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It’s easy to let the cost of any project – including a new website – get out of hand. But a few simple precautions can prevent such a disaster. Below are three notable mistakes to avoid during the website development process to help you remain within your website design budget.

1. Including decision-makers too late in the process

Putting off the purchase of an SEO package will save you money now, but you will be losing out on the necessary promotion of your website and on opportunities for business in the future.

Starting with the decision to purchase a design-and-SEO package all the way through the website launch, it is necessary to include all decision-makers who have any say in your company’s website. Through many steps of the development process, you will be asked for sign-offs and approvals. Be sure to consult all of the decision-makers before approving each of these steps and before getting back your web developer with edit requests.

It might be difficult to track down everyone (managers, presidents, owners, etc.), but it’s a very important part in the process to avoid unnecessary fees. After the site launch is a terrible (and very costly) time to find out that your boss doesn’t like the color palette.

Remember, the most cost-effective decisions come even before the design process has begun. For that reason, Pilot Fish provides its clients with a thorough design questionnaire to help focus on website objectives. As the process continues, changes – especially those involving the site’s design – become more and more time-consuming and, therefore, more expensive. It is OK to change your mind and to request edits, but the earlier, the better, and definitely before the site is built.

2. Waiting too long to launch

Many times, the person managing a company’s website design or redesign is wearing a lot of hats. Let’s face it, things can get busy, and the website can easily be put on the back burner.

We’ve had clients wait weeks, months, and even years to launch a “new” website. But, by that time, the information on the site, including content, products, navigation, etc., has become dated, and some of the technologies that underpin the website most likely have changed. Updating content, product lists and technologies all take time and money.

3. Ignoring SEO

Putting off the purchase of an SEO package will save you money now, but you will be losing out on the necessary promotion of your website and on opportunities for business in the future. For a more lucrative outcome, work with your SEO specialist to help you follow the best internet marketing practices, which will eventually lead to more business and a better return on your investment. SEO upkeep and maintenance is essential, so an ongoing relationship with your SEO expert is a must.

For more information on website development, please contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

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If you’ve noticed a spike in website traffic but not a corresponding increase in the number of leads from your site, then your website could be the victim of spammy referral traffic in Google Analytics.

It’s important to filter out this spammy traffic to be able to view an accurate Google Analytics report, including a legitimate bounce rate for your site.

Unscrupulous companies have found ways to insert themselves into the “Referrals” report and “Hostname” report in Google Analytics to make it look like a site is getting a significant amount of traffic from these sites. 

So, why is your site being targeted? Actually, it’s not. The spammers are using random ranges of Google Analytics codes that they program into their automated spam-generating sites. They don’t even know they’re hitting your specific site or Google Analytics report. And, in most cases, this is phantom traffic – there is no true visitor associated with it at all. 

What’s the intent? The reasons may vary, but it’s believed that some of these sites may have viruses or other toxic code embedded in their links that can infect one’s computer when they’re clicked. So, it’s best not to click on any unknown links within Google Analytics.

Identifying spammy traffic is fairly easy. If you go to your Hostname or Referrers report and see any strange looking URLs, particularly ones that include “best,” “SEO,” “free” or “money” as part of the website name, then chances are very good these are spammers. See the image for some examples of spammy referrers. In this case, the top 8 referring domains are spammers, driving enough “phantom” traffic to the site to have a measurable impact on overall traffic results.


Signs that Spammers Have Hit Your Google Analytics Report 

  • Spike in site traffic but no measurable increase in leads.
  • Referral traffic has spiked recently compared to prior months. Pilot Fish first noticed these spammy referrers in client reports in the first part of this year, so you may want to compare referral traffic to that of a year ago to see whether your referrer traffic is out of the ordinary.   
  • Unusual URLs in your hostname and referral reports. Examples: 4webmasters.org, semalt.com, trafficmonetize.org, free-social-buttons.com, 100dollars-seo.com, buttons-for-website.com
  • Higher than usual bounce rate. If enough spammy referrers hit your site, it can have a measurable impact on your site’s overall bounce rate. You’ll recognize spammy sites as ones that have nearly a 100% bounce rate in your referrer’s report.

It’s important to filter out this spammy traffic to be able to view an accurate Google Analytics report, including a legitimate bounce rate for your site.

To rid your Google Analytics reports of these spammy referral sites, you’ll need to use the customization features to write filters that remove these sites. Unfortunately, it’s a moving target as these companies are known to create new domains as their current ones lose effectiveness. And, Google hasn’t made it easy – the filters must be written in very specific syntax and can only be 255 characters long, necessitating multiple filters to catch the offending domains. 

Pilot Fish monitors its SEO clients’ sites on a regular basis to identify and eradicate these bad characters. It’s best to work with your web developer or SEO firm to ensure the traffic reports you share with your company’s management team truly reflect an accurate picture of your website’s traffic and lead-generating capabilities.

Or, contact Pilot Fish for assistance as part of a comprehensive SEO program to improve your site’s overall performance. For more information, call 877-799-9994 ext. 2104 or fill out our form.         

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Pinterest. It’s not just for crafters anymore.

Manufacturers – including major corporations like GE and IBM – are incorporating the photo-curating website into their Internet marketing to improve their branding, funnel more traffic to their websites and boost their search engine optimization efforts.

A little planning and forethought can go a long way toward creating a successful corporate Pinterest account. Keep these tips in mind to get the most out of your efforts on Pinterest:

Sharing insights from other industry leaders is one of the best ways to build your audience’s trust

1. Showcase your products, first and foremost. Post as many product images as you can, but don’t just throw everything up there – cherry-pick the very best images that truly illustrate your products at their best. And remember to link each image to the corresponding product page on your website.

Example: Provia Products’ doors, windows, siding and manufactured stone

2. Offer business resources. Like any good marketing channel, Pinterest works best when it provides a tangible benefit to your target audience. White papers and how-to guides can be promoted via Pinterest, simply by uploading a cover image of the paper or guide and then linking to the appropriate file.

Example: Machine specs for centerless grinders from Total Grinding Solutions

3. Provide industry insights. Infographics and PowerPoints highlighting industry trends or major developments are another useful way to a. illustrate your company’s knowledge about your industry and b. make another useful connection with potential customers.

Example: Current water usage stats provided by Desert Planters

4. Engage your community. Highlighting employee and customer achievements, soliciting comments on your images and announcing your Pinterest additions via your other social media accounts are just a few of the great community-building ways to take full advantage of your corporate Pinterest account.

Example: Customers’ pins of Equinox Sleds’ snowmobile passenger and cargo sleds

Bonus Points: Follow Desert Planters’ example - when you find a useful piece of information on another website, add it to your Pinterest account and link back to the original source. Sharing insights from other industry leaders is one of the best ways to build your audience’s trust.

We’re proud of our clients, including Total Grinding Solutions, Provia Products, Equinox Sleds and Desert Planters, who’ve taken their first bold steps into this new Internet marketing landscape. If you’d like some help getting started, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

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For those that don’t track Google algorithm changes like we do, it’s been a messy spring all across the country, not just Northeast Ohio. Like the Weather Channel naming the biggest storms, search engine insiders name Google search engine updates. So let’s recap two major storm systems that moved through the area to cause chaos for websites big and small.


The impact of the Quality Update has been far more significant across the Internet than Mobilegeddon because it affects desktop search.

Google officially rolled out this massive cold front on April 21st. This change affected search rankings for sites that are not mobile compatible. The result is that Google’s mobile search engine for cellphones now attempts to display mobile-friendly sites ahead of sites that are not responsive. Google says this change provides a better experience for cellphone users. Just like other algorithm changes, if it’s better for the user, it’s better for Google. 

Fortunately, this change doesn’t affect search rankings on desktops and tablets, so in many B2B and industrial markets, most search traffic hasn’t been impacted too much.  

Now that some time has passed since the algorithm took effect, it’s time to review your Google Analytics account to see if there is a noticeable difference in mobile traffic.  If so, it might be time to re-build your site with a responsive design. If you only seeing a modest drop in traffic, you can put off this investment for a little while, but you should plan a move toward responsive with your next big website update as mobile search use continues to grow.

Quality Update aka Phantom Update

Google spun this low pressure system out in early May. This wasn’t a tweak to the previous Panda and Penguin updates. Instead, Google rebalanced a wide range of quality factors. But, the impact of the Quality Update has been far more significant across the Internet than Mobilegeddon because it affects desktop search. Sites with low quality content, errors, broken links, etc., were affected. 

Today SEO is all about quality and redefining quality.  Are you still providing your audience with a positive experience? Is your content informative, more useful than peer sites, credible, engaging and up-to-date? If you’re unsure, then it’s time for a website audit. Some of you may be surprised how dated your content and design have become and agree it’s time for a refresh.

Companies that participate in Pilot Fish’s ongoing SEO programs are well-prepared to weather Google’s changes. Clients receive detailed quarterly SEO reports with recommendations and strategies for success based on the latest algorithm.

Spring is gone and summer is here. Is your website facing gloomy days or lots of sunshine?

For more insight into how Pilot Fish monitors its clients’ sites and keeps them performing to Google’s latest algorithm, call 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

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