Web Design and SEO Blog


My Shipping Post — a new web application by JTech

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

New web app, My Shipping Post.
We’ve just launched a new web application for My Shipping Post! My Shipping Post is an online software solution for private shipping houses, small to medium businesses and individuals. Through this software as a service platform, these businesses can now print labels, scan parcels and track from creation to delivery all through an integration with the United States Postal Service. We’ve made it so ecommerce businesses can create a dashboard that matches their branding and save money on postage.

It is always fun to watch a brand-new business concept take off from the ground up, and we are pleased to have been a part of its creation and development. We invite you to see this new custom website at myshippingpost.com.

Using Atomic Design in Modern Web Development

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development, External Publications, Industry News, UX

For about a year now, our team has implemented a design method called Atomic Design, a concept founded by Brad Frost and his fascination with chemistry. By entwining the levels of Atoms, Molecules and Organisms with the associated elements we use to design a site, we have been able to improve efficiencies within our team.

If you are interested in the Atomic Design process, we’ve published an article with Web Designer Depot that shows off one of our newest sites, Route 93 Pizza Mill as an example. We invite you to read the article here.

Nofollow Blogging: Google Issues a Warning to Sponsored Blog Posts

by Sam McCue in Google, Industry News, Tools & Tips

Nofollow blogging.
Ever since blogging gained momentum, companies have been sending content creators freebies, with the strong implication that they should review it on their respective publications. This has proven to be an effective, incentivized means of getting backlinks to their company websites. Although it has become a popular way to monetize online content, comedian Daniel Tosh once showed the world what he thought of the iPad gifted to him by Apple:

incentives for sponsorships.

Earlier this month, Google released a statement aimed at those bloggers who do monetize in this fashion, suggesting they use a nofollow tag on any links included in their content, as well as urging them to disclose when they are linking to sponsored products or services that they have received compensation for. This nofollow, or rel=“nofollow” tag, ensures no SEO value is granted to the page it points to so that these added backlinks, if they are sponsored, are not further benefitting the linked company.

Google’s decision is based on their never-ending quest to maintain integrity and relevance in organic search results, a category which sponsored content does not fall under. If a company’s page is ranking higher organically because of the backlinks they received from these bloggers, then it is essentially a sponsored search result that has infiltrated the organic portion of the SERP (search engine results page). It’s no wonder they want to devalue this linking strategy; it undermines their mission.

Defining which blogs are sponsored and which ones are not is a tough call. Some product endorsements might be visibly sponsored making them easy to spot while others could be more ambiguous or completely organic, meaning the blogger had no other incentive other than that they simply liked it. It is unclear whether they have the means to tell which is which in every case and Google themselves have limited options of actually enforcing or disciplining culprits, which is why they have asked bloggers to take it upon themselves to ensure they are producing content honestly.

Nofollow links in blogs aren't completely useless. They still boost referral traffic, contribute to conversion rates, and are placed within a context that (hopefully) enhances the credibility of the product or site its pointing to. Many of the more reputable blogs are already practicing this. An interesting way to check this out is to install a browser extension that highlights or outlines all of the links on any given page that have the rel=“nofollow” tag. This provides a simple means to see who is following, and who is nofollowing the rules.

*no links were paid, sponsored, incentivized, or harmed in the making of this post

A New Publication with Speckyboy

by Mira Brody in External Publications, Optimization, Design

Speckyboy Design Magazine
Speckyboy Design Magazine
We’ve now reached the point where websites have to adapt to mobile screen sizes. But how do you decide how each page should change at each break point? In order to help you make these decisions about your own breakpoint modifications, we’ve published an article with Speckyboy to illustrate a few elements we commonly adapt in order to create mobile sites with better UX.

Read the full article here.

Pizzas and pastas and drinks, oh my!

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Look out, Eureka: Route 93 Pizza Mill is live and ready to serve you piping hot pizzas!

Route 93 Pizza Mill in Eureka, MT.
Route 93 Pizza Mill is a brand-new lunch and dinner eatery in the beautiful northern town of Eureka, MT; a major stop-off for those traveling down the state’s scenic Route 93. They will be serving up pizzas, pasta entrees, appetizers, desserts and drinks (beer and wine available!) all carefully crafted from the best ingredients including artisan cheeses and Prime Angus Beef. The restaurant will be open from 11AM to 11PM, a great late-night option for locals, offer both indoor and outdoor seating and feature large, flatscreen TVs for game nights. Route 93 Pizza will also soon be grilling up fresh BBQ for events at the Indian Springs Ranch Eagle’s Nest Patio Bar.

Squeezing all of these amenities into one website was fun for our team. With a vibrant color pallet and high-quality imagery, we were able to display a multi-sectional menu that can be regularly updated, a large interactive map for those unfamiliar with the area and an employment and contact form. All of this was integrated into a single-page scrolling website with fancy parallax scrolling, so that visions of hamburgers and pizzas whiz by during your online tour of the restaurant.

Route 93 Pizza, although still breaking ground, will have a grand opening date soon — so take your place in line, because it is bound to be a popular spot.

An Event Apart 2016

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Industry News

Three days of design, code and content

An Event Apart in Seattle, WA
An Event Apart in Seattle, WA
Our fearless leader, along with our designer just spent three days in Seattle, WA attending the An Event Apart conference. This event attracts web industry leaders thirsty for the most cutting-edge information on code, web content, usability and design. With over a dozen speakers, topics range from extreme web design, prioritizing tasks, meaningful animation accessibility and performance.

Because of last year’s event, we adapted Atomic Design to our process — a way for our designer to break down the elements on a page into more granular pieces — and it has been a great success. We are confident our team members have returned with similar inspirations and will be enlightened about our ever-changing industry.

A New Publication in Web Designer Depot Magazine

by Mira Brody in Design, External Publications, UX

Building Trust with UX.
Trust occurs when our physical, emotional and logical responses combine into one confident, positive intuitive feeling. Just as you must feel a sense of confidence when entering a storefront, this feeling rings true online as well, as there are a number of cues that can reaffirm trust, or completely ruin visitors’ experiences; a negativity they may permanently relate to your brand.

Learn about how you can gain your website visitors’ trust and read the rest of the article we’ve published on Web Designer Depot here.

RankBrain: Google’s Machine Learning Technology

by Sam McCue in Google, Industry News, Optimization, SEM, SEO, Tools & Tips

rack brain.
Terminator, The Matrix, iRobot, Maximum Overdrive. What do these movies all have in common? An overarching theme that explores the ability of machines to learn. Most of these movies were made in a time where machine learning was so far away, the idea was entertaining and laughable. Leave it up to Google to make it a reality.

If you’ve heard of RankBrain, you probably know that it is a machine learning technology Google has incorporated into their hummingbird search ranking algorithm. They have stated publicly that it is the third most important signal in their search engine result processes.

How Does RankBrain Work?
RankBrain is a multitude of mathematical software processes that are geared toward learning how people search. The overall goal is to gain more insight into how, why, and what people are searching for. As user searches become more complex, RankBrain allows Googles algorithms to combine search phrases with new meanings, relevance, and context.

In the average day, 15% of search queries are unique — they’ve never been seen by the engine before. So out of the 91 million total searches they field per day, 13,650,000 are brand-new. No wonder the company is investing so heavily in AI-related technology. In 2014, Google acquired DeepMind, a London-based machine learning startup, for £400 million.

How Does RankBrain Benefit Search?
An overused example from Bloomberg illustrates how RankBrain is helping search:

Query: “What is the title of the consumer at the highest level of a food chain?"

Marketers would be searching for consumers as buyers of goods. Zoologists would be searching for consumers as organisms who eat. When put into a query that asks about the highest level, RankBrain interprets the most scientific context. Google yields Apex Predator as its top result.

This technology was built to evolve as linguistics do. I can only imagine what was returned the first time YOLO was searched, and that is precisely why this technology is needed. People, particularly younger generations, change the way words relate to each other just as often as they change their socks. The real value with machine learning that can change with these trends, learn the way words relate to each other, and infer as to their order.

Machines Can Learn Now, Huh?
RankBrain is truly a leap forward in machine learning, but the concept is not new. It has evolved and grown in new and incredibly technical ways to get to where it is today. Microsoft has had a machine learning system called RankNet since 2005. More recently Microsoft also released a Twitter Bot named Taye, which learned how to act from other users. The whole project was abused by a generation of opportunistic internet trolls and had to be dismantled after the project became inappropriate due to user suggestion. Other notable investors of machine learning include Elon Musk, Facebook, IMB, and Shell.

How Can you Position Your Site to be Ranked by the Brain?
This algorithm has not, that we know of, changed much on the SEO front. The one factor that could be enhanced by this ranking signal is the creation original content. If you are lucky enough to coin a phrase and RankBrain is fed this information and recognizes you as the source, you may very well be cataloged as an authoritative source on the topic. That would mean wonders for ranking whichever page your content is on.

How Long Until RankBrain Takes Over the World?
The machine learning often gets confused with artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence implies that the machine is sentient, with no limits to its decision making and thought processes. Machine learning can be a specific set of learning protocols, relating to specific tasks. It is much more precise to search results in this application and RankBrain does not have the capability to make advanced decisions beyond search phrases. At least for now.

.anything: The Advantages of Registering a New gTLD

by Sam McCue in Tools & Tips

.anything is possible.
A gTLD, or generic top level domain, is the suffix at the end of a web site — .com, .net, .org, etc. Nowadays, you can ditch the old standbys and register your site under anything from your.bank to this.film, depending on the category your business operates under and what is currently available.

Here are some things to consider when choosing your dream domain to help make sure you have the right fit — from both an SEO and UX standpoint.

In this day and age, the competitive demand for a quality .com name can be one of the most strategic parts of starting an online business. The more popular your industry, the more likely your ideal .com has been taken, forcing you to settle for a .us, .biz, .info, or any of the other less-desirable choices. These new gTLDs are emerging as a new opportunity to grab great domain names for your sites.

New gTLDs are giving businesses the opportunity to exist within defined internet categories, and as time goes on, this method of organization will increase the usability of the internet. The relevance of route93.pizza vs. route93pizza.com will not only provide users with context for the pizza place they are looking for, but also a clean and understandable URL.

Another desirable aspect of gTLDs is their availability. You might not have the option of every .com you want, but new gTLDs are a huge opportunity waiting to be explored. Because of the impressive amount of categories, the number of combinations for your.business has greatly increased. In fact, the amount of available gTLDs hit the 1,000 mark in 2015 and more have been released every month since.

SEO? Yes and no.
There is an argument that new gTLDs are organizing the internet. But how will search engines decipher this system of categorization by domain? Last summer Google’s webmaster trends analyst, John Muller, made the statement that one top level domain will not actually be favored over the another. The only TLDs that will receive special treatment are those geographically oriented, such as .asia or .germany, for searches in the areas they pertain to (1).

In 2012 Google’s Matt Cutts, head of web spam, posted on his Google+ account that “Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don't expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn't bet on that happening in the long-term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that's your choice, but you shouldn't register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you'll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings (2).”

There is a distinction, however, between favoritism and relevance — relevance being the search engine’s overall goal. Regardless of preferential treatment, the benefit of having keywords in the structure of your URL will undoubtedly return more relevant searches, making it easier for you to position your brand as aptly as possible. Some gTLDs are restricted by their industry. For example, .film is only available to members of the MPAA, and to register a .bank you have to provide detailed information proving you operate a bank. Some, like .pizza and .restaurant, have no restrictions, but there would be little to no benefit for an auto repair shop to operate within a .pizza domain.

The adoption curve
So why hasn’t the whole world hopped on the bandwagon yet? In some parts, they have. China seems to have surpassed the early adoption stage and embraced the mindset that gTLDs will make the internet an easier place to navigate. 86% of people polled in China, when asked if gTLDs are a good idea, responded that they are (3). The U.S. is moving a bit slower on the adoption curve, mostly because of our dependance on more traditional domains. The average user needs to be weaned off of the assumption that every website is required to end in .com for the movement to take hold.

There are so many benefits to gTLDs that once they enter the mainstream there will be a mad grab for the best new URLs. iCANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) knows the value of these domains, and is releasing new ones on a yearly basis. It is safe to say we have entered an age where .anything is possible.