Managed Web Hosting

EduCyber offers something called managed web hosting but we have a unique way of handling it. Whereas other firms offering this service automate, automate, automate; we take the time to look at your site. We log in and make sure that your plugins are up-to-date.

We update plugins and core files to make sure your site is secure and has the latest features available. That alone is a huge comfort for our clients. We recently acquired a new hosting client who has a WordPress site and was scared to update the plugins in case something broke. We did the updates for him and verified that everything was working. We even discovered several plugins that weren’t being used. By uninstalling them we sped up the site and made it more efficient.

We provide several layers of security. Our web servers have a firewall that stops most of those with nefarious intent. For our WordPress customers we use a special plugin that stops hackers who try to get to the backend by guessing passwords for common user names like “admin”. With these and other tools not one of our sites has been hacked in years. We continue to follow and implement best practices when it comes to security to keep our customers sites up and secure.

We implement analytics. The tool of choice for several years has been Google Analytics. We make sure each site has analytics installed and functions. Then we even go through site performance every six months to help you understand what is happening on your site so you can make informed decisions about changes or proposed changes to your site.

We actively look for ways to help your site perform better. Since page speed is one of the things search engines look for, we make sure you are aware of what needs to be done to improve the speed or we will even go in and do it for you.

Since our tag line is “We partner with our customers to engage their visitors and convert them into clients” we work to make that partnering bit real. We want you to succeed. We do more than want though. We take concrete steps for you to help your site and your business be better with our managed web hosting service.

If you are already an EduCyber managed web hosting customer, who should you tell about us? If you are not yet a customer, give us a call today at 303-268-2245 ext 4 and we’ll get the process started.

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Is Page Speed Important?

Not long ago I wrote an article on Page Speed. Since then, page speed has continued to climb in importance.  How Google’s algorithm for ranking pages works is the secret sauce that makes them who they are. But we do know that pages that load fast are moving up in importance in the algorithm.

So what can be done?

There are a few things you can do that can have a dramatic impact on your web page loading time.

  • Optimize your images. Nearly every site we test has images that can be better optimized for display on the web. Remember, more and more people are using mobile devices as their sole connection to the internet. So having big images will slow them down and often not display as well as images that are optimized for mobile.
  • Tell your site to use browser caching. While there are different ways of doing this from the technical – like manually editing your .htaccess file – to much simpler – like installing  a caching plugin, this one change can score you points with page speed and ultimately provide a better user experience.
  • Make sure you are displaying the proper size of images. Together with point # 1, you can become the ace of images by making sure that you are displaying an image at 300 pixels wide by 400 pixels tall, that your image is 300 pixels X 400 pixels. If you’re loading an image that is 600 X 800 and then displaying it at 300 X 400, you can get a 50% reduction by resizing that image. This is pretty easy to do. I sometimes do this in Windows using the Paint program and it can be done in seconds, not minutes.
  • Deliver your files with compression. Windows users will be familiar with zipped files. That is pretty much the same concept here. Telling your web server to deliver files using gzip usually improves your page speed a bit.

Why do you want to have a fast site? There are two main reasons. First comes the user experience. If people visiting your site are met with spinning icons as your page slowly loads, they’ll likely feel like they’re spinning their wheels and go elsewhere.  Second is search engines. Having a fast-loading web page is one of the “search signals”. A search signal is a factor that Google or other search engine uses to determine how to rank a page for different key words.  While it is but one of many signals, since it also fits with a better user experience, we HIGHLY recommend optimizing your site for speed using one of the tools in the previous article

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Running the Wrong Race

This last week I had an email conversation that went something like this:

Potential Customer: I’m interested in what you do – how much does it cost?
Me: Well, we build websites to meet our customers’ needs and business goals. What are yours?
PC: I already have a web site, how could you help me grow and become more visible?

And that was when I knew this guy was running the wrong race.  If you have a VW and you think you’re going to race it in NASCAR. . .  well you only win that race in Disney movies.  We still had a good conversation and he is considering his options but that conversation surfaces the biggest issue we see in the digital marketing arena today.

If you have built your website to display your wares like the ancient markets where, on market day people would walk by and some would stop and buy from you and you want a powerful, inbound campaign that brings people to you, you need to start with your web presence in general and your website specifically.

How do you gain a new customer now? What is the decision point when you know “I just got a new customer!” If that isn’t built into your website, how will it help you grow? Take some time to ponder this. It really is the crux of the matter and key to winning the race.

Understanding the key decision point(s) your customers face and then putting that into your site shows your customers you understand their pain. Why does every mortgage lender have a mortgage calculator on their site? That is the issue or pain their customers face – “How much will I be paying?” While that is important, everyone (all mortgage lenders) do that. So what is the decision point that comes up when your customers choose you? That is the issue to build into your website.

Once you have your site optimized to help you attract and capture new leads or more business, then you’re ready to run the race – whether it be Search Engine Optimization, Paid Advertising, Social Media Marketing, email marketing or some combination thereof.

Whatever you decide, if you think we might be able to help you, give us a call today at 303-268-2245 and ask for Brian.

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Choosing a Domain Name

There are still good domain names to be had if you are looking either to start a new business or to claim a better domain name for your existing business.

First let’s examine why it is important to choose a good domain name.  Say you were a church called Mt. Zion Christian Church. You decide to go with mtzionchristian.org. Seems pretty straight forward at first. But then once you start telling people you realize they’re going to mountzionchristian.org. Oops. So it is important to get a domain name that is descriptive of where you are or what your business does.

We had a client whose last name was one of those difficult to pronounce east European names. Though that was the name of their company, we went with a much more generic denvertreeservices.com for their domain. This served them well when they later changed the company name. And “Denver” “tree” “services” rolls off the tongue much more easily. It is more memorable as well.

Sometimes it is OK to have a long domain name if it is descriptive. Imagine if you worked at the Colorado Historical Society and decided to go with coloradohissoc.org to make the domain shorter. How would you say that domain? “Colorado” “his” “sock”? You’d spend all your time trying to spell it out and folks would undoubtedly still get it wrong. But if you went with coloradohistoricalsociety.org it is easy to say and easy to remember.

Not long ago I strongly advised a client to not use hyphens in their domain name. So instead of two, they used one hyphen and thought that was a pretty brilliant idea. Then just the other day while we were meeting with them, they realized how the domain doesn’t roll off the tongue when they have to insert a dash. Just listen in your head: “mybusiness” “dash” “mysecondbusinessname”.  Or, to reuse the example above – “Colorado” “dash” “historical” “dash” “society” “dotorg” doesn’t roll off your tongue very easily.

So here’s what we recommend for choosing a domain name:

1.       Do NOT use dashes or hyphens

2.       Do NOT abbreviate

3.       Do NOT use a name if it is easily misspelt

4.       Do use longer names if necessary and if memorable

5.       Do use something descriptive if the company name is not a good choice

6.       Do consider whether to buy other top level domain names such as .biz, .net and .org to protect your brand.

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Templates and Web Site Design

There are web sites that are built on templates and then there are template web sites. Which would you prefer?

Many of our clients are uneasy with building a web site using a template – seems like anyone could do that, right?

The answer is ‘ You’re absolutely correct.” Templated web sites abound. I live in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and they city just implemented a program where you build your own web site from a template program. Here’s why we don’t build websites using templates:

  1. Templated web sites tend to all look the same
  2. The template programs used to create these sites are generally built without any way to customize the site.
  3. A template website builder limits creativity and options.

Having said that, I will proudly tell you that we build template web sites. What’s the difference?

Simple. We don’t start with a template. We start with a look that is customized to your needs and business goals. Once we’ve got the look designed to your satisfaction, we turn that look into a template. So it is sort of a chicken and egg deal. We design the look first and then create a template based on that look. We don’t start with a template and try to make your ideas fit.

But it is very important to turn the design into a template. We can then manage the look of the site from one or two files rather than having to touch (edit) every page of the site when we make a minor change to the look.

A good template for a good program is very powerful. Last week we converted a client’s site from a non-templated site to a simple template within WordPress. Last week the site wasn’t ranked at all for any of the targeted key words. This week we’ve already got 11 key words that the site is ranked for and one is already ranked 11 in Google. We’ve still got work to do but simply by creating a good template within WordPress, we’re already helping this client be successful.икони

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Get Traction with Google Local

Local search is where it is at for service related companies. Whether your service is landscaping, roofing, dry-cleaning or computer support, it only makes sense that you would do most if not all of your business in and around your local community.

So how does local search work? While it can be quite complex to get your site listed high in the local listings, the basics are simple and sometimes that is enough.

Let’s use Google since they account for 84.72% of all search engine usage worldwide.

  1. First go to http://www.google.com/maps and in the search bar, type in the name of your company. If nothing comes up, type in your address.
  2. When you see your listing (there should only be one – if there are more, that’s a topic for another day) click on more info. Along the top on the right you’ll see a link that says “Business Owner?”. Click on that link and claim your listing.
    • If it says “Owner-verified listing” then someone from your company has already claimed the listing. You’ll need to talk to them to get more information.
  3. If you don’t have a Google account, it only takes a few minutes to create a verify one. Do this and come back to the maps. If you already have a Google account, then login.
  4. Now you’re ready to enter your company information. The more info you enter, the better your chances of being listed.
  5. Put in your complete address and ALL of your contact information.
  6. Choose two or more categories for your business.
  7. Enter your hours of operation as appropriate and check off the types of payment you accept.
  8. Upload a couple of pictures – of you, of the outside of your place of business, of the inside, etc.
  9. Upload a video or two. These don’t have to be professionally shot. Just practice a few times and take the best one you have. Introduce people to your business.
  10. Enter some additional details and click on Submit.
  11. The first time you do this, you will be asked to select whether Google should call you or mail you. Select call and be prepared to enter the PIN number they’ll give you on the phone as soon as you click Finish. Then within a day or two your listing will be eligible to begin appearing.

There are lots of things you can do to enhance your local listing such as:

  • Upload more pictures
  • Upload more videos
  • Add / Create fields for Additional Details
  • Add as many categories as you can think of for your listing
  • Try the free trial of Google Tags
  • Update your status
  • Create a coupon
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A Look Back, A Look Ahead

What did you measure this year? All of us measure the bottom line but what else? Did you measure the number of new customers / clients? What about number of leads and number of those leads that converted into clients? Number of sales online? Number of new newsletter signups? Number of fans or followers on social media?

How did your numbers measure up? Some interesting things we noticed in our numbers: With the year not yet finished, we’ve already had 16% more visitors to our site this year over last. An online store we manage has had a 5 fold increase in sales and a lot more traffic.

For our site our traffic from search engines is actually down a bit over last year but that is because we’ve been focusing on our customer’s campaigns more than our own so we’re not too upset over that one.

Whatever you measure, make sure it adds to your marketing goals. If our goal was to get a lot of traffic from the search engines, you can be sure we would have paid a lot more attention and performed a whole lot better.

For the year ahead (don’t give up on this one yet though – there are still almost three weeks left) take time to set out your Internet Marketing goals. Start with your web site itself. If it conversion optimized? That is, is your site ready to convert visitors into customers? If you want to measure newsletter signups, for example, is the site geared towards getting visitors to do that? Are there barriers that you may have inadvertently put in place (such as asking for a physical address when all you need is an email address)?

Typically you want to have a conversion and a micro-conversion. If they aren’t ready to buy from you or ask you for a quote, perhaps they’ll sign up for your newsletter so they can stay in touch. Asking for a quote would be the conversion and the newsletter signup, the micro-conversion.

Once your site is ready, you can look at other marketing venues. Do you need Pay Per Click? Would a local search campaign make sense for you? How does social media marketing fit into the picture? Should you be tweeting? Do you need to claim your business on Foursquare? Will using QR codes help you reach your goals?

If you’re not thinking about these questions, I would suggest that you ought to be. If you’re not but feel like you should, give EduCyber a call at 303 268-2245. We can help you plan for a fantastic year.

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Invest in Search Marketing

If you’ve been following me at all you know that the cardinal rule of Internet Marketing is to have a plan.

Once you have that plan, you can look at the different ways you can invest your marketing dollars. Here are three of the avenues you can explore, along with the risks and benefits of each:

  1. Paid Search: The most well-known paid search venue is Google AdWords. The main benefit of a paid search campaign is that you get immediate results. The most common type of campaign is Pay Per Click – you design your ad and it might show up hundreds of times but you only pay when someone click on your ad. The biggest risk is that, unlike other kinds of search marketing, the minute you quit paying for clicks, the minute the traffic stops.
  2. Local Search: As in all other kinds of search marketing, Google also dominates here. Their local search offering is dubbed Google Places. What they discovered is that since most searches are local, they should have a special way of showing local results. Getting listed in the top seven of Google Places can be a boon for your business. Imagine, if you run a plumbing company and you get into the top 7 (1st page) of Google Places. You could go from no calls to dozens of calls a day. A benefit of local search is that it is free (Google doesn’t charge you anything). Completing your profile is fairly easy as well. A drawback is it doesn’t make sense if you’re bigger than local and it also is difficult to work with if you are a home-based business.
  3. Organic Search (this is the area commonly known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO): Getting ranked high in the organic search engine listings continues to pay off for businesses. This is process whereby your site is ranked at or near the top when someone searches for general terms for your service. For example, if I search for “buy contact lenses” the first two organic listings I get are visiondirect.com and lens.com. Getting to the top of organic listings typically costs the company quite a bit (paying a firm like EduCyber to get there) but a huge benefit is that once you’re listed, you can “coast” for a while, not paying anyone anything but not losing you place because of it.

If you want help with marketing your web site, we can help. EduCyber has Internet Marketing plans and packages for many kinds of businesses. You can also call us at 303 268-2245

 

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Google Changes Local Search

 Yesterday may seem like it was less than 24 hours ago but time flies quickly on the Internet. Just a few months ago John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing wrote about 5 great research tools. I tried to visit the last one today, Bing xRank, to find out how it worked. And it’s gone.

I’ve been talking to a lot of people, colleagues, customers and potential customers, about Google Places lately. And the more I talk about it, the faster Google changes it. Just this week they changed the display dramatically.

If you haven’t claimed your business on Google Places, you should. It’s important for marketing purposes. Last week if I did a search for something local like “Denver Landscaping” I would have seen the two paid ads at the top and directly below that a map. To the right of the map were 7 listings of local (Denver area) landscapers.

This week when I do the same search I see the two ads at the top but the map has now been moved over to the right column and the local listings appear where the organic listings used to show up. Beneath the 7 local listings are the top 3 organic listings.

What does this mean for companies engaged in search marketing?

  1. Local search is more important than ever – completely dominating the first page of Google searches
  2. Google realized that seeing the location on a map is not nearly as important as the listing of the company (so they moved the map to the right column).
  3. If you are going to compete in organic search for many key words, your goal needs to be to get into the top 3 instead of the top 10. Being fourth bumps you to the second page of results.

These changes are designed to make things work better for the end user – the consumer – but sudden changes like this are seismic shifts in the search world. Whether you are a vendor (like EduCyber is) or a customer (like the landscaping companies in the example above), the organic competition just got a lot tougher and the Google Places listing just got a lot more lucrative.

So just like that, what used to work (last week) needs to be changed.Need help trying to figure all this out? Give EduCyber a call at (303) 268-2245.

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EduCyber Workshop: Internet Marketing for the Decision Maker

EduCyber is pleased to announce their workshop “Internet Marketing for the Decision-Maker” on Wednesday, November 3 from 8:30 – 10:00. This in person workshop will be held in the 2nd Floor Conference room at 4251 Kipling St. in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

In this fast-paced seminar Brian DeLaet, CEO of EduCyber, will introduce the five main questions any firm should ask of their Internet Marketing company. There is an incredible deluge of marketing offers from Search Engine Optimization to paid search to affiliate marketing. How do you know you’re getting the right mix for your company?

Attendees of this workshop will gain an understanding of:

  • What to look for in an Internet Marketing company
  • What the current trends in search marketing are
  • Whether to venture into social media marketing
  • How to build an integrated Internet marketing plan

Further information can be found at www.educyber.com (click on the Register Online for our seminars button). This seminar costs $19.95.

About EduCyber:
EduCyber, a web design and Internet marketing firm, is based in Wheat Ridge, Colorado since 1998. EduCyber specializes in designing and building websites that are optimized to generate business. EduCyber works with growing companies to position them properly on the Internet and build their sites in order to grow their businesses.

Current EduCyber customers include non-profit organizations like the MaxFund, the West Chamber Serving Jefferson County and Wheat Ridge 2020, as well as for-profit businesses particularly in the home services (HVAC, plumbing, electrical, landscaping) area and e-commerce sites for businesses large and small.

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