Why We Use WordPress Instead Of Squarespace

The WordPress icon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We often get asked by business owners and marketers what content management system they should use to build their website: WordPress or Squarespace. These are two of the largest and most popular current website tools, and our answer is always WordPress. WordPress is the content management system we primarily use to make our clients’ websites (check out this blog post to read about the other content management systems we use). In today’s blog post, we’ll be exploring why we use WordPress instead Squarespace.

Before we jump into everything, let’s dive into defining WordPress and Squarespace.

What is WordPress?


WordPress is a website builder that was founded in 2003. There are two types of WordPress- WordPress.org (where you self-host your site) and WordPress.com, which is when you pay WordPress to host your site.

What is Squarespace?


Squarespace is also website builder that was founded in 2003.  You may be familiar with the company as they have been doing a lot work recently to advertise themselves on podcasts and even the Superbowl. In May of 2018, they had up to 60 template options. It’s a popular platform for creative like bloggers, photographers, artists, and musicians.

Now that we’ve covered some basic info about the two, let’s discuss why we prefer WordPress here at Sperling Interactive.

WordPress is free.


WordPress is a free and open-source platform and Squarespace is not. When you sign up with Squarespace, you are hosting your site on Squarespace’s server. Using WordPress enables us to host our clients on one of the premiere hosting platforms, Amazon Web Services.

It also costs $12 a month to have a 20 page Squarespace website and $18 per month for a website with unlimited pages.

Editing & Coding Made Easy on WordPress

Every single WordPress website comes with a GPL 2.0 license, which means you can change the code as much as you’d like, including the functionalities of plugins and themes. Squarespace on the other hand, doesn’t offer this type of license to its users. You can only do certain edits to add small customizations to sites.  

When you sign up with Squarespace, you also have to choose a template. WordPress does offer templates (they have over 5,000), but if you want something truly custom, you can achieve that too. Squarespace does offer beautiful templates, but many of them are highly-photo based. If you don’t have high definition-photography, the templates can fall flat. Check out 1:15 of this video.

According to Website Builder Expert, WordPress does have a steeper learning curve but is a more flexible platform. We agree with this.

WordPress is Unlimited


With WordPress, there is no limit to how many times you redo your website or how many sites you’d like to build. When you sign up with Squarespace, you are limited to one site and are stuck within the confines  of your template. If you want to create another website, you have to sign up for another premium subscription.

WordPress Has Better Ecommerce Options


Nearly every website we build has an ecommerce shop to it, even if the business is a product-based business. A lot of businesses host events and need to sell tickets. The unfortunate thing about Squarespace is their ecommerce is only supported in the US, UK, Canada, and Ireland. WordPress, on the other hand, has a global presence. It also wasn’t until very recently that Squarespace started accepting PayPal.

Some of the Largest Websites use WordPress


WordPress is the most popular website and blog creation tool, powering 30% of websites (that’s 10 million websites). Squarespace has fewer websites, with an estimated 1 million. Not only that, some of the biggest blogs, news outlets, music sites, Fortune 500 companies, and celebrity websites- The New York Times, BBC America, MTV News, Beyoncé, Etsy, and the White House– were created in WordPress.

If you want to build a custom website for your business, WordPress is the content management system you should use. Our mission as a business is to create websites that truly represent our clients’ brand and aesthetic and because WordPress is so customizable we’ve gravitated towards it as a content management system we generally use.

If you’re a creative solopreneur, have amazing photography, and don’t find you need a truly custom website, Squarespace may be a better option for you.  

When it all comes down to it, you must think about your business and prioritize your needs. For larger businesses who have a lot of competition, having something completely custom is important as they need a way to stand out from the crowd. A custom site is perfect or this.

Do you agree with article? What content management system do you use? What do you like about it? Share your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

Seasonal Marketing Tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier this month, we wrote a blog post about how to have a great seasonal website. Today on the blog, we’re going to be covering seasonal marketing tips. Seasonal marketing is a great way to get into the new season or holiday, and it has been shown to increase sales.

Here are some important things to make note of before you begin:
– When it comes to seasonal marketing, timing is very important. Allot yourself a few months to plan and prep. The best ideas won’t come to you if you’re feeling crunchtime.

– Don’t feel pressured to have a seasonal marketing campaign for every season and holiday. Think about what is most relevant to your business. What times of the year does your company get the most business?

Now on to the tips:

Create Valuable Seasonal Content


We think it’s safe to say the reason we started our businesses was to be of service. Regardless if you’re a B2C or a B2B, you want your business to offer something valuable to your customers and clients. A great way to accomplish this is to create helpful content for your targeted audience.

For example, if you’re an interior designer, you might create a piece of content where you give away your favorite staging tips.

If you’re a dentist, you could share the best ways to clean your teeth after Halloween.

If you’re an employment/human resources attorney, you could share your tips on how to cultivate a better work environment near Labor Day.


Run A Social Media Campaign  


Everybody is on social media these days, so what better place to promote your business than with a social media campaign? If you’re a B2C business, you may want to consider promoting your products through Facebook Ads, and if you’re a B2B, by utilizing LinkedIn Ads.

Do A Photo Contest  


Photo contests are a fun way to engage your audience. Keep the rules simple, create a landing page where you can collect people’s information, and have a prize that people will want to win. Some ideas you could do is a Halloween costume contest or an ugly sweater contest in December. You could give away a product related to your industry (e.g., an IT company could give away a computer, a boutique could give away a gift card, etc.), or offer one of your services for free.

Come Up With a Hashtag

Connect with your audience by coming up with a clever hashtag. Going back to our previous tip, you could use the hashtag as a way to see who is participating in your contest instead of creating a separate landing page. Hashtags are also a good way to introduce new people to your business and your campaigns. When a person sees one of their friends participating in your contest or campaign, it may give them the incentive to join in too.

Direct Mail Promos  


In today’s digital world, it’s easy to forget about this last tip, but direct mail is still an effective way to remind people of your business. Design a postcard that gets people into the spirit and has a clear call-to-action.  

 

If you need help with your seasonal marketing, give us a call. We offer social media, blogging, photography, digital marketing campaigns, and graphic print work.

Common SEO Myths Debunked

The word 'SEO' spelt out in Scrabble tiles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you do search engine optimization (SEO) for your business, then you’ve probably discovered that it’s constantly changing. It can be hard to keep up with what’s going on and there are a lot of companies out there claiming they’ve got the shortcut strategies (aka blackhat techniques) that can help you rank well. Today we’d like to debunk the most common SEO myths to bring you some clarity and help you properly optimize your site.

 

Myth #1: More web pages will help rank better.

At Sperling Interactive, we always encourage our clients to blog. Blogging does, after all, give you more web pages and chances to rank for relevant keywords. But it’s important to note that your blog posts these days need to be of rich content and not thin content. Google is the most used search engine in the world and, as such, it wants to show its users the most relevant and rich content possible. Check out our blog post on how to optimize your blog posts.

Myth #2: Link building doesn’t matter.

Link building has changed a lot since SEO was invented. It used to be that you could get backlinks by putting your business’s information into business directories. Today, Google and other search engines value those links a lot less. To create effective links these days, you want to reach out to other industry publications and ask if you can be linked on their site. A good way to go about this is to ask them to a link a blog post you wrote to a similar blog post they have up on their site.

Myth #3: Having a mobile-friendly site isn’t that important.

If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website already, you should really hop on that now. In March, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing. This means it now prioritizes indexing the mobile version of a website over the desktop version. Google has started doing this due to the large spike in mobile search queries over the last few years.

Myth #4: Having a secure website isn’t an essential.


The newest component that Google takes into account when listing out results on search queries is security. Last month, Google began labeling sites that are not HTTPS as “not secure.”

At Sperling Interactive, we offer SEO audits. Contact us today to learn more about what you can do to better optimize your website.

Content Ideas for September

Autumnal props around a board that reads 'September. To Do:'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September is a favorite month for many people. Although it might have been years since you were a student, September may still symbolizes a fresh start for you. With it comes the return of crisp weather, school, and time to prep for the fourth quarter. It’s a month that comes with a lot of material, so here are our favorite September content ideas.     

Labor Day

Labor Day is September 3rd this year. Wish your community a Happy Labor Day and take this holiday as a time to talk about your company’s work environment.

Back To School

Use back to school as a time to offer value to students. Share the lessons you learned in school and how students can end up working in your industry. If your targeted audience is students, this is a good time to offer special deals to them.

International Day of Charity

September 5th is International Day of Charity.  Has your company donated to a charity or done any volunteer work? If so, why did you do it? Did the people in your company feel a connection to the organization’s mission? Did you want to help out a local charity? Or did you simply just want to do something good with your time? Unpack your reason(s) why on this day.  

National Day of Encouragement

There’s no denying all the negativity on social media these days. Why not add some positivity by sharing your favorite quote on September 12th in honor of National Day of Encouragement?! Quotes are great because they’re bitesize, to the point, and elicit an emotional response.

First Day of Fall  

Fall is one of the more popular seasons out there. Who doesn’t love foliage, pumpkin spice, and sweater weather? Go outside with your camera and take some photos of autumnal sights near your workplace. If you’re a product-based business, be sure to promote your seasonal products, if you have any. If you run a clothing store, put together some outfits with your inventory and post fall Outfits Of The Days (OOTDs). On the first cool day of September, you could take a photo of a white long sleeve shirt, black vest, black pants, and brown boots and say Han Solo season is here!

World Tourism Day

At Sperling Interactive, we’re lucky to be based in a historical and tourist-y city, but even if you don’t work in a city like Salem Massachusetts, you can still participate in World Tourism Day on September 27th. Make a list of your favorite things to do in your city and share it with your audience so they will want to visit. This can also be an awesome opportunity for you to shout out your clients and help them gain some business, too.

Holiday Season

September reminds us that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the December holidays are all on the horizon. Use the middle-to-end of September to promote any deals or special offers you will have in the last quarter of the year.

Having trouble coming up with content ideas? Contact us today to book a content brainstorm session.

Questions To Ask Your Web Designer/Developer Before Hiring Them

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Are you ready for a new site? Here are the best questions to ask a web design and development company to get the best feel for them and to see if they’re the right fit for your business.  

What services do you offer?

If you’re having a meeting with an agency, there’s a strong chance they offer more than just web design and development. They probably also offer branding, search engine optimization/search engine marketing, social media, link building, and blogging. At Sperling Interactive, we offer all those services, as well as photography and video. Websites and search engine optimization go hand-in-hand so, after you find out they do SEO, you should then ask them what kind of work the SEO team will do to help optimize the new site.

Most sole prioperitors who do web design and develop websites only offer website work, but it’s still worth asking them if they offer any other services.

Do you do custom websites or do you use a template?

Every company is different. Generally speaking, larger agencies do custom websites, but some do offer templates, while still others do a bit of both. Companies that find most of their business through the Internet should opt for a custom website as it will help them stand out among competitors. Templates are a cost-effective solution for businesses that don’t rely so heavily on their online presence.  

What is your policy regarding building websites for competitors?

Speaking of competitors, you should also ask the question outlined above. This question is important for two reasons: you can find out if the company

you’re speaking to works with your competitors, and if the company has experience working within your industry.

Do you have any case studies?

This is a must if you want to see if the company will give you a good return on investment. You should find out if the websites this company has built have seen changes in their conversion rates and increased online sales.

What is your website process like?

A company’s website process says a lot about them. It can give you insight into how long the website will take to make, who from the company will be involved in the project (sometimes you can find out the staff’s experience), and how much input you will need to give.

Who will write my content?

Every company is different, just like every business owner’s preference on this question. At Sperling Interactive, we have writers on staff who can write your content for you, if you’d so prefer. These writers have knowledge of SEO so they can ensure the content on your site is optimized.

What support do you offer after my website goes live?

The thing about websites is they’re never truly “done”. There’s always security and maintenance to look after once the site goes live. When you ask this question, you should also ask about hosting. Do they offer hosting? Who do they do hosting with? Read more about the hosting service we use here.

Interested in hiring us to design and develop a website for you? Contact Sperling Interactive today at (978) 304-1730 to schedule an appointment.

How To Have A Great Seasonal Website

A Christmas themed flat lay with wrapping paper, treats, and laptops.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you run a consumer based business? If so, a great way to drive more people to your website and increase sales is to utilize seasonal web design. Seasonal web design is a digital marketing tool in which your website reflects the current season and/or holiday. Seasonal web design is effective because it can evoke emotion, create personal connections, and help consumers connect with your brand. Who doesn’t get in the festive mood when they see these Christmas themed websites? Here are our tips and tricks on how you can get your customers excited for the new season and your brand!

Have an outdoor time lapse video.

Today video has never been bigger. One of the biggest web design trends right now is video because it’s attention grabbing. We recently built the new website for the Salem Witch Museum. On the homepage of the website is a timelapse of the Salem Witch Museum from the outside. If you revisit their website in the fall, you’ll see the video is slightly different because it will be an autumnal time lapse. And if you return to the website in the winter, the video will show the museum during the winter. We’ve done this to the museum’s website to 1) entice the viewer and 2) to show the museum is open year round and not just in October. A time lapse video is an awesome way to show consumers what your business is up to during each new season.

Redesign your logo for the different holidays/seasons.

If you’re going to embark on seasonal branding, having a seasonal logo is an absolute must. Logos are incredibly important in any business as they are the image people associate with your company. We strongly advise if you’re going to be doing seasonal promotions, to create a new fun, seasonal logos. This will catch people’s eyes and direct them to your site to see your sales. Check out what some of the biggest brands have done to their logos during the holiday season in December.

Add seasonal colors.

Another way to spice things up is to change the colors on your website to the colors of season and/or holiday we’re in. Holidays and colors are very closely tied together. When you see orange and black, your mind immediately thinks of Halloween. And when you hear green and red, you think of Christmas. Using associated colors is another strong visual tactic to catch the attention of your audience.

Upload seasonal photos.  

Our last tip is simpler and is something you can do on your own if you’re not much a website wiz. For this last tip, we suggest uploading some seasonal snaps. If you’re from New England, take some photos outside. We’re fortunate we live in area of the world where we receive visible signs when a new season arrives, like snow and foliage. If you have seasonal products, make sure those are uploaded to the homepage to inform your visitors. Consider doing some flat lays with your seasonal products.

If you’re looking to implement a seasonal web design for your business, contact us today! At Sperling Interactive, we have the developers, designers, photographers, and ideas to make your website extra special during each new season.

Beginner Photography Glossary

Learning and undering all the jargon and components for a new hobby or skill is important, especially when it comes to photography. If you really want to get good at taking photos, you must understand all of the parts of your camera. So if you’re novice to photography, check out our quick and easy photography glossary so you can start taking photos like a pro. We’ve also some style lingo too.  

Rule of Thirds- Rule of thirds is a photography guideline for when you’re about to compose a photo and you want it to be straight and proportionate. When you’re about to take a photo, you’ll notice a grid of three rows and three columns. Use this to line up the photo.

Bokeh- Bokeh is an aesthetic you can achieve where part of the photo is out of focus. You might recognize bokeh when you see photographs where background lights are blurred out.

A photo that has the style of bokeh in it.

Bokeh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exposure- Exposure deals with how light or dark your image is. A photo that is deemed to dark is considered underexposed and a photo that is too light photo is called overexposed.

Flare- The effect that is created when light is reflected into the lens. It’s become popular over the years to add a little bizazz.

A photo that has flare in it.

Flare

 

 

 

 

 

 


Manual-
Manual mode allows you to control the exposure. In manual mode, you choose the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.  

Aperture- An aperture is the opening of the lens that allows light to come in and it is expressed through the f-stops. In photography, f-stop numbers are counter-intuitive. The lower the f-stop number, the larger the opening will be and the more light can pass through. The higher the f-stop number, the smaller the opening is and the less light is able to pass through your camera. A low number aperture means the photograph will focus on one thing and blur the rest of the image out. A photograph taken through a high f-stop number is clear and crisp throughout.

Shutter Speed- Shutter speed is the length of time the film or digital sensor in a digital camera is exposed to light. It’s also the amount of time the camera’ shutter is open when taking a camera. The quicker the shutter speed, the darker the image is and the longer the shutter speed the lighter the image is.

ISO- The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to light. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive it is to light.

If you still have an inkling to learn more about photography, stick around. This fall Sperling Interactive will be hosting a photography workshop for business owners that want to advance their business photography.

How To Write Great Website Copy

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There’s a lot that goes into creating a new website, from the site map, to the design, to the development features, and one of the most overlooked aspects is writing the copy. Unlike visuals, it’s your copy that gets you ranked higher on search engines. Not only that, but good copy gives your business personality, brand clarity, and can increase your conversion rate. Here are four tips to writing great website copy:

Answer the who, what, how, and why.

First thing’s first, every piece of copy on your website should have a purpose and every single word should mean something. To help you achieve that, you should start out by answering the who, what, how, and why of your business.

The ‘who’ is your audience. Who do you want to attract to your brand? Who do you wish to serve?

The ‘what’ is the problem your business solves. What do you hope to achieve for your clients and customers?

The ‘how’ is your process. How will achieve your ‘what’?

The ‘why’ is the reasoning for why you do the work you do. It’s always a good idea to share with potential clients how your business was founded when you write your ‘why.’

Don’t be salesy.

Sometimes when people sit down to write their website’s copy, they focus on saying things that make them sound ‘good’ or write out promises that aren’t realistic in order to prove their worth. Your copy shouldn’t sound salesy. It should make potential clients and customers who are the right fit for you feel connected to your brand. It should get to the heart of your business’ mission and values.

Write in short paragraphs.

People’s attention spans are shorter so you want to want to keep your copy short and simple. Don’t make things complicated by using big words. We also advise your paragraphs be four sentences long, if possible. Having shorter paragraphs will read well on all types of devices.

Utilize Google’s Keyword Tool to select your keywords.

When creating a new website, you want to make sure it’s optimized for search engines. One way to do that is to have the right keywords in the copy. You can find out what people are searching when they’re looking for your type of business and/or service by using Google’s Keyword Planner.

Need help writing your website content? At Sperling Interactive, we not only have the writers on staff who can do it, but we have the SEO expertise as well.

Thin Content: What It Is, Why It’s Bad, & How You Can Fix It

The word 'blog' spelt out in Scrabble tiles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Sperling Interactive, when we look at SEO, we primarily look at five components: keywords on site, relevant links, your social media presence, having a mobile-friendly site, and dynamic content. Dynamic content refers to blogging. When you add blog posts to your website, it gives search engines new web pages and keywords to index. If you write six blog posts per month, that’s seventy-two more ways for Google and other search engines to come across you and promote you. With this in mind, it can seem that putting together any old piece of content will automatically boost your organic search results, but that’s not exactly the case. When creating content for your business, you should always avoid thin content at all costs.

What Is Thin Content?

Thin content is content that Google and other search engines thinks has little-to-no value to it. Google considers thin content as content that isn’t original, is stuffed with keywords, and is under 300 words long. It also interprets doorway pages (links that lead users to pages they weren’t anticipating to be directed to) and links to low-quality web pages as thin content. Thin content is essentially black hat SEO.

How To Avoid Thin Content

One way to avoid thin content is to have an editorial calendar. We advise being a month ahead in blog posts. So, since it’s July, you should focus right now on August blog content. And in August, you should be writing September’s posts. Most people stop blogging after the initial excitement of it. And if/when they do remember that they have a blog, they hastily put a post together to push out some content.

Another tip is keeping up-to-date with your industry. Follow blogs and publications that write about your industry so you can have related links in your blog posts and more ideas. Dynamic content includes a combination of internal and external links. Internal links being links to webpages on your site and external links being links to other websites. Be sure when you’re including links to external web pages, the websites are SEO-friendly, as Google values high-quality links.

What Should I Do If I Have Thin Content?

If you have thin content on your website, our best advice is to beef it up and revise it. If you have content that’s now out-of-date, update it and mention in the piece when you updated it. While you’re reworking your content, we suggest putting a noindex tag on the webpage so Google and other search engines won’t crawl it. When you’re ready for people to read the new and improved piece of content, put the content through Google Search Console and Bing so the two search engines can index it.

Are you finding that you need some more juice for your blog posts? Contact Sperling Interactive for some more guidance on how to spice up your blog posts!

E-Commerce Websites Will Have To Start Paying Sales Tax

A women on an ecommerce website.

 

 

 

 

 

 


On June 21, 2018, the Supreme Court passed South Dakota v. Wayfair. It was a 5-4 majority, and it means that states may charge tax on purchases made from out-of-state sellers. This new ruling has overturned Quill Corp v. North Dakota, which prevented states from collecting any sales tax from online sales back in 1992.

Since Quill Corp v. North Dakota was passed twenty-five years ago, there’s been an extreme increase in interstate sales via electronic devices. According to the Government Accounting Office, states lost over $13 billion in taxes they could not collect last year.

Up until now, online retailers were not required to charge consumers a sales tax on out-of-state sales, unless the retailer had a physical presence in the state where the buyer was located.

In a recent article regarding this new ruling, The New York Times wrote: “Americans have done more and more of their shopping online in recent years, drawn by the promise of low prices, wide selection, and buy-from-home convenience. But e-commerce has also had another edge: Many of those sales taxes were, in effect, tax-free.”

Another reason South Dakota v. Wayfair passed is to level the playing field between brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers. Online retailers will be required to collect sales taxes from customers in individual states, even if they do have a physical presence in those states.

According to Entrepreneur, states can now choose to tax most internet sales as well as most mail orders. While all fifty states are not currently taxing across state lines, it’s only a matter of time before each state applies this next tax because it will increase state revenues.

What do you think of all of this? Have you thinking about adding an ecommerce section to your website? Contact Sperling Interactive today for a consultation.