Blog

So You Just Completed Your New Website. Now What?

Once a website has been completed and posted to the domain, we have a tendency to think the job is done and that Google and other search engines will do the rest. That is only partly true. Sure, if your new site is built on a search-friendly platform like WordPress, it should do better in search rankings. But if you haven’t properly optimized it for search, or if you don’t take any additional steps — like the ones below — then your brand new website may not do well in search results. Just because your site is “up” doesn’t mean people can find it. 

This checklist of pre-launch and post-launch steps will help you get the most out of your new website.


Pre-Launch Steps

  • Create custom Meta Title and Meta Description tags for your most important web pages. Some themes come pre-loaded with this functionality. You can also use a popular SEO plugin like Yoast, All in One SEO, or SEOpress. Yoast is the most widely used, but it is also very robust and can get confusing for smaller sites that just want some simple SEO features. For most smaller sites, I prefer All in One SEO for its ease of use.
    • NOTE: The terms used in your Title and Description tags should be geared towards the search terms people will be using to find your website. Hire a reputable web development or SEO company if you need help.
  • If the website already has an existing Google Analytics account, make sure to get the code and insert it into the new website prior to launch. The code can sometimes be easily added into the theme options, or you could use a plugin like Insert Headers and Footers. If you are launching a brand new site, post the site first, then create a Google Analytics account and get the code.
  • Confirm that your website hosting plan can handle the latest version of PHP. As of the writing of this post, the latest, fastest and most secure version is PHP 7.2. If you’re using a newer theme, PHP 7.2 should work. If using an older theme, check with their documentation to make sure it is supported.
  • Verify that your new hosting plan can support SSL. Since 2017, Google has been using SSL (secure sockets layer), aka “https” as a search ranking factor. Non-SSL websites are now labeled as “Not Secure” in the browser bar, which might deter some visitors. If your URL shows a padlock, then SSL is running properly on your site.
  • Non-essential, but recommended — install the Akismet plugin on your site. The free version is fine. It helps reduce spam sent through your website forms.

Post-Launch Steps

  • If your website is a new version of an old website, make sure to create 301 redirects for your main old webpages if they are now using new URLs. This can be done using htaccess or by using a plugin like Simple 301 Redirects. Ask your web developer if you need assistance with this, as it can get a bit complicated.
  • Check all forms on your website to make sure that submissions are getting through to the proper email addresses. Occasionally, some servers will block form-generated emails.
  • Use Google Search Console. This is an extremely important step. Once your site is launched, either login to your existing Google Search Console account and submit a new XML sitemap (your web developer can help with this), or, if this is a new domain, create a new Google Search Console account. Use the same email address that you used for Google Analytics so that everything is under the same account. Through Search Console, you can submit your site URL to Google.
  • If you are a business or organization and you have an address, use Google My Business. This might be the most important step of all, as it gets you listed on Google Maps and allows you to receive and respond to customer reviews. There’s nothing better than showing up on a map and seeing multiple 5-Star Reviews for your business. There are a few steps to be verified with Google My Business, including having a postcard sent to your business address. Once it is setup and working, this may be the one thing that drives more business than anything else!
  • Website maintenance and backups! Make sure you hire your web developer or other reputable business to manage and maintain your website. This is probably not something you’ll want to do yourself, as sometimes simply updating a plugin can crash your website. If you don’t have the know-how, experience and tools to repair the site and/or restore a recent backup, we wouldn’t recommend ever doing anything like updating a plugin, theme or WordPress core software.

Please let us know if you have any questions. Radiant Design is always here to help.

Contact us today!

 


Copyright 2019 Tom Lempner and Radiant Design.

What We Know So Far About WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg Block Editor Plugin

If you know anything about WordPress, you’re likely to have heard about the update that will be arriving on December 6, 2018. According to WordPress.org, the update will NOT happen automatically. It is a manual update and is not necessary. Our suggestion is to wait until at least January, when they’ll most likely fix any bugs that exist in the initial release. From what we know so far, this major update to WordPress should NOT have any negative affects on your website, except that it will default to the new Gutenberg Block Editor. If your website automatically upgraded to WordPress 5.0, don’t fret. Gutenberg can easily be disabled by installing the free Classic Editor plugin. Keep reading below for more info.

We also suggest NOT updating to any WP version unless you first make a backup that can easily be reverted to if the install fails or creates major issues with your website. We recommend that you always use a reputable and experienced web development firm (like Radiant Design!) to maintain your website and update the software and plugins on a regular basis and when necessary. Sometimes simply updating a plugin can crash a website, so we’re pretty sure updating the core software can potentially cause some sites to have major issues. Having an off-site backup ready to revert to quickly is key! And we’re happy to help if you need assistance.

What about Gutenberg?

The Gutenberg “block editor” has been optional for nearly a year. We’ve tested it, and while it has the potential to be better than the default Classic Editor, it still has limitations and glitches. We did not like it and found it very frustrating to use. It’s a step in the right direction, but cannot compare with the page builder plugin we use on nearly ALL of the websites we build for clients.

Our page builder is far more robust and stable. Gutenberg might get there eventually. But for now, the best bet is to disable Gutenberg on your website. This is done by installing and activating the free Classic Editor plugin. Doing this instantly allows third-party page builder plugins to continue to do their job without disruption. According to WordPress.org, the Classic Editor will still be available and supported through 2022. By then, I’m sure there will be plenty of workarounds for using third-party page builders without interruption.

Let us know if you have any questions. Radiant Design is always here to help.

Contact us today!

 


Copyright 2018 Tom Lempner and Radiant Design.

The Importance of Five Star Reviews is Vital to Drive Business

Ok, so your website is completed and optimized properly for search, but you’re not seeing the website traffic and phone calls you expected. The problem might not be your website, but your Google ranking. In the past, getting ranked organically (without the use of ads) was the primary SEO goal. Nowadays, that’s just part of the equation.

More than ever, it is VITAL to have a Google My Business listing that places your business on a local map and shows your reviews rating (based on a 5-star system). Without it, you’ll likely just be another domain name in the wilderness of the interwebs.

Using Google My Business for your business or organization verifies to Google that your business is legitimate. Once you’ve been verified, the next step is getting as many 5-Star Reviews as possible. The better your rating, the better you’ll look compared to your competitors.

This came to light recently when we received a phone call saying “We called you because you were the only local company listed with a 5.0 rating.” Wow. That really shows the importance of Google’s review ratings!

In the past, getting 5-star reviews was a hassle. There was never an easy way to tell your customers how to quickly give you a great review… UNTIL NOW!

Radiant Design has implemented a fast and simple 5-Star Review system on our WordPress website. And we can do it for your WordPress site, too! It’s simply a link sent to your best customers.

Once at the link, they give their review. If it’s a 5-Star Review, they are then asked to click a button to post the review to Google. If they give anything LESS than a 5-Star Review, they are taken to a short form that asks how your business could have served them better.

Folks, it doesn’t get any easier than this: https://www.radiantd.com/reviews/

Ready to start getting 5-star reviews for your business in Google? Radiant Design can help. Contact us today!

 


Copyright 2018 Tom Lempner and Radiant Design.

If You Have a WordPress Website, You Need a Maintenance Plan Including Theme and Plugin Updates, Security and Off-Site Backups

Just like getting oil changes for your car, a website needs regular maintenance to make sure it continues to run smoothly and is protected from problems. For a website, the problems are hackers, malware and spyware. Without proper maintenance of WordPress core software, theme, and the various plugins that make up your website, vulnerabilities can leave your site wide open for hackers to infect malware or other malicious code that could take down your website, or, at the very least, put it on Google’s naughty list.

Three things happened last year that led us to creating our WordPress Website Maintenance Plans:

  1. Our website was infected with malicious code that injected malware and fake ads throughout the site. Google temporarily blocked the site from searches until we repaired it. Fortunately, we had a recent backup to revert to. The problem happened simply because we took too long to update one of the plugins.
  2. We were nearly done completing a brand new website for a client when their existing/old site (hosted with a different company) went down. The hosting company was unable to restore the site. Fortunately, we were nearly done with the new site and simply posted it in it’s place on our hosting servers.
  3. A client wanted to manage their own website. Upon simply updating a plugin, the site completely shut down. White screen. They didn’t know what they did wrong or how to fix it. We were able to have it up again within minutes, and they are now using our website maintenance services.

Since most hosting companies only provide a single, nightly backup, that simply does not provide nearly enough assurance that you’ll be able to get your site back after a hack. If your site goes down on Saturday, but you don’t notice until Monday, the only backup you’d have is Sunday night’s hacked website. GAME OVER! You’ll need to start from scratch. Your website will be off-line and sinking heavily in search rankings until the new site is ready.

The best solution is to have OFF-SITE backups. There are some plugins that can create backups, but we have found them to be cumbersome and difficult to work with, especially when trying to restore a website that has been hacked. Our solution creates scheduled, off-site backups that we restore for our clients free of charge. The process gets your website back up and running within minutes, NOT hours or days! Plus, we do it all for you!!

We have priced our maintenance plans WELL BELOW the industry standard. For example, one of our competitors is charging over $600 per year for similar services — nearly three times our rate. Overall, we feel this is a great value and a great insurance plan for your website. Whether your site is hosted with us at Radiant or hosted elsewhere, we can manage and maintain it for you, saving you time, trouble and worry!

Do you need a plan for updating and maintaining your WordPress website? Radiant Design can help. Contact us today!

 



Copyright 2018 Tom Lempner and Radiant Design.

How to Transfer a Website to a New Domain and Maintain Search Engine Rankings and SEO using 301 Redirects

Moving an established WordPress website (or any website) to a new domain name can scary. In this blog post, we will show you the best way to move your existing website to a new domain using 301 redirects and Google Webmaster Tools (now called Google Search Console) Change of Address Tool to keep your search engine rankings.

STEP 1:
The first step is to duplicate your website to the new domain. This can be done in several ways. You can use WP Clone by WP Academy, ManageWP, cPanel Backups, etc. There are plenty of other tutorials explaining how to move a website, so we won’t cover that here. Radiant Design can help if you need it!

STEP 2:
The next step is to make sure that both domains have been verified in Google Webmaster Tools (now Google Search Console) and they’re both in the same Dashboard.

STEP 3:
The third step is to create 301 permanent redirects for all pertinent pages in the old website to the corresponding pages of the new site. For WordPress sites, we recommend a plugin called Simple 301 Redirects by Nelle. After installing the plugin, we recommend going to Google.com and entering site:yourolddomain.com into the search bar. This will show all indexed pages of your website. These results are ranked by relevance, which is very important. If your site has thousands of pages, you may only want to redirect your top 100 pages. Next, create the redirects within the plugin. NOTE: Do NOT redirect your homepage yet. Test a few of the old pages to make sure they are redirecting properly.

STEP 4:
The fourth step is edit the .htaccess file of your OLD site (if you have access to it) using the supplied code below. NOTE: once you make this change, you will no longer have access to any page within your site, including the wp-admin area. If you do NOT have access to your htaccess file, you can redirect your homepage in the Simple 301 Redirect plugin instead. NOTE: replace yournewsite.com with your NEW domain name. Once the .htaccess file has been saved, all traffic from your old site will forward to the new site.

#Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yournewsite.com/$1 [R=301,L]

STEP 5:
The last step is to use the Change of Address Tool provided by Google Webmaster Tools or Google Search Console. When logged into your Webmaster Tools account, click on the old site, and then look for the gear icon at the top-right. Click that and you should see the Change of Address link. Click that, follow the steps, and you should be good to go. If you need more detailed instructions, please use this link.

That’s it! Make sure to test several of your old site links and homepage to make sure they are redirecting properly. Please note, the new site URLs will not show up in Google search results right away. It can take several weeks for Google to index the new site and approve the redirects.

Want help moving your website? Or do you need WordPress website maintenance? Radiant Design can help.

 

Copyright 2017-2018 Tom Lempner and Radiant Design.

We Wanted to Know: Does Building a Website in WordPress Really Help SEO and Search Engine Rankings?

Since we have been designing custom websites in WordPress for several years, we knew (in the depths of our souls) that sites developed in WordPress helped search rankings, but we never put the numbers together to quantify it. It had been difficult to calculate because we don’t have SEO or traffic data from our clients’ old sites because they had been hosted elsewhere and/or our clients simply didn’t have the data.

So, we recently gathered data from six long-term Radiant Design clients. These clients include churches, construction companies and other small businesses. For each client, in addition to building their new WordPress site, Radiant Design had also built and hosted the PREVIOUS version of their site as well. We also wanted to make sure that we gathered at least six months of data BEFORE and AFTER the new WordPress version of their website had launched.

While we weren’t surprised that our notions were confirmed, we were surprised at how big the jump in traffic was for these six clients. The AVERAGE increase in monthly site visitors after launching a new WordPress site was a whopping 133%. That means, if they had 1,000 visitors per month BEFORE launching a WordPress site, they ended up averaging 2,330 visitors AFTER the new WordPress site launch. Wow! And those numbers were sustainable! It’s not like there was a surge and then it reverted back to normal. Nearly all are seeing a continual increase in site visitors month after month.

As you might expect, WordPress in and of itself may or may not be the only reason behind the higher site traffic. The site must also be properly coded, have relevant content, and contain several other factors (like 301 redirects, meta tags, XML sitemaps, webmaster tools, etc) that can enhance SEO and search engine rankings.

And while we can’t specifically say that WordPress directly affects SEO rankings with this data, we can certainly declare that properly-designed WordPress websites seem to have a considerable impact on overall site traffic and new visitors. So, it can only be assumed that the increase in site traffic was significantly related to the entire sire performing better in search results.

Want to help increase site traffic by an average of 133%? Let Radiant Design build your new WordPress website!

Copyright 2017 Tom Lempner and Radiant Design.

Radiant Design has usually gotten nearly all of our clients from word of mouth. We try our best to treat our customers with the highest level of integrity to go along with our premium website design and development services, and our clients have been tremendous about sharing their experiences with their friends and associates. So we haven’t had to do a ton of advertising.

Recently, an opportunity arose to advertise Radiant Design on our local Christian radio station, Star 93.3. It’s our favorite station, and we’re proud to now be a new advertiser with them. They provide great music and resources for our local communities in Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky.

We were tasked with writing a 30-second script for the spot. Here’s the script:

Is your website outdated? (sfx: gameshow fail sound) Yeah, I thought so.

Technology changes quickly and having a dynamic, mobile-friendly site is vital to your rankings. If you need a new website, Radiant Design is your reliable local partner. We specialize in new WordPress sites, maintenance and updates.

Let us give your site the “wow” factor it deserves. (sfx: wow!) Online at radiantd.com, that’s Radiant, the letter D, .com or call 513-400-9543. That’s 513-400-9543. At Radiant Design, we don’t just build great websites, we build competitive advantages.

Then we got to thinking… since we are a media company, why don’t we just record it ourselves? Well, in a single take, we recorded the following spot. It was approved by Star 93.3 and will be running during October.

 

We were very happy with how it turned out, so I guess we now have a new service that we can provide to our clients: Radio spot scripts and recording.

If you’d like to have a radio ad written and/or recorded by Radiant Design, give us a call or send an email. We’d be happy to help!

Contact Us Today! >

Copyright 2016 Tom Lempner and Radiant Design.

These days, simply having a good website on the internet is not enough. Your competitors all have the same thing. There’s a quick, inexpensive, and extremely beneficial thing you can do that will give your WordPress website (or any kind of website) both short-term and long-term boosts in search engine rankings: Blog posts!

I can hear what you might be thinking. Who has time to write blog posts? What should I write about? It’s not worth the time and effort. And I get it. I had neglected writing posts for my business for nearly two years. But I also noticed that the number of internet inquiries had dropped as well.

So, now I’ll be writing a new blog post at least every two weeks. That’s a great start, and will give these vitally important elements to search engine rankings:

  1. Fresh site content. Google and other search engines LOVE fresh content and will boost your rankings.
  2. Relevant information. When search engines can connect your blog posts to your company’s services and offerings, it’ll boost your rankings.
  3. Credibility. Potential customers will see your company as having more credibility if you provide helpful and meaningful news they can use.
  4. Social media content. Having trouble finding stuff to add to your social media outlets? Look no further. Just share your blog posts!

What’s the next step? Well, for me, I’ll be writing posts about the services I provide, along with helpful tips and tricks for small businesses and online marketing. I’m a pretty decent writer and don’t mind writing. For you, it may be more of a burden. But that doesn’t mean your business shouldn’t do it! Maybe there’s someone on staff or an intern who can write for you!?

Or, maybe the most effective and efficient method is hiring it out to an experienced company to do it for you. This is where Radiant Design can help! We have partnered with a team of writers who can write blog posts that are relevant to your business and are inexpensive.

To make it easy for you, we now provide the following blog writing packages:

  • Single blog post: $125
  • Monthly blog post package (6-months of blog posts): $675
  • Monthly blog post package (12-months of blog posts): $1,200

So, for around $100 per month, you could soon have a nice collection of blog posts that will keep your website fresh, active and relevant for both search engines and discerning humans! These posts will give your site credibility, and soon, you should be leapfrogging over your competitors in search rankings.

Your marketing budget should not be considered complete until you’ve budgeted for blog posts! In many ways, they’ve replaced press releases and have become the main source of feeding content to your industry. If you’re interested in having Radiant Design partner with you in your online marketing via blog posts, there’s no better time to start than NOW! Let’s get blogging!

Contact Us Today! >

Copyright 2016 Tom Lempner and Radiant Design.

Soliciting Google My Business Reviews and Angie’s List Reviews can seem like you’re asking your clients to do a lot. But if you provide a quick, no-hassle, direct link to the page, you can be more confident that your customers will actually click the link and write a review.

THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH NEW LINKS BECAUSE GOOGLE CHANGED THEM. ALSO, RADIANT DESIGN NOW HAS A NEW, AUTOMATED PLUGIN FOR YOUR WEBSITE THAT CAN HELP WITH CUSTOMERS ONLY SENDING 5-STAR REVIEWS TO GOOGLE! CHECK IT OUT >>

Here’s how to provide a direct link for your clients to write a Google My Business review.

  • Step 1: If you don’t have a Google My Business account, you’ll need to create one. You can use this link to get started.
  • Step 2: Once you have a verified Google account for your business, do a Google search for your business where you are listed #1 and your company bio appears in the right column (see image below). If you can’t seem to find a search query that places you #1, then you may need to hire an SEO company  like Radiant Design ;-)— but if you get very specific with your search (company name, city, etc), then you should find a query that places you at the top.

google-review-link

  • Step 3: Make sure you’re logged OUT of your Google Account. Then, look for the Write a review button in the right column. Click that link. It will open a pop-up window but you want to copy the URL that appears in the address bar. It will be long. See the image below for an example.

  • Step 4: Then, write a short email to your clients asking for a quick 5-star review of your company. Include the URL and let them know it will only take a minute.

BUT WAIT. SINCE THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2016, RADIANT DESIGN HAS CREATED A BETTER, EASIER WAY TO GET 5-STAR REVIEWS! CHECK IT OUT >>

 

Here’s how to provide a direct link for your clients to write an Angie’s List review.

  • Step 1: Login to your Angie’s List Business Center account. Then, click Your Review Link under the Reviews tab. From there, you can either copy the code in the box, or just copy the provided URL and paste it into the email that you write to your clients. Keep in mind that for Angie’s List reviews, the customer needs to be verified so if they’re not already a logged-in Angie’s List member, they’ll need to provide additional personal information and will be given an Angie’s List account, which might be a deterrent. Personally, I’d make sure to preface these requests as “for Angie’s List members only”.

angie-review-link

Copyright 2016 by Tom Lempner and Radiant Design.

Do you want to keep all of your email accounts in one place instead of having to check separate email accounts in multiple programs and locations?  If so, here is a step by step guide to have your domain email route through Gmail.

Email messages will still be sent and received through your domain email server, so you’ll still need to have the account setup with your hosting company.  But instead of some of the common issues that can occur with domain-level email hosting — like full email accounts, trouble accessing email in coffee shops and hotels, and some ISPs blocking domain-level email — you will have an email account that you can access from anywhere via Gmail’s web-based email and mobile app.  Plus, your email responses can still derive from your domain email account and NOT your Gmail account.  Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1: Create a Gmail account. If you have an account already, skip to Step 2.

If you already have a Gmail or Google account, proceed to Step 2.  If you need a Google/Gmail account, use the link below.

https://accounts.google.com/SignUp

Step 2: Access your Gmail settings to have Gmail receive incoming domain email

  1. Login to your Gmail account and click the gear at the far right side of the page. From the drop-down menu, select Settings.
  2. From the Settings page, click Accounts and Import from the navigation along the top.
  3. On the left, you will see Check mail from other accounts (using POP3). To the right of this, click on the link named Add a POP3 mail account you own.
  4. In the pop-up window that ensues, type in your full email address. Click Next.
  5. In the next window, enter your FULL EMAIL ADDRESS under Username. This is very important. Some servers require just the info BEFORE the @ as the username, but most servers require the full email address.
  6. Enter your password.
  7. Under POP Server, type mail.yourdomain.com, where yourdomain.com is YOUR website email server. For example, my POP server is mail.radiantd.com.
  8. For Port enter 110. Most ISPs use 110 for receiving email. Your may be different.
  9. For the radio buttons, only click Label Incoming Messages. Emails sent to this account will be marked as such.
  10. For the radio button Leave a copy of retrieved message on the server, this needs to be left UNCHECKED. If you check this box, a copy of every email message will be kept on the hosting company’s email server in perpetuity, which will eventually fill up, causing your email service to suddenly stop working.
  11. Click Add Account.

Step 3: Setting up Gmail to send email from your domain email address.

  1. While still on Gmail’s Settings / Accounts and Import page, you will see Send Mail As… in the left column.  To the right of that, click Add an email address you own.
  2. Enter the Name that you’d like people to see when sending email from this account, and the Email Address of the domain email account.  This will be the same email address you setup to receive email from in Step 2.
  3. Make sure Treat as Alias is checked.  Click Next Step.
  4. Make sure that Send through Gmail (easier to set up) is checked.  Click Next Step.
  5. Read the info in the next box, then click Send Verification.
  6. Login to your email account via yourdomain.com/webmail (use your full email address and pw), select RoundCube and then look in your Inbox for an email with a verification code.
  7. Type in the code and click Verify.
  8. Still on the Accounts and Import page, find the When replying to a message and make sure the box is checked for Reply from the same address the message was sent to.

Step 4: Confirm that everything is working properly

The last step is simply verifying that Gmail is now properly routing email in and out via your domain email address.

  1. In Gmail, select Compose — near the top left.  In the From: drop-down menu, select your new email address.  Then write an email and send it to yourself.  All new email received via this new email address should be marked accordingly in your Gmail inbox.

Step 5: The only FLAW of using Gmail for your domain email.

This process has one flaw.  Gmail does not check for new emails as frequently as I’d like.  It seems to be a random process.  Sometimes Gmail checks every 10 minutes and other time only once per hour.  But you can speed up the process if you are expecting an email.  Here’s how:

  1. Click on the Gear on the right side.  Then select Settings, then Accounts and Import.
  2. Click Check Email Now next to the email account you want to check.

Copyright 2014 by Tom Lempner and Radiant Design.