Know What You’re Paying For

Currency Question Mark Integrant ServicesWe’ve had a recent influx of customers that have been burnt by their previous web designer.  For some, a substantial amount of money had been paid, but they couldn’t stand the sight of their site when it was ‘finished’.  Others liked the design of their site, but had no idea how to use it because they were used to another platform.  Sometimes it was a combination of both.  In all cases, the designer stopped responding to emails once they decided the site was “finished”.

This makes us sick.

Please, know what you’re getting before paying someone for ANY service.  Contact the designer if their site isn’t clear about what you’ll be receiving.  Stay in touch with them through the design process, and be clear about what you want, especially if you’re not getting what you’re asking for.  Save those emails just in case you need them for ‘clarification’ later on.

Here at Integrant Services, we try to be as transparent as possible.  You not only get a customer information form for pertinent account information, but a graphics design questionnaire as well.  This gives us insight as to what you’re looking for as we craft your new site.  Did I mention that we have a secure customer portal for you to submit your information through?  It’s not for us, it’s for you:  We don’t want you sending usernames and passwords through email.  Yes, we care that much.

We also think our terms of service are plainly worded and easy to understand, as are the descriptions of our products & services.  And if you ever have a question about anything we offer, we encourage you to ask first, buy later.

We always do our best to keep our customers happy, and knock on wood, we have yet to have a complaint.  Mainly because we love what we do, and what we do is help you.

Have a horror story you want to share?  Something you need to get off your chest?  Leave us a comment…we’re good at listening too! 🙂

SNAP, Part 2 (Facebook)

Facebook-Logo-On-Fire Integrant ServicesOn June 1st I introduced you to the Social Networks Auto Poster (SNAP) plugin, and promised I’d cover the individual settings in more detail. Let’s talk about settings unique to Facebook.

While editing a post, scroll to the bottom of the page until you see the SNAP section. You should see your Facebook account, along with several options.  First, things first; make sure the box next to Facebook is checked. Otherwise your post won’t get sent to Facebook.

The next option is to schedule a publishing time for your Facebook post. It defaults to ‘immediately’, which is in relation to when your blog post is published. If you schedule your blog post to publish at a certain time, that’s when it will publish to Facebook. If you want to publish your post immediately, but delay publishing it to Facebook, set a time here.

The next section of options deals with how your post looks on Facebook. At any point you can click on the “what’s the difference” link for a visual reference. Selecting ‘text post’ won’t include your blog post, and you’ll have to type what you want to say in the ‘message format’ box. Same for ‘image post’, only it includes a photo.

The third option, ‘text post with attached blog post’ is the most common. It comes with its own two options, and like before, you can click the link to see the differences. I’m partial to the second option, attaching the blog post, but you should experiment to find what works for you.

Facebook CaptureThe ‘message format’ box is where you put text or links that appear at the beginning of your Facebook post.  Here is an example of the last post I published.  The words to the right of the picture come from the body of the post (or your SEO plugin).  The words above the picture come from what is put into the ‘message format’ box.  TIP:  Use the message format to add words that are different from your post; the example I’ve shown is NOT a good way to do it.  This is a good place to convince your readers to click and visit your blog.

If you don’t feel like including anything special every time you post, there are a few shortcuts you can use.  Typing %TITLE% in the block will display the title of your post when it publishes.  %URL% will include the web address of the post.  %CATS% will include the post categories, and %HCATS% will include the categories as hashtags.  You can incorporate these into a sentence as well, and save it as default in the SNAP settings.  For example, “A new post %TITLE% has been published on %URL%.  %HCAT%”

After Capture FacebookI decided I didn’t like the Facebook post I’ve used here as an example, so I deleted it from our business page.  Using the ‘Re-post to Facebook’ button in SNAP, I sent out an updated version.  I changed the wording so it didn’t sound the same as the embedded post, and included %HCATS% and %HTAGS% at the end.  You can certainly tell the difference.

The final two options are pretty simple.  Leaving the ‘Images to use’ box checked will result in SNAP deciding what gets sent to Facebook.  For those that are in the habit of using a Featured Image, it will generally choose that one first, and if there isn’t one, it will try to use one from the content of the post.  You can also uncheck the box, and choose a specific photo.  Leave the ‘URL to use’ box checked.

Hopefully you find these tips useful.  Stay tuned…in our next segment, we’ll be covering Twitter settings!

Stampin’ Up! Category ID Changes

Stampin’ Up! changed the IDs for most of its categories.  This important for you if:

  1. You’re a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator – and –
  2. You have links to Weekly Deals, Clearance Rack, etc. on your blog.

Links that go directly to your store, such as Shop 24/7, aren’t affected.

The two most common links are listed below.  Simply replace the ### with your Demo ID, and when clicked, customers will be taken straight to your store.

If you’re a maintenance plan subscriber and want us to update these links for you, just ask!

Weekly Deals:  http://www.stampinup.com/ECWeb/ItemList.aspx?categoryid=100100&dbwsdemoid=###

Clearance Rack:  http://www.stampinup.com/ECWeb/ItemList.aspx?categoryid=100300&dbwsdemoid=###

Social Networks Auto Poster (SNAP), Part 1

Computer-Keyboard-With-Social-800w Integrant ServicesDuplicating tasks is a waste of time (and effort), wouldn’t you agree?

So why would you craft a post and publish it on your blog, only to copy and paste it to your social media accounts?  You have to log in, copy the text from your blog post, paste it into a new entry, then upload and insert a photo.  Sound an awful lot like what you had to do for your blog post already?  Now, rinse & repeat for every social media account you actively use.

Or, you could just publish your post and let your crafted content publish automatically, thanks to SNAP.  Social Networks Auto Poster (SNAP) is a WordPress plugin developed by Nextscripts.com.  With a little configuration, it will take your post and publish it to most popular social media outlets.

The free version (and who doesn’t love free?) will publish to Delicious, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn (personal account only), Stumbleupon, Tumbler, Twitter, and Xing, just to name the most popular platforms.  A full list can be found at Nextscripts.com.

While Facebook and Twitter are enough for most, the good folks at Nextscripts know that ‘enough’ isn’t always enough.  Their paid API adds in 10 more social networks, of which you’ll recognize Google+, LinkedIn (company pages), and yes, Pinterest.

Pricing can be a little confusing for their paid services.  I covered this on a post a couple of months back.  Not to worry; it’s still on sale for $49.95.  Support our cause by using our affiliate link if you want the power of publishing to Pinterest and Google+.

Just to recap, SNAP is free if you just use Facebook and Twitter.  If you want to publish to Pinterest and Google+, you’ll need Nextscripts’ APIs, which are on sale for $49.95.

Our Maintenance Plan subscribers get the free version of SNAP installed and configured automatically  If they purchase the paid version, we’ll configure that as well.

The remaining parts of this series will discuss how to maximize the usefulness of SNAP on your WordPress blog!  Part 2 covers Facebook…stay tuned to learn more!

Is your blog mobile friendly?

mobile phone w/google on screenIf you hadn’t heard, as of April 21st Google is taking into consideration how your blog looks on a mobile device.  Those that are considered ‘Mobile Friendly’ will rank higher on their search engine results page (SERP) than those that are not mobile friendly.  Not certain if you’re site is mobile friendly?  Do some research, and even run a free test on the Google Webmaster’s Mobile Guide page.

Not mobile friendly?  Look for themes that are labeled as “Responsive”.  Responsive themes are smart enough to rearrange themselves no matter what size the screen.  If you’re not sure what I mean, try viewing our site in a smaller window on your computer.  Grab the left or right edge and make the window narrower.  See how it rearranges where everything sits?  That’s responsive.

Something to keep in mind after choosing a responsive theme:  Your layout will change depending on the screen size your site is being viewed on.  While you may have a full menu bar visible on a PC or Mac, it will be minimized to a drop down on a mobile phone.  A common indicator for menus on a mobile device is three horizontal lines stacked on top of each other.  If you have sidebar widgets, chances are they will be at the very bottom of the page, below your posts.

So why can’t your site be left as-is?  Simple:  Mobile devices are everywhere, and there’s only so many inches available on a mobile screen.  A 4.7″ smartphone (iPhone 6) may have just as many pixels as your 15″ laptop, but you’d need a magnifying glass in order to see anything.  That 15 inches of information would be crammed into a screen 1/3 the size.  You’d then need to pinch and zoom, then scroll all over trying to click on links or read the posts.

That’s why you need a responsive theme.

Have questions about your theme?  Think it might be time for a Theme or Template Refresh?  Drop us a line…we’ll be glad to help!

How to get the most out of your SEO plugin

Web traffic button pointing high position with two fingers blue and grey tones Conceptual image for internet seo.Visibility in search results is vital for any small business owner.  After all, how are you going to get new customers if you’re not listed in search results?

Enter Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Understanding how SEO works is kinda like rocket science.  Complicated algorithms make up the bulk of it.  You don’t have to worry about those, unless you have your Doctorates in Mathematics and are genuinely interested.  What you should worry about is writing good content, and in return, drawing your customer’s interests.

I recently read a very good article on SEO.  What the research boils down to is this:  Write Good Content.  For example, if your intended audience buys Widgets, and you want to sell Widgets, write about Widgets.  Don’t write about Gadgets if all you want to sell are Widgets.

What We Do For You

So, what does Integrant Services do for you when it comes to SEO?

Every one of our maintenance plan subscribers has WordPress SEO by Yoast installed.  While this plugin doesn’t solve all your SEO problems, it does assist you in Writing Good Content.  You can find the WordPress SEO by Yoast area on any Page or Post you’re creating, right under the text editor window you type in.   Follow the slideshow below, taken as I wrote this very article, and I’ll show you how.

 

For our Gold and Platinum members, we also monitor your site with Google Webmaster Tools.  This ensures your site map is up-to-date, and that Google’s Bots haven’t encountered any errors while crawling your site.

Hand writing Content SEO crossword with marker on transparent wipe board.The SEO Bottom Line

There’s more to SEO than just writing good content.  However, good content is a great place to start, and by using the tools we’ve provided you, will take care of a large piece of the SEO puzzle.

Other SEO Resources

WordPress Post Signatures

pen for signatureAre you a WordPress user?

Do you have a self-hosted blog, not hosted by WordPress.com?  Do you have information you want to appear every time you publish a new post (like a signature)?

Are you tired of cloning posts?

Great news…I have a solution for you!

I recently stumbled across a plugin called Add to All.  It allows you to do exactly what it sounds like:  Add information to all posts (and pages).  You can add text, graphics, or links to the top or bottom of every post you publish from here on out.  Or all the posts you published in the past.

The reality check?  It’s not point and click; text, images, and links have to be added by code.  While simple HTML, some won’t be comfortable with this.

The bonus?  If you’re one of our maintenance plan subscribers, we’ll install and configure this for you for free.  We just need to know what you want it to display.

If you’re not a paying subscriber (yet), install the plugin.  Go to ‘Settings / Add to All’, then scroll down to ‘Content Options’.

The first two blocks will apply the options to the beginning (or end) of every post or page you’ve ever created.

The second two blocks will apply your options to the beginning (or end) of every post or page you create from today on.

A word of caution:  If you choose to put information in either of the first two blocks (every post) AND in either of the second two blocks (from today forward), you’ll get BOTH sets of information in every new post.

Happy Blogging, and let us know if you want this configured for your blog!

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School House Questionnaire

School HouseWe want to make sure we’re building the best training possible…training that YOU want!

Please spend a few moments and take our School House survey.  Your inputs will make sure that the time we spend developing training is focused on you!