24 Aug

4 Best Steps to ADA Compliance

Woman with magnifying glass

What is ADA?

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into a law. This law was designed to prevent discrimination against individuals because of their disabilities.

In the past 27 years, the Internet has changed the way people use media, access and purchase goods and services, and gather information. 57 million Americans live with disabilities that include: vision or hearing impairment, difficulty lifting or grasping things, or a mental or emotional impairment.

The Internet has introduced new challenges and many are often unable to participate in the Internet as either a consumer or employee. ADA compliance will open doors for more than half of these people who currently use the Internet.

How does ADA affect business?

In January 2017, the United States Access Board published a rule regarding information and communications technologies (ICTs). This changed standards specifically in areas developed, procured, maintained, or used by Federal agencies.

It addresses accessibility; such as how physical technology works with existing assistive technologies like JAWS, NVDA, braille keyboards, or voice-overs. These changes take effect in January 2018.

Though this rule directly refers only to standards for Federal agencies, the private sector is being hit by “drive-by” lawsuits. Individuals are surfing the web with the intent of finding accessibility violations on websites. Lawsuits are filed, sometimes without warning or complaint.

Though there is not yet an official standard for website accessibility, courts have referenced Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Many courts are interpreting website accessibility as part of the currently existing standards for physical structures.

For example, in the recent South Florida ruling of Gill v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., a visually impaired man sued a chain grocery store. The judge considered Winn-Dixie’s website a connection to the physical stores because the website offered coupons, location information, and prescription refills.

What is WCAG and does it help?

Created to help guide web content creators and designers as they make their sites more accessible, WCAG is a set of standards directly linked to ADA compliance.

WCAG 2.0 offers 12 guidelines in the following four categories: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust. Each guideline contains testable “success criteria” which can be used to measure the usability of your website.

4 Steps To ADA Compliance

  1.  Determine your website’s compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines. While Level AAA is considered the most accessible, meeting all of these criteria isn’t always possible.
  2.  Conduct an internal audit. A number of free tools include: AChecker, WAVE, and Functional Accessibility Evaluator (F.A.E.). Currently, there is no officially approved audit tool.
  3.  If auditing your own site is not your area of expertise, look for help from a third party. At Aqua Vita, we can help you upgrade to an ADA compliant, user friendly, site that attracts this new customer base.
  4.  Have your web development team correct any violations discovered in the audit.

These legal requirements are looming on the horizon. They create a more usable and accessible website:

  1. Saves money and hassle now by protecting your business from costly, drive-by lawsuits.
  2. Builds a larger customer base.
  3. Provides PR with your local and web communities by letting them know you care for and serve those in need.

Though the accessibility guidelines require technical work, overall you can adapt while increasing your customer base and providing better services for your communities.

Want a free website ADA compliance audit?

Call (918) 513-6576 or contact us here!

 

27 Sep

How can Facebook help my business?

Everyone’s talking about Facebook these days. Even my grandmother is on Facebook. But the real question for a lot of local businesses is “How can Facebook help my business?”

We talked about this with local business owners at the Jenks Chamber Business Over Breakfast this morning.

Big thanks to everyone who came out to see us!
Remember to like Aqua Vita on Facebook!

Obviously you can’t cover everything in one hour. So we’ve gathered resources & tutorials here for you to get started using Facebook for your business.

Have questions? Give us a call anytime: 918.518.6576. Email works too.
 

Disclaimer: Facebook changes things. All. The. Time. They are probably changing things right now. If any of these break, just let me know and I will update!

AQUA VITA PRESENTATION

AV Facebook for Business: Who Cares About Facebook?
 

FACEBOOK FOR BUSINESS BASICS

Learn 4 main ways to use Facebook for business: Facebook Business Basics

See how other businesses use Facebook: Facebook Business Case Studies

Build your business on Facebook: PDF: Using Facebook for Business

Build your business on Facebook Part 2: PDF: Build-Your-Business-on-Facebook
 

SET UP YOUR PAGE

How to set up a Facebook page: Facebook Page Step by Step

Ready to set up your page? START HERE

Understanding Facebook Stats: Facebook Insights
 

INVITING FANS

How to import emails and invite fans: Build Your Fans with Email

Ready to advertise on Facebook? START HERE
 

WEBSITE INTEGRATION

How to promote your Facebook Page on your Website: Like Box | Like Button

How to add social icons to your website: AddThis Social Icons
 

DEVELOPER NOTES:

How to add a custom tab to your page: Developer Notes to Create Tabs

06 Apr

AdWords Tips & Tricks: Position Preference Ending Soon!

For those of you who like to tweak AdWords for best performance and lowest cost, pay attention.

Change is in the wind for one of my favorite AdWords features, position preference.

What is position preference?

As you know, AdWords allows you to bid for ad placement in their search network. Top bid gets Spot #1, second place bid gets Spot #2, and so on.

AdWords Position Preference
Position preference allowed you to automatically adjust your bids for the position you wanted to maintain.

Why should I care about position preference?

For example, let’s say you want your ads to stay visible in positions #3 to #5. Let’s assume you have a limited budget, (or watch ROI like a hawk) so you want to avoid the shark-infested waters of position #1 & #2 bid competitions.

With position preference, you could set your ads to appear in positions #3 through#10+.

Let’s say money is no object to you, and you want top billing at any cost.

With position preference, you could set your ads to appear in positions #1 & #2.

What’s happening to position preference?

In early May, Google will be retiring the position preference feature in AdWords.

This decision was made due to low adoption and the existence of alternatives for this feature. To prepare for this change, we recommend that you disable position preference in your campaigns.

If you’re currently using position preference,  expect to see the following changes in your account:

As of April 5th, position preference can no longer be enabled for campaigns in either the AdWords web interface or the API. Campaigns already using position preference will still have it enabled. However, if you turn position preference off in one of your campaigns, you will not be able to turn it back on.
Starting in early May, we will begin disabling position preference within all campaigns.

When position preference is disabled (either when you do so manually or when the feature is retired automatically in early May), the max CPC bids for those campaigns will be set to the bids that position preference used most recently.

Important Note: Before you disable position preference, remember export your manual bids by downloading a keyword report to back up any bids you set before you turned on position preference. This report will include keyword level maximum CPC bids.

06 Apr

AdWords Tips & Tricks: Position Preference Ending Soon!

For those of you who like to tweak AdWords for best performance and lowest cost, pay attention.

Change is in the wind for one of my favorite AdWords features, position preference.

What is position preference?

As you know, AdWords allows you to bid for ad placement in their search network. Top bid gets Spot #1, second place bid gets Spot #2, and so on.

AdWords Position Preference
Position preference allowed you to automatically adjust your bids for the position you wanted to maintain.

Why should I care about position preference?

For example, let’s say you want your ads to stay visible in positions #3 to #5. Let’s assume you have a limited budget, (or watch ROI like a hawk) so you want to avoid the shark-infested waters of position #1 & #2 bid competitions.

With position preference, you could set your ads to appear in positions #3 through#10+.

Let’s say money is no object to you, and you want top billing at any cost.

With position preference, you could set your ads to appear in positions #1 & #2.

What’s happening to position preference?

In early May, Google will be retiring the position preference feature in AdWords.

This decision was made due to low adoption and the existence of alternatives for this feature. To prepare for this change, we recommend that you disable position preference in your campaigns.

If you’re currently using position preference,  expect to see the following changes in your account:

As of April 5th, position preference can no longer be enabled for campaigns in either the AdWords web interface or the API. Campaigns already using position preference will still have it enabled. However, if you turn position preference off in one of your campaigns, you will not be able to turn it back on.
Starting in early May, we will begin disabling position preference within all campaigns.

When position preference is disabled (either when you do so manually or when the feature is retired automatically in early May), the max CPC bids for those campaigns will be set to the bids that position preference used most recently.

Important Note: Before you disable position preference, remember export your manual bids by downloading a keyword report to back up any bids you set before you turned on position preference. This report will include keyword level maximum CPC bids.

14 Mar

Ecommerce Lessons: From Neuropsychology to Laptop Accessory Sales

Practical ecommerce interviewed Kathy Seigler, CEO and president of Ecommerce Superstores.

This Bowling Green, Ky.-based online retail brand has six niche online shops: CoolComputerBags.com — which was launched in 2007 — and five other specialty retail shops all launched in 2010.

They are: BackpacksSuperstore.com, TheLuggageExperts.com, YummiHandbags.com, DiaperBagsOnly.com, and WeKnowWallets.com.

From Neuropsychology to Ecommerce

Seigler started her retail business on eBay in 2006. With no previous ecommerce experience a background as a neuropsychologist. After about 6 months of selling on eBay, she identified a marketplace niche for laptop bags and launched CoolComputerBags.com in late 2007. In 2010, CoolComputerBags.com recorded gross revenues of roughly $815,000.

“Each of our now six sites specialize in a single product category,” Seigler says. “And all of the sites share the same navigation, functionality and shopping cart. The sites are also color coded, which differentiates each one, but all with the same template. We are still experimenting with our design and testing to see which converts best.”

Biggest Mistakes

“Where to begin? My first mistake was not being educated enough about the ecommerce industry as a whole. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but sometimes that’s the best way to start. Experience is the only way to learn.

“My second biggest mistake was trying to grow too fast too soon. Grow gradually and make sure spending is in line with revenue.

“Which brings me to my third biggest mistake: return on investment. Do not do things because they are ‘industry standard.’ Unless you see a measurable return on your investment, whether it is in marketing or staffing or inventory management — make sure it is paying for itself.

“Another big mistake I made was not having a fool-proof methodology for product upload. This is probably the single most costly error you can make in ecommerce. In the past 4 years I’ve made more mistakes than not. But I keep trying and my persistence will hopefully pay off. If not, I’ll write a bestseller about what to do when starting an online business.”

Biggest Successes

“Our biggest success is having a number one ranking in Google for the most relevant terms related to CoolComputerBags.com. I’m also very proud of being selected as one of the ‘Hot 100 Best Retail Websites’ by Internet Retailer.”

Best Advice

“Watch every single penny and be careful not to get sold on the latest thing that is promised to increase sales, traffic or conversion. Also, surround yourself with excellent people who lift you up every day professionally and personally. Life’s too short not to.”

Orders, Inventory and Shipping

“We work with about 60 different suppliers currently. We stock some inventory as well as work with vendors that drop ship.”

“To manage the entire inventory for so many different stores, we have a nice piece of software that allows the vendors to manage inventory themselves. It is a third party extension specifically developed for Magento. For those vendors who choose not to do that, they email us when items are out of stock and our inventory manager is responsible for updating it.

“We have an RSS feed that tells us when we are running low on stock. We only stock the minimum for products that sell through slowly. It’s a very difficult thing to balance, especially during the holidays.

“Our average [shipping] cost-per-parcel is about $9. Drop ship vendors receive email notifications that also include a packing slip and a shipping label. The software does have the ability to be automated, but we manually review each order ourselves before sending them to the vendors for the sake of accuracy and so we can stay on top of our orders and customer’s needs.”

Caring Customer Service

“On the customer service end of things, we have a fantastic lady, DeAnna Roberts, who takes phone calls and replies to emails. I manage live chat myself and I really enjoy it. I’m proud to say that we do not have very many instances where customers are unhappy. In those times when we have messed up royally, we tell the customer we will do whatever it takes to make them happy — then, we do it.

“I’ve gone so far as to send flowers to a customer who we forgot to refund for about 6 months. We also send $5 Starbucks cards and personal notes to customers when we are at fault.”

PPC Marketing Experiment

“Our marketing strategy varies. We lost a lot of money last year trying pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. We never arrived at a profitable result. We lost about $50,000 in just three months. I would not advise anyone to attempt PPC unless they have about $100,000 to spend ‘testing’ it.”

Aqua Vita PPC Note: Testing is key. When you are starting out, don’t bid for the number one spot. Watch your keyword bids and total expenditures like a hawk.

Cull keywords that do not result in conversions or email sign-ups. If a keyword group gets too competitive and expensive for you to make a profit,  drop your bid prices so you aren’t competing with the big fish in that pond.

Think maximum ROI for each click you pay for.  Make sure you push email sign-ups to get PPC visitors into your marketing list. That way you get more than one opportunity to market to these expensive visitors.

Facebook and Twitter for Ecommerce

“As far as Facebook and Twitter go, we post our email campaigns, special offers and have contests. We also have the ability for customers to share on every product page.

“But to be honest I still haven’t figured out yet how to leverage Facebook and Twitter to increase sales. We are considering an extension that allows us to sell on Facebook directly called ‘Facebook Shopializable.’ And I’m very keen on having an ‘incentive to Like’ functionality.

“I think the genius of social media is if a business comes up with something revolutionary, like Groupon did. That’s something people really want to talk about and it spreads like wildfire. Otherwise, you are a nameless face in a sea of millions on Facebook”

“The reason I think it’s important, however, is for rankings. It’s no secret that Google has incorporated the Facebook ‘Likes’ into its algorithm, which makes a lot of sense. Word on the street is that ‘Likes’ will eventually replace ‘links.’”

Get the full story and more ecommerce tips at Practical ecommerce.

04 Oct

Google SEO Secrets

Gayle Laakmann

Want the inside scoop on Google’s most closely-guarded search engine secrets?

Would you like to know what really works to boost your search engine rankings?

Why not ask Google?

Straight form the Google Developer Vault:
Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

Let’s see what’s inside:

SEO Basics

  • Create unique, accurate page titles
  • Make use of the “description” meta tag

Improving Site Structure

  • Improve the structure of your URLs
  • Make your site easier to navigate

Optimizing Content

  • Offer quality content and services
  • Write better anchor text
  • Optimize your use of images
  • Use heading tags appropriately

Dealing with Crawlers

  • Make effective use of robots.txt
  • Be aware of rel=”nofollow” for links

SEO for Mobile Phones

  • Notify Google of mobile sites
  • Guide mobile users accurately

Promotions and Analysis

  • Promote your website in the right ways
  • Make use of free webmaster tools