Website Design Madison WI, Milwaukee, Web Maintenance and SEO Services in Wisconsin

LennartLennart Johansson
Sales Manager – Webstix, Inc.
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TonyTony Herman
VP of Operations – Webstix, Inc.
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Monday, 07 October 2013 11:13 Written by Tony Herman

What's Going on With SEO and Google?

There have been a lot of changes with Google in 2013. Just last Friday, another update to the Penguin algorithm took effect:

Penguin 5, With The Penguin 2.1 Spam-Filtering Algorithm, Is Now Live (searchengineland.com)

Here's another, good article I'd like to bring your attention to:

What '(Not Provided)' & Google Hummingbird Mean for Small Business SEO (searchenginewatch.com)

It gets into the details of what has happened with Google (I'm not sure if the title of the article is the greatest). Here's one excerpt I'd like to highlight:

Replace Non-Branded Keyword Traffic with Entrance Pages

A healthy website is constantly expanding in breadth. In other words, SEO post-Hummingbird requires that a site gain new keyword rankings every month to demonstrate that it is a helpful resource.

The easiest metric to review is the number of unique entrance pages used by users to get to the website.

A website with more entrance pages:

  • Is a stronger resource for answering questions.
  • Offers expertise on more topics.
  • Ranks on more long-tail keywords.
  • Has more breadth in a specific space.

Ok. See that?

A healthy website is one that is constantly expanding. This means you have to keep adding content to your website if you want it to be healthy. I always tell clients that the number one thing they should be doing with their website is keep adding more content. That's why we highly suggest adding a blog to your website since it's an easy way to login, add something, logout, then get on with the rest of the things you need to do to run your business. The blog takes care of putting the content in the right place on your website. That's huge! Blogging makes adding content really easy.

Where Do You Start?

add-website-contentIf your website is static HTML pages or one that does not have a blog, then the first thing to do is have this done. The easy way is just to install a blog (like WordPress) on a "/blog/" folder on your website but it's better if it's integrated into the whole website - meaning, create the whole website on WordPress or another CMS. You'll need expert design and setup, of course (which is why we're here).

Next, set up a blogging calendar or schedule so that you plan what you're going to blog about. There are at least some cycles, even if they're small, with every business or organization, so plan to blog about certain things at certain times. Blog on purpose.

After that, stick to your schedule and keep doing it.

To take things the next level up, do keyword research. Like I say, this is like taking a reading on a map so that you end up in the right place at the end of your journey. Webstix can help with that if you have no idea where to start.

Conclusion

Setting up, running and using your website as a marketing tool today is more complex. As with anything, if you know what to do and how to do it, you're in a much better place than just trying to take stabs in the dark, wasting your time and wasting money.

Hey, I teach skiing in the winter at a local ski hill here. In an hour or so, I can usually get someone turning and stopping on the bunny hill. I've studied the methods and best ways to help people learn it. I've got tricks and exercises that get people there rather quickly. If they were to try it on their own, it would take a lot more time. You learn things from experts, right? How is your website and web marketing any different?

Contact Webstix today and learn more about how we can help you and your business/organization reach its goals.

-Tony

P.S. Here's a few more links about the algo update:

Thursday, 03 October 2013 11:32 Written by Tony Herman

More Than Just Looks!

Here at Webstix, we use the tag line: "Look Good." We say that because it can apply to many things:

  • Your website should look good.
  • Your company should look good.
  • Your website should look good on search results pages.
  • Your website should look good on various devices and web browsers.
  • Your marketing should look good.
  • Your return on investment should look good.
  • and so on.

To have good design, you need attention to detail and experts working on your website. It has to look good in the code so that it runs well, so that people see it and so they know what to do when they get to it.

Websites Aren't Simple Anymore

websites-are-complex

Just in the last few years, the skills and expertise it takes to create an effective website have gone up exponentially. Not only is getting a website to rank in search results more complicated but look at how many kinds of devices there are out there now to view your website on. In the next year, there's a good chance that more people will view your website on a tablet or smart phone rather than on a desktop or laptop computer.

Not only that, many of our clients want their websites to be a tool. They want their websites to be the main place their customers and potential customers go for information. This requires logins, accounts, databases and more. For all that to work well on many kinds of devices means a lot of testing. It also means staying on top of the new technologies out there with continual research and development. One-man type web shops simply cannot do that any more and they're going out of business.

Steps to Create a Website That Your Website Visitors Will Love

Building a successful website takes good planning. If you're building a house, you're going to want to know how many rooms, how big and how many stories it should be. The same goes for a website. The more planning you do, the better but the main thing to do is make sure your website takes care of what your customers are looking for.

Here's a good article that's worth looking at. I've listed their steps below:

5 Steps to Create a Website That Both Your Customers & Search Engines Will Love (searchenginewatch.com)

  • Step 1: Understand Your Customer
  • Step 2: Don’t Attempt to Create a Work of Art
  • Step 3: Create Purposeful, Well-Written Content
  • Step 4: Provide Easy-to-Use Navigation
  • Step 5: Measure & Improve

Some things you generally always want to include on a business website are:

  • A blog - This is an easy way to add new content easily and it can have categories for news, events, announcements and more. It's meant to be a little casual, so the content can vary and you don't need to be a seasoned writer to post something. A blog will automatically list the latest (newest) items first, move the other items down and arvhive older content. They're great. For your website to grow and be a resource, you should be blogging at least once a week.
  • A home page slide show - Let's face it, like in real estate, space is precious. There isn't any more land being made and screen sizes are limited, too. A home page slide show helps you tell a story or show all your services right away. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?
  • Calls to action - You need links on the home page and on every inside page that ask your website visitors to do something.
  • Clear navigation - The navigation should make sense - not just on the home page but on every page since not all your traffic comes from the home page.
  • Quality graphics - Every pixel counts. There should even be enough white space so that your website doesn't look cluttered.
  • Site search - Different people get to content in different ways. Some people use the navigation, some use the site map and others use the search right away.

Most essentially (is that a word?) is your marketing research and copywriting. I'm obviously not a professional copywriter... I just play one on TV. Your copy should be in the same voice, speaking to the correct audience and be concise and effective. It should be easy to scan and provide what people are looking (searching!) for.

If you're ready to move your website up a few notches, then contact Webstix and let's plan a successful website for your business or organization.

-Tony

Wednesday, 02 October 2013 14:37 Written by Tony Herman

How Was Your Website Made?

build-websitesSomething I've realized for a while is that there's a difference in how websites are made. Working here at Webstix, you sort of get blind to what's happening out there sometimes but we'll meet with new clients and look at their current websites and they seem alright (some problems) but once we get access to see more about how they're set up, we see lots of problems.

There's one project we're working on where we've done a bit of quick things for them and then they wanted us to take a deeper look into their website. This is normal - we get a good number of clients through our Website Maintenance Department and they really like how we operate, so they ask for more work or sometimes a redesign or other website project. We took a deeper look and found that it'll take 30 hours of work to fix the numerous things on their website to get the website up to standards.

When you get a website created, it'll take someone who works to standards and someone who does not about the same amount of time. They might even charge you the same amount. The results are drastically different, though.

If you want an idea of what we're talking about, you can run your website through a validator or some other tools. We've created an e-book with a list of some things we look for. What's great is that if you get these things fixed, you typically see a boost in website rankings and traffic. Why? Well, if you take two websites that are equal in content and inbound links, etc. and one is set up better, Google is going to serve that website up higher because it's the better result - more quality.

Go ahead and download the book and then contact us if you want to make sure your website is up to par.

-Tony

Friday, 27 September 2013 13:45 Written by Tony Herman

We've Made Our Mark on Web Maintenance

Today, September 27, 2013, marks the day we take website maintenance prime time!

Our new website maintenance website has launched:

websitemaintenance.webstix.com

We've been doing website maintenance for years and years now (as a company, we're in our 13th year) but today we launch our separate website made just for website maintenance clients.

This part of our business has been very successful. Every day we hear comments like:

  • "Thanks! That was quick"
  • "Thank you for the quick response!"
  • "That was easy. Thank you!"

We get clients not only from the Madison, WI area but from all over the United States and even around the world. We have clients in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America. Our system works so well that we do not need to meet with our maintenance clients face to face. Our team gets it, they ask questions, they make things clear and they get the work done... period! (ok, exclamation point)

Many of our website maintenance clients become website project clients. They love how we do the little things for them and they then turn to us for new website projects because of how comfortable they are working with us. Some don't even put out bids anywhere else - it's a no brainer!

If you have been looking for help doing website updates, maintenance and website software upgrades, look no further - you're found the right place to come to. We've been doing this for years and we have it down!

Try Us!

Hey, we even have an offer for first time customers where you can try our services. You can get 1 hour of work (2 Maintenance Blocks) for just $47 or 2 hours of work (4 Maintenance Blocks) for only $87. If the work isn't done right, we'll fix it... guaranteed!

Check Out Our New Website!

We just launched a new website maintenance website that is using responsive website design and is slicker than a... than a... well, it's slick!

webstix-website-maintenance

Bottom line... give us a chance. We have many happy clients and we'd like to count you as one of them, too!

-Tony

Wednesday, 11 September 2013 15:54 Written by Tony Herman

Why are There 404 Page Errors Showing Up on My Website?

When looking through website statistics, one question we invariably get from clients is them asking why there are 404 errors showing up. A 404 page is a server error when something's missing. Here's how Wikipedia defines it:

The 404 or Not Found error message is a HTTP standard response code indicating that the client was able to communicate with the server, but the server could not find what was requested.

The web site hosting server will typically generate a "404 Not Found" web page when a user attempts to follow a broken or dead link; hence the 404 error is one of the most recognizable errors users can find on the web.

There's a variety of reasons why this page might show up:

  • A link to a page isn't coded correctly or it was changed and not updated.
  • Someone typed in a URL (web page address) wrong - not the domain but the page name after the domain.
  • Content was moved or deleted.

Whatever the reason, it's important to make sure your website visitors aren't see this page very often. There are some things you can do to make sure that this page doesn't show up. Also, when it does, you want to make sure the page is helpful and looks like your website.

I was inspired to write this article because of this article that I found, which you should check out, too:

404 Page Best Practices (searchenginewatch.com)

Check Your Website for 404 Errors

There are a number of tools you can use to check for 404 errors. Once you know how they're being created, there's a good chance you can clean most of them up - at least the ones on your website.

First, you'll want to make sure that you are signed up for Google Webmaster Tools. Doing this can help you a lot and I really think this is about the best SEO tool you can use for your website if you're just getting started with SEO.

Second, here are the additional tools that are available:

Your server stats program (like AW Stats or others) or server log files are also good places to check for 404 errors.

Fix Your 404 Errors

Now that you know the errors, fix them! Is it as easy as it sounds? Yes, pretty much. You can use site search tools to find the bad links. Heck, even Google can help. Again, the best tool, I think, is Google Webmaster Tools since they even tell you which pages have the bad links on them. That's some valuable info there, buddy!

Beautify Your 404 Page

trufcreative404My favorite thing is the funny 404 pages that are out there (see fab404.com). Seeing one can help take the edge off. You don't have to go that far but your 404 page should at least be using your website's theme or template so that things like your website's navigation and search form (box) are visible. They'll help your website visitors find what they're looking for.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can have a 404 error generate an email that goes to you, notifying you that someone got to a 404 page. You could look at this as either being annoying or helpful (depending on how many emails you get - and remember, some of this is people just typing things in wrong).

If you are interested in getting a funny 404 page developed, just let us know... sounds like fun!

Conclusion

Having a website that's technically set up is important. The great thing is that once you fix it, you'll take advantage of the benefits going forward. You really just do it once and you're set.

-Tony