Should I Moderate Comments on my Blog?

moderate-comments

In a word…..NO!

Nothing drives me more crazy than the following scenario:

– I see a blog post that really draws my interest.

– I read the post and all of the comments that have already been written.

– I am totally excited about what I’m reading and I can’t wait to put my two cents in and join the conversation.

– I type out a well conceived comment.

– I hit the Post Comment button ready to see my comment added to the lively conversation.

– Instead of seeing my post live, I get the dreaded “You’re comment is being held for moderation” window.

Now I can see this for Huffington Post and other sites, where they get thousands of comments per article.

But for small blogs, why would you EVER want to moderate your comments?

The idea of a blog is to voice your opinion and then open the forum to all types of feedback.

That is why you blog. To get a reaction.

You can always go back and remove the comment if need be (though I recommend against it).

Keep it open and you’ll be surprised at how many more comments you will eventually get.

Stop Chasing SEO

stop chasing seo

If I was the owner an SEO agency and that’s all we did, I’d be nervous right now.

Very, very nervous.

Why?

Because while there are certainly still “SEO best¬†practices” to follow, the industry is changing.

Where once SEO was dictated by optimizing on site and generating links off site, it’s slowly becoming so much more about content and social media.

And I think those two items are much better handled in-house.

There is nothing worse than an outside agency Tweeting for a client.

Social media is all about personal connection.

How can you achieve that when you outsource it??

Not only that, but Google changes their algorithm on average of ONCE PER DAY.

Can you imagine that? Once per day.

And naturally, nobody outside of Google knows what those changes are.

You see my point here.

You’re chasing a ghost.

And you could be spending a lot money and getting very little in return.

So yes, SEO is still very important and there are specific things you can and should do to increase your chances of coming up high in the search engines.

And yes, Altera Web would be happy to help you with this.

But be judicial in where you put your SEO money.

You’re welcome ūüôā

The Beauty of Responsive Design

Ahhh…responsive design.

Even the name is soothing.

The technology is even better.

No more building multiple websites for web and mobile.

No more having to put on your reading glasses to view a website on a phone.

A solution for the masses.

Following is an example of a site we recently completed that has a wonderful responsive design.

Here is how the website is viewed in a standard browser:

responsive design broswer

And here is the exact same page as viewed on a mobile device:

responsive design mobile

Interested in converting your site to a responsive design? Contact us today.

How to Get Into the Search Engines

how to get in search engines

Everybody wants to get in the search engines.

And there are thousands of “SEO Experts” out there that will tell you they have the “secret” to get on page one of Google.

You want to know the secret? There is no secret.

So how do you get in the search engines?

Slow and steady wins the race.

Take a look at the above chart, which shows the amount of traffic coming from Google over the course of a year+ for a client of ours.

This is the exact progress you want to see.

Did we do an intense link-building campaign? We did not.

Did we stuff the website with keywords? We did not.

Did we use any questionable SEO techniques whatsoever? We did not.

So what did we do?

We made sure the client had great content and that they shared that content across social network platforms.

Sure…we also used best practices for on-site optimization.

But for the most part, we focused on content that the site visitors would want to read.

We built a site for people, not for machines.

This is the future of getting in the search engines.

Slow and steady wins the race.

If I Pay $97 for Your Product, It Should Work

wordpress-membership-plugin

So here’s the story. About a month ago, Altera Web was hired by a professional pianist to create a website where the user can sign up for online piano lessons. We knew we wanted to build the site in WordPress but we also knew that we needed a reliable, awesome WordPress membership plugin.

After what we thought was a lot of due diligence, we decided on WishList Member, which cost $97.

I’m a big believer that for most “free” items, you get what you pay for, so I am more than happy to pony up some dough, with the assumption that you get a rocking product in return, along with great customer service.

Now the site was pretty basic (not dull mind you…but not too complex): three membership levels and the only payment option we’d be offering would be PayPal.

I cannot begin to tell you how complex WishList Member was to implement. Way too many settings, many of which seemed to both repeat and contradict themselves at the same time. And their support consisted of videos (in no order whatsoever), PDFs (sketchy in detail and based on an old version of PayPal), and a Support Forum.

But after two day…TWO DAYS…we finally completed the implementation. We ran it thru testing. It connected to PayPal. It processed the payment. But the redirect back to our website would not work.

I looked up the issue online and it seems it’s been a problem for a LONG TIME. I reached out to customer service who had me do a few things, all to no avail.

If Apple has taught us one thing, it’s this: simple is better. It’s all about making your product easy to use. I should have known once I started playing with the plugin that it wouldn’t go well. It was just too complex.

To their credit, they refunded my money but the project is now a few days behind schedule as we try to implement a new solution.

Believe it or not, we found a free plugin. Yes, I know what I said above. But this came very highly reviewed. It’s call S2Member.

It was a piece of cake to implement.

Will it work like it’s supposed to?

I’ll let you know in a few days when we go live.

Why WordPress is Better

new jersey wordpress company

No…this is not going to be another post comparing the features of WordPress, Joomla and Drupal with fancy charts and graphs, as we spew our expertise on all things CMS.

The web is already littered with those posts.

But I will say this. At Altera Web, a New Jersey web design company, we’ve worked with all three content management systems. And from a development point of view, the learning curve is much, much steeper with Joomla and Drupal.

Which would be fine if the benefits far outweighed those of WordPress. But for 95% of our clients, WordPress is more than sufficient.

It is not only more than sufficient, it rocks!

It has come a far way in the past few years, from a blogging only platform to a full-fledged CMS.

Are there things that can be improved with WordPress?

Absolutely.

The WordPress editor could be much better.

You should easily be allowed to use whatever widget you want on whatever page you want without digging too deep into the PHP code.

But all in all, it delivers what we need without the unnecessary complexity of other CMS’.

And this simplicity is passed along to our customers.

Everybody wins. Isn’t that nice?

Do I Still Need a Website?

do-i-need-a-website

I know what you’re thinking…

“It’s 2012. Why do I need a website for my business?¬†I’ve got Facebook. I’ve got Twitter. I’ve got Pinterest. I’ve got Tumblr. I’ve got YouTube. There are tons of ways to promote my business without absorbing the time and the cost of building a website.”

Well, not to get all Chandler Bing-ish, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

Here’s why.

  • Your website is “your” store front. YOU own it. You can’t say that about any of the other sites. I know you can’t imagine it, but one day Facebook may turn into MySpace. And then what happens? Your traffic plummets on your Facebook page. There is no law that says any of these other sites need to stay popular forever. You need something that is 100% in your control.
  • How can you show your unique voice when your social networking pages look pretty much like everyone else’s? You need something that represents you…whatever that may be.
  • You set the rules on your own site. Those other sites? They can take you down whenever they please and all of your data goes with it. Why?
  • Because they own your data. That’s right. Everything you or your “friends” put on your social networking sites is owned by those sites.
  • You want to get in the search engines? Of course you do. While some of those other sites may have some¬†search-ability, you are very limited in what you can optimize for.
  • You want a forum on your site? A blog? E-commerce? You need your own site.
  • It’s expected of you to have your own site. Period. Not having a website means you will not be taken seriously.

This list just scratches the surface. But you get the point.

Oh, and by the same token, the days of having ONLY a website are also coming to an end. You need Facebook. You need Twitter.¬†It’s a constant cycle of build and promote.

And those that do it right are the ones that will thrive in this ungodly competitive marketplace.

How Much Does a Website Cost to Build?

how much does a website cost

It’s a question we get here at Altera Web (a Philadelphia area web design company) all the time.

Somebody will call us or email us and simply ask “How much does a website cost to build?

It’s a valid question, because if we did not know too much about the website business, it’s one of the first things we’d ask as well.

And to that we ask (to ourselves of course)…

How much does a house cost?

How much does a car cost?

How much does a new suit cost?

How much does a loaf of bread cost?

Our point? It all depends.

Some of our competitors offer $500 websites but with lots of limitations.

This is not in your best interest. What you need is a website that will work for your business. One that will increase your traffic and bring in new customers.

In other words, you need a website that will increase your company’s value.

Otherwise, what’s the pointing of having one?

7 Reasons Why SEO is So Hard

why is seo so hard

SEO is difficult. I don’t think that’s any big secret.

But why? Why is SEO so hard?

Why can’t there just be a to-do list that you follow which will result in higher rankings?

Well…let us count the ways:

  1. Nobody knows how the search engines work. Their algorithms are completely unknown, so unless you are a Google Engineer (and if you are…let’s talk), there are no set standards to follow.
  2. Lots and lots of people are doing what you’re doing. Many people ignore SEO or get it completely wrong. But many more people get it right. And these people are your competition. So even if you do great SEO, somebody else could be doing it better.
  3. The algorithms frequently change. So not only do you really not know how the SEO algorithms work, just when you may have figured some things out, they change. You can be on page one today and page nowhere tomorrow.
  4. They are built to reward the best. For the most part, those companies that put in the greater effort get rewarded with higher rankings. And that’s exactly the way it should be.
  5. There are no magic bullets. There are over one hundred different SEO items that need to be tackled as part of an SEO program. And while some have greater weight than others, there is no ONE thing that will help you.
  6. It’s time consuming. Our SEO Program is a six month program. A lot of people try for a few months, don’t get the results they want and give up. You must be patient and persistent.
  7. It takes a lot of different skill sets. Effective SEO means your site must have a good design; it must be well written; it must be coded properly; it must be organized efficiently; it must be linked to from other sites.

SEO is achievable. Your can get on page one.

But only the strong survive.