It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are right around the corner! And with the holidays comes Giving Tuesday – this year it will be on November 30th. Started in 2012, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving kicks off five days of giving back to our communities. The movement has evolved to be a promotion for donating to local nonprofits, in addition to volunteering. There are several organizations that compile a list of nonprofits for donors to discover, or nonprofits can accept donations through their own sites. With that said, is your site ready for:

  • An increase in traffic?
  • Smooth, secure transactions?
  • Explaining your mission to appeal to donors?

Here are four areas of your website that can be checked prior to any large influx of traffic to ensure that your site is running smoothly and you are able to complete all transactions too.

Load Time

With more traffic comes increased loading times. On average, a user will not wait longer than 3 seconds for a page to load. Don’t let potential donors bounce off your site! Prepare for increased traffic by updating your host, adding a Content Delivery Network to your site, and making sure that your site is up to date. This should include plugins and platform updates to ensure that your site is loading quickly enough to keep donors on the page.

Security

Unfortunately, organizations that are out doing good in the world have to worry about the security of their site – hackers don’t discriminate. Keep your site safe from being corrupted and your donors’ information safe from being stolen! Be sure that your security certificate is up to date – if you’re unsure, check your URL. If there is no “s” in “https” or you have a broken padlock in the address bar, then your site isn’t secure. Check with your hosting company to get an SSL certificate added. Next, be sure that your platform and plugins are up to date. Plugins, themes, and the version of WordPress on which your site runs all require regular updates in order to be secure.

*Added bonus – a secure site is great for boosting your SEO!

Testing

It may seem silly, but one of the easiest ways to know if your forms work or how your site looks on a mobile device is to test it out! Go to your website as if you were a visitor. Do you see all of the essential aspects? Fill out the form(s) on your site – do the notifications go to the correct email address or are they ending up in your spam folder? Is the correct confirmation message popping up after submitting? Even go as far as making a test donation to perform an end-to-end test of the donation form, ensuring that the donation processes completely.

Content

Before Giving Tuesday is the best time to take a close look at your content. Have you had any staffing changes that need to be updated? Is your mission and purpose clear to potential donors? Do you have any updated images that can be added? Do all of your images have complete information? These are just all examples of places to start really examining how the content on your site looks. And it might be the perfect time to start that blog! Blogs are a great way to share long-form content, images or videos, and updates about what is coming up for your organization.

Hammersmith Support Can Help

If all of this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry, we can help! Many of these tasks can be fulfilled by one of our website maintenance packages. Set up a complimentary 30-minute meeting and let’s talk about your business website needs and how Hammersmith Support can help make this Giving Tuesday one of the best yet for your nonprofit!

You read that right – your website could be invisible to nearly half of the users you’re trying to attract. How could that be? If your site is not mobile optimized, vital sections of your site may not be visible to users. Potentially even worse, the information could be jumbled or may not be sized correctly for mobile devices. This can contribute to a higher bounce rate and loss of potential traffic. Don’t worry! There are solutions to ensure that your site is visible to everyone, no matter what kind of device they are using to access your site.

Mobile Optimization

Mobile first design means that a website is built from the mobile view first, then the desktop. This is an important concept because it means that the site will always be ready for mobile users. It’s estimated that 75% of the world’s Internet users will do so exclusively from a mobile device by 2025, according to CNBC. Building your site with that in mind is a pretty good idea.

Check and Recheck

One of the easiest ways to check to make sure your site is visible on a mobile device, is to simply go to your site from a mobile device! It seems silly, but many times business owners are accessing their site via desktop only, and never confirming how it looks from a mobile device.

In addition, some platforms require manual changes to a page for mobile viewing. For example, Wix does not automatically translate a page’s layout to a mobile version. Elements may be sorted differently, or may be too large to view on mobile. Be sure to not only check the mobile preview section, but also from an actual mobile device as well.

It’s Good for SEO, Too

Google began considering mobile first design as one of the ranking factors when evaluating a site. These factors play a key roll in search engine return pages – where your site ranks in a query. In addition, mobile optimization is considered to be part of website accessibility. In addition, mobile optimization is considered as part of website accessibility and it’s important that all users are able to access your website.

Hammersmith Support Can Help

Wondering if your site is mobile optimized? Or are you thinking it might need some help? Hammersmith Support has you covered. Schedule a complimentary 30-minute meeting and let’s talk through your questions and about how Hammersmith Support can help you and your business.

At Hammersmith Support, website maintenance is one of our core services. We know that you can build a beautiful and responsive website, but if that site isn’t maintained, it can cause major headaches and be expensive to fix if issues occur. We have five maintenance tips to keep your website running smoothly, and five additional tips in our download in the link below.

Check Credentials

Be sure that all of your contact information on the site platform is correct. Missed renewal emails can spell disaster with loss of security – or even your domain. Regularly check that emails, contact information, and credit card information, including the expiration date, are current.

Update

While it may seem obvious, it is very easy to miss or ignore the need for updates. In addition, it’s important to pay close attention to what you are updating. Plugins, platform, themes, and PHP are all separate areas that need to be updated regularly. Don’t risk the site crashing due to trying to catch up on too many updates – be consistent.

Security

Maintain the integrity of your site, as well as your place in Google search rankings, with a valid security certificate: Security Sockets Layer (SSL). If your domain doesn’t have an “s” after “http” or if it has a broken padlock in the address bar, then your site isn’t secure. Ensure your customers’ information stays safe with a current security certificate. Browsers will check for the SSL automatically and will alert you if it’s not present on the site you’re visiting. A current security certificate will also avoid downtime from the chaos a hacker can cause.

Content Updates

Updated content is not only good for customers, it’s great for SEO as well. Google Ranking Factors look for not only fresh content but also the magnitude of the content update to evaluate. Check your site’s information and make changes and additions, including images too (don’t forget to complete the image information!). Consider starting a business blog to share more detailed information as well.

Enroll in Google Search Console

See your site the way Google sees your site by using Google Search Console. This free and valuable tool will let you know if any parts of your site need work. This can include areas that are not visible on mobile, a page that can’t be indexed, broken links, lack of accessibility, or missing pages. Google Search Console is fantastic for maximizing your SEO and ensuring that your site is functioning.

Want More?

These tips are just the beginning! Click to download our “10 Tips for Website Maintenance to Keep Your Site Running Smoothly” to get five additional ways to maintain your website.

Hammersmith Support is Here to Help

If this sounds like another task on your list that you don’t have time for, don’t worry, we can help! Our monthly maintenance packages cover all of this – and more! Schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation today and let’s talk through your business needs and find the perfect package for you. 

Lisa Finn, Support Specialist
Lisa Finn, Support Specialist

We’re certain you’ve read all about our Hammersmith Support maintenance packages by now, but are you still curious about exactly how the process works? We asked our own Lisa Finn to break down how she and her team maintain our clients’ sites each month, the reporting provided after maintenance, and what she says every client should do with the information she sends them.

Step 1: Enroll

The first step for every new maintenance client is to enroll the site in Google Search Console and review the Google Analytics account (or add this tracking if it’s not on the site already). Google Search Console allows users to see how search engines are crawling the site and flags anything that requires attention, including flagging broken pages (404 errors), pages that Google isn’t able to index, and other issues as well. Google Search Console also enables users to submit their sitemap, which is especially important when new content is added or outdated pages are updated or removed. Google Analytics provides valuable feedback such as:

  • where site traffic is originating
  • how users are viewing the site (mobile or desktop)
  • when they are visiting
  • what pages they view the most and for how long
  • how quickly they are leaving the site (bounce rate)

Step 2: Update

Before beginning any updates, a backup of the site is made. This is done to protect the integrity of the site should anything “break” during the update process. Next, the site is updated one area at a time and continually checked after each section is complete to ensure that the update was completed and that nothing unexpected occurred. The updated areas include plugins, plugin licenses, the WordPress platform, theme, and PHP – the language the language on which the site is built – as well. Updates are vital for the security of the site. Out-of-date plugins and versions of WordPress can leave security holes unpatched.

Step 3: Test

After the updates are complete, the team tests the site. Each area that was updated is examined and checked. In addition, we test site forms. Everything from contact forms, to sign-ups, and links are reviewed. While sending a test through the signup forms may sound like overkill, it really is a vital part of the process. Email servers may update their spam filters without notice. These spam updates could then block or send to your spam folder a legitimate website submission. Consistent checking and testing can avoid missed site submissions and broken forms/site feeds as well (Instagram feeds, real estate listing feeds, etc.).

Step 4: Report

Once all of the maintenance steps are completed, the client is sent an email with an easy-to-digest summary of the work completed. This includes a request for confirmation that the client received a test email from their website and the Google Analytics report. The email will also include notes with suggestions for minor updates and changes to keep the site healthy over time.

Key Take-Aways

While Hammersmith Support maintenance is convenient and hassle-free for our clients, there are two things we ask of our clients each month. First, be sure to confirm that you received the test email submission. While we can test the form, only the client can confirm that the email was received. Second, read our brief summary of work. Many months the report will be purely informational, but often we call out issues or changes that need to be made to improve the site or address issues.

Get Started

Ready to get started? Set up a complimentary 30-minute meeting and let’s talk about your business website needs. In addition to monthly maintenance, Hammersmith Support also provides website redesigns and rebuilds too.

For many businesses, search engine optimization is the name of the game. Having a more favorable rank on a search engine results page – SERP – means more visitors to your website. While we’ve shared a lot of ways to improve your site’s SEO on any platform, we want to highlight how the WordPress platform can make SEO easy for your site.

Image Optimization

WordPress offers users the ability to complete the image information for each image. Being able to publish images with alt text, descriptions, and titles gives web crawlers more content to evaluate, as well as a description that makes deciphering the image easier.

Blog Categories and Tags

In the same vein as image optimization, being able to categorize each post along with additional tags is great for site evaluation. Quickly and easily digestible information is key – for search engines as well as readers too.

Header Options

In addition to categories and tags, WordPress also offers several heading and subheading options for all of your pages. Not only are headings great for visually breaking up content and calling out important information, but the formatting also makes it easier for web crawlers to evaluate your site.

Pretty Permalinks

Permalinks are the URLs for pages and posts on your site. WordPress provides an easy way to customize these so they are readable. This allows for keywords to be added to your links and can also improve your click-through rate.

Paginate

When it comes to comments, too many can also be an issue – even the legitimate ones. The reason is that they can cause pages to load slowly. Pagination allows the blog creator to divide comments on other pages so that they load more quickly.

Plugin Options

We really love a good plugin! WordPress offers a plethora of these bite-sized bits of code. This includes great SEO options for blog posts like Yoast and SmartCrawl. These plugins allow the user to add additional information like metadata to posts, as well as evaluating posts for better SEO.

“No Follow” Link Option

Links are great for SEO, but search engines will pass a small bit of your site’s authority to the other website when you link to an external website. You can opt-out of having a search engine follow the link when setting it up.

Thinking It Might Be Time to Switch Platforms?

Or not even sure where to start? Hammersmith Support has you covered! We’re here to answer your questions about your business website and talk through any challenges and possible solutions too. Schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation, and let’s talk through your questions.

You likely already know that a Hammersmith Support maintenance package is important for keeping your business website secure, loading quickly, up to date, and backed up too. But did you know that each of our two maintenance packages – Essentials or Premium – also includes content updates? We’re excited to tell you more about what you can do with the 2-4 hours of content updates each month to improve your site.

Hammersmith Support maintenance packages include:

  • Site backups and live staging copy maintained
  • Security scans and malware prevention
  • Site optimization
  • Full site test each month
  • Submission to Google Search Console
  • Premium hosting on a WP Engine dedicated server (premium package)
  • 2-4 hours of content updates each month

Now that you know all the awesomeness that is packed into our maintenance packages, here are some exciting things that the 2-4 hours of content updates can be used for:

Add a Lead Magnet

Build your email list by adding either a free download with email sign up, or creating a simple email pop up to capture more prospective information.

Update Images

Add or change out images on your site as well as update alt text on all images to organically boost SEO.

Content Updates

Stale content is bad for SEO and will affect how your site stacks up to Google Ranking Factors. Use the content time to update your About Us page and or refine product or service information. Add a blog page and finally kick off that business blog to keep your site content fresh.

Add Plugins

Add and utilize plugins – these bites of software provide custom functionality for your site without manually adjusting the site’s code. There are many versions – some of the most popular are SEO improvement, form builders, custom fields, and added security too.

Add Social Follow Buttons

Add or update your social media buttons, or add a feed to your page so that posts from Instagram or Twitter will populate on your website automatically when they are posted to your account.

Industry Specific Updates

Every business is different and has different needs. Content hours can be used to add or improve features specific to your business. For example, real estate agents can add an IDX feed so that current listings automatically populate on the website.

Does This Sound Like Something Your Site Needs?

Hammersmith Support is here to help! Click over to our Calendly page to set up a complimentary 30-minute meeting and let’s talk about your business website needs.

We know that we’ve told our readers a hundred times that website maintenance is important to your website. But really, it’s not that important. As long as your site is up and running, it’s fine! Really. Here are a few reasons why website maintenance just isn’t that important.

Security

If your website doesn’t take credit card information, it doesn’t need any security! Customer information like names, address, and email address wouldn’t be a big risk if they were to be stolen. And who would hack your site anyway?

Speed

Website maintenance can’t make your site run any faster. So it hardly seems worth the time to update your site regularly. Plus, at some point, you can just run a gigantic update all at once and it will get everything up to speed.

Content

If your services and products don’t change, why change anything on your website? Having a maintenance package that offers you 2 – 4 hours of content updates a month is hardly worth it.

.

.

.

APRIL FOOLS!!😂😂😂

You know us better than that! We would never tell you that website maintenance isn’t important because it really is vital to having your site run safely and smoothly. So, let’s try this again:

Security

Even if your site doesn’t have eCommerce, having a security certificate is vital to your site running safely. Not only is it good business for your customers who can trust that their information is safe with you, but Google Ranking Factors will also rank your site higher because it’s safe for visitors.

Speed

Websites that are not up to date often run slowly. Your site is working much longer to keep up with outdated infrastructure and will take longer to load. Most users won’t stick around for a site to load if it takes longer than 3 seconds, so ensuring that your site loads quickly is imperative. In addition, waiting too long to run an update can cause your site to crash. Consistent maintenance prevents that extra-large update and the risk of it overloading.

Content

Not only is updating website content regularly great for customers, it also improves your SEO. Web crawlers love analyzing new content, and customers enjoy the value of long-form content like blogs, which educate them about your company and products too.

Let Hammersmith Support Help

Our monthly maintenance packages come in two forms to fit your needs. Visit our Calendly page to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and we can talk through your site needs and how we can help.

It’s almost Arizona Gives Day! April 6th kicks off 24 hours of online giving to benefit local non-profits, brought you by Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits and Arizona Grantmakers Forum. AZ Gives.org brings local non-profits and their missions to one online location, making it easy for donors to find and connect with a non-profit that fits their passion. Since its inception in 2013, Arizona Gives Day has raised over $23 million dollars for local non-profits!

Arizona Gives Day is just 24 hours…is your website ready to handle a large influx of traffic? Here are a few things you can do to get ready to make sure every dollar makes it to your bottom line.

Check Your Security

When you type in your URL, does it begin with “https“? If not, your site is not secure. Update your SSL certificate to ensure that:

  • Your site is safe for visitors’ information
  • Visitors can actually make it to your site. Several search engines will block unsecured sites from being viewed
  • Your SEO is the best that it can be! Google Ranking Factors depend heavily on security

Update

Be sure that your site is completely updated. Look for platform as well as plugin updates – all of which are visible from your WordPress dashboard. Even a small, out-of-date section can cause headaches.

Check Hosting

Contact your hosting service to confirm that your site is able to take on a high amount of traffic. The average website takes 3 seconds to load and more than half of visitors will leave if it takes longer. Be sure that your hosting can handle increased traffic and still load quickly.

View on Mobile

Because more than half of internet users view sites on a mobile device, it’s essential that your site loads quickly, completely, and is easy to navigate from a mobile device. Check that all of the menus and contact forms are visible and easy to use and that your images are optimized for mobile.

Test

Check your contact forms to be sure that they are working. It’s as simple as going to your site and filling out the form to make sure that form notifications are getting to your inbox.

Hammersmith Support Can Help

It’s not too late! If you need help with your site, we can help. Visit our Calendly link to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and we can talk through your concerns.

Are You a Member of an Approved 501c3 Organization?

Hammersmith Support is currently accepting applications for our newest pro bono client!

Who Is Eligible?

While we always work to support our local businesses, this project is aimed at those doing the most for our community – nonprofit organizations. Any charitable organization that is an approved 501c3 and has an existing WordPress website is eligible! We know so many organizations have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, and we want to help you.

How to Apply

We’re excited to learn more about your organization! Click here to complete an application. We will be accepting applications through Sunday, March 28th. We will meet with finalists and select our new client the week of March 29th.

Last year Hammersmith Support launched our first ever giveaway, 3 months of maintenance for one lucky winner. And that winner was Erica Scott of Civilian Connections! Civilian Connections is a human resources company that works to connect businesses looking to hire with veteran talent.

Did you know that our maintenance packages include not only updates and lead testing, but also either 2 or 4 hours of content updates depending on the service package? After working with Civilian Connections to understand the what sorts of improvements they were looking for, we were able to put those content hours to good use by making additional changes to their site.

Updates + Security

In talking with the team at Civilian Connections, we were able to understand the issues they were having with their site. Our own evaluation showed some additional updates that needed to be made as well as upgrading the security of the site. This included platform as well as plugin updates. Each of the changes was not only important for the functionality of the site but also for usability and SEO.

Content

One of the things that Civilian Connections wanted to update was the overall site content. We were able to rework the home page content and design to make the company’s mission clearer to readers. While the messaging remained consistent and on-brand, we were able to make the wording and layout clearer and more concise to effectively convey that message. We also updated the social media buttons on each page, placing them prominently.

Upgrades

In addition to giving the overall site a good once-over, Hammersmith Support also advised adding some much-needed integrations. We tied Civilian Connections’ email sign-up to their Mailchimp account. So now when someone signs up with email, the email address is automatically loaded into their contacts, making email marketing that much easier. In addition, we added Google Analytics tracking to the site, which enables lead attribution and helps them decide where their marketing dollars will be used most effectively.

Before and After

Check out the site before and after! With some simple image changes (and all with full optimization!) as well as content clarifications, the site now functions better and is visually pleasing.

Civilian Connections website before

And after!

See it for yourself! Click on over Civilian Connections.

Hammersmith Support Can Help You Too!

Does reading this make you think that your site could use this kind of TLC too? Click over to our Calendly page to schedule your free 30-minute consultation and let’s talk.

And stay tuned! We are excited to make an announcement next week about our Giving Back program!

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.