Category Archives: Entrepreneurs – Small Business

Posts include information about resources for small businesses, small business marketing and start up business marketing. Stories about and from successful entrepreneurs with tips and insights on building business,

Building A Purpose Driven Company

Identify Your Brand Purpose Begin with the following exercise.

5 Steps to Define Your Brand Purpose

What is your product or service and what does it have to do with your brand purpose?   Are you a product manufacturer? Do you have a retail store or online shop? Does your company provide property management services? Even if these questions seem very basic to you, you may be surprised what is revealed through this practice.

Taking a few moments to determine your purpose by penning a products and services list is invaluable whether you are a start-up company or an existing business. The list helps your customers know what products and services they can expect from you, plus helps your company identify its purpose and where you want to focus your energy.

Begin to identify your brand purpose with this product and service list exercise.

Consider what a customer may need when they are seeking your product or service. Do they just want yarn or do they need online knitting classes? If you are a product manufacturer, will you provide one complete product or replacement parts, will you create multiple models that offer unique features?

Below I have used Connection Group as an example. I began with core services and then added subcategory items under each as applicable. I have purposefully left some items off at the risk of creating a 20-page blog!

The main services Connection Group provides are:

  • Graphic Design – Including logo design, digital graphics, print collateral, publication design, web page design, signage design, display advertisements,
  • Printing – Including – offset and web press, short-run digital and large quantity print runs, proofs, delivery
  • Website Design and Development – Including website design, user interface design, navigation and content flow, digital graphics, website maintenance, hosting
  • Brand Marketing Management  – Including digital graphics, display and internet advertising, direct mail, brochures, event marketing, product marketing
  • Content Marketing – Including graphic design creation, blog writing and distribution, social media post creation and social media management

1. Create your product or services list.

Begin with your core product or service, then add the elements of each. After that step is complete, you can also break down tasks that are part of each service. For our example, we could add specific tasks required for publication design, or website design, etc.

 2. Read through your list.

Do you see some services repeated under multiple categories?

In our example, graphic design services are under all categories. Graphic design is our core service.  It makes sense that we have included it in all of our main service platforms. Although it may appear repetitive, we include a service under each applicable category because we want to communicate clearly to our customer what is available for them.

Graphic design created for print and digital graphic design developed for the web requires a grasp of each medium. Not all creative services firms have expertise in both areas. Adding it to all categories helps our customers know we can be a one-stop solution. Creating a full suite of branding services that helps our customer connect with their target audience is our brand purpose.

3. Could you make changes to increase customer satisfaction?

Can you be a one stop shop or is offering a specific niche a better brand purpose for your company? If another creative services agency did this exercise they may realize they need to bone up on their website graphics capability. Or, they may choose to focus on their print expertise and decide not to offer website design or web graphics at all.

4. How can your brand purpose list help you plan for the future?

Did you recognize you have some extraneous products or services that you are currently offering which do not offer value expected by your customer? Do you find some holes that you could fill in with new products or services? Sometimes companies can create entirely new divisions with a new product or service that utilizes core competencies or current staff, equipment capabilities, etc.

5. How will you serve your customer better?

Determining your core brand purpose is the first step in putting your customers needs first. Your company will also benefit because you can identify ways to streamline resources. Optimizing your equipment, raw materials, knowledge, and staff is key to a purposeful and profitable business.

Let us know if we can help build your company brand roadmap. From a purpose-driven brand assessment to a full blown brand marketing plan we can help you create a unified brand image and increase your brand recognition.

5 Steps to Effective Content Marketing

effective-content-marketing

Effective content marketing not only keeps your website current, it is critical to coming up on the first page of search results.

Search engines look for keyword rich content on your website related to your industry, products, and services. Adding new information to your web pages, blog posts, service, and product descriptions, promotions, video, branding visuals, are a few examples of digital content.

You can’t just rely on search engines to bring people to your website though. Distributing content to new audiences helps you get in front of many more prospects.

Where does your target audience hang out? Look for outposts where you can share content, discover niche forums, social media platforms, news websites, blog sharing websites and more.

1. Identify your audience(s) and topic(s)

Allocate your content distribution.

  • If your top sales are in one product or service, allocate 60% of your content to that product, 25% to your second producer, 15% to your third…
  • Or focus on lead generation and dedicate 50% for prospecting, 25% to current customers, 25% previous customers.

2. Create a Content Calendar

Effective content marketing begins with planning.  This shareable resource helps the whole team visualize how content will be distributed throughout the year.

  • Plan content around events, product releases, holidays, etc.
  • Be realistic on the time commitment you’re capable of each month/quarter/year…
  • Divide up the person hours with staff, partner with colleagues, or budget to outsource content creation.

Download our free content calendar.

3. Take stock of your content assets

You may have a lot of content already. Presentations or training session slide decks, e-books, videos, infographics, old blogs, etc. You can also partner with colleagues to share their informative videos, photos, transcribed interviews, blog posts, etc. Have them do a guest blog posts or a series of them. These content assets might take the form of:

  • re-purpose content – update old blog posts with current information
  • interview colleagues, local leaders for audio or video content
  • how-to videos, videos just for fun, introduce new staff

4. Schedule, publish, promote

We find it works best to set a specific day each week to work on content. Blocking time out on your schedules gives it the importance it deserves.

5. Track, and tweak your content

Compare stats from tracking systems of posts or pages viewed, during key campaigns or time frames. Assess which types and posts have proven to be the most effective content marketing.

  • Install Google analytics or other tracking software on your website. Follow visits, engagements, and sales.
  • Track feedback, insights, etc. from chosen social media platforms,
  • Review email campaign reports

Need an extra boost to get started?

We can help you determine what the most effective marketing content is for your business with a brand content consultation. You’ll get one-on-ones with us, an entire year roapmap outlining the most effective marketing content to capture your audience. See list of features for your personalized content roadmap.

You can choose to develop all of your content from there or we can help you with as little or as much of it as you would like. Contact us today!

[Tip] How To Stop Fake News Posts

Stop making fake news real!

From ‘Reality TV’ to ‘Alternative Facts’, it is hard to determine fact from fiction today. If you have family or friends who are professional journalists, you know citing sources and reporting facts is a sacred creed not to be broken. Legitimate news sources may not share news we all like to hear, they may inflate circumstances, they may be guilty of focusing on ratings. Yet, making up stories to intentionally deceive is not a laudable option to this group.

It is primarily the internet, blogs, and social media sites that have proliferated this unnerving practice of fictitious or fake news. Because of the viral nature of the digital and mobile platform, fake news stories are posted and shared many times over, without question of the source.

8 ways to determine if an article is fake news:

  1. Domain Name: Examine the domain name of the site that posted the news. Scams often use a similar name to reputable media. For instance abcnews.com.co is a known fake news site attempting to trick people to thinking they are abcnews.com
  2. Fact-Checking: Run the story through known fact-checking websites. Try the search engine Hoaxy currently in Beta. Or try recently acquired by Facebook, Snopes.
  3. Read quotes: Does the author use  “sources say…” instead of citing true numbers, studies, officials or industry professionals?
  4. Who is the author: Research the author of the story. Fake news writers won’t have other information in browser search engines. Real media reporters and writers have online brands and recognition. Even interns will have the beginnings of a personal online brand.
  5. Who runs the website: Check if there are links that will lead you back to who actually runs the website where the article was posted. Is there an About Us page, or references? Reputable news sites will always include contact and marketing information.
  6. Photos and graphics: Do the graphics and photos look accurate? Could Photoshop tricks be at play? Have stock photos been used? Do they lead you somewhere else off the story?
  7. Videos: If there are videos embedded, check their original source and date. Look for any splicing, videos can be manipulated as easily as graphics.
  8. Posted elsewhere: If you don’t find the video or the actual news story in question anywhere else online that is a strong clue it is fake. News media spread stories far and wide, not just on their own sites. Fake news stories rely on others to share it.
  9. Self-Hosted: Check if the website is a self-hosted Weebly design or WordPress site. Not that all WordPress sites are cause for concern, but WordPress is an inexpensive simple option to post quickly and take down down.
  10. Grammar and Spelling: Real news stories go through many steps of editing and seldom contain errors, especially blatant ones.

Is it Fake? Stop it from spreading!

Once you discover it is most definitely a Fake News story or a fake photo, flag it. Slate has created a Chrome extension, called This is Fake, that you can click if you discover a fabricated news story. The tool allows you to identify a fake story and then report it to your friends.

This is our chance to take back the internet and return some integrity to the real news media. When you connect “This is Fake” to your Facebook account you can flag the fake stories to the Slate “This is Fake” moderators.

Be a good citizen – stop making fake stuff famous!

Learn more about “This is Fake” here.

Tips source Lifewire.

#tuesdaytip

A Fresh, Smarter Website On A Safer, Friendlier Internet ?

A Safer, Friendlier Internet AND Discounted Website Maintenance

WordPress rocks as a responsive website solution that non-coders can update easily, the challenge is that, it eats up space. It’s popularity also leaves it susceptible to hackers when it is not maintained properly. New website hosting features, discounted website maintenance and website security solutions are affordable and necessary solutions for small business websites.

Safe surfing for everyone 

Earlier this year we penned a blog about Google’s plans for a safer, friendlier internet. In short, member-based websites, e-commerce sites, any website that requests customer log-in or visitor information will be required to have a secure website (https vs http).  Beginning in 2017, Google will begin putting warnings on all non-secure websites that request log in information or websites that offer items or services for sale. As a result, these warnings will effectively shut down website visitors.

Google prefers all sites be trusted and certified.

Finally, after the initial phase, the plan is to target other websites in an effort to increase security across all of the internet. As a result, it is recommended all websites include an SSL certificate and choose secure website hosting.

Cost for SSL Certificates and Set up

Secure Security Socket (SSL) certificates for small business websites vary from 128/256 bit to 2048 bit encryption. If your website doesn’t retrieve personal information you could choose a lower level of coverage and see a cost savings. If your website accepts payments, customer or member information, and if you have a large amount of visitors monthly we recommend the highest security level.

Additional Benefits of Secure Websites:

  • Higher search engine rankings
  • Increased credibility and relevancy ratings
  • Referrer data – creating more accurate website analytics

Discounted Website Maintenance for Hosting Customers

Website hosting means your website and domain emails are stored on web servers. Web servers share your website content with the world. That is all basic website hosting is. If you would also like to reduce susceptibility to hackers, have regular back ups, and assistance with website updates and staff emails, a website maintenance plan should be added .

Connection Group offers our hosting customers  an exclusive quarterly maintenance plan . Small business customers who do not need a lot of updates or who don’t receive 1000s of visitors each month are eligible for the discounted website maintenance. Small website hosting customers can receive the benefits of website maintenance with all of the services listed in our basic plan for $100 per quarter ($400 annually) instead of paying $75 per month or ($900 annually). Please review the quarterly plan to see if it suits your company.

Benefits of Website Maintenance

  • Increased search engine placement (SEO)
  • Current content on your website helps your visitor stay informed
  • Website updates show visitors that your company is progressive (and still in business!)
  • WordPress version updates helps to keep your website running smoothly
  • Google Analytics integration and access helps you see website visitor trends
  • Daily back ups help protect you in case of unforeseen issues
  • 3rd party plug-in updates keeps your website safer from hack attacks and compatibility issues
  • Email control allows you to create, delete, back up all company email or ask us to help you

Reap the benefits and savings of discounted website maintenance. Websites that have current information instill visitor trust. The majority of websites that get hacked are those that are not maintained. In conclusion, take precautions, maintain your website, have staff check it regularly or outsource the service. The time to clean up a hacked website can take many hours or days. If you sell directly from your website the cost in lost sales alone can be devastating.

Please give us a call today. We’re here to help.

Get Website Security In Place or Get Penalized by Google

website security for small business michigan

As of January, 2017 website security for member log in websites and all websites that accept and/or store credit card information must be secure (HTTPS). Google will begin to penalize e-commerce and member-based websites if they are not secure.

Main difference between HTTP and HTTPS

HTTP is the protocol that allows the web server to communicate with a web browser. HTTP web data is transferred as plain text. Credit card numbers, passwords and social security numbers can be mined by hackers. Alternatively, HTTPS is not text based. Instead, HTTPS uses SSL (secure socket layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security), data is encrypted and is impenetrable to the outside world. Another benefit of website security is faster page loads.

Website Security Increases Online Sales and Business Credibility

A 2014 survey by Global Sign indicated 85% of people who buy items online will only buy from websites they know are secure. Chrome and Firefox web browsers show a lock in the title bar on secure websites. The lock graphic assures the website is secure and the company is credible.


eventual-google-red-triangleGoogle will begin flagging non secure websites that gather log in and or financial data with a red triangle “Not secure” warning. By adding the red triangle to non-secure websites, Google will effectively shut your website traffic off.

Have you seen a Google warning to stay out or “harm may come to your computer” on a website? As web developers, we know that these sites have been hacked. Even though they may already be cleaned, we still respect the warning and stay away. Often, if a site is hacked once, it will be targeted again. Similarly, the red triangle will be a digital stop sign.

Will Your Company Website be Affected?

Eventually all HTTP pages will be labeled as non-secure. Even if your small business website doesn’t collect member or financial data you’ll need to have website security. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated and even small websites with low traffic are targets.

Google has not released the date in which they will be marking all non HTTPS compliant websites as insecure. They have set January, 2017 as the date they will begin rolling out the penalties to websites that gather personal or financial information. We will share critical dates in emails.

How do you know if your website is part of this first phase?

Organizations and small business websites that accept payments online and websites with membership portals, are required to have website security.

Types of Member-Based Websites:

Trade association websites, non-profit organization websites, website directories, web forums, all websites that ask for a log in. This includes small business websites that may not receive payments. For instance, if you have a website that sells yarn or fabric and all of your sales go to Paypal you wouldn’t need HTTP right away. That same website can be aa member-based website if it requires a member account for free access to pattern downloads. You will need HTTPS designation for your small business website.

E-Commerce Websites or Web Shops

An e-Commerce website is any website that offers products or services for purchase on the website. Selling products online such as photos, handmade art, hunting supplies, and any product available for purchase online falls under e-Commerce. In addition, services like our individual brand consultation and our monthly website maintenance are also. If a website maintenance customer chose to pay online through our website and not through snail mail or Paypal, our site would need website security.

As you can see, it doesn’t matter what items you offer. Your items for sale can be a products or services, as large as an RV or as small as a brand consultation. If customers log in to your site or if they can send payment through your website you need a secure website. If you do not have website security, call and  connect with us today. Don’t wait until your customers get scared away.

 

Capability Statement Design for Women Owned Businesses

capability statement design for women owned businesses

Congratulations, now that your company has received certification as a women owned business your work has just begun! Let’s start with your capability sheet design. In Michigan we have regional business summits, MiDiCo meetings, and other meet-the-buyer events. When you attend  networking events, conferences, etc. in your state or region you need a professional leave behind in the form of a capability statement. Capability statements are print pieces that essentially offer your company information at a glance. Your capability sheet should also be uploaded to your website for download. Similar to a product cut sheet or a sales sheet, capabilities sheets are what companies use in the procurement of corporate and government bids.

A successful Capability Statement Design Includes:

  • your company name
  • company logo
  • third party certifier (such as WBENC)
  • core competencies (brief company statement and services)
  • contact information (you would be surprised how often this is missed!)
  • differentiators – how do you stand up to the competition
  • images;  professional logos; professional or stock photos
  • past performance
  • company data:  DUNS number, CAGE, socio-economic status if you are a WBE, WOSB, Minority Owned Business, certified through WBENC, NAICS codes, PSC numbers, Federal Supply Codes
  • Key personnel: ownership, management information, or key account representatives, etc.

Optional Content for Capability Statement Sheets:

  • customer testimonials
  • partial customer list
  • credentials, licenses
  • logos and mentions of professional affiliations /memberships
  • case studies
  • Do you need help writing the copy for your Capability Statement Design?

You may know your business yet not know how to write or now how to identify which content will stand out to prospects. Consider frequently asked questions and reviews from your customers. Ask yourself:

  • What makes your company unique?
  • Why would you be the best candidate for a project?
  • What sets you apart from your competition?
  • Why do your customers continue to hire you?

capability statement sampleAs a full service branding firm we print, write, and design capabilities sheets. Our web specialist posts keyword optimized sell sheets and capability statement information to our website and our customer’s websites. Take a look at our capability statement design sample. We have included design and brand marketing service listings, print and design awards, women owned business certification, corporate logo, WBENC logo, customer case study results, etc.

Industry Specific Capability Statement Content

If your industry requires licensure be sure to include the licenses you hold. Include affiliations, reports and ratings with third parties.

  • Better Business Bureau rating
  • ISO rating
  • Angie’s List award
  • etc.

Especially relevant, do you hold a professional designation within your industry such as a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP)? These credentials establish credibility and set you apart from your competition.

Capability sheet samples include one and two sided solutions. We try to keep our capability statement design one sided and customize it to each service. For instance, if we are responding to a bid for brand development services we will include specific branding experience. For magazine or publication design we include our experience highlighting publication design and production.

Do you need help putting together your capability statement design? We can set up a 10-15 minute complimentary phone consultation. Also, we will ask the right questions to get the most important content about your business on paper clearly and professionally.

Leave behinds and downloadable pdf capabilities sheets are critical. Consequently, don’t miss opportunities because your prospects didn’t remember you or don’t have enough information to hire you. Give us a call or shoot us a note today.

The Hall Charlotte Michigan Website Design

Charlotte Michigan Website design for The Hall

Connection Group recently worked on a Charlotte Michigan website design for  the newly established, The Hall. Charlotte Michigan based, The Hall, is an entertainment and group rental space located in downtown Charlotte, Michigan. The Hall proprietor, Jon Hall, recently purchased the historic building located at 127 S. Cochran Ave., Charlotte, Michigan.

Connection Group owner, Connie Sweet consulted with Hall at the venue to discuss web and integrative marketing. The historic building features exposed brick walls, original tin ceilings that tower over the wide open space. Hall plans to book personal events such as weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties, showers, etc. In addition,

The Hall rental venue Charlotte Michigan logo designThe Hall is well suited for corporate business groups. Business retreats, meetings, business expos, award dinners, board meetings and more will find the space welcoming. A select group of local caterers have been chosen to serve The Hall attendees. Guests may also hire their own caterer.

Jon Hall owner of The Hall Charlotte, Michigan

Jon Hall proprietor of The Hall

In addition to being Charlotte Michigan’s solely designated event space for parties and meetings, Jon is also encouraging instructors to use the space for classes. From cardio drumming to yoga to wine and paint classes, The Hall will conform to fit each guest’s needs.

Another type of venue downtown Charlotte, Michigan was missing prior to The Hall was a dance and entertainment space. Individuals and groups can rent the hall and make use of the special lighting and sound board. From dance parties to fundraisers, The Hall is ready to rent one time, multiple nights or in regular intervals .

Charlotte Michigan Website Design for The Hall

Connection Group is proud to be a part of the The Hall launch. Jon Hall hired Connection Group to design and develop a responsive website for The Hall.  A chance meeting at a downtown networking event spurred the partnership. The Hall and Connection Group are both Charlotte Chamber of Commerce members. An advocate and strong supporter of local businesses, Hall chose Connection Group for The Hall Charlotte Michigan website design.

If you have an event coming up in the mid-Michigan area, why not check out The Hall? Visit the website for more information on venue rental and availability.

Hall also has space next to The Hall that is available for lease. A prime downtown Charlotte location, the space is well suited for retail or service businesses. Give Jon Hall a call today (517) 712-0772 for specifics on the retail space available in downtown Charlotte, Michigan.

Looking for a new responsive website to be designed and developed for your business? Connection Group provides marketing and design solutions for customers across the United States and Canada for a plethora of industries – we offer consultations and design services all over, not just Charlotte, Michigan website design services!

Please check back for future blog posts featuring customer projects  and be sure to visit The Hall in Charlotte, Michigan. Supporting local entrepreneurs who are keeping it real and saving the original character of our small town historical buildings need our support, recognition, and patronage.

Stay connected! #charlotterising

Which is Better, a Company Trifold Brochure or Sales Sheet?

Company trifold brochure 15$ discount on graphic design Connection Group

Your company website is live, you have business cards in hand, and now your’e ready for some leave behind print marketing materials. Small businesses often start with a standard, every-company-has-to-have-one-trifold, and others use company sales sheets. Whether you are a start-up company or second stage business, when choosing between a company trifold brochure and a sales sheet, first consider how you plan to use your print materials.

Company Tri-Fold-Brochure

Three panel brochures are standard letter size (8.5” x 11”) sheets that are folded twice, horizontally.  The paper is usually creased in equal thirds, resulting in three panels on each side of the sheet totaling six panels for the entire piece. Designed to fit into a standard #10 envelope, trifold brochures are also known as #10 brochures for this reason. Brochures can be a combination of any amount of colors. Trifold brochures can be simple black ink with text only or full color, effects, die cuts and short folds. A trifold brochure template can open horizontally, custom brochures can be designed to also open vertically. You can choose a z-fold brochure or roll fold brochure, depending on the order in which you want the viewer to read each panel.

A custom company trifold brochure or brochure template, is often a gateway introductory tool. Brochures can be many different sizes and shapes, with multiple folds, single or multi-page. Multi-page brochures are, in essence, marketing booklets designed to wow the audience and support the corporate brand. Brochures with sleeves and die cuts can be used as folders that hold inserts. The shape chosen is dependent on how the print marketing piece will be distributed, along with amount of information to be communicated, and the style in which the company brand, product brand and services brands will be presented.

When a company trifold brochure is most beneficial:

  • point of sale (check out)
    retail store
    bank
    pharmacy
    restaurant carry out menu
  • direct mail – fits easily into standard #10 envelopes
  • general company information
  • display in brochure racks
    coffee shops, travel bureaus / Welcome centers, chamber of commerces,
  • event promotion
  • other….

Sales Sheets

Sales sheets are standard letter size (8.5” x 11”) sheets that are not folded. They can be one sided or two sided, full color, one, two, or three color. One sale sheet could cover everything or multiple sheets may be needed to highlight individual products or services, pricing, etc. Sales sheets may also be designed for specific target markets. For instance if your company sells products or services to manufacturing firms and also to end users, your sales literature will need to be adapted to each audience.

A Sales Sheet By Any-other-name….

The term sales sheet is often interchanged with: sell sheets, brag sheets, capability sheets (capability statement sheets), product cut sheet, flyers, inserts, specification sheets (spec sheet), data sheets, and one sheets (often used for Professional Speakers, authors and other creative talent such as models and actors.) There are some differences in the content in each of these items but the purpose typically serves the same end – to promote.

When a sales sheet is most beneficial:

  • leave behind after a sales presentation
  • part of sales kits for use by sales staff or independent sales representatives
  • company manufacturers or offers multiple products or services
  • after sale literature for customer reference

Each marketing item that is designed for printing can also be included in digital format for posting to your website. All print items can be shared electronically in emails, posted to social media, and as downloads from a specified page on your website.

Do you need help with the design or writing of your company trifold brochure, sales sheet or booklet? Are you in need of a promotional kit with sales sheets? Connect with us today. We’ll plan a face to face meeting to discuss your ideas or schedule a phone consultation to clarify goals and outline marketing solutions.

Regular WordPress Website Maintenance

regular wordpresswebsite maintenance-no-hackers!

Responsive WordPress website designs are an affordable, versatile  solution for small businesses seeking a new or updated website they can update themselves. Those who already have a WordPress website know that WordPress works great on many levels. The biggest concern with choosing a WordPress website and managing it yourself  is that the regular WordPress website maintenance is often neglected.

wordpress feature random falling snowWordPress software is updated by WordPress programmers regularly. As any software, some updates are minor and you may not detect a difference on your site. Other updates are more robust. Some WordPress website updates offer new web functionality or a couple just-for-fun features, like falling snow in Winter. You can choose to implement all the new features or just  a few. What is most important in each WordPress update is the added security. Security updates protect from hackers and malware that can take down your website or infect others systems.

Installing WordPress updates is a necessity for keeping your website safe

WordPress is the top content management website platform across the world. It offers great benefits, especially to small businesses. For all of the benefits to choosing WordPress there is a drawback. Hackers love to target it. (Then again it’s not just WordPress that has this concern. Hackers target Joomla websites, Blogger websites and custom built content management systems also…) To avoid issues, Wordpress website maintenance is a critical practice to keeping your WordPress website or WordPress blog in optimal working order. wordpress update alert screen capture

WordPress programmers are proactive in protecting customers against these attacks.  New walls of code are built to keep predators out when vulnerabilities are detected. Once the code is developed a free update is available to all WordPress users. When a new WordPress update is available, there is an alert posted clearly at the top of the administrative area at log in. The date when it was first available is noted as well.

When should the WordPress software be updated?

We will often wait a day or so after a new WordPress version is posted before we select to update. This is because many of the responsive WordPress websites we design include 3rd party plug-ins.  Wordpress plug-in developers may need a little extra time to unsure their plug-in code is compatible with the latest WordPress version. If the plug-ins haven’t updated yet some may not function correctly. Within a few days most plug-ins have caught up. At that point we’ll update to the latest WordPress and plug-in versions. If plug-ins are not updated within a few days of the release of a new WordPress version, install the update but check your website very closely and make sure all plug-ins are working correctly.

Caution: plug-ins are also susceptible to hackers. New versions are made available and alerts are posted in the administrative area of the WordPress websites for plug-ins also. Plug-in developers may offer a new version with increased features and functionality in addition to added security protection.

We recommend updating plug-ins one at a time. After you update each one, check your website to make sure the update is compatible and all functionality is in place. If you choose to update your plug-ins all at once and there is a conflict, it can be difficult to pinpoint which plug-in is causing the conflict.

What happens if I don’t update WordPress regularly?

  • hackers can invade it
  • malware can be installed on your site
  • Google is alerted and will black mark your website
  • your website is rendered harmful to visitors
  • prospective clients and visitors will get a scary alert stating your website may be harmful to their system

What do you do if your website was hacked?

You send a frantic call to your website hosting service or website design firm that your website was hacked, it’s not live and clients can’t reach you and… worst… you don’t have a current back up. Your website will need to be taken down. Once removed from viewers, a temporary screen is posted, and clean-up begins.

What does it cost to fix a website that has been hacked?

  • your website is removed from view from all prospective and current clients
  • you will now be paying hourly website developments fees to comb through each file to find all corrupt code
  • developers clean / remove bad code
  • the cleaned website is uploaded as a  temporary page
  • website is tested
  • website is tested again… again… and again
  • once clear the new files can be uploaded
  • your web host is alerted that your website is safe to go live again
  • submission requests are sent to Google and other SERPs to remove the blocks that have been put in place for your website
  • requests are sent again… again… and sometimes a third time before alerts are completely removed and your website gets the all clear

 This whole procedure can take days or even months to resolve, it depends on how quickly you are alerted of your compromised site and the size of your website.

What is the best way to help keep websites safe from hackers?

By practicing regular WordPress website maintenance. Log in to the administrative area of your WordPress website frequently and make sure everything is up to date. Consider changing your admin password regularly also. Do not assume your web hosting company or your website design firm is maintaining your website. Web maintenance is usually an additional feature because of the time commitment. Look at your plan or agreement, or send your web hosting or design firm an email of phone call to be sure.

We understand staying current with WordPress and 3rd Party plug-in versions can eat up a lot of time. We also feel horrible getting the call “My website’s been hacked, what do I do?” from a small business. Before that happens, set a weekly or monthly timer to log in to your admin panel and keep your software updated. If you don’t have time or the due diligence to do this, you’ll want to look into website maintenance options for small businesses.. Our basic web maintenance package is a perfect entry point for most small business WordPress  websites.

wordpress website maintenance packageBasic WordPress Website Maintenance Package includes:

  • updating all WordPress, Theme and plugins
  • techies handle the technical stuff
  • website protection -security protection from Securi,
  • scheduled back-ups,
  • included Maintenance time / Email support,
  • 1/2 hour of styling and updates.
  • peace of mind

Knowing your site is protected  from potential hackers and will not be a concern to visitors or scare clients and prospects away from working with you is the best return.

Call us today to discuss which package is best suited to you or sign up for a website maintenance package..