Posts Tagged ‘search engine optimization’

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.

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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.

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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.

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Things to Consider Before Building a Website

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

I saw someone on Twitter ask if anyone had a good checklist for building a website.  I wondered if they were talking about a checklist to look at before a designer gets involved, or if this include looking for a designer.

If the list were to include looking a designer, I’d have to write it to be shamelessly self-promoting.  (Do they build the site in a CMS at no extra charge?  Do they offer any free updates?  Do they give you a free search engine ranking report?)  In light of that, let’s assume you’ve decided you want to build a website, but are not at the point of hiring a designer yet.  A lot of people skip the part in-between, but the more fleshed-out your site is before you talk to a designer, the easier that talk will go and the faster the designer will be able to come up with a quote for you.  Having a clear vision for your website will also keep you from adding to the project as you go, sparing the designer a headache and saving you some money.

So, here’s a checklist for building your website.  Maybe it’s not a checklist, per se, but this could serve as a guideline for things you should know about your website before you seek out a designer.

What is the goal or purpose of my website?

Are you selling something?  Are you trying to generate leads?  Are you giving information?  What do you need to do to draw attention to that purpose?  Knowing the answer to these questions will help you strategize the layout, graphics and typography of your website with your web designer.

Who is the intended audience?

If the purpose of your website is to sell Medicare supplements, you’ll want to capture the attention of people around the age of 65 and above.  You’ll want the writing to be easy to read, maybe a little larger than usual.  You probably wouldn’t want the design to be too slick and techie.  On the other hand, if your website is geared towards gamers, you probably want more images and slick graphics.  Keep your audience in mind when planning your website.

What should my website look like?

This is a pretty big one.  A decent web designer can make a site look like anything.  Some people are fine giving a designer complete freedom to design a website however they want, but hopefully you have some idea as to how your site should look.  It will save your designer time, even if you look at other websites and pull elements you like from them, if you’re able to give at least a few guidelines.  If you already have a logo, business cards or some kind of branding, make sure to incorporate that.

Do I need my website to be found?

You’d think the obvious answer would be the affirmative, but not every site needs to be ranked #1 in search engines to be useful.  I refer to these sites as business card websites.  Some people just need a portfolio, resume or supplemental information to be available when they point people to the site.  Most sites, though, do need to be found.  If you offer a service or sell goods, you need to make sure to set aside a good budget for search engine optimization and/or pay-per-click ads, and you need to plan your website accordingly.

Does my website require any special features?

Would it be useful to my visitors to allow them to create an account for my website?  If you have a movie theater website, it would be useful to have a database to add movies and their showtimes.  For a real estate agent, it would be great to be able to have a database for real estate listings on your website so you won’t have to manually create new pages and links for every listing.  If you need a special feature on your website, think it through in as much detail as you can.  Simply telling your web designer that you need a client login doesn’t really tell them anything.  What information is required to create an account?  How do they retrieve a lost password?  What happens when they log in?  Think through what you need and how it should work.

The point in all this is that the more fully realized your website is before you even contact a web designer, the easier the entire process will be.  You don’t need to write out an entire RFP (although we do love those), but you should know something about your creation.  Many people dream about having a great website, so get it started on the right foot by laying the groundwork for success.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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