Why is an SEO Technical Audit Important?

An SEO technical audit is akin to doing a regular check-up on your website. It helps you determine what’s working, what needs improvement, and where any critical fixes might be necessary. To be successful online, your website needs to function properly and be accessible for both the search engines and your website visitors. 

Websites are complicated. They are designed and created to engage the visitor but they must first rank well on search engines for common user-queries. Inevitably, the Internet will continue to evolve much faster than your website. Google’s algorithms are now AI influenced and seem to change daily. It often feels impossible to keep up with what Google wants.

SEO has become more and more complex but remains one of the most crucial elements necessary for online success. It’s important to remember that SEO is not a “set-and-forget methodology.” In fact, there isn’t one way to ensure your website will rocket to the top of Google and stay there.

Google, the Internet, and even your competitors’ websites keep evolving. This means that anything can change and change can happen quickly. Whether done externally or internally, an SEO technical Audit is a valuable tool to ensure your website evolves along with them.

How Often Should You Do an SEO Technical Audit?

Comprehensive SEO Audits should be conducted regularly, at least once per year; however, every six months is highly recommended. Some professionals like to run audits quarterly and may even conduct mini-audits monthly.

Here are some indications that an SEO technical audit may be necessary:

When Rankings, Traffic, and/or Conversions Decrease

If you notice a sudden decrease, or a gradual change in rankings, site traffic, or conversions, that’s a good indicator it may be time to conduct an SEO Technical Audit.

So many elements can affect your website performance and rankings can drop suddenly or gradually over time. As soon as you notice a consistent decrease, it’s time to look into why. It could be on-page or off-page elements that are affecting your results. Conducting a thorough SEO audit is a great way to determine why there has been a change and point out any fixes that might need to be made.

Before/After Making a Big Change to Functionality or Hosting Environments

Conducting an SEO Technical Audit before you make a major change to your website can help determine if any other changes need to be made in tandem. You can think of this as preemptive discovery. In addition, it is a good practice to conduct a full SEO/Website audit after you’ve made a big change. A big change can be a new feature, a change in plugins, a change in the hosting environment, etc.

When You Notice Poor Page Load Speed

Page Speed seems to be a common theme on the tongues of SEO professionals. This is because website visitors are impatient. Remember back in the early days, back when Netscape Navigator was the browser of choice and we all connected via dial-up connections? Back then, people expected to wait minutes for a website to load. Now, you’re hard-pressed to make a visitor wait seconds.

  • Nearly 50% of users will leave a website (and won’t return) if it takes more than 3 seconds to load

If your site is not performing at optimal speed, it’s time for an SEO audit.

Regularly Scheduled Audits

Ideally, you’re running SEO audits on a regular basis so that you can preemptively strike before a major problem arises. SEO and search engines are in a constant state of flux, which means things can change at any given time. Knowing your numbers and your stats inside out can help you determine when there’s a potential problem on the horizon.

Who Should Conduct a Website/SEO Audit?

Check your spam folder and you’re likely to have multiple emails advertising SEO audits. Generally, these are used as a sales pitch to earn your business or get you to sign up for something you likely don’t need. But, there’s something to be said for having an outside set of eyes looking in.

We recommend having your SEO technical audit completed by one of the following:

Internal SEO Professional

Your hired SEO professional should be running and sharing their regular SEO audit results. Good and experienced SEO professionals want to run regular audits (yearly, quarterly or even monthly) so they can have a good handle on what is working, what needs improvement and flag items that require an immediate fix.

You shouldn’t be concerned that your hired SEO professional will skew results to make their work look good. An experienced SEO professional knows that nothing in the realm of SEO is a constant and there is always room for more improvement. Running their own internal SEO audit helps them to do their job more proficiently.

External SEO Professionals

Having an external organization take a look at your website and SEO is also an option. In fact, even some SEO professionals will outsource the SEO technical audit every-so-often, as a second set of eyes with a different focus just might be able to uncover other issues.

An external SEO technical audit is also often a part of the quoting process when you shop around for SEO services.

What Elements Should Be Included in an SEO Audit?

SEO Audits are more complex and comprehensive than regular reporting. An audit is meant to uncover vulnerabilities, successes, errors, and areas for improvement, whereas your regular marketing reports are generally performed to showcase key performance indicators.

15 Elements To Be Included in an SEO Technical Audit

1. Crawl Errors
A crawl report is a quick way to determine how your website is functioning from a technical standpoint. It shows you if there are places where a search engine is getting stuck or if there are page errors or crawl errors. 
You can automate this process with a number of SEO tools such as Screaming Frog or SEMRush. You can then begin to fix any of the errors or warnings in an effort to ensure your website is free of errors and as optimized as possible.

2. URL Status Code Errors
Let’s face it, it is difficult to check up on every page of a website regularly. Sometimes you don’t know a page is broken, or how long it has been broken. A regular SEO technical audit can help you assess broken pages and links. You can get a list of status code errors from your crawl report or right within Google Search Console. Any URL errors such as 404s will show up here. It is important you fix these errors as soon as they arise.

3. XML Sitemap Review
The XML Sitemap acts as a map to show Google and other search engines what pages are on your site. It should include all pages within your website. Make sure every page within your sitemap returns 200 status codes and proper canonicals. This helps to ensure you are not wasting your crawl budget on broken links and removed pages.

4. Site Load & Speed Testing
It is important to regularly check how fast your website loads. According to SEMRush, over 23% of websites have slow page load times. Poor site speed can affect SEO and other key metrics. You can check your site speed by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool.

5. Mobile-Friendly Test
It’s likely your website is mobile-friendly, and if it isn’t yet, it ought to be. It’s still important to run your website through a mobile test such as Google’s Mobile Friendly test.

6. Keyword Cannibalization
If pages within your website are all competing for the same keyword, this can cause confusion for the search engines and also reduce your opportunity for top results. Sometimes, Google and other search engines will even decide which page is best, which may not be the page you want your visitors to land on. By using Google Search Console’s performance report, you can identify pages that are competing for the same keywords. You should then determine canonical issues or consolidate pages.

7. Review of Robots.txt
A regular review of Robots.txt allows you to see the instructions you are providing to the search engine bots. For instance, if there are pages you do not want the search engines to spider and display, they will show up on this report. This is why it is essential to regularly review the robots.txt file. You can ensure you are only disallowing the pages you actually do not want Google to see. Sometimes developers block a page they are working on and forget to unblock that page or even the website. If you notice pages are not ranking, this is the first place you should check.

8. Google Site Search
Performing a Google search of your website will help you determine how Google displays your indexed pages. Go to google and search for “site:yourwebsite.com”

9. Duplicate Meta Data
Unfortunately, it is common for large websites and e-commerce sites to have duplicate meta Titles and Descriptions, or to be missing meta data. This can occur when you allow an SEO system to create meta data for you based on parameters, or you’ve copied descriptions from one page to the next. A detailed crawl report can alert you to issues with metadata. It’s a time-consuming process to fix, but worth it.

10. Meta Length Review
Ensuring your pages’ meta descriptions are the proper length may not help your SEO but it can help your click-through rate. The meta description character length has increased to 320 characters, which now gives you plenty of space for your keywords, specs, and a call to action.

11. Check for Broken Links
Any broken link, whether internal or external, can be bad for SEO and user experience, which can lead to lower rankings. Use your crawl report to identify any links that are broken and fix them as soon as possible.

12. Perform a Backlink Audit
Use a tool such as the popular Ahrefs to identify websites that are linking to your content. By assessing your link profile you can identify areas you can focus on with your link building and you can even assess your competitors’ backlinks and work to outperform them.

13. Duplicate Content Review
Over half of all websites have duplicate content issues, either internally or with external websites. Use a service such as Copyscape to run regular duplicate content checks. Duplicate content can cause confusion for the search engines and negatively impact your SEO.

14. Review H1s
Every page of your website should have one H1 header. Your crawl report can alert you to pages that have multiple H1s. An H1 is read by the search engines as the main point of the page. Your heading hierarchy should include one H1 and then can include multiple H2 subheaders and even H3 subheaders.

15. Determine Underperforming Pages/Content
The above metrics can help you determine underperforming or error-ridden pages and content on your website. From there, an improvement plan should immediately be put into place.

Summary

Ensuring you are regularly auditing technical SEO elements and content both on-page and off-page is an essential part of any SEO strategy. While SEO professionals may have their favorite tools to get the job done, they all agree that it is essential to perform an SEO technical audit regularly.

Consistency is key. If you are consistent with evaluating your technical SEO and website, and making fixes, your site will continue to gain strength in the search engines. Taking an hour or two to perform a regular SEO technical audit is well worth the effort. It will provide a road map for improvements to be made while ensuring your website is up-to-date.

Best practices, market trends, competition, and search engine algorithms are always in flux. Make sure your website is keeping up. 

If you still have questions about an SEO technical audit or you would like more information, please call our SEO experts here at 1st on the List at 1-888-262-6687.

“Strive for progress not for perfection.”    (Unknown)

As in all areas of life we will never achieve perfection in SEO.

Just like we won’t look in the mirror one day and decide we have attained the perfect body there is always something we don’t like or something that could be improved a little more. There are always small tweaks, changes, and improvements to make towards making your website better.

In his article Distance from Perfect, Ian Lurie gives 8 characteristics of a “perfect” website that we should all strive to achieve:

  1. Visible content relevant to the audience and query
  2. Flawless user experience
  3. Instant load time
  4. Zero duplicate content (100% unique)
  5. Every page easily indexed and classified
  6. No mistakes, broken links, redirects, etc.
  7. No report problems or suggestions in Google Search Consoles (aka Webmaster Tools)
  8. Complete authority through immaculate, organically generated links

Notice that many are abstract destinations you can always progress towards but never arrive. As you work towards improving SEO and Website Design focus on making progress towards perfection rather than focusing on perfection itself.

There is not a ‘perfect website speed’ – just faster than it is now. There isn’t a ‘perfect conversion rate’ either – it’s just higher than it is now.

And if you think you’ve mastered perfection when it comes to SEO … just wait a couple months for Google’s ranking algorithm to update and you will no longer be perfectly in sync with what they look for when ranking websites.

For direction on the best way to make progress towards a perfect SEO website please call us at 1-888-262-6687.

Uh oh! You’ve just received a Google Webmaster Tool notice saying “Hacking Suspected”:

hacking-suspected-message-google-webmaster-tools

Or perhaps you’re checking out how your website looks in Search Results and you see this small message by your website: This website may be hacked.

This-Site-May-Be-Hacked-Warning-in-SERP

Google adds this warning message to websites it believes a hacker has changed some of the existing pages or added new spam pages to. Google warns visitors that if they visit the site they could be redirected to spam or malware.

Not only is it unsettling to open your website to see spammy text on your site or pages completely changed around or new pages added, but it can be more alarming when Google is the one who tells you!

While you may feel singled out by Google you’re not alone. Just do a search for “WordPress hacking statistics” and you’ll see results such as “30,000 web sites hacked a day” and “73% of WordPress site vulnerable to attack”. This is a very real issue website owners are up against.

A hacked website can not only ruin your own reputation but can also put your visitors at risk if the hacker is using you to access your visitors’ personal details. Additionally, a hacked website can take substantial time and resources to fix and make secure again.

Did you know that we have WordPress security plans to lower your risk of WordPress hacking and provide fast support to fix your website if it ever does get hacked? If you’ve been hacked and just need to fix it contact us today!

How does WordPress hacking occur?

The basic explanation of how WordPress websites get hacked is that an unauthorized person gains access to your website and make changes. They usually hack in through vulnerable and outdated web script or by guessing your username/ password combination.

You may be wondering, But shouldn’t my WordPress website be secure?

You can think of the security end of your WordPress website similar to antivirus software for your computer. You have to constantly update it to keep your computer safe because hackers are always finding new ways to break in.

Why do WordPress hacking attacks occur?

  1. We can’t trust everyone. People can be mean and intentionally try to hurt others. One such way is hacking.
  2. Hackers do it for the thrill. Many hackers seek the thrill and bragging rights of breaking into another person’s website.
  3. There’s plenty of WordPress sites to hack. There are over 6 million WordPress websites out there making it an obvious target for hackers.
  4. Many WordPress sites are not taken care of and vulnerable. Whether naïve of negligent, many WordPress website owners do not know how to properly maintain their website and as a result make it easy for hackers to break in. Remember, hackers take the path of least resistance and hacking a WordPress blog or website that isn’t protected can be very easy.
  5. WordPress hacking information is out there. There are WordPress logs that record every update made in WordPress making it easy for hackers to see new releases and where websites may now be vulnerable. There are also people out there to who benefit from teaching others how to hack into WordPress websites.
  6. Hackers are looking for something to gain. Hackers may want to add links to your website to boost traffic to their own website, which we refer to as spamming. They may be looking to gain access to your accounts or accounts of your visitors, which we refer to as phishing. Other hackers may be looking to set up fake payment collection points on your website to get credit card details or to gain entry to servers that contain credit card details.
  7. Hackers may want to download malware through your site. Hackers will often create a large network of compromised computers and websites that they can use to attack other sites, making it harder for authorities to detect and stop the hacking.
  8. Hackers may use your site for other attacks. As an extension of number 7, hackers may want to use your computer to host malware such as Trojans and viruses rather than on their own servers so that their activity is not traceable.

Tips to protect against WordPress hacking issues

  • Make sure you have a unique username (the most common usernames in WordPress hacking attempts are admin, administrator, test, user, login)
  • Make sure you have a unique password (the most common passwords in WordPress hacking attempts are admin, password, 123456, password, admin123)
  • Limit login attempts
  • Get login notifications if you are worried
  • Make frequent backups so that if you site is hacked you have something to restore.
  • Choose a reliable website hosting provider
  • Keep your software updated and get professional help doing this if you need.

What do you do if there is Hacking Suspected on your website?

If you just received a Hacking Suspected notice or see a “This website may be hacked” label beside your website in Google search contact your web designer or developer immediately.

1st on the List takes website hacking very seriously which is why we take a proactive stance and offer WordPress Security Protection Plans to all our clients. Each month we make sure that your software is as up to date as it can be and run regular backups of your website.

Get protection for your website today by calling 1-888-262-6687 or by filling out our Quote Form and asking for a WordPress Security plan.

It has been several weeks in the making but we have just published an informative presentation on everything you need to know about HTTPS and SSL.

Since Google announced that HTTPS Everywhere is an SEO ranking signal in August many of these topics have been in the news. This informative presentation outlines the benefits of SSL, the different levels of SSL certificates, how you need to install SSL on your website and many other details. We invite you to take a few minutes to browse through the slides.

Still have questions? Contact us at 1-888-262-6687.

Do you use a rotating banner on your website?

Then recent research by Stanford University may be of interest to you.

Stanford University researchers have just released a study showing the effects of rotating banners and website popularity. It is not the glowing report that website designers may have hoped for. What seemed like the perfect answer to grabbing viewer attention and providing information rich content, turns out to be driving away potential customers.

For years psychology studies have told advertisers to maximize white space to allow the viewer time to absorb the message. It has been said that the advertiser has seconds to get the message to the consumer. And the key to getting the message across is to have the most important information above the fold. The rotating banner seemed the perfect solution to share a lot of information in the least amount of time and space. Everything important was delivered in the prime location and allowed for the all-important white space.

Rotating Banners Trigger Motion Sensitivity …
But is That Good or Bad?

When rotating banners on homepages (also known as sliders or carousel banners) were first introduced to the viewing public, all psychological indicators showed that people have “an exquisite sensitivity to motion”. They seemed the perfect answer for reaching the masses, so the developers put together a system where the message is displayed briefly before another messages is delivered in timed intervals. The start and stop pattern was found to be most effective because the human brain notices movement as a protective instinct. The rotating banner became the design trend of trends.

Rotating Banners on Websites Proven To Trigger Fight or Flight

But…and this is the big but of the whole formula … the reason the human brain is instinctually drawn to the motion, is that the motion also sets off the fight or flight reaction. Unknowingly, websites designed with the rotating banner, no matter how cheery or informative, have been creating an environment of instinctive distrust! Eye-tracking research found that visitors were purposefully avoiding the banner even when the information they sought was in the banner. Once this distrust was triggered the user reasoned that the banner must be advertising.

Visitors Need Control Over Rotating Banner Usability

When the Nielsen Norman Group tested the rotating or carousel banner, the majority of their focus group reported that they didn’t have time to finish reading the message; that it was flashing too quickly and was annoying.

Many in the test group would see something of interest but did not have time to link to the information.

Researchers found that people need a sense of control of their environment and that rotating animated banners undermines their sense of control. When the animation in the rotating banner was converted to viewer slide controls, engagement levels increased significantly.

The key take away was that visitors need control over their web experience to develop trust.

Remember, the Banner Occupies Prime Real Estate

Carousel or Sliding Banners are still very popular so this will become a hotly debated design element.

You may find yourself weighing two valid points when it comes to the best rotating banner designs:

  1. The banner occupies prime real estate and  allows for the maximum information distribution
  2. Motion (rotation) draws attention

Rotating Banner Best Practices

So how you can capitalize on this but still adhere to the latest research? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Get rid of auto-advance. Allow the visitor to advance the images at their own pace. The movement in your banner will attract instinctive attention and viewer controls will instill trust by allowing the visitor to advance at their pace and by their choice.
  2. Like a newspaper, create a hierarchy of value on your site. Opt for the long home page with large graphics and short linking text to points or articles of relevance.
  3. Make changes and track conversions. This is all about making your website more user friendly and not about winning design awards for cleverness. At the end of the day, would you rather have a clever website or a website that got you 5 new customers?

The Key Takeaway 

You need to spend your web development budget on elements that bring solid relevance and build trust – a design that allows your user to stay and think about what your have to offer will do just that.

Unsure about your web design and how your visitors are responding to it? Talk to one of our Conversion Optimization consultants today for advice or call us at 1-888-262-6687.

Looks matter.

But as all of our mothers told us as children, Never judge a book by its cover and It’s what’s inside that counts.

Think about a house built without a solid foundation – it’s just waiting to blow down with the first change in the wind or a sudden rainstorm. Websites are much like this. Without the proper structure and design, functionality and search visibility they are prone to sub-par results or worse yet – failure!

In this article we discuss several topics you should consider before jumping into a website design or website redesign, including:

  • How SEO from the start will save time and money.
  • How SEO reveals your target market.
  • How SEO builds a content strategy based on your target market’s needs.
  • How SEO works when the website is still in the design phase.
  • How SEO at the start ensures you will have enough money to properly optimize your website.
  • Why you need your web developer, designer and SEO to work together for maximum synergies.

SEO from the Design Phase Will Save Time and Money

Today most businesses know that search engine optimization is important. What many fail to grasp is that it is most affordable and effective when implemented right from the start during the website design phase.

Most businesses will launch their website and other online campaigns and only then start to think about their next step … SEO. Bringing an SEO consultant in after the campaign has been launched means they will likely want to review the site to make sure everything is properly in place for maximum search visibility. If any problems are found they will need to be addressed right away.

One example here are clients who come to us with brand new websites that have dynamically generated URLs such as www.mywebsite.com/4890s#?=28909. These URLs always change, are hard for visitors to read and are hard for Search Engines to index. Right away we would suggest that it be changed to a static URL that actually makes sense to the Search Engines and visitors, like www.mywebsite.com/high-heel-shoes.

Another example are pages that do not include H1 tags, which are a huge indicator to Search Engines and visitors of the content on the page. We usually have to work with the developer to adjust the page templates so H1 tags can be added.

All of these minor tweaks take time … and time is money. If we had just worked together from the beginning there would be no need to have to go back in and make these changes.

There is a better way: Building your online market presence with SEO as an integral part of your design, marketing and development team helps you set yourself up for success in goals, structure, content and marketing platforms. Your integration online will flow seamlessly. Save time and money by adding an SEO Consultant throughout your design process!

SEO Will Reveal Aspects of Your Target Audience You May Not Know

Marketing to your audience must always come first – but what has that got to do with SEO? Through research your SEO professional can give you valuable statistics that can direct you toward the most successful market areas to focus on.

Your SEO can give you the hard numbers of where your market is looking and how they are looking. Is your market searching from desktop computers, tablets or Smartphones? Are they doing general search engine queries or are they searching on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter? Make sure your campaigns are the most effective across the Search Engines and Platforms used by your target market – an SEO will help you get these numbers.

Involve your SEO consultant in the decision of where to build your online presence and you set up shop in the right neighborhood for selling your wares.

SEO Helps Build Your Content Strategy Based on Customer Needs

SEO has always been about “keywords” and although keyword strategies have shifted over the last year with Hummingbird they are still very important. We even move to say that a proper keyword strategy can be more difficult to develop and all the more important.

People are using specific types of phrases to search for answers or solutions to their problems. They want information. An SEO can help you research what types of phrases they are looking for and all the related terms, questions, ideas and concepts surrounding that search. An SEO can help you anticipate that if a person is originally searching for, say example a dentist who removes wisdom teeth, that they will also be searching for information regarding symptoms, pain, swelling, cost, insurance coverage, surgery, recovery time and so on.

Having all of this information at your fingertips helps you build a website that suddenly makes you the expert on the topic because you have all of the information potential searchers will look for. If you were looking for a dentist, wouldn’t you rather find a website that has all the information you need rather than just a website that says, “We remove wisdom teeth!”?

An SEO can help you build out this content hierarchy and what pages should go where on your website for maximum credibility and impact.

But How Can an SEO ‘Optimize’ My Website
When There Isn’t a Website to Optimize Yet?

Speaking from experience we have had too many companies come to us with a brand new website that looked decent but had several major issues from an SEO perspective.

The content you see on the website is only half of the SEO equation. A huge part of Search Visibility is how well the Search Engines can access your website, crawl its pages, understand how the pages relate together, how fast it loads, where your server is located, how it appears on a mobile device and so on.

All of these items are inherently built into web design! Rather than having an SEO company suggest you fix these things right after paying for them in the first place, why not have an SEO work with your designers to have the groundwork of the site properly set up from the get-go?

Think of this stage as pouring the foundation of a house and building straight walls. If this isn’t done properly then other details such as siding and roofing materials, landscaping, interior finishing and other items don’t matter – the house isn’t sound and stable to start.

SEO From the Start Ensures Your Budget Doesn’t Run Dry

Think about the cost of a new website and the time it takes to build one. For most businesses, it always takes longer and costs more than they anticipate. The danger of leaving SEO until after the website is built is that you won’t have the proper sized budget leftover to properly optimize the site so it gets the results you need to keep fueling sales.

Are You Designing a New Website? Here are the Big Takeaways

  1. Before you get started know what you have to offer – your website must be built around your Unique Selling Proposition and branding.
  2. Use keyword research to know what to say and anticipate what your customers want.
  3. Know where your market is looking and spending time online, and where they should find you.
  4. Deliver your information in the most user friendly and informative way possible.
  5. Don’t think SEO can happen later – start SEO from the early stages of a website design for maximum results.
  6. Build a community between your SEO, web developer and marketing team for the most efficient delivery of your message.

If you are building a website and now realize the importance of having an SEO on your team – it’s not too late! Give us a call at 1-888-262-6687 to bring us on board. We’ll jump in at whatever stage needed and help strengthen your potential for success when your new website launches!

One of the most important questions you need to ask when getting a new website is “Do I have full rights to this website?”

You may think the obvious answer is YES but you’d be surprised with the fine print of some of the DIY and low cost website alternatives out there.

A few months ago we wrote the article “Are You Held Hostage by Your Website?” in which we discuss three main ways you may be controlled by your website, including licensed websites.

Today I want to discuss the topic of licensed websites in more detail. A licensed website means that the web designer or host or software owns the code for your site and you use a monthly or yearly fee to use it. This is like renting a house – when you decide to move on you don’t own anything and you don’t have any equity built up to show for all your months of payments.

The two main questions I want to address today that will hopefully give you a better understanding of whether you need to “own your own website” are:

  1. What makes licensed websites so attractive?
  2. What’s in the fine print (“terms of use”)?

What Makes Licensed Websites So Attractive?

Today, everywhere you look you can find ads and app resources promising you a free or almost free website that will bring you instant success. You can quickly build these user friendly sites, or you can give the information you want put on the website and it will all be done for you. After all, these type of websites promise to be affordable, simple and fast and will help you to:

  • Stand out from the competition
  • Increase your sales
  • Bring in more customers
  • Support your brand

However as we discuss in our article Benefits of SEO Web Design vs DIY Websites there are several common disappointments in a licensed or DIY website ownership:

  • Looks cookie cutter, unprofessional or poorly branded
  • Constricted to what you can edit
  • Doesn’t show up in Google Search results despite the promise of being “SEO Friendly”
  • Other websites look the same as yours
  • Time spent on the website is much more than you anticipated
  • Prices that add up or increase over time.

You may be thinking, “When should you choose a licensed website?” There are a few situations where it may make sense for you, such as:

  • The website is only needed for a short period of time.
  • It is a temporary website to use until you can afford to design the final version.
  • The code or design required is so complex it would be too expensive or impossible to build on your own.

Reading the Fine Print on Licensed Websites

Before you sign any type of contract you’d read the fine print- and buying a website is no different.

Example 1: YellowPages 360 Solution

Advertising departments know the high (and often increasing cost) of traditional YellowPage ads as well as the fact that people are no longer using a physical phone book to look up businesses. YellowPages 360 is a more affordable solution that helps small businesses get listed online with a customized website or profile.

The website can be turnkey or customized, crafted to send out a branded message to everyone searching for you. It sounds great but here are some fine print details from YPG Terms of Use:

5. License.

By posting, uploading or submitting any information, material or content to this Site, you automatically grant (or automatically warrant that the owner of the rights to such material or content has expressly granted) YPG a perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license throughout the world to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, create derivative works from, publish, translate, license, transmit, distribute and otherwise exploit any or all portions of such information, material or content in any manner and media and by means of any technology now known or hereafter developed. In addition, you hereby irrevocably waive all moral rights in any such information, material or content posted, uploaded or submitted by you.

9. Copyright.

All Content published on or otherwise accessible through this Site is protected by copyright. The Content, and the copyright in the Content, are owned or controlled by YPG or YPG’s content suppliers. You may only use or reproduce the Content for your own personal and non-commercial use. The Content may not be otherwise used, reproduced, broadcast, published or retransmitted without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. You must abide by all copyright notices, information and restrictions contained in any Content on or accessed through this Site and maintain such notices in the Content.

Source: http://www.ypg.com/en/legal-notice

Example 2: Squarespace

Squarespace makes it easy to design your own website! Just select a template (you can switch at any time), start a free trial (no credit card is required) and then get a free domain.

 1. What We Own

All material and services available on the Site, and all material and services provided by or through Squarespace, its affiliates, subsidiaries, employees, agents, licensors or other commercial partners including, but not limited to, software, all informational text, software documentation, design of and “look and feel,” layout, photographs, graphics, audio, video, messages, interactive and instant messaging, design and functions, files, documents, images, or other materials, whether publicly posted or privately transmitted as well as all derivative works thereof (collectively, the “Materials”), are owned by us or other parties that have licensed their material or provided services to us, and are protected by copyright, trademark, trade secret and other intellectual property laws…

3. What You Provide to Us

You are legally responsible for all information, data, text, software, music, sound, photographs, graphics, video, messages or other materials uploaded, posted or stored in connection with your use of the Services (“Content”).  Squarespace is not responsible for your Content.  You hereby grant Squarespace a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to host and use the Content in order to provide you with the Services and hereby represent and warrant that you have all the rights necessary to grant us such license.  You are responsible for any Content that may be lost or unrecoverable through your use of the Services.  You are encouraged to archive your Content regularly and frequently. 

4. Giving Us Access to Other Accounts and Services

Some of our Services may require you to give us access to or require you to provide login information and password information for accounts or services you may have with third party providers.  When you provide this information to us or give us access to these third party accounts you agree that you have read all contracts and written agreements governing such access, login information and passwords and that you have all the necessary contractual and legal rights to give us such access, login information and passwords.

12. Termination

d. Notice of termination of Services by Squarespace may be sent to the contact e-mail associated with your account. Upon termination, Squarespace has the right to delete all data, files, or other information that is stored in your account.

Source: http://www.squarespace.com/terms-of-service/

Where is this information?

A link to preview the fine print is typically in the footer of their website listed under “Legal” or “Terms of Use”. If you are in doubt ask a customer service representative before buying:

  • Can I take my content if I cancel?
  • Can I transfer the domain to myself if I cancel?
  • What is your cancellation procedure?
  • What will I need to provide for the website?

Help is available

If you haven’t already, read through our Website Hostage article and let us take you through the ramifications of not owning your site or domain name. We’ll also help you understand what you can do to protect your business from the dilemma of a contract domain.

A 1st on the List Consultant is ready to work towards the independent ownership of your site. When we set up your website – you own it.  Our goal is to create a web presence that is uniquely yours – owned by you, directed by you and paying you.  Check out our website design information.

Time to Count the Cost

Yes there is a cost in paying someone to design your website just the way you want it. Your site will take time to rebuild, and because the old content is owned by your host, it will need to be rebuilt. That takes time.

But consider the cost of your own time spent on DIY websites and the cost of not owning your website down the road. For a closer look costs check out our SEO Marketing Budget article to get a good idea of work that goes into “fixing” websites and the average costs involved.

If you still have questions regarding your website give us a call at 1-888-262-6687 or send us an email at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

One of the major themes in the last couple years in the SEO industry that is now critical to the success of every website is User Experience.

Google says their goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience (source).Think about it. Google wants to be the best Search Engine. To be the best they need to give the best results. And who determines the best results? Users.

In the last couple years Google has begun integrating several User Experience factors into their algorithm. What grade would your website get for User Experience and more importantly, is User Experience helping or hindering your rankings?

What is User Experience?

In general terms, User Experience (also referred to as UX) is a person’s behavior, attitude and emotions towards a particular product, system or service. In the case of your website it is how a person interacts with your website.

Essentially User Experience is about ensuring your visitors find value in what your website provides. According to Peter Morville’s User Experience Honeycomb model  a person can derive value in several ways. When applied to Google’s user experience factors in their algorithm, Morville’s model looks like this:

  • Findable – Can they find you in the Search Engines?
  • Useful – Do they find what they look for?
  • Desirable – Is it what they want?
  • Credible – Do they trust the information on your website?
  • Accessible – Do the pages load fast enough? Can they click through pages to find the information they need?
  • Usable – Do all the features including contact forms and links work?

What’s the connection between your website’s User Experience and SEO?

The example of a dating website comes to mind. A website like eHarmony or Match.com does a good job in getting you “found” by eligible individuals who meet your criteria. Once the site connects you with these people it is your job to court the individual, offer experiences and provide meaningful exchanges.

In the same way SEO helps you connect with qualified potential customers who are seeking what you offer. Once they arrive on your site (the “first date”) you need to offer something the visitor can’t find elsewhere. You need to impress. You need to keep them coming back for more dates.

Here is a helpful SEO and User Experience Chart to help you further understand the interaction:

SEO Role

  1. Improve quality of traffic.
  2. Target keywords searched by specific personas.
  3. Turn searchers into visitors.
  4. Connect searchers with what they are looking for.

User Experience Role

  1. Turn traffic into conversions ($).
  2. Design website to appeal to each persona.
  3. Engage visitors enough so they return.
  4. Help searchers solve the problem behind their search.

Best Website User Experience Tips

Ready to improve user experience on your website and promote your brand in the best light? Start with some of these easy tips …

  1. Make sure your navigation is easy to use.
  2. Make sure your website displays properly and is functional on all devices – including mobile devices and tablets.
  3. Make sure the pages on your website load fast (Google recommends less than 2 seconds).
  4. Create high quality content your visitor will want to read, and can’t find elsewhere.
  5. Organize the information on your site so it is structured and well presented.
  6. Add trust factors such as testimonials, awards and memberships.
  7. Keep your products and services information up to date.

Start Improving Website Experience Today!

Although high level tracking and analytics can greatly improve the usability of your website there are other affordable options to help you get started in assessing your website’s usability:

  • Look at industry leader websites. These companies have likely spent thousands if not hundreds of thousands on perfecting their website. What themes do you see? What can you apply to your website?
  • Ask friends, family members and even customers for their input on your website. Ask them to perform simple tasks on your website or browse through pages for 5-10 minutes. They will likely have a list of feedback for you.
  • Read web design and marketing blogs. There is a lot of research out there that proves certain design concepts, layouts and website structure. Trust the numbers!

If you are still lost, give us a call at 1-888-262-6687. We can provide an SEO and User Experience Website Evaluation to help improve your website in respect to both SEO and User Experience! We also offer A/B split testing to improve conversion rates and user experience on your website.

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Do you remember these infomercials for the Showtime Rotisserie?

SET IT AND FORGET IT.

The tagline is pretty genius for marketing an easy to use kitchen appliance. But are you using the” Set It and Forget It” mantra for your website?

If you built your website years ago and think it’s still good enough chances are you have an outdated website on your hands. Outdated website design, features and content could be costing you a hefty price in lost customers and missed opportunity.

Businesses keeping their websites current to today’s SEO standards and current with user trends and expectations are reaping the rewards.

Here are a number of key indicators that your website falls into the “set it and forget it” trap. Is it time to upgrade your web presence and get your website working for your company again?

  • You have a blog but its newest entry is over a year old.
  • You have outdated website content that advertises products or services that are no longer offered.
  • Your site is missing many of your newest products and services.
  • Your site still uses outdated website design features such as flash or animated graphics from the 1990’s.
  • Your site is clunky and unusable on a mobile phone.
  • Your site doesn’t really tell the visitor what you do or why they should choose you over your competition.
  • Your site loads an automated introduction that must play before the visitor can get to the homepage.
  • Your site uses stock photography rather than actual images of your employees and business (read about how your picture can build trust).
  • Your site doesn’t list current hours, phone number or email addresses.
  • Your site has automated popup windows.
  • Your site has obscure color contrast such as a black background and white font or dark blue background and grey font.
  • Your site takes more than 2 seconds to load (read more about how website speed affects SEO).
  • Your site is very difficult to update and involves calling the web developer and paying hefty hourly fees.
  • Your site visitors are only visiting your homepage.
  • Your overall website traffic is steadily declining over time.
  • Your site has certain areas that no longer work or never worked.
  • Your site isn’t even indexed by Google (go to Google.com and type in site:yoururl.com” to see)
  • Your footer has an old copyright year.
  • You haven’t had a lead from your website in over a year.
  • You have to apologize to your customers about the dated website.

If you answered yes to several of the above questions there is no need to panic. Did you know that our WordPress Website Redesign packages are actually quite affordable? We can give your brand new fresh looking, fully functional website that has all the information your visitors will need. It comes mobile responsive and we will even teach you how to add new content yourself so you don’t have to rely on us to do it all the time.

The bottom line is that a website isn’t something you just set and forget, you need to constantly be updating it with new information, staying in line with modern design trends and always looking for ways to give your visitors what they want.

Still not convinced?
Try taking our Free Website Evaluation to learn more about your website.

Download your free website evaluation

 

Did you know that the first impression of a website is formed in less than 50 milliseconds? That means you have just 0.05 seconds to prove yourself.

To most visitors your website isn’t just a website. It’s your company, your brand, your personality and often the deciding factor of whether to do business with you or one of your competitors.

Our brand new SEO eBook explores six expectations that your visitors have when they arrive on your website and how you can make a great first impression. This eBook will also help you understand how to capture your visitor’s attention (in a good way), give them exactly what they are looking for and ultimately ensure your website has done it’s job in “closing the deal”.

What is a closed deal such as a phone call, new email lead, purchase or in store visit worth to your business?

Don’t miss out on this FREE eBook. Just hit the
download button and start learning today!

You can also check out all of our free SEO eBooks, Articles, Slide Presentations and Infographics at no cost on our Resources Page.