Secure Websites – Things to Think About When Going HTTPS

Posted on January 17th, 2015 by James Lowery

Google has been nudging website owners to make their websites more secure. In March, Matt Cutts suggested that the use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption  and making websites secure was going to be a trend for 2014. While we all want more secure sites, going to HTTPS can be problematic for website owners seeking to maintain their search engine results page (SERP) rankings.

Recently, Google made the announcement that sites using SSL encryption would give websites a boost in the SERPs on Google. Google offered guidelines to help website owners transition to HTTPS. Sites using HTTPS would receive a positive signal for ranking. However, it was noted that the signal would be very lightweight. It would carry less weight than websites with high-quality content. however, the signal may be strengthened in the future.

As a result, website owners who are seeking to position their websites for future success may want to consider transitioning to HTTPS. The transition makes your site more secure for users and also may positively benefit your SERP rankings in Google. Making the move from HTTP to HTTPS is similar to migrating your website to a new URL structure or new domain. Because this is a big transition, you will need to work with your web development professional to ensure a successful move.

First, you’ll need to follow Google’s directives when going HTTPS. Here are a few more considerations to think about as you migrate from HTTP to HTTPS:

Internal Links

Check to make sure that all of your internal links point to the new HTTPS URLs. Internal links can be easy to overlook, especially when you are making a huge transition like this. However, they are very important to the overall functionality of your website, so make sure all of your internal links work.

External Links

Just like internal links, external links must point to your new HTTPS URLs. Also, don’t overlook new social shares. They need to point to the new HTTPS URLs as well. If links are still pointing to the older HTTP version of your site, it can confuse the search engines and ultimately impact your site’s ranking.

Rel=Canonical

All of your rel=canonical tags need to point to the new HTTPS URLs. This will help Googlebot to understand which version of the site to use for ranking. Any inconsistencies will confuse the search engine crawlers and hurt your ranking.

Map

Map the new HTTPS URLs on a page-to-page level. It will be just like your URL structure before only all of the http:// will change to https://. Work with your web development professional to make sure all of these changes are made in order to avoid confusing search engine crawlers and prevent a drop in your rankings.

301 Redirect

Implement a permanent 301 redirect on a page level only. Don’t 301 redirect everything to your home page. Doing so will destroy your ranking.

As you transition, you’ll want to work closely with your web developer to ensure that everything is done correctly. Even when you are meticulous about transitioning from HTTP to HTTPS, you run the risk of disrupting your ranking in Google’s SERPs, which means that all the effort you’ve placed in SEO might need to be repeated. The decision to go to HTTPS is something you will want to discuss with your web development professional to determine if it makes sense for your website.

For more help about making the change to HTTPS, contact us today.

Is LinkedIn advertising the right choice for B2B marketing?

Posted on January 15th, 2015 by James Lowery

Social media marketing budgets are tight. As a result, the stakes are high when it comes to deciding where to place your advertising dollars. LinkedIn is a popular social media platform for B2B marketing. It is filled with professionals from a wide range of industries, making it a prime destination or B2B marketing. However, is LinkedIn advertising the right choice for B2B marketing?

It’s easy to overlook LinkedIn, when putting together advertising and marketing campaigns. After all, LinkedIn stands apart from other social media platforms because it is focused on professional relationships rather than personal ones. Marketers often see this as a disadvantage. However, in terms of B2B marketing, this gives LinkedIn an advantage. LinkedIn users are logging in with the expectation of expanding their professional connections.

LinkedIn advertising is an ideal choice for B2B marketing. After all, it is a highly-targeted marketing platform. Users are already in a business mindset when they arrive to the site. As a result, they will be receptive to your advertising. Plus, with LinkedIn, you’ll be able to target users based on their job title, employer, role, skills, interests and more. This means you will be able to generate better leads because you’ll be reaching the people who will be most interested in your B2B marketing efforts.  You can combine LinkedIn advertising with other channels such as SEO or Paid Search through AdWords to source additional leads.

If you know where your target demographic works, the job titles, unique skills and interests and the role your target demographic plays a their respective companies, you’ll be able to use LinkedIn advertising effectively for B2B marketing. If you don’t know where your target demographic works or any of the other information required to effectively launch a LinkedIn ad campaign, don’t worry. You can work with a marketing professional to find this information out.

Once you know your target demographic on LinkedIn, you can launch an effective advertising campaign. Because professionals go to LinkedIn to network, it is ideal for B2B marketing. All you have to do is reach the right audience with your campaign and build relationships. Over time your campaign will provide you with high quality leads that likely convert to sales.  While LinkedIn advertising may not be the right choice for every B2B marketing campaign, it is a great option for businesses who are able to identify a receptive audience on the popular social media platform.

Do you use LinkedIn advertising for B2B marketing?   If not, you could be missing a trick.  Contact us for more information about how we can help with Digital Marketing

Making Websites Touchscreen Friendly

Posted on January 14th, 2015 by James Lowery

As more users turn to their mobile devices to browse the web, the importance of touchscreen-friendly web design is growing. Most standard websites are not easily navigated on touchscreen devices. As a result, you will need to redesign your website to accommodate mobile users. Part of a mobile-friendly design is making it touchscreen friendly.

You can dramatically improve the usability of your website on mobile devices by making it touchscreen friendly. Mobile users expect to be able to easily navigate any website that loads on their device. Don’t disappoint them. They may never return to your website  again if they have a frustrating experience. Here are a few tips to help you make your web design touchscreen friendly:

Font Size and Line Height

You can improve the usability and readability of your website by increasing the font size. A good rule of thumb for touchscreen friendly web design is 16 pixels for font size and 1.5 for line height. This will make your content easier to browse through and read from any mobile device.

Touch Targets

Unlike the precise mouse pointer on desktops and laptops, mobile device users are relying on their imprecise fingertips. Often users are moving while they are browsing, making their touches, taps and swipes even more inaccurate. The standard touch target for mobile devices is 44-by-44 pixels. Design elements that are to be touched around this target.

Keyboards

Enable contextual keyboards on your website to improve its usability on touchscreen devices. For example, if you have a form that requires entering an email address, your keyboard should dynamically change to include an @ symbol, underscore, hyphen and other commonly used symbols for email addresses. For phone numbers, enable a numeric keyboard and so on. The idea is to make entering information on a mobile device as easy as possible through contextual keyboards.

Icons

Font-based icons are ideal for touchscreen friendly web design. Graphical icons can become pixelated and difficult to decipher across different browsing platforms. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to use font-based icons for the best appearance on all devices.

These are just a few of the many considerations you need to keep in mind when making your website design touchscreen friendly. Work with a trusted web designer to ensure that you are offering an optimal web browsing experience to all of your users regardless of whether they are visiting your site from a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone.

Is your website touchscreen friendly?  If not, you could be making it harder for your customers to get in touch with you.  For more information about creating a more mobile friendly web design, contact us today.

WWW or Non-WWW. How to Use .HTACCESS to 301 Your Domain

Posted on January 13th, 2015 by James Lowery

The www and non-www versions of your website can prove to be problematic in terms of search engine optimization. If both versions of your domain are linked, Google can end up indexing two versions of your domain. This is known as the www/non-www canonical issue. Unfortunately, it is more common than most people realize. Fortunately, duplicate content in search engines can be avoided through web development.

You can essentially force users to use either the www or non-www version of your site’s domain by using .htaccess to 301 your domain. Ultimately, it doesn’t make any difference whether you use the www or non-www version of your site’s domain. Either version will take users to your website. While many website owners still prefer to use the www, many have decided to stop using it in an effort to shorten the URL for end users.

To force users to use the www version of your website, you need to add the following code to your .htaccess file http://www.htaccessbasics.com/force-www-nonwww-domain/:

# Redirect non-www urls to www
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.yoursite\.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.yoursite.com/$1 [R=301,L]

To force users to use the non-www version of your website, you need to add the following code to your .htaccess file http://www.htaccessbasics.com/force-www-nonwww-domain/:

# Redirect www urls to non-www
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.yoursite\.com [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) http://yoursite.com/$1 [R=301,L]

In either example, you just replace the URL with your own. You should work with your web development professional to use .htaccess to 301 your domain. This will ensure that it is done correctly and will not impact your site negatively in any way. Which option you choose is entirely up to you. If your marketing collateral has the www version of your URL then you will most likely want to implement that www version and vice versa. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter either way in terms of SEO, provided you stick to one version.

 

 

Are Horizontal Scrolling Websites the hot trend for 2015?

Posted on January 12th, 2015 by James Lowery

As mobile devices rise in popularity, horizontal scrolling has become somewhat of a design trend. Mobile devices use touch gestures to allow users to swipe content horizontally. Web designers are using this concept to transition over to horizontal scrolling. Many are saying this is going to be a hot trend for 2015. However, it may not be a trend you should follow.

Horizontal scrolling has long been a taboo for web design. Users traditionally have not liked the idea of having to scroll horizontally on a desktop or laptop computer. While horizontal swipes are great for mobile devices with touch screens, horizontal scrolling isn’t ideal for navigating websites on desktops and laptops. In general, users don’t mind scrolling up or down on a website, but horizontal scrolling has always been problematic.

Part of the reason why horizontal scrolling is a growing trend in web design is the desire to create consistency across devices. Mobile devices successfully employ horizontal swipes. Users are comfortable and even expect to be able to swipe content horizontally on smart phones and tablets.

However, crossing over to standard browsing platforms like desktops and laptops can be an issue. Users just don’t like horizontal scrolling, even if it does create a consistent user experience across different devices. While consistency is important, the user experience can be negatively impacted by forcing desktop and laptop users to scroll horizontally.

Another reason why horizontal scrolling has taken off is due to the fact that web designer want to save vertical screen space. They can place nonessential content further over to the left or right of the screen and save vertical space. In these applications, horizontal scrolling may not be a bad idea. However, you need to make sure that accessing the hidden horizontal content is not a burden for users. You want to avoid the horizontal scrollbar and opt for more creative horizontal scrolling methods.

Horizontal scrolling can be effectively applied to websites intended for use with desktops and laptops. However, it should not be used as the primary navigation method. Offer menus and other ways of accessing the information that you’re offering through horizontal scrolling.

Additionally, you don’t want to make users guess at how much content is left to scroll through. You can use pagination or a scroll bar with indicators on it to signal how much content is left. Offer distinct visual cues for horizontal scrolling. This will make horizontal scrolling much more user friendly for those who opt to use it.

Whether or not horizontal scrolling becomes a hot trend for 2015 or not, many web designers are using it. Some are using it effectively and purposefully, while others are using it just for the sake of being different. Be sure if you use it, that you keep your end user in mind. It can be an interesting navigational tool, but only if employed correctly.

Do you use horizontal scrolling on your website?

Google Panda – What to Think About

Posted on December 5th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

panda-relaxation-849343-mGoogle Panda is a change to Google’s search results ranking algorithm. It was first released in 2011 and has seen a number of updates since its release. The change was made in an attempt by Google to lower the ranking of low-quality websites and provide higher-quality sites to the top of the search results.

As a result of Google’s Panda updates, many website owners have had to change their approach to search engine optimization (SEO) and develop a strategy to improve the content of their websites. By now, most website owners know about Google Panda and the impact it can have on their search engine rankings. However, many may not know what to look for to determine if their websites have been impacted.

A good sign that you’ve been impacted by a Google Panda update is a noticeable decrease in site traffic. As a result, it is important to continually monitor your website traffic to be able to detect a decrease. If you know you have been impacted, it is equally important to monitor traffic, so you can gauge whether the measures you’ve taken to correct the impact are working.

As you consider Google Panda, you may want to consider working with a SEO professional to help you assess your website. A comprehensive Google Panda audit of your site will help you identify problem areas and address them. Ideally, this will help you correct these any problem areas before your website is impacted by an update, but an audit can also help you recover.

An audit of your website should gather data, evaluate pages for content to keep, modify or trash, perform a technical audit using webmaster tools and optimize each page to Google’s current standards.

After you’ve worked with a web professional to audit your website, you’ll have a clear understanding of what you need to do to either avoid getting hit by a Google Panda update or recover if you’ve already been impacted by an update. Finally, you’ll need to develop a longterm strategy to monitor and address Google’s ongoing updates, Panda or otherwise.

Has your website been affected by a Google Panda update?

Easy Rounded Corners with CSS Border Radius

Posted on December 4th, 2014 by John Giaccotto

Rounded corners are used to enhance the appearance and usability of web design elements. While there are different ways to achieve rounded corners, CSS Border Radius is an ideal method. CSS makes for clean design and Border Radius is easy to implement.

The CSS Border Radius property makes it easy to create rounded corners in web design elements. It eliminates the need for corner images or multiple div tags. Currently, it has widespread browser support. However, like anything, you’ll want to work with your web designer to ensure it is implemented properly so as to account for any existing discrepancies across browsers.

borderradiusCSS Border Radius is implemented using four border-radius properties including border-bottom-left-radius, border-bottom-right-radius, border-top-left-radius and border-top-right-radius. This enables you to have a great deal of control over the corners of all your design elements. These border radius properties can be expressed in length or percentage.

There is a website that makes generating CSS Border Radius incredibly easy. If you’re trying to test out the design of an element, it might be a quick way for you to play around with different numbers until you achieve just the right radius. Once you’ve honed in on a radius that gives you can work with your web designer to implement the CSS into your  design elements.

Rounded corners are often used for text boxes, buttons and other interactive page elements. If you’re looking to improve the usability of your website, implementing rounded corners on interactive elements can be a good start. Users often look for rounded corners as a visual cue for interactive elements.

While you may not want to use rounded corners for all of your design elements, when used selectively, to achieve a specific objective, they can be quite useful. If you want to include rounded corners into your design elements, discuss implementing the CSS Border Radius property. It’s a great way to create rounded corners without slowing down the performance of your website.

Do you use rounded corners to enhance your website’s usability?

Alternatives to Flash for Tablets

Posted on December 3rd, 2014 by John Giaccotto

smartphone-icon-1340911-mMobile devices have signaled the death of Flash. Most iOS and Android devices do not support Flash. As more and more people access the Internet from tablets and other mobile devices, web developers need alternatives to Flash. Otherwise, most mobile users will experience poor functionality on websites designed using flash.

Fortunately, HTML5 is a viable alternative to Flash for tablets and other mobile devices. HTML5 is the future of the Internet. The time to start transitioning away from Flash has come. If you want to position your website for a future where an increasing number of users are accessing your website from mobile devices, you need to consider using HTML5 in place of Flash.

Unlike Flash, HTML5 performs well across platforms. Users can shift from desktop to laptop to tablet to smartphone without noticing a difference with HTML5. For example, online video presents a problem for mobile users when it is executed using Flash. However, HTML5 offers mobile capabilities as well as semantic markup. The possibilities for using video for entertainment, shopping and advertising is wide open to all platforms with HTML5.

With HTML5’s semantic markup, web bots can crawl video clips as their own page. Videos can have title tags as well as everything else that goes along with a standard page. This makes it easier for viewers to search for specific video clips. Naturally, the advantages of this are limitless for business owners looking to reach their target demographic with engaging content and advertising.

Face it, the number of people using mobile for web browsing is only going to grow. The mobile market is already growing at an incredibly rapid pace. If you want to be able to reach users on tablets and mobile devices, you’re going to need to adapt your content for mobile devices. In this case, it means you need to shift from Flash to HTML5 and other viable alternatives to provide an optimal experience for tablet and smartphone users.

When is the last time you’ve used Flash to view a video?

Are you using Google’s new Universal Analytics?

Posted on December 2nd, 2014 by John Giaccotto

universalanalyticsWant to make better use of your Google Analytics account? We all do. The good news is that Google has introduced a new set of features that changes the way data is collected and organized in Google Analytics called Universal Analytics. Universal Analytics will allow you to gain a better understanding of how users interact with your website. It offers more features and better insights.

User ID
Universal Analytics allows you to connect multiple devices, sessions and engagement data with User ID. User ID is a unique ID that you can use to associate multiple sessions to one user in your reports. As a result, you’ll be able to get a more accurate look at user count, user experience and access to new Cross Device reports.

Tracking Code
Universal Analytics offers a tracking code with increased flexibility. You will be able to collect data from any digital device. There are three new versions to meet your specific technical requirements. The new collection methods allow developers to set up and customize tracking codes with ease. Additionally, cross domain tracking for websites is considerably easier to implement and more accurate.

Configuration
Universal Analytics offers additional configuration options including organic search sources, session and campaign timeout handling, referral exclusions and search term exclusions. Plus, you can create custom dimensions and custom metrics unique to your business.

eCommerce
Universal Analytics offers enhanced eCommerce reports that allows you to better analyze user shopping and purchasing behavior. You’ll be able to assess internal and external marketing and gauge the performance of your products/services.

You can work with your web developer to get set up with Universal Analytics. It is a two step process to upgrade from classic Analytics. While it may take some time to get going with the new features, it will be well worth your investment in time. The new features will allow you to gain additional insights and more accurately track key metrics.

Are you already using Google’s new Universal Analytics? What is your experience so far?

Serif or sans serif fonts? What’s more readable?

Posted on December 1st, 2014 by John Giaccotto

serifReadability is an important web design consideration for your website. If the fonts on your website are difficult to read, users will not bother. Instead, they will turn to your competitors for information, products and services. Therefore, you need to make it a priority to ensure that the fonts on your website are readable.

As you’re considering which fonts to use on your website, you might be wondering how serif and sans serif fonts compare in terms of readability. Both types of fonts are readable. However, serif fonts are more readable in print form, while sans serif fonts are more readable online.
Since sans serif fonts are  more readable online, you need to consider using them for your website content. Obviously, there is no hard and fast rule. In some cases, your web design may benefit from using serif fonts for headings and other embellished design elements. However, try to stick to sans serif fonts for your main blocks of text.

As users increasingly rely on mobile devices for web browsing, readability is growing in importance. Small screens necessitate the use of readable fonts. This means you’ll need to evaluate your website for readability on computers as well as mobile devices. Work with your web design professional to ensure that your choice of fonts is readable across browsing platforms.

If you are using a print stylesheet for your website, you may want to consider using a readable serif fonts for the printer-friendly version. Serif fonts are easier to read in print and can enhance the readability of the resources you make available for users in print form. If you’re not sure where to start, look at Google Fonts. Google offers a wide range of fonts that you can preview and assess for readability on your website and in print.

In addition to looking at your font choices, you’ll want to take other measures to improve the readability of your website. Many websites are too busy. This makes the text content difficult to read. Get rid of the clutter on your website and provide ample white space in your overall web design. Break up large blocks of text into smaller paragraphs. Use headers and when possible use lists and bullet points. Many web users scan pages for content. Make your content easy to scan and digest.

What other ways can you make a website design more readable?

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