Category Archives: Web Stuff

Make Your Site Stand Out Without Tricks

I have a friend who used to have an interesting thing happen on his website when you visited it. You’d see cartoon people walking around in the header when all of a sudden you notice one of them walking towards the front.

Suddenly it starts talking to you and it’s him, the real him, enlarged a bit more than the rest, telling you about his business. When he’s done he walks off to applause, and now you not only see people walking across the top but also the bottom. It was pretty cool.

Nina Matthews
via Compfight

That’s one of the most creative things I’ve ever seen. But most sites I go to that have some kind of enhancement aren’t quite that cool. You’ll see things flashing out at you or spinning or have music suddenly playing and frankly all of that stuff is irritating.

I have 5 blogs, but I also have 4 other websites; at least I think it’s only 4. lol Each site has its own unique look while still being somewhat similar. I’ve created other websites that are all different but similar as well. What’s going on?

Well, the similarities are that each site has menus and certain categories of pages, depending on the business. In other words, you’ll find what you’re looking for because I’ve set it up that way. That’s the smartest thing you can ever do on your website; make sure people can find what they’re looking for.

Otherwise, the sites are all different. Some have white backgrounds, some have blue backgrounds. One of my sites has a brown background with dark blue lettering.

You see this blog being different in the color of its content. You’ve also noticed, I hope, that any links I put on this page are a different color than that standard, boring Google blue that a lot of people are used to. Yes, it takes just a tad more coding, but it’s so minimal that it’s not a big deal at all.

You can have a website that’s different than the norm without buying a template, without having lots of fancy tricks, and without assaulting the senses by having loud, bright colors. Since I tend to believe that anything online is marketing, you give yourself a better opportunity for branding and standing out from the crowd if your site has something different than the norm, without being too different.

Think about what you like to see when you go to a website and start from there. That is, unless you’re the type that loves hearing a heavy metal song blasting you as soon as you get there. That’s one you might want to rethink. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

Everything Isn’t For Every Blog Or Website

Most of you know I love the plugin called CommentLuv. I’ve been a fan of that plugin since 2008, so much so that I went ahead and paid for the premium version, which comes with a few more bells and whistles.

Sweet Sweet Sugar Candy!
Vinoth Chandar
via Compfight

Lat year, I noticed that it wasn’t working on this blog. That occurred after an update, which the premium version has at least once a month so it was easy to spot. That it only stopped working on here was odd, so I contacted customer service for help.

After going back and forth in a few emails, turns out the problem is that I removed the footer here years ago because it had this bit of code in it that was falsely indicating what the blog was about. Most websites don’t have this as a problem but most blog themes come with a footer where, if you want or its an option, you can add even more links to your site. I couldn’t add anything to it, and I had problems with any alterations, so I just removed it. The blog works perfectly without it, and I never looked back.

However, the upgraded premium plugin needs the footer to do its job. For me, it kind of stinks, as my theme is pretty old, but which I’ve modified over the years, and I’m not in the mood to get a new one. During testing I swapped to one of the current WordPress themes to see if it would work, and it didn’t. So, whether it’s the footer or not is still out there, but the reality is that I had to load a previous version to get it working again and I’ll just have to be happy with that for now.

What this points out is that the latest and greatest isn’t always so for everyone, and holding onto something old isn’t always the best way to go either. I’m sure there are still many XP users out there who think it’s the bees knees (does anyone say that anymore?) and swear they’re never going to switch up, but last year when Microsoft finally stopped supporting it. If anything goes wrong you’d best be ready to pony up some big bucks for someone to come fix it, as most have moved on to newer operating systems, or be ready to totally wipe your system and load the disk that came with it, without knowing if any of the updated files will still be available.

Back in the early 2000’s the big thing most people wanted was some kind of flash on their websites. It was pretty, bold, and, well flashy. It also didn’t look good for everyone because sometimes it didn’t match up with what their business said they did. I’ve seen a lot of those websites over the years, and most of them have no rankings whatsoever; so sad… As a matter of fact, I’ve removed Flash from my computers, which is problematic because I’m a major fan of Firefox and none of the Flash content on other sites will play on it. However, Chrome seems to be converting all Flash stuff to HTML5, so if I really want to see something I just paste it there.

This is why you need to take a look at your website and your blog every once in a while to make sure everything’s working the way you want it to, as well as to do an evaluation as to whether it’s really getting the message across that you’re hoping to get out to the world. Remember my post about another plugin that started giving me trouble?

It doesn’t mean everything has to change, but it does mean you need to know what’s going on so you can make the determination as to whether to keep on the straight and narrow or make some kind of modifications here and there.

Due diligence is always the best way to go.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

Three Crucial Items Before Creating Your Website

First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! Second, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SCOTT! LOL

On the 5th of this month I put out this question: should you have a website. If you’re going to have a website, there are some things you want to consider when having one designed for you. These things not only have to do with how your site will work on the internet, but have to do with how you want yourself being represented for your business.

DSC03655
Alex Avriette via Compfight

The first is a sense of symmetry. For your main page, you want things to be aligned in certain ways so that the site isn’t visually offensive to your visitors.

Having pictures scattered all over the site instead of placed in strategic places looks junky.

Having text show up in different areas on the page looks amateurish.

Having multiple fonts throughout your text, without a specific reason why, destroys ones credibility.

Having your content centered in some fashion is a must, whether you decide to have your page left justified or not. Your customers are going to question your judgment and competence because your site won’t look like it represents a professional, whether a professional created it or not.

Symmetry goes beyond the first page, though. If you have multiple pages on your site, trying to maintain some semblance of similarity for each page is preferable to having each page look totally different. Moving your menus around is a terrible idea, and not having each menu item work on each page is a mistake I’ve seen over and over.

There can be changes here and there, as long as the basic structure has been kept. For instance, on one of my client’s sites, there are two pictures of the client on the first page that slightly throw off one of the menus as far as alignment goes, but the menu is in the same spot on each subsequent page so that the visitor knows to expect that menu in that place.

Color is a part of symmetry, and changing colors and fonts for each page could be risky. If you have a specific reason for it, then that’s fine. For instance, for one of my client’s sites, the individual articles off the articles page have a totally different layout and color than the rest of the site, because the articles open up in a different window, as kind of a stand alone site. However, the rest of the pages, which are linked, have the same look and feel on each page.

The second thing to consider is making sure you have keywords and keyword phrases scattered throughout the pages that you actually expect people to search for on search engines, if you’re hoping to be found.

wedding shoes47

Anyone who’s used a search engine knows that if people go looking for shoes you’re going to end up with millions and millions of pages. So they start refining their search terms. Something like “shoe” will get millions of pages. “Blue shoes” will start to reduce the number a bit more. “Leather blue shoes” will reduce the number even further. “Handmade leather blue shoes” reduces the number even more.

Now that you’ve got one search term, you think of another that someone might put into a search engine to find your items. The trick is to find search terms that someone might legitimately put into a search engine that will help separate you from the pack; with the above example, even the last term I chose ends up being too broad. That’s why it’s best to find multiple search terms, even in businesses that don’t have as much competition as the word “shoes” might.

The final thing to consider is the amount of content you want to have on your site. For instance, going back to “shoes”, if you wanted to try to have one single page for all the shoes you sold, you’d be doing yourself a disservice and you’d make very few sales. That’s because there are many different varieties of shoes.

You probably want to think about dividing up your site into the different types of shoes you might market: sneakers, books, loafers, heels, etc. Each one of these types of shoes would have its own page, which now gives you more chances to optimize your site even further with keyword phrases. All of these pages help your site to be found by search engines, and it makes going through your site easier for your customers in general because they can go to the pages they want to specifically visit.

This works the same with a business website as opposed to a sales website. You always want to say more about your business than what you might mention on your main page, and if you have other pages to talk more about your services, your bio, your customers, whatever, it all helps in the overall optimization of your site. That, plus the more pages you have, the more your potential clients may see how valuable your services are. It may only be perception, but any benefit your site can give you in a positive.

Think about these things before you get too deep into creating your website; they could save you a lot of time and grief in the long run. It may not hurt to talk to an internet marketing consultant to help you sort these things out.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

Securing Your Online Presence

Last year, while flying down to where I was consulting at the time, I found that my business email account had been shut down. I figured that I would find out soon enough what was going on so I didn’t fret all that much about it. Actually, I pretty much was betting I knew what the issue was and my only question was why it took so long.

Agent [smith]
[martin] via Compfight

On the previous Sunday I noticed that an inordinate amount of spam was coming back on me via bad email addresses, way more than I’d normally seen. At some point last year I figured that my business email account had been spoofed, which is what they call it when your email address has been somehow taken from your website. I thought it was via some script.

When my email was shut down, it turns out someone had actually hacked my email account, which was set up at my host, and all this time they’d been sending these spam emails through that account. I was slightly stunned because I thought my hosts site was more secure than that, especially since no spam goes out through any of my other email addresses created there, and yet I’d wondered why it was still so strong after more than a year of my removing a script that had caused the original problem for me back in 2006.

I accept the fault for two reasons. One, my belief that my host wouldn’t be hacked for my email when it had been hacked months earlier through two of my blogs. Two, the password I had on that email account wasn’t particularly strong, as I’d set it up almost 9 years ago, and I just never thought about it all that much; idiocy. lol

There are these things we do and don’t do that threaten our online security, and we all need to be smarter about it. We don’t create passwords that are at least a little bit more difficult for a spambot to crack easily. We don’t update our software or our blogs when we’re notified of an update. We don’t check on some of the things we’ve attached ourselves to all that often, thus don’t know what’s being said or what’s going out in our names.

The thing is it’s really easy to protect yourself. For blogs, just update the software when the updates are available. For passwords in general, even if you have problems remembering them longer is better, and having at least one capital letter somewhere in there is even better than just going longer. For instance, you could have the word “invincible” but make the C capital, which suddenly makes it a strong password. Many sites require at least one number; do that as well.

On social media, don’t make all of your usernames and passwords the same on every site. If someone figures out one they’ll have access to everything. Some people will recommend that you change your passwords at least once a year but if you can make it pretty difficult up front, you might not have to do that as often.

One final thing. For any site that has anything to do with your money never save your username and password via the browser. All of us at some point inadvertently end up on a site with malware that’s looking to steal those things, and if you don’t have pretty good software to stop it at least you’ll have protected your most important information.

Think security first online; there’s just too many people looking to hurt you.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

Don’t Get Caught Looking Like Your Business Is Unethical

Imagine you’re searching the internet looking for someone to provide services for you. Imagine that you come across a website that looks pretty neat and professional. It not only offers the services you’re looking for but many others. And look, there are lots of testimonials on the site, and even pictures of the people who gave those testimonials, just like this one:

contentproz

Looks pretty good, right? Now imagine you’re someone going about your business, and you find out about a site like this, go to take a look, and lo and behold, there’s your image clear as day, supposedly advocating for a site you’ve never heard of, with a totally different name and in a business that’s not your own.

In this case the lady’s name is Kristi Hines of Kikolani, not Pamela, and she’s one of the top internet writers in the country. She knows a lot about SEO, but that’s not her primary focus. She was stunned to find out that this company had someone obtained her image and used it in their advertising.

I’m not going to mention the website because I don’t want to give them the publicity; she might be trying to do something about removing her image as we speak. It’s possible that the company hired someone else to do the work and that company scarfed up the image from somewhere, figured no one would ever find out, and, well, it’s a super cute face with a great smile, so why not.

As you can imagine, within her circles this is getting a lot of buzz. And since these people profess to do something among their multitude of services that she does, and I’d have to say does better than them, word will be getting out all over the internet & social media circles (that’s where I learned about it), and it will put this company into a compromised situation because this is someone a lot of people like.

The point is that it shouldn’t have come to this. Most of us know that the people shown on many websites, especially in the header area, don’t really work for the company. We’re used to stock images and the like; we get it, because no one stands around posing like they do in some of these pictures.

There are so many sources for finding images that one can use for free that it’s amazing whoever decided to grab this image for its use didn’t go that route. It makes them look bad and, online, once word spreads that you’ve possibly done something unethical, even if it wasn’t specifically you, it’s hard to regain any momentum you or your business might have gained.

Remember, your website is your business, not the business of the person who created it. Don’t get caught up like this, and if you’re thinking about doing it don’t do it. I might say who this is one day… let’s see if someone comes along to identify them so I don’t have to.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell