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Revisiting the Origins of Web Design

html code

I have been thinking about our original web design company, Animal 57 which launched way back in 1999, and how those relic websites have progressed since then.

Those were the days of AOL, and Netscape, when most sites were created using Microsoft Frontpage, when data driven applications were still years away and to change a simple sentence on your site required your web developer to perform 20 – 30 minutes of work using those 56k dial up modems.  This was a time before anyone had even heard of Google or Facebook.

We started designing sites in the infancy of the Internet, still called by most people, “the world-wide web”.  That was a time that the term SEO was not even a glimmer in the eye of most developers.  So what was the Characteristics of those few businesses who were at the forefront of online marketing and even had a website?

The first thing I think of is obnoxious Flash intro pages or “Splash Pages”, which was a slow loading giant animated graphic that served no purpose other than to entertain and provided little to no information or a beneficial user experience.  The pages had lots of text, and cartoonish graphics that made me think more of Saturday morning kids TV, then business marketing.

Why did Web Designers make these horrific pages?

For starters, the software was very basic, and you had to hand-code in HTML using Dreamweaver or Frontpage to put up almost anything, which a skill that most high school students today possess was rarely had by anyone in marketing or graphic design.  The decade of the 90’should also be remembered for load music, which was incorporated into so many Flash animations and animated gifs found in those early web sites.  In the event that the bounding logos did not make your eyes glaze over, Flash and JavaScript programmers loved to add scrolling text to the site to add just a bit more confusion.

In fact, it was hard to find a site that did not contain a logo revolving or bouncing across the screen.  Many marketers back then were clamoring for this, as it was the new alternative to pricy News Paper and Magazine ads.

Eventually as search engines such as Yahoo and Lycos entered the fray, web programmers realized they could game the search engines by adding keywords onto a white background page, and then making the text font match.  This led to what appeared as huge gaps in the design, until you hovered your mouse over those areas and saw all the cloaked keywords.  As a modern-day SEO technician I shudder at the thought of all those “black-hat” techniques that were not only used prevalently, but actually encouraged by the results you got back then.  Alternatively, many websites were created with text as images, that search engines would not index, which led business owners to great frustration when their web site could not be found on Yahoo.

It’s a wonder that we still have websites today, after the horrors of these relic web sites were the norm for over a decade.  Think of how far we have come.  I can appreciate WordPress and other modern Streamlined layouts so much more now.  With that said, I wonder what some web designer in 20 years will say about the sites we are building today?

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Before and After

Kaffmandu website redesign

Take a look at the before and after for a local coffee shop we helped out.

The Kaffmandu Coffee shop in Danvers, Massachusetts started out with a free wordpress template that was set up as a place holder.  The site did not work on mobile devices nor did it have professional photography or chatbots.  VRG was happy to help bring Om and his Coffee shop into the 21st century of digital marketing.

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Top 5 ways to attract online real estate leads

digital marketing tags

As of 2018, the real estate industry has grown enormously by 11.4%.  This growth presents a golden opportunity for real estate agents to land more real estate leads and improve their earnings.

The internet has not only enhanced real estate, it has revolutionized the way agents generate real estate leads. If your website isn’t optimized for improved lead generation, then you are really missing out. In the next few years, Millennials will make up 33% of real estate market. Of those, 90% of them will search online when they are looking for a home.

The real estate market is a very competitive one. So competitive that finding a customer who will patronize you is extremely difficult. If you don’t have a network, especially if you are just starting out, it is even tougher.

For agents finding it difficult in this industry or pushing for more publicity and productivity, these helpful tips demonstrate how to attract online real estate leads.

Website Optimization and email list sourcing

Your website is the primary source of lead generation online. It is an opportunity for you to offer your visitors real value and help them establish helpful interaction with your brand for the long-term.

Many agents miss out on this aspect. It isn’t just an opportunity for you to post content about your expertise in real estate. Rather, it is a platform to create valuable content showing your visitors how much value you can offer and how much help you can provide.

A simple way to check if your website is too company focused is by checking how many times you have written “We”. This practice is very bad because people are seeking answers for questions they have typed into Google, therefore connect with your leads by using the word “you” more often. You also may want to consider providing some type of free report on your site which will be provided after a potential client adds their email address to your mailchimp or constant contact account, as a way to gather emails addressees for a future e-mail campaign.

Use the Social Media

There are several ways to make generate interest via social media. One way is to constantly appear on local users timelines. About 1.5 billion people use Facebook and a lot of real estate agents generate up to $10,000 revenue monthly by harnessing their network Facebook. You can use Facebook for your main strategy for lead generation, but then it comes with the price of connecting with others. The most effective way is to use Facebook Ads to target potential customer across the network based upon where they live or work, and if they own a home. It converts to sales faster than just building your followers from organic posts.

Instagram is another way to connect with potential buyers because pictures and videos are proven ways to generate leads faster than contents. Both strategies require time and dedication to connect, engage and provide support.


Blogging is arguably one of the best avenue to generate leads online. But you don’t expect an old corporate blog about your company’s events to generate real estate leads. To attract prospects and convert home sales, you have to provide your readers with valuable and actionable contents. These include real estate news, tips about working with realtors, listing their home or mortgage tips. It is also very important to syndicate your blog on your social sharing sites such as Twitter, Readit, and Linkedin so that others may share your content and give your article more traction.

Video creation

Videos are great tools for lead generation for any business. Utilizing videos to give a virtual tour of a house or apartment for sale is a wise way to engage your audience. Videos convert up to 33% of the leads on the internet. Videos do not only generate leads and engage them, it also push them to get in touch with you.

If you would like to learn more about generating prospecting online, schedule a call with VRG Web Design today.

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Why Real Estate Agents Should Have their Own Website

Real Estate Agent Avatar

When looking for homes, people surf the internet for real estate information. In past years, people surf for properties on their desktops, on maps or drive around to look for vacant residences. However, today, you can search for houses on your smartphone on the go because of the massive adoption of the mobile internet in the real estate industry. In order to generate interest in homes, real estate agents need to have and improve their online presence by having their own website. Most importantly, they must harness the SEO advantages of responsive web design to be found on Google and Bing.

With multitude of agent competing in for their own share of the real estate market, it may be hard to gain the attention of potential clients. In order to thrive, you must find a way to effectively market yourself. If your market strategy includes sending bulk emails, placing newspaper ads or even craigslist, you need to think twice because they are obsolete.

Reasons to have your own website

Brand yourself

Stay out of the fray in the competition, you don’t just want to be another new face on a corporate website, like Century 21, or Remax. By hosting your own website you are establishing your own online brand because your website is the reflection of your services, authority and goals. Both home buyers and sellers want to work with someone trustworthy. Information from the National Association of Realtors states that 64% of sellers and 54% of buyers found their agent either from a referral or stick with the agents they have done business with before. One of the SEO advantage of responsive web design that you can be found on a Google search for your name. With solid SEO and a responsive website, you can rank high on real estate related searches on mobile and PC. It is the ultimate referral!

Be the number one support for your clients

It let your clients know about you and the services you offer. A website is a great place for the buyers and sellers to learn about you and affirm that they made the right choices by choosing you as their realtor. Providing home buying information and tips, information on loans and resources like mortgage calculators will increase the value of your website. It makes your website the first choice for support for your clients.

Become the local real estate agent

Another SEO advantages of responsive web design is the ability target specific geographic areas. If there is a specific area of a town you want to focus on, it can be easily integrated by implementing targeted keyword in your website contents and other SEO strategies, such geo-targeting title tags. When potential buyers search for real estate in your targeted location, there is a great chance that you will pop up on their search result.

Build your network through blogs

Creating a blog page on your website will definitely help your attract an audience. This would be great way to showcase your knowledge of the industry, build your trust and improve you readership. With a blog section, potential clients can also connect with your by asking questions which builds your relationship with them. You can also link your blog to your social media pages like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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VRG is Google Analyitics Certified

Certified Google Analytics

VRG Web Design is proud to announce that our Senior SEO Analyst, and founder, Michael Goldstein has passed Google’s certification exam for Google Analytics.  Let Michael and our team help show you data from all channels that are directing traffic to your website, including:

  • Organic Search (search engine ranking)
  • Paid Search (pay per click)
  • Social Media
  • Referrals (Whomis sending trafic to your site)
  • Direct Traffic

Being able to monitor all the platforms allows you to review what is working well in terms of advertising, and what isn’t. Having all the data in one place makes it easy to compare the different channels. If you are currently putting money into your SEO, PPC, or Social Media Marketing, you can monitor your ROI. Perhaps you need to find out how you can maximise your social media strategy. Or your PPC campaign is not performing as well as you thought. A look at metrics like bounce rate and time on page can show you if you need to  improve your landing pages and get a better return on investment.

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The SEO Advantage of Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design concept

Gone are the days when the internet and mobile devices were seen as innovation. Today, they have become the norm.
Why go for Responsive Web Design?
Before now, most users accessed the internet from their computers alone. Recent statistics has revealed that in the past few years, there has been a shift towards the use of mobile devices in accessing the internet. I was amazed when I read the news recently and discovered that over eighty percent of internet use and webpage visits emanate from mobile devices. Besides, even those who use computers in accessing the internet, go on to use mobile devices later on to access the same webpages, especially when they are outside their home or office – the mobile phones and devices come in handy at all times.
Understanding Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design is a means by which a web page is built to have a responsive reaction to several devices – mobile devices – whether mobile phones, Android OS, IOS, I-Pads, tablets, and so on. All of these devices and operating systems have varying screen resolution and sizes. The ability of a web page to be dynamic enough as to meet all these changing needs of devices is a result of proper Responsive Web Design.
Search Engine Optimization and Responsive Web Design
Search engines arrange and sort their web page listings in reaction to user preference over time. Some search engines like Google have come to appreciate the fact that most internet users are accessing through mobile devices. In a bid to give such users optimum satisfaction, the search engine will sort web pages that are well optimized to give the best quality access on mobile devices, paying close attention to the Responsiveness of the Web Design. Suffice this to say that those web pages that are Responsive to change in device and resolutions will be better optimized by the search engine.
Remember that the user’s preference is a determinant factor in the Search Engine’s optimization and preferential sorting of web pages. Where a web page is not able to give a user good quality access to information over mobile devices, users are not willing to stick around such web page for long. Such web page will end up losing popularity on the Search Engine Optimization index.
Best Choice for Web Page owners
As a web page owner, your success is determined by the amount of traffic that flows through your web page on a regular basis. Responsive Web Design will help you much in this regard. When users are able to access information on your web page from all sorts of mobile devices, with the image quality remaining the same, in the right size and proportion, and the web page is easy to read, understand and appreciate – adjusting font and size according to varying devices – you can rest assured that users will have a great sense of satisfaction and more traffic will flow through your web page. By applying Responsive Web Design, you will have succeeded in improving your web page traffic flow and in the same vein increase your Return on Investment (ROI).

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How video marketing converts traffic into customers

Youtube video marketing

It’s 2019 and people are still using pictures? Come on guys, it’s the age of video, stop piggybacking the old trends and hop onto the video marketing train and boost your business with guaranteed results.

How can I be certain video marketing is actually more effective than photo / text-based marketing? According to Wyzowl statistics, 63% of business have implemented video marketing.

Not only are videos rapidly progressing, they are more engaging to the customers, and are a much better way of sending messages across. They are also timeless and a give a great Return On Investment.

Here are the advantages of Video Marketing:

Boost sales and get more conversions

Not only can videos have a great Return on Investment (ROI) through sales, but it’s a great way of engaging customers, a tactic which increases conversions by up to 80%.

According to research, 74% of the users that watched an explainer video about a certain product, ended up buying the product.

Videos are just more natural to human beings than reading text, or watching an image, since videos engage all human sense at the same time. Videos can also give a sense of urgency which can result in customers buying the product.

Facebook marketing which use videos are much more appealing to potential customers than video / text based marketing; not only will you get more impressions, but more clicks as well.

Build Customer Trust

For a company, having the trust of their customers is extremely important. The internet is full of fraudulent websites and scamming websites; with effective video marketing, you can effectively lore customers to your website based on trust and the “promise” of quality.

57% of consumers actually say that videos give them the confidence to purchase a certain product online.

Get a better SEO score on Google Search by using videos

Videos are a great way of improving bounce rates of your website. For one, customers will spend more time on your website; the longer exposure will create a feeling of trust between the website and google. This will tell the search engine that your website has better content, based off that video alone.

In fact, you are up to 53 times likelier to show up in Google’s top 10 search results if you have an embedded video.

Youtube videos embedded into your website will positively affect your website’s ranking.

Videos are great for Mobile users

Considering the fact there has been a 233 percent increase in people who watch videos on their mobile phone, there is an expected 100% increase in mobile video consumption every year. The audience is growing by the day, and the expected people watching videos on mobile phones as opposed to other devices is expected to grow bigger than the latter.

Mobile users are also 1.4 times as likely to watch an ad on their devices, and 1.4 times as likely to pay attention to ads and content on YouTube.

Videos get more shares on Social Media Platforms

Videos are better at seizing the emotions of the viewers. 76% of the users say that they would actually share branded videos such as animated sales videos to their friends if they were entertaining or informative.

Creating engaging videos that get a lot of social media shares won’t directly get you more customers, but since more people will reach those kind of videos, they will bring a larger audience that will directly increase conversion rates.


Basically, Videos have a great ROI, they improve sales, increase Conversion rates and engage customers. What else do you want?

If you would like to discuss how video marketing can help you business contact VRG Web Design today:

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    How to Retarget Website Viewers with Facebook Ads

    retargetting customers

    Facebook advertising is one of the most affordable ways to reach customers online. It is also the platform that allows a business to laser target its audience by thousands of interests and behaviors. However, no behavior is more important to target then someone who has already visited your website and did not purchase an item. That is where retargeting strategy comes into play.

    This is the strategy when someone has visited your website or Facebook page and you want to target the same person later with a Facebook advertisement. To facilitate this, you will need to create a Facebook advertising account. Once you have one, you will need to set up an audience to serve you ads. When you select create your audience, you will want to select the goal of website traffic. There are several options to chose from. We suggest you select people who visit specific web pages that you have set up a Facebook Pixel on a site page over the last 90 days, and now save your audience.

    Once you have your audience saved, you need to design a graphic for your Facebook ad. There are specific requirements you will need to follow for this, such as creating a graphic with an Image size of 1,200 x 628 pixels. You also need to ensure that no more then 20% of the image is text, or your ad will not be allowed. Once you have designed your ad, you can go into your account manager, upload the image, select your audience and then simply set a budget. We suggest a very small budget to get started, say $10 a day or less for a period of a week to test out and see if you are getting good results before you spend a lot of money with no return on investment.

    As a preface to this, it is important that you understand how to set up Facebook pixels and that you have added a pixel for a month or two on the page before you want to start a retargeting ad campaign.

    If you would like to learn more about Facebook advertising or feel you need professional help to optimize your ads and reach the right people, don’t hesitate to contact a social media marketing agency like VRG Web Design.

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    Facebook Reviews are the new backlinks

    5 star online user reviews

    Third party reviews are now being viewed by search engines such as Google and Bing as the most important feature to ranking and have taken over that top spot from back links. This makes online feedback and evaluations such as Facebook reviews  as critical to your local SEO strategy as getting other websites to link to you with great anchor text. More specifically, according to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results. Local business reviews are more important than ever.  93% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day according to consumer review survey. Think about it, if you want to know where to go to eat for dinner in a new town, what would you do?  You would probably ask people on the street or friends who have been there what they like. Well, social media makes that even easier with third party validation. Which is why 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

    In the past, a link from a third-party site was considered a vote of importance and based on the anchor text, relevant for your site. However, with so much gamesmanship going on and the ability to buy your way into local directories, or even pay a website owner for a link on their resources page, search engines now look at inbound links as not as trustworthy as they once were. In fact, the trust factor for reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook coming form consumers is the most important thing you can have, if you want to show up in the Google Local Pack (top 3 on the map).

    When you search for a specific business on Google, there is now a box on the right side of the results page that gives you information about the company including pictures, times the business is open and most important, highlights of consumer reviews posted by verified customers, which shows you how many Facebook and google reviews have been posted.

    So what is the takeaway from this blog post? Make sure that every time you perform a service or sell a product for someone, ask them to review your company on one of the big 3, Facebook, Google, and Yelp. A great way to do this, if you sell online is to even set up an email automation campaign upon completion of the sale to request that review.

    If you need help with this or just want to get more information about how social media can impact your SEO efforts give us a call or shoot us an email today, or better yet, post your comment on the VRG Facebook page.