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How to Protect Your Images and Content

20 Apr

With the growth of the internet, image theft and copyright violations have become one of the biggest issues facing website owners. Now with the addition of sites like Pinterest, Flicker, and even Google Images, it is almost impossible to stop your images from being stolen. Is there anything you can do? While a website owner cannot achieve 100% safety, there are steps you can take to protect your brand and your media.

Disabling Right-Click

Website images are stolen by right-clicking. Thieves easily right-click on the image and paste it to their desktop. With the advancement of technology, there are now ways to prevent someone from utilizing this method. Using a simple line of JavaScript code completely disables right-clicking on your website. Although this may seem like a sure way, this only stops a non-tech user. To get around this, a tech-skilled user will just disable JavaScript on their browser, and right-click will work again.

Protect content by disabling right-click

Adding a Copyright Notice/Disclaimer

Although this sounds simple, it’s been shown that adding a copyright notice and disclaimer prevents some people from taking images from your website.


This may not be applicable to all website images, but watermarking helps to stop people from taking images, especially on portfolio websites. You can also accompany a watermark with a notice of usage that urges people to contact the owner for details of the rights of use. This stops a lot of non-tech users, but people with strong skills in any photo-editing software can remove your watermark.

Protect content by placing watermark

DMCA Badge

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act Services Ltd. (DMCA) offers free protection for your website, which includes a takedown notice. They also offer a free image watermarking service. Putting a DMCA badge on your site acts as a deterrent for serial image stealers, and DMCA will threaten legal action on your behalf, which usually scares infringers into removing your stolen content right away.

Protect content by placing DMCA badge

In conclusion, there is no surefire way to protect your media from being stolen, but by using one or more of the above methods, you can deter people from taking your images. Pick a method that works best for you. If you have a portfolio-based website, watermarking is the simplest method. Most artists and photographers have their own watermark for professionalism. If you’re a larger company and own a website, a copyright disclaimer and DMCA badge will show your authority. No matter the methods, ensure that you approach and implement them correctly.

If you are concerned about your website’s security, the team at VIA Marketing is here to help. Call or email Julie at VIA to see where to begin.


Why Page Speed is Important to You

23 Feb

We live in an age of technology where everything is getting faster by the minute. One would expect the same of all the websites in existence, but there are still over 10 million websites that are penalized by search engines each year due to bad performance and speed issues.

How does the speed of your website impact you and your business? Speed plays a major role in two aspects of your website: user engagement and search engine optimization.

Just last year, Amazon announced that for every one-second delay on their site, conversions dropped by 7 percent. That means if Amazon has $100k in sales per day, they would see an annual loss of $2.5 million. On the flip side, Wal-Mart reported that for every 100 millisecond increase in page load time, they saw a revenue increase of 1 percent.

E-Commerce sites only make up roughly 12 percent of the market, so while user engagement is a key factor in page speed optimization, all websites are affected by Google’s SEO rankings based on page load times. Back in 2010, Google announced they would be implementing a speed variable into their logarithm, so if your site isn’t optimized for speed and performance, it will in turn hurt your Google ranking. The idea behind this is to provide people using search engines with the best possible sites and the best experience, proving once again, faster is better.

What Defines Page Load Times

Page load times are defined as the time it takes your website to load all the necessary files to display the content to your user. Even the simplest looking websites are ranked poorly if the site assets aren’t optimized for fast performance. While there are dozens of items that impact your site’s performance, usually only a handful cause the most problems and they can be easily fixed:

  • Image Optimization. Sizing images correctly to fit the display they are being used in, rather than using large images and scaling them down.
  • Minify Javascript/CSS. Reducing the code structure by writing cleaner and shorter code for items such as slideshows and hover/rollover effects.
  • Leverage Browser Caching. Setting expiration dates for images and files on your website so the user’s browser doesn’t have to get a new version every time they visit the webpage.
  • G-Zip Compression. Auto-enabling your server to compress files may reduce the page size by up to 70 percent.

There are many other factors that play a role when it comes to page speed and load times on your website. The few listed above are the easiest to adjust to help move your score up. Other factors take a bit more knowledge and time.

Where do I Find my Website’s Metrics?

If you want to know how your website ranks, there are many tools that will help diagnose your page speed metrics. No one diagnostic website will give a clear-cut list of everything wrong. Instead, most will give you suggestions and recommendations about what is slowing your website down and how to address the problems. Google has its own page speed tool, called Page Speed Insights. There are other tools out there, such as GTMetrix that provide a more in-depth and technical set of information. These tools, though beneficial, can be a bit overwhelming if you are not familiar with basic programming languages.

If you are concerned about your website’s page speed and how it’s affecting your rankings, the team at VIA Marketing is here to optimize your site in order to move you up in the rankings. Call or email Julie at VIA to see where to begin.

How to Write Your “About Us” Page

19 Jan

The “About Us” page on a website is one of the most important pages, yet is most neglected and overlooked. This page is crucial for expressing your business’ personality and mission. Your “About Us” page should build trust and provide reassurance for consumers interested in buying from you or investing in your business. This is especially important if they have not had any prior dealings with your firm.

You can set yourself apart from your competition by stating what makes you different. Take the time to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and use that knowledge to start building a personal connection with someone who visits your website. “Spark” and charisma are essential to attracting someone who doesn’t know you, so write in a manner that is conversationally friendly and clear about what you are all about. If you can induce a feeling through a story about your service or product, you will create an emotional attachment between the visitor and your brand.

VIA Marketing About Us page

Important Tips for an Effective “About Us” Page

  1. Tell Your Story – Share the positive impact your product or service has had on others. Was it life-changing or empowering? Humanize your brand with a good feeling. People connect with what they can relate to or what they would like to relate to. The world needs more good news! Share your mission and business ethics, and tell the story of how your business came about. Write with passion as you share your business struggles, growing pains and successes, but don’t make the narrative too wordy. Combine a modest attitude about your accomplishments with showing appreciation and thanks for those who have helped you along the way. Tell us why your company, service or product is different. Why should we buy from you?
  2. Show Your Personality – Be unique with your layout, text and images so they reflect your personality. Remember to stay consistent throughout your website and social media pages when choosing the tone, layout and fonts. Your brand colors should be prominent. Having a strong design aesthetic is important, but without compelling content, you will only hold the visitor’s interest momentarily.There are countless approaches, but think about what works best for your specific story. For example, sharing your business’ journey and milestones can be laid out in several ways to create visual interest. Think of a vertical timeline instead of a horizontal one, or an abstract roadmap with simple blurbs of accomplishments. Simply, keep it visually interesting but clean and easy to read. Remember to use vivid graphics and words that are descriptive. Humans are visual creatures, and pictures can increase the level of feeling and empathizing with your brand.
  3. Humanize Your Business – Stay human and sound less formal. Be straight to the point with powerful, short sentences. Use your unique voice instead of being overly polished and sounding too ‘industry.’ You will seem more credible and trustworthy. Some visual examples include showcasing people behind the company scenes. Along with using employee pictures and fun bios, include personal info such as hobbies, quirky throwbacks, links to their online accomplishments, and social buttons linking to their pages and email. Pictures of your staff in action give a human perspective to your business. At VIA, one of the most clicked-on pages has historically been our staff page. In a service business, people especially want to know who they will be working with.
  4. Video Impact – Tell a story about your business using a short, engaging, one-minute video to create an impact and make the visitor want to know more. Video will increase your Google search ranking and provide a solid introduction. Remember to include an introduction or caption with your video. Videos are also a great way to add dimension. For example, showing a video of how a customer successfully uses your product or gives positive feedback will build trust between the visitor and you.
  5. Testimonials – Using pictures of people along with their name, business or city, and a testimonial about their experience with your business personalizes your brand and provides reliable credentials. Sharing a short quote from employees explaining why they enjoy working for your company is also another type of testimonial. Testimonials can come from different groups including customers, business affiliates such as vendors, or your employees.
  6. It’s All About TRUST – Don’t forget to include what your products or services can do for your customer. Most people are considering you from a “What’s in it for me?” perspective. In the end, it’s always about creating and keeping someone’s trust. The customer needs to know they can count on you and that you will stand with them if something goes wrong.
  7. Expand Your Horizons – Some use their “About Us” page as a landing page to summarize their business. You could expand and organize your content by creating tabs or subpages with categories such as Our Story, Our Process, Our Team, etc. This makes the information more easily digestible for the visitor. More pages improve your SEO because they require more clicks and provide more opportunities for your keyword tags.Another idea is to use a section of the page or another tab to highlight the visitor/customer. Have an “About Us” section and an “About You” section. Case studies are a good way to show how you prioritize customers’ needs. Include details like solid credentials or awards you’ve won. Relating experiences about how you’ve empathized with customers’ challenges and how you’ve helped them will go a long way to secure new business.

Please contact VIA Marketing to create your “About Us” page, or let us rework your page to enhance your business. If you want a fresh tone across your website to convey more personality, we can do that too! Contact Julie or call 219-769-2299.

Research Your Options

Before you build or freshen up your “About Us” page, take a digital trip to research “About Us” pages on other websites. Look over examples of some highly effective pages and learn why they work. Check out websites of businesses you really value, along with competitors’ pages in similar industries.


How Does Blogging Improve Search Ranking?

23 Nov


Ranking on the first page of a Google search is a frequent request by many businesses. It’s ideal placement since the first page sees 95% of all search traffic. While this is not an impossible feat, it does take time and several SEO strategies need to be in place. An often-overlooked SEO strategy that businesses can implement is blogging. A blog has the power of increasing organic search performance, which can ultimately result in more leads and sales.

Last year, Forbes published an article outlining the top 10 benefits of blogging on your website. Although SEO strategies frequently change, even over a year, blogging continues to hold the same advantages today. While all ten benefits are great for your business, blogging boils down to better organic search performance.

Blogging Gets You Noticed Online

We live in an information-hungry world, so it’s no surprise a search engine like Google indexes countless pages every day. This means your business website could be up against fresh competition every day. Google considers a website that is updated at least 2-3 times a week as a frequently updated site. The more you make changes to your website (copy, images, etc), the more Google rewards you. Adding a blog to your website is the easiest and most effective way to regularly schedule fresh content for search engines to index. Your blog will need to be part of your domain, e.g..

Blogging gives you opportunities for smart keywords. Any great SEO specialist keeps keyword strategy top-of-mind because it greatly impacts your ranking in searches. Additionally, ranking for long-tail search queries is more likely to result in leads and blogging is the best way to rank for those longer keyword phrases. Search engines like Google are more interested in quality content, so remember not to “keyword-stuff” your content.


Quality Over Quantity

You can blog daily, weekly, or monthly, but remember that it’s more important to produce quality content. That means your blog posts should inform and engage your audience about your product or service. Your search engine performance is key to your online presence, and blogging is a great way to expand it. If you are interested in starting a blog but don’t know where to begin, please contact Julie to get started today!

Forbes: Top 10 Benefits Of Blogging On Your Website

  1. Increases search engine traffic
  2. Humanizes your brand
  3. Supports your social media initiatives
  4. Builds authority in your industry
  5. Improves conversion rates
  6. Helps generate inbound links
  7. Helps you rank for long-tail search queries
  8. Increases leads
  9. Facilitates valuable discussion
  10. Allows you to achieve ‘freshness’


How To Protect Website Analytics From Spam

26 Oct


Collecting and analyzing website data is invaluable to meet the business goals of a website. Google Analytics is a great tool to view website traffic data and gives you many insights to improving user experience. This is why having true data is critical, but data can potentially become useless if your website is hit with spam traffic.

What is Spam Traffic?

There are different types of spam traffic, but the most common is spam referral traffic. This type of traffic comes from bots that impersonate a referral link and the objective is to influence you to visit their website. Referral links represent the sources linking back to your website. Usually, referral links are great for SEO, but referrer spam can negatively impact your data. For example, is a common spam referral source. It’s a legitimate website, but useless for your data because it can degrade important website metrics like bounce rate, pages per visit and average visit duration. Consequently, you may have an unclear picture of your website traffic and performance.

Analytics snapshot of data from January 2016 to September 2016

Analytics snapshot of data from January 2016 to September 2016

Filters & Segments Decrease Spam Traffic

In order to diminish spam referral traffic, there are a couple strategies we put in place in Google Analytics. We can block referrer spam altogether by setting up filters in your account. This is a good strategy for well-known referrer spam like, plus you won’t ever see it in your analytics because filters prevent spam traffic from ever hitting your website. Another great strategy is to set up segments. Segments work by grouping data under conditions you set. For example, we can group all referrer spam in one segment and select segment when looking at analytics. This is a good solution if you would rather not delete data, plus it’s flexible to implement.

Clean Data is Real Data

It’s possible to use both solutions together as well, but here’s a few things to keep in mind. Setting up filters in your account is permanent, so you can never recover data if necessary. We can circumvent this by setting up different views in Google Analytics. When using segments, you will need to remember to select it every time you’re viewing data, plus we may need to frequently update it. No solution is perfect, but the goal is to get the best possible website traffic data. By using filters or segments in Google Analytics, you will get a clearer picture of your website performance and will be able to make better business decisions.

Your website traffic data is important and your business deserves real data. If you’re concerned about spam traffic in your website analytics, please contact our digital specialist for support with filters, segments and Google Analytics.


My Interview with a Full Stack Developer

28 Sep
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Ryan Olson, a full stack developer (FSD) at VIA Marketing. Ryan was super excited to tell me all about what he can do for our clients in the age of new and emerging technologies. However, in our conversation I found that Ryan Olson and FSDs are from a different planet and speak their own language. As a bonus to you the reader, I will ATTEMPT to translate his amazing, brilliant, genius answers for you to plain and simple English.

Michelle: Okay Ryan, what exactly is a full stack developer?
Ryan: Many people may have never heard this term. A full stack developer will think through the functionality of a website during the creative stages and then move to writing code in HTML using CSS3, JavaScript, and Ajax. Then they move to the back-end, using PHP and MySQL to create complex and advanced functions on the server. Full stack developers are skilled and comfortable working in both front-end and back-end environments.

This means: A full stack developer is very smart and many times is a graduate from Purdue. Go Boilermakers! This person makes a website work. They integrate what you see and click on (front-end) with all of the coding and database technology that you don’t see (back-end). Your website needs to have someone with solid programming skills to customize functions. A functioning website makes everyone’s life easier – believe it or not, it’s true.

Michelle: What do you do for our clients?
Ryan: I get involved with the UI/UX aspect of the site and work closely with the designers to bring ideas and mock-ups to life. Having a wide skill set in many programming languages, I can easily transition from one language to another to collaborate on conceptual designs and offer insight on how to enhance functions so they work across a variety of platforms like desktop and mobile. Being versed in server side scripts, such as MySQL and PHP, I work to make sure nothing is lost along the way.

This translation: Ryan understands how today’s websites are supposed to look and function. Ryan will not leave you in 1995. While gallantly avoiding missteps that make many other websites look like train wrecks, he also ensures the security and proper management of your content and data.

Wondering about UI/UX? This term is used a lot by developers and not really by the rest of us, but if you want a good website it should concern you:
UI = User Interface, i.e. visual design
UX = User Experience, i.e. the visitor’s interaction with your website.

Another acronym Ryan uses freely (like we all know what he’s talking about) is server side scripts: MySQL and PHP. This is a block of code written for a specific function that is controlled by the server. By the way, client-side scripts are code that are controlled by your computer. An example would be desktop roll-over effects. Is your head hurting yet? Mine is. Okay, just think what happens when your mouse moves over thingies on your website and then something really cool happens. That is just one of the many, many things Ryan makes happen.


Michelle: So as you are at the forefront of what is the latest and greatest, what emerging technologies should we be aware of?
Ryan: Experience Design (ED). As more and more users move away from desktops and do their web browsing and shopping on mobile and tablet devices, we will start to see new scripts being created for those devices. In the last year we saw the advancement of smart watches with Internet connectability. Thinking about how users experience and use the device will help us come up with creative ways to enhance your customer’s experience when they try to access your website. This is different than user experience (UX) in the sense that UX is how one flows through the content. Experience Design is what the user experiences while using the device. On a smart watch, they may be out for a jog, or out shopping and need to look something up. How accessible is that information?

What you need to know: Devices change, apps change, and your marketing needs to advance with it. We need to be aware of what people are actually using and why they are drawn to it. We’d venture to guess that you are reading this article on your phone right now.

Take a look and think about your website and how it functions across different devices. We need to be where people want us and it has to be good – even on someone’s tiny, practical, accessible wrist.

To find out more about where your company needs to be and how to get there, get in touch with Julie at VIA Marketing at: or call 219.769.2299


Expanded Text Ads, The Next Generation of AdWords

30 Aug

The power of search engine marketing has recently reached another level with Expanded Text Ads in Google AdWords. According to Google’s AdWords blog, it’s the biggest change to text ads since AdWords launched 15 years ago. Earlier this year, Google removed right-hand side text ads to maintain a consistent user experience across all devices. This mobile-first mindset was the driving force behind Expanded Text Ads and we’re here to explain the new features.

Expanded Text Ads (Before)

Expanded Text Ads (After)

Expanded Ads, Bigger Opportunities

Expanded Text Ads are available with two headlines (30 characters each) and one long description line (80 characters), which makes them nearly twice as big as standard text ads. No matter the device, desktop or mobile, the new ads will wrap accordingly. Longer headlines and descriptions are the perfect opportunities to increase visibility on the search results page, which can result in more people clicking on your ad. According to early reports, click-through-rates (CTR) have seen increases by as much as 20 percent.

In addition to more ad copy space, there are two path fields available to supplement the display URL. Your landing page will remain the final URL, but now you will have the opportunity to add two paths (15 characters each) to customize the display URL. For example, your landing page for a new product could be, but in your new expanded text ad, the URL can be displayed as The new path fields provide an opportunity to highlight services or products and potentially reach more customers.

Expand AdWords Opportunities Now

Expanded Text Ads have been available since July 26, 2016, but starting October 26, 2016, AdWords will no longer support creating or editing standard text ads. Existing standard text ads will continue to run after this date, but you will not be able to edit them. We recommend transitioning your current text ads to the new format before October 26th to take advantage of the new features. If you would like help with the transition, please contact Julie for AdWords and Expanded Text Ads support.