Tag: SEO

HTTPS Update: Google Chrome Displays “Not secure” Warning on More Websites

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under Security.

In January we talked about Google displaying a “Not secure” warning to Chrome users who visit any non-HTTPS web pages that accept passwords or credit card information. Soon, Chrome will display this warning in additional cases, affecting website visitors and site owners.

What To Expect

Coming in October, visitors to any non-encrypted (or non-HTTPS) web page that includes a form or to any non-HTTPS website while browsing in “incognito mode” will receive this warning. This will affect even more sites where search, contact and lead generation forms are prevalent.

Google HTTP Not Secure Warning

Chrome’s HTTP Not Secure Warning

This warning does not necessarily mean the website has been compromised. It is a precautionary move by Google to inform website visitors their browsing and communications are not encrypted.

Why Encrypt

The responsibility for web security belongs to all of us: web developers, website owners, network administrators, hardware and software manufacturers, and of course, users. In this chain, web security is only as good as the weakest link. This latest maneuver by Google, in an effort to make the web a more secure place, highlights the responsibility of site owners to provide safe, secure browsing and online communication for their visitors. For users, it educates them on the risk of using non-HTTPS websites, particularly when collecting personal information.

In light of the recent Equifax hack, it is important for users to know their online communications and personal data are secure. And site owners should take measures to obtain a secure socket layer (SSL) certification and move to HTTPS.

SSL certificates are now more affordable than ever. There are three main methods for securing your site. Domain Validated SSL certificates provide a basic level of encryption, and are relatively easy to implement. Organization Validated (OV) and Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates require more validation, making them costlier and more complicated to set up.

Talk to your web hosting provider to see what your options are and which solution makes the most sense for your website or application.  

What Happens If You Do Nothing

Having HTTPS is a factor in improving your site’s search rank in Google. Displaying this message to your visitors can have a negative long-term impact on your brand’s trust, and worse, keeps you and your visitors open to potential malicious attacks.

While this change currently only impacts users on Google Chrome, other browsers have historically followed Google’s lead on security issues. Firefox to Microsoft Edge will likely follow suit.

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2016: Week 11

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

This post is part of a weekly series featuring the latest buzz around the Spry Hive.

Around Spry

This past Wednesday, we had the pleasure of hosting the Arts & Education Council of St. Louis’ Arts Marketers event, where we presented SEO strategies and tactics for content producers and website administrators that work for the Arts. We always enjoy sharing ideas with this group, so we can’t wait for the next one! Also, be sure to check out Arts & Education Council of St. Louis’ new website, a Drupal site designed and built by Spry Digital that includes a new crowdfunding portal.

While CiviDay, an annual, international celebration of all things CiviCRM, was originally February 24th, our local meetup was, unfortunately, postponed due to snow. The key word is “postponed”, though, as we are hosting a virtual CiviDay Makeup Meetup over lunch next week!

Artificial Intelligence

Find out what happened when the Google-owned Deepmind AlphaGo AI went head to head with the greatest Go player in the world.

UX Design / Prototyping

Adobe’s program for designing and prototyping websites and applications was recently re-branded as Adobe Experience Design (XD).

Looking to compete with Adobe XD, Invision has purchased Sketch’s prototyping plugin Silver Flows.

Web Design & Development

Government webpages are becoming significantly easier to create and navigate with the help of CivicActions, which is now available on Drupal.

Learn more about using Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project on your next WordPress website.

Ecommerce for WordPress just took a major step forward as you can now use Shopfiy for WordPress.

As if there were already enough reasons to secure your servers and website, research has shown that hacked sites suffer long term SEO penalties.

Misc

Managing the images on your social media profiles just got a whole lot easier with Landscape by Sprout Social.

What if kids presented your ideas? Full article http://goo.gl/NglYPS

Posted by Fantasy on Monday, March 14, 2016

There are times when you need something to that makes your presentation unique and easy to understand. So, why not have kids present your work?

Discover what’s so great about the Department of the Treasury’s DATA Act, a money tracking program that spurned out of the continuous push for increasing transparency in government,


That’s a wrap for Week 11 of 2016. Join us next Friday for more from the Spry Hive!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 37

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

The fact that Fall is almost here means a few things for sure. The newest line of Apple products are on their way and the NFL has kicked off the regular season by adopting some real-time technology. That’s just the beginning of this week’s news though, so sit back and enjoy your weekly dose of the Spry Hive!

Tech

apple-pencil

Source = Apple

This past week Apple, the ever-popular tech giant, announced their iPad Pro, touting desktop-level hardware alongside their newest accessories. The one piece that really has artists and designers clamouring, though, is the announcement of the Apple Pencil.

With the regular season beginning this week, the NFL has made it a lot easier to follow every game using their new app for Windows 10 that gives real-time stats and field position of every player. How is the NFL able to provide such an experience, you ask? By placing RFID chips on all the shoulder pads.

Apps

Looking for an easier and more organic way to jot down some notes, create diagrams, or even make a checklist on your mobile device? Then you’ve got to check out the new app called Paper, available for free in the Apple App Store.

Design

ALA_428_Safer-Web-Animation_960_251_81 (1)

Source = A List Apart

Appealing to as many people as possible is a fundamental aspect of design. While some people have begun complaining about the shift to dynamically and swiftly changing content with sidescrolling and parallax effects, many might not have considered how these features are affecting those with vestibular disorders.

It’s no secret that the number of applications available to designers seems to be growing exponentially these days. Attempting to make sense of all the utilities and how they are really being used, Subtraction.com surveyed more than 4,000 people from 200 different countries. Well, the results are in and there is finally a list of the tools designers are using today.

Development

While last week’s discussion of Angular vs. React focused on how quickly React has been growing, some may still be wondering, “Which one is right for me and my project?” Well, Benton Rochester from effective thinking is here to help you decide.

For those who don’t know, SEO by Yoast is the go-to plugin on WordPress for your Search Engine Optimization needs. For those who did know, you’ll be happy to hear that the extension is finally coming to Drupal.

Misc.

Reminiscent of SeinfeldVision, an extraordinarily talented video editor has created a video that flawlessly brings together characters from dozens of classic films. Including the likes of Scarface, the Terminator, and the Mask (just to name a few), Hell’s Club is something you’ve got to see to believe.

If we hadn’t split from Britain all those years ago, we would all have one more excuse for celebrating this week. Evidently, Queen Elizabeth II has finally surpassed Queen Victoria as the longest-reigning monarch in all of British history.


And with that, another week is in the books. Grab yourself some fish & chips or a nice pint of beer, it’s finally time to relax and enjoy the weekend. Thanks for stopping by for your weekly dose of the Spry Hive!

Why we choose the Zurb Foundation theme for Drupal

Posted by kGoff & filed under Web Development.

One of the most important decisions in building a new Drupal website, and, consequently, one of the first steps, is selecting a theme or theme framework. Currently, there are 1,316 themes available on drupal.org.

During our time as a Drupal developers, we have used the following themes: Omega, Zen, Bootstrap, and Foundation. While each of these themes has a variety of strengths and weaknesses, the Foundation theme by Zurb has quickly become our “go-to” theme.

The Foundation theme is built with the Foundation front-end framework. The Foundation framework is a grid-based, mobile-first CSS framework so one can greatly speed up the processes of front-end development for responsive websites.

feature-grid-1

The CSS-based grid system isn’t the only feature Zurb packs into the Foundation framework. It also includes several user interface elements and JavaScript libraries to enhance the user experience.

The fact that it’s a mobile-first framework is one of the main reasons why we chose the Foundation framework. Out of the box, the theme comes with standard breakpoints for mobile, tablet, and desktop. You can easily create your own breakpoint to supplement the default breakpoints.

feature-mobile-1

Another great feature of the Foundation framework is that it is built to work seamlessly with SASS. SASS is a pre-processor for CSS. If you are not familiar with SASS, then you are in for a treat. SASS allows you to use variables, nested rules, mixins, and inline imports to streamline your CSS development. SASS files are compiled into CSS via a SASS compiler. If you are new to SASS or would like to learn more about it, click here for a great resource to help get you up to speed.

But what we like best about Foundation is that it’s not Drupal-specific. In addition to several Drupal sites, we have built WordPress sites using Foundation, as well as custom applications built with PHP frameworks like Laravel. Using a common front-end framework regardless of platform means that front-end developers can work faster and smarter, and worry less about platform-specific methods to achieve the same functionality.

We encourage you to check out the Zurb Foundation theme before diving into your next Drupal project. There may be a slight learning curve if you’re new to Foundation, but learning the framework will be time well spent. Foundation has a great community that is always willing to help if you have any questions about the framework. That said, feel free to shoot us an email or comment with any and all questions!

“Mobilegeddon” In Perspective – What Site Owners Should Know About Google’s Latest Update To Search

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under SEO.

Back in November, I wrote an article titled Why Mobile-Friendly Sites Win at Search. The article described how the “Mobile-friendly” label would begin appearing next to sites that were deemed to be just that on all Google mobile search results. We now know that this was just the first step in the search giant’s emphasis on mobile ease-of-use as a significant search ranking factor.

In what some in the industry are describing as “Mobilegeddon”, Google has announced that starting April 21st it will be making a major update to its algorithm to “expand the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” It also said, “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

If you have a mobile website or responsive website, you will likely be ok (although Google prefers responsive websites as a general rule of thumb).

What does having a mobile-friendly site mean, exactly? In my earlier article I shared a link to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Enter your web address and it will analyze whether your site is mobile-friendly or not, and why.

If your website is older than five years, it probably has not been architected to be mobile-optimized. What can you do? Explore what mobile strategy is best for your business, then work with your web team or web partner to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices.

Spry Digital can also help you determine the best mobile strategy for your organization. Reach out to us here to start the conversation.

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 14

Posted by Ben Scherliss & filed under Tips.

April inevitably arrives with a few pranks, but also with plenty new to discuss. Amazon wants you to push their buttons while Facebook wants to create a social presence for your children. We’re no fools here, so let’s discuss it all in the latest edition of Spry Hive.

Tech

April Fools Day has now passed, and who wasn’t fooled by the 360 Selfie Ring or Google Fiber dial-up? But there were more than a few other enjoyable fabrications launched in the tech world this year and here is a fun collection of some of the best.

And in what was not a hoax, Amazon announced that it wants you to be able to re-order your products from any room, closet or corner of your house. So they’ve made it all possible with their new “Dash Buttons” which will instantly purchase an order and can be placed literally anywhere in every residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse.

Google had to kill about 200 different Chrome extensions this week, having to reclassify them as Malware. Apparently more than a third of these extensions which inject ads were, in fact,  deceptive and merited the reclassification.

If boring, traditional round pancakes are causing you ongoing morning depression, life no longer has to go on that way thanks to PancakeBot. The device pairs an electric griddle and a batter dispensing system which will effectively “print” pancakes into nearly any shape.

Social Media

We all know that there just isn’t a large enough of a social presence for babies on Facebook, so luckily the social media giant has announced Scrapbook. The company says this feature will “grow with your child” as you add photos of them. Nothing creepy here.

Facebook’s Engineering Director is now headed to the White House. 28 year-old David Recordon will join the administration as Director of Information Technology, a position which was created specifically for him.

Twitter has been showing ads in the news feed for some time now, but they’re about to take it up to another level — a personal one. The social company has apparently been testing promoted tweets which would begin showing-up on user’s actual profile pages, possibly appearing as tweets endorsed by or from that account.

Misc

A warning that this one may hurt your eyes a bit. Two of the most cringe-worthy fonts – Comic Sans and Papyrus –  are now merging to create Comic Papyrus.

SOURCE = Adweek

Moving on to some much more pleasant writings, you won’t believe how perfectly this calligrapher effortlessly re-creates the logos of iconic brands like Google, Adidas, Star Wars and Converse with pen and ink.

Cards Against Humanity has ironically found a means by which to benefit humanity. The popular, typically raunchy game is now releasing a science themed expansion to benefit women in STEM.

Development

Bloomberg’s been cooking-up a new single-page application framework called Brisket. The company is billing it as having “the best perceived speed, the greatest code freedom, and the strongest search engine optimization.”

If you’re a beginner with AngularJS you may get some good value from the interactive book Angular Basics. It covers Directives, Modules, Services, Controllers, Routing and is free.

Docker marked it’s second birthday this past week and as this article suggests, we should continue to expect big things from the open source software project.

SEO

With “mobilegeddon” fast approaching, many businesses and website administrators are scrambling to get in front of Google’s upcoming new mobile-friendly algorithm. Google is stating that it will impact more sites than their previous Panda or Penguin updates did, with the bottom line being that you’d better get mobile-friendly and fast.

Spam bots cause multiple annoyances such as corrupting your analytics data and using-up your server’s resources just to name a few. But there are some effective steps you can take to stop them from ruining your analytics referral data.


That’s a wrap for the first week of April. See you next Friday and we’ll have another go ’round again.

Why Mobile-Friendly Websites Win At Search

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under Web Design.

It’s no surprise that mobile traffic and referrals from mobile sites like Facebook are surging. While it’s convenient having the web at our fingertips, websites that require you to pinch and zoom to read content or to interact with the site are becoming more of a nuisance. If your website is not built responsively (or “mobile ready”), you may be turning off visitors and potential customers.

To help users find mobile-friendly content, Google announced this week that they have made changes to search results that will call out sites that have mobile-friendly content.

Example of Google's mobile-friendly label

Example of Google’s mobile-friendly label

With the change, Google is adding a “Mobile-friendly” label next to sites that, according to Google, meet the following criteria:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

How do you know if your website is considered mobile-friendly? Google provides a mobile-friendly tester for that. Type in your address and in seconds you’ll know whether your site is seen as mobile-friendly by Google.

If not, it may be a good time to consider a responsive website redesign so that you don’t lose out, as we expect this feature will drive more traffic than ever before to sites that have been optimized for the mobile experience.

Top 5 DIY tips to improve SEO on your WordPress site

Posted by Jen Wilton & filed under WordPress.

So you have a website, and it’s just not getting the search volume you’re looking for. Or perhaps you are creating a new site or overhauling an old one and want to do things ‘right’. If your site is more than a few years old, it’s probably not optimized to current SEO standards.

One thing you can do to increase traffic right away is to connect your WordPress site to Facebook and other social media platforms. We’ve written a simple step-by-step to help you navigate Facebook’s quirks – check it out. Increased traffic, especially from high traffic sites, is always good for SEO, but on-site SEO tweaks are often overlooked.

For content owners, SEO can be daunting. Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools are great, but without understanding the basics of SEO, they can be difficult to navigate. Non-technical content owners often ask what they can do without wading into the deep waters of SEO. Here’s a list of changes and tweaks most users can make themselves from within WordPress or another content management system. Although the recommendations themselves are universal, I’ll use WordPress in my examples.

Before we begin, I’d recommend installing the Yoast for WordPress plugin. The Yoast plugin simplifies most of the recommendations given here and automates several of the more complicated ones.

#5: Create and submit a sitemap

Sitemaps are a way to tell search engines about pages on your site they might not otherwise discover. In its simplest terms, an XML Sitemap is an outline of the pages and posts on your website. Creating and submitting a sitemap helps make sure that search engines know about all the pages and posts on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by a normal crawling process.

An added bonus is the way Google displays sites that include a sitemap:

A great looking sitemap search result

See now nice and organized that is? You want your search result to allow visitors to quickly find what they want. Submitting a sitemap doesn’t guarantee a search result like this, but it greatly increases your chances. Ensuring that your site is well organized overall is equally important.

There are sitemap generators for WordPress that do most of the work for you. If you already installed the highly recommended Yoast plugin, this is an included feature. This is a first step in ensuring that all of your pages are indexed and provides the greatest likelihood that your site will be displayed in sitemap form in search results.

Make sure to recreate a sitemap any time you update your site with a new blog post or updated content (or with any of the changes listed here). Many sitemap generators, like Yoast, can be set up to automatically submit new changes to search engines, making this a ‘set it and forget it’ task.

#4: Missing alt tags

red x where an image should be

Isn’t that a cute kitten? At least you know it’s supposed to be a kitty, and not a T-Rex (also cute in a dino way). Alt tags are used to describe images or other visual media on your site. This serves two purposes: it helps search engines ‘see’ and properly index the image content, and it helps people who can’t see the image for whatever reason (vision problems, voice readers, mobile browser) understand what the image is supposed to be.

The alt tag can be added when you add your image to the library in WordPress. You can also review and change it as you insert it into your pages. I tend to keep the image title and alt text the same and keep them simple.

#3: Non-descriptive page titles and meta descriptions

Page titles and meta descriptions affect your search results in different ways. In the example below, I searched for “kittens for adoption”. The text in blue is the page title, and the text below the url is the meta description:

Search results with good and bad page titles and metas

In this example, the first entry has a slightly more descriptive page title, but the meta description is not compelling in any way. The second entry has a better meta description, but the page title itself isn’t very descriptive or original.

This is a great opportunity to ‘speak’ to the user- make sure they know exactly what to expect on your page, like this result when I search for ‘adopting a rescue dog’:

good meta and page title example

Page titles are indexed by search engines and like urls, are both limited and unique (or should be), which means that search engines will place heavy importance on that content. Taking care to include keywords and phrases and ensuring that each page has a unique, relevant page title gives search engines more specific information about your page and its contents, generally improving your likelihood of inclusion in a search for those terms.

Meta descriptions are not truly ‘indexed’ by most search engines, but can be just as important for click-through performance. The meta description is your opportunity to speak to the user directly, without the ‘filter’ of a search engine. Typically, the default meta description is taken from the first sentence or two in the body text on the page (see result #2 in the pic above). Sometimes this works out, but more often, the result is not all that compelling to a user. By writing your own meta description, you can ‘market’ the content of your page and stand out from the crowd in a page of search results. Be careful to make the meta description friendly and informative, as some search engines, particularly Google, will occasionally override your requested meta description if they think it is misleading.

Both page/post titles and meta descriptions are easily edited using the Yoast plugin. Once installed, you’ll see the Yoast box under the main content area of your new entry (or existing page or post). Simply rewrite the page or post title and meta description. Yoast even counts your characters so you can be sure you have the optimum length.

#2: Urls without keywords

Your page url is the first thing that Google indexes, and one of the most important aspects of SEO on your page. Because each url is unique and limited in scope, the actual words used are heavily weighted as keywords for that page. In the case of most “top level” pages, the word used in the navigation is typically sufficient. “About Us”, “Contact”, and “Careers” are decently descriptive, and “Services” is fine as long as you have child pages devoted to specific services and create descriptive urls for those pages.

For example, you may have “Pet Adoption” in your navigation, but “yourwebsite.com/adoption” doesn’t give a lot of context to search engines for indexing. In this case, a custom url would be helpful. Something like “yourwebsite.com/catering-for-weddings-special-events-in-st-louis” is far more descriptive and really helps people understand what you are about.

Here’s where you edit it in WordPress:

how-to-edit-permalink-example

In WordPress, the default page url structure can be changed via Settings → Permalinks. We recommend changing from the default structure to the ‘Post Name’ structure- this makes for friendlier urls that contain key words instead of the gibberish that the default spits out.

#1: Misuse of header tags

There are two common mistakes people make with header tags. They either don’t use them at all, or don’t use them correctly. This is easily corrected on your WordPress page, but packs a big punch when it comes to optimizing your site.

If you are using header tags, make sure your page (or post) title is an h1 (Header 1). If not, Google may be putting your important keywords into the wrong order hierarchically, which means greater weight on items of less importance. The first ‘headline’ on your page, assuming your page/post title is h1, should be an h2, with subsequent subheadings of h3, h4, etc as you go down your content outline, like this:

optimal header tag hierarchy

Not using header tags? Without some guidance, search engines can make some odd decisions about what is important on your page. Although WordPress provides a number of formatting options for content, most should be used sparingly, and never to indicate relative importance of content. Many content admins make the mistake of using bold and font size formatting to indicate section headers instead of actual header tags. Since search engines place more weight on header tags than anything else in the body text of your content, using formatting instead of proper header tags minimizes the impact those words have on your SEO.

Making these changes won’t result in overnight search result domination, but will certainly level the playing field for your site. My next post will focus more on evaluating the actual content on your pages, so stay tuned.

Welcome Digital Strategist Lindsey Vehlewald

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under News.

Spryfam welcomes Lindsey Vehlewald as our new Digital Strategist for Spry Digital. Lindsey herds cats, both literally and figuratively, and has diverse experience in the new media marketing and nonprofit worlds.

A native of St. Louis (#STL), Lindsey graduated from Webster University before a string of events, states, and cities that led her to us. It’s all very mysterious, but we understand that she “takes care of people.”

In her role as Digital Strategist, Lindsey will be our one-stop shop for online, content, and social media strategies for clients. Spry is her first project. Watch our social media channels to see what we’re up to!

When she’s not at SpryHive, she’s herding cats for Tenth Life Cat Rescue, baking boozy cupcakes, or making tiny monsters out of felt.

Help us welcome Lindsey!

(Shout out and say hi to her at @lvehlewald or through @sprydigital on Twitter)

Team Player Stats:
Sign: Taurus
Power Animal: Prairie Dog
Personality Type: INFJ
Geeks out on: Cats, Oxford comma, s’mores, bourbon, photography
Known for: Sarcasm being mistaken for enthusiasm
Signature style: jeans + cardi + band tee + scarf
Pop Culture fandom[s]: “Game of Thrones,” “X-Files,” “Star Trek,” Hayao Miyazaki, Guillermo del Toro
Favorite bands: Sigur Ros, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Superhero power: conversing entirely in memes

Sometimes tweets for:
@NASASocial through #NASASocial (MAVEN launch, November 2013)
@OTSL Opera Theatre of St. Louis through #TweetSeats program

Welcome to the Nut House – Spry Digital Announces Launch of What-A-Ya Nuts?! Website

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under News.

Howie Sher is a man on a mission. As “Head of State” for What-A-Ya Nuts?!, an all-natural snack food company based in St. Louis, he wants you to think about what you’re eating and he’s going to make you smile in the process. With a grin-inducing brand and a hardcore following on Facebook (not to mention distribution at local grocery chains, movie theaters, and specialty stores), when What-A-Ya Nuts?! asked us to to produce the Whatayanuts.com website, you can imagine what we said.

What-A-Ya Nuts?! Interactive Feature

What-A-Ya Nuts?! interactive feature

The goal for us was clear: create a delivery mechanism for the What-A-Ya Nuts?! brand to express itself in the only way it knows how: FULL ON. The site, built on the WordPress content management system, includes a jQuery interactive feature and animated “easter eggs” that invite the visitor to explore the depths of “Snack In Sanity”. We also employed responsive web design techniques so that What-A-Ya Nuts?! is always putting its best face forward, whether viewed on a desktop monitor, tablet or smart phone.

What-A-Ya Nuts?! Responsive Website

What-A-Ya Nuts?! Responsive Website

What-A-Ya Nuts?! is truly a one-of-a-kind brand and we’d be nuts to say that we didn’t have a great time building it. Tell us what you think and make sure to check out What-A-Ya Nuts?! around the web:

Website: whatayanuts.com
Facebook: whatayanuts
Twitter: @whatayanuts