Web Design and SEO Blog


Optimizing You Site’s Imagery for Search Engines

by Mira Brody in Content, Imagery, Optimization, SEO, Tools & Tips

This article was originally published on the JTech Blog in April 2017 and was updated in April 2018 to reflect features in Google Image results that were rolled out last month.

All of the content on your website should be properly optimized so that search engines can easily understand who you are and what products and services you offer to customers searching for you. In addition to copy, these optimization efforts should include any imagery you upload. Google will look at the images on your site to determine what services and products you provide, and therefore how you rank in related search results. In a recent move, Google image search is now displaying image title tags in image results, where they will appear right under the image thumbnails — on mobile devices only. This will help provide searchers with additional context and help them find what they are looking for.

Although the image uploader in our content management system, My JTech, does most of the technical work for you, it is important to understand the importance of SEO image file optimization in the case that you are using a more primitive tool. To help you properly optimize your site’s images, our digital marketing team has put together a few tips and tricks so that you can achieve the best possible search engine ranking.

File name optimization.
Non-standard image file names can cause some issues, such as confusing the web browser and causing it to try loading your image from a non-existent location. Some best-practice naming rules to remember are:
  • Use only lower-case letters.
  • Instead of spaces, use a dash between words.
  • No numbers, underscores or punctuation.
  • No characters that are not letters.

fresh eggs
fresh eggs
Your file names should also be short, comprehendible, and contain at least one keyword. Instead of “FRESH EGGS/YUMMY!!!.jpg,” your file name should be formatted as such: “fresh-eggs.jpg” Creating web-friendly file names means these files are search engine-friendly as well.

The code for this file name would look something like this: img src="fresh-eggs.jpg"

File size optimization.
For optimal site performance, the image file you upload should be properly sized and passed through an image file optimizer. We recommend ImageOptim, as it can often produce 80-90% savings. This takes bloat off of your page load, which not only improves user experience but also your ranking, since Google is known for penalizing sites with poor performance.
Optimize your image title text.
Title text is a description of the image. Title text is not significant to search engines, and is used as an accessibility tool — when you mouseover an image, a little window should appear that contains the image title text.

Image alt text.
Alt text, however, is recognized by Google for accessibility and is displayed in search results on mobile devices. To get the most out of your alt text, keep it short — a single sentence will do. Try to organically apply a primary keyword or two, but don’t overstuff, as this becomes unhelpful to users and Google will recognize it as spam.

In My JTech, on most image uploads, you’ll enter alt text in the field just below the image.

In the example, we’ve included the product and business name, as well as the location of the store to give a keyword boost to the page.

The code for your image alt text in this case would look something like this: img src=“chicken-harness.jpg” title=“Chicken Harness” alt=“Chicken harness from Bridger Animal Nutrition in Bozeman, MT”

Google sitemap.
Finally, you should upload a sitemap to Google search console. A sitemap is an XML document submitted to search engines that allows them to understand the structure of all content on your website — including images. This allows Google to more easily crawl your site and display you in relevant results. Submitting sitemaps is part of the service JTech provides when building or optimizing sites for our clients.

The importance of optimized images.
Any SEO effort to refine your site's content should include image optimization. This will ensure that you are positioned as a relevant result when people search for the products and services you offer. Due to Google’s update, your image titles will now help your visibility in image search results as well, driving potential customers to your site. If you’re a JTech customer, our content management system handles a lot of this work for you, requiring a user only to have to title each image – this the image title is automatically used as alt text. In a perfect world, all image managers would have this functionality, but it is good information to understand in the case that you find yourself using a less-sophisticated tool.

Is Your Site Suffering From Information Overload?

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Content, Design, Development

Instead of being helpful, information overload could be scaring your customers away.

“Clutter and overload are not attributes of information, they are failures of design. If the information is in chaos, don’t start throwing out information, instead fix the design.”
—Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information

Information overload is the concept suggesting that as excess information is provided, the quality of the decision being made will deteriorate. While you want to be a resource for your customers, you don’t want to overwhelm them with the amount of content presented on your site. Resonon is one such client suffering from a dense presentation of information on their website.

The hyperspectral imaging systems industry is a highly-technical market, and Resonon provides this market with not only the hardware for their products, but also the software, user guides and other resources. Their current site is a whirlwind of information and is not adequately representing their superior products and customer service. Here are a few solutions our team is working on implementing when we deploy their new site —

Clean Navigation
It is important that the navigation on your site is clean and clear, focused on the top-level products, services, or problems being solved that your target market will be searching for most. We are clarifying Resonon’s navigation so that customers can go straight to Hyperspectral Cameras, Research Systems or Machine Vision instead of sorting through a longer products list. We’ve also separated out Applications, Software and the Support page.

Organized Information
Information overload sounds at first glance as though it would be solved by removing details and providing less to read. Rather than removing information however, we are adding hierarchy to make the information on Resonon’s site easier to access — placing it in context and differentiating high-level areas of interest.

Optimized Copy
The copy on your site should be pared down to the pertinent details, keyword-rich for search engines, but also readable by humans. Most of us on the internet skim content, looking only for the information we need. Because of this, for Resonon, we are revising all copy with the lens of making their content more focused and organized; deep details are not presented up front, but rather made available to those who have chosen to read about a particular subject or product and are ready to absorb technical details and specifications. This will eliminate information overload and allow visitors to find what they are looking for without becoming frustrated or confused.

Helpful Imagery
Imagery is a powerful tool to supplement your branding on your website. Determine what images will best help your customers understand what your products are, their benefits and how they function. For Resonon, we determined that focusing on what their cameras can accomplish will be more beneficial than photos solely of the product itself. Displaying images of crops, food, planes and other interesting representations of their cameras' applications will both add interest and clarify the text, reducing information overload.

Resource Section
Resonon’s resource section was cluttered and overwhelming — an undifferentiated wall of information seeking a better hierarchy. On the new site, we combined their “knowledge base” and “support” sections and applied helpful categories so users can jump straight to the sections that are most useful to them without having to scan a large body of information.

If your industry involves providing a plethora of information to your clients, your website may be at risk of creating information overload. Information overload can cause a user to become frustrated to the point that they may even leave, losing you business. It is important to review your site’s content regularly and take the opportunity to cut anything that isn’t pertinent to their experience — or reorganize and reconsider the design of the copy that is necessary. Resonon’s new website will solve all of the issues mentioned above, creating a more professional environment for their brand as well as an improved overall experience for their customers all over the world.

Introducing Your New Relationship Manager!

by Mira Brody in Announcements

We are pleased to announce JTech’s newest employee, Katie Jenkins.

Katie’s primary role will be to provide individualized service to each of you, serving as a primary point of contact and advocate, working with you over time to create solutions for continued business success. In addition to strengthening existing relationships, Katie will also be an active member in the Bozeman community and beyond, seeking out opportunities for new partnerships.

Katie comes to us with seven years as a marketing director, experience in event and fund development coordination, office management and a passion for creativity. She believes her love for working with people will translate into success for you.

“I believe that we can learn something from everyone,” Katie says. “I am excited to start the process of getting to know each and every client.”

A Missoula native, Katie has lived in Bozeman for the last 20 years, where she is raising two “super awesome” kids, Nicholas and Isabella, and in her free time does as every Bozemanite does — practices yoga, runs and hikes. She has a cat and English Pointer mix named Sophia, and if you want to buy her a drink, make sure it’s a Martini, ‘up’ with a nice gin, a little dirty.

Katie is enthusiastic about further understanding the complexities of web development as well as identifying opportunities to help make businesses successful online — nurturing projects as they grow from an idea into a success story.

Karen Addiego, who all of you know from her time managing client accounts, will be introducing Katie to our long-time customers to help you hit the ground running together.

Is Your Website a Hassle to Manage?

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development, Imagery

Is maintaining your business’s website a frustrating experience? Making a simple content change shouldn’t require tracking down a professional web developer. One client we've helped with this surprisingly common problem is Big Country Landscapes, a custom landscaping design company in Belgrade, MT. Here are few things the employees at Big Country Landscape are easily able to do themselves through our content management system:

Update their Photo Gallery — Big Country Landscapes has a custom photo gallery through which to show off their projects and process. My JTech, our content management system, allows them to easily upload new images from anywhere, from any device, and tag them to the desired categories. In addition, all images are processed automatically once you upload and hit save — no hours of Photoshop necessary. My JTech creates the different cuts and crops needed and compresses the images so that they do not bog down your website’s speed as they load. Visitors on the Big Country Landscape website can browse through these different photo categories and click on individual images to view a larger version without performance suffering — no matter how much the gallery grows.

Accept Employment Submissions — The contact submissions database allows staff to check who has contacted them and whether it is regarding a project, general inquiry or a job opening. If a user does attach a job application, it will be available to Big Country Landscapes’ staff directly from the content management system. This is a great, low-cost way for a company to accept job applications.

Build a Client Portfolio — The Portfolio allows Big Country Landscapes to show off the custom projects they’ve completed around Southwest Montana. Images can be uploaded as well as a description of the project. In My JTech, there is a custom URL field for every Portfolio, making it easy for staff to share a specific project with a client.

Display Awards — Big Country Landscapes has been presented with an array of beautification awards and wanted a space to list these achievements. They can do this in the About Us section, where new content is added in the content management system at the click of a button.

If any of these tasks seem like they should be simple, we agree — your website should do what you want without making it feel like a big deal. Big Country Landscapes is just one of many businesses who have benefitted from the simplicity of My JTech. Managing their website no longer requires tracking down a web developer and shelling out money — their employees can do it themselves without any coding experience. This saves them time and money, so they can focus instead on booking more work, designing beautiful landscapes and growing their business. Check out their new website!

Ensure Your Website is Reaching All of Your Markets

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Your website is a storefront, available to customers from all corners of the world, 24 hours a day. It represents your brand when your employees are off their shift, it sells your products even after your physical store has closed for the day and it serves visitors outside of your region. This is why it is important to make sure your website is serving all your primary markets.

Our client, Story Distributing, is a great example. An oil and lubricants distribution company in Bozeman, MT, Story Distributing also owns and operates the Casey’s Corner gas station and convenience store regional chain — the friendly public face of their company. Their previous website focused only on their wholesale customers and neglected to serve most of their customers, a fact we kept in mind when tasked with their website overhaul. Aside from an overall facelift, here are some specific features we changed on the new website for Story Distributing.

The branding for their new homepage now features the widely-recognized Casey’s Corner logo, with “by Story Distributing” attributed underneath.

Store Locations
The Store Locations page features an interactive map so travelers can find store and pump locations and commercial transport companies can find cardlock locations. Users can filter by amenities and pan and zoom as needed. Selecting a location will take you to in-depth information about that store.

Many of the Casey’s Corner stores host promotions. The new site allows for Story Distributing to create a promotion and easily highlight it for specific stores. By highlighting these promotions on their website, Story Distributing is able to increase the visibility of their marketing and share great deals with their customers.

We did on-site custom photography for Story Distributing to showcase the quality of their locations and level of professionalism. The professional photography features warm, inviting shots from their Big Sky store location, highlighting their authenticity as members of the Montana communities they serve.

Story Distributing’s new and improved website is now live! It not only serves the dealers and distributors of their fuel and lubricants, but also the general public who are shopping and pumping gas at their convenience stores. This allows Story Distributing to be available to a wider range of customer — check out their new site today!

Become An Industry Authority

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Content, Design, Development, Optimization, SEO, Social Media, Tools & Tips

Use your website to educate visitors and build trust in your brand.

If your website already successfully serves those who are looking to make a purchase or visit your store, a good next step is to funnel your content efforts to a resource section. This can not only build authority in your field, but is viewed favorably by Google, and can help your search rankings. Bridger Animal Nutrition is a pet health and supply store in Bozeman, MT and is leveraging their expertise with the build of their new website. Here are a few ways education-rich content is going to help Bridger Animal Nutrition —

Builds authority.
You may make your money selling products or services, but having authority in your field will solidify that relationship beyond a monetary transaction. Bridger Animal Nutrition hopes to educate their community on proper animal nutrition practices, feeding based on science, not brand, and serve as an overall resource for those looking to properly care for their companion animals and livestock.

Good for search engines.
Their new website will feature a blog, where staff can easily curate and publish helpful articles for their site visitors. Topics can range from animal health to common allergy solutions or featured products. Google views a consistently updated blog favorably, benefitting the site’s search ranking and boosting visibility to those looking for their products and services.

Drive visitor traffic.
Bridger Animal Nutrition deliver their blog posts in their periodically distributed newsletter. By collecting a list of loyal readers and placing a “tease” to the full blog post in the email newsletter, traffic can be driven to the main site.

By serving as both a store and community resource, Bridger Animal Nutrition has not only helped their clients, but also their business. Next time you are looking for ways to get the most out of your website, consider it a place not only to sell your products and services, but also as a platform to communicate with your customers and serve as a trusted resource.

Grow Your Business Through Charity

by Mira Brody in Tools & Tips

No matter your industry, it is possible to incorporate charitable acts into your business plan. It’s easy to be cynical about “charity marketing” in packaging or advertising: “We give back to our community” or prominent logos of well-known non-profits, signifying what exactly? Aren’t companies in business to make money? But there are credible ways to approach charitable giving as a company, and a multitude of ways and reasons to donate you and your employees’ time to a local non-profit.

Ways to get involved:
  • Participate at a local event
  • Sponsor a non-profit event
  • Become a donor to a non-profit
  • Volunteer your company’s professional skills

How volunteering benefits your business:
Builds a positive image85% of consumers view a company more positively when they learn they are charitable. Seeing it in action is much more meaningful than hearing about it through marketing.
Network — Volunteering at an event puts you and your employees out in the field with the potential of meeting not only clients, but also industry peers and other local business owners. Some events will even allow you to pass out swag or business cards.
Generate publicity — Sponsoring a large community event usually includes the opportunity to have your logo printed on banners, t-shirts, brochures and other event marketing materials. Potential customers who have no previous experience with your company may take notice that you’re participating or sponsoring the good work being done.
Professional development — Along with meeting people and networking, you may learn job skills at charity events, whether it be improving communication, multitasking or something entirely new.
Promote your values — It’s one thing to brag about your values on your website, it’s another to practice them in public. Put your money where your mouth is and show your community that you like to give back, not just talk about doing it.
Employee morale & retention — Donating time and money as a team creates a positive culture and boosts morale in the office, producing more motivated workers who are proud to call themselves your employees!
Tax deductible — All donations, including money, volunteered time or sponsorship of an event are eligible for a tax deduction.

There are a multitude of benefits to donating the time of your company to a charitable cause. It often offers the opportunity to market yourself, team build and learn new skills. To learn more about the non-profits in your area that may need help, visit sites such as volunteermatch.org, or createthegood.org.

Serve Your Customers Online: Display An Accurate Menu

by Mira Brody in Google, Optimization, Social Media, Tools & Tips, Design

Just as a store would list their products on a website, or a theater’s would display what’s now showing — if you are in the food industry, it is equally important that you display your food menu for visitors to browse. By clearly displaying your products and their prices, you are benefitting your business and your customers in the following ways:
  • Providing Convenience — Someone is more likely to come visit you in person if they know there won’t be any surprises in advance that you serve something they’ll want. Not displaying a menu can deter those customers who may be on a budget or have food allergies.
  • Establishing value — If someone is looking to spend money at your establishment, providing descriptions and imagery of dishes is a good way to earn their business by presenting its quality.
  • Utilizing design psychology — There are studies that show certain menu colors will drive more customers into your store, and others that claim removing the dollar sign ($) from your prices will cause people to spend more. Whether or not these claims are true, it is never a bad idea to utilize good design techniques in order to impress potential customers.

As examples, here are a couple clients whose sites we’ve built menus for:

Outpost Restaurant — Outpost’s menu is particularly useful because their site also has Google Translate embedded. Due to the high volume of out-of-country tourists they get coming through Yellowstone National Park, Outpost employees are able to pull the menu up on their tablet, translate it, and have the customer order with ease. Their menu makes a persuasive visual case to any hungry visitors who are looking for down-home cooking.

Route 93 Pizza's drop-down menu.
Route 93 Pizza's drop-down menu.
Route 93 Pizza — A restaurant and bar in Eureka, MT, Route 93 Pizza often changes their menu items, which employees can do easily through our content management system. Their menu includes a drop down for easy navigation and they can mark recent additions as “New!” The menu — and website as a whole — is laid out in a red color scheme that has a psychological effect of increasing hunger. Paired with mouthwatering descriptions and spot photography, this menu is likely to make any pizza-lover salivate. Further serving their customers’ need for convenience, this website offers the option to download a PDF version of their menu. This allows a customer to print out or save the menu on their device to be accessed with or without internet connection. Although useful as supplement, it is highly discouraged to only have a PDF menu as an option on your website.

Editing your menu in GMB.
Editing your menu in GMB.
The next step — Displaying your menu in Google’s search results.
Once you have a menu built as a native part of your website, Google My Business is able to pull data from that menu to use in the menu displayed in search results. More recently, Google has added a menu editor, providing the ability to edit this menu. You can add menu items, including title, description, and price, as well as appetizers, entrees, and desserts.

To edit your menu, you must be registered as a “Restaurant” in your Google My Business account. If you are, login and toggle to “info.” Just as you can edit your hours of operation and contact info, here is where you can make edits to your business’s menu.

If you are in the food industry, having your restaurant’s menu available to your customers online can be the difference between someone coming through your doors or bypassing you all together. To avoid frustration, and better serve your customers, the information should also be accurate — from the items available to their price. If you need help adding a menu to your website or to editing the one in your Google My Business account, let us know! We’d be happy to help.

Is Your Ecommerce Site Charging the Correct Shipping?

by Mira Brody in Development, Tools & Tips, UX

Use this helpful shipping algorithm to accurately ship your merchandise.

Charging accurate shipping cost is an important factor when running an online store. If costs are calculated too low, you are losing profits, and if they are too high, you may lose customers!

Our team uses a packing algorithm to help solve these issues, most recently implemented on our newest eCommerce site for Shipton’s Big R. A ranch supply and hardware store in Montana and Wyoming, Shipton’s Big R has a vast inventory of products that customers can order to be shipped to their home. Their employees gather items and prepare them for shipment, including packaging them according to the algorithm’s instructions in the employee portal we built.

Here’s how the algorithm works:
  • Available box sizes are put into order, and packed, by volume. So, if your store ships items in 10x10x10 and 20x20x20 boxes, the algorithm will attempt to pack the smaller one first, then move onto the larger one.
  • All items being shipped are then packed vertically up the side of the box.
  • The items are then packed side-by-side as long as the item under consideration fits alongside the previous item.
  • If more than 1 box is needed to accommodate all of the items, then boxes of equal weight will be sued. If an item doesn’t fit in the box already being packed a larger box is used.
  • If the item does not fit into any of the box sizes, the item is shipped individually.

The end goal is to pack multiple items into multiple boxes in the most efficient way so as to reduce the number of boxes needed, simulating how a human would pack the items. The employee portal we developed for Shipton’s Big R has pre-defined box sizes and is comparable with different UPS shipping methods. When a customer is placing an order, all of these calculations have been completed by the time they reach the shipping options page, so that they are presented with an accurate shipping cost.

This helpful algorithm solves two issues for Shipton’s Big R: it calculates accurate shipping options so the customer is properly charged for UPS services and provides intelligent guidance to employees on how to efficiently package an order. This ensures they are being compensated for shipping costs, reduces human error, and speeds up shipping operations, making their entire operation more efficient. Learn more about this algorithm, or about the other ways you can improve your ecommerce site so that it benefits your business — by generating more sales — as well as your customers, by making their experience a positive one.

How Much Money Can a Web App Save You?

by Mira Brody in Development, Tools & Tips, UX

When a business is getting its feet on the ground, their first instinct is to build what we refer to as a “presence website” — a site that allows you to be found in search engines by your customers, and provides a point of contact. Once your business starts growing however, is the time to consider what else a website can do. While it can still attract new customers and serve existing ones, a website is capable of automating business tasks your staff may currently be wasting time on. So, how can a web app save your business time and money? As inspiration, here are some ways we’ve improved our clients’ administrative tasks —

Custom Scheduling System
We built a scheduling system so that Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport could book badging appointments — administrative work that was once done by employees. Now, those who need airport badges can simply go to the airport website, and choose a time slot, download necessary paperwork, and an email confirmation is sent after the appointment is booked. The appointments are then synced with the airport staff’s Outlook calendar.

User Accounts
User accounts allow users to manage their own data, instead of the work falling on a paid employee in your office. We have user accounts in many of the website’s we’ve built, and common features include:
  • Password/username reset
  • Updating/adding payment methods
  • Manage mailing list subscriptions
  • Notification settings
  • Transaction history
And much more! All of this is accessible to the user, instead of them having to call your staff.

Automated Subscriptions
Silver Screen Insider is a client with free and paid tiers of membership for their website — only certain sections of the site are accessible to free members. The site processes all subscriptions automatically, charging monthly membership fees, sending out expiration reminders and notifying users when a payment method has expired.

Payment Processing
We’ve done a lot of payment processing work for various clients — in fact, we have a business partnership with a local merchant services provider who will help you find the most cost-effective way to accept payment for your products and services. In addition to securely accepting all major credit cards and eChecks, your website can send out an email receipt to the customer as well as a notification to the business.

Manage Orders
We recently finished a web app for an ecommerce site that accepts online orders for both in-store pickup and shipment. From the web app, employees can login and manage incoming orders, pick from floor inventory, and prepare them for in-store pickup or for shipment via UPS.

Preparing Shipments
In the same web app mentioned above, some orders are prepared for shipment. To do this, we’ve integrated with the UPS API and implemented a packing algorithm to help employees properly package items. This algorithm takes the dimensions and weight of the items in an order and suggests which sizes of box and how many are needed to most efficiently ship the order. The system also keeps track of instances where its packing algorithm provided inaccurate suggestions, allowing our client to keep track of which items in their inventory might have bad weight/dimensional data or otherwise prove challenging to ship.

A website isn’t just a place to market your business, it’s a place to conduct business. As you grow, enhancing your website to do more can not only generate additional revenue by attracting more customers, but also save significant labor costs – all while continuing to serve your clients better.

If you are outgrowing the website you launched in the early stages of your company and feel a custom website or web app could make your operations more efficient, we’d love to talk! We can discuss options so that you can spend less time answering troubleshooting calls and more time growing and innovating.