Buffalo SEO Company

Make sure your website designer or SEO guy has a face

Post by Roger Firestien of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at the State University of New York- Buffalo State.

Earlier this year I decided to update my website. It had gotten pretty stale. Because my old website was dated and because I wasn’t keeping up with my web presence, I decided to find a company that could optimize my web presence for my new website. I didn’t know anyone locally at the time so I did some research online and came across a company in Orange County California that looked like the people who could enhance my presence on the web.

I sent the company an email on a Friday afternoon and to my surprise the president of the company called me two days later on a Sunday afternoon. We had a lovely talk and he assured me that his company could help. Later that week, I had my “on-boarding call” with one of the account representatives who got all of the requirements for what I wanted them to accomplish, along with my credit card information so that they could charge me monthly for their services.

At first, I started to see some results in how my site began to rank. I also received monthly reports from the company detailing all of the technical data that told me how many links they were creating. Several months into the campaign I emailed the president asking to schedule a conversation with him. Four days passed and I didn’t get a response back from him. When I called the company asking to speak to him I was told that he was on vacation and that he would be on vacation for two months. I did however speak to my account representative who assured me that things were going just as planned.

Early last month, I sent an email to my account representative and didn’t hear anything back from him. When I called the company, I was told that he had left the firm. When I asked to speak to the president I was told that he was on a leave of absence… INDEFINITELY. I was assigned to another account representative.

Two weeks later, nothing had changed with my rankings and I noticed on my September report from the company that they were sending me results of work they had done in July. Not good!

During the time I was working with the California folks, I began to teach some creativity workshops at DIG at the Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Sam Insalaco attended a number of my workshops and I got to know him. I later found out that he did website design and search engine optimization (SEO).

Several weeks ago I decided to do some further research on the California SEO company. I typed in the president’s name, the name of the company and the word “scam” in Google. Sure enough, there were several scam reports on him and his company. When I looked up his company on the Better Business Bureau web site, I found that the BBB had assigned his company an “F” grade. Really not good!

Last week I got in touch with Sam and explained the problems I was having with the SEO company. I met with Sam the following Monday, hired him to do my SEO work and fired the folks in California.

When I started writing this blog my intention was to write about creativity and how you can apply creativity methods to make your website more appealing. I decided instead to pass along some things that I learned about the SEO process and how important it is to have a good relationship with the person who is helping to represent you on the web.

Here is my advice.

First, there are lots of companies out there that claim to be able to boost your web presence or get rid of items on the web that might be damaging to your reputation. I am not an expert, but in doing some research on these companies it looks to me that most of them don’t do what they promise.

Second, get recommendations from folks in your area that have worked with SEO firms. Unfortunately when I started working with the company in California I didn’t know anyone that could direct me toward a reputable company, so I was stuck with someone who I had never met face to face, that was eager to take my money, show me bogus linking reports and assure me that they were doing a good job.

Finally, and this is the most important part, make sure that your SEO person is someone you can meet with in person. That person should be willing to sit down with you face-to-face and talk to you about your goals for your web presence, which is exactly what Sam and I do.

Buffalo Shopify Website Development

Shopify Website Design & Development: Jecabar.com

theBREWROOM recently launched a new Shopify website for jecabar.com. This website presents their products with striking photography and a clean and simple site design.

Some key project features:

  1. Custom product photography
  2. Price breaks on product quantities
  3. Shopify customization
Nectar Ninja

Nectar Ninja – instant website notifications

Pixel code:

Instantly add notifications, alerts and polls to your website!

Have you ever had a situation where you wanted to instantly display something on your website so that people knew it immediately? Like, maybe you’re at an event, or going to an event and want to quickly let people know. Or, maybe you want to display a site-wide message letting people know that you just updated something, or are offering something new. Or, maybe you just want a message that shows up to all of your users, asking them to sign up for your free mailing list. Well, there’s a REALLY easy way to do that now. And, it’s as simple as sending a tweet via your twitter account (what else would you send a tweet from?).

Nectar NinjaNectar Ninja makes it really easy to display a message on your website. All it takes is a small snippet of code added to the <head> of your site, and from there, you can tweet messages to display live on the site. You can even add a quick user poll to ask users a question. There are several examples of how to use it on the Nectar Ninja website. Check out their tips section.

Here’s an example of a message that we wanted to be displayed on Yeah! Buffalo.
Nectar Ninja on Yeah! Buffalo

The user hovers over the button and a Read More link appears.

This is a really simple, and cool way to instantly add a message for your users on your website. Let us know if you try it out, and what you like about it. We’d be interested in hearing how others are using the tool.

This post is so short because this tool is that easy! We hope you like the tip.

If you have any questions, or things that you’d like us to look into for you, let us know! – send us a message

email marketing

Don’t do these 4 things when sending marketing emails

I don’t know about you, but I am on more email marketing lists than I remember signing up for. If I find the guy that sold his list… anyway! I wanted to just drop a quick few notes of advice when it comes to sending out emails on behalf of your organization.

  1. Don’t be too wordy. Today, nobody wants to read a long email – especially not a long marketing email – that goes on and on about the service or event that you’re trying to sell them. Just give them some enticing details and send them over to your website using some very clear calls-to-action (links) to the page on your website where they can learn more.
  2. Do not use comic sans as the main font in your newsletter. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t use a font that they use in comic books. If you like the font, use it in your signature at the end of the email, or somewhere less pronounced. Pick a clean, easy to read font that is a web-safe font.
  3. Don’t just send your emails out via Outlook, or any way directly from your email program on your computer. Why, you ask? Because permission marketing is smart. You give your audience the choice of whether they want to receive your messages. When you use a program like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, etc… they have built in controls that allow people to say whether or not they want to continue to receive your emails (unsubscribe buttons). These are important. And maybe for a reason you haven’t thought about. When someone gets an email directly from you, that is obviously just a mass-email that you’re sending out to everyone in your address book, there’s a good chance a few of them are going to want to STOP receiving those emails from you. Maybe it’s an old customer who no longer does business with you. Maybe it’s a failed prospect. Or, maybe it’s even a former coworker that doesn’t really want to hear from you anymore. Let’s face it, this stuff happens. Well, how are they going to let you know that they want to stop receiving those emails. Here’s some scenarios:
    1. Scenario 1: They receive your email and then email you back and say “Please stop sending me these emails, thanks.” – that’s fine, and nice enough of them, but you’d put them in a weird/uncomfortable place. They are put in the spot where they need to tell YOU to stop. Not where they are given the power to choose, without having to contact you directly. You know what I mean? Don’t put people in the uncomfortable position of having to ask you directly to stop emailing them.
    2. Scenario 2: They really don’t want to talk to you, or email you, so they click the Mark as Spam button on their email program. Uh oh! What? You’re a spammer now? Yes, you are. You’re emailing people without their permission. So, people are going to mark you as spam. When that happens, you get flagged. And if you get flagged enough, you’re going to get blocked from sending ANY emails. Yes, that means you can’t even send your coworkers photos of your cat because your ENTIRE domain is blocked and listed as spam. Yeah, you don’t want that. So don’t send emails from Outlook, gmail, whatever. Set up an account with an email marketing system like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor (my two favorites) and use their professional services for sending out your marketing emails. If you need help setting this up, let me know.
  4. Use high quality graphics, and make them the right size – but don’t make your entire email an image. Don’t leave it up to the user’s screen or the email program to display the images in the email the way that you want them to be displayed. If your graphics are too big, or too small, then you’re putting at risk the level of professionalism that you’re hoping to show when you’re sending your email. And please, whatever you do, do NOT stretch an image (distorting it) just to make it fit the open space within your email.  If an image needs to be 600px wide by 250px high, then resize and crop it down to that. Don’t take a 2000px wide by 1000px high image, stick it in there and expect it to fill the space correctly. The ratio is not the same, and it will either look distorted (depending on how you put it in there), or it will be too tall for the space, and possibly push some things out of place. Even worse, don’t take an image that is already smaller than the area you want to fill and make it stretch. It’s going to look terrible, trust me.If you make the entire email an image, then only some of the people who get the email will even see it. Some email systems block embedded images entirely within emails. This happens often at offices and inside corporations who take hacking and virus checking pretty seriously. Gmail even does this by default. Use images to support the text in the email. Yeah, I know that an image can look prettier, but what’s the point of pretty, if not that many people are even going to see it? And ALWAYS include the text version of the email message when you create it in your email marketing system. Then those of your subscribers who have chosen to receive the text version will actually see something. MailChimp has some great resources on email design best practices. You should read them.

I hope you found this helpful. Let me know if you need help with your email marketing campaigns. I’d be happen to take a look at what you’re doing now and suggest ways we can work together to make it better. If you’re doing any of the things I mention above, stop. You’ll thank me later.

TeuxDeux – Finally, a To-Do List App That I Use!

I have to admit, I’m not exactly the most organized person on the planet. I work from multiple computers, in multiple locations, take notes on scrap paper, in a binder notebook, on my iPhone, on my iPad, and who knows were else some of these notes that I could have sworn that I wrote down disappeared to! Well, I have been looking for a solution to this issue. It’s a big issue for me, too. Running a business, having a family, starting a local blog, shooting photos with my wife and just day to day tasks and responsibilities is a lot to keep track of. I really thought that writing it all in a notebook was the answer for me. But, I often found myself out, without my notebook around, with a need to make a note of something that I needed to check on or someone that I needed to contact about something, so I would make a note somewhere else. Now I have notes all over the place!

Well, my problem is official solved!

I recently discovered TeuxDeux. And I am so glad that I did! TeuxDeux is a very cleanly designed, simple to use, and cross platform application that I now put all of my notes into. That’s because it’s on my computer (via any browser), plus it has a nice iPhone and iPad. Let’s face it, chances are, I have one of those things with me when I’m anywhere.

Top 5 things I love about TeuxDeux:

  1. Keep it simple: TeuxDeux makes is simple to keep everything that I need to do, no matter who or what it’s for, all in one place.
  2. Task rollover: You can assign a task to today, or a day in the future. If you don’t complete the task on that day, TeuxDeux will automatically move the task to the next day! No more tasks being left behind. If you don’t complete all of your tasks for today, when you wake up tomorrow, you’ll find that the tasks are now all moved over! This is probably my favorite thing about it.
  3. Task formatting: You can include links in your tasks to save you time from having to look up a website. You can also make words bold or italic
  4. List organization: You can create additional lists of tasks that don’t necessarily have dates tied to them, but just need to be noted and eventually done. You have full control over what you call these separate lists.
  5. Accessibility: I can access my TeuxDeux list from anywhere, at any time!


If you’re like me, and have a lot of balls up in the air, then you might want to give TeuxDeux a try. It has a 30 day free trial, and then it’s very affordable once your trial expires. It has definitely helped me to get better organized, and get more done – which to me is exactly what I needed. So, thank you to TeuxDeux! Keep up the good work!

Why you need to join Periscope today

Live streaming is becoming an increasingly powerful and popular tool for businesses, and individuals, looking to provide people a behind-the-scenes look at an event, process or organization.

live-stream-photoApplications like Periscope and Meerkat, both still relatively new to the world of social media, are growing in popularity and audience by the day.

It almost seems as though every time I log in to Periscope, I discover a number of friends and businesses that just created their profiles.

There are a ton of reasons why applications that provide a live-broadcasting service are growing in popularity. I could spend hours writing about the different benefits that organizations and brands can provide to their audiences by connecting via live-stream.

However, to air on the side of brevity, here are the top four reasons why I think mobile broadcasting is booming, and why you need to set up a profile for your small business:

  1. Social media is becoming a visually-dominated space: Any article you read will show you the strong statistics that prove photos and videos are the future of social media. People have become lazy and don’t want to read text anymore. When all your fans need to do to get a behind-the-scenes look at your event or business is open an app, it makes it much easier for them to take action and tap in.
  2. Fear of missing out is real: It’s exciting to feel like you’re a part of the action. The great thing about these applications is they enable you to feel that way regardless of where you live, and whether you can get to the event or organization in person. Viewing broadcasts on Periscope make you feel like you’re really there.
  3. Real-time drives results: People enjoy, and seek out, opportunities to get involved in something in real-time. Why do you think Twitter chats have become such a powerful tool for organizations? Using a live-streaming app lets your audience get engaged with you in real-time, and also provides them the opportunity to ask questions. (Periscope has a chat feature.) This means that as a business, you can connect to your customers immediately, while also providing them with answers and information that they’re looking for on the spot.
  4. Show your human side: Live-streaming applications provide you with the opportunity to showcase the human side of your business. Take them on an office tour or backstage at an event, or maybe feature your President or senior team… Regardless, it’s a great way to show the faces of the people who do the work, and doing that will undoubtedly make your audience feel more connected to you.

I highly encourage you to hop on Twitter and create your Periscope profile today so that you can start to use this technology as a way to connect, inspire, inform and educate your audience.

Photo credit: Anthony Quintano

3 components of compelling campaigns

As a marketer, you want to create campaigns that draw attention and engagement.

As a marketer, you want to make noise.

However, small businesses often struggle with finding the time and tools to create these campaigns.

Often times, it’s hard to know where to start and what to do in order to create a movement or a compelling marketing campaign.

I recently participated in the “30-Day Bravery Challenge,” an effort started by a friend to inspire people to push themselves outside their comfort zone.

Through the experience, I discovered three critical elements that you must incorporate if you want to successfully create a compelling campaign:

  • Community: In order to create a successful campaign, you must first create a group of people who can function as a community. Facebook groups are great ways to bring people together to engage in a topic. For example, Greg Faxon (the creator of the challenge) created a Facebook group so that all Bravery Challenge participants could interact and engage with each other. By creating a community, you create engagement. Being a part of a community is empowering; it creates accountability and connection. Members of the community rely on each other for support, advice and guidance. Strong communities help push their participants to work together to accomplish shared goals. Knowing that there is a group of people supporting you is extremely helpful to allowing people to overcome their fears and keep pushing towards greatness.
  • Consistency: Another critical aspect to creating a compelling campaign is consistency. Individuals need to know how often they will be communicated with as well as how often they will be asked to engage or participate in group activities. Consistency helps create expectations and engagement. It’s much easier to join a movement, or engage with a campaign, when you know, beforehand, what will be expected of you. Letting people know what, and when, to expect your outreach helps create buy-in and anticipation.
  • Collaboration: The last, but most important, piece to creating a compelling campaign or movement is collaboration. The community must have an outlet to communicate with each other; to share ideas and experiences and learn from each other. By engaging with other members of the group, participants feel more connected to the movement as a whole. By sharing stories and life experiences, people create lasting connections which makes them more eager and willing to work together.

Creating a community, consistently communicating your goals and expectations, and creating an outlet for collaboration are critical in order to create a compelling, powerful campaign on or offline.

Take Control

Control How Facebook Displays Your Web Pages

Did you know that you can control how Facebook displays your web pages when they are shared on the social network? You may have found that when you post links to articles on Facebook, it sometimes pulls in an image from the post, also the title, as well as a description of the article. This is because the website is feeding Facebook with information that goes into the Facebook Open Graph Protocol. In short, this protocol is a little bit of information that lives on every page of your site that tells Facebook what the title, description, url, image, etc.. are for that particular page. Rather than making Facebook scan through the article and try to decide for itself, you can do some things to make sure that Facebook is using the information that you want it to use when the article is posted to Facebook.

If You Are Using WordPress:

If your website or blog is on WordPress, you’re life is made a lot easier if you want to control how Facebook displays your pages. Here’s what you do:

STEP 1:   Install WordPress SEO by Yoast. Yes, this is not only the best SEO plugin available for WordPress, but it also has a feature to control how your posts appear on social networks. Nice huh?

social-settingsOnce you activate the plugin, you will want to turn on the Social functionality. This is done by going into the plugin’s Social settings. Click on Social, and then check the box to Add Open Graph meta data. You might want to do the same for Twitter as well as Google+ while you’re in there.

After activating the social functionality, you will see the section (see below) on each of your posts that allows you to manage the SEO settings for that post. Click on the Social tab.

Social Media Settings - Yoast

Step 2:    Enter the Title that you want to appear when this article is posted on Facebook. Do the same for the Description of the page. You may also want to specify the photo or image that you would want to appear when you share the article on Facebook. Sometimes Facebook is smart enough to pull the featured image from the page, or another image from the page, but this is the easy way to tell Facebook which image you WANT to appear. You can choose from amongst your Media Files that you have already uploaded too.

You will notice that you can do the same for Twitter, as well as Google+ posts. If I were you, I would go ahead and set these up. Even if you don’t use those social networks, it doesn’t mean that your article won’t get posted on them. And if your article is posted, you’ll be smart to make sure that it appears the way that you want it to look.

Step 3:    Once you publish your new post, the information that you have included in the Social section of the Yoast plugin will be included on the published page. Just to make sure, you can test it out using Facebook’s Open Graph debugging tool:  https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/

Make sure that you have published the page. Facebook will not be able to scan a draft post.

Enter the URL to your article and click Debug.

You will see what Facebook sees when your article is shared.

Facebook Open Graph Debugging Tool

Each of the elements that you edited on the Yoast plugin should appear, including a thumbnail of the image that you chose.

You will also be able to see a preview of how it will look when the article is shared:


Say you made some changes to the page, and want to test it again? Once you publish your changes, click the Fetch New Scrape Information button on the debugging tool. This will clear the page from Facebook’s cache and fetch new page info. You should see your changes there now. You can also use this method to clear Facebook’s cache at any time, for any page.

Once you have it looking the way that you like, go ahead and share it on Facebook, and anywhere else you want it to be shared!

Not on WordPress?

If you’re using another system, or building your web pages from scratch, you will want to make sure that you include the Open Graph tags in your page <head> tag. You should follow the official open graph protocol instructions, which are available here.

We hope that you found this article to be helpful, and that you can get started with making your sites pages more easily shareable and attractive to users when they are shared. If you need help with any of this type of stuff, let us know. We would love to help. Thanks for reading.

pictory productions wedding videography

Pictory Productions – Pittsburgh Wedding Videographer Website Design

Pictory Productions boasts creating “Wedding Films For Fun People“.

Well, theBREWROOM wanted to make sure that the website design and development experience for Pictory was fun for them as well. After all, if they want their clients to have, shouldn’t they have fun as well? We think so.

Megan, of Pictory Productions was heavily involved with the project, and took it upon herself to jump right in and work on the content and visuals for her new website. We love this. We love (clients) people who want to be really involved with their project, and have a real passion for the learning how to do things themselves. We love to work with these kinds of people. Megan was serious about how she wanted her site to look, and that passion for the project comes through in the end result. We hope that she is as happy as we are with the outcome.

Website Facts:

  • Built on WordPress
  • Hosting by theBREWROOM
  • Video integration

jeremy hazelton website

The Personal Blog of Jeremy Hazelton

Not only do we have the pleasure of being able to work on the website for Jeremy, but we also call him a friend. This guy has a real passion and gift for what he does, and when he speaks, that is obvious. We hope that you read his blog, and we hope that you reach out to him to learn more about what he is working on in the City of Buffalo.

jeremy blog facebook post

We’re really looking forward to great things to come from Jeremy. Especially the book that he will be writing soon. Go check out his website, and let him and us know what you think.

Website Facts:

  • Build on WordPress, using Genesis Framework
  • Hosting by theBREWROOM
  • Integrated email newsletter management