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Why Buy American Makes Sense for U.S. Websites and SEO

A big disadvantage to working with foreign developers is the inability to easily communicate your objectives for the site so that you’re assured of receiving what you want.

We’ve come across several situations recently where we’ve been asked to host, edit or optimize foreign-built websites and have gained enough experience from these situations to advise our clients, “Just say NO, when it comes to having your website built overseas.”

In some cases, the clients have yielded to corporate pressure to find the cheapest web developer, and ended up working with a U.S.-based firm whose developers reside in India, Malaysia, Poland or Ukraine.

At other times, we’re working with the U.S. affiliate of a foreign conglomerate, oftentimes a German, French, Italian or Japanese company, that insisted that the U.S. division have their website built in the motherland.

Either way, in each case, the resulting headaches were enough that we and our clients agreed that when it comes to website development and SEO, it’s always best to buy American. Here are the most common issues we’ve seen:

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Is it Time for a Review of Your CMS-based Website?

To get the most out of your CMS, it is wise to upgrade when updates are available.

If your website is controlled by a content management system (CMS) and you are making the edits yourself, you might want to occasionally have your web developer review the site to make sure you are on the right track. Doing so can positively impact the overall appearance, and the performance, of your website.

Here are the items that you should have your website developer review and why.

Content

If you’ve previously had your website optimized by and SEO expert, you’ll want to take care when editing the text on your site that you don’t change or overwrite any optimized content. A review of your site will help your SEO consultant determine whether your website pages are performing as planned on Google or whether additional work to meta tags or content should be done to bring your site’s SEO up to the latest standards.

Graphics

Without the eye for detail that a professional graphic designer has, it’s possible that over time, DIY changes to images and graphics on your site can impact the design integrity. Your website designer can help you regain balance of site elements and make sure the image treatments (such as borders, margins, sizes, proportions, color treatments, etc.) are consistent throughout the site.


Navigation

Adding, moving or deleting pages within a CMS can affect more than just navigation buttons. It’s good to review your site periodically to make sure that internal navigational links all still point to live pages and that your site navigation is still working properly throughout the site. 

Links

Have your site reviewed for broken links, missing graphics, videos, PDFs, etc., that may have occurred along the way. The site will should be reviewed for any missing target tags, which are useful in keeping visitors on your site for a longer period of time.

Typography

Consistency in typography builds trust with site visitors. Your designer will check for, and repair, any inconsistencies in fonts, font sizes, font colors, and, font treatments.

Responsive Design

When edits or upgrades are made, sometimes the responsive design can be affected. A review of the responsive design can flag any coding mishaps that could jeopardize the appearance of your site on other devices.

Latest CMS Upgrades and Testing

To get the most out of your CMS, it is wise to upgrade when updates are available. (Upgrading will help with the security of your site, giving you the best possible protection against hackers. Upgrades can also supply you with new features and technologies for your CMS, which will help you to maximize the value of your CMS investment.) Your web developer can install these CMS upgrades for you. The frontend and backend of the site will be examined for any errors or glitches that the upgrade might have caused so these issues can be addressed and resolved in a timely manner.

While going through the review and edit process with your developer, it’s also a good time to make updates to the things that you are unable to edit, or just don’t have time to edit, yourself, such as, headers, sliders, footers, or, any other parts of the CMS framework.

For assistance with your website design, contact Pilot Fish or call 877-799-9994 ext. 2102.

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6 Tips for Sending Images to Your Website Designer

Be sure to name and organize your files in a folder structure that exactly reflects your website outline or site map

Many of the website design projects that we produce are time-sensitive to our clients. The sooner the site is live, the better. One way you, as a client, can help in keeping your website design project moving along quickly is by following these 6 tips for sending images to your website designer.

  1. Use a remote server to share your image files
    If you are using a shared, remote server, such as, cloud computing, Dropbox, or any other FTP tool – this is ideal. Here, images and image folders can be seen and discussed by both you and your designer in a common, and always up-to-date, environment throughout the entire design process. If the information is well organized, your designer can quickly access the files and there will be little to no guessing about where the images should be placed on your website.
  2. When using a remote server, be sure to name and organize your files in a folder structure that exactly reflects your website outline or site map. See the simplified example below for reference.



    In each of the subfolders, include the images that will go on the corresponding page. 

     

    It’s understandable that not all images will be available at the same time. As additional images become available, just upload those files to the remote server in the proper folder and let your designer know which new images have been provided.
     
  3. Name your files in an intuitive, descriptive way
    Avoid using generic, meaningless image file names, or, image names that have been assigned by a digital camera. Instead, use descriptive file names that leverage keywords used on your site for SEO.

    Incorrect:
    D00317.jpg
    D00318.jpg
    D00319.jpg

    Correct: 
    seo-company-building.jpg
    ohio-seo-company.jpg
    tennessee-seo-company.jpg
     
  4. Follow the rules of acceptable file naming

    Rule 1: No caps

    Incorrect:
    SEO-COMPANY-BUILDING.JPG

    Correct:
    seo-company-building.jpg

    Rule 2: No spaces

    Incorrect:
    seo company building.jpg

    Correct:
    seo-company-building.jpg


    Rule 3: No special characters

    Do not use characters such as: " < > # % { } | \ ^ ~ [ ] `.

    Incorrect:
    product-#3x001.jpg

    Correct:
    product-number-3x001.jpg

  5. Provide a document indicating any image captions and/or special instructions
    If you are including captions with your images, please provide a document with the image name and corresponding caption. If you have any additional notes or instructions, please include those as well. This information could be provided in a simple word document with specifications that reflect the sample “About Us” page information below:

    ABOUT US
    Image name:
     seo-company-building.jpg
    Caption: Our corporate headquarters, built in 1974, is located in Akron, Ohio.
    Notes: This image is very important to us. Please place it in a prominent position near the top of the page.

     
  6. If you are sending images via email, provide a descriptive email subject line
    Sending images via email is OK, but not ideal. Usually, designers like high resolution images to work with, but, because of large file sizes, will limit the number of images that can be sent through each email. Usually, the images have to be sent one, or only a few at a time, which could eventually become tedious and time consuming to sift through. But, there will be times when emailing an image could be the only available method. If this is the case, please be sure to use a descriptive subject line and detailed message so your designer can easily determine the nature and placement of the images in the email.

    Incorrect:
    Email subject line: Attached is a new image for the website

    Email message: Please use this in place of the image that I sent last week.

    Correct:
    Email subject line: Your Company Name | Website redesign | Replacement corporate headquarters building image for “About Us” page

    Email message: Please use the attached, updated image in place of “seo-company-building.jpg”, which I emailed on 08/03/16.

Following these tips will:

  1. Save time for your web design company, which will keep your project moving along much faster;
  2. Save you time by requiring less back-and-forth communication between you and your website designer or project manager and fewer questions for you to answer.

Ready to start your website redesign? Contact Pilot Fish or call 877-799-9994 ext. 2102 for a quote or more information.

 
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Your Website Redesign Begins with Research

Looking at other industry sites will give you a more vast selection of tone, style and design.

When designing or redesigning a website, it might seem overwhelming or difficult to articulate the details of how you would like your site to look. So, how do you describe the appearance of something that doesn’t exist? The easiest way to do this is through research and communication. Finding bits and pieces of elements that you like or dislike and providing your designer with this information is the first step to getting the look and functionality that you want in your website. Once you communicate these findings, your designer will assess all of your input and will produce a unique design to fit your company’s needs.

So, where should you begin?

1. Review your competitors’ sites.
Do you see something that gives other companies in your industry a competitive advantage or edge over your company? Do you like the way the information is presented on any of these sites? Is this done through the use of good photography, colors, fonts, or, all of the above? Or, do you hate everything about a particular site? Understanding your dislikes can be just as important as understanding your likes. Is the site difficult to navigate? Is there too much information on a page? Or, is the site perfect and you would really like to figure out a way to surpass the demonstration of quality with the innovativeness of your own website?

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Industrial SEO: Does your Website Content Appeal to Your Industrial Buyers?

The answer is quite simple: Industrial purchases typically present a longer sale cycle and the buyers need more detail.... In other words: Images compel, content sells.

Over that last several years there’s been an apparent shift in website design from a traditional text-driven layout to a more image-heavy format.   I guess many are buying into the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. 

People love pictures!  This strategy works great for consumer-based websites, where consumers buy with emotion, the brand is well known, the sale is just a click away or a quick drive to the nearest big box retailer.

So why are industrial and manufacturing companies failing with this new design approach?  The answer is quite simple: Industrial purchases typically present a longer sale cycle and the buyers need more detail.  Images as the main selling feature work best for consumer-oriented sales.  

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Blowing the Whistle on the Bells and Whistles (Why your website really doesn’t need all of the hot new technology)

Remember the days of the animated cursor? You know, when the little sparkly stars would follow your cursor around the page. Wheeeeeeee …… this is fuuunnnn!! It’s like a magic wand!! That was soooo cool, wasn’t it? Yeah, maybe for about five seconds. Then, the proverbial “magic” was gone. Those sparkly little stars became very annoying VERY quickly. “Abracadabra!!! How do I make these awful stars disappear??”

Or, how about the cursor that was shaped like a football or an animal or had an adorable little face? “Hey, check this out, my cursor has cute little eyeballs and TEETH. Awwww! Neato.” Well, soon that novelty, too, wore off and now it was time to do some serious browsing. “Hmmm, how do I get back to my plain old arrow cursor? Send out the search parties. I want him back!”

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