Whirl Sites Blog

At Whirl Sites we’re passionate about the web, and our blog is a place where we share resources, tips, and interesting links that we think are of value to our existing customers and to everyone else who loves web development as much as we do.

Getting Started on SEO: Questions to Consider

SEO We all know that SEO (short for Search Engine Optimization) is an important element of marketing a small business.  Being easily found online is a first step in promoting your goods and services on the web.  That’s a simple, easy-to-understand truth.  However, understanding what SEO does and why it is important is not the same as actually taking steps to improve your search ranking and exploit it to generate leads and grow your business.  Now this topic could fill a shelf full of books, and this blog cannot begin to scratch the surface.  But what I will do here is to share a cluster of questions to consider as you begin to think about SEO and the role that it plays in your business.

Who Are Your Potential Customers?

SEO is all about being found by the people that you want to find you.  In order to connect with these people, you need to know who they are and what they want.  While this basic question does not directly impact your rank, you cannot proceed with an effective SEO strategy until you have an answer to it.  Find out who your target demographic is and then find out as much about them as you can.

What Content is Valuable to Your Potential Customers?

Once you have identified your target market, you can start thinking about what content will appeal to them.  What do they need to know?  What are they interested in?  What do they value?  As you consider questions like this pertaining to your potential customers, you can build a list of topics, information, and keywords.  You can use these to start producing quality content that adds value and attracts interests.  Relevant content will not only contain searchable terms, but will also draw the attention of readers.  Both of these occurrences will increase your SEO.

Where Might Your Content Be Shared?

When content is valuable, readers will not only visit your site and read your content, but they will also share your content.  Since links from outside websites back to your site demonstrate the usefulness of your content, they can significantly increase your SEO.  As you set out to write your content, you should be thinking about how you can garner attention and increase the likelihood of earning a link.  Here the key is that the content is high quality.  Writing that is sloppy, unclear, or shallow will not draw the attention of readers, and they definitely will not be willing to share your content with others.

When Should Content Be Added? 

Just as important as the ‘what’ is the ‘when’.  Improving your search ranking is a cumulative process that depends on your continual effort.  Content doesn’t stay fresh for long so additions need to be made on a consistent and frequent basis.  For many businesses, this task is easily accomplished through a blog that they are able to post to regularly.

How Well Does Your Website Function?

While much of the rest of this post has focused on content, there is another huge factor that influences how you rank.  That factor is the functionality of your website.  Has it been built on a solid platform?  Is its code simple and precise?  Do its internal links function correctly?  When a website is solidly built, rather than patched together, it is viewed more favorably in terms of SEO.

At Whirl Sites, we understand the importance of SEO and the opportunity we have to be a partner with you in creating a website that has the potential for increased SEO.  We start out by offering you a solid website that is built on WordPress.  WordPress websites typically are viewed favorably by search engines because the code they use is clean and straightforward. They also have some standard features which make it easier for you to better your SEO.  As a content management system, WordPress makes it simple for you to keep your content updated and fresh.  Furthermore, all our website come complete with a blog that you can use to consistently post information that customers will find interesting and valuable.  With a Whirl Sites website, you will be ready to grow your online presence and improve your SEO rankings.  Call us at 317-892-9435 with your questions or to get started on a site.

Is a WordPress Website Right for You?

WordPress websitesIt is no accident that Whirl Sites websites are all built using the WordPress platform.  When we began designing the templates that our customizable websites are based on, we chose to use WordPress as the content management system for our sites.  We believe that WordPress is the perfect platform for nearly every website.  But nothing works 100% of the time, right?  Well, actually there are some types of people for whom a WordPress site is not a good fit.  Check out the top 4 below.

  1. People Who Prefer ‘Complicated and Time-Consuming’ over ‘Simple and Easy’. There are a few strange people who like things to be difficult, but most of us like to keep it simple and easy.  That is exactly what WordPress does.  You can add or change content to your website by simply typing it in.  No knowledge of coding is needed.  If you can use Word, then you should be able to use WordPress.
  2. People Who Like Being Out of Control and at the Mercy of Others. Even if you are not a control freak, I doubt that you really want to relinquish control of any part of your business, including your website.  When you have a website that is built on WordPress, you don’t have to.  Since no technical knowledge is required to modify your content, you never have to wait on an outside vendor who is far less motivated to keep your website up-to-date than you are.  You can be in full control of your website and not dependent on others.
  3. People Whose Goal is Limited Choices and Diminished Growth. WordPress is extremely popular, especially for websites that include blogging, and is used by millions of people worldwide.   Thus, an enormous number of plug-ins have been developed and are available to add on to a WordPress site.  These plug-ins put a wide variety of functionality at your fingertips.  Want to monitor your traffic? No problem.  Want to boost SEO? Sure thing. With each additional feature comes an additional opportunity to grow your business.
  4. People Who Want to Keep Their Online Presence as Small as Possible. Nearly every business today is looking for ways to increase search rankings.  Just having a site that is built on WordPress gives you an advantage in this area.  Because WordPress code is so clean, search engines look upon their sites favorably.  This advantage can be increased even more when the blogging feature is utilized.

If you do not fall into any of the 4 categories above (and let’s face it, who does?), then a WordPress website is probably ideal for you.  Whirl Sites gives you a simple and cost-efficient way to get a WordPress website working for you.  Visit our website or give us a call (317-892-9435) to learn more about how easy it is to get started.

Whirl Sites: A Website Option You May Not Know About

250The explosion of online resources has definitely changed the landscape for business owners.  Entrepreneurs who wanted to start a business have always had a lot to consider, but it used to be things like the physical location of the business and how to transport goods to customers.  Now in additional to more traditional concerns, businesses must also consider things like online presence.

In today’s business atmosphere, a website has become a necessity.  Without it, not only do businesses miss out on opportunities but they may also appear incompetent, unstable, or behind-the-times.  But while every business may need a website, they don’t all need the same kind of website.  The needs of a large company often require a custom website with more advanced features.  Large companies also usually have the resources needed to develop a custom site.

But if you own a small to mid-size business or administrate a not-for-profit or other organization, the choice is not always so simple.  You don’t need an elaborate website, and you can’t afford one either.  Are DIY sites the answer?  Or maybe hiring your neighbor’s teenage son to build one for you?  Realistically, with these alternatives, you are more likely to just get frustrated than to get a quality website.  Whirl Sites gives customers another website option, one that addresses the shortcomings of other choices and provides a website that is professional and functional without spending a lot of money.

A Whirl Sites website is a customizable website which is created by professional designers.  While a custom site requires an original design and decisions at every level, a Whirl Site is built upon a foundation of our own professionally designed templates, which can be customized to give each site its own unique look.  There are a couple of advantages to this approach.  First of all, since the templates have already been designed and tested, we know that it works.  There is no need to work out the bugs so we can get your site up and running right away.  Second, we don’t have to re-invent the wheel with each website or spend time creating a more complicated website than what your business requires.  We will give you a website that has all that you need but only what you need.  Finally, because of our streamlined process, our sites are more affordable than your typical custom site.

Do you know you need a website but aren’t sure where to get one that fits your needs?  All you need is a site that looks good, functions seamlessly, and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.  Is that too much to ask?  At Whirl Sites, we don’t think so!  Visit our website or call us at 317-892-9435 to learn more about how to get started.

Don’t Get Hacked – Protect Your WordPress Website

Internet secure access concept backgroundThere is little that can evoke fear in the heart of a business owner like the thought of a hacked website.  Hackers can do immense damage to a website in a short amount of time, and once done, this damage is not easily fixed.  This is one area where an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.  At Whirl Sites, we understand just how serious the problems created by hackers can be.  We do not want our clients to have to fear a potential hack, and so we have built safeguards into our product.  Let me tell you more.

Create Strong Passwords.  One of the best ways to protect your website is to create strong passwords.  While the temptation is great to use your birthday, your child’s name, or even the ubiquitous ‘123456’, having easy-to-guess passwords is like putting out a welcome mat for hackers.  Whirl Sites will help you recognize bad passwords and replace them with strong ones that will keep your website safe and sound.

Keep Updates Current.  Another weakness that can be exploited by hackers is security software that has not been kept up to date.  It is so easy for this to happen.  You know how much you have to do, how long your to-do list is.  Installing updates on your website probably doesn’t even enter your mind as a good idea, let alone make it onto the long list of things you need to get done.  But just because you’re not thinking about it doesn’t mean it’s not important.  It actually is a very important part of protecting your website, and for that reason Whirl Sites doesn’t leave it up to you.  We take care of this vital task as part of your monthly maintenance.

Monitor Site Consistently.  It is clear that one reason hacking is so damaging is that often those being hacked are unaware that anything is happening until the damage is already done.  Whirl Sites provides protection to its sites by utilizing software that constantly monitors for suspicious activity and alerts Whirl Sites administrators to this activity.  We are then able to look into the situation and often to put a stop to it before any harm is done to the website, and more importantly to the reputation of the business or organization.

Deal with Assaults Immediately.  There is so much we can do to protect our Whirl Sites websites from hacking.  We understand the weaknesses that plague many websites and have processes in place to vigilantly guard against online attacks.  In fact, at the time of this posting, we have never had one of our websites successfully hacked.  However, we are not ignorant of the fact that all the good planning in the world will not prevent every attack.  If any of our sites would be hacked, we are prepared to apply all our resources and knowledge to getting things right as quickly as possible.  After all, it is our reputation that is on the line too, not just yours.

If you are interested in more information about Whirl Sites and the high-quality, affordable websites that we offer, visit our website.  You can also call us at 317-892-9435 with any questions you may have.

Cheap Standing Desk – DIY Solution For Work

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Do you consider yourself a “hard worker”?

Most of us are certainly not lazy, but the nature of the modern business world in America has most of us sitting all day long, a far cry from what our grandparents consider “hard work”.  For the first time in human history, mankind is sitting for more of life than moving, and its one major cause of our obesity health crisis.  Think about it, did most of your grandparents sit at work all day?
Most of us can’t get away from our desk jobs, but we can make a cheap standing desk to improve our health.

A Solution: Cheap Standing Desk (Stand-up Desk)

Like many of you, my work here at Whirl Sites has me sitting most of the day.  In fact, I get really sore FROM SITTING!  My lower back regularly spasms and forces me to stretch out regularly.

I have a friend who posted on Facebook about his new standing desk (stand-up desk).  This fancy desk has the ability to easily raise and lower to either sit or stand and work.  As I talked with him about it, he told me that he was also able to concentrate better on his feet, and he just felt better overall.  It really got me thinking about my own health, but then things got busy and I forgot about it.

Taking Action Myself: Productivity Boost!

One day I went to a Starbucks to check my email and work for a couple hours.  As is so often the case, there were no available tables.  I reluctantly setup my laptop on a high bar they had setup on a wall and sat in a very uncomfortable stool.  I chose to us it as a standing desk (stand-up desk) instead and noticed over the next couple hours that I was extra productive and able to keep my attention on my task better!  I went home that day and used a box made from lumber out of my garage to boost my desk up temporarily.

It’s been 3 weeks of standing to work and I am telling you, I feel better, I accomplish more, and I am never going back!

Still need convincing? Find out how sitting in your career causes early death in this post by Michael Hyatt.

A DIY Cheap Standing Desk

cheap_standing_deskAfter seeing how expensive standing desks can be, I decided to try to duplicate that Starbucks bar that I loved so much.  I am keeping my sitting desk, but adding this to my office to have another option. My cheap standing desk was just $25!

Parts Needed:

  1. Four IKEA Shelf Brackets (or any bracket)
  2. Flat Closet Door (I got mine for $5 from Habitat’s ReStore)
  3. Screws and anchors (hit studs if possible)

Tools Needed:

  1. Screwdriver
  2. Drill for pilot holes in wall and door

I honestly think we will be selling more websites and setting them up faster because of the desk / bar in this picture.  Hopefully, I’ll live a few more years because of it too!

Brad Murray
Owner, Whirl Sites
brad@whirlsites.com

Low-cost Answer to “Mobilegeddon” – Google’s Mobile Requirement

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 9.06.43 PM

So you’ve heard that Google is changing their search requirements to heavily reward websites that are mobile responsive?  Many media outlets have labeled it “mobilegeddon” and promise doomsday results for small business who can’t afford this expensive solution, right?

Mobile Responsive doesn’t have to be expensive!

That’s right, it’s not just big business that can afford mobile responsive website design and avoid mobilegeddon.  Whirl Sites is one answer that gives small business owners an easy way to upgrade their website to a mobile responsive design.  Just $399 and your business can be on the same level as enterprize level organizations.  Don’t let this panic you, it takes us 2-4 days to get your website up and running typically.

What Does Mobile Responsive Mean?

Maybe we need to back up here and define terms.  All the fancy term “mobile responsive” means, is that we code your website to respond to the screen size it’s being used on.  Be that a phone, tablet, or huge monitor, it will look beautiful if it’s done right.  It also ensures that your text, photos, and navigation fit on the screen just right so that the user doesn’t have to zoom with their fingers on those smaller devices.  Google is doing this “mobilegeddon” because their users are mostly using tablets and phones, so it actually makes sense.

What Are You Waiting For? Don’t Get Hit By Mobilegeddon!

It’s not worth waiting to see how bad the damage will be for your business once Google gets things updated.  You don’t want to lose a single customer over this when it only costs you $399 to get it fixed.  Contact us today if you have questions, or just sign up here!

WAY BACK WEDNESDAY: Fox News

It’s really incredible to see the change in what roll the internet has taken in all of our lives in 2015.  We really do rely on the web in so many ways that we didn’t even in the 1990’s.

Where do you get most of your news now?  If you need to know something, really anything that is going on, you likely go to the internet either through your computer, phone browser, or an app of some kind.  Seldom would you run for a newspaper or magazine, right?

This week’s WAY BACK WEDNESDAY features one of the most well known news organizations on the planet, Fox News.  No matter what your opinion of the network, noone can deny it’s power and influence on our daily news cycle.

Can you image if Fox News only had 4 headlines on their website homepage today?  Seriously 1996, that’s all you had for us?  Wow, have things changed.

foxnews_whirl_sites

Obviously, Fox News has moved forward on the web because consumers expect more from them.

Your customers expect more from you too.  Don’t you think it’s time to update your website to match expectations?  You can’t underestimate the power of your presence on the web.

For only $399, why not give us a Whirl?  Get a Whirl Site today!

See Our Designs
See Our Pricing

Contact our owner, Brad Murray, today and discuss your website needs!

Brad Murray: (317) 847-0290

WAY BACK WEDNESDAY: Apple

Apple_Whirl_SitesThere is nothing wrong with having a website that looks like the one Apple has here if it’s 1997, but unfornately for you, its not. In fact, this website was a pretty good one for 1997. The problem many businesses have is they still have a website from 5, 10, or even 15 years ago. Technology has changed, and the way people view the web has changed.

Mobile Responsive

Older websites didn’t have any way to take into account the incredible variety of screen sizes that we have to deal with today.  I am typing this on a monitor that is 1800 pixels wide, so we have to design our websites with those huge screens in mind.  Unfortunately, we also have design for someone, like my friend Dan, who still has their old iPhone 3GS from 2008.  The original iPhone was only 320 pixels wide!

We are able to account for both of these screen sizes with one set of code through something called mobile responsive design.  All elements on the site are sized based on either a percentage of the screen, or they change when the screen size crosses a threshhold.  For example, a banner image across the top might be set to have a width of 100%.  Then, as the screen size shrinks, it always fits from edge to edge.  When it comes to text size, we might set a heading font size to drop by half when a screen is below 680px in width.  It’s more complicated than that, but you get the picture.

Updated Design

Another important element to consider with the age of a site is design.  If you look at the Apple site from 1997, there are elements there that we simply don’t use anymore.  You don’t dress in bell bottoms anymore to go to a business meeting.  Your website shouldn’t look like its outdated either, noone will take you seriously.

Whirl Sites designs are all cutting edge technology.  And, once you are our client, you can be assured that your business can ALWAYS stay on the cutting edge.  We plan to release a new design every month as we keep our finger on the pulse of design trends.  If you see one of our new designs and want to switch, you can always do that!

Give us a Whirl!
See Whirl Pricing
See Whirl Designs

5 Ways Your Website Is Hurting Your Business

5 Ways FB Photo

_0009_iPhone-5c-BlueIt’s Not Mobile Responsive

Reports around the globe are crystal clear; nearly everyone on earth is going to have a smart phone in the next few years. Even third-world countries who have little other technology are jumping on board.

According to CNN, in February mobile traffic surpassed desktop device traffic for this first time in history. Now, more than 55% of all internet traffic is mobile. So what does that mean for your business if you are not onboard?

So what does mobile responsive mean? It means that a website “responds” to the size screen on which it is being rendered. When coded correctly, it means that all of your website information is formatted perfectly for whatever size screen is being used. As you know, from a small iPhone 3GS screen to a larger iPad, there are literally dozens of screen sizes. Mobile responsive makes your website render perfect for them all.

How Does That Hurt You?

If your website is not mobile-ready, less people are reading about your business, plain and simple. You are loosing customers because they load your site and can’t read the tiny text. People are very impatient with technology, and statistics prove that users move on when they can’t immediately find information they want.

Does your business have walk-in customers? This problem is compounded for you. People look up your website via mobile phone to find your address, call you, make reservations, and many other ways to get them through your door. You are losing customers at an alarming rate if your site is not mobile.

_0044_Painting

It’s Designed Unprofessionally

Never underestimate the power of a great design. I challenge you to find a smashingly successful business whose website design is dated or notably unprofessional. There are ways to get around this hurtle without busting the bank, but don’t discount it. Even if design is not important to you, it speaks to your customers.

How Does That Hurt You?

Think of it this way: Would you go to a client meeting without brushing your hair or dressing nicely? Then why would you allow your website, the first impression many people will have of your business, look unprofessional?

 

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The Text and Content Is Unclear

Have you ever been on a website and thought, “what does this company even do?”. As a web professional, I can tell you that I see this every week. Business owners tend to want to write their own content to save some marketing dollars. This is often a huge mistake.

How Does That Hurt You?

When a website is unclear about what your company does, how can a client decide if they need your services? Even if you are able to clearly state what your company does, most fail to give a unique selling proposition. Why are you better than your competitors? Why should I choose you above everyone else? What really makes the difference? Getting your copy (text) right is crucial in turning website visitors into customers!

_0094_PhoneYour Contact Information Is Hard To Find

This one drives people crazy. They get on your website, have made the decision to take the next step with you, but they can’t find any way to contact you. Many websites only have a contact form with no other way to get in touch. Those are good, but what if they want to email you directly? What if they just want to pick up the phone and call?

How Does That Hurt You?

Hopefully I don’t really have to answer this for you. We as business owners already have enough barriers to our success, so this one is easy to overcome. Your website should list every way imaginable to get in touch with you, and it should be EASY to find. Your phone number should be on every page of your website in most cases. If your site does not clearly post your contact information, you are losing customers.

_0007_ChatNothing Is Happening!

This opportunity is overlooked by the vast majority of businesses, even some successful ones. However, there is no doubt in my mind that they are losing customers by neglecting it. Most websites are now built on a content management system that allows you to update your site regularly with recent and relevant information. Your website should not remain unchanged for the entire year, it looks like no one is home.

One easy way to address this problem is to bring your social media feeds into your website. People will see your recent posts and see that you are doing business. Another idea is to ask your clients for testimonials and regularly add new ones. These are great social media posts, and it shows that your business is active.

Last, adding a blog to your website is great tool to communicate regularly with your customers. It gives you an opportunity to show them that you are an expert in your field. Don’t get caught talking about yourself too much though, give them valuable information that helps them!

How Does That Hurt You?

I have seen clients who do this well, and it brings in new clients on a regular basis. Do you have to add content to your site regularly? No, but it’s a missed opportunity. Google ranks pages higher who have recent and relevant content, your customers see you are engaged, and it convinces customers to go with you over your competition. It’s worth it to spend time on your content regularly.

_0017_LightbulbOur Solution: Whirl Sites

There are many ways to correct the problems on your website. A great custom website developer will cost you thousands, but there are also DIY solutions out there that help you setup your own website virtually free.

For many businesses, I think both solutions are a bad fit. Custom solutions are great, but way too costly. DIY solutions take too much of your precious time, and often end up looking unprofessional anyway.

Whirl Sites is a new category between these two options. For $399, we setup your website for you, so you don’t waste time. We save you thousands in design fees delivering you a website that is ready for your content. We even provide professional photography that fits your business on every page.

Let us know if we can help you improve your web presence today!

I Need a Website Fast!

I need a website and I need it right now!

Is that you? Are you searching Google for a fast website solution, but can’t seem to come up with the answer?

Option 1: DIY

There are really only two kinds of solutions to consider. You could try to create a website yourself with one of the many DIY tools. There really are some great tools that allow you to do this for a very reasonable cost. I will warn you though, it’s not as easy as it looks.

Most people either fail to complete the project on their own, or they end up with a website that looks unprofessional because of the failed use of colors, graphics, photos, and fonts.  People also fail with these offerings because they don’t really have the hours available to devote to such a project.  As easy as they make it looks, it WILL take you hours and days to get a great website up and working.  (If you get it working.)

If you go this route, I would recommend either SquareSpace or Wix.  These are robust services if you have the time to do your research and get this big project done yourself.
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