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Blog – Austin WordPress Developer

Supporting Austin small businesses during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

By Austin, Mobile Compliance, Responsive WordPress Design, Security, SEO, Texas, Web Design, WordPress

We are here to help support Austin small businesses during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

What are small businesses to do during this unprecedented COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic?

Austin especially has been hit hard already. The SXSW cancellation has had effects that are reverberating through the entire region. Local bands, restaurants and bars whose survival relies on the income generated during the SXSW festival are obvious victims of the current circumstances, but the effects are continuing to ripple far beyond the hospitality and entertainment industry associated with SXSW. Lighting companies, breweries, Porta pottys, event planners, cleaning crews – the list goes on.

For any businesses that rely on foot traffic, face to face contact and word of mouth business, marketing will be challenging even after the social distancing restrictions have been lifted. Everybody will be getting creative in the coming months to help small businesses in Austin to survive, and it will take all of us to support each other to come out the other end in one piece.

COVID-19 Coronavirus Austin

To that end, we have a unique offering that we are providing to Austin based businesses to help. Many small businesses will be looking to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of their digital marketing, and in order to compete with the increased online digital push that is sure to come an excellent website is a must. However, even though it is critical to their continued success it’s just not realistic for small Austin businesses who are anxious about meeting their direct overhead to invest in improving their website right now.

We have launched a new offering with the express purpose of helping small businesses afford the WordPress websites they need, without the out of pocket expense. We are offering brand new turn-key, customized, mobile, speed-optimized WordPress websites for a low all-inclusive monthly payment starting at just $35 / mo. Essentially, you get a brand new complete website with secure hosting and maintenance for what is already being paid for hosting alone. These customized WordPress websites we are building for Austin small businesses would normally cost thousands of dollars for us to design and install for our clients, not including SEO setup, SSL, analytics, hosting or ongoing maintenance.

How are we able to offer this? With our many years of WordPress experience and past work we are able to utilize some of the foundation templates we’ve built over the years to make this happen. These are tried-and-true professionally designed WordPress sites, not cheap all purpose themes that a Romanian developer put together. We take these foundation templates and customize them to meet the needs of your company, install it on our company server that we have set up with WP engine, and do full maintenance on your behalf. You manage your content, we take care of the rest.

We are shouldering the up front cost, and relying on our customers to stay with us over the years to see a return on our investment in their businesses. We use our servers and skills to invest in Austin small businesses, and once we have enough sites in place to cover our costs we eventually see a modest return down the road.

With these WordPress sites we would normally charge a one-time setup fee averaging around $200-$600 to cover a portion of our costs and up front labor. During this challenging time, we are supporting Austin area small businesses during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic who want to take advantage of this by waiving the setup charge in full.

This enables you to get your new and improved website up and running with $0 out of pocket expenses. Just pay the monthly hosting fee and you’re covered. We take care of everything so you are relieved of the burden of managing your website, or worrying about outages or downtime, and are free to concentrate on more important things.

Text me at 512-412-2967 with questions or shoot me an email – rachel@hscreative.com – to learn more or let us know other ways we can help support your business through the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

Stay safe and healthy out there!

What Exactly is a Responsive WordPress Website, Anyway?

By Austin, Mobile Compliance, Responsive WordPress Design, SEO, Texas, Uncategorized, Web Design, WordPress

You’ve probably heard the term “responsive” thrown around when talking about website requirements and design, or maybe when you’ve been considering your Austin WordPress website’s SEO score. But what does responsive mean, exactly? And how important is it to have a responsive website?

Responsive means any size, anywhere!

In a nutshell, a responsive website means that your site layout responds to the size of the screen that your website is being viewed on, and is specifically designed to shrink and expand so that no matter what the size of the screen the information and content is presented to the user in a visually and physically accessible manner.

One of the most common problems experienced with websites is that the infrastructure is outdated, and the website does not respond correctly when viewed on a device other than a desktop computer. Over the past few years all the major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and others have increased their mobile browser compatibility requirements when calculating a website’s search engine ranking. In fact, the weight of these SEO calculations has increased with time to the point where not having a mobile compliant website can be a “red flag” to the search engines and have a significant negative impact to your WordPress website’s SEO score.

responsive website

Responsive design is all about a positive user experience

What responsive means in practical terms for us when building a site on the developer side is that all of the content within the page must be designed and coded to resize and stack in order to fit on a small screen like a phone, and also widen to accommodate larger screens like a HDTV monitor.

Designing a mobile compliant responsive website that looks good no matter what the display size is a challenge all its own, and one that not all WordPress developers can do. We see a lot of sites that look really boring in order to meet the requirements, which is unfortunate because building a responsive mobile friendly word press website does not mean you need to sacrifice design or the quality of the user experience! We are big believers in designing websites that reflect the personality of the company’s brand and accomplishes specific marketing goals, while remaining fast and completely mobile compliant.

For a free consultation to take a look at your current site and give you an accurate flat fee quote on what it would take to bring it up to speed in terms of modern browser compliance and responsive layout, give us a shout! Bringing your Austin WordPress website up to speed is easier and faster than you think and it does not mean scrapping your site!

I’m right here in Austin, Texas and work with clients all around the world! Text me at 512-412-2967 to discuss your WordPress website or SEO needs today.

Will Making My Website Responsive Help My SEO?

By Austin, Design, Mobile Compliance, Responsive WordPress Design, SEO, Texas, Web Design, WordPress
mobile website devices

Will Making My Website Responsive Help My SEO?

YES! Though as with any SEO strategy it takes time for the robots to come around and improve their assessment of your website.

All the major search engines have raised mobile compatibility requirements for their ranking calculations. How much weight mobile compliance carries is a trade secret that only their genius mathematicians and statisticians are aware of, but it is clear to anybody who works on the marketing side of SEO development (like us!) that it is one of the most heavily considered aspects of a website when it comes to SEO quality and improving a website’s search engine results. In fact, WordPress websites that are not fully mobile compliant are now a “red flag” to the search engines and have a significantly negative impact to your website’s ranking and score.

What if SEO isn’t important to me? Do I still need a responsive website?

We create and redesign custom WordPress websites for many types of companies and individuals, some of which have no interest in SEO marketing because their business simply does not rely on outbound marketing efforts or any digital advertising. Their customers come directly to them through different channels like direct industry connections, print advertising, in-person meetings, conventions, and good old-fashioned word of mouth referrals.

Some businesses make the common mistake of thinking that since they do not need SEO or do any digital marketing then they do not need to update their website so that it is mobile compliant and responsive. However, this is a false assumption that can negatively impact a business! A non-compliant website can harm a business even if SEO is not a factor in their marketing.

Responsive websites deliver a better, more consistent user experience

When looking for you online, people will Google the name of your business or product to find your website because they don’t know the URL itself. And even if they do know the direct URL address, people are lazy by nature and are accustomed to typing the search in the Google interface first. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m one of those people! It drives my husband crazy when I literally will Google the actual URL of a website rather than type it into the address bar, just out of sheer habit. Weird as it might seem to him, Googling everything is common behavior, and it’s important to address that behavior when designing your WordPress website.

If somebody Googles the name of your business and your website does not appear on the first page of Google’s search engine results, the negative impact is clear:

– The visitor feels immediately frustrated
– It becomes more difficult for the visitor to find your company or product
– The visitor may abandon the search entirely
– Even if they eventually find you, there is a feeling that their time has been wasted
– There is a negative experience associated with your company and brand that carries forward
– That visitor may share that negative experience with others in the future – “I tried to find them online but couldn’t!”

Any high-quality, legitimate company should always be easy to find on the Internet, and deliver a positive user experience.

Easily found, high quality digital access clearly has a huge impact on companies that are advertising and marketing through digital avenues, but it also has a big impact on any company that has a basic online presence that does not rely on SEO for business. If somebody is looking for you, you want them to be able to find you – even a word of mouth referral or current customer might stop looking altogether and consider other companies that appeared on their search. And once they find you, you want them to have a positive experience not a negative one.

The takeaway? Maintaining a responsive mobile compliant website is a tip-top priority when assessing the quality of your digital assets!

I’m right here in Austin, Texas and work with clients all around the world! Text me at 512-412-2967 to discuss your WordPress website or SEO needs today.

How Much Does a Responsive Website Help SEO?

By Austin, Mobile Compliance, Responsive WordPress Design, SEO, Texas, Web Design, WordPress
responsive wordpress websites

How Much Does a Responsive Website Help SEO?

We are often asked how much having responsive, mobile compliant website affects search engine ranking and SEO. The answer is: A LOT. Like, a lot a lot.

Google and all the other major search engines have steadily raised mobile compatibility requirements for their website search engine ranking algorithm calculations. How much weight mobile compliance carries is a trade secret,but it is clear to anybody who works in SEO (like us!) that it is one of the most heavily considered aspects of a website when it comes to SEO quality.In fact, websites that are not fully mobile compliant are now a “red flag” to the search engines and have a significantly negative impact to your WordPress website’s SEO score.

Why is mobile compliance such a big deal to the Google and the other search engines?

Having a responsive site is important to the search engines because their calculations are always working to deliver the most relevant and highest quality results as possible to their customers (the searchers).

If a visitor comes to your website on their phone and they can’t find the information they were looking for, or your site is difficult to navigate or see on their screen, then they leave with a negative experience associated with both your company and the search engine itself. User experiences on individual WordPress websites reflect directly back on Google since that is where the user saw your description and clicked the link to your site. So, it’s in the search engine’s best interest to prioritize websites deliver both relevant content AND an excellent user experience no matter what size screen it is being viewed on.

Google and the others are rating your website based on the quality of your visitors experience both in terms of usability and content, so it’s in your best interest to make sure that your website is up to date and compliant with all the latest mobile browser requirements. Need help with that? Give us a shout!

I’m right here in Austin, Texas and work with clients all around the world! Text me at 512-412-2967 to discuss your WordPress website or SEO needs today.

Should I update my website?

By Austin, Security, SEO, Uncategorized, Web Design, WordPress

We hear it almost every time we speak with a new client – “Should I update my website?”

If you’ve been asking yourself that question, then the answer is probably yes. But that doesn’t mean a big financial investment! Many people think that means a complete rebuild, but usually it’s just a matter of modernizing and updating what is already there.

Yes, your website works. People can find it, and it has the important information. But does it perform in search engines? Is it mobile friendly? Is it reliable? Even if the answers to all of those questions are yes, it’s still worth looking at redesigning your site if it hasn’t been updated in more than a few years.

It’s less expensive than many assume to overhaul and update a site. We have updated many websites in the space of two days, for thousands less than the company owner thought it would be!

Visual Appeal

People are becoming more and more savvy when it comes to online interactions. Visitors can easily tell if a website is old. Having an outdated website design tells visitors that the company doesn’t keep up with the times, and reflects poorly on the brand.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is central to virtually every company’s health and growth, and the company website is at the center of it all. In fact, every marketing a company makes leads to the website. If a site isn’t supporting marketing campaigns, those campaigns won’t perform as well as they could.

Security

Automated hackers can easily deposit code on older sites, even those from last year. Sometimes it’s not evident that your site has been hacked as they install unseen code that works for them unseen – masking for spam, false identities for fraud, your site can be utilized by criminals around the world if it is not secure. It’s critical to update your site regularly in order to foil these hackers and bots!

SEO

Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to prioritize the best websites for internet users. A site that is top ranked today can plunge tomorrow, if it’s not updated to meet current standards. For instance – sites that are not fully mobile friendly and touch-screen ready are being flagged and dropped at an increasing rate.

Load Times

Code updates can increase the load time of older sites, which results in a poor user experience and will drop a website’s SEO rankings. It’s important to regularly update websites to keep up with code standards and ensure an optimal load time.

There are many more reasons to consider when deciding when to upgrade or update your website. Call us today for your complimentary digital marketing consultation to find out where your site stands! 512-412-2967

Why plugins are removed from the WordPress Plugin repository

By Austin, Security, WordPress

, Why plugins are removed from the WordPress Plugin repositoryIf you’re like us and you obsess about the security of your WordPress website. You have likely run into the scenario where one of your plugins has been removed from the WordPress repository.

Should you be concerned and what exactly does it mean when WordPress removes a plugin?

There are a number of reasons why a plugin might be removed from the repository, plugins can become old and outdated, plugins are longer being maintained, the author has asked for the plugin to be removed or WordPress has detected a security vulnerability in the plugin’s code. Whenever a security vulnerability is discovered, WordPress will remove the plugin until the vulnerability has been fixed. Unfortunately, WordPress does not provide notifications or explanations when a plugin has been removed. If you have a security plugin such as WordFence installed,  you should receive a security alert letting you know that the plugin is no longer available in the repository.

So now what? The first step is usually to determine why your plugin was removed.  A quick search on the WordPress support forum is usually all it takes.  If the plugin was removed at the author’s request, or if it hasn’t been updated in quite some time, it is likely been abandoned by the developer and you will need to find an alternate solution.  If the plugin was removed for a security vulnerability then, we recommend immediately deleting the plugin from your site and finding a replacement.  

Here is an example:  Yesterday, we received an email from a client who manages their own WordPress site.  They received a notification that a plugin they have been using, Postman SMTP,  was removed from the WordPress repository and they were not sure what to do.  A quick check on the WordPress support forum showed that Postman SMTP Mailer/Email Log is prone to a cross-site scripting vulnerability. The vulnerability was reported to WordPress over a month ago and the plugin has not been updated in over two years. It was removed from the WordPress repository yesterday and likely will not be put back anytime soon.  Our recommendation here was to find a replacement. We settled on the WP Mail SMTP Plugin by Mail Bank plugin which has all the features of Postman SMTP but with regular updates and good reviews.

Does my WordPress site need to be Mobile Friendly?

By Austin, Texas, Web Design, WordPress

Should your WordPress website be mobile friendly? Absolutely! Most of the users coming to your site are on a mobile device, and if your WordPress site isn’t mobile friendly you could be losing business simply because the site doesn’t work properly. We have all experienced it, you visit a site on your phone and you have to scroll then tap and zoom just to be able to read the text. Or much worse, you sit there for a minute trying to figure out why the link you’re clicking does not work.

Every WordPress website we produce is optimized for mobile devices.  While using a separate mobile friendly version on your WordPress site is an option, we generally advise against this. Multiple versions can lead to content inconsistencies, along with duplicate WordPress content that can hurt your search engine optimization (SEO).  In our experience it’s far better to build your WordPress site mobile friendly from the start, saving you a lot of time and headaches in the long run!

If you’re not sure if your WordPress website is mobile-friendly, Google developed a great tool to check your site called the Mobile Friendly Test.

, Does my WordPress site need to be Mobile Friendly?

Google Analytics a must have for WordPress

By Austin, SEO, Web Design, WordPress

Google Analytics is one of the most powerful analytics applications available for your WordPress website.  Every WordPress site should be utilizing this entirely free service from Google. A propertly set up and configured analytics account will go way beyond simply tracking pageviews and visitors to see how much traffic you’re getting. It gives you the tools to make important decisions about your WordPress site, such as which pages are seeing the most traffic, what pages are converting leads and so much more.

Here is an excellent tutorial we found by the guys over at WP Smackdown that will walk you through setting up your analytics account and getting it properly configured with WordPress.

STEPS INCLUDE:

– How to setup a Google Account
– How to register for Google Analytics
– Where to find your tracking code
– How to install a popular WordPress plugin used with Google Analytics
– How to add the GA tracking script directly to your site