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.

For web designers, the word schema makes sense. But for the rest of the world, schema may be a mystery. So first, let’s define some terms; according to Search Engine Journal, in terms of search marketing, schema is code markup that you add to your site’s pages to help search engines create more detailed descriptions of your content or data. Put more simply, it’s language that search engines understand. And if your site is easier for a search engine to read and understand, it will be able to better index your site.

So! Now that we understand schema, let’s dig in to local schema and why it’s helpful for your business.

What Is Local Schema?

Local schema is schema code that is specific to your local business. It codes things such as the hours your business is open, currency accepted, department information and so on. When potential customers come to your website, they see the standard information. But with local schema, a search engine will see not only that information but the background code as well. The easier the code is to read, the higher ranking a search engine can give your site.

Why Is Local Schema Helpful?

Just like any form of SEO, making your site easier for search engines to understand, index, and return results to a searcher is paramount. We have blogged quite a bit about organic ways to boost your SEO. Being able to add coded information to boost your SEO is just another tool to improve your site’s Google ranking.

In addition, improving the indexing of your site by search engines can improve the click rate to your website. And local schema, just like other types of organic SEO, is free. Unlike paid advertising, your website will be indexed faster and more easily, resulting in a higher search ranking.

Where to Go for Resources

While schema is purely code, there are several websites that can help you generate the correct local schema. Moreover, you can find helpful resources for testing your code:

Generate schema: https://technicalseo.com/tools/schema-markup-generator/

Test your results: https://search.google.com/test/rich-results

We Can Help

While Hammersmith Support is great at building websites, we’re also amazing at maintaining them! Contact us to talk through how we can help you and your site, including adding local schema to help clients find your business.

When consumers are looking for a product or service, they will likely have a variety of businesses to choose from. Large companies, small ones, and some middle-sized as well. According to a recent survey, when it comes to choosing who they are going to buy from, 91% of respondents indicated that they prefer small businesses when convenient, while 74% actively search for opportunities to support small and medium businesses even when it is not convenient. Why is that? Many like to support smaller businesses, hoping that it will also support their community. But there are some other distinct advantages that small businesses have over larger ones:

Quick Reflexes

When there are fewer people in a business to train, consult with, etc., companies are able to move faster. The COVID-19 pandemic is the ultimate example. Larger companies were still scratching their heads as to how they should work to accommodate their customers. Where small businesses, like many restaurants, were able to quickly adjust to take-out only options. They streamlined menus, utilized social media to send out details, hung banners announcing safe pick-up, and maneuvered their teams to safely make food and deliver it to customers.

Flexibility

When there’s no chain of command that needs to be involved with changes, actually making those changes for clients becomes so much faster and easier. A lack of hierarchy means that the person you’re talking to likely has the authority to make a decision, and can make it quickly. If a client needs a different service model, there’s no “checking with the manager.” Instead, the change can be made quickly and easily to accommodate the client’s needs.

Connections

Is there anything as frustrating as calling a company, knowing who you need to talk to, only to get placed on hold or sent straight to voicemail? Of course everyone can’t be available every moment of the day, but there is certainly something to be said for having a direct connection to the company you do business with. Knowing that your phone call or your email will be answered and by whom makes a big difference to customers.

In addition, having a consistent relationship with clients means that you’re likely to have a slightly more personal interaction. When a business knows their customer’s children’s names, their spouse, or important events happening in their lives, their customers feel appreciated and comfortable – two aspects of a business transaction that can only be done with genuine customer service.

Innovation

So often in a small business, the owner wasn’t trained to be in their position; they created that position, that business. This level of innovation is so appealing to customers because they know that when they have a problem, this company is going to know how to help them solve the issue.

We’re Small, Too

We know so much of this to be true because we’re a small business, too. We certainly enjoy working with our large-scale company clients, but our small business clients and our nonprofit clients are extra special to us.

Thinking about making some changes to your website? Or do you need some advice about where to start, or what changes you should consider for your website? Need a little help keeping up with your website information? We’re here to help – reach out and let us know what we can do for you and your business.

In 2020, Hammersmith Support will be working to get all of our maintenance clients accessibility certified using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines standards. Why is it so important for your website to be accessible to everyone? The main reasons are because it’s good practice and makes good business sense. Ensuring your site is always up, running, and ready for any potential client is a must! There are several other reasons (and one perk!) for having your website accessibility certified. Read on to find out more.

Good Business Practice

Differently-abled people account for nearly 15% of all those using the Internet. So if you had 1,000 visitors to your website, 150 of those would be differently-abled individuals. Accommodating those with a disability isn’t complicated and is the right thing to do. Ensuring that your text is able to be converted to a larger or audible version, having images with accurate alt text, and enabling your site to be navigated using the Tab key are all things that can make your site easy for anyone to use.

Diminish the Risk of Discrimination

There is a growing number of disability discrimination lawsuits being filed against even small businesses. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with disabilities and has created many of the standards with which companies are required to comply. If a company ignores those standards and or refuses to comply, it can spell big legal trouble. Read about some of the recent website accessibility lawsuits here.

Boost Your SEO

Many of the functions that are required for a website to be accessibility certified actually double as a good SEO booster. Background information on images like alt text, captions and title are all beneficial for a visually impaired individual, but it’s also great information for web crawlers to use in evaluating and ranking your site.

Is Your Site Accessibility Certified Yet?

Are you ready to get your website accessibility certified? Click here to contact us about our monthly maintenance packages that include accessibility certification.

Good design drives business. In a world of cookie cutter, DIY websites, it can be easy to overlook the importance of a well-designed website. If you don’t sell your products online, why do you need a great website? Actually, there are a few reasons why good web design matters.

First, let’s define what “good web design” means. A well-built site is one that is:

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Functions well and is easy to navigate
  • Provides useful content, including services and contact information

Now, on to why these aspects of web design really matter.

Validity

Have you ever searched for a business online and come up empty handed? Did you continue to try to find that business, or move on to another? Chances are, you moved on. And it could be because without a website, your business doesn’t seem legitimate. A well-built, informative, and responsive website shows your customers that your business not only exists, but that it takes their customers’ convenience seriously and therefore has a very easy-to-find website.

SEO

One study found that 87% of consumers searched for a business using a search engine, which means if your site’s SEO isn’t maximized, you could be missing out on potential customers. Good web design is a major factor in Google Ranking and hits on several areas including responsiveness, quality, security and more. Having a well-built site not only makes it easier for potential customers to navigate your site, it makes it easier for them to find you in the first place.

First Impression

You know the old saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” The same can be said for your website. How your website looks and functions says a lot about your company. If you’re willing to put time and effort into creating an easy way for potential customers to interact with your business, then you’re probably willing to do the same for them with your services. Shoddy websites can give the appearance that your business is cheap, antiquated, and/or disorganized.

Mobile

With nearly half of the world’s 3.9 billion internet users doing so from their mobile devices, not having your website mobile optimized is a problem. Having a well-designed site will usually start with a “mobile first” format. This will ensure that potential customers will be able to find you and your site, no matter where they are searching from.

Hammersmith Support Can Help

Feeling like it might be time for an upgrade to your website? Wondering if you need a complete rebuild? Maybe just need a little help to get your site running better? We’re happy to answer your questions! Contact us and ask away.

For so many businesses, it may be a slow or very slow time. But slow time doesn’t have to be wasted time. Utilizing newly open hours of your day by doing some work on your business website will ensure that it is in tip-top shape as things begin to rebound. Hammersmith Support has brought you many blog posts over the last year and we’ve gathered several that have great information about why and also how to get your website updated.

Enroll in Google Search Console and Google Analytics

Are you using either of these FREE tools from Google yet? If not, now is the perfect time to get rolling. Google Search Console will help you pinpoint any issues on your site and keep you updated should something go down. Google Analytics is great way to see where traffic to your site is coming from and more.

Look at SEO

If you’ve been neglecting your site’s search engine optimization, we’ve got a few ideas about how to fix that. First, read about what SEO is. Next, check out these organic (read: free) ways to boost your SEO.

Start Your Business Blog

You really do need that business blog! Not only is this a great way to reach out to customers and potential customers, blogs also feed your micro content (i.e. social media) and boost your SEO. Learn how to get started here.

Freshen Up Your Site

A stale site is not only bad for SEO, but it’s bad from a customer perspective too. If a potential client sees that your site never gets touched, it can be a huge red flag. There are some easy ways to update your site with new images, refreshed image information, a blog, new reviews from clients, updates to your “about” page, etc.

Get Some Support

Are there areas of your site that need a professional touch? Or is your site in need of a full overhaul or rebuild? Drop us a note, let us know what you’re thinking about and we’ll help make it a reality.

We’re here to help. Click here to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

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. 

Blogs have one of the highest ROI’s when it comes to your business. Why is that? There are several reasons, all of which we’ll detail below…but if you need to be convinced to keep reading, consider this; on average, companies with blogs produce 67% more leads a month than those that don’t. Read on to find out more.

Blogs = Links

Blogging gives an opportunity to post both internal links to other parts of your website, along with links to outside sites. This is important for a few reasons. First, internal linking gets visitors to stay on your site longer to explore as well as introduce more information to them. External links provide validity to your posts and most importantly, both types of links boost SEO. Google Ranking factors evaluate and reward posts with credible and accurate links.

The other side of linking is that every blog posted is a link. That link is shared on all social media platforms, LinkedIn, etc. If you post once a week for a year, that’s 52 links to your site floating around waiting to be discovered!

Blogs Boost SEO

Speaking of Google Rankings, blogs help to fill a few of the factors that Google evaluates. Google takes the freshness of websites content so seriously that the date of the last major content update appears in the search results. Note the word major! That’s another Ranking factor; magnitude. The amount changed for the content makes a big difference too.

Customer Value

Setting aside all the technical reasons why blogging is a good thing for your site, blogs are a big win with current and potential customers. Why? Because providing free information for them is a value add for your business / product. In a world where everything comes with a price, having free content for visitors to learn about your company, product, industry or even just gives tips and tricks for every day life is a win. It builds not only value, but trust with your visitors.

Feed Social Media

If the concept of keeping up with your social media content, blog content, website updates, etc is overwhelming, think of it this way; you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your content. We talked about micro verses macro content and how each concept can feed the other. Think about using your social media posts to create one large, detailed post. Or start with your large, detailed blog post and break it down into smaller bites for your social media. The two areas do not have to be independent thoughts. In fact, having your social media topics and your blog topics all tie together makes your message more memorable because it’s exposed in more than once place. It’s repeating, without beating your visitors over the head.

At Hammersmith Support, we offer a wide range of website-focused services. We love when we get to build a brand for a client – from logo, to website, to site maintenance. We take great pride in creating a finished product that perfectly represents who our clients are to prospective and current clients alike.

This project spotlight focuses on Sandbox Development. As with any client, conveying information through their website is vital, but how that information is displayed and presented is the secret sauce. Here are the aspects we worked on for their site, along with the how and why of the final result.

Branding

Our goal was to create a logo for Sandbox Development that lends itself to their industry, but not in a traditional way. For this, we stayed away from colors of dirt so not to be cliché. Instead, we used warm tones that are reminiscent of the southwest (where Sandbox is headquartered) yet are still in earthy tones. We landed on orange-red, reds, and grays.

In addition, because the company name is playful, we wanted the overall sound of the brand to be friendly and approachable yet still convey professionalism and trustworthiness. We opted for more bullet points for details with comprehensive, yet easy-to-read descriptions.

Site Logistics

We are always working to create responsive websites that are accessible as well. That said, we made sure to create a logo that took all of these facets into account, especially considering Sandbox Development’s long name. We worked to create a more compact square logo that would display well when viewed on any device.

In keeping with our “friendly yet trustworthy” brand, we opted to keep the content short, sweet, and to the point. While there are a lot of details, they are presented in a way that is easy to read and understand.

Added Details

As with a lot of our clients, we can create a beautiful website full of functionality, but if the site lacks images or the images are poor quality, then the rest of the site will be overlooked. We worked with Flying Robot photography to get drone images of Sandbox Development’s projects. Flying Robot was able to provide us with images that are uniform in scale and perspective – not to mention super cool! This is so important as the consistency of the images on the site speaks volumes about the overall look and feel of the site.

Are you ready to get your website out of your head and onto the Internet? Or do you have a site that is need of a little TLC? Drop us a note and let’s get started.

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.