Sharing Some TLC

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Backlinks: How to see who is linking to your website

… and why you should care A very important factor in improving a website’s rank in search engines is backlinks. The more quality websites that link to your website, the better your chances of ranking higher in Google searches. Checking Links To Your Website There are many free tools that provide backlink information about any website. Ahrefs checker and Moz’s backlink checker called Link Explorer are free tools with limited functionality, with more available for their paid subscribers. We use a paid tool called Linkminer by Mangools. We also use SEMRush which provides a backlink analysis, as well as an audit to identify any “toxic” links that may be harmful to SEO. A bad or a ‘toxic’ backlink is a link that either comes from a suspicious website, or has been acquired illicitly (meaning it is spammy in nature). Getting rid of toxic backlinks is not easy. SEM Rush describes their recommended process for eliminating toxic links here. A review or audit of backlinks to your website will include a few important metrics in addition to the number of links. [Not sure of the order of the metrics we list below. If Alexa Rank is not that important any more,…

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What You Need to Know About Website Redirects

Do you know how to redirect a webpage or what that means? Just as you need to notify the post office to forward your mail when you move to a new address, the same needs to be done when you change your any url/permalink on your website. The url/permalink is the “address” of each page and post on your website. For example, the url of this post is https://designtlc.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-website-redirects/. You can see it in the browser bar at the very top of this page. If you change any url on your website without taking the proper steps, your visitors may receive a 404 Not Found error message. This means the web browser is unable to access the intended destination. Redirection not only provides a positive experience for your visitors but helps preserve all of the efforts you have put into your SEO campaign. Changing URLs without redirects can do serious damage to your SEO. However, with the proper preparation and execution, you can change urls easily and without any negative impact. When do I need to redirect webpages? If you change your site’s main URL If you delete a post or a page for new content If you change the…

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Schedule Your Website Cleanups Like Martha

Martha Stewart, the Queen of Housekeeping has a recommended schedule for house cleaning and maintenance. We often describe a website as being like a house when we talk about the relationship between website files, domains and hosting. In this case, we are going to recommend scheduling website cleanups similar to Martha’s household schedule. Weekly Website Cleaning Sweep Your Site & Optimize Content Your website can accumulate junk and clutter quickly just like your kitchen table. Spam comments and revisions to pages and posts can slow down your website. If you don’t check your website often, consider hiring someone to clear away the clutter and optimize your website database. Think of it as having someone cut your grass or clean your house on every week or two. Deodorize: Check & Respond to Online Reviews Online reviews can help or hurt your business and your SEO (read more about this here). It is very important to check Google My Business, Yelp, and other sources of online reviews (Trip Advisor, Open Table, and other business-category aggregate websites). If you receive a lot of reviews, you should even check daily to reply to reviews in a timely manner. Monthly Website White Glove Test While…

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How Can You Optimize Your Content for Voice Search?

With voice search quickly becoming a part of everyday life, it is increasingly important to optimize your website to meet its unique demands. Many statistics showcase the “voice search revolution.” Some studies estimate that by 2020, 50% of searches will be performed by voice and 30% won’t even use a screen. Currently 1 in 6 Americans own a voice-activated smart device in their homes, and 25% of 16 – 24 years olds are using voice search on mobile. This ever-growing market deserves optimization attention today. Here are some guidelines to get started with: Consider Your User’s Intent Search intent is a reflection of the action a user is planning on taking after they make a search. This can be commercial intent (do / buy), information intent (know), or navigational intent (go), or a combination. It is most-often something they want the answer to quickly and without having to work too hard. Google has learned to recognize search intent, providing higher rankings for those who most effectively fulfill the user’s queries. Know the search intent of your users and provide the direction for them to get to what they need simply and easily. Answer Their Questions Most voice searchers ask questions…

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Counting Visits To Your Website

If you have a website, you may wonder how to count visits on your website to learn how many people are visiting your site. There are a few reasons why you would want to know this, and a couple of ways to learn about your website traffic. Why Check Your Website Traffic Stats? Curiosity Even if you are not actively marketing your website, you might just want to know if people are coming to your website. Perhaps you just launched your website or recently went to a networking event and handed out a bunch of business cards: it would just be interesting to know how many people are coming to your website. Determining Impact of SEO & Marketing If you have started or changed some SEO settings on your website, optimized some content for keywords and phrases, or started some marketing campaigns with social media, email or PPC advertising, it is important to track, measure and analyze your website traffic. This data is critical to making adjustments to these efforts in order to maximize your investment and the success of your campaigns.  Choosing The Right Size Website Hosting Plan  Some website hosting companies structure their plan levels to limit the…

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Make Your WordPress Website Better With Categories & Tags

You’ve researched your keywords and written quality content, but without the right taxonomies, you are missing an important step that could make a big difference in your ability to reach your audience. For WordPress, these default taxonomies are called “categories” and “tags”, and they are vital keys to getting the best results from your work. Categories and tags are used to group similar posts together, helping to direct your audience to the content they are looking for, therefore increasing engagement and leading to improved search rankings. A well organized collection of categories and tags can improve your ability to deliver recommended content and create an overall more positive experience for your readers. Categories vs Tags Categories are designed for broad groupings of your posts, such as general topics or a table of contents. Categories should represent what your blog is all about and help guide readers to the information they’re looking for. They are hierarchical, so you can use sub-categories as well. Tags are for meant for describing the specific details of your post. They can be used to help direct readers to groups of similar content and are not hierarchical. Read more about the differences between categories and tags…

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Responding To Website Hosting Problems

Even the best websites can experience issues, hosting problems and downtime. Software is not perfect, servers can break down, and bad guys can hit your site with malware or other malicious code. We recently shared some tips on fixing website issues here. Issues your website experiences can be the result of hosting problems. There are more hosting companies than we can count, and acquisitions and mergers of WordPress hosting providers has become more common. We’ve seen some of our favorite hosting companies grow too fast, and experienced resulting declines in service and performance. There are “popular” hosting providers who court WordPress agencies and developers at conferences like WordCamps. (We have a lot of T Shirts, socks and other swag from some of our favorites!) We appreciate the investment these companies make in developing relationships with their customers. Dealing with Hosting Problems Many website agencies “resell” hosting, which means they have a large account with a hosting company with a dedicated server, on which they host all of their client websites and charge them monthly or annually for this service, with a premium added on for the management of the server and any issues that arise. At Design TLC, we do…

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Safely Adding a User to a Google My Business Listing

As mentioned in these quick tips for using Google My Business for SEO, having a Google My Business listing is important for your company’s online presence. Having this listing, properly configured, can increase your business’ chances of showing up in a Google search and in the top 3 featured businesses. At some point, you will probably need to add a user to your Google My Business listing. If you are working with an agency or consultant to help with your local search efforts, they will probably request to be added in order to check out the current state of your listing, see if all of the information has been added properly, and come up with recommendations for improvement. The owners of the GMB account can invite additional users to own or manage a listing. This allows users to share management of a listing without having to share personal account information. You can see the different levels of access each role has here: Owners and managers of listings. When an invitation is accepted, the owners of the listing will be notified via email. All users in the account can view the names and email addresses of the owners and managers of the listing.

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Quick & Easy Tips For Using Google My Business and Google Maps for SEO

Google My Business (GMB) and Google Maps are powerful marketing and SEO tools. Having a Google My Business listing increase your chances of showing up in a Google search and in the top 3 featured businesses in a search (called the Google Local 3-pack). It can be confusing and a bit frustrating to set up your Google My Business account. According to a study in 2016, 56% of local businesses had not claimed their Google my business listing. If you’re confused or need help, we tell you how to do it here. Once your listing is set up and configured, however, it is really important to periodically check your GMB listing. Google updates the functionality and opportunities within GMB. Also, the general population submits reviews and can suggest edits to any GMB listing which Google may or may not accept. Unless you check on your listing, it’s easy to miss updates or not catch input from customers, and your business could miss out on some benefits this service offers. Our SEO guru friend Sara Dunn recently alerted us to a couple of GMB tips we are excited to share! Google My Business Map Embed your GMB Map instead of just…

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The Increasing Importance of Quality Website Content

“Content is King” is a phrase coined by Steve Jobs in 1996 in reference to the future of the internet. This idea has been progressively evident as it relates to SEO and a website’s success. The value of website content has evolved even further within the last 5 years. Google’s RankBrain, a machine learning tool has become a vital component of Google’s algorithm. This tool has made creating quality copy and exceptional content increasingly important. “Post-RankBrain, it is believed that the query now goes through an interpretation model that can apply possible factors like the location of the searcher, personalization, and the words of the query to determine the searcher’s true intent. By discerning this true intent, Google can deliver more relevant results.” Moz.com More relevant traffic will come your way the more clear and focused you are, and the better information you provide. Your website will rank higher if your content is relevent to the searcher’s intent. At its core, RankBrain focuses on two key factors when analyzing your website: Dwell Time: How long a Google searcher spends on your page Click-Through Rate: The percentage of people who click on your website in the search results The ultimate goal…

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Make Sure Your School Website Design is Mobile Friendly

Does your school website design make it easy for users to navigate on their smart phone or tablet?In the last decade, the world of website design has changed dramatically, mainly due to increased use of the smartphone. In 2018, 52.2% of all website traffic originated from a smartphone. No longer do designers have a large, horizontally-oriented screen on which to showcase their snazzy ideas. Space on a mobile device (which is small and tall) is at a premium. Users on mobile devices don’t want to navigate through a series of menus. Scrolling is the way to go in the mobile world. So how do you adapt your school website to a mobile-friendly environment? We’ve come up with 10 considerations to help you design or redesign your school website for mobile: Does it pass the Google Mobile Friendly Test? At a minimum, make sure your website passes this test. Make sure your website design is coded for various screen sizes, or “breakpoints.” A breakpoint is the technical term for the settings that tell a browser how to layout a webpage on different screen widths. Websites need a minimum of 3 breakpoints — one for each type of device (mobile, tablet, and desktop). Put…

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The robots.txt file, or what a bot can do on your website

As we mentioned in a previous blog post, each search engine on the web has its own robots, or bots, constantly crawling sites. These bots are not limited to Google and Bing and Yahoo. Any social media application (think Facebook or Pinterest) has its own crawling bots, as do aggregators such as msn or cnn. How do bots find your website? The robots.txt File Bots look for a file called robots.txt. This file allows or limits what content on your site these bots are able to see and index. When a bot comes to your site, the first thing it looks for is robots.txt and follows its instructions. If no robots.txt file exists, or there are no exclusions for that bot, then the bot will crawl all pages of your site. The default is to allow crawling, so if there are no disallows, then the bot will begin. Robots.txt can allow or disallow bots to index certain pages on your site. It also lets you set the parameters for individual bots, called user-agents, and even specify how long a bot should wait between page crawls. Some pages you might want to exclude from an index include test or staging sections…

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I did a website refresh and now I get a 404 error. Help!

As wonderful as the design of your current website is, at some point you will want to do a website refresh. It is a good idea to periodically review your website and update the content and design. The information on your website should be up to date, including test and images. Website design, functionality and technology changes frequently, so it is a good idea to refresh your website every few years. Sometimes you’ll create new pages, or you may discover that the content on three pages can be combined into one. If you combine pages, then you’ll have unused pages. What do you do with them? If you delete them, is that a problem? What if you just change the page name? Crawling Your Website When you first created your website and took it live, Google and the other search engines sent bots to crawl the site and create an index for it. Over time, as you add or change content on pages, the index grows. And like an elephant, this index never forgets. So any page that has ever been on your site (and was not blocked from being crawled – more on that in a future blog post!)…

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What Is a Sitemap and Why Do You Need One?

A site map is the structure or list of pages on a website. Let’s learn more and understand what does a sitemap do? A Site Map Is a Plan A key part of the website strategic planning process is the development of the site map. A site map can simply be a list of pages like this: HOME ABOUT US Our Team History FAQs SERVICES Service 1 Service 2 Service 3 CONTACT You can also visualize it if diagrammed like this: Developing a site map helps ensure the structure of a website is well-planned, which makes the process of designing and  developing the website go more smoothly. A Sitemap Is Important For SEO Once a website is developed and launched, the “Site Map” becomes what is called an XML sitemap. This is Google’s protocol for sitemaps which was created so web developers can publish lists of links from across their sites. All major search engines use the same protocol. A sitemap provides updated page information to these search engines to help your site appear in searches.Sitemaps do not guarantee all links/page on your website will be crawled, and being crawled does not guarantee indexing or search ranking. Google Search Console…

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WordPress Tags are Not The Same As Instagram Hashtags

Do you know the difference between a WordPress tag and hashtags used on social media? Not all tags are the same! Instagram Hashtags At Design TLC, we are fans of Instagram (follow our new-ish Instagram page here). Instagram has become a popular social media tool, and is widely used as a marketing tool. The popularity of Instagram causes confusion about the term “tag.”  Many Instagrammers and marketers add a long list of “tags” or “hashtags” in their posts. Each hashtag is a new, unique feed for your content. Tags became even more powerful when, at the end of 2017, Instagram added the ability to follow specific hashtags. According to a study by Klear, hashtags are the best way for your posts to get noticed on Instagram. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag get 12.6% more engagement than those without. However, more is not better! While it is common to see Instagram posts loaded with tons of hasthags, Klear found that the ideal number of hashtags is 2. WordPress Blog Tags WordPress “tags” are actually completely unrelated to Instagram tags/hashtags. WordPress tags, similar to categories, are there to aid the reader in navigating your site. Think of Categories as your…

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How to Add Someone to Your Google Analytics Account

We help clients review and analyze their website information in Google Analytics. This free service connects your website to a wealth of data that Google collects about your website traffic, including number of visitors, where they come from, what content they use on your site and how long they spend there. You can also learn about audience demographics and set goals to measure conversions on your website. In order to help analyze your information, we need to have access to your Google Analytics account. If you don’t have this set up already, we can set it up for you. If there is already a Google Analytics (GA) account connected to your website, we will need to be given user/admin access to view the information. Following are instructions on how to add someone to your GA account. 1: Open Your Settings in Google Analytics Sign in to your Google Analytics account and choose the site for which you’d like to grant access. 2: Click “Admin” Gear Icon at the bottom left There are 3 levels of access: Account, Property and View. In each of these 3 columns, there is a User Management link. Account: Allow users to add other users, add…

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What is a Website Audit?

We start with a website audit when someone comes to us looking for a new or “refreshed” website. Our website audit is a combination of assessments that help us evaluate a website for performance, user experience, SEO, messaging and design. This process guides the strategic direction and recommendations for improvements. We apply our findings to the website structure once we get started with design and development. The goal is to create an effective website that gets results for your business. Our audit offers a road map for small businesses, independent schools, camps, enrichment programs and nonprofits to improve their website. 3 Key Benefits of Your Design TLC Website Audit Gain an understanding of how your current website scores We will assess your current website, taking into account design, content, functionality, website traffic and search performance using a variety of tools. Your website audit will show you clearly where your website needs improvement. Chances are, you’re probably doing a lot of things well, too. We’ll let you know! We dig into some details and present results in a clear, concise report Let’s face it: Reports can be overwhelming and boring at the same time. Our reports provide clear summaries for a…

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What is Alt Text and Why Should You Use It?

Alt text (alternative text) is the description of an image in words “behind the scenes” in the HTML code of a website. Here is how alt text will appear in HTML as shown in Yoast’s article Image SEO Alt Tag and Title Tag Optimization: In WordPress, you can find the alt text in the image settings as shown below: Also known as an “alt attribute”, “alt description” and (although technically incorrect) “alt tag”, alt text serves multiple important purposes: 1. To explain images that fail to load This can be important both for photos which contribute the site’s message, as well as those which have a particular function on the page such as a button which is used to purchase a product. 2. To describe images for visually impaired readers Alt text improves accessibility for people who can’t see images on web pages, including users who use screen readers or have low-bandwidth connections. 3. To strengthen your SEO Alt text enables the images on your site to rank in image search results. Google will place a relatively high value on alt text especially as it relates to the surrounding text. Now that you know why you should use alt text,…

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How to Fix WordPress Problems

If your website is down or if you are having problems with your WordPress website, what do you do? Most likely, you contact your website developer and tell them you’re having a problem and ask them to troubleshoot and fix the problem. What does your website developer do after you contact them? Website Down Alerts At Design TLC, we usually detect that a website is down before our clients do. Our support plan includes a monitoring system that alerts us if a website is down. (You can use a tool like Uptime Robot to set up your own alerts.) When a website is down, we check out any error messages to determine what the reason could be and take necessary steps to get the website back up. There are several steps to take to identify WordPress problems. If the website is completely down, then we usually contact the website host. Website Up But Has Problems Sometimes a client alerts us that something on their website is not working properly (ie a form is not working, images are missing or they are not receiving notifications from the site). When this happens, we check out the website and see if we can…

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Why We Use Beaver Builder to Create WordPress Websites

We use Beaver Builder to create nice looking, creative and user-friendly websites for clients. In 2015, we kept hearing great things about this front end page builder. At the time, we built child themes using the popular, well-coded Genesis framework. This worked well for us, and we grew accustomed to the widgetized front page and other features that were easy to use once we learned them. Genesis continues to be an excellent WordPress website framework. We were hesitant at first to try Beaver Builder, as it felt a bit like “cheating.” The ability to build web pages without code seemed too easy and we were skeptical that websites built with Beaver Builder would perform as well as our other websites. Fast forward to 2019, and we are now huge fans of Beaver Builder! So much so, that we use it on almost all of the websites we create. And they are better than websites we used to build. It turns out that using a well-made page builder has allowed us to produce more creative designs that are still within a small business budget. These websites perform just as well as our other sites – sometimes they are even faster. And,…

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