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 meta data 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! Which 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.

We are so thrilled that our owner and founder, Heather Locke, was selected as one of the panelists for The W Source Scottsdale / Arcadia Chapter discussion, “Marketing Your Business in 2020”!

The event boasted seven members of The W Source, all involved in various aspects of marketing. W Source member Debbie Pontikas moderated the discussion and led the audience down a marketing highway, covering all the cogs of the marketing machine. Each panelist gave her opinion, along with practical examples, about why her branch was a vital part of a business’ strategy. Each panelist gave great advice and all answered audience questions – it was a wonderful collaboration and networking opportunity for all those in attendance!

The esteemed panel was comprised of:

Kelly BohmDriven Relationships – Client & Lead Engagement

Jean Laninga – Photography/Social Media Branding

Heather Locke – Hammersmith Support – Website Development

Robyn Moore – Mack Media Relations – PR

Katrina Oko-Odoi, PhD – ContentWorm – Content Writing

Ashley RichardsE Squared Marketing – Digital Marketing

Emily Soccorsy – Root + River – Brand Strategy

In case you missed it, here are few key take aways from the morning:

  • The old days of beating potential customers over the head with advertising are over! Create your brand that is rooted in your core beliefs as business and market those beliefs instead.
  • Branding photography is much more than just head shots. Getting shots of varying angles, environments, and connections each show a different side of your brand. Also, knowing what you are going to do with the images plays a huge roll in what kind of pictures to capture.
  • The number one thing you can do to boost your search engine optimization is to have a blog. Consistent, fresh, and relevant content gives web crawlers new information to evaluate as well as free content for your clients and potential clients to digest.
  • When it comes to your website, ensuring that your site is secure, mobile optimized, and accessible are keys for success.
  • Tapping into your existing database in search of new leads is an obvious yet wildly overlooked marketing tactic. Using a database to analyze your past customers as well as contacts can generate new business.
  • Text campaigns have a 99% open rate. While that may not be a relevant tactic for your business or marketing, it’s still a staggering enough statistic for anyone to appreciate!

Want to know more about The W Source and their upcoming events? Click over to their site for more information.

Two years ago California passed the “California Consumer Privacy Act” that went into effect on January 1st, 2020. The act is designed to enhance privacy rights of consumers by allowing them to know if and how their private information is collected and how it will be used. In addition, websites must now give customers the chance to opt out of having information collected. Do you know if your website will be affected and how to comply? We’ve got the breakdown for you:

What Is the CCPA?

The California Consumer Privacy Act is designed to let consumers know what information is collected about them when they visit a site – and what the company collecting will do with the information. This includes if the data is used for marketing purposes or if it’s being sold to other companies. If so, the buying company must be disclosed. Consumers are given options to:

A. Opt out of their information being collected

B. Access the information that is collected

C. Request that any information collected be deleted by the company

Lastly, consumers who enact any of the above are not to be discriminated against by the site for which they have opted out of data collection.

How Does It Work?

Websites must provide a process to obtain parental consent for minors under 13 years old who are visiting sites, as well as consent for minors between 13 and 16 years old. There must also be detailed methods for submitting requests for data, which needs to include, at minimum, a telephone number. The home page must include a link where consumers can opt out of the sale of information. All of the above must be detailed in the privacy policies on the website.

Who Has to Comply?

Here’s the good news, not all businesses have to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act. Any business that does business in California AND satisfies at least one of the following must comply:

  1. Gross annual revenue in excess of $25 million
  2. Possesses personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices
  3. Earns more than half of the annual revenue from selling consumer information

Need more information? Click over to the California Consumer Privacy Act website for more information.

We’ve preached in a number of posts about the need to keep website content fresh. It’s important from an end user perspective to provide quality and value. And fresh content is also important from an SEO standpoint – keeping it fresh allows search engines to re-evaluate and re-rank your site more often. Blogs, both written and video, are usually touted as the most common ways to improve SEO, but there are some alternative ways as well. Here are 3 lesser-known ways to keep website content fresh:

Images

Adding new and relevant images to your site is great not only for your site visitors, but for web crawlers as well. This includes memes, gifs, videos – anything that is related to your business or industry in any multimedia form. Display your social media on your site through a widget or plugin. The big message is to make sure your images are optimized using good “behind-the-scenes” information, including alt text, title, and descriptions. Be sure to have smart and usable captions under images as well. Not only do new images make end users happy, but web crawlers have recent information to analyze and rank.

Testimonials

We often think of testimonials are being important for our marketing to potential customers. And that is true, but adding new and or updated testimonials to your website is – say it with us – fresh content! If you’re utilizing a third party review site like Yelp or Google Reviews, consider putting some of the reviews on your website as well. If you aren’t using a third party, reach out to your business partners / customers and ask for reviews. Ask questions like, “What do you enjoy most about doing business with our company? How has our product worked for you?”. The more personal the relationship with the people you’re contacting, the more in depth the questions can be. For a blanket email to customers, keep it high level. Be sure to ask permission to post responses – and link to their business or website. This is important for validating the testimonials with customers as well as good SEO!

Revive an Older Post

OK, we know we said these would be alternative ideas to blogging, but this one is a little outside the box. If you’re stumped for new material or in a time crunch, opt to update an older blog and then re-post. Do not simply cut and paste into a new post. Instead, create a new introduction that talks about why you are choosing to re-post the information. Also be sure to update any information that may now be out of date.

The beauty of a great CDN is that you never see it, hear it, or worry about it. But what exactly is it? CDN stands for content delivery network. It’s a group of servers geographically distributed and linked together via the Internet. The servers’ purpose is to improve content delivery performance by using a server closest to the the end user. In short, a CDN helps your website load more quickly, which may keep visitors around longer.

For example, say your site is hosted in Arizona. A user in the UK visits your site and now the full site must load all the way from Arizona, which could take several seconds. But when using a CDN, the end user loads your site from a proxy server closer to them, allowing the full site to load faster.

Why Is That Important?

Fast loading time for your website is crucial because, well, people are impatient. If your site takes too long to load, there’s a good chance that visitors will bounce rather than stick around to see what finally appears on their screen. This is especially important for businesses that use a lot of graphics, videos, or software downloads that can slow down load times. Not to mention that site speed became part of Google Ranking Factors in 2010. Good speed = good SEO.

CDN’s also reduce bandwidth costs, increase content availability and improve redundancy. They provide security for your site through authentication, encryption and data integrity. In particular, they protect against attacks that attempt to overwhelm the network, in addition to those that aim to steal information.

Where Do You Get a CDN?

Many companies offer a CDN service à la carte, but many will bundle a CDN with everything else you need to run your website. Hammersmith Support exclusively works with WP Engine, as it provides not only a fast CDN but also reliable hosting. While you can host a website without a CDN, you cannot have a CDN without a host. The combination of the two creates an efficient hosting environment for even the busiest website.

Want to read more about website hosting? Click on over to the Hammersmith Support blog “Website Hosting 101.”

At Hammersmith Support, we work with many different client needs when it comes to their websites. Some need a refresh of their current site, some need a full rebuild. We also do ground up builds for clients who don’t currently have a website. Each type of client and their needs are unique and making the right recommendation for what exactly a client’s website needs is crucial. So how do you know what your site needs?

What is a Website Refresh?

A website refresh is similar to refreshing a home; it’s mostly cosmetic. In your home you might paint the walls, buy a new rug, bring in new furniture. Refreshing your site is similar in that colors, layout, content, and logos are reworked to create an updated look. Refreshing a site is perfect for businesses that are rebranding and/or updating product offerings – or just need a fresh look for their site. The new look alerts visitors that something has changed with the company and will get attention.

Who Qualifies for a Site Rebuild?

Companies that have an established website that has outdated infrastructure and/or can no longer support the business’ demands would qualify for a full site rebuild. This may include some refreshing visually, but typically will keep the same color scheme and logos to stay on brand. The majority of changes are behind the scenes, updating the site framework to support new business channels such as e-commerce, site security, speed and optimization capabilities.

How Do You Know Which You Need?

Take a look at your business goals and what is limiting those goals when it comes to your website. Are you ready to start selling your products online? Do you need to be able to retain visitor contact information and aren’t able to do so on your current site? Is your site speed fast enough? Does your site look outdated but serve your business well? Knowing the answers to these questions can help point you in which direction to go. And Hammesmith Support is always here to help you work through the best options for you and your business.

How familiar are you with your website’s security? If you’re like the majority of website owners, you may not know much about your site security at all, which means there’s room for improvement! Here we’ll tell you exactly what website security is, why it’s important for all websites, and how Hammersmith Support can help.

What is Website Security?

Does your URL have an “s” in the “https” portion? If so, your website does have a layer of security attached to the data transferred between the web browser and web server. HTTP stands for “hyper text transfer protocol” and it is the most common way to transfer information. The “s” added to the end of HTTP is the security layer and stands for “secure socket layer.” An SSL comes with a certificate to prove that the site is transferring information securely. Most web browsers will check for the SSL automatically and will alert you if it’s not present on the site you’re visiting. Some may show the URL as green or with an open or closed lock to alert you to the security level of the website.

Why Is Site Security Important?

It’s obvious why a website that sells goods and or takes personal information would want to have a secure site. Keeping a customer’s information safe from hackers is a given. But what about a site that only collects emails? Or doesn’t collect any information? Why would those sites need security?

The answer is that even sites that don’t collect personal information, or any information at all, are still vulnerable to hackers and/or malware. Hackers can steal email addresses and at the very least, cause a headache for your clients. But malware could take your site down completely by corrupting the pages – costing you time and money to repair and replace.

Further, Google ranks sites with security higher than those that leave their users at potential risk. So having that all-important “s” in your URL, will only add to your SEO.

How Hammersmith Support Can Help

One of the things we love most about our services at Hammersmith Support is that we keep your website running smoothly while you do what you do best: run your business. Our Website Maintenance service packages include not only ensuring that your site has an SSL certificate but also scanning the site monthly to look for any security vulnerabilities. In addition, we keep full backups of your website so that if the worst should happen, your site is back up and running securely as quickly as possible.

This Hammersmith Support client highlight is a little different from some of the clients we have featured. The Harris Law Trust was a new site build for an all-female law firm in South Dakota. This combination made for a unique and interesting project where Hammersmith Support and Blush Cactus collaborated to create a website that was not only informative but also truly reflected the personality of the firm.

About Harris Law Trust

Harris Law Trust specializes in estate planning, business succession plans, family law, and elder law in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The firm is comprised of women; from the attorneys to the paralegals to operations. This local firm provides an important service for many family-run businesses and farms in South Dakota by creating a succession plan that focuses on all aspects of the business, including the tax implications. In addition, the Harris Law Trust supports families going through divorce, adoption, custody agreements and guardianships – each area being both legally and emotionally complex.

The Process

Creating a website for a law firm is no small task. A website like this requires a lot of very detailed information  – in addition to great marketing. And both aspects need to speak to the personality of the business. We were able to accomplish this with a color pallet that was feminine, strong and assertive. We also utilized a great deal of photography, highlighting not only the attorneys, but the staff as well. This comprehensive look at the practice areas, attorneys, and office gives potential clients the full view of who they are hiring when they come to Harris Law Trust.

Site Maintenance

The Harris Law Trust is a current Hammersmith Support client. We provide security scans and malware prevention, site back ups and live staging, content updates and more. Each step ensures that clients can find the Harris Law Trust site easily, navigate it simply, and provide any contact information safely.

The Harris Law Trust

Get in touch or click on over to see our work:

www.harrislawtrust.com

As the Hammersmith team has created new and exciting websites for our clients, we began to see the growing need for those websites to be maintained and supported. Our clients were thrilled with the site build results, but didn’t have the time or the know how to keep their sites in tip-top shape on their own. And so Hammersmith Support was born to fill a new need for our clients.

What Is Website Maintenance / Support?

Have you ever researched when exactly the internet was started? It’s a mess of answers, depending on what one would consider the actual “internet” (the conception v modern day usage). Some date it back to 1983, some 1990 when it was more widely used. Either way, that is a substantial amount of time. And think of how far the internet has come; from dial up to now being able to DIY your own websites, to social media… the list goes on and on.

Given that timeline, it’s interesting that website support and maintenance is still in a toddler stage of growth. For all the material available on the internet, it’s amazing that many consumers are just now looking to other companies to maintain and support their websites. Many companies have overlooked security updates and patches, ignored malware attempts to corrupt data, and leave site content stale and not updated – all important aspects of website maintenance.

Why Is Maintenance Important?

As the internet continues to evolve, so do the hazards for users. Security breaches and malware being two of the most urgent risks. Each of these can bring down your site, or worse, can steal data and or identifiable information about your customers. This is an increasingly high risk for sites using ecommerce. Even sites that only generate leads are at risk of customer contact information being stolen. The risk of malware corrupting your site and taking it offline is a huge risk, especially those businesses dependent on their site for sales.

On the less scary side, website maintenance and support is crucial for businesses that can’t or don’t want to do the work themselves. Imagine needing to update your product information, pricing, run an update – all while handling the other time sensitive issues of your business. It’s hard to prioritize when everything feels like a top priority.

How Hammersmith Support Solves this Issue

Our goal at Hammersmith Support is to provide comprehensive service through preventative maintenance and client driven content updates. Our preventative maintenance includes site security updates, site backups, optimization and premium site hosting.

This two prong approach ensures that your website not only run efficiently and safely, it’s also up to date with your content changes – a winning combination. Click here to see the Hammersmith Support service packages.