Google Confirms Algorithm Update Affecting Core Search Rankings


If you’ve noticed a drop or gain in the ranking of your website in Google’s search results in recent days, you’re not alone. And it’s not anything you did or didn’t do. Once again, it’s all about Google.

Here’s what Google recently posted on Twitter:
Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year.
As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.
There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.

So, have you updated the content on your website lately? Is it informative and conversational? Have you added new pages as your business focus has changed or you have added new services? Do you have a blog, and do you post at least once a month?

If you need help writing new content and adding it to your website, Coastal Web Services can help. We offer SEO consulting services and web design services to small businesses in the Mid-Atlantic and Alabama. Call us at 410-430-9290 for a free SEO analysis.

5 Things That Belong on the Home Page of Your Website

Website Design

5 Things That Belong on the Home Page of Your Website

Whether you call it a Home page, a Landing page or something else, that first page that visitors come to when they visit your site is your chance to make the right impression. Potential customers should be able to tell right away what products and services you offer, and what you’re all about. Sure, it helps if your business name tells what you do – ABC Plumbing, for instance – but there’s more to it than that.

Coastal Web Services is in the business of helping you make the right first impression with your website, and to us, all of these items are no brainers. But if another web design company tells you differently, at least this way you’re informed.

  1. Contact Information But you would be surprised how many small business websites don’t have a phone number, email link or contact form on their Home page. How are people supposed to contact you? And having an email link or a contact form is crucial, because a lot of people do their research on products and businesses after hours, so if they have a question for you, you want to make it easy for them to ask. You should also have your physical or mailing address included on the page. The common location is in the footer of the page. You really should consider having the same contact information included in all of your interior pages as well. It’s pretty easy to build it into your website design.
  2. Images that Represent What You Do If you’re a plumber, show a photo of running water, or someone working under a sink. Make sense? You’d be surprised how many small business websites have flowers, scrollwork or family photos that don’t relate to what the business does.
  3. Clear Navigation With Working Links Visitors to your website should have an easy pathway to get where they’re going. Have clearly named navigation menus at the top of the page, the side of the page, or both. Using the plumbing business, things could include Plumbing Repairs, Water Heaters, Septic Systems, etc.
  4. An Email Sign-Up Box Ask visitors to sign up for your email newsletter, with the promise of discounts, special offers, pertinent news, etc.
  5. Social Media Links Help customers stay up to date and engaged with social media. Use the standard icons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. Call us today at 410-420-9390 or use our contact form to get started. We provide web design and SEO consulting services to small business clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as the Carolinas and the Gulf coast. We’d love to work with you.

Small Business Website Mistakes

Website Design

If you’re guilty (or your website is guilty) of some of the mistakes in the infographic below, you are missing out. Coastal Web Services can help you take advantage of every opportunity with some changes to your website. Call us today at 410-420-9390 or use our contact form to get started. We provide web design and SEO consulting services to small business clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as the Carolinas and the Gulf coast. We’d love to work with you.


Common SEO Myths


Many of our clients and prospective clients have heard a lot of information about just what SEO is, and what it can do for them. But a lot of the information out there about search engine optimization is bogus information. Today, we hope to debunk several of the most common myths surrounding SEO.
1. SEO doesn’t work Did you know that in the U.S., 68% of prospective customers begin their purchasing decisions by using a search engine to research the product or service? And this traffic converts. According to one report, leads generated from search / SEO are eight times more likely to close into customers than outbound leads from direct mail or trade shows. (source).
In addition, many users tend to ignore paid ad listings and click on organic results instead.
2. SEO is expensive You’ve heard the phrase you get what you pay for. When you hire a search engine optimization professional who is an expert in their field, you are paying them for their knowledge, expertise and execution of complex tasks, including:
• Researching your industry, market and sales trends.
• Researching your competitors.
• Researching keyword terms that can bring the most relevant traffic.
• Optimizing a site for SEO, page by page.
• Building links.
• Monitoring and analysis of your SEO efforts.
Each of these tasks takes time and effort (not to mention specialized research skills and databases) — and there’s just no SEO without them. So while you do need to pay for someone to implement these tasks, keep in mind that SEO keeps bringing results long after you make the initial investment. With that being said, get several estimates before hiring an SEO company, and make sure you understand what their SEO plans involve. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. SEO is an investment in your company.
And keep in mind, SEO is a business expense that can be written off on your taxes.
3. I’m old school. I don’t need SEO, or a website for that matter Oh my. Where do we begin? Perhaps with a couple of statistics.
• 80% of U.S. consumers read online reviews before making a purchase of a product or service.
• 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
Even if only a tiny percentage of those people are interested in your services, you get the idea that most of the people who are looking to hire you or buy your products are starting out online.
Not promoting your business online means you are missing out on a huge opportunity to get new customers. Worse yet, you may be sending them over to your competitors. If new clients can’t find you online, they may never bother to call.
4. SEO will require me to change my website. I don’t have time for that Yes, you do have time. You need to make time to prioritize promoting your business to bring in new customers. Small businesses may need to change their existing websites to improve search engine optimization. Common changes that you can see include new content (most SEO companies have a content writer who can do the writing, with input from you), adding new pages or consolidating pages, and changes in web design.
Common changes that you can’t see are the addition of title tags, image alt tags, description tags, the addition of links, and many other behind the scenes additions that help the search engines find your site. This includes making sure your site loads quickly.
5. SEO is always changing. I can’t keep up It’s true that Google changes it’s algorithms several times a year. But most of these changes won’t affect your website. You probably won’t even notice most of them, even as a user.
There are, however, bigger algorithm changes that can impact your site. A good SEO company will be aware of upcoming changes and advise you as to how the changes will impact your site, and what SEO modifications need to be made so that your site isn’t negatively impacted or penalized. A recent change that comes to mind is Google’s decision to place mobile-friendly sites higher in search results, and non-mobile friendly sites lower in results.
So rather than not implement SEO at all, the challenge is to hire an SEO company that can keep up with the changes.
6. SEO can be automated No, no, no it can’t. Real, quality SEO is done by a live human being, or team of SEO experts. Automated SEO is a spammy practice that has nothing to do with knowledge of your individual business, your local customer base, or your marketing efforts.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that SEO can be done magically with one click. If you’re ready to invest a little time and money in SEO, do it with an SEO company that can meet with you face to face, get to know your business, and develop an SEO program tailored to your needs.
Now does an SEO company use automated tools to run reports? Yes. But that is not the same thing as automated SEO.
If you’re considering SEO for your company’s website, call Coastal Web Services today at 410-420-9390 for a free consultation and website analysis. We offer web design and SEO services to small businesses throughout Central Maryland including Harford County, Baltimore County, Cecil County and Anne Arundel County.

The Value of Customer Testimonial Videos

Web Videos

The Value of Customer Testimonial Videos

We know your customers think you’re great. But do your prospective customers know?

Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and you need to take full advantage of it. A newer way to do that (beyond listing them as a referral on your marketing materials or getting them to do a review on your Facebook page) is through customer testimonial videos.

According to a survey by BrightLocal, more than 85% of consumers turn to online reviews to determine whether or not a local business is reputable. Video testimonials are a great way to bring positive online reviews directly to your potential customers. You can incorporate customer testimonial videos into your website, as well as into your social media marketing efforts on Facebook and Twitter.

Video customer testimonials bring authenticity to your business in a way that quotes and text-based case studies just can’t. Hearing a live, satisfied customer talking about their personal experience with your product or service not only leaves a good impression on new visitors to your website, but also builds trust by backing up the claims you make about your business.

Making a customer testimonial video is pretty easy, especially if you’re working with a web video production company like Coastal Web Services. If you have before and after pictures of the work you did for your client, you’re off to a good start. Customer testimonial videos generally only show a little of the customer talking. A lot of the video is then covered with pictures or video while the customer is still talking.

If you have a project you’re especially proud of, and your client is especially happy with it, ask them if they’ll lend their voice and face to a customer testimonial video for you.

For more information you can reach us at 410-420-9390. We are the team at Coastal Web Marketing providing SEO web marketing, website design and web videos for small businesses.

Cost Effective SEO


Cost Effective SEO 

When we meet with clients for a new web design project or to consult on SEO services, we introduce them to the concept of cost effective SEO. SEO, or search engine optimization, is one of the most cost effective marketing strategies around today. SEO will improve your ranking on the search engine results pages, increase traffic to your website and increase brand awareness.

Maryland SEO Services

Our SEO services will likely involve changing the navigation of your website, perhaps adding or deleting pages, renaming pages, rewriting or adding to your content to optimize for SEO. A lot of this is done all at once, and then we provide ongoing SEO services on a monthly basis. For a full outline of our SEO program, visit our SEO Services page.  

SEO is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies because it targets users who are actively looking for your products and services online. SEO’s inbound nature helps businesses save money when compared to outbound strategies like cold-calling and direct mail. While cold-calling and mailers can still be an effective strategy, the leads generated cost 61% more than leads generated by an inbound strategy like SEO! And since SEO zeroes in on users who are actively searching for products and services like yours, the traffic resulting from SEO is more qualified than many other marketing strategies, resulting in cost-savings for companies. 

You can easily measure the success of your SEO strategy. The SEO experts at Coastal Web Services can track nearly every aspect of your strategy, including metrics like increases in rankings, traffic and conversions. Our comprehensive analytics also provide the ability to drill down to see demographic information and other engagement metrics for individuals who have interacted with your website. For Ecommerce sites, we can show you which paths users take in order to complete a sale, all the way down to which keyword they used to search for you prior to purchasing. For non-Ecommerce sites, you can attach values to your lead conversions, like a ‘contact us’ form fill-out, or phone call from a mobile site link and calculate the value of your SEO strategy that way. 

Coastal Web Services is a Baltimore area SEO Company and Web Design Company. Based in Bel Air, Maryland, we incorporate SEO Services into your new web design or into your existing web design to help you increase your business. Contact us or call us today at 410-420-9390 for a free SEO Analysis to see how our SEO services could help you.

Choosing Among Website Color Schemes

Website Design

OK, so you’re working with a web design company to develop your new website. One of the most important things that will determine the look and feel of your website is the website colors you choose. If you’re wondering how to choose the right colors for your website, keep reading.

For some background, you may want to read this article on the basics of color theory.

If you already have a company logo and ad campaign that uses certain colors, it may make sense to use those colors, as well as variations of those colors to develop your website color scheme. If you’re starting from scratch with a new website design, there are two primary questions to ask to help identify the proper colors:

  • What is the content about?
  • And, who will most likely read the content?

For example, let’s say you’re developing a website that will cover everything about babies. So, the content is clearly about infants, but who is going to read it? It is most likely the mothers or moms-to-be. After giving it some thought, we can extract some keywords that will help us to choose the colors, which in this case are: Baby, Babies, Mothers, and baby things (Clothes, Food, Toys, Diapers, etc). Then we can look for these items in our surroundings or using Google images for inspiration.

In this case, I entered the words “baby colors” into Google images, and these color schemes were prevalent:

 Baltimore County, website color schemes, Harford County, web design companyBaltimore County, website color schemes, Harford County, web design company


Now depending on your business and your personality, one of those color schemes might seem better. Personally, I think the pastel color scheme is suited for a baby clothes/baby gifts website, while the primary colors are great for a daycare or kid’s toy store. But that’s the thing. Color is personal.

If you’re ready to start thinking about website color schemes, you may want to learn a little about HTML color codes, and what they mean. Scroll down at the link to take a look at an html color chart.

Pick some colors that appeal to you and relate to your logo, or the product/service you are selling. When you meet with your web design team, you can discuss with them your color choices, and what will work well with the overall design you choose.

Coastal Web Services is a full service Harford County web design company, offering SEO services and graphic design services as well. If you’re looking for a website development company to build a website, call us today at 410-420-9390.

Featured Categories: