This ties into my last point, to a degree:  The smaller the size of the files on your page, the faster it will load.  By that same token, the smaller your page’s file size, the faster it will load.  You’ll most likely have to talk to your web designer about this, but optimizing your code includes such things as converting the site to CSS, linking to external files (such as one consolidated CSS file and one consolidated javascript file) instead of coding them directly in the page and reducing unnecessary white space in your code.

Of the three suggestions I gave, the one that will usually make the biggest difference is converting a site to CSS.  Now, I don’t want to get into a CSS vs. tables debate, but the fact of the matter is that a site using pure CSS is going to have a lot less code than a site using tables, so it’s going to be faster.

The problem that a webmaster will sometimes run into in telling a client that they need to optimize their code is that a client won’t see a difference in the site, so some website owners are hesitant to shell out the dough necessary for a website coder to spend hours on updating their site’s guts.  Cleaning code isn’t sexy, but it can be extremely effective in speeding up a website.

Making sure your site loads quickly will not only make your website visitors happy, but it will make Google happy as well.  Search engines put a premium on sites that are quick to load, so it can also push your website up in search engine rankings.

If you have any questions about how to go about doing some of the things I mentioned above, feel free to leave a comment below, contact us or send us a Tweet.

Share on Facebook

Reasons Your Company Website Needs a Blog

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

When I mention the word “blog” to most of my clients who don’t already have one, you can almost hear the fear and uncertainty creep into their voices.  The number one response I get?  “I don’t really know what a blog is and I don’t have the time to figure it out.”

Having a blog on your website, and by “on your website” I mean one that is fully integrated into your site, not just an offsite link, is one of the most powerful tools available to businesses of all sizes today.  Here are five reasons your company really needs a blog.

1. Search Engine Optimization

Ask anyone who knows about SEO and they’ll tell you that the golden rule in search engine optimization is that content is king.   A blog allows you to write content that is pertinent to your website that may not quite fit in on another page of your website, and the more relevant content you have, the more it’s going to help your site’s ranking.

On top of that, search engines also like to see that a site isn’t stagnant.  When you have a blog you’re adding new content to the website, which tells the search engines that the site is active, not something that was just set up and left to hang out to dry on the web.

Another SEO benefit to having a blog is that you might have people leave comments or ask specific questions regarding an article, which adds even more content to the site.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed a question into Google resulting in me finding someone else asking the very same question in the comments section of a blog article.

2. Increased Online Exposure

Isn’t increasing traffic through search engine optimization the same as increasing online exposure?  Well, no, not exactly.  Increasing (targeted) online exposure, or a web presence, is one goal of search engine optimization, but a blog can help you link to other online services such as Twitter and Facebook.  By posting your blog entries to these services, you keep your Twitter and Facebook pages from becoming stagnant and give people a reason to follow you.  When people follow you they see your updates, and when they see your updates your online exposure increases.

3. Disseminate Information

If you are in business, chances are that you know something about your field.  If you’re a web designer you may not know every detail about the differences between PHP4 and PHP5 (and hey, I don’t, but I’m not a programmer; I leave that to Scott), but chances are you know more about programming than the average guy off the street, and you can talk about it.

A better example might be this: You’re a plumber who’s been at it for a few years.  You may not know as much as the guy below you on the search engine results page who has been plumbing for 30 years, but you can write about plumbing and give people tips and advice, so that people will see that you do have knowledge and are approachable, they’ll contact you instead of that other guy.  Blog articles give you authority.

It’s also good for just giving people other information about your business, like when you’re going to have a sale or when you’ve hired a new staff member.  People like to feel like they know you.

4. Let People Know You

That brings me to another point: people want to know who they’re doing business with.  If you have a friend or a friend of a friend who offers a service you need done, you’re generally more likely to hire them than someone you’ve never heard of, right?

People have different writing styles, and your personality can show in your writing.  Blog writing is generally laid back and conversational.  Now, that doesn’t mean you should write like a fourteen year old on Facebook, but it doesn’t mean you have to act like you’re writing a technical manual either.  Let your personality come out, and don’t be afraid to share a little about your experiences (so long as you’re not trashing anybody; that doesn’t make you or them look good).

If your prospective customers feel like they know you they’ll not only be more apt to use your services, but to share your articles on Digg, Twitter, Facebook, email or some other form of social networking.

5. It’s Not That Hard

There are other benefits of blogging as well, and the fact of the matter is that it’s really not that hard to do.  There are plenty of blogging programs out there (my favorite being WordPress) that you can learn the basics of in a matter of minutes.  There are so many positive reasons why a company should have a blog that I really can’t think of any excuse good enough to get in the way.

“I don’t have time.” You can’t take half an hour out of the week to write a little bit about what’s going on in your community or your business?  Sure you can.  Or maybe:

“I can’t type very good.” If you wrote that, then no, you don’t.  But you know what?  You probably have an employee who can type well and would like to help the company out by writing blog posts.  Maybe a salesperson or a secretary, or both!  And if there really is nobody in your company who can spend a little time writing your blog, hire a freelance writer.  Yes, there are people out there who make careers out of writing blogs articles for people who can’t find the time to do it themselves.  It’s worth it.

“I don’t know what to write about.” Make lists.  List the things a customer should look for when hiring a company in your field.  (Note: Make sure you live up to the things you list!)  List some resources you use.  Talk about services you provide.  Review products.  Talk about events your company is involved in.  Talk about a new hire, a new job, the process you go through when creating a new product.  Write about classes you took in college or the people who influenced you.  Write about anything!

There are so many reasons your company needs a blog: search engine optimization, increased online exposure, disseminating information, letting customers get to know you and because getting these benefits and more is so simple, it’s silly not to do it!  Years ago it became apparent that any serious company needed to have a website in order to be legit.  I think the time is coming where you need a blog as well.

If you need help setting up a blog, why not give us a shout?

Share on Facebook

AttyDC.com Redesign

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Wilmington NC Lawyer - Attorney David Collins

Venuecom and Impulse Web Designs teamed up to redesign www.attydc.com, the website for Wilmington, NC Lawyer, Attorney David Collins.  The client’s original website was designed from a phone book ad from six or more years ago.  Obviously, styles have changed since then and our first mockup was much more modern; a little too modern for Mr. Collins, who wanted to update the look, but keep it familiar.

The challenge was this: the existing website already ranked at the top of Google for the search term Wilmington NC lawyer, but it was not converting, so one of the points we emphasized in preparing this project was that the look of the site needed to be modernized and more engaging in order to hold the attention of visitors and thereby convert more traffic into leads.

Collins was pleased with the second mockup by designer Travis Ray.  We feel he designer tasked with this challenge did a great job of meshing the old, outdated look with a more modern, pleasing style in the second mockup.

In addition to aesthetic updates, over 200 unique pages were added to the site to help search engines index key service areas and locations targeted by the client.  Links to the client’s Twitter and Facebook accounts were also added and a WordPress blog is slated to appear soon in order to increase the site’s social media presence.

Share on Facebook

Wilmington NC Lawyer Website Redesign

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Venuecom, a Wilmington, NC web design company and partner of Impulse Web Solutions, has just been given the green light to  redesign attydc.com.  The website has been in existence for roughly a decade and has seen no major design overhaul in that time, so Venuecom’s web design team will work on bringing the site up to date with fresh, new graphics and a bolder appearance.

The site already has terrific search engine placement for its main key term, Wilmington NC Lawyer:

Google: 1
Yahoo: 1
Bing: 2

However, the client wishes to have the site rank high for other areas around Wilmington as well as for specific areas of law.  To that end, the newly designed website will include many new pages of relevant content and feature a blog for the discussion of legal advice, law news and other legal matters.

Share on Facebook

Upcoming Website Design Jobs

Friday, June 18th, 2010

It has been a busy week for Impulse Web Solutions and Venue Communications, partner Wilmington, NC web design firms.  Between the two companies we have sent out or are working on sending out proposals for the following web design jobs.

  • Redesign and increase search engine optimization scope of an existing client’s website.  The site is at the top of search engines for its main key phrase, but the client would like to rank high for more search terms.  A secondary goal is to ensure a higher conversion rate by updating the design of the website, which was probably built close to a decade ago.
  • Revamp a website that focuses on providing information about the Myrtle Beach area.  It was originally intended to be a one-page website with some basic information about the company, but they are now ready to flesh it out to make better use of their resources.
  • Redesign a partially-completed website for a local Wilmington, NC shopkeeper.  A site was started for her, but it was never completed, did not accomplish what she wanted to accomplish and is not easy for her to update.  To top all of that off, the client is no longer able to get in contact with her former web designer.  (And that’s why it’s better to use an established web design company instead of the friend of a friend who happens to do  websites.)
  • Copy an existing client’s website, update the code using CSS and make some minor modifications to help them better track leads generated from mass mailing campaigns.

In addition to these web design jobs, we have a few minor to major maintenance jobs lined up for some new and existing clients.  While we’ve been very busy since at least November, this is quite a bit to come all at once.  That fact makes me really glad that we recently expanded our team.  And who knows, maybe all this work is a sign that the economy is turning around.

Share on Facebook

Upgrade WordPress 2.9.2 to WordPress 3.0

Friday, June 18th, 2010

I saw yesterday that WordPress 3.0 was out of beta and available via WordPress’s terrific automatic update feature.  I figured if they had it available through that, they must have worked out any auto install bugs, right?

Well, not quite.

I did the auto install on my personal blog and was told that it failed, then when I tried to go back and change some things in my admin, I got this error:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function set_current_screen() in /xxxxx/wordpress/wp-admin/admin.php  on line 129

Upgrade WordPressI did a little digging around and discovered that I wasn’t the only one.  The suggestions were to disable all your plugins (if you don’t have admin access you can do this by simply renaming the plugins directory via FTP) and see if that works, which would mean one of your existing plugins was causing the issue, or do a manual upgrade.

Renaming my plugins directory didn’t fix it for me, so I decided to do the manual upgrade, and that did the trick.  My WordPress 3.0 blog is working peachy keen now.

There’s a lot going on in WordPress 3.0 and I was eager to play with it, but it was pretty late at that point so I messed with the new default WordPress theme, Twenty Ten, a little bit and called it a night.

While the manual install isn’t particularly difficult, I’m not going to suggest our clients upgrade to it yet unless they want to give it a go themselves.  I’m going to wait until whatever bugs there are in automatically upgrading from WordPress 2.9.2 to WordPress 3.0 are fixed before we go forward with that.

In case you want to know how to manually upgrade from WordPress 2.9.2 to WordPress 3.0, here are the steps:

  • Download WordPress 3.0 and unzip the files into the WordPress folder on your computer.
  • Back up your database.  This is optional, but it’s a good idea.
  • Disable your plugins.  Sometimes a plugin will conflict with something in a newer version of WordPress.  You can reactivate them one at a time to make sure there’s no conflict.  I usually skip this step, personally, but I do remember once or twice where it caused me a problem.
  • Delete the wp-admin and wp-includes directories on the server.
  • Upload all the WordPress 3.0 files to your server except the wp-contents folder.  That folder contains your themes and plugins.
  • Upload the wp-content/themes/twentyten folder.  This will give you the WordPress 3.0 default theme, Twenty Ten, which lets you use all of WordPress 3.0’s new features.  Uploading this folder separately from the rest will ensure that any other themes or plugins you have are not overwritten.
  • You’ll be prompted to update your database, which takes under a minute, then you’re done and ready to explore the new features of WordPress 3.0!
Share on Facebook

SEO Starter Guide

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

Google has come up with a nice little PDF with a ton of SEO information. It is basically a starter guide for anyone interested in optimizing their site. Optimizing a site is not rocket science, but it does require a ton of work which is one of the services I provide.

Link: Google Blog Topic about the SEO Starter Guide

Link: My SEO Services – for info or prices please call 1.910.538.6731

Share on Facebook

Free SEO tool to estimate traffic

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Check out www.statbrain.com, a free tool to estimate the amount of traffic a web site gets.

Statbrain estimates the number of visits that a website has based on offsite factors like backlinks, Alexa Rank, etc. Statbrain does not have access to log files or any counter information.

The number of visits that Statbrain estimates gives you an idea of the number of visitors that a website has, but not the exact visitor number.

Share on Facebook