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On October 24, Facebook and Instagram plan to roll out a major change which has the potential to break content across millions of sites using WordPress.

On that date, the companies will remove functionality which allows sites to embed content from the social networks. 

The change does not only mean that publishers will no longer be able to embed this content on their websites. The change is retroactive, meaning that all content ever embedded on your site could potentially become inaccessible or broken. 

There is one exception – though it will likely be impractical for many out there. 

The change is removing support for unauthenticated Facebook and Instagram embeds, meaning that those with a developer account and a registered Facebook account will still be able to link content between their app and Facebook or Instagram. 

The Technical Changes

To get into the nitty-gritty – Facebook is deprecating the current oEmbed endpoints for embeddable Facebook content on October 24, 2020. oEmbed is a popular open format means of embedding content from one site to another. 

The Facebook integration of oEmbed endpoints has allowed pages to quickly and easily embed HTML or basic content from pages, posts, and videos on their own site or app. Unfortunately, that aspect of the Facebook API is being removed. 

In response, WordPress has also said it will be removing Facebook and Instagram as supported oEmbed sources.

What You Can Do

As expected, developers began work on ways to fix content or prevent losing access as soon as the announcement was made. 

So far, there are two major options for those wanting to keep support for embedded Facebook and Instagram content on their websites:

oEmbed Plus – Developer Ayesh Karunaratne has created an expanded version of the existing system for embedding content from Instagram and Facebook which provides a workaround. 

Even using the plugin, you will have to register for a Facebook developer account and “create an app”. However, you don’t have to actually develop an app, just register one with the site. 

You can see the guide for the plugin here for an idea what the process entails.

Smash Balloon Plugins – Developer Smash Balloon has provided a potentially easier option by updating their previous plugins to provide continued support – no developer account or app required. This is possible because Smash Balloon is effectively using its own API key to provide authentication for embedded content to users. 

Across the country, governors and mayors are implementing “shelter in place” or “safer at home” orders which are requiring a significant number of businesses to temporarily close during the COVID-19 epidemic.

In response, business owners are making hard decisions to cut costs and tighten belts to make it through these weeks. One such question on many business owners’ minds is whether to continue paying to maintain their website, or if they should take it offline in order to avoid paying hosting or maintenance costs.

Google Says Don’t Shut Down Your Website

It may be tempting, but disabling your site for any amount of time – even just a few days – can have long-lasting effects on your search engine rankings. Not only does it completely shut down the ability for people to find out about your products and services for the time being, it essentially removes your site from Google’s index.

In this situation, Google will have to reindex your website when you come back online, putting you back at square one.

What To Do Instead

In new recommendations, Google is suggesting that businesses limit their site’s functionality rather than go completely offline when you need to pause operations.

The company suggested a number of steps you can take to suspend your online services while still keeping customers informed and preserving your search visibility. These steps include:

  • Keep users informed with a popup or banner explaining how your business has changed. Follow Google’s guidelines for banners and popups to ensure that you’re not interfering with the user experience.
  • Adjust your structured data to reflect event updates, product availability and temporary closures. You can also mark your business as temporarily closed through Google My Business.
  • E-commerce sites should follow Google’s Merchant Center guidance on availability and, if necessary, disable cart functionality.
  • Inform Google of site updates by requesting a recrawl through Search Console.

If You Absolutely Must Take Down Your Site

As a last resort, Google does recommend a few things you can do to protect your search visibility if you must take your site down:

  • For a temporary takedown, use the Search Console Removals Tool.
  • If you’re taking down your site for one or two days, you can return an informational error page with a 503 Service Unavailable code.
  • For longer site takedowns, put up an indexable homepage placeholder for searchers using the 200 HTTP status code.

Don’t Overreact, Think Ahead

It is easy to get caught up in the current situation and lose sight of the long-term picture. While the COVID-19 epidemic is a serious concern for businesses, it will eventually pass. When it does, you want to be ready to hit the ground running, not starting again from square one.

Thanks to its high-level of adaptability, JavaScript (JS) has been in use in some shape or form for more than 20 years and remains one of the most popular programming languages used to build websites.

However, Google’s Martin Splitt, a webmaster trends analyst, recently suggested that webmasters should begin moving away from the coding language to rank most quickly on search engines.

In an SEO Mythbusting video exploring the topic of web performance and search engine optimization, Splitt and Ada Rose Cannon of Samsung found themselves talking about JavaScript.

Specifically, they discussed how using too much JS can drag down a site’s performance and potentially drag them down in Google’s search index.

How JavaScript Holds Content Back

One of the biggest issues that arise with overusing JS is when sites publish content on a daily basis.

Google uses a two-pass indexing process to help verify content before it is added to the search index. In the case of a JavaScript-heavy page, Google first renders the non-JS elements like HTML and CSS. Then, the page gets put into a queue for more advanced crawling to render the rest of the content as processing resources are available.

This means Java-heavy pages may not be completely crawled and indexed for up to a week after being published.

For time-sensitive information, this can be the difference between being on the cutting-edge and getting left behind.

What You Can Do Instead

Splitt offers a few different techniques developers can use to ensure their site is being efficiently crawled and indexed as new content is published.

One way to get around the issue would be to use dynamic rendering, which provides Google with a static rendered version of your page – saving them the time and effort of rendering and crawling the page themselves.

The best course of action, though, would be to simply rely primarily on HTML and CSS for time-sensitive content.

Splitt takes time to explain that JavaScript is not inherently bad for your SEO or search rankings. Once they are indexed, JS-heavy sites “rank just fine.” The issue is ensuring content is crawled and indexed as quickly and efficiently as possible, so you can always be on the cutting edge.

The discussion gets pretty technical, but you can view the entire discussion in the full video below:

A new survey of US consumers has some surprising findings about what customers expect out of business websites.

The results from 1,013 respondents between the ages of 18-60 show that consumers have high expectations when it comes to how frequently your website is updated, what features are implemented, and how you are advertising your business online.

What Consumers DON’T Want in a Website

Of the respondents, more than 80% say they view a brand more negatively if their website is out of date. Additionally, 39% of consumers say they would reconsider buying a product or service if the website isn’t current.

The issue of advertising is also a prickly subject for consumers, based on the survey results.

Less than 10% approved of brands showing ads on social media based on a person’s browsing activity. Meanwhile, approximately 26% feel negatively about ads appearing on their social media feeds based on their browsing or device history – saying it is an invasion of privacy.

On the other hand, 41% of consumers say they don’t mind if websites keep personal data, but only if it is secured on used exclusively to improve the user experience.

Overall, consumers are largely conflicted. Approximately 50% of respondents say that they like the convenience of brands keeping data for to improve ads and user experience, but they are concerned about how else it might be used.

What Consumers DO Want in a Website

In general, consumers say ease of use should be the top priority in making their online experience better.

Approximately 50% of the respondents said they prefer user-created content like reviews and photos to help inform their purchasing decision.

Meanwhile, 25% say their favorite website feature is receiving a reminder when they have left a product in their shopping cart.

Perhaps surprisingly, a major feature desired by users is an on-site search engine. Nearly one-third of respondents say they are put-off if a site does not have a search box, while more than 40% say a search box is the most important feature on a site.


The survey includes a number of interesting findings about consumer behavior and desires online covering a wide range of topics. You can read all the details from Blue Fountain Media here.

 

Single-page websites have taken over the internet lately. More and more businesses are choosing to streamline their sites to get straight to the point, and newer brands are opting to avoid paying to create a dozen or more pages. The question is whether single-page websites are actually good for you and your brand.

Admittedly, there are a few clear benefits from single-page websites. They tend to work well on mobile devices and load more quickly than a site with numerous pages. Since more than half of all searches are now coming from mobile sources, these can help you ensure people on smartphones don’t have to wait to check out your stuff.

There are also a variety of free tools that can help set-up a stylish one-page site, while designing a full multi-page site can cost thousands of dollars.

However, it’s not all roses and sunshine when it comes to single-page websites. Here are a few things to consider before you decide to go minimalist with a one-page website for your brand:

Lack of info

The biggest problem with single-page websites is simply cramming everything your potential customers want to know all on one page.

On a multiple-page website, you can publish all sorts of content and valuable information that helps your visitors become informed and excited about your products or services. When you cut all that down to one page, you lose a lot of the details that can be a deciding factor in turning someone from a visitor to a customer.

Even with a great layout that includes separate sections for different topics or types of services, it is nearly impossible to include everything your variety of visitors want to find.

SEO limitations

Since you can’t fit in as many types of content or information, it is also hard to target as many keywords or phrases as you have in the past. Sites with lots of pages of content can cover a huge range of keywords related to your business, helping you rank on diverse search pages that might draw in different parts of your audience.

On that note, it can also be hard to keep your site looking “active” since you are only updating it for new products or when you change your business’s phone number. Rather than keeping people up-to-date, single-page websites are typically planned to be “evergreen” and need minimal updating. That may sound nice, but search engines tend to prefer sites that are regularly adding new information and resources – not stagnant sites that are only updated a few times a year at most.

Cost vs. Effect

One of the most common reasons I hear for going single-page is that it is cheaper. You don’t have to hire a web designer to customize numerous pages with unique layouts and images or have a writer fill all those pages with copy and content.

That can all be tantalizing, but as the saying goes: “you get what you pay for.” If you use a free or cheap template for your single-page website, you risk looking bland and forgettable because others are using that exact same layout.

Even if you hire someone to create a great single-page layout, it becomes hard to make your page effective. Strategized approaches get cut to fit within the limited mold, and your copy becomes broad to cover as much as possible as quickly as you can.

All-in-all, single-pages require a ton of work to be anywhere as effective as a traditional website. You have to fight an uphill battle to optimize your site for search engines and hope your content is so insanely precise that you aren’t missing any details your customers want. So, if you are choosing a one-page site for its low-cost, you should realize it will cost you one-way or the other down the road.

The final verdict

As with any trend, it can be hard to resist the urge to be up-to-date and hip. But, trends are fleeting because they often aren’t fully thought through. There will always be a small number of brands who benefit from going to a single-page site, but most discover it’s not as great or easy as they thought it would be.

Google Logo

Do you have an on-site search engine to help visitors find the products and content they want? Do you rely on Google’s Site Search service for your search engine? If so, you should begin making plans for a replacement.

Google has confirmed it will be shutting down the Google Site Search product and discontinuing support by the fourth quarter of 2017.

Google Site Search powered internal search engines with Google’s own search technology, charging users based on monthly query volume for the product.

The paid site search product wasn’t Google’s only on-site search product. The company is directing consumers using the company to use either the ad-powered free custom search engine or cloud search product.

In a statement to Search Engine Land, a Google spokesperson said:

We are winding down the Google Site Search product over the next year, but will provide customer and technical support through the duration of license agreements. For GSS users whose contract expires between April 1st and June 30th, 2017, we are providing a free 3-month extension with additional query volume to allow more time for them to implement the necessary changes to their site. GSS customers may also take advantage of our Custom Search Engine solution, an ads-supported model that offers similar functionality. We continue to build out new functionality and invest in new technology that make enterprise search a great experience for our customers. Just recently, we introduced the general availability of Google Cloud Search for G Suite customers.

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Does it seem like your ‘Contact Us’ page never actually leads to contact with customers or interested consumers? These days, every business with a website has a contact page, but few are putting the time and care into these pages that they invest in other areas of their site.

I couldn’t count the number of stylish and modern websites I’ve found with contact pages that look weeks or even years old. Sometimes the web design looks distinctly dated, like a forgotten room in a house that has since undergone numerous renovations. Even more worrying, some businesses forget to update their contact information after address or phone number changes.

Any of these issues can deter potential customers from contacting you or purchasing your products or services in the blink of an eye. The good news is, they are also easily fixable. Today, I wanted to offer you some quick ways to turn your ‘contact us’ page from one of the least effective pages on your site to a consistent source of leads and customer engagement.

Be Consistent

The most important factor when listing your contact information anywhere online is consistency. Your business name, address, phone number, and all other contact information should be exactly the same whether they are on your contact page, Facebook, or Yelp. Not only does it provide huge SEO benefits, but showing consistency and a clear identity for your business helps build trust with consumers.

Try Some Variety

Just about every ‘contact us’ page lists a local address and phone number, but often there isn’t much else on the page. While these are both important, you are also missing out if these are the only ways you are encouraging consumers to contact you.

Potential customers aren’t always in a place where they can easily make a phone call and they are not always able to make it out to your physical location. Instead, they may want to drop a quick message to you over Facebook or Twitter. Providing many different ways for your customers to contact you will make you seem more available and allow more people to reach out when they need to.

Show Some Personality

The biggest problem with the vast majority of contact pages I see are that they are just plain boring and tell nothing about who you really are. If someone comes to your ‘contact us’ page, they are looking to learn more about you. If your page is just a simple list of email addresses and phone numbers, you are missing a huge chance to build your brand identity and reinforce who you are.

Don’t Ask Too Much Too Quickly

Some contact pages include forms which ask for small amounts of user information. These can be helpful for keeping messages organized, but being overzealous can drive people away. Your contact page isn’t necessarily the best place to build your email list or ask for detailed user information. Test out shorter forms that ask less of customers initially or make signing up for email subscriptions optional. Otherwise you may find your contact page is actually pushing interested people away.

For far too many businesses, a contact page is treated as an afterthought when they should really be a priority. They are one of the most important pages on your site and act as a foundation for you to start building a relationship with consumers. If you want to really start hearing from consumers, invest time in your contact page to turn it into a page that is as welcoming and informative as the rest of your site.

It may seem like everyone is online these days, but somehow some businesses still don’t have websites. Your business might even be one of them.

If your business has gone this long without a website, you probably have your reasons. You may think you don’t have the money or you simply don’t need one. Neither of those is correct.

A website is a fundamental part of running a business in 2016 and many consumers won’t consider purchasing from a business if they can’t find information about them online. That’s true even for brick and mortar stores. In this connected age,people will even Google stores from their parking lot to make sure the trip inside will be worth their time.

Rapid Web Launch put together an infographic breaking down every reason you might have for not having a website and why it is wrong. I know you’ve gone this long without one and your business may be doing fine, but there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting one set up today.

Check out the infographic below or at Rapid Web Launch.

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Your homepage is the face of your business. It is the first thing most visitors see when they visit your site for the first time and it is where you make your first impressions. If you already have a solid homepage with killer copy, that can be great news. But, there is a good chance your site is missing one of the several things users expect to see when they come to your site.

Having a homepage without critical features and elements is a bit like having a mouth full of broken, chipped, and missing teeth. No matter how hard you try to smile and make a good impression, a lot of people are going to be put off.

While dental work can be costly and painful, fixing up your homepage doesn’t have to be. HubSpot put together an infographic – seen below – detailing 12 features and elements that are absolutely critical to have on your homepage, and the majority are easy to implement without needing to call in the pros.

 HomepageInfographic

Google is making it easier for mobile users to fill out forms thanks to a new enhancement to its autocomplete attribute in Chrome, the company announced yesterday.

As in the past it is up to webmasters to make sure the forms on their sites are marked up with the autocomplete attribute, but it is an important step to take. Past analysis shows implementing autocomplete on your forms increases conversions and reduces cart abandonment.

Google also encourages sites to use the autocomplete attribute, citing increased completion rates and saying:

“Making websites friendly and easy to browse for users on mobile devices is very important. We hope to see many forms marked up with the “autocomplete” attribute in the future.”

The new enhanced autocomplete attribute allows you to easily label input element fields with common data categories like ‘name’ or ‘street-address’ without having to alter other aspects of your site. This way, Chrome is able to accurately fill-in each line when users tap on the field from their smartphone or tablet.

Google offered a sample form so you can see get an idea what the new markup code looks like. You can see how each field is marked up by going to this page and viewing the source.