What Is SEO? The 2022 Guide to Search Engine Optimization

January 5, 2022

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” In layman’s terms, it means the process of improving your website’s ranking, by Google, Bing, and other search engines, when people search for products or services related to your business.

How does SEO work?

When you enter words and phrases to find what you are looking for, search engines such as Google use bots to crawl websites identifying for the best possible solutions to meet your needs, then they provide a ranking of website options where you can click. Algorithms come into play taking in many ranking factors such as page loading speed (Google says your website should load in under 3 seconds), how well your website responds to smartphones, quality of the content on your page, and many others.

Why is SEO important for you?

As marketing has become more digital (are you looking at magazine ads right now, or do you have your smartphone within arm’s reach?) thousands of people near you are currently conducting searches for real estate, restaurants, college scholarships, doctors and more. If you want your website to rank higher for specific keywords, there are steps you can take.

How can I improve SEO?

Having a commitment to SEO is a great start. You can improve your website’s ranking but there are steps you need to take. Two (2) main categories to understand are On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO. On-Page has to do with what’s on YOUR website, such as page loading speed, relevance of content, videos, etc. Off-Page SEO takes place outside your website and includes websites that link to you as a source of more information. Google uses the acronym E-A-T ― Expertise, Authoritative and Trustworthy.

Local SEO can be extremely helpful as it allows you to put information about your website online, such as through an accurate YouTube channel linking to your website or consistent business hours displayed on your company’s Facebook and Google Business pages.

Over the past couple of years many businesses have recognized that their website has become a critical success factor to their business. SEO, along with paid digital advertising, can combine to generate increased traffic from relevant leads that buy your product.

If you’d like to learn more about SEO services we can provide for your website, contact [email protected].


Or, visit the source articles our story is adapted from below:

Why Website Accessibility Requires Ongoing Support and Maintenance

November 8, 2021

Accessibility guidelines are evolving, and your website needs to adapt to stay compliant. The next release of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is slated to become official next year. But don’t wait to start migrating to the new standards, because there are 10 new rules that your website has to meet.

What is website accessibility?

If you’re not up to speed on website accessibility, the term can be defined as a measurement that shows how easily your website can be used by people with disabilities. This includes any permanent or temporary impairment that makes life more difficult such as blindness or low vision (like color-blindness), deafness or hearing loss, limited movement or dexterity (like a broken hand or arm), and learning or cognitive impairment. Check out this video for some real-world examples:

I thought my website was already accessible. Do I need updates?

Maintaining accessibility is crucial. With every uploaded file, published blog post, or change in standards, website maintenance is needed in order to keep the website accessible. At KMA, we offer ADA Maintenance Plans for a structured approach to keeping your website accessible. These plans dedicate a monthly maintenance budget to only accessibility improvements.

Changes in Accessibility Standards

To maintain accessibility, we follow W3C’s WCAG 2.1 Guidelines that were published in June 2018. WCAG 2.2 was on schedule to be published earlier this year but was delayed. So, while the new standards are currently in draft, we highly recommend that you start working towards this new version because it includes 10 new success criteria, and is on schedule to be published next year. These new features include:

Changes in Website Content

All of the websites we build for our clients include a Content Management System. In most cases, WordPress is used to allow clients to add their own content to pages. While this is a great feature for clients and keeping websites up-to-date, it can become a liability for sites that are required to maintain a certain level of accessibility. However, client-controlled website updates can be monitored and patched fairly quickly under a dedicated ADA Maintenance Plan.

Uploaded PDF Documents

PDF stands for “portable document format,” and is a type of file that can be opened in any internet browser being used today. So, accessibility standards that apply to website pages, also apply to PDF documents. PDF files were created by Adobe in the early 1990s to help incompatible computers view a document the way it was intended to look. Many changes have been made by software publishers so PDFs can be more naturally accessible, but simply saving an MS Word file as a PDF still does not make it meet all specifications required by the WCAG. In most cases, we make changes to the PDFs clients upload and replace the file on the website where needed. Clients that publish PDFs frequently, may take advantage of an Accessibility Training Session where we set up a live video training explaining how to use Adobe Acrobat to address accessibility issues prior to uploading them to their website.

Have more questions about website accessibility?

At KMA, we’ve helped many clients ranging from real estate agencies to Clerks of Court, non-profits, healthcare providers, and more make their websites more accessible through design expertise and monthly maintenance plans. If you are unsure where your website stands, we have a team of professionals who would be happy to provide you with a comprehensive review, request an ADA Compliance Review of your website. Or, if you know you need immediate help, request a Website Accessibility Compliance Estimate.

Why Core Web Vitals Should be Important to your Business

May 13, 2021

In June of 2021, Core Web Vitals will become an official Google Ranking Factor.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are a specific set of factors that are important for overall user experience. These metrics describe how quickly your site loads, how long it takes for your site to become functional, and how effortless it is for your customer to navigate your website. Websites that are fast and easy to use often have higher Core Web Vital scores. Google’s studies show that for pages that meet the thresholds of Core Web Vitals, visitors are 24% less likely to abandon the sites.

Core Web Vitals are segmented into six major sections:

  1. First Contentful Paint: length of time it takes for the first bit of content to load
  2. Speed Index: how quickly content is displayed during page load
  3. Largest Contentful Paint: length of time it takes for a page to load from the view of an actual user
  4. Time to Interactive: the time it takes for a user to actually interact with your page
  5. Total Blocking Time: time between the page loading and before the page becomes functional
  6. Cumulative Layout Shift: stability of a page, aka how much the elements on your page move during loading

If you’re a business owner you may be wondering, “What does this really mean for my website?”

Why Should I Care about my Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are a health indicator of your website’s user experience, which translates to happy customers and happy Google. Google considers these factors when choosing which sites to rank first on the search results. Simply put, the better your Core Web Vitals, the higher your site will appear on search results when a potential customer is looking for you.

These metrics also impact how user-friendly your site is. Customers are impatient online; 49% of consumers will exit your website if it takes longer than 2.5 seconds to load. Core Web Vitals are a way to quantify how enjoyable your website is for customers to use, and helps to identify how you can improve. The goal here is conversions or sales; Core Web Vitals identify the roadblocks that prevent your customer from reaching the checkout page.

Core Web Vitals aren’t just important for website usability, they also help new customers find you online and help you rank ahead of your competitor on Google Search. Google recently announced that Core Web Vitals will become an official Google ranking factor. If you aren’t familiar with how ranking works on Google Search, basically Google is looking at a myriad of factors to decide which websites to show when someone makes a search. You’re more likely to be chosen by this complex algorithm if Google thinks people will enjoy using your website. In late 2021, Core Web Vitals are becoming an even bigger part of that decision, so it’s important to resolve these issues in the next few months.

So Fixing My Core Web Vitals will Solve all my Problems, Right?

Well, yes and no, depending on what your problems are. If you have a great site with relevant content, but your competitor somehow always seems to knock you off page one of Google, a great page experience score will likely bump you to the top. Google recently pointed out that,

“A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content.” But in cases where multiple websites have similar content, “page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.” – Google

A lot of business owners think that having a beautiful website is enough. And maybe it used to be, but not anymore with these new changes to Google’s ranking factor.

At KMA, we’re known for our beautiful website design, but design isn’t everything. You can have the most breathtaking website ever to grace the internet, but if your customers can’t find it, or become too frustrated trying to use it, they’re going to click away. The secret sauce is great design, plus optimized Core Web Vitals. It’s like having that freshly painted vintage car in your garage without an engine. You can go and enjoy looking at it all you want, but you’re not going to be driving anywhere.

The great news is, it’s not a matter of choice between beautiful design and a high-performing website. We create sites every week that do both! (See how we grew The Spine Center’s website traffic 142%). Improving your Core Web Vitals will elevate your website from being a hidden gem to a sales machine. The first step is finding out how your current website is performing.

How can I find out my Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are surprisingly easy to check! Visit web.dev to quickly see how your website stacks up. Here are the benchmarks you should strive for:

First Contentful Paint< 1.5 sec
Speed Index< 2.5 sec
Largest Contentful Paint< 2.5 sec
Time to Interactive< 100 ms
Total Blocking Time< 300 ms
Cumulative Layout Shift< 0.1

Is your website not performing as well as you’d hoped? Our website development team is happy to help! Reach out at [email protected] or contact us on our website.

Why Website Load Speed Matters for your Business

March 30, 2021

We live in an age of instant gratification. So if your website is slow to load, you might be losing customers.

Why does website load speed matter for my business?

Just a 1-second delay in page loading time can result in a 7% reduction in sales. Customers become frustrated by sites that take too long to load; the slower your site, the less likely they will make it to the checkout. Users form an opinion of your website in just half a second. Every year, website visitors become more and more impatient. As of 2019, nearly 70% of consumers admit that page speed influences their likeliness to buy. The importance of page speed isn’t brand new; Google advised of this trend in 2010,

“Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs.” – Google

Your website load speed is critically important on mobile. Your customers are most likely using their phones to browse your website and purchase your products; 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months. Having a mobile-friendly website is key to leading a new customer from discovery to conversion. If your website is slow or clunky on mobile, customers will click away; Google research shows that 73% of consumers will switch from a poorly designed mobile site to one that makes purchasing easier. Having a faster site will even help you find new customers. Because faster sites rank higher on Google Search, there’s a huge opportunity to increase your website traffic just by increasing site speed.

Time is Money

Google created a tool so you can instantly see how much revenue your slow website is costing you. Go to thinkwithgoogle.com/testmysite to see how increasing your website speed by only a few seconds could improve your bottom line. For example, the site analyzed below could increase their revenue by over $5,000 a month by improving their site speed from just 2.5 seconds to 1 second.

What’s the average load time for websites?

The average page load time for websites in the United States is 15 seconds. But that isn’t the number you should set your sights on. Google says ½ a second or about the amount of time it takes to blink is the benchmark to reach for website loading speed. The average load time of the top-ranking websites on Google is under 3 seconds. People expect instant results when they click on your website. 57% of people will leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

How can I find out my website load speed?

So just how fast is your website? Here are three tools we recommend for checking your page load speed:

Google Page Speed Insights

Google’s tool quickly assigns a score from 0 to 100 based on how optimized your page is for speed. You’ll want to know what Google has to say about your site because 90% of searches take place on Google’s search engine. However, the score you receive does not reflect the actual load time your customers experience. Slow servers, third-party ads, and widgets might influence the score so be sure to use additional cross-check tools.

Pingdom Website Speed Test

If you have customers all over the world, you may want to utilize this tool by Pingdom. Choose from various locations, both in the US and internationally, to see what your customers experience. You’ll receive an actual load time in seconds, as well as a variety of suggestions to help you improve!

Whichloadsfaster.com

If you’ve had a competitor in the back of your mind the whole time you’ve been reading this article, you’ve got to try this tool. Sometimes you don’t need to be the fastest in the biz, just faster than your competition. See how your website compares in just one click.

Okay, my website is slow. What do I do now?

If you’ve identified your website is slower than 3 seconds, it’s time to make some changes. So how can your website catch up? If you want the Usain Bolt (only the greatest sprinter of all time) of websites, you’re going to have to invest in search engine optimization (SEO). You may have bulky images, page redirects, and uncompressed files contributing to your website’s slower load time.

The tools we mentioned above will give recommendations specific to your site for improving load speed, but unless you’re a web developer, the suggestions might sound confusing. We recommend hiring experienced web developers who can make changes like compressing images, implementing lazy loading, and leveraging browser caching to make your site FAST!

Luckily for you, we have a team of web developers with experience in website load speed optimization. We just sped up a client’s website from 5.9 seconds to 1.1 seconds!

Reach out at kerigan.com or email [email protected] to learn more about our website services!

Why ADA Compliance Is Important for Websites and the new WCAG 2.2 Requirements Taking Effect in 2021.

December 15, 2020

This article was originally published on Jan. 23, 2019, and was updated on Dec. 15, 2020. The original post can be viewed at: https://keriganmarketing.com/is-your-website-ada-compliant-and-does-it-need-to-be/.

Website accessibility is becoming increasingly important for business owners. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also good for business.  

When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, in 1990, Congress took important steps to accommodate people with disabilities―now fully 15% of the US population. But the internet of 1990 was not the major social and economic channel we all rely on today. So, over the past few years, many U.S. businesses have been struggling to understand their legal requirements and comply with the ADA.

WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is a set of parameters used in the digital world to ensure that people with disabilities, such as low-vision or visually impaired, are given the same opportunities that are provided to the non-disabled. Users can utilize screen readers to help make content on websites more accessible and understandable.

WCAG 2.0 was published in 2008, and updated Version 2.1 in 2018. That year saw a nearly 200% increase, over 2017, in the number of lawsuits targeting websites for their failure to comply with the ADA Act.

A website that serves all customers is good for business and the right thing to do. Additionally, Google ranks sites with enhanced usability higher in search engine rankings. And, good ADA programming could save your business thousands in legal costs.

The new version of WCAG, Version 2.2, is set to release Summer 2021 and these practices could help you get ahead of the curve. Here’s what we know about the update:

History & Growth of ADA Compliance

While website litigation has been steadily increasing, it wasn’t until 2017 when the grocery chain Winn Dixie was the first ADA website case to go to trial. That seemed to fuel the surge of ADA website accessibility litigation. The court held that Winn Dixie’s website violated the ADA because it was not sufficiently accessible to visually impaired customers.

To learn more about the history of website accessibility and its relation to the ADA, read our article about Website ADA Compliance.

To learn more about WCAG, read our article, What Is WCAG and What Does it Have to Do With the ADA.

Changes to Rule Importance

There are three different levels of WCAG compliance: level A, level AA, and level AAA. Level A is the most basic, with levels AA and AAA having subsequentially more parameters the site must satisfy in order to reach that level of accessibility.

Focus Appearance is the ability for web users to visually see a “box” around the element of a website which is selected. This requirement has moved from an ‘AA’ requirement to an ‘A’ requirement. This change in requirement level means it is a basic requirement for websites to meet. Keep in mind, elements with active focus appearance should be visible with at least a 1px (1 pixel) border around all sides of the focused element, or by an 8px (8 pixel) border on the left side.

The blue box around Financials is an example of Focus Appearance. To view this in action, use the Tab key to move through the website https://jacksoncountyfl.gov/.

What’s New in WCAG Version 2.2

Fixed Reference Points

Some web-accessible documents, like e-books and PDF files, use fixed reference points to determine where content is located, such as page numbers or a table of contents. Links to specific pages should be embedded in a way that increasing the text size will not affect page links from the table of contents.

Element Dragging Capabilities

On the back end of many websites, you are able to arrange content sections by dragging and dropping elements, such as text boxes, buttons, photos, etc. For sites with this capability, there must also be an alternate method allowing users to perform drag-and-drop tasks without the use of a mouse. To do this, you must feature up and down arrows which allow keyboard-only users to rearrange elements.

Pointer/Tap Target Spacing

Pointer and tap targets are elements of a website which can be clicked on to follow an action. By properly sizing and spacing these elements, users with disabilities can easily and accurately navigate a website. Having a larger clickable area makes elements easier to click on. Elements must have a width and height of at least 44 pixels for Level AA compliance.

Findable Help

On each page of a website, contact information, live chat, or self-help documents must be easily found and consistently placed.

Hidden Controls

Controls to complete a process must be visible at all times. For example, when filling out a form, the “submit” button must be in plain sight at all times. This rule also requires that users do not have to meet certain conditions, such as hovering over a specific location with the mouse or scrolling to a specific page location in order for page elements to appear.

Accessible Authentication

User Authentication (log in and log out) processes must be accessible in a way that does not require a cognitive function test. This is any task that requires a user to remember, manipulate, or transcribe information.

Redundant Entry

Forms which require users to input redundant information should either be auto-populated or available for the user to select.

The Future of ADA Compliance & Web Accessibility

WCAG 2.2 takes effect as the requirement in 2021 and increasingly more and more websites are moving in this direction. When you make your website WCAG compliant, you are providing access to all customers. Bringing your website up to these standards ensures ease of use and an optimal user-experience.

At KMA, we’ve helped many clients ranging from real estate agencies to Clerks of Court, non-profits, healthcare providers, and more make their websites more ADA compliant through design expertise and monthly maintenance plans. If you are unsure where your website stands, we have a team of professionals who would be happy to provide you with a comprehensive review, request an ADA Compliance Review of your website. Or, if you know you need immediate help, request a Website Accessibility Compliance Estimate. We’re ready when you are.

Latest Launch: Sweet Magnolia Inn Squarespace Website

December 2, 2020

Tucked away in St. Marks, Florida is the Sweet Magnolia Inn, a quaint bed and breakfast near Tallahassee, where we just launched a shiny new Squarespace website. We are so proud of our new Digital Designer, Emma Hurley, on her first project launch for KMA!

Faced with an existing website the client couldn’t easily update and difficult for prospects to navigate, Emma redesigned the site in Squarespace focusing on search engine optimization, engaging photo layouts, and ease of reservations. Emma came to KMA with Squarespace website experience, so in addition to Bryan’s WordPress expertise, we now offer another solution for affordable websites.

Our client now has a website where they can easily update specials, photos and announcements. And, as with all KMA website launches, our work included a one-hour personalized training call with a video recording to serve as a handy reference.

In designing the site, we wanted to capitalize on the history and natural beauty that surrounds Sweet Magnolia Inn. A KMA favorite for weekend getaways, there’s plenty to do from visiting Cooter Stew Cafe (yes, that’s the actual name) to enjoying bike rides on the St. Marks Historic Rail Road Trail. 

Check out their new website or book a room and enjoy the spectacular fall weather in St. Marks!

Kerigan Marketing Associates

3706 Hwy 98 Ste. 102
Mexico Beach, Florida 32456

(850) 648-4560

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