Category Archives for "Blog"

January 8, 2018

Making Websites Accessible to Everyone Part III

man looking through tablet screen

man looking through tablet screen

Website accessibility is more than hoopla. Businesses all over are starting to figure it out. A few grocery chains have discovered ADA actions speak louder than words.

In 2013, Safeway prepared and released the details of its negotiated commitment to make its on-line grocery portal accessible to disabled customers.

In 2014, the US DOJ settled a web accessibility complaint with Peapod, self-proclaimed as America’s leading Internet grocer.

Accessibility practices accepted by the company included a posted Accessibility Information Page, a designated web accessibility coordinator, and the use of WCAG 2.0 AA. Both actions received a great deal of attention and the results provided compliance guidance to help other private businesses begin or analyze their website status.

The result of another action on June 13, 2017 showed that compliance was indeed expected.  Winn-Dixie lost the first trial regarding the ADA and a private company’s website accessibility.

Winn Dixie Millidgeville, GA (7967696910)

A blind shopper filed a lawsuit because he could not access certain portions of the company’s website, such as online coupons. The chain’s loss demonstrated the Court’s concern about the relationship between technology in the digital age, civil rights, and accessible digital content.

The decision was a reminder that certain business practices must be followed, whether by choice or a harsh directive provided by law.

There is a sensible way to achieve current and pending WRA Section 508 compliance. It starts by developing an accessibility strategy. Following that is locating business communications that need changed and doing it. Next, widen the search to address all forms of communications and accessibility. Change the required areas to fit federal, state, and local guidelines.

Thousands upon thousands of small and large companies have questions about how Section 508 affects their operations and how to avoid legal action. Guidelines are available to indicate ways websites meet the accessibility standards for people with disabilities regarding:

  • Information and communication technology.
  • Products and service.

Other well-known laws supporting Section508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA include the:

  • 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. It addresses advanced communications products and services.
  • Communications Act, Section 255 addresses telecommunications products and services.

Accessibility Checklist Excerpts

The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services created a free accessibility checklist for web-based intranet and internet information and applications. Helpful hints you’ll find include how to:

  1. Put in audio descriptions.
  2. Give alternate links to Image Maps.
  3. Create text transcript.
  4. Make an alt tag for every plug-in, video, audio file, etc.

Upbeat Attitudes Make Compliance Simpler

When you address compliance challenges with a can-do attitude and take it step by step, it's easier to get the job done. Increase accessibility as you transform company culture and processes while changing documents. A company website that can be used despite disabilities like hearing loss, photosensitivity, and limited movement encourages more traffic and discourages complaints. Invite user feedback and run a test yourself using the accessibility checklist. Confirm HTML tags deliver the right information and graphics do not overcrowd the page. Keep a running documentation of results, recommendations, and changes that reflect your goal of making the website accessible to everyone.

 

RESOURCES

Accessibility checklist, 1194.22 Web-based intranet and internet information and applications

Web Accessibility for Grocers, http://www.lflegal.com/2017/07/grocery-access/

December 26, 2017

Making Websites Accessible to Everyone – Part II

Person writing on computer keyboard.

How does your business stack up against the Section 508 Standards regarding ADA compliance for telecommunication equipment and products? Compliance in website accessibility is a must now.

Person writing on computer keyboard.It’s hard to believe that the year’s grace given by the Access Board ends on January 18, 2018. Website owners are already getting calls threatening lawsuits for noncompliance when they haven’t even explored actions that address mandatory compliance.

This is not a case where the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigates each business and site before adverse action is taken. A complaint about the lack of proper accessibility for individuals covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act can only be disregarded when exceptions are disregarded.

Site owners must stand ready to: (a) show proof of compliance, or (b) document why they are not subject to the requirements of that section.

Discrimination Comes in Many Forms

Why does the Federal Government create so many laws and mandates forbidding discrimination against disabled individuals?

The short answer is lack of awareness.

Some disabilities, such as visual difficulties, are not immediately noticeable.

In addition to Section 508, three primary laws prohibit discriminating in communication. ADA is one. Access by people with disabilities to advanced communications products and services is required by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.The Communications Act, Section 255, requires telecommunications services and products be made accessible.

Companies doing business with federal agencies must also take steps to comply with these directives. Healthcare, financial institutions, and private contractors are examples. Digital communications like software, apps, and emails must be 508 compliant, Since PDFs aren’t accessible by screen readers, they require 508 remediation.

New York and California Reinforce Reasons to Understand and Comply

Changing PDFs and Word documents to the most recent standards is challenging, yet essential. Short training classes are planned in New York for the review of ADA Titles II and III web regulations. Recent Department of Education and Department of Justice enforcement activities are reviewed along with state policy about web accessibility and Section 508’s impact. Attendees will benefit from discussions about the revised section, websites and electronic document design.

The State of California already has measures in place. California Government Code §11135(d), for example, requires fully accessible electronic and information technology if it is used or created by the state. Physical disabilities affecting user interaction on the web include:

  • hearing or vision loss.
  • cognitive disabilities.
  • limited manual dexterity.

State Universities support compliance with the use of software that evaluates website accessibility. State school students with disabilities can access online videos, files and documents thanks to Community Colleges resources.

State Government Code §11546.7 requires all state agencies and entities to have website compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA or a subsequent version, as well as Section 508, by July 1, 2019. A certification of compliance is required on each agency’s or entity’s home page.

Steps to Compliance

There’s a natural drive in many of us to do it all. The number of actions required to detect discrepancies and achieve complete 508 compliance is too much for one person. Why risk fines, penalties and the possible closure of your business because a step was missed? Reviewing communications and documents is a start to updating and corrections. Steps must be taken to be sure contractors are compliant, as well. Online assessment tools and an accessibility strategy are the basic steps to determining how to demonstrate the willingness to be compliant while the process is achieved.

Resources
https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/communications-and-it/about-the-ict-refresh/final-rule
https://www.mylearningplan.com/WebReg/ActivityProfile.asp?D=18662&I=2649761
http://www.3playmedia.com/2017/12/13/california-state-web-accessibility-laws/

December 11, 2017

Making Websites Accessible to Everyone – Part 1

internet accessability

internet accessabilityThe Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been changing the way business is done in the US since 1990. President George H.W. Bush signed the law that continues to expand in a manner that provides equal opportunities for all citizens. The overall goal is to prohibit discrimination.

The Act oversees compliance so anyone with a disability can participate in mainstream American life and benefit from the same opportunities available to citizens without disabilities.

Your website falls under this Act.

There’s a misconception that the ADA only applies to government agencies.  However, Title III of the ADA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act add details that infer responsibility for compliance is widespread. It’s overseen by the U.S. General Services Administration, also known as the GSA.  Specific duties include verifying that disabled individuals can access information and electronic technologies as well or better than Section 508 requirements. Unless there is an undue burden to achieve that goal, it requires access and use of data and information comparable to that afforded the general public.

What is Section 508 and who is affected by it?

The Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was updated in 1998 by the inclusion of Section 508. The most significant steps required Federal agencies to make EIT (electronic and information technology) accessible to people with disabilities. The latest update in January 2017 clarified federal sector information and communication technology (ICT) guidelines, such as the addition of telecommunications guidelines. Reorganized Section 508 and Communications Act Section 255 guidelines were aligned to reflect up-to-date innovations in communication technology. The changes apply to federal agencies as well as their contractors, vendors, and partners of those agencies, whether they operate in the US or abroad.

Section 508 compliance differs from that of ADA. The ADA’s Title III states nonprofit service providers and businesses with fifteen or more employees make accessibility accommodations so the disabled public has access to the same services, including websites and electronic media, as non-disabled clients. If your business is smaller, it is beneficial to pursue an ADA-compliant website because it:

  • Limits liability.
  • Meets the requirements of additional clients.

Confirm that any web developer you use includes compliant features in the original site and application plans. Businesses that do work for a government contractor or agency may be subjected to the same scrutiny used to measure their compliance. Standards under Section 508 apply to EIT obtained by the federal government, such as phone systems, computer software and hardware, and websites. Requirements fall under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Section 508 Standards which cover access for individuals with sensory, cognitive, or physical disabilities.

The Access Board published a final rule on January 18, 2017 regarding accessibility guidelines and Section 508 Standards for telecommunication equipment and products. Compliance requirements are extended to January 18, 2018. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicated complaints regarding website ADA-compliance by businesses will be taken on a case-by-case basis. There is an interest in whether disabled Americans have equal access to online services and goods. Businesses and their websites are under scrutiny with little time remaining to determine their status regarding compliance. What resources are available to demonstrate the willingness to comply?

https://section508.gov/content/accessibility

https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/communications-and-it/about-the-ict-refresh/final-rule

November 20, 2017

How Does SEO Get Me More Customers?

seo for traffic

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a unique practice that involves developing content for websites that can be discovered easily by search engines, such as Bing, Google, and Yahoo. Adding content – such as blogs, images, and guides – can enhance the SEO of your site through the careful utilization of keywords and keyword phrases that your target audience would use when searching on the World Wide Web for the products and/or services that you offer.

seo for trafficSearch engine optimization provides content to your audience that is considered to be both “relevant” and extremely “valuable”. As you add relevant, helpful content on your website, internet users are able to discover that content by conducting a search on a search engine, then, the user is able to discover your website, explore your website, and interact with it; therefore, increasing your customer base. In this brief guide, you will learn exactly how SEO helps in getting you more customers.

Customer Queries

The first method that attracts more customers through SEO is online customer queries. If your website contains highly relevant information, the search engines will be more likely to display various links to your website in response to online customer questions. The website that you own and operate for your business is basically designed as a service to your target audience, not to your business. If a search engine locates relevant information on your site, and considers your site to be unbiased and trusted, the customers will be provided with links to it.

blogging for seoRegular Blogging Enhances Search Engine Visibility

By utilizing and regularly adding certain keywords and keyword phrases into your website, it is easier for internet users to discover your business online. According to research, the first page in search engine results account for the highest level of clicks from internet users. In order to reach this page, you must regularly add content that includes industry-specific keywords and keyword phrases to your website. Blogging is the easiest and most effective way to succeed in this endeavor because regular blogging enhances search engine visibility and helps customers discover your website.

 Valuable Content Renders Respect

SEO is a highly productive means of providing valuable, educational, and helpful content to your readers. This type of content shows potential and current customers that you are highly knowledgeable and possess expert knowledge in your industry. In turn, this renders respect. Once an internet user discovers you to be knowledgeable, they are more likely to subscribe to your blog, take the time to follow you on social media platforms, and do business with you. Your brand will be considered trustworthy and you will be considered an “authority” in your industry.

There are several unique ways that SEO will help you get more customers. We here at Brick Road Media are currently offering absolutely FREE SEO audits. If you have an interest in seeing where your website stands and attracting more customers, visit us today by clicking on the following link:

https://brickroadmedia.com/contact-us/

Resources:
https://www.seo.com/local-seo
https://creativeresources.threadless.com/how-to-use-seo/
https://www.webpagefx.com/internet-marketing/does-seo-increase-traffic.html

November 6, 2017

What Does SEO Mean?

google search engine optimization - what does seo mean

If you are interested in starting an online business or taking your traditional brick and mortar business online, it is imperative to know the answer to the question, “What does SEO mean?”

google search engine optimization - what does seo mean

If you are reading this, it is quite likely that you have already asked this question, or “What does SEO stand for?” You are not alone. There are many terms that pertain to online marketing endeavors, online businesses, and websites that you must become familiar with.

The lingo is not always easy to understand, but, understanding it is highly imperative to your overall success. To answer the question, “What does SEO mean?” takes a bit of explaining. So, we will start with the question, “What does SEO stand for?” In short, it stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. To learn more, continue reading.

The Main Functions of Search Engines

In order to truly understand what SEO means, you must first understand the main functions of search engines. That is to “crawl” and to construct an “index”. This aids in providing internet users with a list of websites which are ranked by their relevancy. Now, in order to explain in the simplest terms, we will compare the internet to a city.

The World Wide Web provides search results, which we will compare to big city bus stops. Each of the “stops” online are webpages, documents, and similar types of files. In order for the search engine (such as Google) to move through our “city” (the internet) and discover all of the “stops”, it must use keywords, keyword phrases, and links. A “keyword” or a “keyword phrase” is the word or group of words that an internet user searches for in order to discover a “stop” that is relevant to that which they seek, or the virtual “place” they want to go. The virtual “place” is your website and/or blog. The better your search engine optimization, the better your discoverability.

What Does SEO Mean?

Now that you know the answer to the question, “what does SEO stand for”, and you know the main functions of the internet, it is time to learn the answer to the question, “what does SEO mean?” This is really quite simple. Search engine optimization is the unique and popular process of obtaining traffic (internet users) from the search results from the online search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. SEO is also the basic practice of increasing the amount of high quality traffic through to your website. If you have a website, SEO is a critical component of your overall success.

SEO allows people to discover your content and makes your content popular. If you want to achieve success with the World Wide Web and your business endeavors, you have to achieve success with SEO. Here at Brick Road Media, we specialize in ensuring that you rank high in search engines and achieve the success that you desire with your website and/or online business. For more information, simply click on the following link now: https://brickroadmedia.com/about/

Resources:
https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf
https://moz.com/learn/seo/what-is-seo
https://neilpatel.com/what-is-seo/

October 23, 2017

How to Rank Higher on Google Maps

google maps

Many businesses mistakenly believe that simply getting their business listed through Google is enough to be successful. Unfortunately, this is only one small component of the process. To truly reap the rewards of Google Maps, a business must be ranked high in the local map stack.

Google Maps

google mapsEssentially, this means that your business must appear near the top of the search results pages in Google Maps. While it is not possible for all businesses to take that top spot at the top of the page, those that want to achieve massive success must strive to make it – at least – on the first page of search results. In this quick post, we will provide you with a few steps that may be taken in order to ensure your ranking on Google Maps.

  1. Verify and ensure the accuracy of the business information that is shared with Google. You should make certain that your website information, contact information, and business hours are listed.
  2. Focus on appropriately categorizing your business. In most instances, you will list a keyword or a keyword phrase that is related to your industry or represents your industry. This should be followed by local classifications that pertain to your business. For example, if you own a restaurant, you may also place keywords pertaining to the type of food you offer, the beverages offered, the area where the restaurant is, and the theme associated with the restaurant.
  3. Once you have your listing in place, make certain that you place a Google Map directly on your website. This should be embedded on your contact page.
  4. When creating the description for your listing, ensure that you utilize keywords that pertain to your industry, as well as local keywords. For example, if you have a restaurant that is situated on the St. Johns River in Florida, you should include “St. Johns River” in your listing. Also, always make sure that you utilize local telephone numbers and avoid the popular “800” numbers.
  5. Finally, get reviews from Google. These will help in optimizing your business on Google Maps and will increase the reputation of your business. While it is true that you have no way of knowing what people will say on your reviews, it never hurts to ask those that have dealt with your business and are happy with it to leave a positive review. This will provide an instant boost.

If you would like assistance in ranking high on Google Maps, contact us today for more information: https://brickroadmedia.com/contact-us/

Resources:
https://neilpatel.com/blog/improve-google-rankings-without-getting-penalized/
https://outcareyourcompetition.com/how-to-rank-your-google-places-page/
http://jenruhman.com/how-to-rank-higher-on-google-maps/

October 9, 2017

Why Pillar Content is Important for Your Website

pillar content

Pillar content is also known as cornerstone content. Developing content pillars in a website increases the likelihood of being found quickly during an online search. Even though it’s not as well-known as it should be, it’s much older than one would think.

What is a simple way of describing pillar content? It’s informative content on a specific item or theme, such as guides and eBooks. Its nature allows the topic to be broken down into a multitude of materials, sections, and pieces.

The articles, including blog-style themes, are neither news nor time dependent. In other words, their style stays current because it provides relevant insight. Usually a tutorial type of article that teaches something to the audience, it normally goes beyond 500 words in length and offers meaningful, helpful advice and hints. The “how-to” is a cornerstone designed to make it easy for people to:

  • use your website.
  • do business with you.

Basically, the website cornerstone provides a foundation that is so interesting and useful that visitors want to stay and read on.

Changes over the last decade include a guideline for longer blogs – up to 10,000 or more words! The content stipulation demands value to your personas and text that is:

  • informative.
  • evergreen.
  • substantive.

Identify structural elements

Pin down the foundation of the overall critical areas that identify your business and what you want it recognized for. It’s a structure designed to withstand the test of time by focusing on your overall content plan. Don’t be surprised if you have several structural elements on your list. Most business owners want their business known for more than one thing. Shorten the list to the most important things.

Pillar content is extremely structured to make the pillar strong. The drawn-out web page or article focuses on a specific theme or topic which can be broken down into shorter forms of content to fill other places on the web. It may result in emails, blog posts, videos, and media updates. The ideal result is reaching a variety of customers, including buyers, through various channels. In simple terms, the pillars help others locate your business during a search no matter how many times and ways Google changes search algorithms. Pillar content has power within the SEO landscape when your pages are a go-to resource for others because they provide helpful information not published elsewhere. It boosts rankings and your identity as a thought leader.

Pillar content in 2017

The pillar has changed somewhat. Make it part of your overall content strategy.  Specific SEO tools define its identity as content optimization and management, recognizing the relationship between supporting topics and the pillar. Other changes include:

  • changing the website pillar page from a blog post to a content page.
  • the use of relevant keywords.
  • steady updates of pillars.

 

September 25, 2017

Online Marketing Can Make or Break Your Local Business

Online marketing helps every local business because it directs consumers to a site, but what if you don’t have it? Most people today search the web to find the products and stores they are looking for, instead of phone books, newspapers, and the yellow pages.

That’s not to say those mediums are ineffective, as every form of advertising has value. It is merely an observation on the most common form of finding answers. Smartphones and computers are accessible to people of all ages and provide instantaneous feedback to inquiries.

How do digital sites compare to offline advertising? Major platforms like Yelp and Facebook display more information about your business faster than Yellow Pages.

Flipping through papers to find a name or number has always taken time to do. It’s no longer necessary when you can access the data online.

The results frequently include store hours and the address. Savvy shop owners may have a virtual tour available for walk-through or an online coupon to use with a purchase. It’s a great way to add traffic and revenue.

Energetic online local listings support video, call buttons, and images. Link up to social media profiles. Radio and television advertising can’t match the convenience of hearing and seeing a business from a cell phone. The ability to interact directly with the business is available with a click from the phone.

Think of the cost of a print marketing advertisement if it included your menu, coupons, and directions to the business. Online access does all that in addition to consumer reviews, introductory offers for first-time customers, and pictures of your displays. Newspapers and magazines can’t match online marketing’s attributes!

Local listings draw the attention of residents and visitors to your area. Online advertising is an inexpensive way to increase ROI. It’s vital to have staff available to handle calls, online inquiries, and walk-in customers. Consider the following suggestions to achieve that goal.

  1. Choose listing platforms that deliver results. After designing what you want to appear on the listing, you’ll need to enter the data on each search engine, app, and index selected. Look for specialty platforms that support your area and industry. Remember to establish your position on platforms like Facebook, Yelp, and Google My Business.
  2. Consider the convenience of filling out one form and letting one of the automated solutions distribute the data to quality platforms. It saves time that you can apply elsewhere. The benefit is an automated check for effectiveness and required updates. After all, you don’t want last month’s offer carrying over and showing neglect. Make automation part of your team, as it reduces mistakes and frees up time for staff to help customers and create more ways to build business.

How your business is reflected on the Internet is largely up to you. Review your local business listing often and keep the content fresh. The power of up-to-date communication is ready and available.

If you need help with local business marketing online call us today to find out how we can help.

(765) 439-4029

September 12, 2017

Why You Want Google to Love Your Website

google loves your website

google loves your website

The old adage “build it and they will come” may work well for brick and mortar businesses or baseball fields, but when it comes to websites, not so much! There are literally millions, if not billions of websites on the world wide web, so this begs the question of how in the world wide web are you going to get people to visit your site!

Search Engines

Think of your website as a piece of virtual real estate. It has an address and takes up space. In order to find your specific site, people are either going to need to know your exact web address or they need to utilize the Internet's equivalent of a map. Your map to all things web page are the search engines, of which Google is definitely King (or is it Queen, does anyone know?)

Search Engine Optimization

Will Google or Yahoo or Bing simply direct people to your website out of the kindness of their heart? Sadly, no, there are only two ways to rank at the top of the search engine pages for relevant searches. One way is to pay for sponsored results for relevant key words and the other is to optimize your page so that it comes up to the top of results.

The second option is best since once you are fully optimized, it will not cost you money on an ongoing basis. Sponsored results can be a great marketing ploy in the short term, but for the long game, the cost is usually prohibitive.

So, exactly how do you get search engine optimized? It starts with good content that is key word rich but not stuffed and continues with good links to other reputable websites and pages and all of this should be spread over weeks, months and even years to be totally effective.

Invest in SEO

Can you learn to optimize your website and make Google fall in love? Of course, if you have the time, patience and willingness to constantly monitor your progress. However, not everyone has the time or the patience to invest in effective SEO, which is where a good search engine optimization professional comes in quite handy, and here are a few reasons:

  • They fully understand the steps required to get your website to the top of search engine results for several of the top key word searches related to your business.

  • Have experience setting up new websites with SEO

  • Understand that SEO has changed to include social networking profiles

You want Google to be so in love with your website you can hear wedding bells! All joking aside, Google is the premier search engine today and that does not look to change any time soon. Doing business today means doing business online, and if your website cannot be found, you are not doing business!

If you want Google to Love YOUR website, give us a call today and see how we can help

(765) 439-4029

August 28, 2017

How to Start a Business Online – Optimizing Your Time to Optimize Your Income

how to start a business online - optimize time

In the past several weeks, we have expounded on many crucial steps to starting a business online. You have learned how to determine what your target audience needs, the importance of coming up with solutions for that audience, the importance of marketing research and how to conduct it, website facts, details on hyperlinking, and the role of social media on your online business.

This week, we will focus on optimizing your time in order to successfully optimize your income. Knowing where to dedicate your time and what resources are available to your business endeavor is a critical component to your success.

how to start a business online - optimize time

Time is Money

By this point in the process of online business creation, there is absolutely no doubt that you have learned that time is, in fact, money. Creating a business takes a lot of time, dedication, and persistence. What is you don’t know how to create a website? Coding and web development is challenging and you probably aren’t looking to enroll in any CSS or html classes anytime soon.

What about keyword research? Do you have the tools and the resources at your disposal that will allow you to search for those high demand, low supply keywords that you need to excel in your niche? Social media…you know how to work it, but, how many times have you found hours of your day has been spent maneuvering around a social network website? Do you really have time for all of this?

Probably not.

The Solution

There is one solution when it comes to all of the details, challenges, and complications associated with creating an online business; that is, enlist the services of a professional that has the capability of handling all of these tasks, and more! Then, you can focus on the aspects of your business that you are truly excited about and have a true passion. We here at Brick Road Media are standing by to assist you! We have the ability to build you a supersite that will result in super profits and super success!

We will install and set up your blog, link all of your social media accounts, install Google Analytics, and more! We even have professional writers on our staff that can create your content! We specialize in responsive web design and ensuring that you rank high in all major search engines!

To learn more about the ways that we can help you to optimize your time and optimize your earnings, visit our page at:

https://brickroadmedia.com/supersite/

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