How to rate your web site host? Easy

I host my clients’ web sites, and that’s a lot different than just having a URL that’s hosted by a “GoDaddy” solution. Friends don’t let friends use GoDaddy.

I need my clients’ web sites to be up 24/7, to have email work correctly once configured, and not to spend a lot of time troubleshooting geeky things about hosting.

Some time ago, I had a bad experience with InMotion Hosting.

So I went to BlueHost. I highly recommend these folks. Their pricing has been clear and fair. They are up 100% of the time (in my year with them), and they have a phone number that someone actually answers. YAY.

But BlueHost is making changes. They’re ditching their Reseller program, which means you can’t host your clients’ web sites under an agency account. I can, because I’ve been grandfathered in, but I’m not sure how long I’ll be sticking around.

BlueHost has also changed its policy for support — they won’t spend as much time helping you. I think a premium support plan must be on the way.

How to rate your web host

I do realize that there are many hosting providers out there. And if you need to give good or bad feedback about them, try this link:

Customer Hosting Reviews
Who Is Hosting This

Look — the only way others will know what’s going on vis-a-vis web hosts is if you vote.

"Do I need a web writer?"

What ever happened to white space used well??

What ever happened to white space used well??

We get this question a lot: “Do I need a web writer?”

My answer is always, “Yes.”

  1. It takes a good web writer to write economically (i.e., not too much but not too little).
  2. A good web writer knows how to jumpstart your web site’s search engine optimization (by using words and phrases that your potential customers and qualified leads use to search for services like yours).
  3. It takes a good web writer to treat your business objectively, giving it the content that will bring your target audience(s) to your website.

Traditionally, graphic design has been orderly: a copywriter writes the copy and a graphic designer makes it visually sing.

Somehow, this orderly universe was disrupted in 1996 or so by the incredible speed with which the Internet crashed over all of us.

The geeks — the ones who knew how to program a web page — found themselves in control of this new world. Because they didn’t know anything about graphic design, their pages looked pretty bad — and they simply required their customers to provide copy, which usually wasn’t any better.

Most small- and medium-sized businesses didn’t know enough to hire their own writers, or a producer to oversee the process and a designer to ensure that what was programmed was actually any good.

And, in some pockets of this world, this is still how business is done.

We want you to be happy with your final web site, and for nothing to be left out or forgotten in the process. And even though you may not know design principles, you know what you like. Basecamp Productions gives that to you.

In short, we let designers design and writers write. Your budget won’t know the difference, but you will. We also provide a producer to oversee the process — all at no additional cost to you. Call us today. 410.404.5559.

Track your own SEO and social media success

This is icon for social networking website. Th...

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So you want to prove to your boss that social media and other efforts are working.

Here are some great products that can help you.

SEMRUSH is a fantastic product, tracking local and national search engine results, as well as social media and other factors that can figure into your web site’s ranking. Subscription.

Advanced Web Ranking lets you track every key word in any search engine or directory on the Internet. Subscription.

Hub Spot lets you determine qualified leads and how to convert them. Hub Spot specializes in inbound marketing (bringing qualified leads to your site and converting them into customers). Try out HS’s free Web Site Grader to see how well your web site performs. There are also “graders” to grade your book marketing, Facebook and Twitter presence, blog, and press releases. Some free tools and a subscription plan.

I also like Spider Viewer, from WeBuildPages. Spider Viewer shows you your page as a search engine “spider” would view it — text and links. So if you want to analyze your meta information (and make sure you don’t have unwanted formatting, for instance), this is a good tool to use. It will also display all links — I’ve found this useful when considering whether my links are well worded. Free.

The secret to getting accurate video production estimates

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

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The secret to getting accurate video production estimates

If you want to build a house, you don’t ask a builder for the price (right off, anyway).

The smart way to build a house would be to come up with a plan — the number of floors, rooms, bathrooms, and so forth — and then let several builders give you their estimates. You’d probably hire an architect to help you. (more…)

Video 101: Review your needs before writing the script

A CD Video Disc (playing side) produced in 1987.

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Always review your needs before writing the script

Planning a video or film for your business is just like planning anything else. The more prepared you are, the better the process will go and the happier you’ll be with the final product.

In video and film, you have an added bonus: the more prepared you and your producer are, the lower you can keep your costs. Follow the steps below and you’ll be well on your way to executive producing your next video or film. (more…)

The Google dance

Google in 1998, showing the original logo

Google in 1998, showing the original logo

Last month, a client called to say he still hadn’t seen his web site appear in Google‘s listings. The web site had been up one week.

This goes to show you how much we all expect instantaneous results from anything Internet-related. But that’s not the way it is, and it won’t be for quite some time.

Now, it’s possible that my client’s web site could have made it into Google within a week. I’ve had it happen, but ONLY with web sites that have a longstanding domain name (in 2008 I redesigned my sister’s web site, Colonial Photography, now Helen’s Place Photography, and she was sitting pretty on page 1 the next day (where she’s remained) — she’d owned her URL for 12 years even though there was not one word of text on it.) Google respects longevity.

Here are some important things to remember about your new web site being found on Google:

1. URL age is still a factor, albeit a lesser one. That doesn’t mean you should buy an old URL. Rather, it means that Google respects age as an SEO factor, especially if that URL has been linked to in the past. In the case of my sister’s web site,, likely she had next-day results in 2008 because her web site, even though it had no words on it, was frequently linked to. It held a single link for her clients to view their photos.

2. Google spiders don’t “crawl” every web site every day, or every week for that matter. Google performs “fresh” crawls periodically looking for brand new stuff. But Google only performs a “deep” crawl every month, on some undetermined date (but one you can make an educated guess about if you watch closely). And, depending on a lot of factors, you may not see the results of even a deep crawl for weeks. Also, Google is under no obligation to deep crawl your site at all. If your site remains unimproved for long periods of time, it’s likely that it will take some energy to get Google’s attention again.

Here are some comments by Matt Cutts, the popular Google software engineer:

There is also not a hard limit on our crawl. The best way to think about it is that the number of pages that we crawl is roughly proportional to your PageRank. So if you have a lot of incoming links on your root page, we’ll definitely crawl that. Then your root page may link to other pages, and those will get PageRank and we’ll crawl those as well. As you get deeper and deeper in your site, however, PageRank tends to decline.

Another way to think about it is that the low PageRank pages on your site are competing against a much larger pool of pages with the same or higher PageRank. There are a large number of pages on the web that have very little or close to zero PageRank. The pages that get linked to a lot tend to get discovered and crawled quite quickly. The lower PageRank pages are likely to be crawled not quite as often. (Matt Cutts interviewed by Eric Enge, 3/14/2010)

Even though Page Rank is not supposed to be a factor any longer, there is a lot of truth to these words still.

So, here are some tips for getting found by Google faster:

1. Keep an “old” URL (but not the web site) even if you’re changing your business name. Ask your webmaster to redirect the old URL to the new. It could pay off.

2. Revise your file names. Make sure they use your keywords, and aren’t too long. Google will overlook file names that appear to be similar. I’ll give you an example. Before I knew any better, I used to add the business name to the keywords for a file name — both so the business name could be better branded and the web file names could be better organized (e.g., businessname_web_site_design.xxxx and businessname_copywriting.xxxx) (“xxxx” being the file extension for the kind of pages you use, such as .html). You may find that Google will bypass any page other than your home (index) page if you do this. Keep your most important key words near the front of the file name, and make sure they’re also used in your body text.

3. Increase the volume of your inbound and outbound links. Two otherwise identical sites will rank differently in Google based on their popularity with the world at large — particularly their peers. You can’t do any better than being linked to by people in your own business. So — make sure you’re listed in online trade directories, blog directories (you do have a blog, don’t you?), and the like. The more the merrier. Just don’t pay a “link farm” to generate random links to your web site. When Google sees that these links are bogus, you’ll be penalized. As for outbound links, these are just as important to Google.

4. Drive traffic to your web site. Blog, answer questions on LinkedIn, even advertise on Google or Facebook. Just get people to your web site. This is harder than it may sound — people want interesting and useful information. Can you provide it?

5. As often as possible, freshen your web site’s content. Particularly the index page. Add new files. Add downloadables. Add a new blog entry.

6. Give your audience incentives to move to another page. Keeping your bounce rate low is much more important than you may think.

7. Lather, rinse, repeat. It sometimes takes perseverance and consistent nurturing to gain a higher ranking on Google, but you can make great strides if you’re persistent and patient.

After about a month, my client’s web site appeared on Google, on page 1 for both of his top key words, and his was a brand-new domain. It will take him longer to reach page 1 for a much more competitive key word, but I have confidence that in his market area we will demonstrate more perseverance than his competition. I’ll let you know how we do.

Oh, what is the Google dance? If you watch search engine results pages (SERPs) rankings daily, as I do, you’ll see that your web pages’ rankings will jockey around quite a bit — up by three points here, and down by one there. That’s the dance to pay attention to.

Other reading:

Timing Google’s crawl

How Google works

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