Thursday, March 10, 2016 by Jeremy JensenImages are one of the essential foundations to any good website. Functionally, aesthetically, and technically, images have many aspects of which a lot of website owners don't realize can, and should, be optimized. Every time someone opens one of your web-pages on WordPress, all of the content whether it's text, images or additional pieces of code that power the plugins, need to be downloaded from the server onto their computer. Images that are optimized correctly can greatly benefit your SEO by appearing in image search results, assisting to steer more traffic back to your web page. For the purposes of this post I'll be covering the basic methods for easily increasing your images search-ability from the WordPress dashboard, in addition to mentioning a few good plug-ins that will help load your images faster.
Thursday, February 25, 2016 by Alex IvanovsWhen it comes to building traffic, understanding your visitor behaviors, and generally being on top of your search engine rankings, website analytics and ranking platforms are usually the thing you want to explore more since it provides direct insight in the way your website is performing, and in many ways that can provide a way to optimize, learn more about, and understand your website's performance in general. Google is the biggest search engine on the planet, providing webmasters with an opportunity to tap into a nearly infinite pool of visitors that can bring about leads, sales and success, yet the road towards this point of success can be lengthy, and not everyone has the patience to actually make it. To help ourselves speed up the process, we can begin by monitoring our website rankings and learning more what helps our rankings go up, and what makes them fall back down. The following WordPress plugins will give you a chance to explore your performance on a much larger scale, hopefully giving you an idea or two as to how you can improve your rankings.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 by Kevin WoodIf you do business in the online or the offline space, then you need to start collecting email addresses. With all of the marketing channels available email, has stood the test of time when it comes to building customer relationships. When it comes to doing business online your email list can be your biggest ally. A lot of business owners focus on page views, or building a social media following, instead of building their lists and talking to their email subscribers. Below we highlight why you need to build an email list, and the benefits of email marketing over other forms of online marketing.
Why You Need To Build An Email ListWith the amount of marketing resources and platforms available for your business it can be difficult to hone in on the method that works best for you. A lot of companies spend time building up a massive social media following, or trying to increase their website traffic as high as possible. Although these numbers can make your business more impressive, there’s a chance they won’t translate into direct sales. Email, on the other hand, has been around since the infancy of the internet, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Email lists give you the ability to speak directly to your customers and build long-term relationships. Best of all, email marketing can work in conjunction with content marketing, social media, and other forms of inbound marketing.
Benefits Of Email MarketingCompared to other marketing strategies email marketing has longevity, trackability, and can allow you to build long-term customer relationships. Below you’ll learn about just a few benefits your company will receive by focusing on email marketing above other marketing methods.
1. Email Has A Large ReachEven though social media sites like Facebook and Twitter boast large user counts, they still pale in comparison to how many people use email. Email has nearly three times the user base of the above-mentioned sites combined. This large user base means your chances of finding your targeted audience are much higher than other marketing channels.
2. Email Is Very PersonalEmail is one of the most personal online communication mediums. People treat their inboxes like sacred spaces, or at least try to prevent the emails from piling up. So, by someone giving you permission to email them, they’re telling you they trust you and value what you have to offer. Email also enables one-on-one exchanges, which can lead to deeper customer understanding. Sure, you can send messages via Facebook. But, rarely do business deals get done through Facebook Messenger.
3. Email Has The Highest ConversionThere isn’t a more powerful channel for conversions than email. Email has the highest click-through-rate at around 3%, which is much higher than other marketing channels. Email is also highly measurable and allows you to test different campaigns, which allows you to refine your message over time. This is rarely the case with social media.
4. Email Is Preferred By ConsumersA lot of people use social media to keep in touch with their family and friends, while their email accounts are more business related. Since email is more professional in nature people expect to receive business promotions and other offerings. A recent study suggests that 72% of people prefer to receive promotional related content via email when compared to just 17% who prefer social media.
5. Email Isn’t Going AnywhereEmail has been around for what seems like forever. As platforms come and go email has remained the same over the years. Can you imagine investing time and money into building a presence on a platform only to have it disappear overnight? All that hard work gone. Even as new social media platforms, and other marketing channels, come and go, email will be here for a long time. Focusing your energy on building an email list is a long-term strategy that will pay off for your business well into the future.
Thursday, February 4, 2016 by Mike WallagherToday, WordPress powers over 25 percent of websites, and for many site owners, working with this content management system (CMS) is a no-brainer. It’s free, there’s a huge community eager to help you out, and there are tons of awesome plugins that will help expand your site’s functions. It’s perfect for web developers and do-it-yourselfers alike. The problem with WordPress’s popularity, however, is that WordPress blogs are easy targets for hackers. The good news is that you don’t have to worry so much about your WordPress security if you build up proper defenses. Start with these tips to secure your WordPress blog, and rest with peace of mind knowing you’re at a lower risk of experiencing a crisis.
1. Back Up Your BlogBefore you do anything else, you’ll want to save a backup copy of your website files. That way, you can recover your site should something go wrong in the future. You can do this manually through WordPress’s “export” tool, but this poses some issues. For example, if you aren’t backing up your files frequently and a crisis destroys your site, your most recently saved data may not be as recent as you’d like. If you only remember to back up your site once a month, for instance, you’ll lose all the work you made on the site between last month’s backup and when the crisis hits. There’s an alternative. Instead of having to remind yourself to back up your site, you can install a security plugin to automatically do the work for you! Some of the more popular plugins include:
- Backup Buddy – Backup Buddy is a premium WordPress plugin, but what makes it different is that it will restore your posts, images, and other files that some other plugins won’t.
- BackUpWordPress – This is a free plugin that will back up your site on your chosen schedule.
- WordPress Backup to Dropbox – If you have a Dropbox account, you can easily store your files there with this plugin that will perform automated backups.
2. Choose a Quality HostIf you’re not feeling confident in your hosting provider, now would be a good time to switch. According to WPTemplate.com, 41 percent of WordPress sites are hacked due to vulnerabilities in the owner’s hosting package, making it the most common hacking method. If you’re not already on one of their plans, HostGator is a good company to work with. As they tell their customers,
3. Research Software Before Downloading ItAnother way hackers get into your WordPress site is through the software you download, such as web themes and plugins. As WPTemplate.com reports, hacks are attributed to themes 29 percent of the time and to plugins 22 percent of the time. This means you have to be cautious about what you’re downloading on your site. Start by reading reviews from other customers. If the software has received high ratings from other users, you’re typically safe to download it, but if there aren’t any ratings or people complain of issues after installing the software, it’s best to steer clear. In most cases, you’ll have better luck with premium plugins and themes. Not only do they usually come with more features, but they tend to be more secure as well. NEVER download premium plugins for free. Pirated plugins have a good chance of coming corrupted with malware.
4. Update Your Software RegularlyHackers have an easier time getting into websites with older software installed. That’s because hackers have had time to learn the holes in that version of the program. This is especially true of WordPress itself. On older versions, all the vulnerabilities are already public knowledge as they’ve been pointed out by users, so you can be sure hackers know their way around your software if it’s out of date. Along these same lines, you don’t want your site to show which version of WordPress you’re running. If hackers know that, then they know what techniques they can use to get into your site. By hiding that your site runs on WordPress, you can also deter brute-force attacks by bots.
5. Use Strong PasswordsThis goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning because 8 percent of WordPress hacks are still made due to weak passwords. Make sure you’re not using the same password across accounts and that you include a variety of letters, numbers, and special characters. Likewise, avoid using the default “admin” username as this will be one of the first combinations hackers will test out to try logging into your site. Simply create a new user for yourself and assign the account as an administrator. Then, log back in with your new credentials and delete the default admin user.
6. Install Security PluginsEven when you’ve taken the abovementioned precautions, you can still add an extra layer of security to your site through trusted plugins. Just some security plugins that will help patch security holes include:
- SiteLock - Has an extensive library of known malware and constantly checks your site to make sure it is safe. If malware does creep in, then it will work to remove it quickly.
- iThemes Security – This plugin offers over 30 ways to secure your site, such as by stopping automated attacks. Upgrade for more options.
- Login Lockdown – Login Lockdown prevents brute force attacks by limiting the amount of login attempts from the same IP address during a certain period of time.
- WordFence – This plugin features free and premium options and will scan your site for malware.
Thursday, January 28, 2016 by Kevin WoodSince Google is trying to provide its searchers with the best possible experience, content that speaks directly to reader needs, and is higher quality, will tend to rank higher. The best way to avoid a penalty into the future is simply to focus on quality above all else. Below you’ll find five ways you can protect yourself from a dreaded Google Panda penalty, as well as future updates that will continue to roll out.
1. Focus On Readers FirstAlthough SEO is important when it comes to ranking your website and driving traffic. When you’re creating your content you should have your readers in mind, not the search engine robots. This means your content should be reader focused, not stuffed with keywords, bad links, or other outdated SEO practices that worked years ago. This will only lead to a penalty. The goal of your content should be to provide real value to your readers. This is the only way to build long term relationships, and will lead to increased links and social shares over time. Which will in turn help your rankings.
2. Upgrade Your Low-Quality ContentGoogle is continuously updating their algorithm to create the best user experience possible. So, instead of trying to find tactics to exploit Google you should turn your efforts to simply creating better content. Great content will never go out of style. If you have old content on your website that’s either poorly written, has bad links, or is over-optimized, then you should either remove that content, or update the content to reflect current web standards. If you have multiple low word-count blog posts consider combining them into a larger, more valuable blog post. If you are optimizing your content for certain keywords tread lightly. Google can detect keyword-stuffed content and can lead to a penalty if the keywords aren’t naturally integrated into the content, or appear too frequently.
3. Remove All Duplicate ContentIf Google detects duplicate content across your site, this will greatly increase your chances of receiving a penalty. If you have multiple pages of duplicate content, then you’ll have three options at your disposal to remedy the issue.
- Use a 301 redirect to show Google which page is the original page.
- Delete the duplicate content entirely.
- Re-write the content, so it’s unrecognizable from its previous form.
- Focus on user experience.
5. Improve The Speed Of Your SiteYour visitors won’t stick around to wait for your website to load, which can create a poor user experience. Google also won’t rank your site as highly if it’s slow to load. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load, then you could be looking at a penalty. GTmetrix is a great free tool to help analyze your site and provide suggestions to increase your speed. To keep your website running at its ideal speed use a caching software, compress images whenever possible, stay away from Flash, and remove any plugins or bloated features that aren’t completely necessary. If you're using WordPress, then our managed solution has built in features to help increase your speed. With some of our tests, it's actually helped make some sites up to 2.5x faster. To create a bulletproof strategy that works for the long-term, focusing on delighting your users and the rankings will follow.