Monthly Archives - April 2016

5 Reasons Why You Need A Fire Department Website

We live, and practice our craft, in a world where everyone has instant access to a wealth of information from computers, phones, and other mobile devices. People expect to find businesses and organizations online. Your fire/rescue organization is no different. Your fire department needs a website to remain relevant and accessible. Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. A Fire Department website helps you connect with the public. Now, more than ever, those we serve expect us to communicate with them in a relevant and meaningful way. The public (those folks that pay your salary and/or provide your equipment) want to know who you are and what you are all about. A website is an excellent way to provide access to the information they want, when they want it.
  2. A Fire Department website improves communication. Websites are great places to share information with your firefighters and the public, from life safety and fire prevention, to fundraisers and training initiatives. Your website can serve as a hub for your communication efforts.
  3. A Fire Department website allows you to share your history. Have you ever sat around the fire house and looked through old photo albums and letters or listened to an old timer’s stories? Our profession is steeped in tradition and pride. Shouldn’t we share it with our probies, our elected officials, and our taxpayers? A digital history on your website is a very effective way to do just that, and it’s accessible from anywhere in the world, on demand.
  4. A Fire Department website lets you tell your story. Who do you want telling your story? The bystander with no firefighting experience armed with a cell phone? The commissioner or city councilman that uses you as a political pawn? Remember, you’re the expert. That’s why dispatch calls you when there’s an emergency. Don’t let others tell your story; own it on your website!
  5. Fire Department websites are relatively cheap. Dollar for dollar, fire department websites are much cheaper than any traditional form of marketing or advertising. You can usually get a fire department website up and running for less than the cost of a few helmets. They are also very flexible and can be changed regularly to remain relevant.

We’re not just consultants. We’re your brothers. We know what you’re thinking, “Sure, public relations and marketing firms are great, but they aren’t firefighters.” Well, in addition to being enthusiastic about web development and digital marketing, we have years of experience in the volunteer fire service, where we’ve served as firefighters, board members, and officers. This gives us a unique perspective and an advantage among other digital marketing agencies. We understand the ins and outs of this business, how it affects the public, and how interaction with your community can work for your benefit. It has never been easier, or cheaper, to connect with your community. With a decrease in resources (human and financial), lower recruitment and retention rates, and a public that is armed with a cell phone camera at every incident we respond to, you cannot ignore the opportunity to get your message out there. No one can tell your story better than you!

Will you help my fire department with our website? Absolutely! We’d love to help you develop a web presence or tune up your existing fire department website. We can also help your fire department with logo design and social media. Contact us today and let us know how we can give you the edge!

6 Reasons Why You Need A Church Website

In today’s world, folks expect to find your business or organization online. Churches are no different. Your church must have a website to remain relevant and accessible. Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. A church website helps people find you. Most people looking for a church in your area will turn to the Internet, especially younger generations. If they search for churches in your area on Google, will they find you?
  2. A church website answers questions about your church. Folks looking for a new church have many questions they need answers to. What time are your worship services? What kind of music do you play? Do you offer nursery care? A website is a wonderful place to answer all of these questions. You can also point your newcomers to this page as well.
  3. A church website helps your people stay connected. Church websites allow you to share important news and information about upcoming events that your community and members are looking for. With a content management system such as WordPress, your church staff can keep the site updated with an easy to use web-based editor so that it stays fresh and current.
  4. A church website promotes your ministries. Your congregation is doing many wonderful things. You should be telling the world about them on your website. This also helps newcomers or folks looking for a church home discover opportunities to serve.
  5. A church website helps you share content. A website is a wonderful place to share audio or video from your services and special events. In a media rich world, your audience will expect you to communicate with them.
  6. Church websites are relatively cheap. Dollar for dollar, church websites are much cheaper than any traditional form of advertising. They are also flexible and can be changed regularly to remain relevant.

Will you help my church with our website? Absolutely! We’d love to help you develop a web presence or tune up your existing church website. We can also help with church logo design and social media. Contact us today and let us know how we can give you the edge!

Add A Favicon To Your WordPress Site

A favicon, or shortcut icon, is that really small image that shows up next to the website title in a browser tab. Yes, it’s very tiny, but it helps visitors to your site easily identify your brand. Most people probably never even notice favicons, but if you glance up at the tabs in your web browser right now, this will begin to make more sense. If you are like most folks, you have multiple tabs open at any given time. As the image below illustrates, favicons help you quickly and easily identify what sites you are on within those tabs. Also note that favicons are used when users bookmark your site in their web browser.

Creating a Favicon
This is actually a very simple process. Open your favorite graphics editor and start with a square canvas of 128×128 pixels (we will resize this later). Create your favicon and save it in case you need to make edits later. Remember it is best to keep this image very simple. After all, it is very tiny and there isn’t a lot of room to work with. Once you are ready, resize it to a 16×16 square and save it as a PNG file.

While most modern browsers will display PNGs, older versions of IE will not (wait, you’re not still using Internet Explorer are you? Different article…). To ensure that your favicon will work properly in all browsers, I recommend that you convert it to an ICO file. Need help with that? Check out this Instructables video.

Add Your Favicon To Your WordPress Site
Once you have your completed ICO file, name it “favicon.ico” and upload it to the root directory of your website, and place this code in your WordPress theme’s header.php:

<link rel="icon" href="http://www.yourwordpresswebsite.com/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />
<link rel="shortcut icon" href="http://www.yourwordpresswebsite.com/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />

That’s it. If your favicon isn’t showing properly, you may need to clear your browser’s cache. If it doesn’t look like you expected, go back to your original 128×128 image and make edits. Just repeat the process until it’s perfect.

Building Sitemaps For WordPress With Google XML Sitemaps Plugin

Sitemaps are very important for search engine optimization on any website. Simply put, they are a way to tell search engines about the pages included on your site. This helps search engines keep up with a list of all the pages of your website, including those that may not normally be discovered in their normal crawling process. There are many WordPress plugins that will create a sitemap for you, but I prefer to use Google XML Sitemaps. This plugin generates XML sitemaps for your WordPress site and even notifies Google, Bing, and Yahoo each time you create a new post. To setup Google XML Sitemaps for your WordPress site:

1. Login to your WordPress admin panel

2. Select PluginsAdd New from the menu on the left

3. Search for “Google XML Sitemaps” and install it

4. Once installed, go to Settings, XML Sitemap in the menu on the left

wordpressgooglexmlsitemapsseo15. This will take you to the settings page. If you don’t have a lot of knowledge about sitemaps and search engine optimization, just leave all the default settings and create the sitemap by using the link at the top of the page – “The sitemap wasn’t built yet. Click here to build it the first time.”

 

wordpressgooglexmlsitemapsseo2

6. That’s it!  You will receive a confirmation that the sitemap was built and submitted to search engines.

Do you have tips or other helpful information to share about building sitemaps or WordPress SEO? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Improve WordPress Search Engine Optimization (SEO) With Good Permalink Structure

One of the great things about WordPress is that it’s one of the best content management systems you can use for SEO right out of the box, and there are a lot of good plugins you can install to enhance your search engine optimization efforts. One very important consideration for your WordPress site is the correct use of permalinks. It is a well known fact that URLs are very important for SEO. Thankfully, WordPress has a built-in feature for changing your URL structure, also known as permalink structure.

The default permalinks in WordPress are actually horrible for SEO because they make no semantic sense. Take a look at these examples of default permalink structure:

  • Post Permalink: wordpressseo.com/?p=14
  • Page Permalink: wordpresseo.com/?page_id=14
  • Category Permalink: worpdressseo.com/?cat=14
  • Tag Permalink: wordpressseo.com/?tag=tag-name
  • Archive Permalink: wordpresseo.com/?m=201311

Do those links make any sense to you? Probably not. And they don’t make any sense to Google, Yahoo, Bing, or other search engines either. Fortunately, this is easily corrected. The recommended permalink structure for good search engine optimization is:

  • “/%category%/%postname%/” or
  • “/%postname%/”

To make this change, go to Settings,Permalinks in your WordPress admin panel. Select Custom Structure and enter one of the selections above (see screenshot on the right). If you use “/%category%/%postname%/”, your URLs will now look like this:

  • Post Permalink:wordpressseo.com/cat-name/post-name
  • Page Permalink: wordpressseo.com/page-name
  • Category Permalink: wordpressseo.com/cat-name
  • Tag Permalink: wordpressseo.com/tag-name
  • Archive Permalink: wordpressseo.com.com/2013/11 or example.com/2013

These are a lot easier for people and search engines to understand. For example, the permalink of this post is “http://chrisdecker.com/wordpress/improve-wordpress-search-engine-optimization-seo-with-good-permalink-structure/”. This will help search engines better determine what your post or page is about. I generally tend to use one category per post on my blog, but if you like to use more than one category, you should use the “/%postname%/” permalink structure so that your links don’t become messy and you don’t confuse your readers.

What other ideas or recommendations do you have for optimizing your WordPress sites for search engines? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

How To Customize Your WordPress Login Page Logo

Changing your WordPress Login logo is fairly easy to do and is a nice touch for your customers. It helps carry their brand across the site and shows that you pay attention to details.

First, size your logo to 320 x 123 and save as a PNG file (in our example below, we saved the file as “adminpanellogo.png”). Upload this file to the “images” folder of your current theme, then open your theme’s “functions.php” file and add the code below.

//Custom WordPress Login Logo
function my_custom_login_logo() {
echo '<style type="text/css">
#login h1 a { background-image:url('.get_bloginfo('stylesheet_directory').'/images/adminpanellogo.png) !important; background-size: 320px 123px !important; height: 123px !important; width: 320px !important; }
</style>';
}
add_action('login_head', 'my_custom_login_logo');

Voila, your custom logo should now show on your WordPress Login page!