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  • Is Your WordPress Plugin or Theme Reliable? Here’s How To Check

    Monday, October 16, 2017 by

    Is a WordPress Theme ReliableHow Do You Know if a WordPress Plugin or Theme Will Work?

    When you’re on the search for new plugins or themes you’re going to have a lot to dig through. After all, there are thousands upon thousounds of themes and plugins for you to choose from. The last thing you want to do is rush your plugin or theme selection and end up choosing one that will compromise your online efforts. Choosing low-quality themes or plugins can lead to slower sites, sites that break easily, and can even leave you open to security risks. Below we offer a few tips that will help you ensure you’re choosing a high-quality theme or plugin before you decide to buy it or install it on your site. Recommended WordPress Hosting

    1. Only Download From Reliable Sources

    One of the first steps to choosing a high-quality theme or plugin is to only download or purchase from reliable sources. Chances are, when you’re spending money on a theme or plugin it’s already going to be of higher quality. But, you’ll still want to thoroughly research the plugin or theme beforehand. Below we offer a few more things you’ll want to look out for when selecting a new plugin or theme. Follow these guidelines whether you’re purchasing from a marketplace or using the WordPress theme directory or plugin directory. If you’re looking for a solid source of premium WordPress themes, then ThemeForest, Elegant Themes, and StudioPress are all great resources to check out. WordPress plugin directory

    2. Check User Reviews and Feedback

    User reviews and customer feedback don’t lie. If the plugin or theme you’re thinking about has a very low star rating, then it’s probably for good reason. However, it’s also important to keep the total number of reviews in mind. If it only has a small number of reviews, then it will be hard to glean a factual option based on the feedback provided. By reading reviews you’ll be able to learn things like how secure it is, how often any technical issues occur, and anything else that you might worry about when installing a new plugin or theme. WordPress plugin reviews

    3. Check the Latest Update Date

    This is a very important bit of information. You’d hate to install a plugin that never receives developer updates. This will lead to potential security risks and could even lead to plugin and theme conflicts down the road. Ideally, you’d like to see updates that have occurred no longer than a few months ago. This means the developer or development team is actively maintaining the theme or plugin and working to improve it. WordPress plugin last update

    4. Number of Active Installs

    It’s not pure fact, but chances are, the more people who have installed and are using the theme or plugin, the better it’s going to be. It wouldn’t make sense for a large number of site owners to use a plugin or theme that doesn’t work. check WordPress active installs

    5. Look at Their Support

    Not every plugin or theme has a dedicated support team. It’s not completely necessary and depends upon the complexity of the plugin or theme. But, most high-quality themes and plugins do have some form of support. It can be helpful to check this out beforehand, so you’ll know you’ll be taken care of if any technical issues arise. Beyond support, you should also look for plugin and theme documentation that will help with setup and plugin or theme customization. WordPress plugin support 6. WordPress Compatibility Before you end up choosing a WordPress plugin or theme you’ll want to double check that it’s compatible with the latest version of WordPress. The WordPress core is updated on a regular basis, without your plugins and themes being updated you could run into a conflict that could break your site. Hopefully, the tips above will help you make a better decision when it comes to choosing a new theme or plugin. Remember that plugin and theme selection is very important. The more time you can spend researching, the more likely you are to end up with something that will benefit your site. WordPress version compatibility Are there any selection parameters you use to filter the good from bad plugins and themes? Please share in the comments below.
  • What’s The Difference Between The New and Legacy Servers?

    Thursday, October 12, 2017 by
    Legacy Servers   As technology evolves, it’s important for us to offer a cutting edge product while also maintaining a tried and true standard. With this is mind, we have launched our new dedicated server platform. Our goal with this post is to briefly outline the differences between our two generations of servers. The new servers build upon our legacy platform with an increase in resources, essentially offering up to double the current configuration of memory and processing power as well as SSD storage. Another feature of the new servers is the dynamic scalability. The demands of your website may change over time, and we understand the realities of this as well as the inconvenience of needing to physically upgrade to a new server when you outgrow your current one. To that end, you can now upgrade your RAM or CPU within the same physical server. This means no change of IP address or data migration. The one caveat to this feature would be a change from HDD to SSD storage. There is simply no way around a physical migration in this instance, however we have streamlined this migration process to make it as transparent and efficient as possible. Both generations of dedicated servers are still powerful and flexible in regards to SSL and operating system options, though the new servers do allow for multiple Linux distributions. The security features are still top-notch, including DDOS protection and an IP-based firewall. All told, our new dedicated servers will set the standard for the future of web hosting. Give us a call today at 844-218-7741 to discuss your new HostGator dedicated server.
  • 5 Ways To Fix Your Slow-Loading Site

    Monday, October 9, 2017 by

    fix slow loading websiteWhat Do I Do About My Website Loading Slowly?

    If one thing is true about your website, it’s that loading speed matters. When your site loads slowly you’ll not only provide a poor user experience, but you’ll also rank lower in the search engines. Luckily for you, improving your site speed doesn’t have to take a lot of additional work. Plus, the benefits you’ll receive from improving your site’s loading speed are well worth the time spent. Below we look at five different ways you can improve the speed of your website. Dedicated Server

    1. Enable Caching

    Whenever you visit a website, certain elements are stored in a cache, so the next time you visit the site it can easily access those parts and load much faster. With caching, instead of your browser having to download every single resource, it only has to download a few of them. By turning on caching you can considerably improve your site’s loading for return visitors. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress you can install a plugin like W3 Total Cache or W3 Super Cache, either of which will let you enable sitewide caching, or caching of certain site elements. If you aren’t using a CMS, then there are additional steps you’ll need to take in order to leverage browser caching.  

    2. Remove Resource-Hogging Plugins and Add-ons

    If your site is currently running too many plugins you’re not only slowing down the speed of your site, but you’re making it more susceptible to security risks. You might require a handful of plugins for your site to function the way you like, but chances are there are some you can live without, especially if they’re resource hogs. The best way to do this is to get a baseline test of your loading speed via a tool like GTMetrix or Google Pagespeed Insights. Then, go down your plugin list and deactivate one plugin at a time. Then, run the speed test with the plugin deactivated. This might be time-consuming, but it will help you find the plugins that are harming your site’s loading speed the most. At that point, you can search for a less resource-heavy plugin or find another workaround.  

    3. Optimize and Reduce the Size of Your Images

    If your site has tons of images that aren’t optimized, then this will negatively impact your site’s loading speed. By having oversized images you’ll be requiring the browser to load larger files. There are a few different ways you can optimize your images to load faster.
    • Ensure that your images are unnecessarily large. For example, if the width of your blog page is 900px, then make sure that’s how wide your images are.
    • If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, you can install a plugin like WPSmush that will automatically reduce the filesize of the images.
    • Before you upload images, first run them through a tool called Tiny PNG to reduce the file size of your image, without sacrificing the quality.

    4. Minimize Your Code

    Sometimes your website’s code can get a little bit messy. When this happens your site will take much longer to load. When you’re making a lot of customizations, using a CMS, or even using a website builder to create your site there will be unnecessary line breaks, spaces, and other elements that don’t need to be there. If you’re using WordPress, then a plugin like Better WordPress Minify will minimize your code. Or, if you’re using one of the caching plugins highlighted above, then there should also be a minify option. If you aren’t using a CMS, you can minify your code by using the Pagespeed Insights Chrome Extension. This extension will create a minimized version of your code, so you can see which version is faster. It’s also a good idea to minify your CSS and Javascript files as well. Even having all of your CSS and Javascript files in one place, instead of multiple different files, will help to speed things along.  

    5. Use a CDN

    The loading speed of your site is affected by the proximity of the user to the server where your site’s files are stored. The farther away they are from this physical location, the slower your site will load. Using a CDN can solve this problem. A CDN distributes your site’s files across a network of global servers, that way your users can access your site via the server that’s closest to them. Some solid options for a CDN are CloudFlare and KeyCDN. In some cases, your existing web host might even have the option to utilize a CDN for your site. (HostGator does!) Hopefully, the tips above will help to speed up your website and improve your overall user experience. Any tips we didn’t mention above that you’ve used to help speed up your site? Share your own recommendations in the comments below.
  • Run a Food Blog? Check Out These 5 Recipe Plugins for WordPress

    Monday, October 9, 2017 by

    best wordpress recipe pluginsBest WordPress Plugins for Recipes

    Food blogs are incredibly popular. People love to find new and interesting recipes they can try out. If you run a recipe-based website, then you’re probably looking for better and more effective ways you can show off your favorite recipes. To have an effective recipe-based website you need to showcase your recipes in a clear and engaging manner. The plugins we highlight below will allow you to do just that, and more. Below we profile our five favorite WordPress recipe plugins you can use to transform your food blog. Recommended WordPress Hosting

    1. WP Ultimate Recipe

    wp ultimate recipe WP Ultimate Recipe is a very popular recipe plugin. This plugin is geared towards helping your users find the perfect recipe. For example, with this plugin, your users can easily access recipes, print them at home, search for specific ingredients, and even adjust the servings. With the shortcode feature, you’ll be able to include your recipes into any existing page or blog post with ease. Plus, it’s mobile responsive, so your recipes will look beautiful even when viewed on smaller screens. If you’re serious about creating attractive and useful recipes for your visitors, then this plugin is worth checking out. There’s also a premium version of the plugin available that lets you do things like create meal plans, add nutritional information, let visitors save their favorites, and a lot more.  

    2. Recipe Box

    recipe box Recipe Box lets you create stylish recipes that will definitely please your visitors. This plugin offers you over 60 different customizable options, so you can create recipes that will fit the existing design of your site. You’ll be able to do things like create recipe descriptions, add images of your ingredients and finished dishes, update cooking and preparation instructions, and much more. Plus, all of your recipes are responsive, so they’ll look good on smartphones to desktop computers.  

    3. Cooked

    cooked plugin Cooked is a feature-packed premium plugin that allows you easily create attractive recipes. The drag and drop interface is very intuitive and lets you easily create unique recipe layouts. It also comes with a community feature, so your users can interact and leave feedback and reviews regarding your recipes. If you’ve been looking for a way to create unique recipe profiles, then this plugin is worth checking out. This plugin is best suited for websites that have hundreds of different recipes and are looking for a more effective way to categorize and highlight those recipes.  

    4. Yummly Rich Recipes

    yummly rich recipes Yummly Rich Recipes is a solid recipe plugin that will actually help your recipes rank in Google. This plugin does have some limited customization options but is very easy to use and setup. Its SEO optimization features are top-notch, so your recipes are more likely to appear when your readers search for recipes on Google. Plus, there’s a Yum button, which will allow your users to create a recipe box of their favorites from your site. Other features include a recipe search box, recipe name auto-population, linking within your recipes, printing options, and more.  

    5. EasyRecipe

    easy recipe EasyRecipe allows you to quickly and easily add recipes to your WordPress site. The goal of this plugin is to make it as simple as possible to add recipes to your cooking site. This plugin automatically converts plain text into an optimized recipe format, so you’ll spend less time formatting your recipes, and more time cooking. One cool feature is being able to view your recipe as Google would see it before you press publish. The customization features allow you to customize the look of your recipes in real time. The recipe plugins above will help to transform your existing recipes. You don’t have to use every plugin above, but instead, choose the plugin that closely matches your needs.   Don't miss our related posts on making the most of your food blog!   Any recipe plugins you’re in love with? Share your favorites in the comments below.
  • 8 WordPress Plugins for Your Craft Blog

    Sunday, October 1, 2017 by

    WordPress Plugins Craft BlogsBest WordPress Plugins for Craft Bloggers

    As a craft blogger, you’ve already made a great decision by using WordPress to power your new and growing website. However, there are also hundreds of plugins you can use to more effectively grow your site and add new features without any additional effort. Your blog exists to share your passion with the world, and help people become better at their own DIY crafts. Below we highlight a few of the most useful WordPress plugins for craft bloggers that’ll help you increase your traffic, cultivate a community, and build a tribe of followers. Recommended WordPress Hosting

    Categorizing Your Craft Blog

    You probably have dozens of different categories for your craft blog and different kinds of projects you’re showcasing. Instead of making your readers dig through posts that aren’t relevant to them you can easily categorize your posts, so your users can select the kind of content they want to read.  

    1. Category Thumbnail List

    This plugin will add featured posts and associated thumbnails based upon the category of your current post. These will display at the bottom of each post and encourage readers to continue reading different posts on your site. A plugin like this can help reduce your bounce rate, as people will read multiple pages on your site, which helps to improve search engine rankings. category thumbnail list

    2. CataBlog

    This plugin allows you to create catalogs and display them as beautiful galleries in your existing posts. You can upload images, along with titles, descriptions, and links. This can be a great way to spice up your posts and highlight the different supplies you use for your craft projects. catablog

    Improve Social Sharing for your Craft Blog

    Building a social presence is a great way to improve traffic to your craft blog. The plugins below will make it easier for your readers to share your content, and more easily embed your existing social media accounts into your site.  

    3. Frizzly

    This plugin lets you add social sharing buttons to your website. One of the more useful features of this plugin is the ability to add social sharing buttons on top of your images, making it easy for your readers to share your images to sites like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. frizzly

    4. Simple Social Icons

    This is another plugin that lets you enable social media sharing across your site. It gives you a customizable set of icons that show up next to your blog posts. This plugin allows you to customize the social media networks you want to share, and there are over 20 options available. simple social icons

    5. WP Socializer

    Yes, another social sharing plugin! This plugin is highly customizable and gives you countless options for adding social media buttons to your site, including floating share bars, selected text share bars, mobile share bars, and more. wp socializer

    6. Instagram Feed

    This plugin lets you embed your Instagram feed into your existing website. If you have an active Instagram account then this can be a great way to encourage your website readers to follow you. You’ll be able to display your latest photos, your favorite craft projects, photos from a certain location, and more. Instagram WordPress plugin

    Get More Traffic and Subscribers to your Craft Blog

    Chances are you didn’t start a craft blog to write for an audience of zero. The plugins below will help you improve your search engine rankings, build an email list, and more.  

    7. Yoast SEO

    Yoast SEO is one of the best SEO plugins out there. It will help to optimize your existing posts and pages to better show up in the search engines. This plugin is great for beginners as it will help educate you about SEO, while you’re optimizing your site. Yoast SEO

    8. Sumo

    Sumo (formerly Sumo Me) has a great set of tools for helping your site get more traffic, and turn that traffic into email subscribers. The free version of this tool has things like pop-up email forms, social sharing buttons, analytics, heat maps, and much more. This tool is really like 20 different tools in one, and a must have for craft bloggers who want to increase their traffic levels. Sumo Hopefully, the plugins above will help you transform your existing craft blog. Any plugins we forget to mention in the list above? Please share your favorites in the comments below.