Recently I had the opportunity to take some food photography images at Addison’s Restaurant in Northbrook, Ontario. Owner Melissa Evans cooked up over a dozen menu items to digital capture for her new website: https://addisonsrestaurant.square.site . Using natural light in front of the big windows all the items were captured over a couple of hours.
If you have a restaurant or other foodservice establishment and need professional food photography call Ken at 613-336-3211.
Morch Landscaping Ltd. needed a new website to market its services in the Cloyne area.
They help home and cottage owners design new paving stone walkways, retaining walls, and patios then professionally install the project. The company also performs precision backhoe excavating such as electrical and drainage trenches.
I suggested they use Squarespace.com as a website platform. It’s quick to set up and is user-friendly for business owners that may want to maintain the website themselves. In this case, I was hired to do the initial set-up which is quite often the case with business owners – they may be too busy or not comfortable with a new platform. Creating the site from one of many Squarespace templates is quick and with their package plans, a domain and SSL certificate are free the first year of hosting. Another benefit over a WordPress website is no plug-in or theme updates are required.
Squarespace has a Business plan that costs $23.00 US per month although you can save 30% annually if submitting the full yearly payment. Personal sites start at $14.00/month. Service is included. I found their chat line professional and willing to help with any problem. In Morch’s case, we didn’t need the e-commerce components available in the business package but it was included.
Their Help Center includes a ton of self-help videos for everything from formatting images to SEO to creating an e-commerce store. If business owners wish to maintain their sites this is a good platform to use.
Chip and Sharon have created many garden masterpieces with paving stones. Check out their website to see some of their projects!
Finally! A Full Color SEO Book for Canadian Business in 2021!
RANKING AT THE TOP OF GOOGLE IS LIKE MONEY-IN-THE–BANK!
Getting a #1 ranking on Google gets your business noticed, and research indicates the top listing receives at least 30% more visitor clicks. Quite simply, the top position gets more traffic. It doesn’t matter what kind of website you have; I want to get your business in that #1 spot!
This first edition is written by a Canadian for Canadians!
Filled with Canadian examples, this easy-to-follow guide will help you rank higher and beat the competition, no matter how big! Starting at the beginning, I will explain the myths of SEO and guide you through the SEO process in a step-by-step manner. If you are thinking about starting a website or if you already have an established website, this book can help you.
Have you asked these questions about your website?
1. Why does my site rank lower on Google than my competition?
There may be several reasons – least of all your business size! Often, small businesses can outrank much larger companies in search engine listings. Yes, David can beat Goliath – this book will show you how. Ranking is all about your website and your SEO!
2. Can I check my level of SEO? Is it poor and hurting my rankings? Can I check my competitor’s SEO?
There are several ways to check your website SEO – I show you how. A quick indicator is your meta-title on each webpage – the most important SEO element. Each meta-title should be unique and written in a specific format. I explain in detail about writing ‘killer’ meta-titles and meta-descriptions that can give you a SEO boost, quickly!
3. Has my website designer implemented the best SEO on my site?
Probably not. Most website designers only have a basic understanding of SEO. It does not take long to find major SEO deficiencies on professionally designed websites that are hurting business rankings in search engine results. However, most deficiencies can be fixed by business owners. I will show you how to take control of your SEO and website ranking!
What are some of the SEO topics this book covers?
Tailored to Canadian businesses – I list the top Canadian web directories to submit your URL
Google Analytics – the number one, free tool that tells you who is visiting your website, for how long, and even how they found you
Alt attributes – these are often overlooked, especially by website designers
Optimizing images – what does ‘optimizing’ mean and why this is important
Links – inbound, outbound and internal ones.
Page Speed – what it is and why Google thinks it is so important
SSL Certificates – why every website needs one today
Canonical tags – we use these because search engines do not like duplicate content
Robots.txt file – sounds complicated but really, it’s not
SEO and social media – SEO is not just for your website, but also for social media posts
Sitemaps – why these roadmaps to your website are key to getting your new content found quickly
How to list your business with Google My Business, Google Maps, Bing Places for Business and Bing Maps
Google Ads – if you have good SEO, do you need a Google Ad?
Once you know what to look for, implementing SEO is easy and can be done every time you create a new page or post.
If you wish to make your website the most powerful sales and marketing tool you will ever own –click here to order on Amazon and get found on the Internet! Kindle edition is available with paperback coming in April 2021.
his is an often asked question. It helps to know the answer early-on since it can save you a ton of work later. Conventional wisdom tells us to avoid using empty spaces and underscores in URL addresses and file names. This is especially true for image titles since we often describe an image with a keyword if it’s applicable for SEO reasons.
I have used underscores for years, but no more since I’ve learned there are better choices, namely the hyphen.
Let’s take a look at how empty spaces in URLs are viewed in Internet browsers. Let’s assume this webpage URL is: 45degreeslatitude.com/hyphens or underscores.html In a browser it would look like this:
Pretty unruly, wouldn’t you agree? Also, you should avoid special characters (*&^@!)as well as capital letters. Use lower case letters and hyphens instead.
Hyphens are much easier to read by humans too (easier than underscores). And, search engines love hyphens, and that is largely why we post content on the Internet – to be found. Google treats hyphens as word separators so words in a URL or file name can be read individually.
Underscores do the opposite, they combine several words together into one word which Google may treat quite differently. For example, if a filename was ‘yellow_porsche’ Google would combine the words to yellowporsche. If it was one of your keywords before it is no longer. If the filename was ‘yellow-porsche’ the division in words is retained having a different effect on SEO.
This is an old quote from Google’s Matt Cutts video way back in 2011 concerning hyphens:
“If you are going to make a site and you’re starting fresh, so you’ve got a blank slate to work with, I would probably go ahead and go with dashes. I would continue to go with dashes at least for the foreseeable future.”
Use hyphens instead of underscores and save yourself time in the future.
Harry’s Story is a documentary about the childhood memories of Harry Andringa. Harry was only nine years old when Hitler’s Nazis invaded Holland in 1940. His family risked their lives hiding Jews from the German soldiers for years during the occupation. Harry explains living under Nazi brutality and the liberation of Holland by the Allies.
In February 2021, the documentary was submitted to the Toronto-Newmarket monthly film festival. – our first submission to any film festival. The film was entered under the category Best Documentary Short. It won the category and will automatically be nominated for the annual festival. Harry’s Story lives on!
Do-it-Yourself (DIY) videos are a popular medium to educate customers on assembling or using products. Everyone likes to save money. If a DIY product can save a consumer money and it can be explained in video you will have a better chance expanding your customer base. Here are some tips in planning your video to make video recording and editing efficient. An example of a DIY video is “How to Winterize Your Travel Trailer” on YouTube. Note: This video is monetized and is a good example how your time creating a video can be financially rewarding.
Plan Before Shooting Video
You can save time during the shoot by having a good plan i.e. a shot plan. Think of the consumer receiving your DIY product. Write out the product steps without using technical terms. Expand on the steps by writing the voice over script for your narrator. In the sidebar make a note what video is captured, graphic or still photo will be used to show each step- this is your shot list.
Go over your script and shot list several times and have other staff review it. When your shot list is nearly complete, send it to your videographer for input. It has to be clear in the videographer’s mind too so he/she knows your vision and what needs to be video recorded.
Prepare For The Video Shoot
Ensure all the supplies you need are readily available on the shooting ‘set’. Check the set to make sure it’s tidy and any unwanted or distracting elements are removed since you wish to focus on your product. Determine who will be in your video; yourself, a staff member, extras or even actors. Depending on the type of video you are shooting and its final destination you may require signed releases. Your videographer can help with this detail.
Record High-Quality Audio
If you are recording audio sound it is imperative to control ambient noise since sensitive microphones will capture noise in your video. Viewers are less forgiving of poor audio than poor video. Traffic noise, a noisy fan, air conditioner, plant equipment or even buzzing fluorescent lights can add audio noise and ruin your masterpiece. Sometimes ambient noise is good since it can add authenticity to a location for a DIY video but it’s usually best to minimize noise.
Good Video Needs Good Lighting
Good video requires lots of light- more than photography. For this reason, your videographer will want to know what artificial or natural light is available at the shooting location. The videographer will usually have an arsenal of lights to handle any kind of accessory lighting required.
Consider Professional Narration
DIY videos can be narrated by a host or a voice-over narrator. A host narrator can work very well and be convincing but let’s face it- not everyone can narrate well on-camera. If you prefer having a host a good script can be extremely useful in shortening the number of takes. A teleprompter can be a helpful tool and need not be expensive. There is an iPad app that works great as a teleprompter and reduces the of narration ‘takes’.
Voiceover narration can often be the preferred route for DIY videos. You can create a shot list and script, capture the footage, perform a rough edit then tweak your script to match your footage. Leaving the voiceover narration to the very end can save a lot of headaches trying to match up footage with audio. The final script can be sent out for audition to one of several services on the web. Professional radio/TV voices can be hired for as little as $150 US for a 5 minute video.
Editing Your Video
Your videographer may also be your video editor. In this case he/she will already have a good idea of your video vision. You will probably have input at two or more stages in the editing process- the rough or medium cut and certainly the fine cut. Your videographer will want to know the final use of your video too. Will it be destined for YouTube, Vimeo or PowerPoint? Encoding is different for each however once your video is produced in 4K or HD it can be encoded for virtually any use.
Adding Music to Video
Well timed, edited music can add a professional touch to any video and create the mood you need to convey your message. Long gone are the days when you can edit a song from iTunes into your video. Copyright laws are more strict than ever. YouTube videos with copyrighted music may get covered with ads or banned outright. The better solution is to allow your videographer to seek royalty-free (or royalty-paid) music which is legal and will not get banned on the Internet. There are 10’s of thousands of tracks available- one will be perfect for your video at reasonable cost.
Always include information in your video where the DIY enthusiast can find additional help. The video can cover the high points. Detailed information provided as a pdf or FAQ section on a website, forums, or support line can create better customer loyalty, referrals and repeat business.
I travel a lot in the US especially when I wish to add to my stock video footage library I sell on Pond5.com. One of the most frustrating things I found was using self-service gas bars and not being able to use my Canadian credit card at the pump because most of the pumps ask for a Zip Code for authorization. Unfortunately the US pumps don’t recognize Canadian postal codes.
In the past I had to go inside the gas bar, wait in line, then pre-pay for gas or they wanted to hold my credit card while I pumped gas- not a good idea. I read a blog post by someone a few months ago on how to bypass the zip code request. I tried it dozens of times and it has never failed.
Just do this: swipe your card as normal at the pump. When it asks for your zip code, key in the number digits of your postal code followed by zeros to make up 5 digits (there’s 5 digits in a US postal code). For example, my postal code is K0H1K0 so I key in the zero, the one and the last zero. Then I add 2 zeros at the end to make up 5 digits: 01000. Then hit Enter if it requests it. Another example, if your postal code is A2B3C4 you enter 23400 plus two zeros and hit Enter. That’s it!
PS. Credit card companies don’t guarantee this will work in every pump but it’s worth a try.
It is very important to have inbound links to your website in order to improve your search engine rankings. Think of inbound links as ‘likes’ on Facebook- the more you have, the more important the search engines think your website is however, there is a caveat. It used to be you could not get enough inbound links. Quality links are more important than sheer numbers. Having a high number of inbound links from meaningless directories can actually have a negative effect on your search engine rankings. Here is a selection of high quality web directories for Canadian websites. Submit your site for free and enjoy quality inbound links:
If you haven’t submitted your site to Google already, here is the sign-up page. Use all of Google’s free services to help increase your business listing’s ranking on this most powerful search engine. Use the above link to sign-up to Google then create a free listing in Google Places for Business and create a Google+ Business Page. Don’t forget to submit your sitemap through Google Webmaster which connects through the Google Search Console.
One of the 3 major search engines, submit your site here. Submitting your site to Yahoo! is also done through Bing so this is an important site submission you don’t want to miss. Don’t forget to submit your sitemaps through Bing Webmaster Tools.
3. Yelp Canada
This is a great place to list your site and receive input about your business from customers. Sign-up here: https://biz.yelp.ca.
4. Kijiji Canada
I’ve used Kijiji for years to create a quality inbound link to my website. Posting an ad about your business is free and will expire after a few weeks but you can repost the ad for free. To add your web url (very important) Kijiji charges a small fee- around $5.00 US. It’s worth it for this quality link. Sign-up and create your first ad here: https://www.kijiji.ca.
If you are a manufacturer this is an important location for listing your business. By submitting your business you can receive a powerful inbound link. If you are not a manufacturer you still may be able to create a free listing. Sign-up and create your listing: Create your listing here.
As a Videographer and Video Editor I frequently need professional voiceovers. Typically, I use Voices.com – a service that lets me upload a script, select preferred criteria for the voice such as gender and age, and receive auditions. A final script is uploaded and I usually select a paragraph and ask the voice artists to audition the paragraph so comparison is easier.
I quite often receive over 100 auditions for any script over a period of 2-4 days. As you can imagine competition is fierce. I short list the auditions to the best 5-10 and send the auditions to my clients for final selection. Any one of the short-listed auditions will do the job nicely.
As a potential customer I have some tips for voiceover artists, particularly new ones breaking into the business. It surprises me how many auditions are actually poor quality. Your audition must be perfect and high quality to be considered for the job (as I said earlier the competition is fierce). Ensure the following:
Your audition must be void of background noise and hissing/hums. You would be surprised how many I delete right away because of poor quality. If your audition isn’t ‘clean’ your pro-narration may not be ‘clean’ either, so I won’t select you for the job.
Take the time to audition the paragraph selected by the Client (me). All too often I receive demo clips with music or past ads. While these are nice, I never select these auditions. Record my paragraph or don’t bother replying.
Make sure your audio is the correct audio level – not too loud to blow my headphones off and not too soft so I need to turn up the volume. When I receive a pro-narration I wish to insert it into my video editing program at zero db then fine tune it. Your audition should be at the proper level.
Voices has a ratings system. I submit my budget for the project when I post the job. If my budget is $250-$500 for a couple minute voiceover I have never picked an offer over budget. This is especially true when the artist is not rated. This is even more true when the audition is not clean and perfect. The highest priced audition in my experience does not necessarily indicate highest quality.
Hopefully these tips will help artists get more jobs and not be deleted from the audition list at first pass!
I recently purchased a responsive web template but wanted to include a Google Map of the website business being promoted. I wanted the Google Map to be responsive just like the site. Here’s how to do it in a few steps.
Go to Google Maps and search for the business and position the map the way you want it (see image above). To the left you will find a blue ‘share’ icon. Click on the icon to reveal the panel below. Notice I selected the ‘Embed map’ tab at the top. Again, position the business location as you wish it to appear on your site. It works best to center your business. You will need the iframe source code as it appears so keep your Google Map open.
Copy the iframe source code completely and paste it below where shown.
Next, copy the code above and insert it into your page where you wish the Google Map to appear.
One other adjustment is the upper blue line of code which I set at 50%. This is the aspect ratio. You can change this figure to your liking for example, if you wish to decrease the vertical dimension of the map, decrease the 50% to say, 40%. If you wish a wish to increase the map’s vertical dimension increase this to 75% or so. Tweak to your liking.