Tag - AuroraIL

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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How to Create a Custom Report in Google Analytics and Schedule Emailed Reports

How to Create a Custom Report in Google Analytics and Schedule Emailed Reports

Google Analytics is the best way to see who is visiting your website, where they came from, what they did on your website and more details on their overall interactions with your website. I install Google Analytics on every website I build, but very few of my clients actually monitor the statistics it provides. While Google Analytics can seem overwhelming due to the wealth of information it provides, I'm going to show you how to create a custom report that will simplify these statistics. Even better, Google Analytics allows the ability to schedule this report to be emailed on a scheduled basis (once, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly).

To create a custom dashboard on Google Analytics first pull up your websites Google Analytics page and click on 'Customizations' beneath 'Home', then select 'Dashboard'. When you click the Create button you will be given the option to create a blank dashboard or use their starter dashboard, which has some of the most common widgets all ready to go. You can add up to 12 widgets. How you choose to set up your dashboard is entirely up to you. Widgets pull information stored in Google Analytics and display that information as a number, graph, map, table, pie chart or bar graph. Some common examples are Users (Total Visits), % New Sessions (New Visitors), Users By Source (If a user clicked a link to visit your website rather than typing in the URL, where did they click that link), Sessions by City (Where do your visitors live), Sessions by Keyword (What term did they search for to find your website) and the list goes on and on.

Lucky for you, I have created a pretty great custom dashboard that you can easily import into your Google Analytics account by simply clicking this link. The widgets I created give a pretty good overview of how many people visited your website over a 1 week period, new vs returning visitors, most popular days of the week, what they searched for, where they came from, how much time they spent on your website, what browser they were using and the type of traffic (paid/organic/direct/referral).

Who wants to login to Google Analytics every day and stare at numbers? I certainly don't, so I setup reports to be emailed out on a weekly basis in PDF format. All you have to do after you create your custom report is click on the email button above the report. You can choose who you want to send the report to (you can add multiple emails by separating them with a comma), write a subject, message and decide how often you want the report to go out (once, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly). After that sit back and let your reports come to you!

I highly recommend if you have a website with Google Analytics you click through all the different options you have. You can do a lot more than creating reports. If you want to learn more about the power of Google Analytics and how to use the information gathered to improve your business, please contact me today. I'd love to help you out.

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The Top Social Media Platforms For Your Business

The Top Social Media Platforms For Your Business

Google has been giving more and more SEO weight to companies that actively use social media. I recommend that all of my clients post on social media as often as possible, ideally once per week. While I know that's a challenge, it's becoming increasingly important to help your search engine rankings. Buffer is a great tool that allows you to post to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest at the same time, from one place. I would currently consider those the top social media platforms for businesses ranked:

  1. Facebook - 2.23 billion monthly active users
  2. Instagram - 1 billion monthly active users
  3. Twitter - 335 million monthly active users
  4. LinkedIn - 294 million monthly active users
  5. Pinterest - 250 million monthly active users

In addition to these 5 social media platforms, I can't understate the importance of YouTube (1.9 billion monthly active users) and Google My Business posts. YouTube can be tough if you don't like being on camera, but even short videos carry weight. YouTube is a Google product... Google likes when you use their products. Speaking of which, within the last year Google has started allowing companies to post on their Google My Business listing. These posts show up on your Google business profile and show for one week... another indicator Google wants you to post every week. Unfortunately, there's no way to currently post to Google My Business through Buffer or similar tools, but I'm sure that will change.

Optimizing your use of hashtags and posting weekly on as many social media platforms as possible is the key to success. Posts can be as simple as a picture with a sentence, or an entire blog post. I integrate Wordpress with Buffer so you can create a blog post and automatically have it sent out to your social media platforms. That way you're getting SEO benefits from creating content on your website while also getting credit for the social media aspect.

If you would like to learn more about posting on social media, or are interested in getting pricing to have me post for you, contact me today.

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Google Hangouts Meet - Video Conference From Anywhere

Google Hangouts Meet – Video Conference From Anywhere

Google Hangouts Meet is one of the best free video conferencing tools out there. If you have a Gmail account you already have access to Google Meet. Like most things Google creates, Google Meet is easy to use, easy to get started and works great. The feature I use most on Google Meet is their screen share feature. I regularly use this feature to review websites with clients and make live changes. During most calls, I don't even use the video feature.

Google Meet allows up to 25 people to join your video conference. They also have a feature to allow people to join by phone and just listen in. Of course, Google Meet is also fully integrated with Google's other products such as Calendar. When you create an event in Google Calendar you have an option to also create a meeting. That way when you share the event with your guests not only will they be able to add it to their Google Calendar, but you've already sent them the link to join the meeting.

If you want to learn more about Google Hangouts Meet or any other Google products, contact me today. I have a lot of experience working with Google's suite of apps and teaching clients how to use them.

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Imagify - Wordpress Image Optimization Made Easy

Imagify – WordPress Image Optimization Made Easy

Optimizing images for the web is crucial. Google gives a lot of weight to website load time and images are the largest files on most websites. The goal with optimizing images is reducing the overall size of the file while maintaining image clarity. There are a lot of tools out there which can accomplish this task, but none easier to use than Imagify. Imagify is a Wordpress plugin that automates the image optimization process. Not only is the interface very easy to use, but it also does an excellent job at reducing file size with minimal loss in quality.

I use Imagify on all of my websites. Imagify can optimize your images as you upload them, or for an existing website, it can quickly optimize your existing images. Imagify is free to try (25MB limit) and has monthly data plans for higher limits. I pay those costs for all of my clients. If you're interested in learning more about Imagify or need someone to optimize your website, contact me today.

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Google Local Service Ads

Google Local Services Ads – A New Google Ad Program

Google Local Services is a new ad platform by Google, not to be confused with Google AdWords. Perhaps you have already seen these ads - they appear in the same place Google AdWords would typically appear (before search results) but the one thing that makes them different is the green check mark by the ad with "GOOGLE GUARANTEED" appearing next to it. There has been a lot of confusion about the difference between Google Local Services and Google Adwords - let me explain.

In order to have a Google Local Services account, there is some vetting that has to be performed by Google. When creating an account you have to send your business license and insurance details, complete a free background check and have a verified customer write a review. This process typically takes over a month to complete. Hopefully Google will speed up this process, but this is what I've experienced recently when setting up accounts for clients.

Google Local Services charges on a per lead basis. In other words, you don't get charged when a customer clicks on your ad - you get charged when the customer calls you. This is a key differentiator between AdWords and Local Services. AdWords charges every time someone clicks on your ad and visits your website. The cost per lead with Local Services is significantly more than the cost per click with AdWords. The cost varies by industry. I've read reports that some industries charge as little as $5 per lead up to $150 per lead. Like Google AdWords, Local Services pricing is based on competition.

With Google AdWords, you target keyword searches within a service area. Google Local Services shows your ads based on the type of service you offer. You still get to select a service area to display the ads, but the options are not as detailed as Google AdWords.

At the time of this article, Google Local Services is not available for all industries and is specific to certain service areas. If your industry qualifies, I think Google Local Services is worth the investment. If you're interested in setting up a Google Local Services or Google AdWords account, I can help. Contact me today to learn more about getting an ad campaign setup for your business.

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Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day from my family to yours! According to Ancestry DNA, I'm 43% Irish but this weekend we are all Irish. Did you know Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival? Enjoy your corned beef and cabbage responsibly :)

Looking for a talented website and graphic designer who listens to your needs and gets your business noticed? I'm a freelance website and graphic designer who understands the difficulties of small businesses. I have helped business owners from many industries grow their business by implementing a comprehensive website and advertising strategy. Interested in learning more? Contact me today.

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