Web Design and SEO Blog

Mar201723

Technical SEO Tips to Improve Search Ranking

by Mira Brody in Development, Google, Marketing, SEO, Tools & Tips

Technical SEO Tips to Improve Search Ranking

Technical SEO for your site.
The key to attracting more traffic to your site is to maintain a good ranking in search engines through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is a broad topic and relates to many aspects of your websites however, this article will focus on technical SEO — the optimization not represented in your actual content, but instead in the development of your site. So that your business has the best possible ranking in search results, our digital marketing team has put together a list of technical SEO areas that are fundamentally important to the performance of your site.

Robots.txt file — The robots.txt file is a text file that controls which parts of your site are indexed by search engines. By excluding particular pages, you not only keep private content from being displayed in search results, but also save bandwidth and reduce the load on your servers. This improved performance has a direct impact on your search ranking — you are penalized by sluggish speeds and other performance issues. You can create a robots.txt file here.

A note on privacy and robots.txt: Although all major search engines will follow the instructions written in your robots.txt files, they are not an effective way to protect sensitive information from being accessed — to truly protect private or sensitive information, do not store it unsecured on a public web server.

Sitemaps — A sitemap is an XML document created and submitted to search engines that allows them to understand the organization of your website as you believe it exists. If the search engine indexes your site and finds differences between the sitemap and what it found, it can report the differences to you, allowing you to find and fix indexing errors that may prevent proper indexing in the search engines.

Interlinking — Improve you site’s crawlability by finding natural ways to link between the pages of your site to ensure all content is connected within a good site structure. For example, creating a link to your site’s FAQ page in the content of the Contact Us page, benefitting both your customers and your SEO.

Page Load Time — Monitor how fast your site is loading, not only for user experience, but for search engine ranking as well. If your site loads slowly, its search ranking may be penalized. You can test your site’s speed here. If you find that your site loading slowly, work with your web developer to take action.

Optimize your code
— One factor in page load time is the amount of code on each page. Keeping the size of each page’s HTML, CSS and JavaScript as small as possible reduces the amount of information that needs to be transmitted, improving this speed. Additionally, each individual file referenced in your site’s code becomes another request that has to be made to the web server. You therefore want to keep the number of files involved as low as possible. There are tools you can use to optimize and compress your site’s code, one being gzip, that compresses files by removing whitespace and comments, among other things, in your code. Code optimization is a large subject: further topics include inlining vs. external CSS, images and fonts, asynchronously loading JavaScript, reducing the number of server calls, and minification of code.

SEO Friendly URLs — Short URL’s make it easier for spiders to crawl your site. Stick to short, keyword-focused, readable URLs to improve your site ranking.

Search Engine Optimization is not just about keyword research and page content. There are many technical factors unrelated to content that can help or harm your site ranking in search results. Luckily, if your site is suffering because of one of the above technical SEO topics, there are solutions. If you need help, give us a call — our expert marketing team would be happy to assist you.
Mar201721

What You Can Learn From Industries That Thrive on Pinterest

by Mira Brody in Marketing, Social Media, Tools & Tips

Pinterest for business.
Is your company considering, or currently using Pinterest as a marketing tool? The popular, image-focused application is a traffic-heavy search engine with 150 million monthly users, with half of those actively using it to make purchases. Users appreciate the ability to quickly flip through photo results for inspiration or casually browse various topics suggested for them. They can then “pin” results, saving them to their own profile into categorized “boards.” So, is your business one that could benefit from using Pinterest? Although a powerful marketing tool for many businesses, here are some industries who seem to benefit from it most.

The Food Industry
Humans are visual creatures— and we love looking at pictures of good food. Specifically, though, Pinterest has thrived as a repository for recipes. In fact, “recipe” is the third most searched-for keyword on the application. Bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores and other food businesses can take advantage of this by building a Pinterest marketing campaign to attract users. Lindt Chocolate, for example, floods followers with chocolate confections — after all, what’s a stronger selling point than a high-res photo of a plate full of brownies?

Travel
Consumers also like to browse images of the world. National Geographic, Southwest Airlines and the Travel Channel are just a few companies taking advantage of this attraction, using images of faraway places to inspire users to reserve a hotel, book a flight or purchase some new outdoor gear.

Do It Yourself
Next to food, “DIY crafts” and “home decor” are some of the most pinned categories on Pinterest. Instead of home makeover and improvement shows, millennials are using Pinterest for crafting and homemaking instructions. Lowe’s is one company who has really taken this to stride — with over 3 million followers, the home improvement store has boards of easy and attractive craft ideas, such as “bathroom inspirations,” “get organized,” “welcoming wreaths,” and “gardening tips.”

Clothing and Fashion
Even though they only make up about 20-30% of its user base, men are a steadily growing demographic on Pinterest. Male users nearly doubled in 2015 alone and statistics show that “Men’s Fashion” is one of the top searches in the United States. Brands like Fossil and Esquire have taken advantage of this trend, using Pinterest to attract both men and women with fashion trends. It’s not only about fashion, though: other male-dominated boards include Bacon, Baseball, Beer, Chuck Norris and Harley Davidson. Consumers want to continue to stay on top of these trends, and will rely on a social platform with the ability to cater to their interests like Pinterest rather than a one-size-fits-all tool like Google or Facebook.

Helpful Pinterest Facts
The average Pinterest user is under 40.
70-80% of users in the U.S. are women.
Millennials use Pinterest as much as they use Instagram, whose user-base surpassed 300 million in 2014.
The users are visual. High-res photography with bright colors is advised.
Pinterest has analytics so you can track your ROI.

Is is no doubt that Pinterest is a heavily-utilized marketing tool. Because of its balance between being a search engine and social media platform, it is capable of driving the most qualified users for your product straight to your site. Although widely available for use, there are some industries who take to the platform more easily than others. If you need help setting up or managing your Pinterest or other social media accounts, we’d be happy to give you a digital marketing evaluation to determine which will best suit your needs and give you the highest return on investment.
Mar201716

How To Naturally Optimize Your Content

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

optimize your content naturally.
High-quality content. It has been the mantra behind most of Google’s algorithm updates for nearly a decade now. You can see their increasing emphasis on it over the years:
  • 2009: Google Caffeine targets regularly updated content in search results.
  • 2011: Google Panda lowers the ranking of sites that appear to produce a lot of spam content.
  • 2015: Google Penguin penalizes sites buying links to boost their search rankings, favoring those with original and regularly-produced content.

Because of Google’s ever-increasing efforts to quash bad content, publishers and website owners, need to be sensitive about the quality of the content on their website, ensuring their content is optimized, but not so much that Google discredits it as spam. Finding that perfect balance between computer readability and human readability — organic optimization — involves trial, error and experience of combining copywriting and digital marketing. We thought we’d share a few tips that we’ve found very successful in maintaining this balance.


Research keywords first.
Whether it is static webpage copy or a blog post, research your target audience and make a list of keywords.

A good example is a website we did for a custom cabinetry company in Livingston, Montana: Crazy Mountain Cabinetry. The core keywords for this particular site are: Crazy Mountain Cabinetry, Livingston, MT, kitchen cabinets, kitchen remodel, kitchen countertops, bathroom remodeling, kitchen bath designer.

There are many keyword research tools used by digital marketers that help expand these core keywords. By conducting a number of actual searches, we can view the results for a set of search phrases. These keywords are then carefully monitored against competitors and gives us an idea of how people are searching for products and services in your industry.

Copy second.
The expanded keywords are turned over to a professional content writer for production. A copywriter will have the background necessary to produce marketing-minded copy that is readable for humans and Google alike. The trick is to organically weave as many of your keywords into the copy as possible without forcing anything that sounds unnatural.

You should not produce content purely for the sake of SEO. Many companies are tempted to hire out “SEO experts” who promise “your company in Google top 10 results.” These solicitations usually consist of plugging your company name and location into a cheap keyword generator, resulting in nightmarish results:
bad SEO.

In a single paragraph, Aspen is mentioned 6 times, Colorado is mentioned 6 times, and SEO is mentioned 7 times, resulting in a product that is almost completely unreadable. Google will recognize this as spam and favor competitors with human-produced site copy.

Optimize third.
Never underestimate the power of a thorough optimization passthrough. This stage presents the opportunity to add extra keywords, optimize the page title and add metadata. Additionally, during the optimization phase for JTech blog posts, we produce artwork with relevant title tags and assign UTM links for specific tracking purposes.

Review.
The copy on your website should be a living, breathing product, flexible to changes brought on by a shift in the market or a Google algorithm update. A lot of time and care is taken to produce the copy we write not only for our own site, but our clients’ as well, which is why checking the performance of that investment is an integral part of the process. Even old blog posts should be revisited periodically. Is the topic still relevant? Write a follow up article and link back to the original.

The content on your site needs to be coherent and informative to visitors, but also crawlable by Google so that they can find you in the first place. If you think your content is causing your search ranking to suffer, give us a call — our team would be happy to help.
Mar201710

Improve User Testing Using Apple’s Handoff

by Mira Brody in Development, Software, Tools & Tips

Apple handoff for web testing.

Handoff is a feature available on Mac OS and iOS that allows you to continue a task begun on one device using another that shares the same iCloud account. We’ve found Handoff to be quite useful when testing websites, helping to save time when testing across multiple devices and encouraging a more thorough QA process.

Handoff works between an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Apple desktop computer, and is easy to use. To get set up and use Handoff, follow these instructions. Here are two Handoff features that our development team uses the most when they are testing websites:

Handoff on a phone.
Handoff on a phone.
Handoff on a Mac desktop.
Handoff on a Mac desktop.
Handoff a URL — As you know, URLs can get quite long, so instead of having to painstakingly type every character into the address bar of a second device, Handoff allows us to pass the browser page from one device to the other — no typing required.

How it works — Open the webpage you want to Handoff from your desktop computer in Safari. To then open it on you iPad or iPhone, there are two ways to do so:
  • On the lock screen, swipe up on the Safari icon that will appear in the lower-left corner. Login and Safari will load up the page.
  • When logged in, double tap the home button. Tap the bar with the Safari icon that appears at the bottom of the screen. Safari will load up the page.

To pass a task off in the opposite direction (from your mobile device back to a Mac), open the webpage on your iPad or iPhone and click the Safari icons that appears on the left side of your dock.

Universal clipboard — Handoff allows a user to copy text from one device and paste it to another. This is especially useful when you need to log in to a site, but don’t have the necessary credentials saved on the second device.
  • When passing text or image between devices, select and copy your desired text as you usually would by holding down your finger on the desired object.
  • Like magic, it’s already on your other device. Just paste the text or image as you usually would. 

Because Handoff utilizes a universal clipboard, the text you copied from the first device will be pasted no matter which direction you are passing the information. This means it will work the same way from a desktop as well; by highlighting the text you wish to transfer, copying it from there, and pasting it to another desktop or mobile device.

Other Handoff Features.
Handoff works with Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Maps, Messages, Phone, Reminders and Safari — as well as some third party apps. Some other features include:
  • Email composition — Complete an email you started on a separate device.
  • Phone calls — Answer a call from your iPhone, but hand it off to your Apple Watch. Or answer a call from a desktop and transfer to your phone.
  • Maps — Research directions to a new restaurant on your MacBook, and pass the information over to your phone when it’s time to leave.

Apple’s Handoff allows users to move between devices securely and seamlessly — whether it be desktop, laptop, tablet, phone or watch. Our team can test a site on these devices with reduced effort, helping us confidently deliver a completed project to our clients. For more tips about how to use Handoff, Apple’s Handoff support page is full of information.
Mar20178

JTech Welcomes New, Budget-Friendly Product Line

by Mira Brody in Acknowledgments, Announcements, Design, Development, Industry News, Marketing, Montana News, Optimization, SEO, Software

New affordable product line by JTech.
For 20 years now, JTech has been developing advanced websites and web apps for clients around the country. While we love developing custom projects, the time it takes means that our work is out of budget for many smaller businesses. To address this, we’re excited to to announce a new product line focusing on local businesses here in Bozeman and our surrounding area — Bozeman Websites.

Same services on a flexible budget.
Bozeman Websites involve the same thorough process in which we’ve always believed — planning a site to meet your needs, establishing a digital marketing plan, custom design, and our long-term partnership to help you achieve your goals. Predesigned layouts are hand-crafted by our team of talented designers and built to fit varying industry needs, reducing development costs and making these websites ideal for non-profits, startups, small businesses, and other cost-conscientious organizations.

Hassle-free growth, when you need it.
Bozeman Websites are able to grow as you do. We can start with a beautiful, custom-designed presence site, and later evolve it into a powerful web application that automates every task in your office — making this the best possible investment for your business’s future.

Visit bozemanwebsites.com for more information and as always, please come to us with any questions. We would love to help you start a new project today and ensure your company’s longevity. Every business deserves a custom-designed site — now you can afford it with Bozeman Websites by JTech.
Feb201728

Reputation Rot and How to Prevent It

by Mira Brody in Content, Google, Marketing, Optimization, SEO, Social Media, Tools & Tips

Reputation Rot and How to Prevent It

Preventing reputation rot.

Human perceptions tend to stay the same no matter how much time has passed. This is why a first impression is so important — if someone has a bad experience with your business, they’ll relate it to your brand as a whole. Even if you’ve expanded or improved over time, even solved the issues they experienced, there’s always the chance that your reputation will remain unchanged.

This phenomenon is called Reputation Rot, and it happens to businesses online all the time. The good news is, Reputation Rot is avoidable. Just as a storefront is not stagnant — new inventory, sales, customers and employees — your website shouldn’t be either.

Avoiding the rot of your online reputation.
The longer you wait for your website to catch up with your changing brand, the harder it will be to fix the damage rot has already done. Because Google favors websites with a constant flow of new traffic and consistently updated content, here are a few content marketing tips to help your brand reputation:
  • Update your website content. Once in a while you’ll need to change some information on your site, whether it’s a new hire, contact information or an updated inventory. Take this opportunity to audit your content in its entirety, updating imagery and verbiage throughout.
  • Keep a blog. A company blog updates content and Google recognizes this. They are more likely to favor a site that has a new blog posted every week than one that hasn’t been touched in years.
  • Reach out to customers. Post sales and other incentives. You can also engage by sending out a monthly newsletter. Encourage customer reviews on platforms like Yelp, Facebook and Google+ and if you have any negative ones, respond to them with concern.
  • Post on social media. The more places you can link back to your website the better. Communicate with your customers on a company Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account.
  • Ongoing SEO effort. An SEO audit can uncover keywords that are not working, and discover new ones that are. Monitor performance in Analytics that impact your traffic and site interaction and find out where you can improve. This ongoing support is especially important for industries that are changing — what was working last year may not be now.

Ongoing marketing efforts prevent Reputation Rot. If you need to perform an SEO audit, reevaluate your content marketing strategy or need help setting up a company blog or social media page, give us a call. Our experts are available to help your organization prevent Reputation Rot before it has a chance to start.
Feb201723

JTech at the Turn of the Century

by Mira Brody in Design, Development, Industry News, Montana News, Other

Back in 1999, not many people had a website yet. The idea that your business could exist online was a new concept and only the big names, such as Amazon, Google and eBay had a strong online presence. Recently, we did some digging and came across some JTech history; in honor of our 20th year, we’d like to share it with you.

“Coming Soon”
Although it is now obsolete, some of our early websites were built using Adobe Flash. To anticipate the launch of JTech’s first site, we built a “Coming Soon” video in Flash. It can be enjoyed here (turn on your audio for the full effect) —

Our First Site
The first JTech Communications website was available in a Flash or HTML version. While we don’t have a copy of it up and running, we uncovered this screenshot from the internet archives for old time’s sake —
JTech's first website.

Oh how far the web has come! We hope you’ve enjoyed this flashback into some of JTech's history. As a company always focused on state-of-the-art and future technology, it’s fun to revisit our roots and see works of the past.
Feb201721

When and How to Publish a Press Release

by Mira Brody in Marketing, Tools & Tips

When to publish a company press release.

An online press release is a short, compelling news story that targets members of the media and other publishers to provide your company with instant exposure. The primary goal of a press release is to grab their interest in hopes that they will write a full article on you or at least pass our information to someone who may be interested. Press releases can increase not only your businesses’ reputation and brand, but your website traffic as well.

When to write a press release.
Press releases aren’t like a blog post; you aren’t making company announcements just because you can. Press releases are formal and cover a special occasion. Here are some reasons businesses write press releases:
  • Grand opening
  • New product or service
  • Company anniversary
  • New location
  • Damage control/answer to accusations
  • Announcing an event

When NOT to write a press release.
Here are some examples of topics that are not press release-worthy:
  • Slander competition
  • To be humorous
  • Announcing a trade show booth
  • A change of telephone number
  • Expression of opinion
  • Here’s a fun list of BAD press releases.

What to include.
Press releases are short, sweet and to-the-point. They are written so that a journalist can get the who, what, when, where and why as quickly as possible. The release should be written in third person and include a location, website and contact information. SEO keywords will enhance the visibility of a publication once it is released and an image always helps as well. Because it is the first thing they will see, the title of your press release should read like a news headline: establish the who and what right away.

Most importantly, a press release should be written by someone who knows what they are doing — the composer should understand very clearly a press release’s purpose and carefully follow all of the formatting quirks it requires.

Distribution.
After you’ve decided on a topic you want to tell the world about, look into when and how you will distribute your press release. Studies show the best times to publish a press release are Monday-Thursday between 8AM and 10AM. Fridays, weekends and holidays are the worst times to distribute.

JTech both composes and distributes press releases for our clients. Our composition process is backed by thorough research, keyword integration and industry expertise. If you need advise or help with a company press release, please feel free to give us a call!
Feb201716

Make Sure Your Customers Can Call You From Their Browser

by Mira Brody in Google, Marketing, Optimization

Safari's click to call.
While searching for a business, 70% of customers place a phone call directly from the browser on their mobile device. To avoid missing out on these customers, business owners should check to make sure their phone number is available, both on their website, on social media and in browsers.

Check browsers.
Many browsers, including Google Chrome and Safari, have implemented a click-to-call icon, a phone icon that appears as a person is typing a business name into the search field. Safari most recently added their icon not only to search results, but in search suggestions — before you’re even finished typing out the full query.

This contact information is being drawn from Yelp, which is where Safari and Apple Maps draws their business info from whereas Google will pull your phone number from your business’s Google Places account.

Social media.
Take the time to check your social accounts for accuracy. As mentioned above, browsers will pull your information from various sources, such as Yelp and Google Places. In addition, Facebook allows you to add a “call now” button to your business account, offering convenience to customers who discover you there.

On a website.
Another way your customers can contact you is through your website directly. At JTech, we often add a phone number, not only on a client’s contact us page, but also in the footer. The number is then tagged as such:
<a href=“tel://1-406-586-7100”>406-586-7100>

This way, when they are browsing your site for contact information on their phone, tapping the phone number will place a call.

Because a majority of shoppers use their mobile devices to find and contact businesses, and because contact information is a search ranking consideration, listing your phone number is an important factor to consider. Ensuring it’s visibility across social media, browsers and your own website will keep you accessible to as many potential customers as possible. If you do not see your contact information appearing, or it is incorrect, simply contact us. We’d be glad to check it out for you.
Feb201713

5 Analytics You Should Be Watching

by Mira Brody in Google, Industry News, Marketing, Tools & Tips

5 Important Google Analytics.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, Google website Analytics can be an intimidating tool. When you login, there is a column of confusing terms to your left and pages of different colored graphs displaying the activity on your website. Our Bozeman online marketing team has been helping clients establish and measure business goals and track their progress through Analytics for years now. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of five key performance metrics we feel are crucial to running any business.

1. Acquisition: Channels
The search acquisition menu helps you understand how you are acquiring the traffic coming to your website. Google provides you with the following default channels when you first set up an Analytics account:
  • Organic Search
  • Paid Search
  • Display
  • Direct
  • Referral
  • Social
  • Email
  • (Other)

You can edit these existing channels or define additional ones through Custom Channel Grouping settings. For example, if your company has a specific newsletter they send out, you can add “Monthly Newsletter” as a channel to monitor how much traffic it is driving to your website. You can also watch specific paid advertisements to see which ad campaigns are paying off for you.

Ideally, you’ll want to see positive results from all channels you put effort into. Monitoring traffic channels allows you to see which are succeeding and which are falling behind so that you can react accordingly. For example, if your social media measurement is failing, but you throw a lot of resources at it, it may be time to reevaluate those efforts and try a new approach.

2. Acquisition: Referrals
Acquisition referrals display the external sites that feed traffic back to your site, excluding advertising and organic search. This data reveals which of your campaigns an content are paying off. Some common examples of external sites may be:
  • Press releases
  • Social media
  • Guest posts on external blogs
  • Business listings

Ideally, you should be putting effort into the sources that have a high return rate. If you’re paying a lot to appear in a business listing, for example, but it is not showing up in your referral Analytics, it may be time to redirect that cost somewhere else.

3. Behavior: All Pages
Behavior Analytics is a great visual tool with which to familiarize yourself. Under the behaviors tab, you can view the “journey” users are taking through your site, page by page, through a series of colorful nodes. You can draw some useful conclusions about your site through these visual nodes. For example, if users are landing on your home page, going to your product page and immediately to checkout, you have a well-oiled ecommerce machine. If you find that users are dropping off before a purchase, pinpoint where and uncover why this may be happening. Maybe a link is broken, or some copy is misleading, or your design is frustrating. Either way, tracking user behavior flow will reveal what does or does not work your site, page-by-page.

4. Conversions: Goals Overview
The conversions feature allows you to set specific goals you want users to complete on your site. Defining these goals is really up to you. Here are a few examples of goals:
  • A specific destination
  • Visit duration
  • Page visits
  • Downloads
  • Newsletter signups
  • Contact form submissions

Over time, as customers complete them, your overview page will fill with completion metrics and allow you to track the data most important to you.

5. Conversions: Ecommerce
If you run an online store you should enable ecommerce tracking. This will track specifics, such as:
  • Ecommerce conversation rate (total transactions divided by total website sessions)
  • Number of transactions
  • Revenue
  • Average order value
  • Unique purchases
  • Overall and average quantity
  • Average price
  • Average revenue
  • Per session value

In addition, every transaction that takes place, including SKU and transaction number is complied in an inventory list. Since this data can get massive, ecommerce Analytics includes a feature to track only specific products, and view reports with only the data that is important to your sales performance.

Google Analytics is a massive data collecting tool that can yield a ton of important information. Although this list barely scratches the surface of it capabilities, hopefully it has helped you gain some insight. If you have yet to set up Google Analytics or need help tracking or understanding any of these performance metrics, please give us a call. We have an experienced digital marketing team who will help you make the most of your efforts so that your business can thrive online.