Does my website need to be ADA compliant?

Understanding website accessibility

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation. Established in 1990, the ADA lays out detailed standards for public accommodation for the disabled, among other things. As the digital world began to evolve, a new question began to arise: Does the ADA apply to websites, too? In this post, we explain where that question lies today, and discuss why ADA compliance is a great idea for many businesses.

Background: A brief overview of the ADA

When the ADA was created, the Internet was something that was only used by the very avant-garde. Therefore, the question of whether or not the law applies to websites was unintentionally left open to interpretation.

In the mid-2000s, the Department of Justice hinted that the ADA may indeed be applicable to websites, but did not lay out any specific regulations. In 2008, the tech community, in an effort to protect itself from potential future litigation, created a set of guidelines known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which are still used to influence design and development projects today. However, the DOJ has never officially adopted the guidelines, or issued any legislation pertaining to them.

ADA compliance for websites: An uncertain case

Many individual cases pertaining to this issue have moved through the US court system, but there has yet to be an official consensus. So far, the courts have been nearly split, with the 1st, 3rd, and 7th Circuits ruling that the ADA does apply to websites, while the 6th, 9th, and 11th have ruled that it doesn’t. As of this writing, it is uncertain whether the DOJ will fully adopt the WCAG standards for all websites, although they have been adopted for all federal websites.

However, ADA compliance for websites is still a good idea.

So, you may ask, if the courts are divided and the DOJ does not currently have any set standards, why should you worry about having an ADA compliant website? The fact remains that even though no official regulations have been issued, the lack of consensus leaves businesses open to litigation. Companies have been sued because their websites are inaccessible to disabled persons, and until there is an official consensus, you could be, too.

There are many other great reasons to make your website ADA compliant, including:

1. It’s good for business.

Pragmatically speaking, it simply makes good business sense for your website to be as accessible as possible for as many people as possible. If your website is illegible or unusable for certain people, you won’t be able to reach them, and you’ll miss out on valuable impressions, clicks, and sales.

2. Accommodation casts your brand in a positive light.

Accessibility communicates that your company cares about the disabled and does its best to serve all sorts of people. This is a powerful brand message that will elevate your company in the eyes of your clients, your peers, and your community.

3. Be good for goodness’ sake.

Of course, the most important reason to make your website ADA compliant is because it’s the right thing to do! It isn’t very difficult or expensive to ensure that your font size, site colors, and other factors are visible and legible to all, but it could make a world of difference for someone who needs to resolve a problem through your products and services. That’s why you started your company in the first place, isn’t it?

4. Get ahead of the game.

We don’t yet know when regulations will arrive, but in an increasingly socially-aware society, it is likely that they will. If you construct your website with ADA compliance in mind, it will already be up to standard when compliance regulations eventually arrive. Since re-building an entire website with disability accommodations can cost thousands or even tens of thousands, you’ll be saving yourself a significant amount of time, money, and worry.

“Since there is a general lack of standards around what is required for a website to be accessible, businesses have been somewhat more reticent to make adjustments to their sites than they should be. Eventually, the standards will be sorted out, and businesses that have not focused on improving accessibility will have that much more to do to catch up. The internet has opened a world of information and opportunity to the blind and other people with disabilities that was previously closed, and making websites more accessible to them allows businesses to capitalize on that opportunity. In the long-run, making websites accessible is not only good for the reduction of legal risk, it is also smart business.” –Elizabeth Troutman, lawyer at Brooks Pierce

The bottom line: Yes, you should make your site ADA compliant.

As our lives become more and more internet-centered, individual users of all abilities will expect and demand that your site be clear, easy to use, and accessible to all. Building an ADA-compliant website is a win-win-win situation: you’ll be protected against litigation; you’ll be branding yourself in a positive light; and you’ll be ahead of competitors who may lag behind.

5 Qualities Great SEO Companies Have in Common

SEO is a powerful strategy that can be used to elevate your search rankings and boost your sales. Unfortunately, many SEO agencies lack the skills and experience to implement SEO effectively. Below are 5 characteristics that all great SEO companies have in common.

Searching for an SEO agency? Look for these 5 key traits.

1. They tell you exactly what they’ll do for you.

No SEO company can outright promise that it will get you to the #1 spot on Google search results—we’ll get more into that below—but a professional SEO company should be able to illustrate, in writing, exactly what it will do for you. A few examples include:

  • Performing an audit of your site, homepage, content, or link profile
  • Sending you a monthly report of your site rankings
  • Adding plugins that can enhance your SEO efforts
  • Implementing internal linking across your web pages

The more specific an SEO company can be about the services it provides, the more knowledgeable it probably is. Look out for answers that are vague or which “pass the buck” to someone else who mysteriously never gets back to you.

2. They don’t overpromise.

Getting a website on the front page of Google is no easy feat, and a knowledgeable SEO company knows that. The biggest brands in the world are gunning for that top spot, most of them with significantly more resources behind them. An agency that promises to get you there is kind of like a coach promising he’ll get your kid into the NFL. It’s possible, but it won’t be cheap, fast, or easy. (On that note, watch out for words like “cheap”, “fast”, and “easy”. Quality SEO is none of those things).

3. They reach out to you. A lot.

A quality SEO agency will need certain things from you—and not just the keys to your WordPress site. It will need to have an ongoing, constant dialogue with you about your challenges and goals. It will need to understand new issues that crop up, and new changes that are affecting your company. Your SEO agency should be an ever-present part of your overall business strategy. If all you’re hearing from your agency is crickets, it might be time to consider other options.

4. They tell you the good and the bad.

Some agencies, like some people, will never tell you what you might not want to hear. This strategy only works for so long, however. If your site is full of broken links, bad content, or useless plugins, you need to hear it. If all you hear is praise, you’re not getting the whole story. And you’re not getting the full value of what a great agency can give you.

5. They genuinely improve your search rankings.

Just as you shouldn’t throw out your scale after a one-pound gain, don’t assume that a one-month dip in traffic indicates a bad SEO agency is at work. SEO is like bodybuilding, or construction. It’s about building a strong, solid foundation over a long period of time. As a general rule, results won’t start to show in at least three or four months.

With that said, however, an SEO agency’s job is ultimately to improve your rankings. If six to eight months have passed with no sign of improvement—or worse, a downward trend—it’s time to start asking questions.

Need a Greensboro SEO Company?

If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of SEO, or if you have questions that your current SEO company doesn’t seem to be able to answer, Red Letter Marketing is here to help. We’ve helped hundreds of companies just like yours improve their search rankings, grow their site traffic, and boost their sales. And, of course, if you need good old-fashioned print ads, we do that, too.

Whatever your web development, marketing, or advertising needs, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!

Alert: Massive Brute Force Attack Targeting WordPress Websites

“The most aggressive campaign we have seen to date”

Early Tuesday morning, WordFence, a 3rd party security service for WordPress, posted an alert of a massive brute force attack campaign that was mounting by the second. By the time the world started waking up, the campaign had peaked at 14 million attacks per hour, making it, according to WordFence, “the most aggressive brute force attack in WordPress history.”

In a brute force attack, automated software is used to generate a vast number of consecutive guesses for certain data (in this case, passwords). The vast majority of them have been unsuccessful, but the scope of this particular attack sets it apart from the rest.

What to do

If you already have RLM’s OverSite™ website maintenance, there is no need to worry—we have already made the necessary updates for you.

If you do not have OverSite or a similar web patch and update service, it is important to quickly make the following changes.

  1. Update your password to something more complex. The password generator tool on the “Your Profile” screen is a great resource. Don’t use any password that you have used before on WordPress.
  2. If you have an admin-level account that has the default username “admin”, change it.
  3. Delete any unused accounts, especially unused admin accounts. The less “doorways” you have to your website, the lower the chance of an unauthorized entry.

Moving Forward

As we continue to watch this attack unfold, it’s important to spread the word so that other web owners can take action. Be sure to spread the news via social media and similar channels, and investigate firewalls and other security measures which can strengthen your security. Finally, consider investing in a regular website patch and update service. When your site is maintained and regularly updated, your risk for a cyberattack significantly decreases.

WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world and supports more than 60 million websites. Breaches of this kind are usually due to poor website management, not the platform itself.

If you would like to discuss the status of your website, please feel free to give us a call.

What To Do With Your Christmas Tree After Christmas

Poor Christmas trees: They spend a whole season being decorated and adored; then, when the festivities are over, they’re left out by the curb.

This year, we say enough is enough, and look to answer one of life’s most overlooked questions. What do you do with your tree after Christmas? It’s time to consider the many ways Christmas trees can be used once the holidays are over. We will post a new video every day from Dec 4th-14th highlighting our holiday hijinks.

7 Website Mistakes that can Hurt Your Business

We get a lot of new clients whose first request is that we do something about their website.

They don’t like it any more. (Or they hated it from day one.) As we get started on transforming their site, we often discover common website mistakes that can hurt businesses.

If we were obnoxious snarksters, we’d tell clients “We wouldn’t have done that.” Fortunately, we’re not jerks, so we don’t say that. We know how hard it is to make dozens of decisions as you’re building a site. We know that even good decisions can become “mistakes” as the internet evolves faster than fruit flies.

Here are a few of the most common website mistakes. Think of this brief overview as a table of contents for future posts that will dig deeper into each topic. You might spot a problem your site suffers from—and maybe get someone to fix it. (Doesn’t have to be us—although, you know, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Many recommend us, including us.)


Some questions are so obvious that it’s easy to forget to even ask them. What is the purpose of your site? What do you want visitors to do once they get there? Any plans to measure results and adapt the site in response?


We’re not just talking about broken links. (That is a common problem, but one that can be addressed with a modest site maintenance effort.) We’re talking about (for example) navigation categories that are too clever for their own good. Or mega-menus so large they are verging on being just another website on top of the first one.


It’s important that your site be visually attractive, but don’t make the mistake of stopping there. True, some visitors are dazzled and converted by a beautiful surface alone. But cast a wider net by including meaty content, performing link optimization, and other traffic-generating methods.


Poor conversion doesn’t necessarily mean your visitors never even entered the sales funnel. They might have dived right in but gotten stuck—perhaps because your funnel isn’t the frictionless ride it should be.


…take too long. And by “too long,” we mean “longer than a few milliseconds.” Yes, in the digital age, we have all become frantic toddlers. Keeping load times zippy is hugely important, and should drive decisions during the build phase. Once the site is up, clocking page load times and performing maintenance tasks should be second nature.


Nobody expects to be captivated by a form. They just want the chore of filling fields to be over with. Make it as easy as possible by keeping the number of required fields to the absolute minimum. And don’t be nosy—if you really want to know your prospect’s birthday or eye color, save it for after you’ve made a connection.


Don’t get us wrong—we are not dead-set against stock photos. We’re dead-set against dead stock photos. The ones with people that are WAY TOO HAPPY about looking at a laptop screen with four of their friends looking over their shoulder, also ecstatic about the screen. We’re not fooled by the smiles, people!

If your site is suffering from any of these digital maladies, you’ll be happy to know that they are all solvable. We suggest not dilly-dallying — a lot rides on the perception your website creates.

Drive More Business through LinkedIn’s New Lead Generation Ads

B2B sales get easier with LinkedIn’s new lead generation ads.

Ever tried to fill out a long, boring web form on your mobile phone? We didn’t think so. One glance at a dozen boxes to fill out and suddenly you’d rather revisit that how-to video on using toothpaste to get rid of carpet stains.

LinkedIn has launched a new ad format that eliminates hassles and allows your prospects to get right down to business. We have been testing campaigns for a number of Red Letter clients, and the results are promising.

Here are the top 3 reasons to test Lead Gen ads now.

#1 B2B marketers can address the greatest hurdle to conversion: pesky lead forms.

LinkedIn’s new format drastically reduces the peskiness factor. Here’s how it works:

  1. Grab the viewers’ attention through an eye-catching visual and compelling headline

Linkedin Ad


  1. Bring them to a form already populated with information from LinkedIn

Red Letter Marketing - Linkedin Leads


  1. Confirm their entry with Thank-You page, and an option to visit your website for more content

Red Letter Marketing - Linkedin Leads

You’ve still got to have an engaging message. But once you’ve got their attention with a grabber, moving them along to conversion is a lot smoother.

#2 Tap into LinkedIn’s vast user base to expand your reach globally.

LinkedIn’s audience is huge, and they used the platform for important decisions:

  • LinkedIn has over 500,000,000 users to date
  • LinkedIn is active in over 200 countries and territories globally
  • 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions

#3 Reach your best prospects and eliminate media waste through LinkedIn’s super-granular targeting options.

Here are just a few of the characteristics that we can use to focus your target:

Red Letter Marketing - Linkedin Leads Specification

Much less pesky. Much more targeted.

This new format is a huge improvement. Needless to say, you should always evaluate a new digital marketing tool in the context of your business goals and marketing strategy. If there’s a match, your business will be able to more precisely target prospects, and make it easy for them to express interest.

Watch Out for The Guy

“So who is managing the back end of your web site?”

“Oh, we got a guy.”

And thus strike the gongs of doom.

More often than we’d like, clients come to us because they used “A guy.” It conjures images of a self-taught, one man shop working out of his basement to build websites on the cheap. He got hired because his price was way lower than other proposals. Turns out, there are reasons for that, and the client got what they paid for: too little.

One company asked us to fix their new website. It was less than 3 months old, but it didn’t provide a user experience that enabled them to get leads. After analysis to understand their business needs and how the site needed to deliver, it was clear the site could not be salvaged. They had to have a new one built from scratch, the way it should have been done the first time.

Another client built a site on the cheap and a year later the developer had disappeared, along with the access information.

Yet another client had their site hacked and the data was held for ransom because the developer was hosting the site on their own servers, which were not as secure as they should be. But his price was really low.

See a pattern here?

We don’t like seeing businesses suffer the consequences of shoddy website development or maintenance.

It reflects poorly on our profession. We’d much rather spend our time helping clients grow their business instead of fixing problems that should not have happened in the first place.

That’s not to say there aren’t some terrific one-man or one-woman shops out there who are highly qualified and professional. But they are not doing it on the cheap. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Imagine your company has outgrown its offices and the board has agreed it’s time to build new headquarters that will better serve the business. Do you cast about for Some Guy who says he can build it cheaply, or do you consult with architects who are experienced in designing buildings of just the type you need? Do you hire the cheapest construction company, or the one that will do the best job within parameters of cost, time and quality?

Websites are complex.

Behind even the simplest appearance is an extensive design process and array of code and plugins that are hard to imagine. Additionally, there are changes on the internet almost daily that can affect your site, requiring disciplined monitoring and ongoing updates. Good sites are not inexpensive. The only thing more expensive is a poor site built on the cheap.

When To Use A Professional Photographer?

Amazingly, some stock photography doesn’t suck.
So why hire a pro for custom shots?

There was a time when every single stock photograph in the whole universe was an embarrassment to the very idea of imagery. I am still haunted by the memory of disturbingly phony models posing stiffly, their unnaturally white teeth glaring like the fangs of deranged wolves.

We have come a long way since then. It is now possible to buy quality stock photos at low cost. Many talented photographers sell their work to stock houses. When companies like Red Letter buy those images, the license often allows unlimited use on websites, brochures and any other form of commercial communication including blimps and tattoos.

Startups and small businesses love stock—and who can blame them? These companies scrutinize every expenditure. When Red Letter proposes to a cash-strapped client that we hire a pro to shoot custom photos for their website or sales kit, it is so tempting for them to say, “You mean I can pay $25 per shot for stock but you’re suggesting I should I pay much more for new pictures? [Pause] Have you seen my office? Do I look like the Queen of England?” (None of our clients have stated the case in exactly those words but we have heard similar expressions of sensible budget stewardship.)

We totally get that. And we use stock photography for our clients all the time. Not just because some companies simply can’t afford custom photography, but also because hey—if you’ve got persistence and a discerning eye, you can find some excellent stock photos.

So should we just tell pro photographers to learn a new skill like quilting? Um, no. Partly because quilting pays squat and partly because there is still a vast gulf between even the best stock photography and custom images conceived and executed by a talented professional. A pro is engaged by the client company and its marketing partner to lend his or her vision to the illumination of a unique brand that no other company owns.

A top-notch pro brings not just technical expertise and visual flair but an irreplaceable understanding of what they are there to convey. It is literally impossible for a stock photographer to have this awareness, regardless of their talent. They don’t know how their images are going to be used.

Even competently-executed stock shots often exude phoniness. Did you see the movie Unfinished Business? Neither did I. But I heard about it. It was a major release in 2015 and starred Vince Vaughan as the head of a sales team. The promotional campaign for the movie featured images of the cast in blatant parodies of the stock photos we see all around us.

The producers knew that we would recognize the sheer vacuousness of so many business-themed stock photos. They trusted us to look at these fake pictures of office workers and think “Yeah, there is something creepy about these people. For one thing, who could possibly be that happy about typing?”

There are so many clues that give stock-ness away. Is there a team of suited businesspeople arranged in a “V” formation, with the Head Honcho front and center, arms crossed, glaring confidently at the camera? Is there a transparent attempt in a group shot to represent all ethnicities, with bonus points for models that could pass for two or three? Any handshakes going on? Are there mini-blinds everywhere? (Check out Huffington Post’s “This Week in Ridiculous Stock Photos” for more fun.)

And another thing: the good stock photos wind up all over the place. Good designers see a good shot and they buy it. If they buy exclusive rights, it is now off the market. But if they just buy the image and use it, there’s a chance your audience will view your marketing materials and realize they’ve seen the pictures before.

Business hand writing Operational Consulting


I’m not making that up. It happened to us. We were designing a brochure for a client and we did suggest custom photos but it wasn’t in the cards for this project. So we sifted through the available stock images (we needed pictures of trucks) and after looking at 999 bad ones, we found a really good one and placed it in the layout. Everybody loved it but just when we were getting ready to send the files to the printer, we discovered that one of our client’s competitors used the same image in their brochure! We thank the gods of marketing that we caught that in the nick of time.

Later, that same client decided to bite the bullet. We hired a talented pro for two days of shooting. I was there with our client, a smart guy who perhaps still wondered whether the expenditure was going to be worth it. After the first few shots I turned to him and began a question: “Do you see—“ He interrupted me: “Yes!” He has never looked back. We’ll be using that portfolio of awesome pictures for years—in brochures, trade show booths, websites and more.

Your company is unlike any other company. It deserves its own authentic imagery. If your small business needs a new HVAC system and you’ve got to choose—sure, get the air conditioning and use stock for now (with the help of an experienced designer to find the good ones). But recognize the value of custom photography that represents your company authentically and put it on your “someday soon” list.

Christmas Stuff We No Longer Grasp

This year, we present our observations on yuletide traditions that are mildly confusing.

All of us at Red Letter Marketing adore holiday customs and lore—even when we’re not really sure what they mean. Some traditions have been around so long that we in the 21st century find ourselves befuddled by them. Below, a review of some of the odder Christmas customs, which we still love despite our befuddlement.












Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas.


NC Businesses: Today’s Marketing is Complex

We wanted to learn what’s on the minds of business executives in North Carolina when it comes to marketing. So we conducted an informal survey to discover common threads of thought.

If you’ve ever felt like the tidal wave of new marketing technologies and media is overwhelming, you’re not alone.

Among the items people mentioned as their biggest problem was just keeping up with marketing developments.

Businesses report their top marketing challenges are generating leads, brand awareness, budgets and staying current with marketing technology. Additionally they cited tracking results, keeping up with Google and determining the most efficient advertising sources. Sound familiar?

When asked what kinds of marketing they do, over 70% mentioned digital marketing. Within the digital category, social media and websites ranked prominently, followed by email. Interestingly, although over 70% of replies mentioned websites, less than 20% mentioned SEO, as shown in the chart below. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and retargeting were less than 10%. We believe there are big opportunities for smart marketers to gain a competitive edge and capture more leads by practicing aggressive SEO and content development. Additionally, digital advertising is low cost and can be effective in driving quality traffic and capturing conversions.

The research also revealed that traditional media remains an important part of the mix. One of the challenges mentioned was how to integrate traditional media like print and broadcast with digital tactics. Companies need to understand how to integrate the various media types, and the role each medium plays in the purchase cycle.

Whoever was the first to coin the phrase “May you live in interesting times” may not have imagined the world we live in today, but it certainly captures the marketing world. Today, it’s almost a full time job just to keep up with the changes in technology and the digital landscape. It’s easy to be distracted by the latest hot tactic or trending social site. But the rewards are greater when businesses invest the time to make sure the fundamentals are in place. If your website looks nice but your SEO is lagging, you are likely missing business opportunities.

The Bottom Line

Companies that practice ongoing SEO and digital marketing garner more visits and leads than those who lack a disciplined, consistent program. But too many companies don’t have the time or expertise to manage the constant changes in a nearly real-time environment. If you find yourself experiencing similar issues, let’s talk.