Thursday, 26 February 2015
My Site Just Fell Off the Search Engines! Now What?
Well... now nothing. At least that's the case if we are helping you with your online marketing... because it never happened. The methods we use to get your website listed well on search engines are tried and true. We don't use tricks or games that eventually get recognized for what they are when search engines update their algorithms. Instead, we use the same "honest SEO" that has worked since the very first search engine came on the scene.
Over the years, whenever there has been word of a pending update to Google's search algorithm, the blogosphere comes a-buzz with SEO consultants in a tizzy. At 111 Web Studio, all is calm and the algorithm changes come and go mostly unnoticed. The reason is that our philosophy on getting found on search engines is based on giving them what they want. If you've been reading this blog, you will know what those things are and why we do it the way we do because we have no secret sauce. We just work hard to get unique, relevant content noticed so our clients are recognized as the subject matter experts they are.
If you have ever fallen off search engines when an algorithm changed, give us a call. We will do everything we can to make sure that never happens again. For world class web design, custom programming or SEO and online marketing assistance, call us at 877.397.7605 or contact 111 Web Studio for more information.
Posted on 02/26/2015 9:47 AM by Customer Service
Tuesday, 24 February 2015
I See You Are Having Computer Problems...
Phone Scam Alert!
Here's another scam for you to mention to all your non-technical or non-suspicious friends and family. One of our employees had a phone call to his home. The caller said, "I see you are having computer problems..." and offered to help fix them. Of course, the fix ends up with your computer being compromised and the hacker having access to your machine for whatever purposes they desire. Depending on the scam, this could mean access to your banking or other private information. In this case, our employee didn't fall for it, but a friend's grandmother did and was, in fact, hacked.
Be careful out there! Stay alert and be suspicious of anyone who makes an unsolicited call or sends you an unsolicited email message. Don't click on links you don't know and don't open attachments you aren't expecting.
If you have any questions about Internet security, web design, getting found on search engines or custom programming, give 111 Web Studio a call at 877.397.7605 or contact us for more information.
Posted on 02/24/2015 9:45 AM by Customer Service
Thursday, 19 February 2015
What Could Possibly Go Wrong with Email?
The other day, a client wrote in to tell us he appreciated how we take such good care of his email compared to some other hosts. That was nice to hear because while mail is one of those things that users just expect to work, it gives hosting companies fits including us.
As a web host, we maintain complex networking systems along with a variety of web servers, DNS servers, database servers, file servers, monitoring servers and backup servers just to keep your website up and running smoothly. In addition, we maintain a variety of servers for mail including servers for sending mail, receiving mail, evaluating and tagging mail for spam, storing mail and archiving it.
Email is tricky because there is so much that can go wrong with it. It wasn't always like that, though. Email was one of the first Internet protocols, having been invented to send plain text messages in 1971 just two years after the net got started and 19 years before the world wide web turned up on the scene. There were no hackers, no viruses, no spam, no phishing, no attachments... and few problems.
The first fly in the ointment came in 1992 when the first Mime attachment was sent. Before that, files were shared using FTP, Small ones might have been encoded into text, added to an email message and decoded upon receipt, but that was something for tech nerds, not the everyday Joe. Mime attachments were created for him. So if you ever wondered why you can't send huge attachments in email, it's because email wasn't originally designed to handle them at all.
Sending to Multiple Recipients
Abuse of email has caused hosts to come up with a great many tools and techniques to minimize it and protect customers without making it extremely difficult to use. One of those is to limit senders from sending the same message to a huge list of recipients. If you host limits this practice, you can use mass email marketing systems like eBlast111 or the eBlast tool built into our Build111 CMS website creation tool. These systems are designed to avoid email abuse and have a good reputation with recipient email systems.
If you haven't already created a nice secure email password, stop reading and do it immediately! If you don't have one and your email account gets hacked as a result, spammers can send tons of spam from your account and get the IP address of your mail server blocked. This generally effects everyone on your mail server including you.
How Email Works
We thought it might be fun to try to identify all the potential points of email failure in order to demonstrate why email is not easy to keep running smoothly and why it can be hard to diagnose problems when they arise. Below is what happens in a typical mail process like ours with the steps as the main bullets in bold and potential problems indented for each step.
From a user perspective, you craft your message in your mail client (Outlook, Thunderbird, Webmail like Gmail or others). Then you hit "Send" and figure you're done. But from our perspective, that's just where the fun starts...
- Your mail client uses DNS to find your SMTP (outgoing) server
- Your outgoing mail server setting must be correct (like mail.whatever.com)
- Your mail client must get through your firewall to reach the server
- You must be connected to the Internet
- Your mail client attempts to hand the message to the SMTP server
- The server must be up and running and accepting mail
- You must have a valid account username and password on the server
- The server may not be able to accept message if all available connections are in use
- The SMTP server hands off the mail to one of several mail relay servers
- â€‹â€‹The relay server must be up and running and accepting mail
- The relay server uses DNS to find the MX (receiving) server
- The domain name (after the @) must have a valid MX record
- The relay server attempts to hand the message to the receiving server
- The receiving server must be up and running and accepting mail
- The receiving server checks DNS of the sending server
- The sender's domain may need an SPF record
- The sender's domain should have reverse lookup
- The receiving server checks to see if it has a valid mailbox
- If one is not present it rejects the message
- The receiving server tells the sending server it will accept the message
- Depending on the reason, if the message is not accepted, the sending server may delay the message and try again later or simply bounce the message back to the sender. After a predetermined maximum delay, the message will also bounce.
- The message is processed through anti-virus analysis
- A virus will be stripped off if found
- A valid file may be removed if it looks like a virus to the scanner
- The message is evaluated against spam rules and a score is applied
- Blacklists of mail server IP addresses or domains or email addresses may be used
- Content may be evaluated against libraries of content reported as spam
- The message is either bounced, deleted, quarantined, grey listed or accepted based on rules
- â€‹Messages can be lost if quarantine is not watched
- Valid messages may be caught as "false positives" for spam content
- Grey listed addresses may cause mail to be delayed temporarily
- If accepted, the message is saved until the recipient checks for the mail
- â€‹A file server must be up and running with enough disk space
- A database server must be up and running with enough disk space
- The recipient's mail client checks mail with either POP or IMAP
- The incoming mail server setting must be correct (like mail.whatever.com)
- POP removes messages from the sever (depending on settings)
- IMAP keeps a copy of messages on the server until deleted
- The mail client must use a valid username and password
- If too many password failures occur, the IP of the mail client may be blacklisted
- The mail is delivered to the recipient's mail client
- The message may end up in a junk mail folder
So by my count, there are 31 potential things that can go wrong with email identified here. I'll be we missed a whole lot of others, so if you can think of some more, add your comment.
If you'd like to talk with us about email hosting, spam filtering, web hosting, virtual servers or anthing related to web design, programming or getting found on search engines, please give us a call at 877.397.7605 or contact 111 Web Studio for more information.
Posted on 02/19/2015 9:41 AM by Customer Service
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Improved File Management in 111
If you have ever had a need to delete multiple files or if you have ever wondered whether a particular file in your files storage area is doing nothing more than taking up space, you're in luck! We have added two new features to the files management system to make managing your Build111 or Church111 CMS website easier.
We have always had the ability to easily delete files you don't need, but now you can just check a box next to multiple files and delete them all at the same time by clicking the "Delete Checked" button at the bottom of the page. And here's a tip for you: If you upload files that are time sensitive or can be deleted after a certain date, put the date in the file name so you can easily spot it when you're ready to do some housekeeping.
If you're like most of us, your website files area keeps growing with images and documents that may not be needed any longer. Now you can click the check-file button next to any file and the system will search for its presence throughout your entire website. If the file is NOT being used, you are offered the opportunity to delete it right then and there. This makes it much easier to clean up unneeded files.
We hope you enjoy these new features. If you need a new design for your website or if you want to be found better on search engines, give us a call at 877 397-7605 or contact 111 Web Studio for a free consultation.
Posted on 02/17/2015 9:49 AM by Customer Service
Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Are You Flushing Your Marketing Money Down The Toilet?
Without a well-planned strategy for your Landing Page, you could be.
You already understand that online marketing is essential. You are using organic SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing, Email and maybe even some Ad Words or PPC. People are finding their way to you through these efforts, but you are not seeing increased sales or conversions. The problem may very well be your landing page, (if you even have one.) Failing to create a well designed and well thought out landing page is tantamount to flushing your marketing dollars down the toilet.
Don't Flush Your Marketing Dollars Down The Toilet Read These Tipsâ€¦
The Headline Is Vital To The Success Of Your Page
The sub-headers are important too.
This is Marketing 101 but if you don't immediately engage your audience in the top headline they wont go any further. They need to know you are the answer to a problem. Not just any problem, their specific problem. The one they were trying to solve when they clicked on your ad.
They came to you via a specific path. Understanding that path will guide everything we do on the page.
[Pro Tip If you look at your page and read the headers and the sub-headers, you should be able to understand fully the purpose of the whole page without going any further.]
Your copy and design need to nurture your reader. Don't jar them with dramatic changes.
You have ads out saying " Nashville's Premier Dog Grooming Hotel " with a picture of your logo. When they arrive on your landing page they should see " Nashville's Premier Dog Grooming Hotel " with a picture of your logo. They should feel a very natural progression. This will bring a sense of reassurement to your visitor.
Consistency and even repetition are techniques often employed to make a customer feel trust and be engaged. Consistency and even repetition are techniques often employed to make a customer feel trust and be engaged. Consitâ€¦ ok you get the idea.
It may seem odd and I don't suggest repeating sentences back to back, but on a page of content, repeating important content can have the effect of making your reader increasingly comfortable with your messaging. The old public speaking method still works: "Tell them what you're going to say, then say it and then tell them what you said."
Use clear, simple fonts and not too many. Use attractive, complimentary colors, but not too many. Use high quality graphics that compliment and enhance the copy and message. A symbiotic effort between a great designer and professional writer, can help bring alive the copy.
Concise copy, written in short, absorbable bites will be easier for your reader to take in. There should be no sections or paragraphs more than five lines long.
"Large blocks of text are the leading cause of landing page failures says 9 out of 10 Social Marketing experts" (**made up fact)
- Use Bullet Points instead of long, comma filled sentences.
- Bullet Points are easier to take in when you scan a page.
- Don't just list facts here, create curiosity and inspiration.
- This also helps break up the page.
One Goal To Rule Them All
Offer your audience one Call To Action. Don't muddy the message with alternate ways outâ€¦
This landing page and the marketing effort as a whole should have one main focus. This landing page should then have one Call To Action. Offering them this golden ticket should feel natural and easy for them. But people are easily distracted and will, if offered, circle the conversion if given half a chance. You can have the same Call To Action multiple times. You can have a long page with a variety of images and information, surrounded with testimonials and Social Proof, but it should all point to one door.
This means your landing page should have no navigation. No choices between door A and door B. In rare occasions there could be a secondary CTA but it should be clear in your design and layout, which is the preferred one, and then hide the other away somewhere.
Surround Your Audience with Comfort
Answer their questions; show them why they should trust you.
Depending on the size of commitment you are asking your audience to make will have some bearing on your page. Generally speaking the larger the commitment, the more copy. The bigger the cost, the more questions you answer. Also the more innovative or unknown your product is, the more content there needs to be.
Creating an FAQ on the page that answers most of the questions a customer might ask will reduce the reasons for them not to convert. Explaining fully your offer leaves no need for doubt. And well placed testimonials and social proof on the page at the time of conversion can help reassure any hesitation there may be.
Tailor The Page To Your Target
Speak their language and solve their needs.
Too often designers, writers and marketers create their products for themselves. This is a fatal pitfall. Everything you create in your landing page and marketing as a whole should reflect the voice, language and desires of the people you want to reach. Understanding them should be your number one focus. Once you have that, employ these rules and you have a powerful platform to serve and convert.
Test Your Page
Analyzing different strategies on your layout and content can lead to a much higher success rate.
There are a lot of rules, techniques and strategies employed to create a truly effective landing page. There are of course variations on these rules and the only true way to know which is the best path is to run different versions and study your data. You would be surprised to see the difference a color change or rearranged wording can have on people's engagement. Especially the way your Call To Action is presented. On a large scale marketing effort, subtle tweaks can have a massive impact!
So much of our marketing efforts are geared toward traffic. How many people are coming to my website? How many people clicked on my ad? We forget that once those people arrive we have to get a conversion to make the time, money and effort worthwhile. Spending focused time and effort on these rules or employing experts to work with you will be well worth it in the end.
If you need help creating a effective Landing Page or any Marketing Help give 111 Web Studio a call for a free consultation and estimate. We have been helping thousands of clients accomplish their online goals for twenty years and we can help you accomplish yours. Call 877 397-7605 or contact us for more information.
Posted on 02/11/2015 1:35 PM by Mark McGowan
Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Whassamatta with WordPress?
Clients occasionally come to us with the notion they need a WordPress site. Maybe they've used it before, maybe they read that one out of five websites uses it, maybe they heard that some major corporations use it or maybe a committee or the boss floated the idea. So what could be wrong with such a popular platform? The short answer is not much, but there is something better. While WordPress is a fine tool for some purposes and we are happy to build a WordPress site, we almost never do because once we explain the options, clients quickly recognize we have a better solution for them in Build111.
The main virtues often expressed about WordPress are that it's open source so it's free to start with and you can modify it any way you like, it's widely used so lots of people know how to use it and there are tons of plugins so development cost for common features is avoided. However, each of these virtues has a negative side.
WordPress is free and quick to install, but that's where "free" ends. The cost of any customization or personalization can be significant and require substantial development investment. Secondly, because it's open source, everyone has the source code including hackers. That means that you absolutely have to do updates as soon as they come out: updates to WordPress itself, to plugins and to themes. Third, if you have taken advantage of it's open source nature by making custom modifications to WordPress, you risk having your website break when you do an update. Even if you haven't done anything custom, plugins sometimes become incompatible with each other or with your WordPress version when they are updated. So compared to our 111 CMS...
- Cost: Build111 typically takes 60-80% of the development time of a comparable WordPress site.
- Security: WordPress gets hacked because it's open source. 111 is closed source.
- Updates: To prevent hacking, you can turn on auto updates in WordPress, but you risk having the site go down when you're not looking. We take care of updating 111 for you and we're always looking.
Because WordPress is so popular, people try to use it when it's not appropriate. WordPress is good for a small to medium sized blog and for simple websites. Even those major corporations only use it for the things it can do well. However, a true enterprise blog done in WordPress will hog hosting systems resources. A client had a WordPress blog with over 40,000 posts and BlueHost shut the site down for that reason. We put it in Build111 with no problem and it has 48,000 posts now. Secondly, while experienced WordPress editors can find their way around, new editors have trouble because it's not very intuitive. 111 is edited easily every day by non-technical editors all over the country. Because it's popular, developers often try to customize it to do things it wasn't designed to do. This can cause problems when custom code argues with a necessary update. On the other hand, Build111 can be customized by our developers for special needs with no risk of incompatibility. In summary:
- Performance: WordPress is not enterprise software, unlike Build 111.
- Ease of Use: WordPress is difficult for site editors compared to Build 111.
- Customization: Unlike WordPress, 111 can be customized without risk of incompatibility.
WordPress comes with a myriad of plugins for a great many nifty features. When everything works right, these can add functionality and utility to your web presence. However, any seasoned WordPress user knows the risk of having their site stop working when they update something. In fact, standard procedure when a site breaks is to rename the plugins folder and start adding plugins back one by one until you figure out which one broke things. Another risk is security and privacy. You won't know if a plugin developer is harvesting data from your website. Finally, while the array of WordPress plugins available is vast, our Build111 CMS has the advantage of a community approach to upgrades. When a client asks for a feature that will benefit others, it is added for everyone without risk of incompatibility.
- Compatibility: Updates won't break 111 because we do them ourselves without the need for decisions on your part.
- Security: Outside developers don't create software for 111. We do it all in-house.
- Utility: 111 is designed with the features needed by businesses already built in and gets better every day.
So yes... WordPress is good, but we can demonstrate how 111 is even better. If you have heard WordPress is for you, we invite you to take a tour of Build111 or Church111 with us. Call 877.397.7605 for a walk through or contact 111 Web Studio for more information.
Posted on 02/10/2015 9:42 AM by Customer Service
Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Wondering What to do About That Website? Ask Us.
Your website is your business card, your ad in the phone book, your billboard and the sign out in front. There is no more important business presence you have in the world. People will make decisions about whether or not they want to do business with you based on what they see on your website. It needs to look great, provide useful information and be easily found if it's going to be of value to you.
111 Web Studio has 20 years of experience helping businesses figure out how their online presence should look and how a website should respond to technology. Design trends change with time, so you need to keep up. Most importantly, your website needs to reflect the character of your organization and give the visitor the confidence that they are doing the right thing when they pick up the phone or fill out that form and get in touch.
When your visitors arrive, the information they are looking for should be right there and easy to find. Your navigation should be clear and avoid buzzwords on buttons. The content should tell them what they need to know and be relevant to them. Talking about yourself is fine, but don't overdo it. It's better to provide relevant content that helps your visitors and gives them something they came to get.
The best website in the world won't do you much good if it can't be easily found. Once all the relevant content is in place and the design reflects the character of your organization, it's time to let search engines know you are the thought leader they are looking for when someone types in one of your keywords. You do that with the solid, honest SEO methods that are well outlined elsewhere in this blog.
If you need a new web design that is mobile ready and speaks to your character or if you just need better placement on search engines, give 111 Web Studio a call for a free consultation and estimate. We have been helping thousands of clients accomplish their online goals for twenty years and we can help you accomplish yours. Call 877 397-7605 or contact us for more information.
Posted on 02/03/2015 9:05 AM by Customer Service