Web Design and SEO Blog

Mar201628

Local Search Optimization

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

The "sweet spot" of Google search results.
The "sweet spot" of Google search results.
optimize your site for search local.
Optimizing your website locally can give your business a very strong showing in the search engine results pages (SERPs). That prominent search engine results section right below the paid advertisements, and right above the organic listings is very valuable real estate. Making sure you are not only included in these results, but also shown as a top result can be tricky, but success begins with covering your bases. Here are a few tips to remember that may give you that much-needed edge against competitors:

Your Address is the Key
Search engines need to verify your location address before they can put you on the map. Google does this by either calling the associated phone number and having you enter a code, or by sending you a post card with a code and giving you a timeframe to complete the instructions on it. Once you’ve done this for all of your locations, Google can, with confidence, place you on the map for relevant local searches. The process and options for Bing are quite similar, so be prepared to do it twice.

Keywords, Keywords, Keywords
Local qualifiers in your meta, as well as the copy on your page will rank you higher in universal results. A great place to start is to keep an eye on your competition. Your city and state should be in your page title tags and headers. Search engines not only use these to determine who you are, but often where. It wouldn’t hurt to throw it into the alt text (image description) for any location-based imagery you decide to use on your site either.

Get Reviewed
Rankings from customers are so blatantly visible in the SERPs, that it is increasingly important to ask for reviews from trusted clientele. If you can boost your reviews above ten, your credibility will increase in the engine’s eyes. This is critical for Yelp pages too, which present structured data in search results such as how many stars your business has, your hours, etc.

Leave No Field Unfilled
Don’t be in such a rush when you set up your local profile that you neglect certain fields. Make sure the address, phone number, hours of operation, and contact email portions are well taken care of. The more information you give, the better, so consider and evaluate these fields accordingly before you dismiss them as irrelevant. Make sure all of your business data is correct so it is properly presented to the major directories and data aggregators.

Develop your Google+
If you don’t already have a Google+ for your business, you are missing the opportunity to strengthen your brand within that search engine. This ties in directly with your reviews and your business page. Make sure you claim it, and stay active on it. Posting fresh, updated content to your Google+ page will show the search engine that you are still a relevant and active business.

All of these tips working in harmony will help give your business that boost it needs to show up in local listings and make sure you are most visible to customers.
Mar201623

New Project: Silver Screen Insider

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

We have been carefully planning a web development project for Silver Screen Insider, a business that helps supplement the marketing efforts of small, independent movie theater owners. This new website will serve theater owners, advertisers and the general public interested in the entertainment industry by providing a subscription-based membership.

The new SSI website, much like the old, will continue to provide industry-related articles as well as a comments section to initiate discussion, an industry calendar and a up-to-date film database — everything theater owners need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the entertainment industry. It will also focus on the re-branding of their company since it changed ownership in 2015.

We’ve been working with the owners and operators of SSI for nearly two decades and are pleased to work alongside them on this new online venture.
Mar201621

Crazy Mountain Cabinetry

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Crazy Mountain Cabinetry
Crazy Mountain Cabinetry
We are starting on a new web development project for Crazy Mountain Cabinetry, a full-service kitchen and bath cabinet outfitter located in Livingston, MT. They provide a variety of home improvement services including conceptualizing, designing, ordering hardware and finding reputable installers. The results are a high-quality product customized for your design and spacial needs.

Their new website will not only attract their desired customers, but also provide an array of resources for those looking for a remodel. A robust portfolio of past work will center around a strong sense of locality, displaying the unique and customized approach they apply to every home improvement project.

We are thrilled to be able to build an online home for Crazy Mountain Cabinetry that will accentuate the quality services they have to offer.
Mar201618

New Web Design Project

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Development

There are a lot of reasons to invest in solar power — you may be be looking for an investment that benefits the environment or interested in going completely “off the grid.” Whatever your reason, OnSite Energy, a solar electric service business situated in Bozeman, MT, is quickly securing their reputation as the Solar Power Experts of the Northern Rockies. We are excited to be a part of their growth by building them a new website.

OnSite provides evaluation, technical design and installation of solar panels as well as maintenance services all over Western Montana, reaching into Wyoming and Idaho as well as Red Lodge, Lewistown and Billings. Their new site will focus on reaching those clients as well as spreading the philosophy that “we are solar;” the belief that solar is a sensible choice for everyone. The community aspect of solar energy will be emphasized through personal images of job sites and group photos of finished commercial and residential projects. The site will also focus on providing resources and education to its visitors as well as a way to get in contact with the owners.
Mar201616

A New Website for REM Solutions

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

REM Solutions website.
We recently completed a website for a business partner, REM Solutions. REM is a single point of contact for business owners who need assistance with their merchant account. This includes credit and debit card processing, gateway integration, mitigating risk and fraud protection; everything you need to ensure your company is safe and successful long-term.

The new website is a single-page scrolling site which carefully outlines all of REM’s various services as well as a contact form. Because of their close partnerships, we included rotating images to display all of their affiliates and a login for existing customers.
Mar201611

Notability

by Mira Brody in Tools & Tips

Organizing notes in Notability.
Organizing notes in Notability.
Doodle while you work.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a lot of your job hours sitting in meetings. Luckily, our conference room is pretty lively; it seems everyday we’re meeting a new client, another new interesting business, designing a new website project. So why do each of these businesses have to be so blandly represented via ballpoint pen and lined paper?

Notability is an application available in the App Store for iOS and Mac that allows you access to an array of tools that make taking notes a bit more…colorful.

Each “note” can be organized into a subject and color coded. I arrange and color my subjects according to the particular company we are meeting with that day, then add a new note for each individual meeting. During note taking, here are a few of Notability’s tools I find most helpful —

Sketching in a note.
Sketching in a note.
  • Typing: An old standby. You have six font styles and a handful of size choices, colors and the ability to either type directly onto the blank page or insert a separate text box (say, under a photo or off to the side so it stands out).
  • Highlighting: With 16 colors to choose from, I find it helpful to go over my notes afterwards and use the highlight tool to pick out keywords or phrases that may help me later.
  • Drawing: The fun part; you can doodle! A huge part of planning a website is envisioning what it may look like. With the drawing tool, you can doodle your ideas as the meeting is taking place, using arrows and boxes to connect and group your scattered thoughts into a cohesive inspiration.

Embed photos in your notes.
Embed photos in your notes.
  • Cut, paste and erase: We all make mistakes, so an eraser is sometimes needed. There is also a “cut” tool, that allows you to outline one of your arrows you drew earlier and easily flip or move it.
  • Photos and sound: During client meetings, we sometimes sketch ideas on the office whiteboard. Notability allows you to snap a photo of those sketches and drop them into your current note to refer back to later, even after that whiteboard has long been wiped clean. You can also record in the application and when played back, the recorded meeting will show you where in your notes the conversation took place.

Notability is very useful for those who need to add a little more pizzazz to their conference note-taking. It helps increase concentration for those of us who are visual or kinesthetic learners due to its various color and organization capabilities and increased productivity for everyone else.
Mar20169

Browser Extensions That Boost Productivity

by Sam McCue in Tools & Tips

Having a hard time staying focused at work or school? When you have a project-based workflow, distractions can be your worst enemy. Beyond that, disorganization and task management are formidable opponents. Luckily there is a constant flow of new apps and extensions to try and help conquer the small challenges in your day-to-day.

Stayfocused browser extension
Stayfocused browser extension
Stayfocused
When you are trying to complete a task, your worst enemy is probably social media. In fact, a recent study proved that Americans give more attention to Facebook than their own pets. (1) It is almost too easy to get sucked into a mindless repetition of scrolling, liking, sharing and repeating. The worst part is that you know how unproductive you’re being even while you’re doing it. With Stayfocused, you can add sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and other social sites to a single list. It then allows you to visit the site, but if you spend more than a certain amount of time on it, it'll lock you out for the rest of the day. Now you can stop watching vines, and start getting some work done. This extension is available for Google Chrome.

OnePassword browser extension
OnePassword browser extension
OnePassword
No longer will you have to keep sticky notes under your keyboard with all of your passwords. Did you know that on average, each person has 19 passwords to remember?(2) OnePassword is a paid app that keeps track of all of your passwords for you, securely. The extension of this application allows you to right click>fill passwords right into the login pages of all your frequented sites. Not only does this make it easier to diversify your passwords, but it keeps track of the sites they belong to. It also has the ability to auto-generate passwords, in case you run out of pet names. The browser extension is available for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera.

ClickToFlash browser extension
ClickToFlash browser extension
ClickToFlash
Finally, a decent Safari extension to replace automatically-playing Flash items on a page with placeholders. You don’t have to be subjected to flashing, pulsing sidebars anymore without your permission. If you are someone who is easily distracted, or gets tired of seeing how easily advertisers can track you down on the internet, install this extension. The only downside is that you may miss out on a few of those free cruise offers that pop up. This extension is available for Safari.

Wunderlist browser extension
Wunderlist browser extension
Wunderlist
Get rid of paper to-do lists and get Wunderlist. With this extension, you can create and keep your tasks right in front of you so your priorities are clear. You can also share lists with colleagues, family members or roommates. Never agin will you forget to buy milk. This extension is available for Chrome and Firefox.

Sticky Notes browser extension
Sticky Notes browser extension
Sticky Notes
Okay, so maybe you’re stuck on stickies, and they just work for you. Why not try transferring them from your desk, to your desktop. With the app Sticky Notes, you can post text, links, share notes, and turn what was once a simple paper reminder into a dynamic tool.

For every problem we deal with in our lives, technology can usually find a solution. Each one of these extensions is designed to solve the small problems in your life and are cheap to attain and easy to use. Truly, it is an amazing time to be alive.

Sources
(1) http://www.bloomberg.com
(2) https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com
Mar20167

Social Media: Don’t set it and forget it

by Sam McCue in Content, Social Media, Tools & Tips

Adding social media to your online presence can be a huge advantage to your business. Build up a Yelp listing for your restaurant and you will be able to show off your prized menu items. Roll out a Facebook profile for your graphics company and you get the opportunity to humanize your brand. The more widespread your name is online, the higher you will rank and the more opportunities people have to interact with it.

Lets face it, social media marketing is often more work than you bargained for and many people forget, or don’t have the time, to maintain their accounts. To put it simply, a social media account is only useful if you use it. Taking the time to properly set it up, groom it, and position it as a marketing tool takes a concerted effort. Here are some tips to keep in mind when running your business's social media accounts —

Put Your Aces in their Places: Choosing the right platform.
Each social media platform caters to its audience in a unique way, and you need to take that into account when developing your strategy. According to Pew Research, 42% of all online females use Pinterest, compared to 13% of all online males, so if you are trying to target men, Pinterest may not be where you want to concentrate your marketing. If you own a restaurant, you may want to showcase your prized creations on Instagram. A simple search of the hashtag “#food” yields 179,265,515 posts and counting. If you have a bakery, post pictures of the creative cupcakes and other confections you make to get your followers’ mouths watering.
food hashtag results.
These strong audience indicators should be factored into your digital marketing plan, so you can begin strategizing what times of day/week they are active on social media.

Utilize all of the Features.
Physical addresses, maps, contact information, website links and company names are examples of things that should never be left incomplete on a social media account. Just like your website, your social media site will show up in your customer’s search results as well and they will expect to be able to find all of your information on whatever page Google shows first. Take the time to make sure you have filled out all of the appropriate fields when setting up your social media accounts.

Perhaps not all the features pertain to you. If you run a ecommerce-based business and you don’t have a brick and mortar location, then an address may not be necessary on Facebook. It is important, however, that users know how to contact you.

Post Something. Anything.
Okay, maybe not anything. You need to be posting on a regular basis to receive decent engagement from your followers. You will need to find out what works for your business, develop a voice, and make sure you are posting content that is consistent with the core values of your business. It doesn’t hurt to share other page’s posts once in a while to show your followers that you are engaged in the industry. In fact, in recent years, radio stations have made a point of sharing and spreading viral videos on their pages to engage and expand their follower base.

If you are posting original content, don’t make the mistake of uploading it to Facebook. By doing this, you miss the opportunity to redirect the follower to your website, where you can get customized analytics on how they interact with your site. When posting original content, share it as a link to your site. This leads right into the next point.

Calls to Action.
Make the user want to click the link. There are generic calls to action, such as “Click here, see how, join now, etc,” and then there are CTAs commonly known as “Clickbait.” These are titles that are so intriguing, you’ll have to click it to satisfy your curiosity. Here is an example:
an example of clickbait.
The urge to click that link is almost irresistible. How will you know what she said unless you do? That is the essence of clickbait, and it is considered less savory tactic mainly adopted by mass-content publishers. As a business, steering away from these types of CTAs will only help your credibility, and prevent your followers from thinking you are “duping” them into clicking.

Orvis' Facebook page entices you to click, which brings you to...
Orvis' Facebook page entices you to click, which brings you to...
...the Orvis website.
...the Orvis website.
The Orvis Company is a great example of a business that has an integrated content marketing strategy without the use of clickbait. On their Facebook page, they have an enticing call to action. “This looks like a blast, and the savage strikes are incredible!” is a line that would make any angler hungry to see what it is all about. Then when you get to their site, there is a very visible, very incentivized email signup right next to the video. If the user signs up to receive emails, Orvis can market to them directly.

Talk Back.
Facebook or Instagram is a great place for a follower to ask you a question, in a less formal setting than a customer support form. Not responding to your followers will show the world you don’t care. Social media has become an incredible medium for conversation about brands. Companies who are diligent at responding, do so because it is a public exchange. People can see what kind of questions are being asked about the brand, how long it takes them to respond to an issue and how they handle it. Make sure you take the appropriate time to draft the appropriate response, and use the voice you want your brand to have. The most important aspect of your response should be the value it creates for those who read it.

Start Small.
Make sure you define your overall goals, which should be congruent with your business goals. From there, use the steps outlined here to make sure you social media accounts are working as effectively as possible to make your website a success. When used tactically, your social media can be a valuable way to make your message heard and gain your followers’ respect.
Feb201629

A New Website for Best on Board

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Best on Board website.
We completed a website for Best on Board, a resource for healthcare board members to improve their services in their community through governance education. They were recently acquired by a longtime JTech client, Montana Health Network, who were looking to reestablish branding as well as improve the overall user experience of Best on Board.

The new site is a single-page scrolling website with consistently updated course lists and a contact form. There is also a login for current members to access their online training account, a backend addition we hope to rebuild shortly.

We are excited to be a part of MHN’s new venture and hope to continue working with them on custom web development in the future!
Feb201626

Added Features for YMCA

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Development

The Gallatin Valley YMCA is getting some new features.
The Gallatin Valley YMCA is getting some new features.
The Gallatin Valley YMCA has been working with us for years, most recently on their website last spring, updating their color palate and adding an interactive calendar to display their events and courses. We are now diving into yet another improvement to their backend, one that will help streamline the way they run programs.

During events, programs, classes and camps, parents will now be able to check their children in and out of their registered programs digitally, and YMCA can then store that attendance information. This will not only improve administration workload, but also ensure the children’s safety. We are also working on integrating a text alert system for last-minute cancelations or time changes to events so that parents are notified in a convenient and timely fashion.

These additions are yet another way to streamline the administrative aspects of an organization that offers so much to our community.