Tag - SEO

Bulk Resize Photos - My Favorite Resizing Tool

Bulk Resize Photos – My Favorite Resizing Tool

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.

Read more...
DepositPhotos - My Preferred Stock Photo Website

DepositPhotos – My Preferred Stock Photo Website

Professional stock photos are great for websites, blogs, social media or graphic design projects. Stock photo providers allow you to purchase a license to use their photos commercially. The cost of stock photos varies greatly but over the years my favorite has been DepositPhotos. On their website, they have over 100 million stock photos (and vector files).

I pay DepositPhotos $25/month for up to 25 downloads per month. This is under their Flexible Plan. Unused downloads rollover, which is great. The minimum package you can purchase is 10 images for $49. To put things in perspective Getty Images charges $500 for one image.

There are times DepositPhotos does not have an image I need. In that case, I usually visit Photodune (pay per image $5 - $10 ea), 123RF (Similar price structure), Adobe Stock (expensive) or Shutterstock (expensive).

At the end of the day, over 100 million great stock photos to choose from is sufficient for my needs. Their quality is great and I've never had any issues with them. If you're looking for great stock photos I recommend you check out DepositPhotos.

Read more...
Mailchimp - The Best Email Marketing Platform

Mailchimp – The Best Email Marketing Platform

If you're considering email marketing, Mailchimp is the king. The best part of Mailchimp is that for most customers it's free. You can have up to 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails per month before you have to pay a dime. Their platform has a great user interface, isn't terribly difficult to use and has many advanced features which make it quite powerful.

Email Marketing Considerations and SPAM

Before starting a Mailchimp campaign I ALWAYS stress to my customers that there are very strict rules with Email Marketing. Spam is a HUGE problem. Over the years there have been more and more restrictions on email due to spammers. The NUMBER ONE rule is NEVER add ANYONE to your email list without their permission. This rule can't be broken.

Every email sent with Mailchimp is required to have an unsubscribe link at the bottom of it. While unsubscribing the user is asked why, and one of the options is that they never asked for the email in the first place. Get a few of those and your account gets suspended. After writing an email to Mailchimp explaining you made a mistake and will play by the rules might buy you some time, but if they continue to see users report they never signed up for your list, your account gets banned.

How to Properly Use Mailchimp

Only add people to your mailing list with their permission. It's pretty simple. You can add a form to your website (like I have in my footer), a link in your email signature or get people to signup in person. I always recommend navigating to Mailchimp's Opt-In settings and enabling "Double Opt-In". When you enable this feature each person added to the list will receive an email asking if they want to join the list. It's an extra step for the customer, but it prevents issues down the road.

Want to Setup a Mailchimp Account?

I have setup Mailchimp accounts for many customers and have experience building email lists and templates. If you're interested in getting a list setup but need some assistance, contact me today.

Read more...
Google reCAPTCHA v3

Google reCAPTCHA v3 – Keeping Forms Safe From Bots

Today I upgraded all forms on my clients websites with Google reCAPTCHA v3. If you aren't familiar with reCAPTCHA it's a tool to help prevent form spam by either having users type displayed text into a box (reCAPTCHA v1), check a box (reCAPTCHA v2), or now with reCAPTCHA v3... NOTHING! reCAPTCHA v3 can detect abusive traffic on your website without user interaction by analyzing multiple factors to prevent malicious bots from spamming you with contact form emails. 

All of my clients know how big of a fan I am of Google. This is just another example of how Google remains on the forefront of technology and constantly strives to make the web easier to use while maintaining security. If you want to learn more about reCAPTCHA v3 check out the links below.

Read more...
Wordpress 5.0 Gutenberg Editor

WordPress 5.0 Update – The Gutenberg Editor – What You Need to Know

I don't usually post about Wordpress updates since they're released a few times a year and are typically minor updates. However, Wordpress 5.0 is the biggest update/change Wordpress has released in a long time. Good news if you're my client - I upgraded every website I manage within the first hour Wordpress 5.0 was released! 

Most of my clients don't touch the Wordpress backend much. However, if you have a blog and make the posts yourself you will definitely notice some changes. The Gutenberg editor is quite a bit different than the previous text editor that came with Wordpress. Each paragraph is defined as a "block". In web design, we use blocks for everything. Responsive web design, specifically Bootstrap, relies on blocks to create responsive websites that respond (stack/resize) depending upon the device you're using.

When writing using the Gutenberg editor things are a little different, but I feel most people who have used prior versions of Wordpress should be able to figure it out fairly easily (or any text editor for that matter). One big change that I noticed was when you want to add an image, heading, gallery, list etc to the post you may be lost at first. In the top left-hand side of the page, you will find a + symbol. When you click on that symbol you will be given options for what type of block you want to add. There are many different elements you can add, very easily. 

There were many other technical changes with Wordpress 5.0. If you would like to learn more about this update contact me today and I would be happy to walk you through all the new changes.

Read more...
Search Engine Optimization Considerations

Search Engine Optimization Considerations

While the content on your website plays a very large role in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), there are many parts to ranking well with Google and Bing. A business that has had a web presence for 15 years is going to have a big advantage over a new company with no web presence. One big reason is the number of legitimate websites linking to your website. The older your domain is the higher probability third party websites are linking to it. There are four major data aggregators on the Internet (Infogroup, Localeze, Acxiom and Factual) that distribute your business information to many smaller third party websites. In order to get your business indexed with them you have to use third party tools. Over the years I have helped many clients accomplish this task at a very reasonable cost.

Another commonly overlooked part of SEO is social media presence. Google has been giving increasing weight to companies with an active social media presence. I recommend my clients post once per week on multiple platforms. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the best to focus on. Posting to all three can be accomplished using third party software that allows you to post to all your social media platforms from one place.

Fresh content on your website is another important ranking factor. For most small businesses this is tough. Your services never change, so what do you do? The answer is a blog. I've built many blogs for clients that link to their social media platforms. You post to your Wordpress blog and the post is automatically shared to all of your social media platforms.

Over the years SEO has changed. On-page SEO is and will always be the most important ranking factor, but the off-page SEO content is playing an increasing role in Google's rankings. Contact me today for a customized plan for your business.

 

Read more...
SSL Certificates Now Included For All Clients

SSL Certificates Now Included For All Clients

I recently upgraded to a VPS Server with InMotion Hosting and secured every website I host with a basic SSL certificate. An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate establishes a secure, encrypted link between a web server and the browser. If you look at the top of your address bar on my website you will see a green lock symbol, indicating the presence of an SSL certificate. Previously SSL was only recommended for clients who had eCommerce websites, or any website that collects personal information, such as logins. If you're entering information on a website without an SSL certificate everything you enter can be intercepted by unscrupulous hackers and potentially used for nefarious purposes.

Why do I need an SSL Certificate?

As previously mentioned encrypting your data is a great reason to have an SSL certificate.  However, the primary driving factor for me was that Google takes into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in their search ranking algorithms. Many times I can get a website to rank in the top 5 search results, but after that, the little things make a big difference. An SSL certificate can give your website a few extra points to hop over your competition. I always pride myself on creating visually appealing, responsive websites that rank well. After all, the best-looking website in the World means nothing if it can't be found.

What does an SSL Certificate Cost?

For clients who use my website hosting, it costs them NOTHING for a BASIC SSL Certificate. This basic SSL certificate will give you the green lock symbol and satisfy Google's SSL recommendation. However, if you have an eCommerce website this SSL Certificate is not sufficient. Yes, it will encrypt your data but there are higher levels of paid SSL certificates. A paid SSL certificate also gives you a warranty. For example, a Comodo EssentialSSL Certificate ($29/year) gives you a $10,000 warranty. A Comodo EV SSL ($88.88/year) gives a $1,750,000 warranty. A dedicated SSL certificate also requires a dedicated IP Address ($24/year).

Why Doesn't Every Website use SSL?

Cost. Before moving to my new VPS server with InMotion I did not have the option to issue a self-assigned SSL certificate. Even if I did it would require a dedicated IP address, which costs an additional $24/year. One enormous benefit of my VPS server is that I can issue SSL certificates on one shared IP address. It costs me nothing, so it costs my clients nothing.

The Brian Houdek Web Design Advantage

As a freelance website and graphic designer, I'm always striving to differentiate myself from my competition. If I discover a way to give my clients an advantage I'm going to implement those changes for every customer. The server I used before moving to this VPS server was good. It was fast and stable. This VPS server is faster and more stable. I also backup all of my websites every two weeks to the Amazon S3 Cloud just in case something goes wrong. I charge nothing for that. I use WP Rocket, a caching plugin, that speeds up my Wordpress websites. This would cost $39 per website if you bought it on your own. I charge nothing. I use professional stock images, which I pay for but don't charge anything extra. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is something I implement into EVERY website from the beginning. I monitor my websites search engine rankings and adjust to improve them. Most companies charge monthly for SEO services. To me, these are things my clients need for their website to stand out from the crowd. If you know someone who needs a professional website or graphic designer they can trust I'd love to show them the Brian Houdek Web Design advantage.

Read more...