Gorgeous Landscapes, Beautiful Website

We recently launched a new website for longtime client John Spayde and Landfare Ltd. For over 15 years John has created remarkable landscape designs for clients in Central Ohio. The work he and his team do – landscape, hardscape, water features – create gorgeous outdoor environments that meet the needs of their client’s lifestyle.

Our job was to make sure that all the photo galleries gave viewers the opportunity to be inspired by Landfare Ltd’s work and to tell their story of commitment and outstanding service.

How To Add A vCard Download To A WordPress Site

vcardRecently a client asked us if we would add links to their staff’s vCards to the WordPress site that we had just designed and developed for them. We had never done it before, but it didn’t seem like a big deal. In the words of Indiana Jones—“How hard can it be?” We’ll just add the vCards to the Media Library and link to them.

We soon found a fix that wasn’t a hack and didn’t involve a plugin, but, in our case, it required several steps and there was no one place on the internet (well, we couldn’t find one) that mentioned all the steps in one article. So we decided to write one.

Step One

The first thing we found was that you cannot upload vCards (.vcf files) to the WordPress Media Library. WordPress only allows certain file types to be uploaded and .vcf is not one of them. Regardless of the method used trying to upload a vCard results in the error message “This file type is not allowed. Please try another.”

After a little research we found that by adding some code to a theme’s functions.php file we could add functionality that would support uploading a .vcf file. We added the following code to the functions.php file:

// Allow .vcf files to upload to the media library
 add_filter('upload_mimes', 'custom_upload_mimes');
 function custom_upload_mimes ( $existing_mimes=array() ){
 // add your extension to the array
 $existing_mimes['vcf'] = 'text/x-vcard'; return $existing_mimes;
 }

It worked, but not as we expected.

Step Two

In some situations, if you click on a link to a .vcf file, the vCard isn’t downloaded. Instead its contents are displayed in the browser window as text. We found that in order to force these files to download correctly we needed to make changes to the site’s .htaccess file.

We added the code line below to the site’s .htaccess file. (If you can’t find your site’s .htaccess file click on the link in the paragraph above for help.)

AddType text/x-vcard .vcf

It didn’t work.

Step Three

Refresh you browser. As simple as it is if you don’t do this stuff every day it’s easy to forget the power of a browser refresh.

After a browser refresh everything worked as expected. We are now able to upload a .vcf file to WordPress, and visitors to the site are able to download them.

Save

Save

Save

Get Better Search Results

While we don’t call ourselves SEO (search engine optimization) specialists, we do take SEO seriously, and it pays off for our clients. We received this testimonial from a long time client, and it reaffirms that our approach to marketing, including web development, works.

“I was attending a conference with about 75 speakers and authors from across the country. One session was about “owned media,” which includes the domain name for our websites. The speaker asked us to Google our own name to see where we appeared on that search, if we ranked on the first page or, better yet, on top of that page.

Our speaker asked who found their site and name on the first page. There were only five of us, including myself, that showed on the first page. He then asked if anybody owned that first page, meaning are you the only search that is showing up on Page 1. There were only two of us, myself included, that raised their hand.

I would not be in this position on Google if it wasn’t for Trusty & Company’s SEO marketing through my website, through my newsletters, and anything related to the marketing that they have handled for me. A big thank you to Claudia and Tom Trusty for your excellence in SEO Marketing.”

–––Peter Margaritis, The Accidental Accountant and author of Improv Is No Joke 

Wow, thank you so much, Pete!

While every client wants their website to be on the first page of every search engine, I’m not really sure they know how that happens.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a precise process of setting up a site to improve visibility by search engines. While we are not an SEO company, every site we design is developed using current SEO best practices for organic search.   (There is also paid search – another topic altogether.) Since Google owns about 75% of all search, we adhere to their guidelines.

White Hat versus Black Hat

We provide white hat SEO. For us, SEO is just another part of a client’s marketing strategy, not a stand-alone item. During our discovery meeting with a client we ask about their target customer, business drivers and conversion goals. We research competitors to garner insight into the market. Often we meet with staff members to better understand how they need each web page to interact with customers. No games, no fake content, no false inbound links – that’s black hat SEO. It is a deceptive practice, and we never engage in that.

It starts with really good web design that connects visually with your customer. While the site is being developed, we craft web-rich content that is search friendly and, more importantly, tells the company’s story to its audience.  The coding of each site is designed to remove any barriers for search, so much of what supports SEO is not visible on the page.

After your site has gone live, the work continues. Search engines reward new and relevant content. They respond to valid inbound links from social media, professional directories and other sources. Google consistently revises their search algorithms, as many times as 500 in a year! That means you must be vigilant about reviewing site analytics and offering your customers new content.

Be wary of any company that guarantees top page ranking. Outsmarting Google isn’t easy, and trying can get your site shut-down!

Mobile Friendly. Is it Important?

Responsive lineup

Is Your Website Mobile-friendly?

Mobile technologies have changed the way we use and think about the Internet. Today’s websites will be viewed on more devices, more input types, and more resolutions than ever before. Almost everyone has a smartphone, and according to Google, 94% of people using them in the United States will search for local information using their phones. Considering the fact that the number of smartphones has surpassed the number of personal computers, it’s obvious that having a mobile-friendly website is a crucial part of any online marketing strategy. The web has moved beyond the desktop, and it’s not turning back. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it should be as many visitors are likely to be using some form of mobile device.

What does Mobile-friendly Mean?

Simply put, a mobile-friendly website is one that displays well on small portable devices like smartphones and tablets, a site built to be easy to read and easy to navigate when viewed on a device with a small display. A site that is not mobile-friendly may still display and function, but visitors will be doing a lot of scrolling, zooming and pinching to interact with it—not a good user experience.

Mobile-friendly And Search Engines.

The bottom line—If your site is not mobile-friendly, there may be a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search, and whether you like it or not Google matters. Google is the #1 search engine on the web, and it got there because of its strong focus on delivering the best results for each search.Their mobile algorithms may affect some types of businesses more than others but in the long run it is going to be advantageous for a web site to be mobile friendly. Keep in mind that mobile doesn’t just mean smartphones. Tablets, phablets, e-readers, are also affected.

How Do You Know If Your Website is Mobile-friendly?

If your site website is three to five years old, or older, it’s likely that it is not mobile friendly, but if you’re not sure one of the quickest and easiest ways to find out is with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool.

What To Do If Your Website Is Not Mobile-friendly.

There are several options for making a website mobile-friendly, and while we don’t always agree with Google—on this we do—responsive web design is the best approach to creating a mobile-friendly website. Responsive web design (RWD) is the ability of your website to automatically adjust to (and look great on) any screen size. Advances in coding have enable an approach to web development that’s focused on building sites that provide an optimal viewing and interactive experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling across a wide range of devices, from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones.

Conclusion

As you’re planning a new website, or a redesign of an existing one, keep in mind that many of your visitors will be visiting your site from their mobile phones. Responsive web design is not an advantage; it’s an expectation. At Trusty and Company we’ve been creating responsive websites since the technology was introduced, and we know how to create a web presence that gives visitors an ideal experience no matter how they access your site.

Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

mobiledesignonphone
Earlier this year, Google announced updates to their SEO ranking algorithm that will have a negative impact on mobile searches for your web site if it is not “mobile-friendly”. The update improves rankings for sites that provide a mobile-friendly experience to searchers using mobile devices, and, by association, penalizes sites that don’t.

Note: this mobile-friendly update only affects mobile search results — i.e., searches from smartphones and tablets — not searches conducted on a desktop or laptop computer.

Before we go into what, if anything, you will need to do, a brief explanation may help you understand why this has become a recent issue.

Until the last few years, websites were specifically built to display well on desktop screens because the majority of users accessed the Internet using desktop devices. But the Internet isn’t just on your computer screen anymore. It’s also on your phone, your tablet, your laptop, and whatever else the future has in store. So when you visit a modern webpage, its design should take our multi-platform world into account, and morph to ideally match the size and shape of the screen you’re viewing it on. Or, in other words, respond to the viewport dimensions of the device being used to view it. This is called responsive web design (RWD), and partially due to advancements in modern browsers and coding, it has quickly become the most common way to tackle the issues that arise when users view your website on multiple devices.

Without going into details of website coding and development, responsive design is a way to build websites that can be easily viewed and used on any type of device and/or size of screen, from the smallest mobile phones up to the widest desktop monitors providing easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling across a wide range of devices.

As explained above, Google’s announcement is based on changes in user technology, browser capabilities, and coding languages. If your site was not built using RWD it is because it wasn’t a factor when it was developed. So, what to do. You have a few options:

1. Do nothing. If Google page rankings are not important to you, or if your site’s visitors do not typically use a smartphone to access your site, you may not want to do anything. Your site will still show up in a Google search run from a desktop computer as it always has.

2. Upgrade if possible. If your site is WordPress-based (or uses another CMS) we can look into the availability of upgrades that will improve it’s responsiveness. Note: if your site was developed before 2011 this is probably not an option for you.

3. Adjust your present site to meet RWD standards. While not always a simple fix, and depending on the age of your web site, it may be possible to adjust to existing code to make your site more responsive.

4. Build a new site. Creating a new site using current coding language and techniques, while not the least expensive option, will ensure that your site will meet all Google SEO requirements. If your site is old and was built with technology that has become outdated this may be your best option.

Each website is different and will have its own unique fix. Please contact us  so we can plan a time to get together,  review your site and help you determine the best, most cost effective, solution. We will continue to monitor this situation and report any updates to you.

Hackers Focus on WordPress

imagesYou may have noticed some recent articles in the news regarding large brute force attacks directed at WordPress and Joomla based web sites. If your site is hosted with Trusty & Company Hosting and has a WordPress based blog or CMS and you are concerned about its security, put your mind at ease…we have it covered.

Although it is impossible for us, or any other web hosting service, to guarantee 100% that a site cannot be hacked we’ve taken some extra steps to insure that sites hosted on our server are as bullet proof as possible.

The current round of attacks are directed toward a WordPress installation’s admin account. That is, a user account on the blog or CMS that has the username ‘admin’. We’ve been aware that this is a potential weak spot since the early versions of WordPress so we never create admin accounts for any of the sites we develop. According to Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, this step alone will put you “ahead of 99% of sites out there and you will probably never have a problem.”

A ‘brute force attack’ means that hackers are trying to overpower a web site by shear number of hits/attempts. The network of bots supposedly consists of over 90,000 IP addresses. If technology permitted they could attempt access from a different IP every second for over 24 hours without using the same IP twice. There’s little that can be done against those odds, but to further increase overall security of Trusty & Company hosted WordPress sites and blogs we are in the process of installing limited login attempt filtering to all WordPress installs at no charge to our clients whether they have a Web Maintenance Plan with us or not. This means that anyone trying to access a site will have limited attempts to successfully login. If a correct ID and password combination is not submitted in three attempts the user will be locked out of any future login attempts for 30 minutes. A reasonable amount of time, if it’s an honest mistake, to get the correct access information. Additionally, if repeated login attempts result in 3 lockouts within 12 hours any future attempts from that IP address will be blocked for 48 hours. Our experience has shown that after repeated 48 hour lockouts the attacks will eventually cease.

So what should you do? If we host your site and you do not currently have a Web Maintenance Plan with us, we encourage you to signup now. Hackers are not going to stop hacking, and we won’t stop protecting your site. Because of the significant time required to update security on a regular basis, we just won’t be able to do that for clients who do not have a Web Maintenance Plan. Most sites require the minimum plan, which is very affordable. And as always, call or email us with any questions or concerns you may have.