Web Design and SEO Blog


The Many Shades of Popup Ads

by Mira Brody in Content, Design

Popup advertisements began in the late 1990s as a response to complaints from advertisers about their banner ads being run next to unsavory or controversial content — and have since evolved into a complex subject. You’ve probably come across a variety of different popup ad behaviors, each with one goal in mind — to convert your attention into profit.

Entry Popups
Entry popups are those that appear when the webpage first loads, forcing you to engage with it before viewing the content you came to see. They commonly solicit visitors to sign up for a newsletter or offer a coupon code on ecommerce sites. After the initial page load, entry popups can be triggered by different actions:
  • On scroll: As you scroll down a page, the popup will appear. This action is designed to ensure the popup captures a more valuable class of customers —those interested enough to scroll past the beginning of the webpage they visited.
  • After a designated amount of time: Same idea as a popup on scroll, but waiting for a specific amount of time before throwing a call to action over their screen content. This allows you to become invested in the website before being bombarded by a sales pitch.
  • After a click: A popup can be designed to appear after you click on a specific element on the page. For instance, after you click on the products page of an ecommerce site, a coupon code for free shipping is offered.

Exit Popup

Exit popup ads are deployed just as you are attempting to leave a webpage — a last-ditch attempt to keep your attention. The site will track your mouse movements and just as you move toward the top of the browser window to go back, the popup will appear with a message to discourage you from leaving.

Annoying Behaviors
Although all popup advertisements can be annoying, there are a few behaviors that have become common practice and are in particularly ill taste.
  • Pop-under: The pop-under ads appears in a separate window underneath your primary browser window so that it is only visible after you’ve finished browsing, leaving it unclear which site originally launched it.
  • No close: Some ads don’t have a prominent close button, so that you waste time looking at the ad just to find a way to get rid of it.
  • Click-shaming: Click-shaming, also referred to as “manipulinks,” or “confirmshaming,” is when an advertisement attempts to make a user feel bad about themselves in order to get them to sign up for a newsletter or accept an offer.

Popup advertisements.
As pictured, there is a positive call to action button, and underneath a biting alternative, usually serving as the only means to close the window — reducing you to admit a lower self-worth.

Popup ads are always a tricky subject. While they can boost conversions, most tactics are tired, will frustrate users and can drive them away, particularly if you are using some of the “annoying behaviors” mentioned above. We generally discourage clients from using popups as a way to increase conversions. Think about how you would treat your customers face-to-face: would you shame or harass them into buying a product? Or would you treat them with a little more respect?

Welcoming Our New Marketing Intern: Michael Kriegel

by Mira Brody in Announcements

Michael is our newest Marketing Intern and will be helping our digital marketing team build an online authority for our clients. Originally from Denver, CO, he moved to Bozeman to attend Montana State and has since enjoyed the state’s seemingly endless span of natural beauty. He is studying Business Marketing with a minor in International Business and will graduate in 2018. Michael enjoys studying the different factors that drive decision-making and coming up with ways to solve customers’ needs. While at JTech, he hopes to gain experience creating digital marketing campaigns and after graduation has plans to travel with a work visa to either Australia or Ireland to explore the international sector of marketing.

In his spare time, Michael enjoys skiing, mountain biking, fishing, rock climbing — anything that can get him on top of one of a mountain peak. We are pleased to welcome Michael and look forward to the work he will contribute to the team.

Google Adds “Verified Reviews”

by Mira Brody in Google, Industry News, Optimization, Tools & Tips

Google verified reviews.

Positive online reviews hold significant value to your search ranking. Adversely, negative reviews can hurt it. In an attempt to promote quality customer feedback, Google recently joined a practice of Amazon.com in offering verified reviews — encouraging people who have purchased an item from your online store to leave an authenticated review.

Although Google has always discouraged fake or incentivized reviews, this is the first feature they've added that clearly promotes signal over noise. In addition to confirming that a review is written by a real customer, this may serve as a useful tool for businesses who want to solicit customer reviews without exploring the discouraged and ambiguous realm of review incentivization. These verified reviews may end up being promoted or visually differentiated to help them stand out from all the other reviews.

How it works.
In order to enable verified reviews, your business must:
  • Set up a Google Merchant Center Account and opt into the Google Customer Reviews program.
  • Add the opt-in code to your website.
  • Google will then begin sending an email to your customers who have made a purchase, encouraging them to review their experience with you.

For more information about how to respond to negative reviews or to understand better how they affect your search ranking, check our our article The Good and Bad of Customer Reviews. If you need help adding verified customer reviews to your site, give us a call — we’d love to help you out.

Setting Your Digital Strategy Cycle

by Mira Brody in Optimization, SEO, Tools & Tips

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With every website project, JTech offers our clients optional ongoing strategic reviews of their website. Your business changes with time, making it important to reevaluate your digital strategy to ensure it is still working for you, generating new business and successfully serving your existing clients. Here are a few things we check for when evaluating your ongoing digital strategy:

Initial evaluation — If you have an existing site, it is important to evaluate where you stand in your market when compared to your competitors. We can also setup a digital marketing program to manage and monitor your performance.

Bi-annual reviews — We start these three months after the launch of your new site to monitor its performance. This helps us understand whether the keywords we researched are properly attracting your target markets and what tweaks are needed for your long-term plan. Optimization, marketing adjustments, and initiatives are recommended to meet your primary goals.

Monitor Analytics — Google Analytics provides us with in-depth insight about your website data. We can see who is visiting, their behavior, and where they are getting stuck or dropping off. We then use this insight to improve the performance of your website.

We are in the business of not only creating an online presence for you, but also — much like a car— consistently servicing that website so that it is working at peak performance. If you feel like you are due for a site evaluation or may need online marketing and promotion initiatives, please give us a call — we’d love to talk to you about how your site can be improved to achieve your goals.

Providing Support For Your Website

by Mira Brody in Tools & Tips

Provide tech support for your customers.

If your business recently launched a new website — or added a feature to an old one — there is a learning curve while your customers adjust to the new interface. As the website owner, providing the needed assistance can ensure that your customers’ experience with your business is a positive one. From our experience designing and developing advanced websites, we’ve come up with some pointers to help you troubleshoot issues that your customers and staff encounter while using your website.

Know your own site.
It may sound obvious, but the best way to teach your customers about your product is to understand it yourself. Whether you’ve just launched a completely new site or are training a new employee on an existing one, this self-training is vital. That way, when a customer calls needing help, you’ll know exactly where to start.

Foresee issues.
This one is particularly important when switching your customers over to a completely new site, as most people are resistant to change. Take note of the things that will be changing and warn your users ahead of time. Even with small changes, we recommend announcing it before launch with a post on your blog or newsletter to avoid surprises. For example, we recently added a file attachment tool to our content management system. Although a minor change, we alerted our clients beforehand and provided instructions on how to use the tool.

Provide help resources online.
Support articles or videos can provide the troubleshooting help many need and reduce time-consuming phone calls to your office. If your site is particularly complex, consider a support section, or frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. You may even consider live chat on your site, a feature that has proven to increase conversion rates and save employee time.

Solicit feedback.
Engage your customers by asking for feedback! People like to have their opinions heard and the reviews on your company's Google+, Facebook and Yelp accounts can positively affect your search ranking. Feedback also gives you the opportunity to improve your services and communicate with your customers.

When your company owns a website, it is your responsibility to make sure it is user-friendly for your customers and to troubleshoot any issues when they arise. We hope we’ve armed you with a useful outline for mitigating common problems. If you would like help adding Support Resources, an FAQ section, or writing troubleshooting guides, we’d be happy to help you.

The Power of Positive Feedback

by Mira Brody in Design, Development

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve.” — Bill Gates

The power of positive feedback.

Not long ago we launched Bozeman Websites, our affordable product line geared toward smaller businesses and startups so that they too can afford a custom website that serves their needs online. Not long after we started marketing Bozeman Websites, we received some fantastic feedback from a business owner in Missoula, MT who had looked into using us in the past and could now afford it.

“…I am looking forward to using your new program to build the site that we need in the next couple of years. Thanks so much for thinking of the small businesses out here that so desperately need the great quality work that you do.…”

Hearing from a potential customer that they admire and value our work is not only an uplifting experience and a morale boost for the team, but it offers us valuable feedback about what we are doing right. We encourage you to take some time to leave feedback for your local business — you never know who you’ll reach and what positive change it may lead to.

The Wheeler Center

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Our team just completed a new website for The Wheeler Center!

The Wheeler Center was named for Burton K. Wheeler, and serves to promote the discussion and analysis of Montana public policy. In addition to providing sources, they also hold and sponsor conferences and events for those looking to self-educate as well as discuss solutions to some of today’s pressing issues.

For The Wheeler Center website, we were able to provide an online setting to display their upcoming events, archive information about past events and list political resources. Since they are a non-profit, we’ve also included a donations page where visitors are educated on the benefits of the center’s presence and encouraged to contribute. We felt sweeping imagery of Montana as well as historic photographs of the state’s politics were appropriate to the site’s purpose.

ShowTime Magazine Addition

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Showtime is live on SSI.

We are excited to announce the addition of ShowTime Magazine to the Silver Screen Insider website. ShowTime is a seasonal theater marketing guide full of movie previews, advertisements from trusted industry vendors, news articles and interviews. It is a must-have resource for anyone running a theater — big or small.

ShowTime Magazine is the perfect addition to Silver Screen Insider. Our development team worked to make this special section of the website stay true to its roots as a print publication while making updates allowed by its digitization. One such feature is the elegant scrolling behavior. As you navigate through the publication, the magazine cover will scroll away, revealing a table of contents. Whether you jump to an interesting article from here or just continue scrolling, it’s incredibly easy to browse through the magazine’s contents. As you scroll, each featured movie is preceded by an immersive full-screen preview, guiding the user even more fluidly than when flipping the pages of a physical magazine. The hope of this digital edition is to not only provide Insider members of this beautiful website with an invaluable resource, but also to make this magazine more accessible and appealing for its readers.

Laundry Loops is Live!

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Development

A new website for Laundry Loops.

Peggy and Mike are the inventors of Laundry Loops, a laundry bag alternative that has helped many commercial laundry facilities operate more efficiently. Instead of a large, mesh bag, the laundry strap groups clothing — from shirts, pants, shorts, socks and hats — for sports teams, military bases, correctional facilities and other industries who require commercial laundry management.

This new website not only focused on an upgraded design (provided by O’Berry Collaborative,) but was inspired by the company's desire to streamline their administrative operations. Instead of customers calling to order loops, we built a much improved user experience to encourage purchases be made easily through the website. The site processes payments from clients all over the world and Laundry Loops employees can manage orders easily from My JTech, our custom content management system.

Google Fact Check to Face Off with Fake News

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Google, Industry News

Publishing misinformation is no new practice — the term ‘Yellow Journalism’ was coined in the 1890s to describe sensationalist news articles that contained little to no research and whose intent was sometimes political gain or to confuse its readers. Because of its resurgence in the form of ‘Fake News,’ Google has enacted a new Fact Check feature that formats search results so that users can quickly determine whether or not a popularly-disputed claim is credible or not. The result will show a “claim,” “claimed by,” and “fact check,” which provides the correct answer to the claim as well as the source it came from.
An example of Google Fact Check.
An example of a Google Fact Check result. Image from Google Blog

This change came following waves of negative press when Google’s featured snippets (fact boxes shown above results) and top search results offered some dodgy answers — even reading them aloud as facts to users of their voice-driven product Google Home. After labeling Republicans Nazis, suggesting that four U.S. Presidents were members of the KKK, categorically denigrating women, and providing a Holocaust-denying Neo-Nazi site as a top result to a Holocaust query, it's easy to see why Google would be eager to join other tech companies in attempting to distinguish fake and real news stories for their users. They’ve stated in the Google Development blog: “Even though differing conclusions may be presented, we think it’s still helpful for people to understand the degree of consensus around a particular claim and have clear information on which sources agree. As we make fact checks more visible in Search results, we believe people will have an easier time reviewing and assessing these fact checks, and making their own informed opinions.”

How it works:
If you own a website that reviews claims, you can include a ClaimReview schema tag in your webpage so that it appears in these specially-formatted Google results. Google will use their algorithm to determine which sites are credible and ignore those who aren’t, even if the site contains a ClaimReview markup. Here are a few tips that will help your chances of appearing in claims relevant to your site:

  • Be transparent about the information you provide by using ClaimReview’s rating property (-1 = Hard to categorize, 1 = False, 2 = Mostly false, 3 = Half true, 4 = Mostly true, 5 = TrueP).
  • Use Google’s data testing tool to ensure your tag is working.
  • Make sure your answer to the claim meets Google’s Fact Check requirements.
  • For best results, use only one ClaimReview tag per webpage.

If you believe your site provides reputable answers to commonly-searched-for claims and want more information, give us a call! We can help you best position yourself as a source for inquisitive minds.