It’s that time of year! Time to look back and reflect on all that has happened over the last 366 days (it was a leap year!). For us at Hammersmith, it means that it’s time to count down our most popular blog posts! We posted, you read, shared, and commented to let us know what you were most interested in reading. So without further delay, here are the top 10 Hammersmith Support blogs of 2020!

#10 Website Accessibility

Consumers who are differently-abled account for 15% of the 4.66 billion internet users in the world. Ensuring that your website is accessible to anyone is essential for good business, and good SEO.

#9 Certified Woman-Owned Business

Find out what it takes to be a Certified Woman-Owned Business and the benefits that the certification had for Hammersmith Support.

#8 Blogs and SEO

You know that having a blog is great for SEO, but did you know that the blog structure can contribute to SEO as well?

#7 The Roots of Women in Tech

Did you know that modern-day Wi-Fi was developed by an actress during WWII? Click to read more about how women are at the roots of today’s tech.

#6 Business Blogs

Still on the fence as to why your business needs a blog? We’ve got your answers here.

#5 The Future of Women in Tech

Even in today’s seemingly male-led world of tech, the future for women in the industry is bright.

#4 An Interview with Allison Kierman of Kierman Law

We loved interviewing Allison Kierman of Kierman Law about her best advice for female entrepreneurs and business owners, and we know you will enjoy it too!

#3 An Interview with Founder, Heather Locke

It’s no surprise to us that one of the top posts of 2020 was an interview with Hammersmith Support founder, Heather Locke!

#2 What to Ask When You Have a Website Built

Even though you’ve hired a professional to design your business website, there are still some questions you will want to ask to ensure that your site is built the best way for you and your business. Read 5 questions by clicking here, and we have 5 more available in a download for you too!

Drum roll please! And the number one most read blog post of 2020 is……

#1 Google Ranking Factors

It’s no surprise to us that everyone is curious about how Google ranks websites. We’re here to help take the mystery out of the process by bringing you what you need to know about Google Ranking Factors and how you can work with your site to boost your SEO organically.

Thank You!

We want to say thank you for reading our posts and letting us know what you want to know more about! Got more ideas? Email us at info@hammersmithsupport.com to tell us what you want to read more about in 2021.

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice! Gonna find if your site is naughty or nice…

While it may be a lesser-known holiday song, it is true: Santa does put websites on the Naughty List too! Not sure which side of the list your site will be on? We’ve got a list of offenses that will get your site on the Naughty List for sure. But don’t worry, Hammersmith Support can help get it on the Nice List just in time for the holidays!

Naughty: No SSL Certificate

Nice: Updated Certificate

No matter what you use your website for, lead generation only or for full-scale e-commerce, you really need an updated SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and it’s the “s” in “https.” Not having an updated certificate can leave your site vulnerable to hackers and malware. An expired SSL certificate will result in some browsers blocking access to your site and displaying a warning that your site is not secure. Lastly, Google Ranking Factors hate unsecured sites. Bad security leads to bad SEO.

Naughty: No Image SEO

Nice: Alt Text, Captions, Descriptions

Web crawlers utilized by Google Ranking Factors just love image information. And including all of the descriptive information in each image – tedious as it may be – is worth it for the boost in SEO. Crawlers are bots and they can only interpret so much from an image. Giving written descriptions helps them return correct information faster, which is a great boost for your SEO.

Naughty: Not Accessible

Nice: 100% Accessible

With nearly 15% of the 4.9 billion internet users in the world being differently-abled (that’s 735,000,000 for those doing the math), it just makes good sense to have your website accessibility certified. While they may seem like minor things to add to your site, these things can make a huge difference for users. Some accessibility requirements include text that’s able to be converted to audio, large print, or braille, tab navigation, and alt text on images.

Naughty: Stale Content

Nice: Fresh Content

There’s nothing a web crawler hates more than a stale website. Google Ranking Factors look at the content on your site from several angles, but age is a major factor. Keep your content fresh and updated by swapping out or adding images, creating blog content or adding testimonials.

Hammersmith Support Can Help

If you’re worried that your site might be on the naughty list this year, Hammersmith Support is here to help! Visit our site to book a free, 30-minute consultation and we’ll talk through your concerns as well as what options are available too.

‘Tis the season for gift giving! And while you’re making your list, we have some things to add to it for your business website…that’s right, your website needs some presents too this holiday season!

A Blog

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again; your website needs a blog! Not only does a blog add value for your clients and potential clients, but it also is important for good SEO. There are over 200 Google Ranking Factors and a blog can help with a TON of those. Blog posts bring fresh content for your clients, images for web crawlers to analyze, and links, too.

Plugins

Speaking of SEO, utilizing plugins on your site will help to improve user experience as well as your site’s SEO. Yoast SEO will help you by evaluating your blog posts and then optimizing them for the best SEO possible. Smart Crawler is also great for full-page SEO analysis and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will ensure that your site loads quickly on mobile devices.

Site Maintenance

There are two ways to give your site the gift of maintenance. First, you can update the site’s plugins, as well as the theme and WordPress versions. Updates should be done consistently to ensure that the site doesn’t crash due to too many changes / catch up updates being made. Not running updates regularly can also leave your site open to security risks, which are patched by WordPress developers.

The second way is to invest in a monthly maintenance package with Hammersmith Support. Each month, we’ll back up your site to ensure no data is lost. Then we’ll run updates, check lead generators, make any changes or updates that you request, and more to keep your site running smoothly and securely.

A New Website

Make this the year that you invest in a new site! If your current site is more than 5 years old, built on a template, or isn’t performing optimally for your business, it may be time for a new, robust site that can meet all of your business needs.

Hammersmith Support is Here to Help

We are always happy to offer a free 30-minute consultation to talk through your site needs and how Hammersmith Support can help you! Visit our Calendly page to book your time.

This week we have some spooktakular stories of websites gone wrong…these chilling stories may seem like urban legends, but we know them to be true. Each of these terrifying things can happen to your site if you’re not careful…so read on – if you dare! Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

THE TALE OF THE LAPSED DOMAIN

This story takes place at the website address: the domain. Elvira bought her domain but didn’t check the email that she used to purchase it all that often. And so she missed the email that let her know it was time to renew her domain, the credit card on file had expired and suddenly…it was GONE! Even worse, someone had snapped up the Elvira domain in the blink of an eye, and she was left in the dark with no domain and no way to get her original URL back.

Don’t be like Elvira! Be sure to stay on top of the emails from your domain provider. If you keep a credit card on file for auto-renewals, make sure that it’s current!

THE UNSECURED SITE

Everyone knows leaving your doors unlocked is dangerous…and the same should be said for your website! Casper thought because he wasn’t collecting any personal information on his site, he didn’t need a Secure Socket Layer. But! The creepy web crawlers combed through Casper’s site and returned a very unfavorable Google Ranking…and then a client tried to link to his page, but it wouldn’t work! Oh no, Casper! He missed out on potential business because he didn’t have an SSL certificate.

Let Casper’s cautionary tale be a lesson to be sure that your SSL certificate is up to date!

THE ALL-BUT-ABANDONED WEBSITE

Freddy Krueger finally got his website up and running! But because he didn’t have a lead magnet or sell products through his site, he never ever touched it again. Until one day when he decided to sell his famous knife-tipped glove through his site. It was then that he had to update his entire site to add e-commerce and *POOF!* The entire site disappeared……

You see, because poor Freddy had never updated his site, it crashed trying to catch up so many updates at one time! And with no backup, Freddy’s gloves never made it to the market.

THE HACKER AND THE UNSUSPECTING WEBSITE

Frank N. Stein thought his website was safe enough – he had an SSL certificate, but he didn’t always update his site. One night, some scary hackers came across Frank’s site and decided to have a little fun. They added malware to the site and suddenly every page was filled with ads for some very “adult” products!

Poor Frank. Don’t leave your website vulnerable – keep your site, as well as your plugins, updated.

THE TERRIBLE HOST SITE

Pennywise the Clown found a free website host. One day a customer told him that he never shopped on his website because it was too slow to load and he hated all of the ads on the page. You see, the trade-off for free hosting was…advertising! And even worse, the host site was down all the time for maintenance, making Pennywise’s site frequently inaccessible.

Don’t let your website go down the storm drain! A good host is worth its weight in gold.

Let Hammersmith Support Help

We hope you enjoyed our spooky website tales! If you’re concerned about any of these topics and would like to talk about how to prevent these issues with regular maintenace and support, we’re here to help. Visit our Calendly link to book your free 30-minute consultation.

Our client highlight this week features the rebuild of the Strunk Insurance Group’s website. Teresa Strunk is a fellow W Source Arcadia / Scottsdale member. She and her husband, Casey, are the owners of Strunk Insurance Group, a full-service employee benefits consulting firm founded by Casey’s father, Greg. They reached out to Hammersmith Support to rebuild and redesign their site from the ground up.

The Website Issues

In order to continue to serve their client base effectively, Strunk Insurance Group had several website issues that they needed help resolving. First, the overall look and feel of their site no longer accurately reflected their organization. Their logo felt out of date and their site copy was no longer fitting.

In addition, a security scare led Strunk Insurance Group to prioritize not only the outward look of their site but also the “behind-the-scenes” maintenance. They needed a more robust foundation in conjunction with regular maintenance to ensure that their site was not only secure but also effectively drawing in and capturing potential leads.

Here’s a peek at the site before:

The Website Solution

Knowing that the content on the website needed to be not only informative but also well organized, they also contracted with Katrina Oko-Odoi of Content Worm (also a W Source Member!). She was able to create fresh copy that more clearly describes their often-complex insurance business and the services they offer. That, combined with a new logo and design, resulted in a fresh and simplified site that effectively communicates who and what the Strunk Insurance Group is.

Behind the scenes, Hammersmith Support built a new, modern theme for the design and developed the site using the built-in WordPress Gutenberg editor, which makes updating the site’s back end easier. Hammersmith Support continues to provide monthly maintenance for the Strunk Insurance Group to ensure that their site remains updated, secure and optimized.

The Final Product

Click to see the new and improved Strunk Insurance Group, and the sneak peek below!

Behind Strunk Insurance Group

Casey Strunk

In addition to highlighting the new website, we’re excited to introduce you to Casey Strunk through our Hammersmith interview. Both Casey and Teresa are very involved in the Phoenix community. Casey is the Board Chair of Phoenix EC70, while Teresa is Chair of the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona. They are both active members of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, working as strong fundraisers for the charity.

Casey, what is your “why” and how did that motivate you to start your business?

“Greg Strunk, my father, started the business almost 40 years ago. We have always been focused on the client and we continue to see today what drove Greg to start the agency in the early 1980s. There is an under-served segment of the business community. Those employers with 25-200 employees do not have a benefit PARTNER that is willing to invest the time and energy they deserve when it comes to their benefits package. We treat our clients like family and they continue to be our ‘why’.”

What is unique about your style and product offering?

“Most employee benefits firms help clients with employee benefits. It turns out it is a lot more complicated than that. We help clients quarterback everything related to their human capital. This includes enrollment technology, compliance, IRS filings, human resources, and retirement plans.

Lastly, what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

“Surround yourself with a great team. This includes my personal board of directors, peer groups, business coaches, other successful leaders, and your employees! I believe that in order to be successful over the long run, you have to constantly be changing and adapting your business.”

Hammersmith Support Is Here to Help

Are you thinking your site may need some updating? Have you had security issues that you are unsure are resolved? Click over to our Calendly link to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation and see how Hammersmith Support can help you and your business.

Have you ever done an online search for a business name and gotten a list of results, along with a quick breakdown of that business on the right side of your screen? That’s Google My Business. Below, we outline several reasons why it’s important and include instructions on how to get started. If you’re already using GMB, read on to find out some additional information that will be useful to you!

SEO

We’ve posted a lot about Google Ranking Factors and Google My Business plays right into that concept. Providing Google with detailed information about what your business is, where it is located, and the types of services that you provide enables your business listing to be up-to-date and informative. In turn, more accurate search results may lead to more potential clients finding your business. Moreover, adding local SEO to your listing means your business information is geographically optimized as well, which is important for many businesses that only serve local customers.

Quick Information

Sometimes a customer doesn’t want to scour your website for information like hours of operation or your address. This is especially important now during COVID restrictions when it may be uncertain if a business is open or closed. In addition, updated information means customers can find your address and directions quickly and easily. There are also Google Reviews that are separate from other review sites like Yelp. These reviews are not able to be sorted by a third party like other reviews sites, meaning you’ll see all the reviews, good and bad.

Because of the visibility of reviews, getting your clients to post Google Reviews is good for business. Make it easy by sending individual notes to each customer, thanking them for their business, and asking them for a review. Be sure to include a link to the Google Review page for your business.

More Places to Post

If you’re already using GMB, did you know that you can post promotions, event information, products, photos, and updates? Quickly get customers in the know and also get some free advertising!

How to Get Started

Ready to get rolling? Click here for the link to begin the process of claiming your business and setting up Google My Business. Once completed, be sure to check in often to keep your information up-to-date. Check out Hammersmith Support’s GMB page too.

Our client highlight this week is ProRhetoric.com. We were so excited to be a part of the rebuilding and rebranding of the website Vital Speeches of the Day to transform into Pro Rhetoric.

The focus of Pro Rhetoric has always been to publish the most important speeches in the world in order to “represent the best thoughts of the best minds on current national and international issues.” Their goal is to offer resources and commentary that appeal to speechwriters. Pro Rhetoric was eager to change the look and improve the overall functionality of their site, as well as offer more options and new resources for readers.

Rebranding

The Pro Rhetoric rebranding was centered around creating a more news-like and less archival feel. While they liked the overall layout of their pages, Pro Rhetoric sought to change the “mood” of the site. Hammersmith Support started with a new color scheme to convey an informative atmosphere. The colors were changed from pastels to a blue pallet with several shades and tones working together. The color blue is often interpreted as “trustworthy” by consumers.

Rebuilding

The original site was built using Drupal, but the client decided to move to WordPress to make the site easier to use on the back end as well as more customizable on the front end. Hammersmith Support added functionality to allow for online subscriptions and renewals, paying close attention to the security of the site. The site supports a variety of content including videos, uploads, event-specific information, a job board, and advertising.

With these various needs, creating a site that was not only functional but also well organized and easy to navigate was essential. In addition, the site needed to support separate content for visitors and paid subscribers.

Supporting

Pro Rhetoric updates their site daily, sometimes more than once a day, in order to provide the latest information to their subscribers and visitors. Hammersmith Support is currently working with Pro Rhetoric in relation to information updates, as well as supporting their site to maintain security, speed, and optimum functionality.

Check out the Pro Rhetoric finished product by clicking here: www.prorhetoric.com.

Google ranking factors

We’ve shared a lot about SEO on the Hammersmith Support blog: what it is, how to boost SEO organically, and how to use images for good SEO. Now we’re bringing you a few of the actual factors that Google uses to rank a site. As of 2019, there are 210 individual factors that Google uses to evaluate a website. Some are things we can all do for our websites, and we’ll detail those below. Others are best left to the website professionals! Here are 10(ish) of the Google Ranking Factors to consider for your business website:

Content Content Content

Content is evaluated in several ways, but we’re going to group a few topics together:

A. Freshness: how recently your website has been updated is HUGE. In fact, Google even puts the date of the most recent update in the search results. If that doesn’t tell you how much Google values fresh content, we don’t know what would. At minimum, content should be updated 1-2 times a month.

B. Update Magnitude: This goes hand in hand with freshness. Changing a few words here and there isn’t going to cut it. Making significant updates to content, like adding new testimonials, images, blogs, or multimedia, will help the most.

C. Quality: Grammar, Spelling: This one is a *little* contested. While some reports say Google doesn’t rank quality, others include quality as part of End User Experience. Bottom line, it doesn’t hurt to have good grammar.

Links

There’s a fine line between not enough links in a post and too many. The baseline is 1 internal (linking to another part of your site) and 1 external (linking to an outside website) link per post. BUT, if you have the opportunity to link to more than one internal page or external site because they’re related to the topic of your post, then there should be more than 1-2 links. Linking to reputable and authoritative sites (news outlets, educational institutions, established businesses) increases the rank as well.

Security

Obviously security is important for your end user safety and your website’s lifespan, but Google also ranks secure sites higher. All the more reason to make sure your URL has that important “s” in the http.

Page Speed

Having a website that loads quickly is usually targeted at end users to keep them from bouncing. But Google also ranks the page speed. If your site has a lot of images or other multimedia, software downloads, or is targeting buyers from around the world, using a CDN can speed up the loading process, not only making potential customers happy, but improving your rank at the same time.

Mobile Friendliness

This is one of the more recent additions to Google Rankings. Having a site that is optimized for mobile users is vital. In addition, priority is given to sites that build mobile framework first, then desktop user framework. Something to keep in mind when evaluating how your end user will likely access your website.

Keywords

Keeping your website’s keywords quality is a must. In addition, be sure that a keyword appears in the first 100 words of a page’s content. At Hammersmith Support, we utilize the Yoast SEO plugin to make sure that our meta data, keywords, and post descriptions are optimized.

Headers, Numbered Lists, Bullet Points

Big, bulky blocks of words are a no-no from an end user’s perspective and for Google Ranking as well. Be sure to break up content and organize it so that readers – and web crawlers – can scan the information easily.

Site Architecture

A well-designed / organized website makes it easier to be evaluated by Google, resulting in a higher ranking. Being able to quickly and easily index site pages is a must. This includes a well-designed site map.

Usability

This is another factor that initially appears to be relevant for the end user, but doubles by impacting rankings as well. An easy-to-navigate site will keep users longer and reduce the bounce rate. This low bounce rate and satisfied user translates into higher rankings.

Image Optimization

We’ve shared how ensuring that your image information is on point is a great way to organically boost a website’s SEO. The same is true for ranking. Making sure that image captions are accurate and informative, while the “behind the curtain” items like title, Alt Text, and description are all completed as well are all considered for rankings. Be sure not to have spammy Alt Text or descriptions. They may work for a short time but will hurt the rank in the long run.

Hungry for more? Click over to the Hammersmith Support Blog for more topics about SEO. 

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for your sweetheart! Your website needs some love too this holiday and we’ve got just what the love doctor ordered:

Freshen Up Your Content

Have you looked at your website’s copyright date lately? Is it recent or old (very very old)? If it’s been a while since you updated or added to the content on your site, the time to do it is now. Not only is fresh content vital for your SEO (hello Google Ranking Factors) but customers and potential clients notice it, too. Would you want to do business with a company that never updates their information?

Updates

When was the last time your website was updated? Have you been ignoring your platform’s notifications that an update is available? Stop! Get that update running asap. Updates can be extensive or simple, it all depends on what it’s trying to fix. Oftentimes an update is patching a security hole. Even if your site isn’t taking credit card information, protecting your leads’ information is just as vital. After your update is complete, be sure to check that your lead / sign up forms are working, just to make sure you don’t miss out on any information.

Be Mobile Optimized

Do you visit your website from your laptop or your mobile device? If you’re constantly working from your computer, pull up your site on your mobile device instead. Does it show up correctly? Are all the buttons visible / available? With just over half of Internet users out there doing so from their mobile device, you might be leaving money on the table – or more like customers in the cold – if your site isn’t mobile optimized.

Check for SEO

Are you utilizing all of the available ways to organically boost your SEO? If not, now is the perfect time to start. In addition to fresh content, update or add images to your site. Make sure that all of the “behind the curtain” information is completed like alt text, caption, description, and title. Add an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO to ensure that the metadata and keywords on your posts are as good as they can be.

Need a Little Help?

If this list feels a little overwhelming, reach out to Hammersmith Support. Our monthly maintenance packages can help with all of the above and more! This means we take care of your website, and you get to do what you do best, run your business.

2020 kicks off a shiny new decade and with that comes a lot of speculation about where technology is headed. In addition, the world has had a chance to take stock of the current technology and decide what we’re ready to get rid of. Why do technology trends matter? Because as consumers become more educated about various technology topics, they’re going to be looking to your site to be on trend. If it’s not, you may lose business as a competitor is waiting in the wings to scoop up that customer.

Blockchain Technology

Hammersmith Support preaches about security regularly, because it really is that important! Blockchain technology is the evolution of security on several levels. While somewhat complicated to explain, the concept is revolutionary for not just financial industries but all sensitive information. To break it down, a blockchain is a group of time-stamped, fixed / immutable records managed by a cluster of computers not owned by a single entity. What makes this special is that the process creates a record that cannot be copied because you would have to copy the entire history of the record, which has been bound to other records and transferred from multiple computers.

Beyond security, blockchain technology eliminates the need for a processing fee as any company can use it; it’s not owned by one company or individual. By eliminating the middle man, budgeting for transaction costs changes significantly.

Mobile Optimization

With over half of the world’s 3.9 billion internet users accessing sites from a mobile device, it makes sense that ensuring your website is optimized for mobile viewing is a top priority. So, how do you know if your site is ready for mobile viewing? Simple, open it up on your mobile device! Check each area. Do the menus work? Are the images sized appropriately? Are all the same links visible and easy to click?

5G Networks

Have you utilized a 5G WiFi network? The fifth generation of wireless internet is a lightning fast, cellular-based network that provides faster internet speeds and a simpler set up process. In addition, 5G uses significantly less energy than do older WiFi networks.

Accessibility

Having your business website accessible to all differently-abled users is crucial to business. Not only are 15% of users working with a disability, but more businesses are seeing discrimination lawsuits over the inability for everyone to access a website. Disabilities can be anything from dyslexia to physical disabilities, but simple changes to your site can make it accessible for everyone. Tab navigation, text that is able to be converted, and alt text are all small changes that make your website better for all users.

Now that we’ve talked about some of the new things to look for this year, let’s take a look at a couple of things that are on their way out…

Payment Apps

Payment apps themselves aren’t going anywhere, but the plethora of apps available will be. Consumers are finding it harder to utilize the benefits of the apps such as check splitting, because those features are only available if everyone is using the same app.

Streaming Services

Much like payment apps, consumers are not fans of the abundance of subscription-based streaming services. If a consumer had Netflix ($11.99), Amazon Prime ($12.99), Disney+ ($6.99), and Apple TV ($4.99), the total for streaming services alone (excluding the cost for the internet needed for streaming) would be nearly $40 a month or $480 a year. Look for services to begin bundling to save consumers some coin.