Helpful Hints

6 Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site Today

6 Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site Today

If your goal is escape velocity, you have to build a ship. It’s true that some enterprise-level websites are so fast that they literally push the limits of the laws of physics. But for the rest of us who don’t have an enterprise-level operating budget, there are still plenty of effective and affordable ways to a faster-loading WordPress website. In this article, we’ll look at some tools that you and/or your web developer can utilize to speed up your site without breaking the bank. Ground Control to Major SEO Every time a visitor loads a page on your website, the data gets prepared by a computer (called a server) that is operated by your hosting company. For the purposes of illustration, let’s call this “Mission Control” and let’s suppose that it’s located in Houston, TX. Once the website data is prepared by Mission Control, it then has to take a voyage from Houston to wherever the visitor is physically located (let’s say Asheville, NC). As you can see from the example, there are two key things happening when you get a page view on your site: 1) Your hosting company’s computer (or server) generates the data 2) Your site’s data makes a trip (possibly across the world) to reach the visitor’s computer Decreasing the time it takes to complete either of these tasks will be a big win for you and your visitors. However, for almost all sites, the larger factor in page...
How do I optimize my images for better SEO? – WordPress Edition

How do I optimize my images for better SEO? – WordPress Edition

To paraphrase an old saying: If content is on your site but no on knows it’s there, is it there at all? The answer, of course, is yes. It’s there. Let me show you how to optimize your images so people don’t miss the forest for the trees. Avoid embedding text into images Browsers and search engines can’t read a picture of text. Not sure what that means? Try to highlight the text in the photo above. You can’t, because while editing the photo, I typed in some words and saved the whole thing as a JPG. Whenever possible, avoid putting your most important message directly into an image. This way, you’ll get that message to a much wider audience. Give images informative filenames When you take a photo, your camera has no way of knowing what the contents of that photo are (stupid camera). So, the camera does the only thing it can. It assigns a generic filename to the image according to some predefined internal naming system. Take a moment to run a Google image search for image001 or DCMIMAGE4 and you’ll find a wasteland of unrelated images that are all but lost to search engines. This is where your site’s images are likely to show up if you don’t name them properly. Thankfully, this is an easy thing to do. If your image is of the black 2007 Honda Civic Coupe you have for sale, you wouldn’t name it “20160425_092402.jpg”. Instead, you might name it...
The Importance of Responsive Web Design

The Importance of Responsive Web Design

With so many different devices out there between desktops, tablets, and phones, responsive web design is more important than ever. Responsive web design takes web design and development to a whole new level. New devices with different screen sizes and orientations are being created every day. It’s important to think about screen size, orientation, image resolution, platform, and ease of use. You need to think about if the theme you’re using is responsive or not. Designing a custom design for each type of device would be a tedious and overwhelming task. Instead, it’s important to plan out one design that will scale and transition smoothly between the different devices. The easiest way to do this is to start building your site for mobile devices first. Mobile First Design The concept behind mobile first design is to build a full and visually appealing site for smaller screens first, then add features and content for bigger screens and larger devices. This is also known as progressive enhancement. This process is all about prioritization. It may take a little longer to implement but it’ll help you focus on what the most important pieces of your website are and how to focus on those pieces and display them across all devices. Mobile web sites should uses minimal screen space, processing power, and plugins to and provide a great and functional experience for users. Responsive Images When adding images to your webpage you want...
Get More Site Visitors With Content Marketing

Get More Site Visitors With Content Marketing

Are you scouring the web trying to figure out why people aren’t coming to your website in droves to buy your amazing widget? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Today’s consumer is savvy and avoids overt advertising like the plague. Now that we have so many choices, we can choose to be more selective with how we spend our time, and that includes time spent browsing your website. The answer is to give the people what they want. This is also known as content marketing. If you build it, they won’t come… unless you give them a good reason. Part of this has to do with the way Google displays organic search results. No matter the current trends, Google made it clear that their long-term vision is to duly reward those sites with straight-forward, authoritative content. This means that if you don’t have clear, helpful content aimed at building relationships with your audience, Google won’t push you to the top of the pile. Let’s say you’re an accountant who exclusively serves creative small business owners. Or maybe you’re a crafty little bugger who makes custom electric sitars. Or even a web design company working with clients who want to legitimize their web presence. So how do you reel ‘em in when there’s so much competition out there? Content! Make sure that your content describes who your prospective customers are, answers their questions, and tells them why you’re the best...
Top three ways to keep sites simple

Top three ways to keep sites simple

Let the design breathe. White space and padding around key elements is a good thing. Be sure not to overcrowd your design and end up with an overly busy home page. Controlling your white space will keep visitors focused on the content and better drive user flow. Consider the user experience throughout the entire site, not just the home page. Often people think that the home page will always be the “first impression.” Sometimes the home page is the first landing page that visitors see, however about 50% of the traffic will probably land on a sub-page first, before ever seeing the home page. Always keep your call to action in mind. You need to clearly identify what the goal of the site is and what you would like your visitors to do while on your site. It is important to put thought into your call to action and continue to reinforce the message as often as possible. Sometimes this call to action (CTA) is one of the following: Sign up for my newsletter Call me Make an appointment Download a pdf or brochure Fill out the contact form Find...
Top 3 tips for vetting a web design firm

Top 3 tips for vetting a web design firm

Platforms: Make sure that the web agency is building sites on non-proprietary platforms like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. This will make sure that your new site isn’t “handcuffed” to that particular company should the relationship go sour. Responsive Design: Make sure that the websites being built by this new agency are responsive or mobile friendly. This means that the website “responds to” the device that is asking for the site to be displayed. This will make sure that your new site looks good on mobile devices, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc. Local: Make sure to support local companies that hire local employees and contractors. Just because work can be “farmed out” doesn’t mean that it should be. Often working with local companies can cut down on communication issues, turn-around time for changes, and ultimately creates a better...