Why Do I Need 2-Factor Authentication?Countless people use the same passwords across multiple accounts. This is a problem because there have been many password leaks over the years. Chances are pretty good your e-mail address is on that list. If you want to check, visit haveibeenpwned.com. Even if you're not on that list now, there will be more hacks and inevitably some website you registered with over the years will get hacked. Hackers will take your e-mail address and password to attempt to login to various accounts. If they get the right ones your identity can be stolen.
How Do I Protect Myself?The first step to get 2-Factor Authentication is to install an app, such as Google Authenticator, on your phone. Most websites that store sensitive data have the ability to enable 2-Factor Authentication. I recommend looking under "My Account" or "Account Settings" on those websites. Under "Security" you will usually find an option to enable 2-Factor Authentication. The website will show a QR code, which you scan with the Google Authenticator app and you're good to go. The next time you login you'll be asked for a six-digit code, which is generated in the app and updated every 30 seconds.
Learn From My MistakeI have 2-Factor Authentication enabled on every account that I possibly can. I had an issue where one of my CPanel (hosting control panel for a website) accounts got hacked. I was using a very strong username and password. Most likely my clients' e-mail was hacked and the intruders were able to do a search for certain words in past e-mails, such as "CPanel". I had sent a password list with all the website information, which included the CPanel login (I have since changed how I send passwords). I hope this information helps you protect your passwords (and ultimately your identity). If you want to learn more about 2-Factor Authentication. If you're looking for a new website, have an existing website, or just need some SEO improvement, please contact me today. I'd love the opportunity to help your business improve its web presence.
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.
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:
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:
- Google My Business
- Bing Places for Business
- Facebook (links with Instagram)
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.
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.
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:
- Facebook - 2.23 billion monthly active users
- Instagram - 1 billion monthly active users
- Twitter - 335 million monthly active users
- LinkedIn - 294 million monthly active users
- 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.
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.
Google My Business is a tool to manage your company's online presence across Google, including search and maps. Over time Google My Business has changed quite a bit and they're always adding additional features to help business owners connect with potential clients. In my opinion, this is the most important listing for any business and it's crucial that the information listed is accurate and comprehensive.
Once you login to your Google My Business account, navigate to the "Info" tab. Ensure the categories selected for your business are accurate. You can select multiple categories, which I encourage you
Next, make sure your business Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) is accurate. See this article I wrote regarding the importance of your NAP. Ensure your business hours, website URL and services are accurate. For the description take your time and make sure it sounds professional.
One of the most commonly overlooked sections of Google My Business is the Photos tab. Add as many photos as possible, especially if you're in the service industry. Potential customers want to see your work and your employees doing the work. Personally, I won't even consider calling a company if there aren't pictures of them doing work.
More recently Google My Business added a section for "Posts". My theory is this was introduced to replace Google+. The problem with these posts is they only show on your profile for one week. If you create blog posts on a weekly basis (which you should be doing for SEO) then just copy those over. Otherwise I recommend posting SOMETHING weekly. Google is putting a lot of weight on this right now.
If you need help claiming your business on Google or need other website work contact me today and I'll be happy to help.
NAP is short for your business name, address and phone number. When Google scans various databases on the internet for your company it's absolutely crucial that these three items are EXACT and consistent. If I was on Yelp as "Brian Houdek The Web Designer" or "Brian Houdek Web Design LLC" or "Brian Houdek Web Design Inc" Google would look at that as a completely different company than "Brian Houdek Web Design". If your address is "123 Test St" it's crucial you write it exactly the same throughout the internet. "123 Test St." (dot after St.) or "123 Test Street" will be looked at as different and therefore not the same company. Finally, your phone number must remain consistent. Did your number change over the years? Do you have a local number and an 800 number? Make sure you always pick one primary phone number and always enter that phone number as the primary one.
The more LEGITIMATE databases your company information is in the better for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). These directories give your business validity in the eyes of Google. Most of them link back to your website, which is another ranking factor Google uses. As a rule of thumb, I recommend my clients use their Google My Business listing as the "master" listing, ensuring all other listings have the same information.
On the Internet there are four major data aggregators that store your business information. These are Neustar Localeze, InfoUSA, Acxiom and Factual. These data aggregators take your business information and push it out to many smaller databases on the Internet. In addition to these aggregators, there are also many big name directories your business should be in. Examples are Bing Places For Business, Apple Maps, Angie's List, Manta and many, many more.
I have multiple tools to scan these databases and see where your business information is missing or inaccurate. I can easily update this information and charge a flat fee. If you want me to run a free scan for your business contact me today.
Often times I have to resize a TON of images for image galleries and they have to have some consistency. Ideally, I try to keep the image width consistent. Bulk Resize Photos makes the process so much easier than it used to be. They claim to be able to process 150 photos in under 60 seconds and I can attest... it's fast! Their website makes it extremely easy to set the parameters for resizing your photos with a sufficient amount of options (Scale, Longest Side, Width, Height, Exact Size or even add a watermark). Before you know it all your photos are the same size and downloaded to your computer. Too easy...
I have clients with hundreds of photos in their gallery and Bulk Resize Photos has saved me a tremendous amount of time. If you're interested in creating a beautiful image gallery with consistently sized photos, contact me today.