Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, even WordPress.com. The list goes on and on. The democratization of Web design is upon us… or so these companies want us to think.
Now before I get started I feel the need to disclose that I run a digital agency that builds websites with WordPress (the self-hosted, free, open source, version). Does this sway my opinion a bit, yes, but only because I know what a site that you have FULL control over can do. Also, when I refer to WordPress below, I’m not referring to the hosted, managed, WordPress.com that is run by Automattic. I’m referring to the self-hosted, open source version found at WordPress.org.
Okay, that’s out of the way… onward.
Great For A Decent Looking Site, But Not Going To Get Found
Wix, Squarespace, Weebly and site builders of that ilk are great from people who want a decent site, don’t want to worry about the upkeep, and most of all don’t want to get found.
Now let’s get something out of the way, I’m not saying you can’t optimize these sites and have them show up in the search engines. It’s just a lot harder to do than doing a custom site or using a content management system the likes of WordPress, Joomla and other self-hosted and/or enterprise level CMS systems. WordPress especially, “out of the box,” is coded in such a way that it is easy for Google to index and position.
Yes, Wix and Squarespace have some great looking templates to get you started. But they also limit you in a couple of ways:
- If they have a plugin/extension structure, it’s not nearly as robust as what you get with a CMS like WordPress. The code behind the sites by nature needs to be a lot bulkier to anticipate what the user is going to design and how they want the site to look. When you code your own site, even if you are starting from a WordPress theme or framework, you can streamline the code to do only what you want it to do and nothing else.
Wow WordPress Is Widespread
WordPress, currently powers ~32% of all sites on the Web. This impressive number means a few things:
- The community surrounding WordPress is immense and quite impressive.
- There are tons of designer and developers who can work with it.
- The amount of optimizations and customization that can be done is endless.
- If something breaks, finding someone to help fix it isn’t hard.
Though, to be totally transparent, being such a large chunk of CMS market on the Internet makes WordPress sites more susceptible to attack from hackers. But with proper precautions this can be mitigated easily.
Coming Along, But Still Not There… Yet
Sites like Wix have come a long way and now boast that they are able to be optimized for Google and the search engines. This might be true, but it is certainly a lot harder due to the nature of their systems. They are tightly controlled by their respective companies to keep them secure and easy to use. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it makes optimizations to a Wix site that much harder to do.
A good example of where Wix and other builders are lacking is with the friendly URLs (Website.com/friendy-url vs Website.com/1234a34@234af#133). With Search Engine Optimization (SEO) you want easily understandable URLs and not weird long strings. Wix for example WAS notorious for using a hashbang (#!) in their URLs until recently. They have since remedied that. But many of their plugins have not.
One such plugin is their recipe plugin, the recipe builder, leaves users with long strings of characters instead of nice clean URLs that tell both the search engine spiders and users what they are looking at. Because of the limited plugin directory, or complete lack of one, there aren’t alternatives.
An Expansive Directory of Plugins
With WordPress’ expansive plugin directory, users can find a plugin that works both for their needs and those of the search engines and users. Often these are free with community support, have a tier of paid support above them, or are premium altogether. Regardless of the price point, this directory of plugins, which work with WordPress, allows for a flexibility that other platforms like Wix and Squarespace can’t provide.
So What To Do?
Look, there is nothing wrong with using services like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly, but be educated and choose wisely. Sometimes investing some hard earned cash into a site vs. doing it yourself is the best decision.
Building your Website on the WordPress content management system (CMS) is a great choice. WordPress powers more than 32% of the Internet’s Websites. It is open source, which means that there is a large community of people dedicated to improving and supporting the software. Even Google, the search giant, has a team dedicated to WordPress.
As a Web design/development, SEO and digital marketing firm, we use WordPress exclusively for our Websites. WordPress, out of the box is written properly and because of that it’s much easier to optimize for the search engines.
WordPress, though being very easy to optimize for the search engines, still needs a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan to full benefit and rank high for the site’s keywords/key phrases. It isn’t a cure all and was never intended to be one.
Here are some tips on how to help your WordPress site rank higher in search:
- Download the Yoast SEO plugin (Free/Paid), this plugin allows you to add the meta data needed to optimize for search.
- Download the Yoast Local plugin (Paid) if you’re a local business and want to get found in local search.
- Start a blog sharing useful information about your service or product.
- Make sure you use your keywords/key phrases in your article NATURALLY.
- Don’t keyword stuff your articles, Google and the other search engines prefer articles that are written well for human consumption not the bots.
- Make sure you submit your Website to the various search engine consoles.
- These consoles will help you figure out how to better optimize your site and debug any issues that may arise.
It Takes Time To Rank
Even after you’ve done as much optimization as you can, it takes Google and the other search engines time to crawl your site and pull it into the index. Even then it takes time for your site to rise in position. If your domain and site is new, it will take longer to rank than a site that has been indexed before.
Patience Is An Important Virtue
Patience is important when doing SEO. Don’t change things around every day. Make some changes then give them a week, or so, to see their impact.
As marketers we need to get better at target people and not focus so strongly on gender and gender roles in society. But how, is the question. this is an interesting report by Kantar and synopsis by Marketing Land.
Kantar’s findings revealed 92 percent of male marketers and 88 percent of female marketers believe ads feature “positive and attainable” female role models, but the Kantar’s Gender Equality Measure data shows that 45 percent of consumers believe women in ads are portrayed in an inappropriate way — while only 40 percent think highly of the women portrayed in ads.
Need help with your site? Something not working right? Not sure, but want to come learn more about how to work with your site? These office hours are for you.
Tuesday, January 29 9am to 3:30pm
Go to http://gmwd.us/officehours to pick a time.
We analyzed the Google Reviews of 93,000 local businesses in 26 industries to understand star ratings, number of reviews, and if reviews impact rankings.
The above study is interesting. Bright Local found that many frequently used services like hotels, restaurants, plumbers, etc. get more reviews (good and bad) on Google than do businesses that are used less frequently like marketing agencies, accountants, and lawyers.
The latter fact, though not surprising, brings up a very interesting thought. If you are an accounting firm, it would behoove you really go after reviews. It should be easier to rank higher with less competition.
What do you think? Post your thought in the comments.
The importance of a good solid contract before starting a new project is extremely important. Not doing so can and will result in pain. Sometimes a lot..
Before I start let me get a disclaimer out of the way. I’m not a lawyer, I don’t play one on TV or in real life. I’m a business owner who has been bitten more than once by his own contract and impatience s to get started on a project. My goal is to make it so you don’t make the same mistake, or at least less times than I have.
Okay, let’s get started.
If you do work for yourself or do project management for a firm who has you writing up the contracts for projects, you know how important it is to have a solid contract. Not just to protect your own backside, but your clients as well.
A good contract sets expectations and what you will and won’t do. Agreeing to something and not fulfilling it or omitting something rather important to the scope of the contract can and most likely will come back and bite you in the rear.
A little background
I started Goldstein Media 11 years ago at the best time in the world to start a business. At the end of 2007 when the financial markets went BUST in a BIG way.
To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. People lost their jobs and many decided to go out on their own. This was a prime time for digital shops like Goldstein Media to help these new bergoning companies get a foothold on the net.
I quickly read about how to start a Web design business and how to charge clients. I bought a Web design contract from a from a design firm. I had a friend, who happened to be a lawyer, read through it and give it his blessing. And I was off and running.
The next 11-or-so years would be marked with lots of fun and success, but also some rather harrowing and stress-inducing times for my little company.
Having not gone to business school, (In fact I was a History and Journalism major with minors in Anthropology and Political Science) I had no idea what the heck I was doing. Luckily my wife did go to school for business and was able to help me along the way. But this didn’t save me from making some pretty idiotic and stupid mistakes along the way.
Fast Forward To Current Day
It’s been 11 years. I’ve been through many iterations of my contract and in fact I’m currently working with a lawyer to rewrite my contracts. But I’ve learned a few things along the way.
- When doing business always have a contract, even if it’s with a friend.
- Having a contract protects both of you.
- Not comfortable having friends sign contracts? At least have the agreement in writing. Email works, but not as well as a contract. Again I’m not a lawyer, so if you are unsure check with one.
- Don’t cut corners. Make sure all the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted.
- If you don’t you’re leaving yourself open for interpretation and issues.
- Just because it’s taken 6 months to get a deal spend the time on the contract don’t rush through the contract.
- It’s not the end of the world if your client comes back with questions, changes, concerns. Be open with them and be willing to work with them to make the contract fair to both of you.
- Don’t let money or lack thereof get in the way of writing a good contract. In the end you’ll lose money if your contract isn’t solid.
So what have I learned? Above all, I’m not perfect at following my own advice. But that doesn’t mean I can’t keep learning and revising the process.
What lessons have you learned since you started your business? How do you use contracts for projects? I’d love to hear your ideas. Post them below in the discussion area.
There is something I have to admit. When I first heard of Gutenberg, the new editor for WordPress, I was excited. I love new things and testing them out. But when I downloaded it to say I was nonplussed is an understatement. It was buggy and nothing quite worked.
Enter WordPress 5.0 and the public, out-of-beta, version of Gutenberg. Is it still a little buggy? Sure. But overall it works quite well and the blocks that you can add to the posts and pages make it much more appealing than the old TinyMCE “Classic” editor.
Does this mean, I’m convinced? Maybe. It really depends on the project and if this new editing system plays well with the theme/framework we’re using for our clients. But overall, I’m pleased with it.
WordPress 5.0 is out in the wild now — as of December 6th. It’s a definite departure from the previous versions. The biggest is the new editor, pre-5.0 called Gutenberg.
In addition to many nifty under-the-hood improvements, the new editor is the biggest change.
We’ve made some big upgrades to the editor. Our new block-based editor is the first step toward an exciting new future with a streamlined editing experience across your site. You’ll have more flexibility with how content is displayed, whether you are building your first site, revamping your blog, or write code for a living.
Though Websites can still use what the WordPress universe is calling the “Classic Editor” well on through 2021, the new editor is here to stay and after a bit of a learning curve for us “old hats” it’s pretty slick.
The Classic Editor plugin restores the previous WordPress editor and the Edit Post screen. It lets you keep using plugins that extend it, add old-style meta boxes, or otherwise depend on the previous editor. To install, visit your plugins page and click the “Install Now” button next to “Classic Editor”. After the plugin finishes installing, click “Activate”. That’s it!
It starts with “Blocks”. Like building blocks, these blocks make it “easier” manipulate the content on the page.
The new block-based editor won’t change the way any of your content looks to your visitors. What it will do is let you insert any type of multimedia in a snap and rearrange to your heart’s content. Each piece of content will be in its own block; a distinct wrapper for easy maneuvering. If you’re more of an HTML and CSS sort of person, then the blocks won’t stand in your way. WordPress is here to simplify the process, not the outcome. No longer will you have to custom code within the editor to get your content working/looking correct.
If you’re a client of ours and you want to try out the new editor, let us know and we’ll help learn it.
Not Yet A Client?
Want a team of WordPress experts behind you to help build out a site that converts and also utilizes the new editing experience?
WordCamp Philly 2018 takes place this weekend at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. WordCamp Philly is the premiere WordPress-related technical conference in Philadelphia. The two-day event at the University of the Sciences is full of learning and networking opportunities. The first day, Saturday is the main conference full of useful talks and great networking. Sunday is Contributor Day, where attendees can learn how to contribute to WordPress, the open source project.
If you don’t plan on attending, but still want to see what’s going on, follow the hashtag #WCPhilly on Twitter.
If you are going to be there, be sure to say hi!
Our company profile video is done! We’re so excited about how it turned out. Our client and good friend Joe Monzo of Monzo Media Productions did a fantastic job showing the essence of what Goldstein Media is all about.
We’d to hear what you think about it.
Post your thoughts below.
Thanks again Joe!
© 2017 Seth Goldstein & Ashley Owens