Category Archives: Webmaster Services

Tips for Moving to a New Web Host

Expect the unexpected.
Expect the Unexpected.

Moving to a new web host? Here are my top tips on quickly moving with a minimum of downtime for HTML and PHP (non-database driven) websites.

Know Before You Go
Make sure you know what is going on with your site before you go. What are you using at your old webhost? Email? Script? When you repoint your domain to your new host, anything that you had at your old host is wiped. That means you will have to set up email accounts, any scripts, and any other things you have been using. Make sure before you move, that your webmaster does their due diligence and make sure you are knowledgeable to inform them of what you have and are doing. Typically they can see scripts that run your website, but may not know of your mail server set up.

Use a Web Host that Provides a Temporary Domain
I like Hostway, when I set up a new domain that is owned or pointed elsewhere, Hostway gives me a temporary domain to use. I can load files and even test scripts and make any changes I need to before I move a domain and go live. If you don’t see this option ask, as sometimes it can be turned on for you.

Test, Test, Test
Before launch of any site, I do extensive testing both in my clients area and then in the temporary domain. Try to get all problems resolved before you turn your new site on. It will save having headaches and frustration.

Be Prepared for Propagation
Once you repoint your domain name servers to a new web host, be prepared for propagation. Know that it takes typically 4 to 6 hours for servers to refresh and longer for small internet service providers for your domain at the new web host to be seen consistently and properly. Don’t freak out when you cannot see your site. This takes time and there is nothing you can do to speed the process.

Looking for a webmaster to help you move to a new web host? Contact us and review our webmaster services today.

 

Weighing Your Options for Website Redesign Work

Solutions for your business that make sense.
Solutions for your business that make sense.

Many legacy website owners are now looking at upgrading their websites to leverage new technologies but what type of site should you consider as you weigh your options?

WordPress Websites Pros and Cons

I have a love/hate relationship with WordPress. I love the power and adaptability. I love the free plugins, but I hate the security problems and I hate the lack of really fine control both for SEO use and for image placements.

If a client decides that they want to do their own content updates, WordPress is perfect for them, but at a cost.

If a client does not buy a security monitoring service like WordFence or SiteLock, they may leave their expensive new website open to becoming hacked and banned on Google (until remediated from a hack).

Being secure costs money and WordPress is not a set it and forget it application. Be prepared if you decide to do your own updates that you need security software and need to do your own weekly site updates to keep WordPress secure.

HTML Websites Pros and Cons

For clients that are never going to do their own updates and do not need special plugin features from WordPress, I love a regular HTML version website. I love the control of page and image naming, the ability to have total control over site architecture, and the security of knowing that hackers do not typically use HTML websites as a platform to spew spam or malware.

HTML websites do not need regular security review, analysis and monitoring as WordPress sites do. But as technology changes they typically should be replaced about every five years.

If you need help with a SEO focused information-rich website for your service business and are not using ecommerce, pick up the phone and chat with me about your needs at 540-693-0385. I’d be glad to let you candidly know if our services would be a good match for your needs.

Google Starts Testing on Mobile First Search Index – Explained

Googlespeak can be confusing for those not in the industry, so this post will help business owners understand what Google means when it states the following:

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first.”  Doantam Phan, Google product manager

Google Partner Badge
McCord Web Services is a Google Partner.

This is the bottom-line. Google is testing and will most likely rollout a huge change to its indexing algorithm that is used to rack and stack websites in the organic or unpaid results of search pages.

The algorithm will now review and base the ranking index across all devices based on what the Googlebot spider reads in the content of a mobile version website. This is incredibly big news and the ramifications are huge.

Here’s why:

  1. If you have a responsive website, you do not need to worry. You are totally covered for this update.

2. If you have a mobile adaptive website, you need to start making changes. A mobile adaptive site means that the content for your mobile site is different and sometimes lacks the content that you have in your desktop and tablet version site. You may have dropped content, streamlined content on pages, or not developed content for some pages. In other words the mobile site is different by design and desire from your desktop site.

3. If you do not have a mobile site it is time to get busy and move to a responsive website design. Although Google says that it will still spider your site with its mobile searchbot, I would expect in the future to see tags in the index stating your site is not mobile friendly and possible demotions.

Google means business on mobile as attested by the following quote.

“Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.” Doantam Phan, Google product manager

 If you need help with a responsive website, now’s the time to check in with the McCord Web Services team. Our focus is to implement affordable, SEO-focused responsive websites that bring you customers.

Security, Security, Security – You Can Never Have Too Much

Make sure you know about your own site's security policy.
Make sure you know about your own site’s security policy.

Security, you never realize how much you really should be thinking about it until your site is hacked. For business owners, let me caution you to not leave this most important aspect out of protecting your online presence to staff without some oversight.

Here’s what you as the business owner need to know about security.

  1. You need a back up and redundancy plan.
  2. You need to know what your webmaster is doing on security.
  3. You need to routinely monitor the Google Search Console for messages.
  4. Sometimes the Bing Search Console will notify you faster of a hack, so monitor there too.
  5. Look for weird URLs and strange activity in Google Analytics.
  6. Make sure you do regular back ups of your website files and keep several archives not just one.
  7. Back up your back up!
  8. If you use WordPress as the backbone for your site see below.
  9. Remain vigilant. If you have security plugins monitor the messages.

If you have WordPress…

I like WordFence as my security plugin. I am getting nice results and actionable message about access, updates to do to stay secure, and not too many messages that I get “security fatigue”.

I do use other plugins as well for WordPress. Below are the ones I will typically install for clients.

Login Lockdown
Locks out brute force attacks and bad passwords.

WordPress File Monitor
This plugin monitors the core files for changes and uploads.

Sucuri or WordFence
I have used this program but found that the number of messages was too overwhelming so at this time I am using WordFence instead. Just make sure you use something AND make sure to actually read the alerts!

If you need help with your website please feel free to visit ours and check out our services.

 

WordPress Web Design

Solutions for your business that make sense.
Solutions for your business that make sense.

I started out my business in 2001 as a web designer and then over the years moved into AdWords and social media; doing less website design over the years.

But, now I have come full circle and am back doing web design for key clients who want a heavy focus on design for organic search placement.

Here is a link to one of the sites I am working on right now for Imagine Insurance Advisors. I am finding out just what clients like about WordPress. You can preview it while it is in work.

1. The ability to update their own content at any time, even though they may not do this frequently, is a very big plus. The business owner of my most recent project says that her team is excited that when they have an open house or event, that they can put it on their home page themselves without a paid webmaster’s intervention

2. The ability to change the look and feel in the theme settings as they use the site is another feature that many like. Tired of your site set to fill the screen? With one click you can set the site layout to 1200 pixels wide and add a background image. Don’t like it? You can undo with one click! Once your theme is set up, small changes like this do not impact content or other design features.

3. Not every website is a good match for WordPress, but the ability to add functionality via plugins allows a site to stay relevant as the times change. One thing I really like is the integration of Accelerate Mobile Pages (AMP). I consider this a huge growth area and one that over time Google will be using in the mobile search space for placement. Google loves AMP and so should you as the pages are super streamlined but load almost instantaneously. This is the future for mobile. And WordPress plugins make it easy to start with AMP. Although some of the plugins still generate errors, they are a good start.

If you are looking for great content, smart solutions and an update to your legacy website, it’s time to take a careful look at WordPress and consider our design services.

Domain Don’ts

Confused senior man
Don’t Make a Big Mistake!

Thinking about buying a used domain name? Be careful, very careful, even if a domain is offered to you for a great price and it really looks like a great keyword match, take a deep breath and do your homework before you jump on buying that domain name.

Why should I be careful?

It today’s environment when great domains become available it is typically because they have been burned out by spammers. A domain will carry history, it is not just a name and when you take it over thinking you are getting a fresh start; it may be banned by spam registries, Internet Service Providers, and been used and abused by spamming or black hat SEO’s.

Even $200 is too much to pay for a domain that has been abused. You may never be able to use the domain name in an email address and the history may be so tainted that you will never be able to remediate it and place on any search engine with it.

My recommendation is – No Go.

My candid recommendation on buying a used domain, based on how things are, is that I would pass. A domain name does not assure SEO placement, and if you really love the domain you may be able to buy it fresh and clean and never used before as a .us or .biz.

If the price tag is even higher, hire an expert to do due diligence for you. I’ve seen domains go for $10,000. You’d hate to pay that kind of money and find out that the domain had been horribly abused making its value to you nearly nothing. Be careful and do some Google searches first before you consider buying any used domain names.