Everything you need to know about SEO and website design

Everything you need to know about SEO and Web Design

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Your website is the center of your digital marketing world — the place that all digital rivers run toward. And of course, the largest of its traffic sources is generally organic search.

Yet all too often, businesses don’t think about SEO until after having a website designed (or redesigned), and these sites are often sadly lacking on the SEO and digital marketing front. They may look shiny, but if the marketing smarts are not cooked in at design time, then you will be running the marketing race with a wooden leg. Or at the very least, faced with going back to the drawing board and wasting a whole load of time and money.

In this post, we look at how SEO should be an integral part of your website design (or redesign) process. We are going to look at what you need to consider to have a site that is built for search marketing and lead generation — and how focusing on happy users keeps the Google gods on your side.

We will also take a look at some of the common pitfalls that can befall businesses looking to build a new website that is central to your digital marketing efforts.

In brief, I am going to help you ensure your next site is a lean, mean SEO and digital marketing machine.

Developing an SEO-friendly website

At a fundamental level, an SEO-friendly site is one that allows a search engine to explore and read pages across the site. Ensuring a search engine can easily crawl and understand your content is the first step to ensuring your visibility in the search engine result pages.

A search engine utilizes a web crawler for this task, and we are trying to work with the search engines rather than against them. Unfortunately, there are many ways to make a website, and not all technologies are built with search engine optimization in mind.

Building an SEO-friendly site requires careful planning and a structured approach to representing your business and the services you provide. For many businesses, this can be complicated — it’s not always easy to document exactly what you do.

As a marketing tool, your website should be built upon a solid digital marketing plan with a clear business model and value proposition. If that’s unclear, then you need to revisit that first.

Assuming you have all that good stuff in place, let’s dive in.

Fundamentals

There are a few core elements that set the stage for a well-optimized website design process.

Domains

Your business may use example.com as the primary domain. But you may have others. Ensuring your domain makes sense and relates to what you do is super-important. Ensuring that all variations and subdomains correctly point at the main site and redirect to a single canonical version of the site is important.

Our business is called TurkReno. We operate in the United States. We are a web-based business. It naturally follows that our domain is turkreno.com. All subdomains 301 redirect back to the main URL turkreno.com. We have few domain variations that 301 redirect back to the main URL. This all makes sense.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that having-my-keywords-in-my-domain.com helps. It just looks daft. It can help a little for local businesses, but ensure you are mapping to the real world. Be sensible.

Hosting

Your hosting is also important. A slow site makes for unhappy users. Your hosting should follow common-sense rules. Be situated where your audience is situated. Be fast. Be platform-specific, if necessary. We have a great hosting platform.

CMS

The CMS (content management system) you choose for your business can hugely influence how successful you are. WordPress is a great option in many situations, but it’s not the only one. It certainly is wired up at a basic level in a way that Google can understand. This is not to say it is the best choice for all situations, but certainly, it’s a good starting point for most businesses. Just be sure that the CMS you choose is the right one for your situation, rather than the one your chosen web company prefers to work with.

Crawling & accessibility

The first step is ensuring a search engine can crawl your site and understand what it is that you do (and where you do it).

Indexation

To understand your site, they have to be able to read the content of the page. This means that the main content of your site should be text-based behind the scenes. Not images. Not flash or video. Even in this ever-advancing world, your main content should still be text-based. There are some great tools, like web fonts, that mean you can still look the part, and your images have a place, but be sure to talk in clear language about what it is you do so the search engine can read and understand your offering.

Images, videos, PDFs and content are also important and can be a source of search engine traffic. Again, these need to be discoverable and indexable.

Link structure

To index your content beyond the home page, you need internal links that the search engine can crawl. Your primary navigation, search engine directives and tools like XML sitemaps all help the search engine crawl your site and discover new pages. Tools like Screaming Frog can help you ensure that your site can be easily crawled by a search engine.

Information architecture and structuring your site

I have always like the filing cabinet analogy for website structure. Your site is the filing cabinet. The major categories are the drawers. The subcategories are the folders in the drawers. The pages are documents in the folders.

  • Cabinet: your website
  • Drawer: high-level category
  • Folder: subcategory
  • File: individual document/page

Context is indicated not only by the site it exists on but also by the position within that site. Our own site has a drawer for services, and each service has sub-services in folders. Your site will be largely the same.

If we consider the following structure of the Bowler Hat site as an example:

Home

– Services

– – Service Area

– – – Individual Service

Home

– Services

– – SEO

– – – SEO Audits

So, there is a page in this information architecture that is simply /audits/.

The /audits/ page exists in the SEO folder in the services drawer. Nice and organized. This can follow through with other SEO elements to clearly indicate context far beyond that which can be indicated by the document alone.

This is relevant to blog posts, articles, FAQ content, services, locations and just about anything else that is an entity within your business. You are looking to structure the information about your business in a way that makes it understandable.

Some sites may take a deep approach to structuring content. Others may take a wide approach. The important takeaway here is that things should be organized in a way that makes sense and simplifies navigation and discovery.

A three- to four-level approach like this ensures that most content can be easily navigated to within four clicks and tends to work better than a deeper approach to site navigation (for users and search engines).

URLs

Context is further indicated by the URL. A sensible naming convention helps provide yet more context for humans and search engines.

Following are two hypothetical sets of URLs that could map to the Services > SEO > SEO Audit path laid out above — yet one makes sense, and the other does nothing to help.

www.example.com
www.example.com/services/
www.example.com/services/seo/
www.example.com/services/seo/audits/

www.example.com
www.example.com/s123/
www.example.com/s123/s1/
www.example.com/s123/s1/75/

Of course, the second set of URLs is a purposely daft example, but it serves a point — the first URL naming convention helps both search engines and users, and the second one hinders.

Navigation

Your navigation is equally important. When a site is well-structured, the navigation works with the structure, the URLs and other components, like XML sitemaps, to help solidify what each page or piece of content is about.

Navigation is more than just the menu at the top of your website. It is how you signpost users to the most relevant part of your site. Navigation can be a tool to raise awareness of additional services and includes not just text links but content on all pages and in the templated design elements of your site.

I have always liked the signpost analogy. I walk into a supermarket and look for the signs to find what I need. Your website is no different. If a user is referred and searches for your brand name, then they will land on your home page. They then need a signpost to get them to the relevant service. And it had better be easy to find!

It is very easy to get this wrong, and careful thought must be applied — before you build the site — regarding the needs and wants of your users. A website is a digital component that should execute the strategy from your marketing plan. Understanding users here is crucial so you can ensure you are meeting their needs.

Navigation should not need any real cognition — it should not make the user have to think. The following image is a sign from my local home improvement store. Which direction takes you to the car park and which direction takes you to the deliveries entrance?

My brain follows the “customer parking” line from left to right, so I of course turn right. However, the customer parking is to the left. There is nothing there to clearly illustrate which is right or wrong.

I have to think. Or in practice, I go in the wrong direction a few times before I learn. However, if users don’t find what they are looking for on a website, they will return to the great ocean of competition that Google search results represent.

Ensure your navigation is crystal-clear — if one user can make a mistake, many others can, too.

Common problems

There are many potential issues with content that can’t be found or can’t be understood by the search engine that can work against you. For example:

  • Orphaned content that can’t be found
  • Content only available via site search
  • Flash files, Java programs, audio files, video files
  • AJAX* and flashy site effects**
  • Frames — Content embedded from another site can be problematic.
  • Subdomains — content split into subdomains rather than sub-folders

* Google has gotten a lot better at reading AJAX pages, but it is still possible to obscure content with pointless effects.

** Flash is going to be retired by December 2020.

Be sure that important content is easily discoverable, understandable and sits in the overall structure of the site in a way that makes sense.

Summary

If everything is done well, a human and a search engine should have a pretty good idea what a page is about before they even look at it. Your typical SEO then just builds on this solid foundation that is laid out by your information architecture and site structure.

Mobile-friendly design

We live in a mobile-first age. Sites optimized for search engines should give equal consideration to the mobile layouts of their websites (rather than just bolting on simple responsive website design).

Yet, in 2017, responsive design is not enough. Five years later, with massive technological progress and greatly improved mobile data networks, your future customers are using mobile as the first, and often only, device to interact with your business.

To create a truly mobile-friendly design and maximize results from mobile search, you must think of the needs and wants of mobile users. What a user will do on a phone is often far different from what they will do on a computer. And even if your conversions tend to be on a desktop, that crucial first touch may well be on mobile.

From an SEO perspective, it is worth noting that mobile-friendliness is a confirmed ranking factor for mobile search. However, far more important, mobile is how your prospective customers are searching for and browsing your site.

Work hard on optimizing the user experience for mobile users and you will reap the rewards for your efforts in terms of traffic and user engagement.

Page speed

Another key consideration in the mobile era is page speed. Users may be impatient, or they may not always have a great mobile data connection. Ensuring your pages are lean and mean is a key consideration in modern SEO-friendly website design.

A great starting point is Google’s mobile-friendly test. This tool will give you feedback on mobile-friendliness, mobile speed and desktop speed. It also wraps everything up into a handy little report detailing what exactly you can do to speed things up.

Suffice it to say, page speed is yet another important consideration that spans how your site is built and the quality and suitability of the hosting you use.

Usability

Web usability is a combination of other factors: device-specific design, page speed, design conventions and an intuitive approach to putting the site together with the end user in mind.

Key factors to consider include:

  • Page layout. Important elements should have more prominence.
  • Visual hierarchy. Make more important elements bigger!
  • Home page and site navigation. Clearly signpost directions for users.
  • Site search. Large sites need a sensibly positioned search option.
  • Form entry. Make forms as lightweight and easy to fill as possible.
  • Design. Great design makes everything easier.

This is just scratching the surface here, and usability really has to be customized to the individual site.

The content marketing funnel

Your website has a hell of a job to do: it must help your business get in front of prospective customers on search engines, and then it has to engage and convert those customers.

Your site needs content to help with all of these stages of the customer journey. Content and SEO is an important combination here, as you may get in front of a customer as they look for similar services from another company they are already considering.

A structured way to consider the content you need here is a typical marketing funnel:

Awareness — top of the funnel

Awareness content will typically be your blog and informational articles. We are helping your prospective customer understand the problems they face and illustrating your experience and credibility in solving them.

  • Blog posts
  • Informational articles
  • Webinars
  • Comprehensive guides
  • FAQs

Consideration — middle of the funnel

The content at the consideration stage helps your prospect compare you against the other offerings out there. This tends to be practical content that helps the customer make a decision.

  • Case studies
  • Product or service information
  • Product demonstration videos
  • User guides

Conversion — bottom of the funnel

Bottom-of-the-funnel content drives conversions and should gently encourage a sale or lead.

  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Free trial
  • Free consultation

Remember that customers will search across this entire spectrum of content types. Therefore, ensuring all of these areas are covered aids discovery via search engines, consideration and conversion.

SEO nuts & bolts

As you can see, there is a lot to consider before we even look at the more familiar elements of optimizing your site and pages. We should only really start to think about keywords and basic on-page optimization once we have this solid foundation in place. And hopefully, if we have structured everything correctly, then the actual optimization of the pages becomes far easier.

Keyword targeting

Nailing your keyword strategy is so much easier once you have a solid structure without internal duplication. If we look at our previous examples for site hierarchy and structure, then adding keywords is relatively straightforward (and is something we would often do in a spreadsheet pre-design).

– Services
– – SEO
– – – SEO Audits

www.example.com/services/
www.example.com/services/seo/
www.example.com/services/seo/audits/

If I use these pages as an example, we have a natural progression from broad keywords to more refined search terms. We can even consider basic modifiers such as location if we are a local business.

Home

– digital marketing agency

– digital marketing company

+ Mobile

+ AL

Services

– marketing services

– digital marketing services

+ Mobile

+ AL

SEO

– SEO

– Search Engine Optimization

+ Company

+ Agency

+ Mobile

+ AL

SEO Audits

– SEO Audits

– Technical SEO Audits

+ Agency

+ Company

+ Mobile

The point here is that a well-structured site gets you a good way toward determining your keyword strategy. You still have to do the research and copywriting, but you can be sure you have a solid strategy to target broad and more detailed terms.

HTML title tags

The <title> tag is the primary behind-the-scenes tag that can influence your search engine results. In fact, it is the only meta tag that actually influences position directly.

Best practice for title tags are as follows:

  • Place keywords at the beginning of the tag.
  • Keep length around 50 to 60 characters.
  • Use keywords and key phrases in a natural manner.
  • Use dividers to separate elements like category and brand.
  • Focus on click-through and the end user.
  • Have a consistent approach across the site.

Even in 2017, we still see a lot of overoptimized page titles. We want our keywords in the title tag, but not at the expense of click-through and human readability. A search engine may rank your content, but a human clicks on it, so keep that in mind.

Meta description tags

Meta descriptions don’t directly influence rankings. We all know that, right? But of course, that is completely missing the point here. Your meta description is the content of your advertisement for that page in a set of search engine results. Your meta description is what wins you the click. And winning those clicks can help improve visibility and is absolutely vital in driving more users to your pages.

Meta descriptions must:

  • truthfully describe the page content.
  • advertise the page and improve click-through rates.
  • consider the user’s thought process and why they will click on this page.
  • include keywords where relevant and natural to do so.

The search engine will highlight search terms in your page title and meta description which help a user scan the page. Don’t use this as an excuse to spam the meta description, though, or else Google likely will ignore it, and it won’t lead to that all-important click!

There are also situations where it can make sense not to create a meta description and let the search engine pull content from the page to form a description that more accurately maps to a user’s search. Your brief meta description can’t always cover all the options for a longer-form piece of content, so keep this in mind.

Heading tags

Heading tags help structure the page and indicate hierarchy in a document: H1, H2, H3 and so on. Text in heading tags correlates with improved rankings (albeit slightly), but what really matters is that alignment between the structure of the site, behind the scenes optimization like page titles and meta descriptions and the content itself. Line everything up, and things make more sense for users, and we help search engines categorize our content while eking out every last bit of simple, on-page optimization we can.

Remember to align header tags with the visual hierarchy. Meaning the most important header on the page (typically the <h1>) should also be the biggest text element on the page. You are making the document visually easy to understand here and further ensuring that design and content are working together for the best end result.

Page content

The content should generally be the most important part of the page. However, we still see archaic SEO practices like overt keyword density and search terms with a lack of connective words used in the copy. This does not work. It certainly does not help with your SEO. And it makes for a poor user experience.

We want to make sure the context of our page is clear. Our navigation, URLs, page titles, headers and so on should all help here. Yet we want to write naturally, using synonyms and natural language.

Focus on creating great content that engages the user. Be mindful of keywords, but certainly don’t overdo it.

Considerations for page content:

  • Keywords in content (but don’t overdo it)
  • Structure of the page
  • Position of keywords in the content — earlier can be better
  • Synonyms and alternatives
  • Co-occurrence of keywords — what else would other high-quality documents include?

Rich snippets

Rich snippets are a powerful tool to increase click-through rates. We are naturally attracted to listings that stand out in the search engine results. Anything you can do to improve the click-through rate drives more users and makes your search engine listings work harder. Factor in possible ranking improvements from increased engagement, and you can have a low-input, high-output SEO tactic.

The snippets that are most relevant to your business will depend on what you do, but schema.org is a great place to start.

Image optimization

Image SEO can drive a substantial amount of traffic in the right circumstances. And again, our thoughts regarding context are important here. Google does not (yet) use the content of images, so context within the site and the page and basic optimization are crucial here.

As an example, I am looking for a hobbit hole playhouse for my five-year-old, and the search brings up image results:

kids hobbit hole playhouse Google Images

I can dive right into those image results and find a multitude of options, then use the image to drive me to the site that sells the playhouse. Optimizing your images increases the chance of improving prominence in the image search results.

Image optimization is technically straightforward:

  • Image name — provide a name that clearly describes what the image is.
  • Alt text — use descriptive alt text to help those who can’t see the images to reinforce the image content.
  • Add OpenGraph and Twitter Cards so the image is used in social shares.
  • Use the image at the right physical size to ensure fast downloads.
  • Optimize the image’s file size to improve loading times.
  • Consider adding images to your XML sitemap.

Image optimization is relatively simple. Keep the images relevant. Don’t spam the filenames and alt text with keywords. Be descriptive.

Common problems

SEO projects at Bowler Hat often include an SEO audit as the first port of call. We can’t cover every eventuality here, but the following are the usual suspects that crop up and that web designers should be mindful of.

Duplicate content

There tend to be two kinds of duplicate content: true duplicates and near-duplicates. True duplicates are where the content exists in multiple places (different pages, sites, subdomains and so on). Near-duplicates can be thin content or substantially similar content — think of a business with multiple locations or shoes listed on a unique page in different sizes.

Keyword cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization refers to the situation where multiple pages target the same keywords. This can impact the ability of your site to have one page that strongly targets a given term.

Where the site architecture and hierarchy has been carefully planned, you should eliminate this during the planning and design stages.

Domains, subdomains and protocols

Another potential issue where duplication crops up is where the site is available on multiple domains, subdomains and protocols.

Consider a business with two domains:

  • Example.com
  • Example.co.uk

With www and non-www versions:

  • Example.com
  • Example.co.uk
  • www.example.com
  • www.example.co.uk

And the site runs on HTTP and HTTPS:

  • http://example.com
  • http://example.co.uk
  • http://www.example.com
  • http://www.example.co.uk
  • https://example.com
  • https://example.co.uk
  • https://www.example.com
  • https://www.example.co.uk

Before too long, we can get to a situation where the site has eight potential variations. Factor in the site resolving on any subdomain and a few duff internal links and we can often add things like “ww.example.com” to the list above.

These kinds of issues are simply resolved with URL redirections via Apache, but again, they deserve consideration by any web design agency that takes care of hosting and is serious about the SEO of their customers’ websites.

Botched canonical URLs

Another common issue we see is an incorrect implementation of canonical URLs. What typically happens here is that the person building the site looks at canonical URLs as an SEO checklist kind of job. They are implemented by dynamically inserting the URL in the address bar into the canonical URL.

This is fundamentally flawed in that we can end up with the site running on multiple URLs, each with a canonical URL claiming that they are the authoritative version. So the canonical implementation exacerbates rather than resolves the issue.

Canonical URLs are a powerful tool when wielded wisely, yet they must be used properly or they can make matters worse.

Code Header Description Title

Everything You Need to Know About Meta Descriptions

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The meta description is about a 160 character snippet, a tag in HTML, that summarizes page content. Search engines show the meta description in search results mostly when the searched for phrase is contained in the description. Optimizing the meta description is a very important aspect of on-page SEO.

The function of a meta description for your page is simple: its main purpose is to get the visitor from Google to click your link. In other words, meta descriptions are there to generate clickthroughs from search engines.

What is Metadata in HTML

Metadata is information about your HTML document that isn’t visible on a page, but is in the search results. Metadata usually specifies the page description; author of the asset; the date of publication or the date of the last update; keywords, etc. Metadata is supported by all the major browsers such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Opera, and Safari.

Search engines don’t use metadata as a ranking factor in their algorithms and SEO experts discourage website owners from adding meta keywords to the HTML of a page. Why? Mainly because these meta keywords don’t help anyone with anything apart from showing your competitors what keywords you are trying to optimize your pages for. So better skip on meta keywords.

On the other hand, there are meta titles and meta descriptions which are still super important for any HTML document. In this piece of writing, we are going to explain how to write a meta description and what the benefits behind it are.

What is a Meta Description?

Meta descriptions display preview snippets for a specific page, giving a clear idea of your site’s content straight from the search results and encouraging users to click-through to your site. This makes it a paramount part of search marketing. A meta description is a short HTML attribute of about 155 characters – including spaces – and displays under the title tag and link in the search results.

Description in META tag

“The description tag is one of the most important elements shown to the users for the typed query. The meta description is presented as a snippet of your content. It tells your potential visitors what kind of information they can find on your web page.”

Optimal Meta Description Length

“The meta description is used by Google to present your website’s content on a search engine results page. The amount of characters that could be displayed is limited, though. Shorten the description of your site and try not to exceed 160 bytes.”

Meta Description Code Example:

<head>

<meta name=”description” content= “When migrating your website, there is always a risk to lose your keyword rankings. Discover everything you need to do to avoid SEO migration disaster.”/>

</head>

Meta Description in Search Results:

Meta Descriptions in Search

WordPress Meta Description: (by Yoast SEO)

WordPress Yoast Meta Descriptions

Its function is to summarize the content of a particular page. The better written your meta description is, the more click-throughs it drives. Meta description optimization is a necessary part of on-page SEO.

The best examples of meta descriptions come from search engines themselves. Anytime you want to check how to create yours, look at Google, Bing or Yahoo.

Is a Meta Description a Ranking Factor?

A meta description tag isn’t a direct ranking factor; however, there is a strong correlation between higher rankings and a well-crafted meta description. That’s because this short paragraph provides a unique chance to advertise your content to the searchers and convince them to read further.

A compelling meta description makes people click-through from SERPs, positively impacting your click-through rate. CTR already belongs to the list of behavioral factors that have a strong influence on search rankings.

Meta Description Length

Your meta descriptions should accurately convey and wrap up what your page is about within one or two sentences.

Search engines have limited space and aren’t capable of displaying long meta descriptions on SERPs. So the character limit of a meta description is 155 characters. – This is what can be fully displayed without any cut offs. Longer descriptions will end up being cut in the middle of what you wanted to say. So make them engaging but concise.

Search engines can also add some extra snippets to your results, making your meta description even shorter. So don’t go for the maximum meta description length, find your optimum instead. For instance, we usually stick to 150 characters.

Incorporate CTA

Your meta description should work for you. As the name itself suggests, it should be descriptive and written in a way that encourages clicks. The second part of your meta description should promise to benefit readers in some way and make them click in order to find out more. At the end of your description write “Find out more” / “Learn more” / “Discover more” or any other incentive to boost clicks.

Keywords in Meta Descriptions

Even if search engines declare that meta descriptions don’t improve your ranking (meaning, incorporating keywords is not a must), write them anyway.

As you can see on the screen below, when you type in a particular phrase into a search box in Google, like for instance – meta description – you are provided with a list of results with all the keywords appearing in bold. This also refers to keywords in meta descriptions.

Meta Descriptions Example

So including keywords in this short HTML snippet will at least draw more attention to your page when a user searches for a particular phrase. And this is a substantial advantage.

Use Rich Snippets to Enrich Your Meta Description

Structured data is a very useful element to add to your metadata. Depending on the type of content that you publish, factors such as ratings, price, and date of publication can determine whether a user clicks on your resource or not.

So always leverage rich snippets to make your meta description even better and more detailed for searchers. Add structured data to your results using WordPress plugin – schema.org – or if you aren’t using WordPress, you can use Google markup helper to help guide you through the process of adding rich snippets to your pages by adding the missing tags.

Uniqueness is Key

Make sure that all your meta description tags are unique on each page, as the repetitive ones can cause you some serious duplicate content issues. You can check the uniqueness of your meta descriptions using Google Search Console. Go to → Search Appearance → HTML Improvements → Duplicate meta descriptions. There you will be provided with the full report.

How to fix duplicate meta descriptions?

It’s best to rewrite them or entirely get rid of them. In the short movie above, Matt Cutts explains that it’s better not to have any meta descriptions rather than have duplicate meta descriptions across pages.

If no meta description has been specified, search engines will display an excerpt from the page instead. Search engines can auto-create a meta description by choosing the most relevant part of your text on a page. Matt Cutts suggests that in some cases, it can be the best solution, especially when you aim to avoid duplicate content.

Where to start if you have a big website?

Check out your best-performing assets in Google Analytics regarding sessions and the trial conversions they generate. To do so, go to BehaviourLanding Pages and add the proper Goal.

Then, click on the sessions column to organize your data, and note the best volume pages down. Afterward, go to the goal column and organize the results in a similar manner, and once again, jot down the best pages.

This research should give you a clear overview of which meta descriptions to optimize first. The correct optimization of metadata should boost their performance.

However, independently from the research, start with your homepage.

Homepage Meta Description

The homepage meta description is a very particular case. This is your most valuable resource, so an excellent approach is imperative. Craft and optimize a meta description for your homepage first, remembering to incorporate your primary strategic keywords. Try to wrap it around a compelling marketing message that emphasizes your unique selling points.

Your homepage will usually show up in the search results along with site links underneath. Site links highlight other relevant pages that are deeper in your domain and are meant to help searchers navigate your website, as they enable to jump directly to a page of interest.

One-line site links, as well as two columns site links, are generated automatically by search engines, and the decision of what to display is based on the relevancy: what results can potentially be the most useful to a particular searcher.

You can’t decide on your end what will be displayed, but you can make sure that your results have great meta titles and meta descriptions.

So once your homepage meta description is done and well-crafted, the next priority is optimizing the metadata of pages that appear below.

Homepage meta description from Google

Once you are done, you can go back to the results of your research. Remember to follow all the rules included in this piece of writing! Finally, use the TurkReno On-Page Optimization tool to see if your meta description for a particular URL is correct. Go ahead, check them all!

Happy optimizing!

Does Blogging Help With SEO?

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Does Blogging Help SEO? Still Skeptical? Here are 6 reasons why your business needs to be blogging to help your SEO rankings right now.

When we first started trying to SEO our website, we began by picking some keywords with decent search volume and began building links to that page. That worked OK for a while, but there was really something missing in this strategy.

We know this is true for many of our web development clients, and you might even be familiar with constantly checking your keyword rankings and feeling the frustration of not being able to control their movement.

When we speak to these clients about the importance of blogging for SEO purposes the most common response is:

“Does blogging help SEO? Let’s focus on link building – we don’t really think blog posts are going to achieve what we’re after.”

This thought process is the biggest flaw in SEO strategy for your website.

You’re focusing on ranking for a few terms instead of focusing on providing what your customers want. Sometimes customers come in and know exactly what they want. But most of the time, they are going to have a bunch of questions. They know they want to buy something… but they aren’t ready, yet. We know in our business, we hear the same questions over and over.

What about YOU? Do you ever wind up answering the same customer questions again and again? We’re sure you do, and this is where blogging for SEO can really help both you and your customers.

Some examples of questions we get asked are:

  • How will I migrate my site to BigCommerce?
  • Do you offer product photography services?
  • How do I remove negative seller feedback on Amazon?
  • What type of Adwords campaign is right for me?

This got us thinking… Maybe, just maybe there’s a better way to go after clients and rank for keywords that matter to them. So, we started answering the questions our clients had in the form of blog posts. Do you know what happened? We started ranking on the first page of Google within 12-48 hours for these posts and our website traffic grew leaps and bounds! Turns out, the same questions and problems people were asking us on the phone, they were also Googling!

So, does blogging help SEO? Yes, and it can help your SEO too!

If you’re not using blog posts to help your SEO strategy – you are missing out! If you’re a small business owner who’s still wondering “does blogging help SEO?” – here are six undeniable reasons start blogging now.

1. Create Blog Posts If You Want to Attract a Following

When you initially launch a blog, it probably won’t receive much traffic – and that’s okay. As your blog grows and becomes more popular, it will generate a strong following of loyal visitors. These visitors may follow your blog and/or its RSS feed on a daily basis, checking to see when new content is published.

2. If You Want To Announce New Products or Services

A blog is the perfect platform on which to announce new products or services. If your business recently added a new product to its lineup, let the world know by writing about it in a blog post. Assuming your blog has a strong following, this can bring invaluable attention to your business’s new product.

3. Blog Posts = Lead Generation

Of course, blogging is also an effective method for generating leads. You can install a newsletter signup form, for instance, allowing users to enter their email address in exchange for email delivered by your business. Alternatively, you can set up an inquery form where visitors enter their personal information to learn more about your business or its products/services.

4. Blog Post Can Target Local Search Optimization Too

Blogging can also prove useful in local search optimization (LSO). If you are trying to rank for geo-specific keywords (e.g. your city + business niche), you can write high-quality blog posts containing those keywords. Search engines will notice these keywords when crawling your site, encouraging higher search rankings in the process.

5. Be The Authority

You’ll present your business as an authority figure in its respective industry or niche by maintaining a blog. If a prospect is forced to choose between a business with a blog and a business without a blog, they’ll probably choose the one with a blog. Why? We already talked about this a little… but by answering your potential customers’ questions, you are establishing yourself as an authority in your industry. This instills trust and confidence in your knowledge and services. The key thing to remember, however, is that you need to publish high-quality content on a regular basis.

6. It’s Easy to Create Blog Posts

Blogging is actually easier than most business owners realize. Thanks to user-friendly blogging platforms like WordPress, you can have a blog up and running in minutes. Creating new content for your blog is also easy, as WordPress and similar content management systems (CMS) use a web-based interface.

Don’t want to do it yourself?

There are plenty of blog writing services out there just like the professional blog writing services offered by TurkReno Incorporated who will:

  • Research and validate ideas for blog posts that are PROVEN to be a hit with your audience
  • Pitch ideas to you and you can approve or reject.
  • Vet, hire and train writers specifically to produce HIGH QUALITY content,
  • Format it in a way that’s easily readable on the web (What Google’s Looking for).
  • FULLY optimize your post for SEO including title tags, h1s, internal links and external links.
  • Post directly to your blog for a completely hands-off experience.

These are just a few reasons why your business needs a blog.

Try it! See first hand the positive impact blogging for SEO can have on acquiring new leads for your business.

Golden Bowl exterior - Mobile, AL

Food Review: Golden Bowl Chinese Mobile, AL 36606

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Golden Bowl Mobile, Alabama Gift Shop

Golden Bowl Mobile, Alabama Gift Shop

We recently visited the hidden gem that is Golden Bowl, located at 309 Bel Air Blvd Mobile, Alabama, 36606. Restaurants that are hidden gems are one of our favorite finds, especially when we’re hungry. Golden Bowl is a hiding in plain sight in Mobile, Alabama just across from Bel Air Mall. Compared to all of the other Chinese buffets in town, and arguably across the entire state, Golden Bowl has them beat. This fine Asian restaurant serves Cantonese, Hunan, Thai, Japanese (yes, there’s sushi on the cold bar), and Szechuan. This is genuine Chinese food when you order from the menu. And we haven’t ever had Chinese food this good outside of Chinatown.

Their hours of operation are 6 days a week, Tuesday-Thursday: 11:00AM to 9:00PM * Friday & Saturday: 11:00AM to 10:00PM * Sunday: 11:00AM to 9:00PM. They are closed on Monday. They can be reached by telephone at (251) 470-8033 and Fax at (251) 470-8030.

General Tso's Chicken with Fried Rice

General Tso’s Chicken with Fried Rice

The outside of Golden Bowl is markedly deceptive: It’s in a building that’s been around forever that was a Chinese restaurant 20 years ago when Bel Air Mall was the biggest deal around — long before Amazon had ever been conceptualized. When you walk past the golden lions and enter the front door, you will find yourself inside a very interesting Chinese gift shop filled with lucky cats, real bamboo, jade Buddha statues, and stress balls. Very shortly after, you should be greeted and brought into the main dining room where you can have a regular table or Hibachi any time of the day.

Once you’re seated (and if you’re new to Golden Bowl) one of the employees may give you a very thorough walkthrough of the menu. You should also be alerted that there’s a hot and cold bar that includes ice cream when you’re done with your meal. If you’re doing take-out, the hot and cold bar isn’t available, so there’s a perk to dining-in. There’s a large variety of different items that you’d expect from a Chinese restaurant such as Pepper Steak, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Sweet & Sour Chicken, and everyone’s favorite General Tso’s Chicken.

Golden Bowl Mobile, Alabama Hot Buffet

Golden Bowl Mobile, Alabama Chinese Buffet

Most of these full entrees, plus the hot and cold bar, are available for $9.95. This also includes white or fried rice. Lunch is just $6.95 during the week and $7.55 on the weekend. That’s honestly a steal considering what a large Whopper Value Meal at Burger King costs. Hibachi starts at a modest $6.95 at lunch and $8.50 for dinner.

You’d think that with prices this cheap that the quality of food is going to be poor, but you’re very wrong if you do. Golden Bowl serves extremely fresh food that’s made to order. If you’ve put off Chinese food in Mobile, AL since you’ve gotten burned by China Chef or Golden Dragon, Golden Bowl is the best place to go in, arguably, the entire state and Gulf Coast.

Don’t forget to like Golden Bowl on Facebook or check in to “Thai Fountain” since they have a Pokemon Go PokeStop at their location! Golden Bowl also has an amazing new website at http://goldenbowlmobile.com. Enjoy!

Local SEO

Step By Step Guide to Local SEO

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SEO Infographic

Click here for one of the best Local SEO Infographics available.

If you run a local business then you don’t need us to tell you how competitive it is out there these days.

You’ve been running a local business for years. You work really hard and your customers love you. You love what you do and you’re a proud member of your local business community.

But there’s one thing that’s really bugging you. You’ve noticed that some newer competitors have sprung up and they seem to be getting the top rankings in the search engines.

How are they doing that? You’ve been around for years – surely you should be getting the top ranking.

But you’re really busy and the online marketing side of things isn’t really your thing.

But what if I told you that there is a predictable formula for getting top ranking that you can use.

Now I know you might be skeptical about this. You might be thinking that this is either going to be too complicated, too time consuming or too expensive.

But bear with us. I’ve prepared a step by step process that anyone can do. You can do it in your own time and at your own pace and it will give you amazing results.

So, are you ready to claim the top ranking in your area? Well read on because it’s all here in our Definitive Guide to Local SEO – print it off, stick it on the wall where you’ll see it and just tick off each step as you do it.

 

Set up And Optimize Local Listings

Here we’re talking Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and Yahoo Local.

But don’t just create your listing and think it’s done. You need to optimize it fully. That means adding all the information possible. As well as the obvious like name, address, hours of business and a map you need to add all the extras like keywords, photos and videos.

Get Reviews

Do a search on your industry and town in Google. Notice something that the top ranked sites have in common? You got it – reviews. The websites with the top listings generally have more reviews.

Just get into the habit of asking for reviews. Start with your best clients. You know who they are and the chances are they’d jump at the chance to give you five stars.

Don’t go crazy in the first week and get fifty reviews though or Google might think you’re trying to game the system. Just commit to picking up reviews steadily over time.

Get NAP Citations

NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone. Citations are just mentions of your business in local business listings that Google trusts.

Most of these are free but some will charge a fee. You need to make sure that your listings are correct and up to date so if you change your address or phone, be sure to update these.

There are dozens, even hundreds of NAP sites to choose from. Again, no need to go crazy, just choose the ones you want to go for each month and get listed there. Easy!

Industry/Niche Directories

Is there a specific industry directory that you can get listed in? Run a search in Google for them. Also check where your competitors are getting listed.

Getting listed in these directories sends strong signals to Google that you are in that industry or sector.

Maybe you have a professional or industry accreditation. Again, check these because they will usually offer you a free listing as part of your accreditation.

Or are you a member of a trade association. Again, double check these as they are quick easy wins for getting a valuable trusted link back to your site.

Create Separate Service Specific Pages

Check that you have a separate page for EVERY service that you offer. Don’t bunch them together on one generic ‘Services’ page.

The reason is that you mustn’t spread your content to thinly. If you have a particular page for each service then that sends a strong signal to Google to present that page when someone is searching for that service.

For example, if you are an printer and you offer lithographic printing, digital printing, poster printing, business card printing, t-shirt printing, etc., create individual pages for each rather than one page listing them all.

Add Content To Your Pages

Now that you have individual pages you need to add more content to them. A minimum of 500 words, but ideally 1000 words. Yes, you read that correctly.

Why? Google loves long pages with loads of relevant content.

Where do you get all that content? It’s probably on your hard drive, in your outbox, or up in your head.

Look at presentations you’ve done or think of frequently asked questions. Or just have an imaginary conversation with a prospective new client and write out the answers to the questions. This type of content is perfect for your service pages.

Optimize All Pages

Don’t let the jargon worry you. Optimization is just the process of presenting your website’s pages so that Google understands them.

Use the following list to guide you:

  • Identify a keyword for each page (printer in TOWN)
  • Create Metatags for each page (these just tell Google what that page is about)
  • Add the keyword to the URL of each page (e.g. www.yourdomain.com/digital-printing-TOWN)
  • Create an H1 Heading with the keyword for that page (Headings are like the ones you use in Microsoft Word or Google Docs to give structure to the page)
  • Add your keywords to the text in a natural way and around 2 to 3% of the total text
  • Link to the other pages from the text

Get Some Backlinks

Backlinks are when other websites link to your website. Google notices this and good links are a major factor in your ranking. Start with easy backlink wins. Things like:

  • Your social media profiles allow you to link to your website
  • Give testimonials to local suppliers and say they can link back to you to demonstrate it’s a genuine testimonial
  • Consider high authority paid directories like Business.com

Get Fast, Secure Hosting

These days Google prefers faster, more secure websites. In fact both speed and security are Google ranking factors.

For faster hosting look no further than SSD Hosting. SSD stands for Solid State Drive and these are the future of data storage and are hundreds of times faster than traditional hard drives.

For security consider switching to HTTPS by setting up an SSL Certificate.

Go Mobile

The web is going mobile. Mobile is clearly the direction of travel and your customers and prospective customers are no longer just sitting at a desk browsing. They are out and about with their mobiles, tablets and other mobile devices.

Again, Google favors mobile friendly website design, so the sooner you get this sorted out the better.

You can either switch to Responsive Design or if budget is an issue then get a side by side mobile version of your website.

Get Blogging

Google prefers websites with more content. A blog is the best way to achieve this.

WordPress is free and is usually available as a one click install with most hosting companies.

Think of your service pages as being the sales pages of your website but your blog is an ongoing conversation with your customers and prospective customers.

Use your blog to post content of interest such as answering ‘How to’ type questions and use proven types of popular content such as:

  • List based content
  • Expert RoundUps
  • Buyers Guides
  • Product Reviews
  • Local Guides / What’s On Guides
  • Seasonal Content
  • Product / Service comparisons
  • ‘Best Of’ Content
  • Best Practice
  • Case Studies

The important thing is to create content consistently and regularly.

When you create content, make sure you optimize it in the same way you optimize your service pages using the checklist above.

Use Video

Video is very underused by local businesses. But there is a huge opportunity for those local businesses who take the time to create videos.

The reason is that there is much less competition. These days most mobile phones have excellent quality digital cameras so it could be as easy as videoing a quick repair or showing how to do a particular task or a short video where you explain a tip.

Keep them short – one to two minutes is fine. Once you’ve got them upload them to YouTube and then get the embed code from YouTube and add them to a blog post and transcribe the audio into text so that you have more written content.

Conclusion

Getting a high ranking in Google is achievable for any local business. You just need to approach it methodically and patiently.

Start with the local listings and make sure you optimize them. Start to pick up reviews and get them consistently. You’ll need NAP Citations and links from other websites. Start with industry websites and local suppliers.

Make sure you’re not spreading yourself too thinly – create service specific pages and make them long – minimum 500 words. Optimize all of your pages too so that Google can understand the content of each page.

Google like fast, secure websites. Switching to SSD hosting and get HTTPS hosting with TurkReno will give you a tick in each of these boxes.

Google rewards websites that create useful and engaging content on a regular basis. Adding a WordPress Blog section to your site will allow you to do this. Finally, start using video on your blog and include in your blog for extra content.

These are all realistic targets for any small business and over time you will definitely start to see positive results.

If you’d like for us to help you out, take a look at our Local SEO page on our site and grab a free site analysis.

Benja's Thai and Sushi Restaurant

Benja’s Thai and Sushi – 5369 US-90, Mobile, Alabama, 36619

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Eating out every once in a while is an experience that most of us appreciate. Sometimes making a decision on where to eat and what to eat might be the elephant in the room. For all the food lovers out there, trying out new recipes or tasting exotic food is one of those things that make life worth living. There is something about Thai food that is simply breath taking. I do not know whether it is the unique combination of essential ingredients or the kind of passion and emotions behind making the dishes. But one thing is for sure – Thai food is fantastic. If you live in Mobile, Alabama, and you have been wondering where to take that special someone on a first date, Benja’s Thai and Sushi is the place for you.

Benja's Thai and Sushi Restaurant - InteriorThe ambiance is inviting, and the aura brings this exhilarating feeling that assures you that you are in the right place. There is a touch of beauty in the simplicity of the decor but at the same time hidden behind the simplicity is a wave of sophistication that only an artistic eye can decipher. The hangings on the wall are the perfect stimulant, and they are just right for this kind of setting. On the contrary with a theme color of blue and somewhat orange or peach, there is something warm about Benja’s Thai and Sushi that makes you fall in love at first sight.

Benja’s Thai and Sushi is in Tillman’s Corner area of Mobile. The feeling of being treated like the king or queen that you are is not only rewarding but it makes you understand that indeed this is value for your money. There are no regrets walking into a place like Benja’s Thai and Sushi. On that note, even your date may get the impression that you have indeed gone out of your way to make them feel special.

Benja’s Thai and Sushi is a family restaurant. There is something for everyone, and you can tag your kids along for that long awaited dinner and believe me they will have the time of their life. There is so much to appreciate about Benja’s Thai and Sushi. It brings a sense of authenticity and belonging. This restaurant is merely a glimpse of what real Thai cooking has to offer.

What’s on the Menu

A good chef understands his or her clientele especially when serving a population like those living in Alabama; it is important to comprehend the need for diversity. This is exactly what Benja’s Thai and Sushi offers-variety. There is no limitation to what you can get. As a matter of fact, the minute you skim through the menu you will be spoilt for choice. There is an array of dishes to choose from based on preference. For lunch, you could try the chef’s special. Thai fried rice with Chicken or Pork.

Pad Thai Chicken from Benja's Thai and Sushi Restaurant in Mobile, AlabamaFor the vegans, some broccoli or carrots will serve a worthy accompaniment. To any observer or reader for this matter, these might sound like your usual combination of main dishes, but there are certain times when you let your taste buds be the judge. The Chicken is cooked just right, not to tender but with a burst of natural ingredients that leaves a lasting impression on your tongue.

If your heart points towards exquisite Thai food, I would recommend the Pad Thai Shrimp. Seafood, when not done right, can turn out to be wanting. However, this is not the case at Benja’s Thai. From the name, you get the impression that seafood is their specialty. The Pad Thai Shrimp is one of the best dishes that you can try out. It will give you the whole Thai experience and without a shadow of a doubt, it will keep you wanting more.

I must commend Benja and her team for their culinary skills. The servings portray a lot of creativity with lots of attention paid on the presentation. The goal is to stimulate naturally your visual senses, which will only be complemented by the amazing taste. Many have presented their great testimonials about the Spicy Tuna Roll or the Thai Boxing Roll. The Alabama Roll has also received commendable recognition from the customers.

If there is one thing that pre-determines a judge of a good main course is the kind of appetizer served. The soups at Benja’s are scrumptious, and they have a touch of elegance, you might think they are made out of a secret recipe. On the other hand, the deserts are also mouth watering. I would recommend that you try out the Table side banana foster for dessert. The taste of this particular piece is purely heavenly.

It is impossible to talk about a good restaurant without a mention of the kind of drinks that they offer. There is something creative about the cocktails served. The wait staff go out of their way to ensure that you get the perfect saki. Such little things that point towards customized service are some of the things that keep this restaurant afloat amidst the growing competition in Alabama.

From the chicken nuggets to French fries, even the kids have something to delight in. If that sounds cliché, the crispy corn dog with some French fries is what your children may eat on their day out.

Angel Roll from Benja's Thai and Sushi Restaurant in Mobile, AlabamaSushi is not just the usual sushi at Benja’s Thai and Sushi. It is interesting how they can work their way around and create so many different types of rolls from the very necessary ingredient. From the Dragon Roll, to the Angel Roll, to the Mexican Roll, every single roll makes the sushi delightful. If these doesn’t fancy you, the Bama Roll might catch your attention. Well, this is not before you start off with an assorted five-piece sushi appetizer. Just the thought of these sushi rolls brings an awesome feeling that makes you want to visit this place. If you are one of those people who likes going all natural, the California Roll might be exactly what you need. With some crab, cucumber, avocado, and Masago on top, the taste is refined. It might be a little confusing at first, but it gives a perfect blend at the end of each bite.

The bottom line is that the menu at Benja’s Thai and Sushi offers an array of different food options. To some extent the options can be quite confusing but the fact remains that every option is viable, and it all depends on your preference. If by now you are not convinced that this place might give Hell’s Kitchen a run for their money. In my opinion, it is simply pitch perfect.

The Prices

Every restaurant owner understands that although the business must be successful, denting people’s pockets is not the way to make your restaurant attractive. It is fundamental to accommodate clients from various walks of life without a compromise on the quality of services and the touch of class. Good food is not the only thing that keeps the customers coming back.

Bama Roll from Benja's Thai and Sushi Restaurant in Mobile, AlabamaCan you imagine having a sushi appetizer for as low as $4.00? This looks insane but at you can get the Sashimi appetizer at this price. This is entirely fair for such a restaurant. To scale it up a little bit, the crispy calamari appetizer goes for $7.95. These are just examples of the high prices at Benja’s. An unfamiliar customer might imagine it is one of those days when everything is on offer. Most of the entrees might cost a maximum of $12.95. Simply put these are great meals for awesome prices.

With only $2.95 your kids can have themselves some Thai donuts for or with $5.95 they can enjoy some fried ice cream for dessert. The chef’s special for lunch or dinner also attract an average of fantastic prices. One of the things that put Benja’s Thai and Sushi on top of their game is the fact that the prices are customer friendly.

Each and every day we seek convenience and to narrow it down, there is nothing better than having good food delivered at your doorstep. If you love thai food, all you have to do is call and place an order and they will deliver right to your door within 15 minutes of the restaurant. Need I say more? Thai food is excellent and so are home deliveries. Check Benja’s website for their delivery menus. These attributes take popularity of local restaurants a notch higher.

If you have not had the chance to wine and dine in this elegant restaurant, go to Benja’s Facebook page and like their page. You can also leave a comment behind right now, and this automatically earns you a chance to win a $25.00 gift certificate or a free Sushi roll. In other words, there is no excuse for not dining at this Thai restaurant.

Conclusion

The testimonials regarding Benja’s Thai and Sushi are remarkable. It is not enough that they offer more than just the ordinary, but having something for everyone puts them at an advantage. This restaurant even saw itself make it into the finals of the Nappie’s “Best Ethnic Restaurant” category in in the first year open. This is evidence enough that they more than what meets the eye when looking at this very simple yet catchy place to wine and dine. With an extensive international clientele network it goes beyond just any other place to have lunch or dinner but it also a great avenue to network and hold meetings. Benja’s restaurant is an awesome choice for that anniversary dinner or maybe if you want to pop the question this is the perfect place, right after trying out their Pineapple curry with steamed curry.

The authenticity of the Thai culture portrayed by the nature of the food served makes it imperative that people should head out to Benja’s and get a taste of what Thai food is all about. The truth of the matter is that the Chef has outdone himself. The staff has a mastery of words and refined service, and the interior designers knew very well that appearance speaks volumes.

Benja’s Thai and Sushi is not just your average corner restaurant; it is one of those places that leaves a lasting impression. Regardless of what your mood was for the day, you can be sure that there is only one feeling that you can take out of this restaurant- fulfillment.

Pick your coat and walk to Tillman’s Corner area in Mobile, Alabama and get a firsthand experience. Tell your story about your most recent escapade which is eating out at Benja’s. Better still, take a friend with you or show that special someone the other side of food which can only be found in a Thai restaurant. There are no regrets, and there are disappointments. Benja’s Thai and Sushi is by far one of the success stories that are yet to be told. Truth be told, if you have never had a meal at this excellent restaurant, you have yet to discover what you have been missing.

web design mobile alabama

Ten things to know when choosing a web design company

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Websites can be one of the greatest tools for a business online. But, if you go down a path that is not a good match for your goals and budget, it can be an expensive and time-consuming headache. Purchasing a website design service can be tricky, simply because sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and that can make it harder to ask the right questions. To help you out and get you oriented, we have written this awesome article about what you need to know before choosing a website design company.

1. Is the website design company established and experienced?

It’s important to find a website design company that has experience. You can measure this in years running their business, number of clients served and also through the quality of their web design portfolio.

Years in business indicates that the web design company is stable, is successful in running a business, and that they will be able to competently work with your business for long term results as they have done for their own. The number of clients served indicates that the company should be very familiar with the full spectrum of website projects and business verticals and won’t take on a project that they don’t have the experience in completing. It also indicates that they have had the opportunity to iron out their work processes and are familiar with, and are able to execute, deadlines and timeframes.

Three questions to ask are:

  • How long has the company been designing and developing websites?
  • How many clients do they have?
  • How many employees do they have?

In order to try and save a tiny bit of money there is often a temptation to get your website designed and developed by a new company, a freelancer or a friend of a friends nephew that’s just graduated from college. Often freelancers and small-time developers just don’t have the experience they thought they did and what seemed like a money-saver can become an expensive repair job as you will more often than not need to start from scratch again. We have heard these unfortunate tales time and time again and we have found that going with inexperienced or cheaper companies and freelancers is often a short-term approach for ultimately what is a long-term project. Realistically, a website is an ongoing project and it is important to partner with an experienced and established company that will be there for the long haul, that has the experience to offer you ongoing support and advise and that is focused on creating a quality product for you.

2. What should I expect to pay?

A question we often hear is – “how much should I really pay for a website?”

Website prices can range a lot. You can get a website designed for as little as almost nothing and just pay for hosting, or the price can go all the way through to $35,000 and beyond. One of the interesting things about the web design industry is that you can get quoted a considerably different amount for the same job depending on the company that is quoting you.

As is the case when looking to purchase anything, there is a temptation to go with the cheapest option. You can buy website design services from between $300-$1100, however it is important that you understand what you are purchasing as these cheaper services always have limitations. Another important thing to consider with these cheaper products is that they are often out-of-the-box solutions and you won’t get the consultation and customization that can be critical so that the website is best serving your business interests. These cheap options can still work for some people, but not for all.

To a large degree the saying “you get what you pay for” holds true in the web design industry. However, there is a point where the price just keeps going up and the quality of the work or expertise doesn’t justify the cost.

Obviously price is dependent on the specific functionality that you require, but if you have a budget of between $3000 – $10,000, and if you follow the points in this article when selecting a web design company for you, you should be able to get a professionally designed and developed website for your business or project.

The best way to look a website is as an investment in your business. In retrospect, many web designers feel the same as they are investing their time into creating, managing and finishing a project they would like to see be a success. If you are prepared to pay a little extra, do a little research and choose the right design company, your website can be an asset and money making tool for years to come.

3. Do you have access to update the website content yourself?

Business doesn’t wait. So ask and make sure you will have access to update and edit the content of your website 24/7 on the fly or on your own time. This is most commonly achieved by web-based software called a content management system or CMS. Regardless of whether you intend to edit and upload the content of your website yourself or hire someone internally to do it for you, it’s important that your website is built on a content management system so it’s easy to make changes.

A CMS is considered as best business practice in website development for businesses small and large and has become fairly common these days. It is important to consider as if your website isn’t on a CMS, it can create a lot of expense later on when you’re wanting to change or add content. You also want to make sure that the CMS is an industry standard platform, that it’s easy to use, and that good training and support materials are available to you. WordPress and Joomla are both great examples of CMS platforms that meet these expectations.

4. Will you get support when you need it?

Does the web design company you’re purchasing the website from offer on-going support? If they don’t, this is a huge red flag. When you purchase a website, it is very important that you choose a web design company that offers reliable, generous and cost effective support on an ongoing basis. This is incredibly important as a website has a lot of different functions and aspects to it, and it helps to have professional assistance available when you need it.

Things you might need help with:

  • Your emails
  • Your domain name
  • Your hosting
  • How to use the CMS of your website
  • eCommerce setup and maintenance
  • Other general technical issues

Without quality support, you can find yourself in a predicament where you need to then find a different web developer to fix the problem that you have encountered. This can lead to an extraordinary amount of frustration, wasted time and additional expense on your part.

A story we hear often and our clients have experienced repeatedly is with freelance developers or small web design companies who start working on a project and are fantastic in the beginning, but within 6 to 12 months their enthusiasm and commitment wanes. Often they’ve started a steady job or taken on new projects and then old projects are not as fun to work on, or they don’t have time to work on them anymore. So make sure that the support is in place with a company that has support as a part of their business practice.

5. Keep all of your services in one place

It’s very helpful to be able to simply have one company handle everything that relates to your website and online presence. This is doubly helpful to the web development firm doing the work when troubleshooting any issues. Secondary services are anything that will support your business and your online presence. That could be graphic design services, copywriting, domain names, hosting, support, and, most importantly, online marketing and social media. You want to know that the web company you’re dealing with can offer a full range of services that relate to your website and that they have good, solid marketing skills.

Your website is an investment into the future of your business and it’s going to have a life-cycle of it’s own alongside your business. A website is a long-term project for you and as you develop your business. You will want to make the most out of your online presence using different services to promote your business, as you grow professionally.

6. Are there any additional or hidden charges

When you are purchasing a website and receiving quotes, in addition to getting a fixed project price, it’s important to be aware of any limitations, ongoing charges and costs that may be related to the website.

For Example: web hosting and support fees. It’s very common to pay for hosting on a recurring basis. But, you will also want to know about additional web development costs or future design costs. It’s good to know how much the ballpark design studio rates are per hour to cover your needs. And it’s also important to establish the project scope and prices straight up.

Sometimes without proper management, a design company can allow a project to go out of scope and budget or get delayed due to unexpected challenges. Suddenly you’re in a situation where you’ve invested money in to the project and now it’s more expensive than what was originally quoted. This can also happen because you have decided mid-way that you want more functionality too, but that’s something you should discuss with the design team first as additional charges would likely be expected in that case.

Another thing to consider are the particular limitations of the overall service, for example, limited hosting storage or design revisions. If the company is placing limits on these you can guess there’s a chance that you will be charged extra or experience some technical issues if you exceed these limits.

7. See samples of the work performed in the past

It is important to review and ask for samples of the work and craftsmanship that the web design company has produced in the past. This will give you a good reference point as to what they can provide for you. It’s important in these cases to not only look at the quality of the design, but also the functionality of the websites. Any good web design company should be able to show you a large amount of work that they have done. This will be a very good indication of the service and quality that you’ll receive from their company and it’s a great place to start in terms of evaluating the company.

Along with this, it is also good to review any testimonials or case studies that the company may have from their clients. It is good peace of mind to know that their clients are actually happy with the service that they’ve provided.

8. Keep it American

It’s always great to support and buy American goods and services, however in the web design industry there are a couple of other things to consider above and beyond simply supporting American businesses.

Within the web design industry there is a temptation to outsource development and support to overseas countries to save money, however this is often at the expense of the customer’s experience as there will be time delays and communication issues. And most importantly they just won’t understand you as an American small business.

Having American support and service means that the company you are dealing with will understand you as another American business and should be working in the same business hours as you are. Any problems are more likely to be resolved quickly and easily.

In addition to this, your website will load faster if it is on a server in the United States. Often times, even United States web design businesses use overseas servers which means that your web page needs to travel further when loading which can create a time lag. And out of sheer lack of knowing how to host a website, a web design company may just have bought in to a brand that they feel is a good choice. Feelings and business don’t mix — knowledge of how a business actually functions down to the core is a primary reason a business is successful. This is no different with hosting a website.

9. Are you working with the developer directly or is the company merely providing a turn-key website design service?

Maybe it’s due to the fact that technology is so readily available in this day and age and crafty businesspeople think they can get away with it, or maybe it’s the fact that some companies believe that they can truly be everything to everyone. In any case, there are companies that are out there masquerading as website design companies that don’t even actually do a single line of programming or actual design in-house at all. They outsource. As a matter of fact, they’re merely self-glorified order-takers with catchy buzzwords trying to make a quick dollar. Companies that are primarily print media are notorious for doing this since everyone believes that since they can put out a big production newspaper that they also can put out a big production website. You might as well find a way to set your money on fire, and be prepared to set a lot of it on fire, when dealing with one of these types of false-front companies. And there’s a good chance that the high price tag may just be a high price tag so that the real web design company or the person they’re outsourcing to in another country actually doing the work is paid a reasonable amount for their secrecy and the company selling the work makes an insane margin for generating a sale.

While that may sound fine to some people on paper, in reality what actually happens is your site will need to be updated and will end up breaking at some point due to a change in technology, an update to a CMS (which is notorious with both WordPress and Joomla) or you decide you want additional services and begin tinkering with the settings yourself and get lost. When that happens and you need help from who you bought your services from, you’re going to be at the mercy of whoever they contracted to do the job to still be around as the company who offered the service isn’t going to be able to service the request themselves. Hope, in this case, doesn’t float and you’ll just end up drowning in debt, wasting your time time and losing productivity and sales.

Getting around this is simple: Ask to speak to a developer and throw some technical questions at them. See how they respond. If you can’t do that, or they do speak to you and you feel like they’re just telling you what you want to hear just to take your money when you’re ready and willing to spend thousands of dollars, take your money elsewhere very quickly. Chances are you weren’t speaking to a real web developer. It should be absolutely no problem for you to take 5 minutes of a developer’s time from any size web design company to see if they can understand your needs and verbally conceptualize what it is that you need in technical terms. It’s what a website design company does by nature, so speak to the creators of your new site before you spend any money. They don’t have to be personable people (and often times they’re not), just knowledgable.

10. Is the web design company providing a mobile responsive website design?

This is critical in this day and age. Not only does having a mobile-friendly website affect your ranking positively with Google, but more than half of the people shopping for services or doing research are doing so from their smartphone or tablet. No one wants to pinch and zoom on a website to read or fill in information on a form.

Typically, a mobile responsive website should be included in the cost of having a website created, especially when having a website created on a CMS such as WordPress or Joomla as a mobile website is native to the most recent versions of both of these platforms.

At TurkReno Incorporated in Mobile, Alabama, we’re passionate about website design. We’d love to speak to you about your next project. We’ve got several ways to get in touch: fill out our free online estimate form, call us at (251) 279-0278, or visit our contact page and send us a message. We look forward to helping you with your next website design project.

What To Expect From Apple’s Annual Spring Event On March 21st

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It’s no surprise that Apple has a spring and fall event to showcase the future of Apple each year. This year is no different and the spring event is on March 21st, here is a rundown of things you should expect.

  1. The iPhone SE
    • This device has been rumored since late last year. Now we get to see the fabled device in action and what it is really all about. At the moment, it is rumored this device will have a 4-inch screen with the hardware specs of an iPhone 6/6s. Are these rumors true? We will find out come the 21st.
  2. A new revision of the iPad Pro
    • it is no surprise that Apple always has some sort of revision to their devices. The iPad Pro is no exception to this. It is rumored that a new model of the iPad Pro will debut at this event as well. As a person who uses the iPad Pro right now in day to day life, I am excited to see if there is any truth to this. I personally feel the iPad Pro is fantastic, but we will see what the rumor holds come March 21st.
  3. More Apple Watch Bands
    • Currently, there is a decent amount of Apple Watch bands out in the market. Most are 3rd party compared to the limited official Apple branded bands. It is expected that Apple will announce several new bands that will be coming out in the near future.
  4. New Software updates
    • If history has taught us anything, it is that certain events are destined to repeat. During the past Apple spring events, they would reveal the newest software update for their devices. This one seems to have no exception to this rule. It is rumored we will see the newest WatchOS, OS X (10.10.4) and iOS (iPhone and iPad version 9.3) updates at the event. We can also possibly get some sort of release window on the updates.
  5. New revision on the MacBook, iPad Air & iPad Mini
    • I would file this one under wishful thinking, but there seems to be a rumor that we may see a new MacBook, iPad Mini and new iPad Air at the event. I would be skeptical considering for the iPad Mini 5 rumor because the Mini 4 just came out last September. The iPad Air 3 rumor seems possible considering the Air 2 came out October 2014. The MacBook is possible since it’s right at a year old.

All and all, it seems to be a packed event. It will all go down March 21st. We’ll will be here to post the main points of the event. So stay tuned for it.

Via: HackInformer

Mac OS X RAM Test

How To Test RAM Using Mac OS X

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Whenever I get a new stick of RAM for my Mac or PC, I’m always eager to just plug it in and start using it to its fullest, but having worked on hundreds of computers and encountering dozens of bad memory modules has convinced me that thorough testing is a must. While off-the-shelf PCs can run a copy of the free Ultimate Boot CD tool to perform RAM tests, Macs are a little bit more complicated in this respect. If you’ve purchased AppleCare for your Mac, it comes with a bootable TechTool Deluxe disc, but you’re otherwise left to your own devices when it comes to hardware tests.

Fortunately, with a little preparation right now, you can boot your Mac into Single User Mode and do a complete RAM test in the future. While you can run the necessary software in a fully-booted system, I recommend doing testing in Single User Mode where there are far less programs loaded in memory, and less chance of an important system component getting corrupted if your machine freezes or kernel panics — common symptoms of bad memory. A modified Mac OS X boot CD would be ideal, but that’s another post for another day!

DOWNLOAD MEMTEST

The testing setup isn’t terribly complex; I’ve taken the liberty of putting together an installable package which will put the Memtest utility into your /usr/bin/ folder. Memtest is a Unix command-line program that does the memory testing, and is the Mac equivalent of MemTest86.

MEMTEST USAGE

To run memtest on a new memory module, first shut down your computer and install the new chip. (Some helpful guides for doing this can be found at iFixit, if you’re unsure of the exact steps.) Ensure the chip is firmly in place, close up your machine (or don’t, if you’re a pessimist), and power it on while holding down the Command and S keys to force Mac OS X to boot into Single User Mode. Once you see a black screen with white text, you can release the key combination. After all the system logging is done scrolling past, type memtest all 2 to test all memory two times. Two passes should be enough to detect any blatant problems, but I wouldn’t hesitate to let it run for hours on end if I suspected an intermittent memory problem (memtest all). When complete, you should be greeted with “All tests passed” if your new RAM is in good condition. If your system locks up or freezes indefinitely during the test, you may have a bad memory module on your hands.

Thanks to OSXDaily and Command-Tab for the article.

Website Hosting Server

Website Hosting – What Does It All Mean?

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We understand the terms and products relating to running your own website may be new to many of you. In this section, we will attempt to explain what all of this means in order to assist you in determining which products you need. If, after reading the information contained here you still aren’t sure, you may email us and we will offer recommendations.

Domains
A domain represents the unique name assigned to an organization or individual on the Internet. For instance, we are all familiar with names such as google.com, microsoft.com, and so on. A particular name (domain) may only be owned by one person or company. To use an analogy, a domain represents your “street address” where you live on the Internet.  A domain is the “home” address where a particular website resides.

The domain name is comprised of several parts. The last part of the domain (.com for instance), is referred to as the top-level domain (TLD). In theory, the TLD represents a type of entity: for instance, .com stands for “commercial”. It was originally meant to be for commercial enterprises (business), but has become something of a misnomer as even people with personal websites use the .com TLD.

Other popular TLDs include:

  • .net – originally meant to signify Network orgainzations such as Internet Service Providers (ISP)
  • .edu – Education establishments (colleges/universities)
  • .mil – Military
  • .org – Non-profit organizations
  • .gov – Government organizations
  • .biz – a business
  • .name – individual/person
  • .info – information service There are others as well such as .aero, .pro, .coop, and so on. In addition, there are TLDs assigned to countries (e.g., .ca for Canada).

If you plan to have a website on the Internet, you will need a domain name for that site. If the name you want is already taken, you will have to find a different one. For example, if you wanted the domain CandlesForSale.com, that is already taken. However, the name CandlesForSale.biz is (currently) available. You could select the .biz name, or try to find an alternate such as Candles4sale.com (which is also currently taken).

There are literally millions of domains already taken so you may have to be creative in finding the name you want. But if you plan to put your own site on the web, you will need to identify an available domain. Once you do so, you should register that name immediately as it may not be available the next day.

When you go to our Domain Name purchase page, you will find a feature that lets you look up a name to determine whether or not it is available. It can be frustrating so be patient.

Hosting Plans
In order to make your website available it must be located on a “hosting server”. The type of hosting service you need depends on a number of factors:

  • the number of pages you plan to have
  • if you will have large files such as databases or numerous graphics or pictures
  • the number of visitors you expect each month
  • whether you plan to use your site to sell products
  • whether you plan to design the site yourself, or have someone do it for you
  • whether you plan to use scripting languages such as PHP or ASP
  • what type of database support you require (if any)
  • whether you have a preference for a Windows or Linux server

All of the plans offered by TurkReno include a significant amount of Hard Drive space, more than most people will ever need. This is the space on the hosting server reserved for your content (HTML, graphics, pictures, databases, etc.). Even the lowest priced plan provides for significant storage space. In most cases, this is more than enough for a personal website, even if you plan to include a large number of pictures. For instance, if you plan to post photographs with an average size of 100k, 5GB of space would allow you to store nearly 500,000 photos!

Database files (MS-Access, MySQL, etc) are typically very large. However, even if you plan to offer several applications using MS-Access or MySql databases, 5GB would ordinarily provide more than enough space. Also keep in mind, if you find that you require more space than you anticipated, you can also upgrade your hosting plan at a later date.

The amount of “bandwidth” you may require on a monthly basis is also a factor in deciding which hosting plan you need. You can think of bandwidth (or information sent out from the server) as a water pipe. The more water you need to put through that pipe during a given timeframe, the larger the pipe you need.

For instance, let’s say the total size of your site content (text and graphics) is 1 Megabyte (1 Mb). If you expect 1,000 visitors to your site each month, and assumming each visitor viewed every single page on your site (a BIG if), your bandwidth requirement would be 1 Gb per month. On the other hand, if the total size of your site was 10Mb, you would require 10Gb bandwidth for those same 1,000 visitors. In short, your bandwidth requirements will be determined by the total size of your site, along with the total number of monthly visitors.

If you plan to develop applications that run on your site (e.g., database access, games, etc.) you will need a hosting plan that supports the particular programming language those applications are written in. These would include PHP, ASP, and others. It doesn’t matter if you code these applications yourself, have someone else code them for you, or purchase/download the application from another site (and there are quite a few free applications available for download), the hosting service will need to support the language the application was written in for it to work on your site.

All of the hosting plans offered by TurkReno Incorporated already provide free forums, blogs, and other common applications so you may not need to add any additional ones. If you do, we offer plans that include PHP, Perl, ASP, ASP.Net, and Java. We can also provide other prepackaged applications such as shopping carts.

If you plan to run one or more applications on your site that require database access, you will need to make sure the hosting service you use supports that database. Depending on the hosting plan, we offer support for MS Access, MySQL and SQL Server 2012.

If you plan to sell products from your website, or if you will be taking personal information, you need a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate. The SSL has two major functions. First, it let’s the people who visit your site know that you are in fact who you say you are (by verifying your certificate). Second, it encrypts (or scrambles) any personal or sensitive information (such as credit card numbers) before that information is transmitted over the Internet. If you have ever shopped at eBay, Amazon or other such sites, you have probably noticed the “key” or “lock” that shows up in your taskbar. This tells you that you are on a secure connection. That secure connection is a result of your SSL Certificate.

Another consideration when trying to decide what hosting plan you need is the number of email accounts you require. For a personal site, you may require very few email accounts, if any. The 500 accounts that come with the smaller plan should be more than enough for your family and friends.

If you plan to use your website to run a business, you may require more email accounts. If that is the case you can either purchase one of the other plans, or you can simply purchase additional email accounts for a small annual fee. In any case, your email accounts will allow you to have an email address with your domain name (e.g., turkreno@mydomain.com). The email accounts we provide are web-based so you can access them anywhere you have Internet access. As with the other items, you need to think through how you plan to use your site.

We also offer both Virtual Dedicated Servers and Dedicated Servers. Both of these give you full control of the server (as if it were located in your home or business site). Dedicated Servers are usually required by larger business or those wanting to provide hosting to other people. If you need additional information on our Dedicated Server plans, you can check out the plans in our “product store”, or email us at the link below.

Shopping Cart and Merchant Account
For those of you who plan to use your site to sell products, you will need both a shopping cart and a merchant account (if you don’t have one already).

The shopping cart allows you to build an online “store front” and product catalog similar to what you see at Amazon.com and other sites. We offer an inexpensive application called QuickCart that should fit your needs.

The Merchant Account gives you the ability to accept credit card payments online (through a shopping cart or other means). If you are already running your own “bricks and mortar” business you probably already have a merchant account. If that is the case, you will need to check with them regarding the ability to take online payments. If you don’t currently have an account, or you are just starting your business, you may want to check the Merchant Account we offer.

Search Engine Optimization
There are literally millions of businesses online. In order to compete with these, you will most likely want to ensure that you are placed in “Search Engine” results with the highest ranking possible. One of our products, Search Engine Visibility, will do that for you. It will evaluate your site and make suggestions to give you the best search engine rankings possible. You can also use Search Engine Visibility to submit your site to Google, Yahoo and dozens of other search engines, as well as web directories. One of the really great features in Traffic Blazer is an Search Engine Visibility tool that will tell you if there is a problem with your site that would prevent it from being listed in the search engines. For instance, many of the search engines will not list sites that have internal “broken links”. Search Engine Visibility will notify you regarding issues such as that.

Google AdWords
AdWords is a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising feature that will allow your site to be listed in the Google “Sponsored Sites” area of their search engine results pages. If you aren’t sure what this is, just go to google and search for “candles” or some other item. You will see the sponsored ads on the right. These can be highly effective depending on your type of business.

Placement of AdWords links are based on how much you “bid” for each click. That is, if you bid 35 cents for each click you will get a higher placement than if you bid 25 cents. The amount for each bid is deducted from your total credits only when someone clicks on the link to go to your site.

Closing
If you still aren’t sure what you need for your particular site, please feel free to contact our support staff.