Yearly Archives - 2019

Happy New Year - Website Tips For 2020

Happy New Year – Website Tips For 2020

I would like to wish you a Happy New Year. I'm so grateful for my loyal customers and look forward to continued growth in 2020. My clients vary tremendously by industry and location, but the basics of website design, advertising and SEO can be applied to any industry. A visually attractive, informative and SEO optimized website is the best investment you can make in your company.

Website Tips for 2020

Google has over 90% of the search market. The best thing you can do for your companies reputation on the web is to focus on what Google looks for in a company. Google is all about business reputation. First and foremost your business website should be optimized to target the keywords your customers are searching for. Once that is accomplished Google looks at many other factors. Your Google My Business profile should be fully optimized and reviewed on a regular basis. Also, make sure to optimize your Bing Places For Business profile.

Google loves fresh content on your website. The best way to accomplish this is with a consistently updated blog. Social Media interaction is also a huge ranking factor. You should have business profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. I typically connect my client's blogs with their social media profiles. Multi-platform posting tools like Buffer are essential. I also recommend following other companies in your industry for inspiration and additional followers.

Your business information should be in as many databases as possible. Google gives credit for backlinks, which are links to your website from credible sources. The best way to get your business information out there is to use a tool such as BrightLocal's Citation Builder. This ensures your business name, address, phone number, hours, website URL, description and images are consistent across the internet. I've seen clients rankings jump multiple positions after a BrightLocal campaign.

I can go on and on but the things I've listed above should a priority for your company in 2020. If you're looking for a new website, have an existing website, need some SEO improvement, graphic design, or advertising please contact me today. I'd love the opportunity to help your business improve its web presence.

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How Important is an SEO-Friendly Domain Name?

How Important is an SEO-Friendly Domain Name?

Often times I'm asked by clients to help them choose a domain name. Google does give some weight to the keywords in domain names, although not as much as they used to. Nevertheless, having keywords in your domain name is still important because it can give you a small bump, possibly improving your search engine ranking. Let's say you have a roofing company that primarily serves the Chicagoland area and your business name is XYZ Roofing. Some good SEO-Friendly domain name options would be xyzroofingchicago.com or chicagolandxyzroofing.com. Whenever possible you want to combine your service (roofing), service area (Chicago or Chicagoland) and company name.

I have an existing domain name - Should I change it?

No. Another more important ranking factor is the age of your domain. A domain that has been in existence for 20 years with a company website on it gets a lot of credit from Google. If you already have a domain name with a website on it just keep it. I have moved existing websites to a new domain with 301 permanent redirects from all the old URL's to the new URL's. 100% of the time the ranking takes a hit. It will eventually rebound, but most companies can't afford to lose traffic.

Where can I see what domain names are available for purchase?

There are many domain registrars but my favorite is Namecheap. They charge $8.88/year to register a domain, which is one of the lowest prices you will find. Their website is easy to use and they've been around for a long time. Right on their homepage, there's a box to search available domain names.

Is a long URL going to be tough for customers to type in?

While SEO-Friendly domain names are great for SEO, a super long domain name can be annoying for customers. Try to limit your domain name to 20 characters or less. Another thing to consider is that most people will just do a Google search (ie XYZ Roofing) when they're looking for your company, so don't worry too much about the URL. One of my customers on Long Island, NY came to me with a URL he already had, which is longislandwindowwashingpowerwashing.com. While it's a really long and inconvenient URL to type in, his search rankings are really good because of it. Balance is key.

There's a lot more to SEO

While your domain name is a ranking factor, it's not a huge factor. Having a good title, description, headings and content is also crucial. Backlinks to your website and company information listings are also very important. If you're looking for a domain name, have an existing domain or just need some SEO improvement, please contact me today. I'd love the opportunity to help your business improve its web presence.

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InstantCard - Great ID Cards and a Great Company

InstantCard – Great ID Cards and a Great Company

When a customer asks me for ID cards I know just the place to go. InstantCard is a company I've worked with for a few years and I've always been very happy with their product, staff and turnaround time. You may think an ID card isn't anything fancy, but you would be surprised how fancy you can get. Aside from the design they also offer holograph's, QR codes, smart chips, mag stripes, barcodes and more.

Every order I have placed has been shipped out the day I ordered it or the next day. Their UI (user interface) is very well designed and easy to use. You can save ID card templates so when it's time to order you simply click a button. Their ID cards cost $7.80 per card (volume discounts available). If you need ID cards designed contact me today for an estimate.

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Brian Houdek Web Design Has Moved

Brian Houdek Web Design Has Moved

As a freelance website designer, graphic designer, and marketing professional I have the ability to work out of my home. I lived in Naperville for about 7 years but as my family grew I needed more space. I currently have 3 daughters (Bianca - 6, Natalie - 4, Evelyn - Almost 2) AND another baby on the way. We ended up buying a home in Batavia and we absolutely love everything about the town. My new address is:

1629 Derby Dr
Batavia, IL 60510

I have a lot of clients in the Naperville area, so, fortunately, I didn't move too far. I look forward to working with more clients throughout the Tri-Cities (Geneva, Batavia, Saint Charles) and beyond. I have clients throughout the United States from New York to California, so for those clients, nothing has changed.

One fun thing about moving your business is updating your business listings online. As I've posted previously, your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency on the internet is crucial. I have to make sure my address gets changed EVERYWHERE. Below are the important places I had to update my listings:

In addition to these, there are MANY other databases and websites with my company information. To update those I like to use a tool called Citation Builder by BrightLocal. BrightLocal is a service that goes out and corrects inaccurate information or adds your business information if it's missing, to many of the largest online databases. I plan on writing an article about them in the future, but in the meantime definitely check them out. If you need a reliable, trustworthy web or print guy, contact me today.

 

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BuiltWith - A Great Tool to Figure Out What Technology a Website Uses

BuiltWith – A Great Tool to Figure Out What Technology a Website Uses

Ever visit a website and think... that's pretty cool. It happens to me all the time and I always turn to the best tool out there to figure out what technology a website is using. BuiltWith is an unbelievable tool that can show you everything there is to know about a website. Not only can you figure out which CMS (Content Management System) they're using, but you can even figure out which plugins they're using (and the technology those plugins use sometimes). For example, if you look up my website you'll not only discover that I use WordPress as a CMS, but it also shows that I use the theme Porto. You can figure out every single plugin I have installed on my website very quickly.

I always tell clients if you've seen it on another website, you can have it on yours. BuiltWith is how I quickly determine what technology was used so I can recreate it and put my own twist on it. If you need a new website, need to improve your existing website or have a graphic design project, contact me today and I'd be happy to discuss how I can help.

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Adobe Color - A Great Color Palette Generator

Adobe Color – A Great Color Palette Generator

Whenever I design a website one of the first considerations is the color palette that will be used. Colors are typically pulled from an existing logo or based on customer preference. Considering there are 16,777,216 hex colors to choose from, selecting colors can be extremely subjective. Occasionally a client will want a certain color, only to say "a bit lighter" or "a bit darker". The solution to this problem is a tool from Adobe called Adobe Color.

What I like about Adobe Color is the simple interface and the ability to easily create complimentary colors for the colors you select. The various options on the left give you a quick twist on the shade of the color you selected. Click on the Explore tab at the top, and see popular color pallets and randomly generated color palettes that may inspire your creativity. The hex code (looks like #ababab) is what web designers need to use the color within a design element. Whenever I lack natural creativity this tool help spark my creative flare.

If you're looking for a website or graphic designer, contact me today for a free estimate.

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Uptime Robot - Know When Your Website Goes Down

Uptime Robot – Know When Your Website Goes Down

Web servers are not perfect and they crash. I use InMotion Hosting for my web servers and they guarantee a 99.9% uptime... it's not 100%. Yesterday InMotion was having some data center issues and I knew about it within a minute of the servers going down because of a great tool from Uptime Robot. Their free plan will ping your website every 5 minutes and you can add up to 50 websites. If you need more monitors or want them to ping your website more often, they offer very competitive pricing.

If you have a website you should use Uptime Robot. Knowing there's a problem is step one to fixing it. If you need website, graphic design or marketing services, please contact me today.

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How to Login to Gmail Using Your Domain Email Address

How to Login to Gmail Using Your Domain Email Address

I host email for the majority of my clients and forward their domain email (@yourdomain.com) to a Gmail address. The reason I do this is the convenience and functionality of Gmail. Also, most business clients have multiple email addresses and don't want to login multiple different places to check their email. Forwarding email to a Gmail address and using Gmail's 'Send Mail As' feature gives my clients the ability to send and receive their domain email from Gmail. I will write an article on that process in the future, but for now, see this article on how to do that.

Being able to sign into Gmail using your domain email address is another way to streamline the entire process. Follow these steps to allow that feature:

  1. Login to Gmail
  2. Click on your profile photo on the top right and select 'Google Account' below your name
  3. Click on the 'Personal Info' tab on the left
  4. Under 'Contact Info' click on 'Email'
  5. Click on the Advanced dropdown, then under 'Alternate Emails' select 'Add Alternate Email'
  6. Once you've added an 'Alternate Email' you will be able to sign into your Gmail account using the domain email address you entered in this field.

If you have the money to spend, another option is using GSuite, in which Google actually hosts your email and allows you to manage multiple users. GSuite costs $6/user/month for 30GB of Google Drive storage, or $12/user/month for unlimited storage. Many of my clients don't want to spend that money when they can forward their domain email to Gmail and use this login feature to get a very similar product for FREE. If you want to learn more about this topic contact me today and I'd be happy to walk you through everything.

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Signs Direct - Quality Signs at a Great Price

Signs Direct – Quality Signs at a Great Price

Today I want to share with you a great company that I use for all types of sign printing. Signs Direct is a company based in Bloomington, IL that offers yard signs, sidewalk signs, freestanding signs, lighted signs, sign hardware and much, much more. I do a lot of research before I work with a print company and I assure you that for the price you can't find a better deal. They even have stock signs for common things such as indoor and outdoor safety signs and road / parking signs.

The most common product I order from Signs Direct is their yard signs. Their production and shipping is always incredibly fast and I've always been happy with their quality. I am a bit partial because they're not only based in the US, but my home state of Illinois. If you don't live in Illinois they don't charge sales tax. If you live in Illinois... well you know.

If you need signs designed for printing through Signs Direct contact me today. I'd love to help you out.

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