Pad LockSSL certificates are becoming more and more prevalent within the online landscape. Once the domain of large online stores and big brands, the humble SSL certificate is slowly but surely finding it’s rightful place protecting each and each every website. As the online consumer becomes more savvy, they are expecting to see the security padlock symbol or the glow of the green bar. This demand for site security can often put the webmaster into a tail spin, however the good folk at WooThemes have put together this handy little guide to SSL certificates for eCommerce to take away all the confusion.

Part of the process of starting an online store is finding a way to secure the experience for your shoppers. You want your potential customers to feel safe, of course, and to know that their data isn’t going to fall into the wrong hands.

If you’re new to eCommerce, you might have heard some chatter about SSL certificates or HTTPS as part of this security process. And you might be utterly confused by it. Relax — that’s normal, and we can help.

SSL sounds like a complicated topic, but once you understand the premise and why your store might need it, it’s not something you’ll have to spend any time worrying about. In fact, for most store owners, you can get a certificate to add SSL to your store in just a few minutes.

Let’s go over what SSL is, why you might need it, and how you can go about getting a certificate for your store. At the end of this post, your confusion should be gone, and you should be even more prepared to start selling online.

The SSL certificate explained

To understand what an SSL certificate is and why you might need one, let’s first take a quick look at the technology behind it.

A quick lesson on SSL

SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer,” though it is also sometimes called “Transport Layer Security” (or TLS). SSL on its own it is a protocol used to secure and protect transactions — though not necessarily financial ones — between destinations on a network.

SSL relies on encryption to make these transactions private. Each message transmitted must pass an internal check for the integrity of this encryption before it succeeds. If the check fails (due to data corruption, or any unexpected attempt to alter or capture the data), the encrypted data will not be exposed.

We use SSL every day when we browse common websites like Facebook, YouTube, and online stores. The encryption used prevents those with malicious intent from intercepting transactions as innocent as your search queries… or as dangerous as your credit card information.

How SSL applies to website certificates

When a website wants to secure its transactions, it will obtain an SSL certificate for that domain. The SSL certificate applies the encryption described above to all website activity, including page and form submissions, financial transactions, and so on. This prevents data theft or other such attacks.

SSL certificates also contain important security information, including:

  • Company name
  • Company location
  • Length of time the certificate is good for
  • Details of the authority who issued the certificate

This allows individuals who are uncertain about a website’s authenticity or trustworthiness to click the green “lock” icon in their browser to review more information. If they still do not feel secure, they are able to exit the site.

Security Information

How to know if a website uses SSL/TLS

There are two quick ways to tell if any given website has an SSL certificate. Look for:

  • A green “lock” icon in the address bar, and
  • A URL that starts with https instead of http

Depending on how the site uses SSL, this might not apply to every page — as you’ll learn below.

How the usage of SSL is changing

For quite some time, the Internet standard was that SSL certificates were only recommended for domains or specific pages of websites where sensitive information (such as financial data) would be transmitted or received. However, that recommendation is slowly changing.

In August of 2014, Google announced that website security would be added as a “lightweight ranking signal” for results in its search engine. This meant that a website secured with SSL/TLS stood a better chance at ranking higher for a query than an unsecured one, assuming all other factors were the same.

From the announcement:

We’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal […] while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe.

Over the past year, the potential implications of this change have caused many website owners — not just store owners — to encrypt their sites with full SSL certificates, changing their URLs to “https” instead of “http.”

However, this doesn’t require anyone to secure their entire site with SSL. Should they choose, website and store owners can still place all their sensitive pages on a subdomain, and purchase a certificate for that domain alone, leaving the rest of the pages unencrypted.

How to know if your online store needs SSL

Reading all this, you might be convinced that you need a SSL certificate. After all, security is important to you, right?

However, if you don’t capture or store any sensitive data, you might not actually need a certificate. This might sound strange, so let’s dig in.

The most common scenario that causes store owners to be exempt from needing SSL is the usage of an offsite payment processor — for example, PayPal. This is because PayPal is responsible for capturing and storing all of your customer’s sensitive payment information, so it is never stored in your database.

Offsite payment processors have their own security standards, certificates, and methods of securely passing data from and to your store. Therefore you don’t necessarily need SSL, because they’ll have it covered.

Sensitive Payment Information

Another scenario is if you don’t allow customers to create accounts or logins involving passwords of any kind. Even if you use a third-party, entirely offsite payment gateway, you might still have customers creating accounts with you to save their shipping and billing addresses.

While this is far less sensitive information, many customers tend to use the same password for every account. So a bit of reverse engineering could lead a hacker to gaining access to, say, a shopper’s email account, bank account… you name it. This means that unless account creation is disabled on your store, you’ll need SSL to protect those passwords and logins.

To recap, the two factors that can eliminate SSL as a requirement are:

  • Usage of a fully off-site payment gateway, and
  • Absolutely no account or password functionality allowed by customers

If you don’t have both of these factors in place, you’ll need a certificate for your store. And even if you do, you should still consider it, given the possibility of HTTPS becoming more important for rankings — and customer peace of mind — in the future.

Need SSL? How to get a certificate (two ways)

The standard way to secure your store with SSL until very recently was to pay a third party for a certificate. There’s now another option, however, as mentioned during The State of the Word at WordCamp US.

Here are two ways you can secure your store and keep your customers happy.

Paying for a certificate

SSL certificates can be purchased from a wide variety of third parties. Many domain resellers offer them to their customers (sometimes even bundled with your domain name), and there are also independent companies who sell only SSL certificates.

Your best bet might be to start with the company from which you purchased (or are planning to purchase) your store’s domain name to determine if they offer certificates or any kind of bundle. If not, a simple search should turn up multiple reliable options.

Before you buy, spend a few minutes carefully considering the type of certificate you need. Basic SSL certificates only cover one domain — ex. example.com or subdomain.example.com. But you can also purchase multi-domain certificates, or “wildcard” certificates to cover multiple subdomains (example1.domain.com, example2.domain.com…).

Pricing for paid certificates typically ranges from $30US to $50US per year for single domains, and up to $300US per year for multi-domain or wildcard options.

Free certificates from Let’s Encrypt

The Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) currently has a program called Let’s Encrypt in public beta. Let’s Encrypt allows anyone to secure their site with SSL/TLS for free — effectively giving website and store owners a free, permanent SSL certificate.

The catch: Let’s Encrypt isn’t quite as straightforward as working with a domain registrar to purchase and install your certificate. It’s also still in beta, so bugs are possible. However, it is still completely free, and open source at that.

How an SSL Certificate Works

If you’re interested in going this route, we recommend sending the Let’s Encrypt documentation to your developer, who can determine the plugin and client you need for your server, and handle the certificate installation process for you.

The consequences of not having a certificate

You might be wondering “what happens if I ignore all this and just don’t get an SSL certificate?”

Truthfully, nothing might happen. But there could also be dire consequences, including:

  • Shoppers losing trust in you because your store appears unsecured
  • Unsavory individuals “spoofing” your store because there’s no way to prove you are the real owner or manufacturer of your goods
  • A hacker using reverse engineering to hijack a customer’s email, social media, or other online account with information gained from your store
  • Theft of sensitive personal or financial data stored on your server
  • The public and potential financial backlash caused by any one of the above events

As you can see, it’s better to simply pay for an SSL certificate and have the peace of mind than it is to risk it. Even having potential customers pester you about that missing lock icon — and potentially exit without buying because it’s missing — is worth the $30US or so a year, don’t you think?

SSL doesn’t have to be a complicated matter

We hope this introduction to SSL certificates for eCommerce has helped you understand a bit better why you might — or might not — need a certificate for your own online store.

With any luck, SSL and store security should seem much easier for you to grasp now. But if you have any remaining questions, we’ll be more than happy to answer them for you in the comments below! Ask away, we’re always here to help.

Original Article Source

Which Social Media Platforms Offer The Greatest Organic Reach?Organic reach is one of the treasures brands seek when they go in search of social media visibility across various platforms.

With more than 1.5 billion monthly users on Facebook and 316 million monthly users on Twitter, brands do not want to miss an opportunity to communicate with a huge audience, potentially for free.

But free reach on social media platforms is gradually declining.

Why?

The social media space is becoming crowded giving rise to a stiff competition for attention. The Facebook News Feed these days is a tussle for attention as more content is being shared. Also, social media companies want businesses to pay up if they want to reach more people.

Is it the end of free use of social media to reach consumers? No, different social networks come with their own unique opportunities and challenges, as well as audiences, calling for a diversified mix of accounts to reach consumers.

But which platforms offer the greatest organic reach?

Let’s find out.

Facebook

In November 2014, Facebook announced that it will reduce overly promotional page posts in the News Feed. Below is an example of an overly promotional page post:

Facebook stopped overly promotional posts in 2014

Image source: Facebook newsroom

This meant that brands could no longer have the same level of organic reach. Thereafter, organic reach dropped drastically while the company smiled to the bank.

With a decline in organic reach and increase in paid promotion, Facebook's stock price increased

Image source: Convince and Convert

A study conducted by Locowise revealed that Facebook pages with over a million likes have 2.27% average organic reach.

The study found that the higher the page likes the less the organic reach and this is expected to near zero by year end.

For example, posts by Beyonce on her Facebook page with over 63.5 million likes can only reach just around 1.4 million fans if there’s no sponsored content. Beyonce would have to pay to be seen by more than 2.5 percent of her fans on Facebook.

Organic reach of Beyonce's Facebook page is quite low

Image source: Facebook

However, there are ways to perform better in terms of organic reach. By publishing content that fascinates the audience (trust me, average is no longer adequate), posting when your target audience is the most active, and posting videos, you can improve your organic reach.

HubSpot has a great list of tips on how to improve organic reach on Facebook.

Twitter

Twitter is one of the major social media platforms brands use to engage with consumers. A survey of the top 50 global brands by Forrester revealed that top brands post more frequently on Twitter than on any other social media platform:

Of the top 50 global brands, most use Twitter to post each week

Image source: Forrester

The study cited an average of 18.3 posts per week on Twitter.

However, these brands can only reach about 3.61% of their followers with a tweet. Twitter reports this as impressions – the number of times followers see a tweet.

For instance, a brand like Forbes with around 7.8 million followers can only reach just about 281,580 of its followers per tweet.

Twitter's organic reach is low

Image source: Twitter

Also, average interactions on the micro-blogging site are at 0.03%. This means that for every one million Twitter followers there are 300 interactions, according to this Forrester study.

To increase your Twitter organic reach, leverage real-time events or trending conversations, co-create tweets with influencers, and include auto-expanded photos & videos. These have been proven to drive organic reach on Twitter according to a survey of 200 brands.

Google+

Google+ was first introduced back in 2011 to compete with other social media platforms. But since then, it has failed to gain traction. Google recently removed most of the functions from the platform, including Hangouts. Now only few features are left: Collections and Communities being the main ones.

While there are no stats available on the organic reach of the revamped Google+, the previous version of the platform suffered from declining reach. Organic reach on the platform may slide further as Google+ links and reviews are no longer included in search results.

Also, interaction or engagement with posts on the platform is 0.09% of a brand’s follower count.

To increase your organic reach on this platform, expand your Google+ circles, get active within your brand’s community as well as other communities, and have a regular posting schedule.

But going ahead, it would be unrealistic to label Google+ as a major social network considering that it is gradually being killed by Google.

LinkedIn

There are about 400 million LinkedIn members across 200 countries and territories of the world. Among the cumulative, 100 million people actively use the platform on a monthly basis.

Although LinkedIn has similar functioning as other social networks on the list, your status updates and posts can record a 20% organic reach. This figure can rise to 60% if you post at least 20 times a month.

For example, the enterprise cloud computing company Salesforce wanted to engage followers, drive event attendance, avoid message oversaturation and reach regional audiences with localized content. They used LinkedIn targeted status updates to reach the desired audience.

LinkedIn has better organic reach, b2b brands love it

Image source: LinkedIn

The result was a 30% increase in engagement and reach. It’s critical to note that companies with at least 100 LinkedIn followers can share targeted updates.

Compared to other platforms, LinkedIn emerged as the clear front-runner sending at least 64% of traffic to businesses from social media sites.

In another study, it sent 7000 visitors more than any other platform.

More so, Hubspot studied over 4500 businesses and found that LinkedIn referral traffic converts at 2.74% on the average compared to Facebook referral traffic and Twitter referral traffic, which converted at 0.77% and 0.69% respectively.

To increase organic reach on LinkedIn, share relevant and engaging content like case studies, participate in LinkedIn groups, and post at the right times.

Pinterest

While there are still so many brands yet to take advantage of this social network, 93 out of the world’s top 100 brands have accounts on Pinterest.

Organic reach on Pinterest is higher than that of Facebook and Twitter because the number of people who see your pins is often greater than the number of your followers.

Every tweet on Twitter lasts 24 minutes and a Facebook post will get you 90 minutes of visibility in the News Feed. However, a pin can last 151,200 minutes, according to WebpageFX.

Another study noted that Pinterest pins are worth more than Facebook likes. On brand’s interactions with their fans as a percentage of their followers, Pinterest came second only to Instagram.

Omnichannel Marketing cited the case of Townhouse, a premier cracker brand. Townhouse enjoyed exponential reach on Pinterest without any monetary spend. Not only it became the top cracker brand on the platform, but received 1.5 million impressions per month.

The source reported that 63 percent of followers viewed at least one pin from the brand on a monthly basis. If this example is anything to go by, Pinterest is ripe for brands looking to organically reach their target audience.

To increase organic reach on Pinterest, add the Pin It button to your blog, leverage group boards, and cross promote your pins on your other platforms.

Instagram

Instagram recorded over 300 million monthly active users in just a few years after its inception. 20% of the globe’s internet users are registered on Instagram, with 47% of users accessing the app on their phone and 53% on their tablet.

The platform has a 20% organic reach. Big brands like Christian Louboutin are taking advantage of the organic reach potential of the platform while it lasts.

In the past three years, Christian Louboutin has been able rely on organic posts to grow its Instagram following and the platform has been a major driver of organic traffic since organic reach plummeted on Facebook.

Instagram drives the most interactions for Christian Louboutin

Image source: L2inc

According to TrackMaven, Instagram has the highest percentage of content going viral. Not only does it outperform all other social networks, it blows them away with 49% of photos and 60% of videos reaching 250+ interactions.

To increase your reach on the platform organically, experiment with different types of content (visuals, quotes, etc.), use relevant hashtags, and engage with your audience by responding to their comments or commenting on their profiles.

Social Media Examiner has useful tips on how to increase Instagram visibility.

Note: The content you post on Instagram can also be used on your Facebook page. This can be done by using the auto-post feature, and doing so will save you time and resources spent on creating separate content for your Facebook page. Also, you can increase the diversity and reach of your Facebook page by using your Instagram follower’s post (make sure to seek their permission and give credit).

Bottom line

The implication of the analysis is that Facebook and Twitter are clearly pay-to-play platforms. On the other hand, the bane of Google+ is the drop in active users and the restriction on its links and reviews appearing on search result pages. However, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram are doing well in terms of organic reach.

In the end, the social media platforms with the most organic reach in descending order are Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. That said, the choice of platforms to promote your brand depends on your marketing goals and the demography of active users you want to reach on the platform.

Article thumbnail image by igor kisselev / shutterstock.com

Credit: Original Article

WordPress makes it easy and intuitive enough for you to write your content directly into the visual editor while styling your text, but it’s not necessarily a quick process.

Anyone who has any experience composing content in the editor knows that you have to continuously reach for your mouse or trackpad so you can highlight the text you want to style and click the buttons at the top of the visual/text editor (either that or learn often unintuitive keyboard shortcuts). It’s fine for users who aren’t in a rush and prefer the straightforwardness of the editor, but there’s another way of getting it done faster.

Markdown is a lightweight and intuitive markup language that provides a faster way to style your posts, pages and comments. Although it takes a little time getting used to, you’ll never have to reach for your mouse while using Markdown.

In this article, we’ll go over what Markdown is all about and how you can start using it with WordPress.

A Brief Background of Markdown

In an effort to come up with a solution to easily write and format text on the web, John Gruber and Aaron Swartz created Markdown in 2004. It relies only on plain text and doesn’t require users to learn any complicated code or shortcuts, meaning that even WordPress beginners can learn how to use it on their own.

When you use Markdown on your WordPress site, which we’ll cover later in this article, you’ll be able to type specific characters around the text you want to style. For example, to italicize some text, all you need to is add an asterisk character on both ends. The *italicized text* will show in actual italicized text format when published on your site. Like freakin’ magic.

Once you’re familiar with Markdown, you’ll be able to cut down on the time you spend formatting your WordPress content. The hardest part is really just memorizing the characters to implement each style, which becomes second nature with enough practice.

Another great point to make about using Markdown with WordPress is that all the text you create with it will remain in Markdown format. So even though your content is published as fully formatted on your site, you’ll be able to go back and edit in Markdown anytime you want.

If you’re interested in exploring some of the different tools available for using Markdown, you may want to check out Mou, a free Markdown editor for Mac, or MarkPad, an open source Markdown editor for Windows. Texts is another that works for both Mac and Windows, with the ability to convert Markdown to other popular file formats like PDF and MS Word.

For mobile device use, you can take advantage of Byword, which is a Markdown editor for the iPhone and iPad (it also works on Mac). If you use an Android, check out Draft.

Now let’s dive deeper into how Markdown can be used with WordPress. We’ll start by covering the Markdown-inspired enhancements to the editor that were introduced in WordPress 4.3.

WordPress Editor Enhancements in Version 4.3

In the WordPress 4.3 release, inline text shortcuts similar to Markdown were introduced, allowing you to format text and add elements using simple markup in the text. However, unlike Markdown these text patterns immediately transform patterns into HTML.

The current enhancements include:

  • Typing an asterisk (*) or a dash (-) to generate a bulleted list
  • Typing 1. or 1) to generate an ordered list
  • Starting a paragraph with 2 to 6 number symbols (#) to generate different headings
  • Typing the greater-than symbol (>) to generate a blockquote

You can see a short demo video of these shortcuts in action here.

More shortcuts are planned for future releases, along with support for plugins to extend existing functionality.

Using Markdown With WordPress

The best way to learn Markdown is to actually start using it yourself. So rather than listing out all the different shortcuts, which you can access from the WordPress quick reference page anyway, here’s a basic example:

The WordPress Markdown Visual Editor.

The WordPress Markdown Visual Editor.

This Markdown text creates the same formatting as the HTML does below. It’s pretty clear to see how much simpler Markdown keeps it by looking at this comparison.

The WordPress HTML Text Editor.

The WordPress HTML Text Editor.

As you can see pretty easily, adding ## to some text is the same as wrapping it with <h2> tags. Likewise, adding * is the same as using <em> tags while adding ** is the same as using <strong> tags.

Here’s what it looks like when it’s published:

Markdown published on WordPress.

Markdown published on WordPress.

If you start typing these Markdown shortcuts directly into WordPress right now, you might see some of them work automatically when you use them and hit Enter to start a new paragraph because of the editor enhancements that were introduced with WordPress version 4.3, but you won’t see all of them. To take full advantage of Markdown, you’ll have to install a plugin.

There are at least three good plugins you can use to integrate Markdown with WordPress.

Jetpack

jetpack

Jetpack bundles together a wide range of powerful features that WordPress users can take advantage of to customize their sites. Markdown support is also included. In fact, Jetpack uses Markdown Extra, which is an extension to Markdown that brings some additional features to the syntax. You can learn more about Markdown Extra here.

In your WordPress admin area, navigate to Jetpack > Settings and scroll down the list until you see Markdown, then activate it and your set!

Now you can compose or edit any posts, pages, or comments using Markdown. Just make sure you use the text editor rather than the visual editor, as Jetpack specifies on its Markdown support page.

PrettyPress

prettypress

If you don’t plan on using any of the other features that come with the Jetpack plugin and would prefer just a simple standalone Markdown plugin, you should consider using PrettyPress. Not only does it offer Markdown support but it also provides users with a sleek, easy to use publishing interface that comes with a live preview layout.

Installing this plugin will add a PrettyPress tab to the top of the sidebar area when you edit posts or pages. Click Launch PrettyPress to use it, which brings up a simple Markdown editor on the left and layout preview on the right in fullscreen view.

Anything you type or edit in the editor can be seen in real time within the preview. This can be a huge plus for new users who are still learning Markdown, which saves time between previewing or publishing the changes in a separate browser tab or window.

You can also conveniently switch between the views for Markdown, Visual, and HTML directly in the PrettyPress editor. Just click the x in the top left corner when you want to go back to the WordPress editor.

WP-Markdown

wp-markdown

Despite it being a popular choice, you may want to consider using one of the two alternative plugins above first since WP-Markdown hasn’t been updated in two years. Just keep that in mind when considering this one.

If you do go ahead and decide to try WP-Markdown, you can navigate to Settings > Writing in your WordPress admin area where you’ll find your new Markdown settings. From here, you can enable Markdown for posts, pages, or comments and even install the optional help bar, which adds a convenient preview feature so you can see your changes as they’d appear live on your site.

Another big point worth mentioning here is that when you enable Markdown through this plugin, it will completely disable the visual editor on every post type where it’s enabled. All old posts and pages will also be converted. If you choose to deactivate the plugin, however, it will not alter your posts, pages, or comments where you originally had it enabled since it stores all the processed HTML.

Making the Most of Markdown

Markdown may seem intimidating to the WordPress user who has no real experience with code, but in reality, anyone who can type on a keyboard can easily learn how to use it.

It may be slow at first in terms of having to go back and check to see what you need to use for certain formatting shortcuts, but once you’ve used them enough, you’ll be able to type them out automatically right off the top of your head and save a great deal of time on publishing and editing your content.

With the Markdown-inspired editor enhancements in WordPress version 4.3 and more to come, users may soon not even need to turn to plugins to use everything that can be done with Markdown.

Credit: Original Article

Image compression is a key factor in keeping your site speed fast. After all, if your pages are filled with large, unwieldy images, they will take a really long time to load – and nobody likes a slow website.

Website speed has become an increasingly important search engine ranking factor, so much so that Google has made it one of the more important factors in its ranking algorithm.

So how exactly do you optimize your images and, in turn, speed up your site?

Our image optimization plugin WP Smush strips hidden, bulky information from your images, reducing the file size without losing quality. It’s by far the most popular image compression plugin for WordPress, with more than 300,000 active installs using our dedicated Smush servers.

In this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about image compression and how to set up WP Smush to reduce your image file sizes, improve the performance of your website and boost your SEO.

Image Compression: What You Need to Know

Image compression is the process of minimizing irrelevancy and redundancy within image data that is (hopefully) imperceptible to the human eye. It enables you to store and transmit images more efficiently. Image compression can also dramatically reduce image sizes and it is an essential step in site optimization.

With image compression, you have to achieve a balance between the highest possible image quality and lowest possible file size. We’ll discuss that in detail for different image formats in the next section.

How Image Compression Works

Image compression is achieved algorithmically; there are several compression algorithms out there that each have their own working mechanism. The simplest algorithm, called run-length encoding, analyzes each and every “bit” of the image and searches for patterns.

To put things into perspective, a single kilobyte has nearly 8,000 bits, and most images we use are typically tens (or hundreds) of kilobytes in size.

Image size pre-compression: 245 KB. Image size post-compression: 199 KB.

Image size pre-compression: 245 KB. Image size post-compression: 199 KB.

Images can be converted to matrices of numbers. When the image compression algorithm identifies a pattern – such as ten zeros in a row – the entire pattern is replaced by 10:0 to denote the row of ten zeros. Although this method of image compression isn’t as effective as others, it gives you a fair idea of how compression can be achieved.

Why Image Compression Is Important

Image compression has been important since the advent of the internet. Let’s take a look at specific scenarios in which smaller images are always better.

1. Speed: According to the HTTP Archive, images are the main cause of average web page sizes weighing in at the 1.25MB mark (followed by JavaScript exploitation). Bloated and oversized images negatively affect the loading time of your site because they contend with other resources for bandwidth.

2. Mobile Users: According to Kissmetrics, 73% of mobile internet users say that they have encountered a website that was too slow to load.

3. Conversion Rates: Uncompressed images result in slow websites, and research shows that a 1 second delay in page loading time can cause a 7% loss in conversions and 11% fewer page views.

4. Search Engine Rankings: Google considers site speed to be an official ranking factor in their algorithm. Compressing the images on your site’s pages will improve its chances of scoring a better ranking.

Lossless Compression vs. Lossy Compression

If you’ve ever used an image compression tool then you’re probably familiar with the terms ‘lossless compression’ and ‘lossy compression’. Ever stopped to wonder what the difference between both types was? Let’s find out.

Lossless Compression

When you select lossless compression for your image, it means that every single bit of the image can be recovered after the file is uncompressed – the image’s data is completely restored. An example of a lossless file type is PNG.

WP Smush uses multiple methods to squeeze every last byte out of your images for the best possible lossless compression.

Lossy Compression

As opposed to lossless compression, lossy compression works on a mechanism by which the image’s data is permanently removed during compression. Decompressing the image will only restore some of the original data. Images saved as JPEG files typically employ lossy compression.

The image on the right is compressed (lossy) and ~100 KB less in size.

The image on the right is compressed (lossy) and ~100 KB less in size.

Compressing Online Image File Types

There are many different image file types available and they can be categorized as either “raster graphics” or “vector graphics.” For the purpose of this article, we’ll limit our focus to raster graphics – all three of which are smushable.

Raster graphics have attained universal acceptance and are supported on almost any browser you’ll find. But in terms of optimization, they’re not as friendly as vectors.

  1. GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) have small file sizes, support for transparency mode and a limited color palette. Their lossless compression basis allows for little optimization.
  2. JPEGs are used to display photographic images that have a large range of colors. They can undergo heavy optimization due to their lossy compression basis.
  3. PNGs (Portable Network Graphics) are known for their excellent image quality and full transparency support. These file types provide lossless compression.

Image Compression with WP Smush

We the adopted WP Smush plugin (previously known as WP Smush.it) back in March 2013 from Yahoo! After Yahoo! shut down its Smush.it API earlier this year, our developers quickly got to work redesigning WP Smush from the ground up. We built a new Smush API and a brand new cloud config for bigger and better smushing.

Check out the live stats since the relaunch:

  • 1,748,257,427 images smushed since we re-launched WP Smush
  • We’ve saved users a total of 6,730
  • That’s 7,225,757,723,755 image bytes Google is no longer penalizing websites for
  • We smush images for 19,492 different WordPress sites each day
  • At peak times, we often handle smushing 200+ images per second with no major slowdowns
  • 8.08 average lossless compression overall (WP Smush Pro average is even higher due to multi-method optimization)
  • On average, Super-Smush (lossy compression) has a real-world compression rate of 16.27 (but we often see it beat lossless by 2-10x as a lot of images coming through from members have been previously compressed). For example Super-Smush savings for all PNG files yesterday was 33%.

To put it simply, WP Smush works better than before. It automatically – and reliably – compresses every single image you upload to your WordPress site once you install the plugin. The plugin works great on HTTPS sites and enables you to smush your media library in batches of 50 attachments.

 

How WP Smush Can Boost Your Site’s Load Time

WP Smush is fully loaded with powerful functionality that can boost your site speed while maintaining your image quality.

One-click automated smushing.

One-click automated smushing.

Automated Smushing

If never optimized an image in your life (no one’s judging!), you can finally get around to it with WP Smush’s Automated Smushing feature.

The plugin enables you to optimize all those images that have happily been nesting on your website for years with just one click.

Lossless Compression

WP Smush uses multiple algorithms to achieve lossless compression while retaining impressive image quality. Upload images up to 1MB and smush every last byte out of your images.

Advanced techniques for lossless compression.

Advanced techniques for lossless compression.

The advanced lossless compression techniques produce amazing results without compromising on image quality or compression speed.

Get rid of all that extra image data and see the difference for yourself (which, in this case, won’t be noticeable).

Lossless compression will save you a ton of space and you’re highly unlikely to notice a difference in the quality of the image. You can even see how much space you’ve saved in both size and percentage. The plugin also enables you to create backups of your original images in case you want to restore them later on.

Bulk Smushing

If you’ve got hundreds of uncompressed images stored on your server then it’s time to compress them and reclaim some extra space. Don’t we all want a little extra server real estate?

WP Smush’s Bulk Smushing feature enables you to compress existing images on your server as well as any new images you upload in batches of 50 attachments in one go.

WP Smush vs WP Smush Pro

At the same time we relaunched WP Smush, we released WP Smush Pro, a premium version that offers even more horsepower:

  • Super Smush for double the compression – With our intelligent multi-pass lossy compression, you can get 2-10x more compression than lossless with almost no noticeable quality loss
  • Smush up to 32MB – WP Smush offers smushing up to 1MB, but with our premium plugin you can compress images up to 32MB
  • Backup All Smushed Images – You can backup every image you smush and restore unsmushed files at a later date.
  • Bulk Smush in One Click – Do you have more than 50 images in your media library? No worries, WP Smush Pro can smush the lot in one click. You can even set automated smushing so your images are automatically compressed when they are uploaded to your website

If you’re ready to take things to the next level then WP Smush Pro is just a few clicks away. It goes the extra mile and really puts image optimization through its paces. It’s smushing awesome! (Yeah, I went there.)

How to Setup WP Smush

First thing’s first, you need to install and activate WP Smush plugin.

You can access WP Smush from the Media menu.

You can access WP Smush from the Media menu.

WP Smush is available to download at WordPress.org

You can also search for “WP Smush” in the backend of your site (Plugins > Add New).

Once you’ve activated the plugin, go to Media > WP Smush to access the settings page.

Choose to smush images on upload will save you having to manually compress your images.

Choose to smush images on upload will save you having to manually compress your images.

The first option you will see on the Settings page is “Smush images on upload,” which gives you the ability to automatically smush images when you add them to your site.

If you leave this setting unchecked, you will need to manually smush any images you wish to optimize.

Lastly, click Save Changes.

And that’s all you need to do to set up WP Smush! Let’s move on to using WP Smush’s other features.

Smushing Single Images

WP Smush enables you to individually compress images from within your Media Library. To start smushing your images here’s what you need to do:

Open your Media Library.

Click “Smush Now!” to optimize your image.

Click “Smush Now!” to optimize your image.

If your Media Library is set to List view, you’ll see a new column labeled WP Smush and a Smush Now button next to every unoptimized image. Select the images you want to compress.

WP Smush will then do its thing. When done, stats will be displayed detailing how much has been trimmed from your image.

Click “Smush Now!” on the individual image to optimize it.

Click “Smush Now!” on the individual image to optimize it.

If your Media Library is set to Grid view, select the image you want to optimize and click on Attachment Details. Then click Smush Now to smush the individual image.

WP Smush will start compressing the image and then output stats on how much you’ve saved, both in kilobytes and percent.

Bulk Smushing Images

The Bulk Smushing feature enables you to compress images in batches of 50 attachments in one go. To use this feature:

  1. Go to Media > WP Smush
  2. Click Bulk Smush 50 Attachments
  3. WP Smush will then begin smushing 50 unoptimized images in your Media Library
Bulk smushing with WP Smush.

Bulk smushing with WP Smush.

While bulk smushing images, you will need to keep the page open while the plugin compresses the batch of images. If you need to halt the compression process, you can close the page and resume where you left off next time you open it. Super convenient, right?

Why Use WP Smush Pro?

WP Smush is a great place to start if you have a small website with only a few hundred images, but if you’ve hundreds of image and need to compress large images, WP Smush Pro might be a better fit for your needs.

Let’s compare the two plugins based on the features they provide:

WP Smush WP Smush Pro
Image compression limit 1 MB 32 MB
Bulk smush limit 50 attachments All images
Process JPEG, GIF and PNG image files Yes Yes
Auto-Smush your attachments on upload Yes Yes
Advanced lossless compression techniques Yes Yes
Intelligent multi-pass lossy compression No Yes
Backup of your original un-smushed images No Yes
Customer support No Yes

Smush Your Images With WP Smush

WP Smush is an excellent image compression solution for optimizing server space and improving your site’s performance.

In this post, we covered the plugin’s full functionality and you should now be in a good position to take things further yourself.

WP Smush is a great place to start if you want to quickly and easily set up image optimization on your site, and WP Smush Pro is an upgrade when you want to take your compression game to the next level.

Do you use WP Smush? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image credits: Unsplash, PNG Img.

Article credit: Original

It was Christmas 2009 and I had a new toy: an iPhone 3. Like millions of people that Christmas, I spent every spare minute downloading apps, playing games, taking photos and marveling at the brave new world of smartphones and apps.

Back then (nearly six years ago – time flies!) no-one had heard of responsive web design and Apple were adamant that their shiny gadget was perfectly suited to viewing full-size websites designed for desktops on a small screen. You could pinch, drag and double-tap to make content larger and if you were lucky, you would come across a website that had a separate mobile version.

How things have changed. Mobile browser use has now overtaken desktop browser use and now even app use, according to research by Morgan Stanley. Users still spend longer on apps once they’re using them, but when someone picks up a smartphone these days the thing they’re most likely to do is open the browser. Research shows that app downloads have peaked at about 50-60 per device and that users aren’t going to download an app for a brand that they’re only going to interact with casually.

While users may be prepared to spend hours on Angry Birds, Facebook or Crossy Road, they’re unlikely to download your app – they’re far more likely to visit your site on their mobile instead. All of which means that your website must be mobile-optimized.

And the great news is that WordPress is the perfect platform to help you do that. It’s taken on board the importance of mobile for web design and development and not only does WordPress make it easy for you to create a site your users will love on mobile, it also makes it possible for you to manage your site from a mobile device too.

Research by Morgan Stanley tells us that mobile browser use is twice as high as app use.

Research by Morgan Stanley tells us that mobile browser use is twice as high as app use.

In this post, I’m going to look at some of the ways in which WordPress makes it easy for you to create and manage a mobile-optimized website. I’ll look at how WordPress core has evolved to embrace mobile, at how the REST-API will open up possibilities for mobile apps to interact with WordPress, at the themes and plugins that will help you create a great mobile site, and at how you can manage your site on a mobile device.

But first, let’s consider the options for reaching your mobile visitors or customers.

Reaching Mobile Visitors – Your Options

The methods used to reach out to mobile users have changed in recent years and this is an area that’s constantly evolving, so make sure you keep up!

Let’s take a look at the options available to you.

1. Mobile Site vs Mobile App

It’s becoming less frequent that clients come to me asking for an app, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for app.

Fewer clients are asking me for apps.

Fewer clients are asking me for apps.

While the research shows that mobile browser usage is twice as high as mobile app usage now, it also shows that once people have downloaded and opened their mobile apps, they’ll spend far more time in the app and engage more deeply with it than with a mobile-optimized site.

So which is the right one for you?

My recommendation would be this. Firstly, the circumstances in which you might create an app:

  • You are developing a rich, interactive experience such as a game.
  • Web technology doesn’t enable you to create what you need to (again, such as a game).
  • You have an established brand and want to make it as easy as possible for people to engage with you via an app (for example, many of the big retailers and travel sites are easier to interact with via their apps).

In the first two cases, you’re not going to be developing with WordPress, so you’ll need to look elsewhere for the right platform. But in the second, there might just be the option of creating an app using WordPress, especially with the development of the WP-REST API, which I’ll come to later.

And here are the circumstances in which you’d be better off creating a mobile-optimized website:

  • You need to use SEO to attract visitors to your site.
  • You want to facilitate social sharing of your content (this is possible via apps, but it isn’t often done well).
  • People won’t need to access your site offline.
  • You have a limited budget or skill set.
  • You want to offer the same content and experience to visitors on a range of devices including smartphones, tablets and desktops.

I think there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, one of more of the above will apply to you. In the majority of cases, a mobile website is the best route to choose. And even if you do decide to build an app, I would always recommend backing it up with a high quality mobile-optimized website too.

2. Mobile Site vs Responsive Site

Back when web developers were first starting to respond to growing amounts of mobile web traffic, the preferred option to improve user experience (UX) on mobile was to create a mobile site. This would be a separate site from the ‘main’ desktop site, serving up different content (i.e. reduced content) with a view to targeting users with a different set of needs and slower devices.

But all that has changed. Personally I find the 4G signal on my iPhone 6 is faster than my home wifi at some times of day, and I certainly don’t limit my mobile browsing to the types of activities stereotypically associated with mobile use, such as finding locations, getting quick information etc.

Millions of people only use a mobile device for personal internet use, and the average time spent online via a mobile has now overtaken time spent online on a desktop. Back in 2010, not long after I got my first iPhone, the average adult in the US was spending 24 minutes using their mobile phone each day, while now it’s nearly three hours. In the meantime, the time spent on desktop computers has stayed static at 2.4 hours.

Mobile use has now overtaken desktop use. Taken from Smart Insights Mobile Marketing Statistics.

Mobile use has now overtaken desktop use. Taken from Smart Insights Mobile Marketing Statistics.

This means that your site’s mobile visitors aren’t expecting a reduced experience compared to what they would get on a desktop and that they won’t be happy if that’s what they get. Back when phones were more limited or mobile signals were slow, maybe this was appropriate, but now your visitors will expect the same experience on mobile and desktop.

Which adds up to one thing. A responsive website will nearly always be preferable to a separate mobile site. If you still have a version of your site with the m. prefix, or you’re using browser sniffing to serve up a different theme (maybe via a plugin), you really need to stop it. Right now! There are hundreds of high quality responsive WordPress themes out there, from the free default themes to our own Upfront theme platform.

How WordPress Has Embraced Mobile

The developers of WordPress aren’t stupid. They keep a weather eye on Internet trends and have ensured that as WordPress has evolved, it’s incorporated mobile in different ways.

Let’s take a look at some of these.

Responsive Admin Screens

With WordPress 3.8, released in December 2013, the WordPress admin screens got a major overhaul. For me, the most exciting aspect of this was the fact that the admin screens were responsive.

WordPress 3.8 brought a responsive admin UX.

WordPress 3.8 brought a responsive admin UX.

This means that you can manage your WordPress site from whatever device you’ve got available. I’ve even created a new site from an iPad, although I have to admit that it wasn’t easy, and finding a good code editing app with FTP capabilities is a challenge. But it is possible, especially if you’re happy using off-the-shelf themes from the WordPress Theme Directory.

Responsive Images

Making images truly responsive is something that web developers have been working on for some years now. Instead of simply resizing images to fit their container using CSS, this is about sending an appropriately sized image to each device based on screen size.

WordPress already has a feature that helps with this: it saves multiple versions of each image you upload, at different sizes.

The RICG Responsive Images plugin ensures that on mobile devices, the smallest image is sent to the browser that will still look good on the page. It does this using the srcset HTML attribute. But it gets better. The next major WordPress release, version 4.4, will include this in core. So you won’t need to install any plugins for making images responsive: instead, WordPress will do the hard work for you. Sweet!

WP-REST API

We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of the WP-REST API. As Tom Ewer has written on our blog, the REST API has the potential to be a game-changer for WordPress, as it lets developers query the WordPress database without using PHP, but instead by creating a JSON object.

I won’t go into the details of how this works here (if you’re interested, I recommend Tom’s post), but what it does mean is that a WordPress database can be used to power anything that can make use of a JSON object. Which is just about anything. Including mobile apps. So if you are one of those people who needs to develop an app and you’ve been put off WordPress because it isn’t an app development platform, you can now rethink that decision.

One example is an online store: you could use WordPress to power your store website and also build a mobile app, using the REST API to pull data from your WordPress site into that app and ensuring that data is synced between the two.

Optimizing Your Site for Mobile Users

I hope by now I’ve convinced you that you need a responsive WordPress site which is optimized for users on all devices.

So if you don’t already have this, how do you go about getting it? The good news is that it’s easy. Let’s start with responsive themes.

Responsive Themes

The first thing any responsive WordPress site needs is a responsive theme. This will use a combination of fluid layouts (using percentages for widths instead of pixels) and media queries (for breakpoints), to create a layout that works well on all screen sizes. Here are some resources to help you with this:

Plugins for Responsive Sites

Once you’ve got a responsive theme activated and customized where relevant, the next step is to ensure that you’re using plugins that play nicely with responsive sites, or that enhance the UX on smaller screens. Here are a few:

Managing Your WordPress Site from a Mobile Device

The way you manage your site won’t impact on your users or on whether your site is responsive, but it will make your life easier if you’re someone who tends to have access to mobile devices more often than desktops if you can manage and update your site from a smartphone or tablet.

There are two ways to do this: via the browser and using a WordPress app.

Administration via the Browser

I’ve already mentioned above that the WordPress admin screens are responsive. This means that in theory you could carry out all of your site admin on any size screen.

In reality, however, things are a little different. Few people would want to write lengthy content using a smartphone (I’m certainly not using one to write this!), and the admin screens do take a little more work to navigate around on the smallest of screens.

But on a tablet with its mid-sized screen, there’s no reason why you should ‘t use your browser to keep your site updated. I do this occasionally and have sometimes experienced problems with the touch-screen interface. Which is why if I want to do more detailed work I tend to use the WordPress app.

Administration via the WordPress App

What was that I said earlier about apps being overtaken by mobile browser use? Well, in the case of WordPress admin, this isn’t the case.

There are WordPress apps for iOS and Android, which let you manage your site and post new content right from your mobile device. Perhaps one of the best features is the way it makes it so easy to add photos to your site: simply take a photo with your device and insert it in your posts. The app interface is designed for touch screens and the relevant screen size (so you’ll get a different experience on tablets and smartphones) and lets you access and manage multiple WordPress sites from the app, including self-hosted sites and wordpress.com sites.

Optimizing Your Website for Mobile

The latest research shows that you simply can’t afford to ignore visitors to your WordPress site from mobile devices. It’s also interesting that people are more likely to use their mobile browser than to download an app. And the average hours spent on mobile devices has now overtaken desktop.

If your site isn’t optimized for mobile users yet, you need to make sure it is. WordPress is making it easier and easier to do this, and by following the tips above you’ll have a site that attracts the largest possible audience.

Credit: Original Article

How to Share Your Instagram Photos on Your WordPress SiteInstagram: the very popular photo-sharing app that has over 400 million active users. Pretty impressive huh? You’re probably one of them. Well what if you are, and you were looking for a simple way to post Instagram photos to your WordPress site? Sure, there’s probably a plugin that will do that for you, but IFTTT offers an even easier way to do it. The following article by Tom Ewer explains how you can use IFTTT to do this.

If This Than That

You could use the embed code Instagram includes on every individual post page by clicking the three dots in the bottom right corner to copy and paste it, which works just fine if you occasionally want to publish photos on your site. But if you want to publish photos or videos as new posts soon as your share them on Instagram, IFTTT is the tool you want. In fact, you can even choose specific photos or videos to be posted by including a tag with the ones you want to send to WordPress, giving you total control over what gets posted.

Here’s how to set it all up.

Getting Started with IFTTT

IFTTT is a service that enables users to connect their personal accounts to certain web apps and generate automatic actions on one app any time another app is triggered. So, if you post a new Instagram photo (the trigger), then a new WordPress post is automatically generated featuring that photo (the action).

If you don’t have an IFTTT account, you can easily sign up for one for free. Just head on over to IFTTT.com, click the blue Sign Up button in the top right corner, enter your email address and choose a password.

Once you’ve signed into your account, you have to connect both your Instagram account and your WordPress account to IFTTT. These are are called “channels.”

Click on Channels in the top menu. You can either start typing “Instagram” into the search field, or scroll down through all the apps to find it.

Click on the Instagram icon and then click on the blue Connect button to be taken through the process of integrating your account with IFTTT.

Hit that big blue button.

Hit that big blue button.

Now we can take a look at some of the different ways to post Instagram content to WordPress. The first one involves posting all new photos and videos immediately to WordPress.

Publishing All New Posts from Your Instagram Feed to WordPress

When you use a trigger to generate an action with IFTTT, it’s called a “recipe.” You can create your own recipes if you want, which we’ll briefly touch on at the end of this article, but you might as well take advantage of the wide range of existing recipes that have been created by other users for anyone else to use too.

Click Browse in the top menu to search for specific recipes or look through recipes that have been recommended. To post all new Instagram photos and videos to WordPress, we’ll use the popular existing recipe, Instagram to Blog.

Click Connect and you’ll be taken to a new page with some customizable fields. For this particular recipe, the title of the WordPress post will be the caption that’s included with the Instagram post, but you can delete this or change it to whatever you want.

For example, you may want to move {{caption}} so that the Instagram caption is included in the WordPress caption field instead of the title.

Once you’ve connected your Instagram and WordPress accounts, you can add titles, tags, categories and other details.

Once you’ve connected your Instagram and WordPress accounts, you can add titles, tags, categories and other details.

If you want to change anything, just click in the box and look for blue ingredients icon, which enables you to choose some of the Instagram components that you can customize.

You can even scroll down to enter the categories and tags for your new Instagram WordPress posts, and you can select whether you’d like it published immediately, saved as a draft, or published privately. Click Add when you’re done.

The recipe can be accessed anytime by clicking My Recipes in the top menu. You can edit it whenever you want, view its log, check it to make sure it’s running smoothly or even turn it off without deleting it permanently.

Now whenever you post a new photo or video on Instagram, it should appear on your WordPress site within a few minutes (after the recipe has had time to check for posts) along with the information from the fields you customized.

Using Tags to Publish Specific Posts to WordPress

For users who want more control over which Instagram posts do and don’t get posted to WordPress, there’s the Instagram photos tagged #wp to WordPress post recipe. The addition of the #wp tag is what tells IFTTT exactly what to post.

In this recipe, you’ll notice the addition of the Instagram tag field, which includes “wp” by default. You can change the tag to anything you want if you’d prefer to tag your posts with something other than #wp.

Adding tags to your photos allows you to auto-publish only specific photos.

Adding tags to your photos allows you to auto-publish only specific photos.

Again, once you’ve finished making any necessary changes to the given fields, you can click Add to activate the recipe. Any time you want to an Instagram post to be published to your WordPress site, you just have to remember to include the #wp tag (or whichever tag you used in the recipe.

This is the recipe you want to use if you know you only want to publish specific photos or videos to your site. But what about publishing just photos? Or just videos?

The next two recipes will show you how to post just one of the two post types from Instagram.

Publishing Only Photos or Videos to WordPress

If you’d like to publish all photos, but not videos (or vice versa) to WordPress, you can do it without needing to add a tag. For photo posts only, you can use the New photo by Instagram user, create new WordPress post recipe.

Customize the fields however you like then click Add. New photos you post to Instagram will be published on WordPress, but new videos will not.

For the reverse, the Instagram video to WordPress blog recipe is the one you’ll want to use. New videos you post to Instagram will be published on WordPress, while new photos will be left out.

Creating Your Own Instagram to WordPress Recipe

All of the recipes we’ve covered are great options if you’re just looking to get something set up nice and quick, but if you want your recipe to include something specific or function in a certain manner, then you may want to consider just making your own. That way, you can choose the fields you do or don’t want to include.

To start creating your own, click your username in the top menu and select Create from the dropdown. IFTTT will then take you through the process of creating your recipe.

Getting creative with IFTTT.

Getting creative with IFTTT.

First, click on the blue this link and choose your trigger channel. Since this article is all about integrating Instagram with WordPress, you’ll choose Instagram.

Now comes the fun part. IFTTT will pull up a grid of options to select as your trigger.

Instagram triggers include:

  • New photos by you
  • New photos by you with a specific hashtag
  • New photos by you in a specific geographical area
  • You liking another photo
  • New photos by a specific user
  • New photo by any other users sharing public posts in a specific geographical area
  • New photos by any other users using a specific hashtag
  • New videos by you
  • New videos by you with a specific hashtag
  • You liking a video
  • New videos by a specific user
  • New videos by any other users with a specific hashtag

You have all sorts of options here, including the opportunity to publish Instagram posts that aren’t your own to your WordPress site. As an example, let’s say we want to publish new photos posted by anyone in a specific geographical area.

Click the box labeled New photo by anyone in area. In this case, IFTTT will ask to know your location so it can give you a map of your nearby area, which you can drag around to position right. You can even use the plus or minus sign buttons to enlarge or minimize the area you want to include.

Awesome trigger options.

Awesome trigger options.

Click Create Trigger to move on to the next step.

Next, click on the blue that link to choose your action channel. Obviously, for this example, we’re going to choose WordPress.

You can choose to create either a regular WordPress blog post, or a photo post.

Pick your poison.

Pick your poison.

Let’s click Create a photo post for this one.

Now you can fill in all the fields with the ingredients that you want. The first three fields have ingredients that are automatically suggested, but feel free to delete or change anything to make it work just the way you want.

Click Create Action when you’re done. If you picked a relatively popular location where photos from other users are posted quite often with the location tag, then you should start noticing new photos from other users show up on your WordPress site very shortly after IFTTT checks it.

If you want to see how else you can integrate Instagram with your WordPress site, check out these 12 Instagram Plugins for WordPress Worth Installing. If you’d rather not feature each individual Instagram post as a new WordPress post, these plugins give you some different options for displaying posts as a gallery in widgetized areas or anywhere else on your site.

Wrapping Up

By featuring Instagram posts on your WordPress site, your site automatically becomes more visually appealing, and it may even help draw in more followers for you. There’s no problem with manually embedding a photo or video into WordPress here and there when it’s called for, but when you automate simple tasks like this, you’ll wonder why you never decided to do it sooner.

Credit: Original Article

content-marketing

Content marketing is extremely important for new and established businesses. Creating high quality content improves brand awareness and establishes you as an expert in your field, by improving your content marketing your site will ultimately receive more visitors, increase sales and improve sales.

There are many different ways to implement or improve your content marketing strategy and if you have a WordPress website then there are some powerful WordPress plugins that you can use to help. Whatever your experience with content marketing and, however, much time you have to give, the tips below will start you off in the right direction or boost your current efforts.

Create Great Content

You might not want to hear this, but the most important aspect of content marketing is the content itself. Many people tie themselves up in knots over how to produce amazing content, or even just deciding what subjects to write about.

The best advice for small businesses is to keep it simple. Think about what information your customers want to know. What questions have they recently been asking? What have you found yourself explaining over and over again? If someone has a problem that they have discussed with you then more than likely plenty of other people have the same problem and they are at home Google-ing it.

Write down the queries and concerns of your target audience and existing customers and turn this into content. The best way to add interesting and engaging content to your site is through a blog so take your customer’s questions and turn each one into a blog post. Try and make these posts informative and fun but most importantly relevant to your target audience, so they are enticed into reading.

Now, whenever a prospective customer or client takes to Google to search for an answer to their query, there’s a chance they will find your blog. After receiving an answer to their question, within just a few clicks, they can be at your checkout or contact page, ready to take the next step in your sales funnel.

Use a Quality WordPress Theme

There are many WordPress themes to choose from, and when you’re fist getting your business or blog started online it can be very overwhelming. For content marketing you want a theme that loads fast, looks professional, is easy to use and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Betheme enough. This theme has been optimized for speed, has hundreds of Theme Customiser options, and easy drag & drop page builder and costs less than a new printer. For any business or blog, Total is a great theme to build a content marketing website with.

betheme

Organize your Content Creation

For a small scale business, you want to be posting at least one, ideally two, blog posts a week. People often start out well at creating and adding content to their site but then as the weeks go on they tend to fall behind. It is really important to regularly add content and the best way to do this is to use a tracker or calendar, just as you would for meetings or other important aspects of your business.

Editorial-Calendar (1)

Editorial Calendar is a free plugin for WordPress that enables you to see all your scheduled posts for the day, week, or month. It allows you to organize when the articles are scheduled to be published, what ideas you have for future content and much more. This information is all presented in a clear calendar format. This free plugin offers a quick and easy way to stay on top of your content creation duties.

Don’t Forget About Email

It’s vital that you attempt to collect the email addresses of the visitors to your website, as well as maintain a list of customer and client emails. By setting up an email newsletter or subscriber list, you can now reach out to these contact each time you post a new article on your blog. These email notifications help your audience become aware of the new articles and encourages them to visit your site to find out more.

Mail-Chimp

MailChimp is a powerful email marketing solution. By installing the free MailChimp for WordPress plugin and signing up with MailChimp, you can begin building a mailing list. Through MailChimp, you can then automatically email your new content to all, or a group of, your mailing list.This is an important way of interacting with your customers and summoning an audience for your blog and the rest of your website.

Manage your Social Media

Social Media is another important way of sharing your content and promoting your site. Whatever type of business you have you need to have a presence on social media. The more articles you produce the more you will have to share on the different social media channels, and the more other people will be exposed to your content.

Social-Warfare

The easiest way to make your content shareable and to encourage people to follow you on social media is to add share buttons to your site. Social Warfare is a premium WordPress plugin that specializes in social shares and driving traffic to your site.

As well as providing social share buttons it also helps with other aspects of social media marketing, including providing options for Pinterest specific images and creating Twitter-friendly quotes. This plugin will equip your website with the tools you need to begin sharing your content and building a strong social media community that will also share your content for you./p>

Save Time with CoSchedule

One of the main problems with content marketing and social media is that it can be time-consuming. The constant creation of new content and the continual sharing of it on the different social media platforms can be a full-time job within itself. CoSchedule can help with this and save you much time and energy.

CoSchedule

CoSchedule is a premium WordPress plugin which works a bit like Editorial Calendar, which was mentioned earlier. However, CoSchedule not only helps schedule your blog articles but all the social media posts that go with it. It also enables you to easily share old posts again so you don’t have to be constantly creating new content. All this is done from the WordPress dashboard, saving time jumping from one site to the next and getting your head round each channel’s requirements.

Use Analytics to Help Improve your Content Marketing Strategy

Analytics is a crucial part of content marketing. It enables you to see how many people have been looking at your site, how they found you, what content they are interested in, and what pages they aren’t, as well as a lot more.

Google-Analyticator

Google Analyticator is a great free WordPress plugin that enables you to see real-time statistics from inside your WordPress dashboard. The information it provides will help you to improve your content marketing strategy, helping make your content more relevant to your customers interests.

Sprout-Social

Sprout Social is a service that helps you monitor how your content performs across the different social networks. This is a premium solution that offers many features, but its social media metrics is particularly impressive. This enables you to really look in depth at how your social media platforms are helping you, where your target audience is hanging out, and what content they are interested in and sharing. This type of information is essential to help you market your site in the right way, with the right people at the right time, in the right place!

Wrap Up

All of the strategies above are important in content marketing, use all or some of the above will give you a great starting platform to ramp up your content marketing strategies.

Original Article here

security

A negative to WordPress being crazy popular is the annoyance of hackers. On this post we will be addressing the need to secure the login area of your WordPress site. Simple things like installing a limit login plugin or integrating two step authentication can help secure you website from those pesky hackers.

Limit Logins

One of the first things you can do to manage WordPress security is to limit the number of times people can try to login. As I mentioned in a previous post, many hackers use brute force attacks to try to crack your username and/or password. Even if these attacks don’t succeed, the repetitive nature of the attacks can put a significant load on your server.

By limiting logins, you prevent a hacker from even attempting a brute force attack. He’d get to try two to three times then have his IP banned. You can easily set this up by using the Limit Login Attempts plugin, according to Ryan Burr, a technology service expert, and WordPress developer with One Stop Tek Shop. This plugin hasn’t been updated in over two years, however, so while its features are great, you might want to pass on it for fear of opening yourself up to additional security vulnerabilities.

I recommend instead, Login Lockdown. Since both of these plugins let you limit the number of failed login attempts a user can make before his IP is banned for however many hours you determine, “brute force attacks would be much harder to pull off,” says Burr. “The hacker would need to have many different proxies because the plugin would keep banning that IP address after a certain number of failed login attempts,” he says, noting that you can customize a variety of settings here to create the optimum security configuration for your site.

Ban Users Who Attempt to Use Admin as Username

It’s one thing to make sure you don’t use admin as a username. It’s another altogether to prevent other people from trying to login with it. Since “admin” has such brute force attack connotations these days, random people that try to login to your site with it are often hackers. You can halt their attempts in their tracks, however, by banning anyone who tries to use “admin” to login, says Damon Burton of SEO National.

Wordfence-plugin

He suggests using Wordfence to set up this auto-ban feature. Of course, this plugin includes a lot of other features, too like two-factor authentication, blocking of known attackers, and more. I’ll talk more about this plugin in our next installment.

Establish the Correct File Permissions

Another thing you want to do is establish the correct file permissions on your site. According to WordPress.org, setting a directory with permissions of 777 could allow a hacker or some other malicious entity to edit your files or even upload new files—like malware. Your wp-config.php file should be set to 600; your regular files should be set to 640 or 644; and your directories should be set to 750 or 755. While you don’t have to make this change on every host, you should still look into it via WordPress’ guide to Changing File Permissions.

Create an .htaccess File

If you want nice permalinks on your site, you’re going to need an .htaccess file anyway. But adding one can actually beef up your security a bit. Again, it’s not a total solution on its own but it does work well in tandem with other methods.

A great tutorial for creating an .htaccess file, I feel compelled to link to here because it’s so comprehensive, plus it offers a downloadable .htaccess file you can start using on your site immediately. Once you follow its basic setup instructions, you can block access to certain files in your WordPress directory. If people can’t load these files—either directly or indirectly—the files can’t be tampered with. To “harden” your WordPress installation, you’ll need to add a few lines of code to block access to a few specific files, including:

  • wp-config.php
  • readme.html
  • license.txt
  • wp-includes directory

Beyond blocking access to specific files, you can also block access to file types. Typical file types to block include backups, config, txt, and log files. Basically, anything that’s used on the backend for design, development, or documentation should be blocked.

If you want to block access to specific plugin or theme directories or any other directories on your site, you can block the whole directory, too. This is a smart move to do for any directory that doesn’t have an index file. Directories without index files will list out all of the pages and files contained within it when accessed. It’s giving hackers information they don’t need, so hide them!

Hide the Login Page

This is another .htaccess modification but it’s a little bit different than the others so I thought it deserved its own subheading. You can deny access to the login page for your WordPress site altogether. Of course, this only works if your site has a single author and that author’s IP address hardly ever changes. Another few lines of code in the .htaccess file will deny access to the login page to everyone but the IP addresses you specify.

secure-hidden-login

If you want to keep your options open in terms of adding authors to your site later, you can always use a plugin to simply hide the login page from unauthorized users. Secure Hidden Login is one such option. While you can set it up so the login screen appears when the “WordPress” logo is clicked, a more secure option would be to set keyboard activation. So, someone goes to your website’s wp-login page only to find nothing there. She could activate the username and password fields by pressing a key combination.

Remove Generator Tag Info

Hackers do all kinds of things to try to get into WordPress sites, one of which is running scripts to find WordPress installations across the Internet based on footprints. “Footprints are identifiable or recurring lines of text or code that would identify that a site uses a particular set of code,” says Burton. WordPress is one such example of “recurring lines of text or code.” Plus, WordPress by default identifies that the site you’re looking at was built on WordPress.

A WordPress site’s source code will say something like this, says Burton:

You can remove this tag from your source code, however, which gives hackers one less thing to find (and target) your site by. “Webmasters can add the following line of code to their functions.php file:
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘wp_generator’);

According to Burton, removing the generator tag means your site no longer identifies itself as WordPress.

Enable Two-Step Authentication

Another thing you can (and should) do to protect your site is to set up two-step authentication. By requiring your site users to take two steps to login, it discourages brute force attacks and most hackers in general. Your site would be perceived as just too difficult to crack, which is definitely a good thing!

There are several plugins out there that enable this feature on your site. A few particular favorites include:

  • Duo Two-Factor Authentication: After inputting your password via the normal login form, you’ll have to complete a secondary step to login, like confirm it on a phone app, in a SMS text message, or in a phone call.
  • Clef: Once set up, all you have to do is open the Clef app on your mobile phone and focus its camera on a moving image on your computer screen. It’ll “lock” in place and you’ll be logged in.

Wrap Up

Locking down security on your WordPress site can be time consuming but once done your site is going to be much more reliable and the likelyhood of a hacker bringing it down is unlikely.

For assistance and advice on securing your WordPress site contact the butler

Original Article here

bloggingAdding and maintaining a blog on your website has many benefits such as; driving traffic to your website, converting that traffic into leads & establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Below we will explore this in more depth as well as why your website needs a blog and how to start your very own. ENJOY!

Introduction

Considering you built your website with WordPress, it might seem a bit strange to some that it doesn’t feature a blog. However, when you’re working hard on and in your business, it can feel like the last thing you can justify spending time on is blogging.

This makes sense. You’re a freelancer or business owner, designing and developing your way to success. Your website is finished. It looks great, has excellent sales copy, and offers a positive user experience. Your visitors can easily see what you have to offer and view glowing testimonials from previous clients and customers to back up those claims. Yet somehow, you’re still not getting enough business coming your way.

This could be because there’s one thing you’ve overlooked on your website: adding a blog. So why should your business website have a blog?

In this article, I will try to convince you why your business website needs a blog and then finish off with a few pointers on how to get started. By the end of this post, you’ll be able to make an informed decision as to whether blogging can help your business or not and if content marketing is a valuable use of your time and resources.

So, let’s start out with a quick overview of content marketing and how it can help your business grow.

What is Content Marketing?

Why-Your-Business-Website-Needs-a-Blog-Content-Marketing

Content Marketing is a marketing strategy that is based on creating and sharing content of value with your community or target audience, thus establishing yourself as an authority in your field. It helps build a strong relationship with your readers and potential customers and ultimately leads to increased sales without the need for traditional hard selling.

One very popular form of content marketing it to post great content to your blog on a regular basis. Instead of traditional outbound marketing, such as advertising and cold calling, where you go to your audience, the goal of inbound marketing, or content marketing, is to have your audience come to you.

If you’re averse to selling yourself and self-promotion, then this should sound like a form of marketing that is right up your alley. However, if you’re still not entirely convinced or you want to know more, let’s break it down further with the top reasons why your website needs a blog.

Top Reasons Why Your Website Needs a Blog

Why-Your-Business-Website-Needs-a-Blog-Reasons

So now that we’re all on the same page when it comes to the topic of content marketing, let’s take a look at some concrete reasons why you should add a blog to your website and start publishing content on a regular basis.

You could even use these reasons to persuade your web design clients why they need a blog as part of their website package, making it another additional value-added service you can add to your portfolio.

Reason #1: More Opportunities to Be Found A typical business website may only consist of 5-10 pages, including those essential pages you might’ve forgotten. While that could be enough to sell your proposition, it might not be enough to get your potential clients and customers to your website in the first place. That is where a blog comes in..

You see, each post you publish on your blog is another page of your website that is indexed in the search engines. This means it’s another chance for your website to be found by people searching the web. If you’re employing the core tactics of content marketing and using your blog to answer the questions and queries of your target audience, then when they turn to Google in search of a solution to their quandary, with a bit of luck and some good old-fashioned SEO, your blog posts may well be displayed in the results pages. This then brings more targeted traffic to your website.

Reason #2: Opens up the World of Social Media Marketing Your ideal customers and clients are probably already hanging out on social media; therefore, you should be there too so that they can find you. As well as sharing content you’ve discovered that your audience will find useful and responding to any queries related to your industry that you come across, sharing your own content is something you should be doing on social media to get more visitors to your website.

However, if your site only has a few pages, all of which are focused on selling your business, then there’s only so many times you can share that content before it starts getting old.

But, with a busy blog, which regularly publishes useful content that answer questions, solves problems, and gives great value, you’ve suddenly got something to share on social media. Each tweet of a blog post is an action that has the potential to grow the number of leads heading to your site.

Visitors that reach your site also have something to share of yours if they wish. By using a versatile social sharing plugin like Monarch, no matter what social network your content or niche is best suited to, you can make it as easy as possible for your visitors to promote your content to their followers.

If you do take our advice and start a blog, be sure to read our guide covering how bloggers can leverage social media to get more targeted traffic to their content.

Why-Your-Business-Website-Needs-a-Blog-Targets

Reason #3: More Time to Connect with Your Targets

While your website’s essential pages might be perfectly crafted, sometimes a visitor just wants more before they are ready to become a client, customer, or subscriber. Maybe they want to be sure you know your stuff, want more answers to their questions, want to get to know you better, or even be sure that you are still in business.

A regularly updated blog can help with all of this. Well placed links in the sidebar, header, or footer to your blog or its best articles can make it easy for your visitors to extend their stay on your site. This can then help them to get a better sense of who you are and what you have to offer.

The home, about, services, and other core pages of your website should be concise and to the point. Your blog, on the other hand, offers more creative license and gives you the freedom to express your values, views, and personality with your target audience.

With a blog, you now have a chance to win over those visitors that aren’t sold on your sales page alone. Furthermore, by also taking advantage of email marketing and using a plugin like Bloom, you can give yourself another chance to connect with those visitors who still aren’t ready to pull the trigger but also aren’t quite ready to walk away for good.

Reason #4: Another Chanel of Communication Each post on your blog and its accompanying comment form gives your audience another opportunity to get in touch with you. Some visitors might not have the time or think that their question warrants an email or message via your contact form. However, their query might be perfectly suited to be left as a comment at the end of the post they’ve just read

When this happens and you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to reply to their comment, use this chance to start a discussion and assist them, all the while demonstrating your knowledge, expertise, and willingness to help. If you’ve enabled reply notifications that are sent out to your readers who have left comments, you now have another way to bring those one-time visitors back to your website that you didn’t have before.

Yes, responding to comments can be time-consuming. However, if you set a brief window aside each week to moderate and respond to useful comments you can not only deliver extra value to your commenters but also any other visitors who read those posts. Comment spam is a very real issue too, but it’s one that can be minimized.

If you are worried about negative feedback being left on your blog, there’s no need. Responding to those negative comments in a calm and collected way demonstrates that you are willing to listen to your customers and won’t lash out when things don’t go your way. Anyway, you’re under no obligation to approve all comments – it’s your blog after all. You never, know you might even get some unsolicited praise and feedback left as comments for other visitors to see.

Having a visitor open a channel of communication with you can be invaluable and blog comments are a valid way of facilitating this.

Reason #5: More Networking Opportunities By sharing what you are up to on your blog, or featuring other players in your industry that you are impressed with, you can initiate some useful networking opportunities.

Maybe someone will be impressed with what you’ve been working on, or someone else will reach out to thank you for mentioning them on your blog. Perhaps a potential business partner will see that you are both attending the same conference and make a point to seek you out there.

You don’t have to go as far as highlighting your direct competitors and risk losing business. However, if you are a theme designer, by mentioning an impressive plugin that’s just been released, or a new hosting service, you will not only be sharing useful information with your audience but also laying the foundations for a potential partnership.

Reason #6: Shameless Self-Promotion No one likes a braggart. However, if you frame it in the right way, your blog can be a great way to share projects you’ve completed, clients you’ve landed, or accolades your been awarded.

Some businesses even share their revenue and income reports on their blogs. At first glance, this might seem like nothing more than grandstanding. However, if you include the things you’ve learned and share what went well and what didn’t, you’ll be providing real value in these posts. This then makes them more than simple financial reports and can be a great way to ensure your visitors come back the following month for the next installment in your story.

Publishing information about your revenue, notable clients you’ve landed, or projects you’ve completed also shows that you are the real deal and not just a new venture in its first month of business. This should help make it a little easier for your potential clients to decide to trust you with their business.

Reason #7: Create Content Specific Lead Magnets The main goal of your website might be to convert each visitor into a customer or client from the outset. However, your secondary goal should be to find a way to keep in touch with them until they are ready to sign on the dotted line.

Creating a focused email marketing campaign is one very effective way of doing this. Get a visitor onto your email list and you can send them valuable content on a regular basis until they are won over, their budget permits, or for whatever reason they are finally ready to take action and start working with you.

A proven way to encourage a reader to join your email list is to offer a lead magnet – a free incentive given in exchange for signing up. However, it can be hard to create the perfect lead magnet that all your readers will want to get access to. When it comes to producing a lead magnet, one size rarely fits all.

However, by creating multiple lead magnets and pairing them with specific types of content on your blog, you can make them much more targeted and, therefore, more likely to convert. For example, someone lands at your site on a post on why responsive design is so important. The newsletter signup form on that page offers a free responsive design checklist in exchange for their email address. Meanwhile, a blog post on how to make a website faster offers a guide on reducing your page loads times as a lead magnet.

This might sound like a lot to manage. However, by choosing a professional email marketing service, it’s a lot easier to implement than its sounds.

Reason #8: An Overall SEO Boost for Your Website As well as having more content from your site indexed in the search engines, there are a few other SEO related benefits of adding a blog to your business website.

In basic terms, the more often content is published on your website, the more often the search engine crawlers will visit your website and the faster new content will be indexed. This means that an important announcement you make or timely content you post stands a much better chance of being found faster by your audience, compared to if you’re website was dormant for long periods.

Search engines don’t want to send their users to out of date content and abandoned websites. Regularly publishing content on your blog is one way to signal to search engines like Google that your website is alive and well.

Acquiring links from other websites that point to yours is still one of the most effective ways to improve the search engine rank of your content. While, we’re not suggesting you go out and artificially build backlinks, each article you publish on your blog is another piece of content that another website might want to link to. Sales pages are hard to earn backlinks for, but it’s a lot easier for a useful blog post that provides a wealth of value.

How to Start Your Blog Today

There you have it: eight solid reasons why you should add a blog to your website. Now that you’re convinced, you might be wondering what the best way to start is. So, here’s some advice on beginning your blogging journey.

Step #1: Setting Up the Blog in WordPress In most cases, the homepage of your business website is probably set up as a static page, rather than an archive view of your most recent blog posts. We don’t recommend you change that, so the best way to help your visitors find your blog content is to create a new blank WordPress page called ‘Blog’.

Once you’ve published that blank page, head over to the Reading Settings and select that new page from the Posts page drop down list.

The link to this page should now be added to your navigation and menu areas. When visited, this page will then list your most recent blog posts.

Step #2: How to Write Traffic and Lead Generating Blog Posts Now that the technicalities are out of the way, it’s time to start thinking about content creation. This is a whole other topic in itself but some essential things to think about include:

Establishing Your Target Audience: By being aware of this, you can always ensure that your content is speaking to your ideal customer or client. Having your target audience in mind makes it easier to write content and stay focused on your goals. Think about who your previous clients have been, what problems you can solve, and whom you’d love to work with.

Create a List of Blog Post Topics: Now that you know whom you are writing for, it’s time to come up with a list of blog topics that they will find useful. An easy way to do this is think of all the questions your clients have when they first make contact and while you are working together. Check through your inbox for questions you’ve been asked and issues that have arisen.

Find Your Blog’s Voice: Armed with your list of blog topics, it’s time to start writing. However, if you are new to blogging it can be hard to know what approach to take. Should your voice be formal and business-like or more chatty and conversational? It’s up to you to establish what suits you and your industry and target audience best. While it’s good to be consistent, it’s also fine to experiment in the early days until your true voice emerges.

Content Creation: If the thought of writing long articles (like this one) doesn’t appeal then the good news is there are plenty of different formats your blog posts can take. Consider simple how-to guides, news, list articles, and round-ups of other useful content you’ve discovered.

Schedule Content: There are plenty of great content scheduling plugins for WordPress. However, to start with, simply choose a frequency such as two posts a week, decide which days of the week your posts will go live, and then allocate a topic to each day. This will ensure you always know what you should be writing about when you get down to work and will help you get in and out as quickly as possible.

Things to Remember: According to entrepreneur and online marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk, each piece of content that you publish should achieve at least one of the following: inform, entertain, and educate. Maybe you can pull off all three, but for most industries and blogs, one should suffice.

Hire the Butler: If this all sounds like too much work and time that will take you away from what you do best and the core focus of your business, then you might want to think about outsourcing this task. The team at WP Butler are experts in WordPress blogging. Contact us today

Wrap Up

Blogging can help your business website get more traffic and give you more opportunity to turn leads into clients and customers. If you do it right, content marketing can be a new way to grow your business and could even end up becoming an additional service you can offer your clients.

Blogging isn’t always easy. However, if you follow the above advice and commit to publishing new content on a regular basis, you blog’s ability to generate more leads can snowball over time. This will then reduce your reliance on word of mouth referrals, outreach, and paid advertising

Original Article here

9 Awesome & Obscure WordPress Features You Didn't Know ExistedAt the rate WordPress is growing, it’s impossible to promote all of the awesome little bits and pieces it contains, which means that some features get overlooked. In this post courtesy of Daniel Pataki, you should see at least a few things you don’t know about everyone’s favourite CMS. Get ready for awesome!

1. Paste to Make a Link

This one blows everyone away because so few people seem to know about it. When in visual mode in the post editor, you can select some text and paste to make the selected text a link. Usually, you would expect the selected text to be replaced with a link but not so in WordPress.

Time savings ahead!

Copy and paste to make a link

Copy and paste to make a link

2. Delete the Post Name to Regenerate It

If you rename a post before it is published, you’ll generally want to edit the link to make sure the post name follows the post title. If you click edit and just delete the whole thing the post name will be regenerated based on the current title.

Stare in awe at the power of WordPress.

Changing the post name

Changing the post name

3. Screen Options Are per User

Screen options may be something you already know about, but probably don’t take advantage of. They are not only saved in cookies and in the database but are stored per user, which means that you can set up a completely different layout for yourself than others would see.

The cookie-database saving means that you can set up a specific layout on one computer and then log in from a different device and still see your own layout. This isn’t very well-communicated in the admin, which is why users seem to be afraid to use it.

WordPress Screen Options

WordPress Screen Options

4. Markdown-Style Shortcuts

Since WordPress 4.3, you can use markdown-like syntax to make your writing a lot faster. Stars and dashes make lists, hashes make titles and so on.

Take a look at the announcement for more details on how to use this feature.

Editing Shortcuts

Editing Shortcuts

5. Multi-Page Posts

You can use the <!–nextpage–> tag to split content into multiple pages. WordPress will take all of your tags and generate the pagination based on them.

That said, I personally really,really dislike multi-page posts. The option is there if you want to use it, nonetheless.

6. WordPress Has Image Editing Power

Just like magic, WordPress can perform basic image editing tasks like rotating, cropping and resizing. No filters just yet, but this feature is pretty useful if you need to rotate an image the right way up quickly.

Select an image and click on the edit image link near the image thumbnail in the details section and off you go.

Image Editing In WordPress

Image Editing In WordPress

7. WordPress Has a Filesystem API

Here’s one for the developers out there. The Filesystem API was created back in WordPress 2.6 to handle the auto-update features.

This is not one of those systems you’ll use every day, but when you need it, it’s nice to know there’s something in WordPress core to help you out.

8. Terms Now Have Metadata

As of the latest 4.4 release of WordPress, taxonomies now have metadata. Awesome!

This includes a new wp_termmeta table complete with get_term_meta(), update_term_meta() and all the other usual suspects.

You can read all about it in the core developer teams 4.4 Taxonomy Roundup post.

9. Embed Third Party Content by Pasting a Link

WordPress uses oEmbed to allow you to embed Tweets, Vimeo and Youtube videos, Soundcloud and all sorts of other fun things in your content. In fact, you can just paste a link to the resource in question and it will be converted to an embed for you.

When version 4.4 is released, WordPress will become an oEmbed provider, so as long as you are running 4.4 and so is the blog you want ot target, you can even link to other WordPress sites’ content in this way.

Embedding Content With oEmbed

Embedding Content With oEmbed

Credit: Original Article

woocommerce-post

WooCommerce is the powerhouse when it comes to WordPress eCommerce, packed with features and functionality.

On top of the standard features WooCommerce comes bundled with they also have a ton of extension free and paid to help customize your store exactly as you need it.

Below we will run through 10 of the best WooCommerce Extenstions available.

WooCommerce Subscriptions ($199)

Although one-off purchases are nice, recurring purchases are better, right? If you’d like to chase one of the Holy Grails of business – residual revenue – you’ll need WooCommerce Subscriptions.

The extension allows you to collect recurring payments automatically and works with 25 different payment gateways – including Stripe, PayPal Standard, PayPal Pro, and Authorize.Net. You also have full control over your billing cycle; whether you’re collecting payments weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or more infrequently. To simplify payment tracking, you can choose to synchronize all recurring payments, too – to, say, the 1st of every month.

To boost conversions, you can also offer free (or reduced) trials to entice visitors in – you can even integrate WooCommerce coupon codes as well. Visitors are free to upgrade/downgrade their subscriptions from a members’ area, too, so it’s entirely hands-off for you.

Download Here

Product CSV Import Suite ($199)

If you stock a wide variety of SKUs, uploading each one manually is a major time sink – or expensive to outsource! To simplify this task, look no further than the Product CSV Import Suite extension.

Simply upload a CSV file and let the extension import all of your products. You can add columns to your spreadsheet for prices, descriptions, taxonomies, and more – the extension will upload the lot. And, to keep all related products in one place, you can also import product variations.

Should one of your major suppliers bulk change their prices, you’ll need to update your own prices to reflect your changing costs. Again, to make these changes manually would take too long. Fortunately, with a bit of Excel wizardry you can update your master spreadsheet prices, then upload the CSV file to your website. The extension will automatically adjust your store’s live prices. Quick, easy, painless.

Download Here

Payment Gateway (from $79)

Your chosen payment gateway will determine how customers pay for products – which obviously has a direct impact on your conversion rate. Do you choose to keep them on-site to make a card payment, which requires extra configuration? Or, do you prefer to take the simplest route and whisk them away to an external website to pay, as with PayPal?

Fortunately, WooCommerce gives you plenty of options – a whopping 117, in fact. Make sure your preferred gateway is available in your country, plus check that the transaction costs are reasonable. I’d prefer not to single out an individual payment gateway, so here are some of the more popular options:

Table Rate Shipping ($199)

Charge too much for shipping and you deter potential customers. Charge too little and your shipping costs eat into your margins. Setting viable shipping rates often involves treading a fine line, and a one-size-fits-all shipping rate rarely works.

Now, by default, WooCommerce offers some flexibility over shipping charges; however, if you want full control, I recommend the popular Table Rate Shipping extension. Table Rate Shipping gives you lots of advanced shipping options to play with, including:

  • Variable shipping charges for pre-configured “zones.”
  • Rates calculated based on number of items or product classes.
  • Shipping rules determined by order weight, value, or number of items.

This means you’ll never be left out of pocket when you’re hit with an unusually large shipping charge – instead, the costs are passed on to the customer. If you’d prefer to use the extension to drive custom, you can also use the Table Rate Shipping extension to configure promotional shipping rates.

Download Here

Dynamic Pricing ($129)

Online consumers are incredibly price sensitive. Sure, we like a bargain in the offline world, too, but the nature of the internet makes shopping around and price comparisons much easier. As such, competitive prices are often the biggest deciding factor between a customer shopping with you or a rival.

If you want more flexibility over your pricing, check out the Dynamic Pricing extension. The extension allows you to configure advanced pricing rules for your store – perfect for promotional pricing. For example, you can offer discounts based on basket price, number of items bought, or products bought together (cross-promotion). You can also give your existing customer base preferential treatment by offering exclusive discounts.

If you’re looking to drive more conversions through promotional pricing, this extension is a must.

Download Here

Product Bundles ($49)

Some products are not supposed to be used independently. In many, many scenarios, a customer will be far happier to receive certain products together – in Economics, these are called complementary goods. A good example of this is a PlayStation 4 being bought with at least one game. This is also an example of cross-selling.

Now, cross-selling is one of the most effective ways for an eCommerce store to boost profits – it allows you to extract more value from each customer. Easier said than done, of course. However, bundling related, complementary products together is a fool-proof strategy. For that, WooCommerce has a dedicated extension: Product Bundles.

Rather than manually creating a bundled product – which is technically possible using out-the-box WooCommerce – Product Bundles lets you create complex products. You can select all of the individual products you want to include in your bundle, and the extension will group them together on one product page. By syncing your items in this way, WooCommerce will automatically update your inventory levels for every item included in the bundle.

Download Here

WooCommerce Bookings ($249)

Although WooCommerce was primarily built for eCommerce, its payment processing capabilities mean it can be used by a variety of non-eCommerce businesses. By installing the WooCommerce Bookings extension, you give your WordPress website the ability to offer time-based purchases. This means hotels can accept bookings, hairdressers can offer appointments, and restaurants can take table reservations.

The extension lets you create fixed time slots and then gives visitors the opportunity to choose their preferred slot. To avoid double-booking, the extension supports a booking management system, too. And, should you wish to take bookings in a variety of ways – i.e., in-store and over the phone – you can also manually update your booking calendar from the WordPress back-end.

Download Here

WooCommerce Memberships ($149)

WooCommerce Memberships is another extension exploiting WooCommerce’s payment processing capabilities for a non-eCommerce business model. The extension turns your WooCommerce-powered website into a fully functional membership website.

The extensions allows you to create a tiered membership website – a great way to monetize your premium content. You can also choose to drip content to new members, so that they can’t access all the good stuff at once. This encourages a customer to remain a member for longer. Visitors can pay for their preferred level of membership – or even multiple memberships – using the WooCommerce checkout process and your chosen payment gateway.

It’s worth pointing out that, should you want to offer recurring monthly memberships – highly recommended for membership sites – you will also need the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension.

Download Here

WooCommerce Social Login ($79)

The game of maximizing sales involves cutting potential buyer objections down to a minimum. Many eCommerce stores make the mistake of asking their customers to jump through too many hoops during the checkout process. When the checkout process becomes a chore, many people will simply abandon their cart – a missed opportunity for you.

Asking customers to register before checking out is one of the most time-consuming processes. It also means that visitors have one more set of login credentials to remember (and forget). To make logging in easier for your customers, look no further than the WooCommerce Social Login extension.

The extension lets your customers login using their Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, PayPal, or Amazon account – accounts many of them will already be logged in to.

Why is this important? Well, for a start, it reduces buyer friction – it’s effectively a one-click login. Just as important, however, the instantly-recognizable social media logos act as a trust symbol. And the more trust symbols you display (within reason!), the higher your conversion rate.

Download Here

Checkout Field Editor ($49)

This extension is another that targets the checkout process, allowing you to streamline it where possible to minimize buyer objections.

By default, WooCommerce ships with a fairly standard list of checkout fields. However, have you ever asked yourself if any of these fields are surplus to requirements? Or, would your business perhaps benefit from a very specific, tailored checkout field?

If you answer “yes” to either of these questions, you might benefit from the Checkout Field Editor extension. As the name indicates, it gives you full control over the fields used during your checkout process. Best of all, each field is easily customized from the WordPress back-end.

Remember: fewer buyer objections, more sales!

Download Here

While WooCommerce is completely free to use, the reality is that a lot of stores need extensions & customisations to achieve their desired result. As you can see from above WooCommerce has so many options that won’t brake the bank.

For advice and assistance with setting up WooCommerce contact the WP Butler.

Original Article here

cachingIf your website is running slow or you just want to improve the performance of your website then you may want to install a caching plugin.

Caching stores frequently used data in a convenient place so it can be accessed quickly and easily, by not having to search all over the web for your data will increase site speed.

The reality is that if your site takes a long time – even a few seconds – to load, your visitors are much less likely to stay on your site or make a return visit. Furthermore, search engines like Google now use site speed as part of their algorithms to determine where to rank your content in their results pages.

WordPress has so many options to install a caching plugin on your website, read below to discover the best plugin for your website.

WP Rocket

WP-Rocket

This is a premium plugin with prices starting at $39 for one site. However, it is well worth paying for as it makes installing and using caching very easy and headache free. If you haven’t got much experience of caching or you just haven’t got the time to dedicate to learning the ins and outs and just want it all taken care of for you then WP Rocket is the plugin for you.

WP Rocket’s byline is ‘Thanks to our plugin, WordPress has never been so efficient’. This plugin indeed does have some impressive features to help increase your site speed.

WP Rocket enables static file compression, using minification to reduce the size of your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, resulting in faster loading times. It can also only load images on request, which is a technique used by major websites like Yahoo, Facebook, and YouTube.

With lazy loading enabled, the images only load as your visitors scroll down the page, keeping page loading times fast and efficient. Both of these features improve your page speed scores and improve your visitors’ experience on your site.

WP-Rocket-Settings-850x275

From a site owner’s point of view, WP Rocket is easy to install and takes little time to set up. After activating the plugin, in most cases you will be able to immediately see the speed of your site improve.

If you do need any assistance, the tech support on offer is also impressive. Although access to the help desk expires after a year, unless you choose to keep up the subscription.

The only downside to WP Rocket is that there are not as many advanced options to choose from when you are configuring the plugin, compared to some of the other solutions out there. However, the ease of use factor makes it hard to overlook for all but the most budget conscious WordPress site owners.

The best features of WP Rocket include:

  • Simple setup
  • Almost instant results
  • Advanced options for more experienced users
  • Lazy loading of images
  • Support for content delivery networks
  • Features for eCommerce stores
  • Premium customer support
  • Lots of online documentation

Pros: WP Rocket is very easy to set up and start using on your site. You will probably see an improvement in site speed right away.

Cons: There’s no free option for WP Rocket so you can’t try before you buy (although there is a money back offer). While there are some advanced options and settings, it doesn’t compete with the complexity of options like WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache.

Price: from $39 for use on one site

If you want to speed up your WordPress website in just a few clicks by enabling caching and don’t mind paying for the privilege, WP Rocket is probably your best bet.

Get WP Rocket

ZenCache

Zen-Cache

Another great WordPress plugin that is easy to use is ZenCache. This plugin is free at its most basic level and so is a good option for those wanting to save time and effort as well money. However, if you want similar features to WP Rocket then you will need to upgrade to the pro version. This can be purchased for the same price as WP Rocket, $39, although you do get 3 years of customer support as opposed to one

One of the options provided in the pro version is specifically for WordPress membership sites. This means you get caching for your members who are logged into your site.

Without this option, once people have logged into your site their experience might consist of slower load times. Therefore, ZenCache Pro enables your site to work quickly and load efficiently for non-members and members alike, a must for many types of site.

Zen-Cache-Settings

Zen Cache also boasts a very easy and simple start up process. You just upload the plugin and then with a few button clicks caching is enabled and you’re ready to go. However, this does mean that you have minimal control over the options for caching.

If you have the time or enjoy tinkering with your site yourself and like digging deep into the settings and options, then maybe a different caching solution might be for you.

Some of the best features of ZenCache include:

  • Free entry level option
  • Quick and easy setup
  • File compression
  • Caching for logged in users and members
  • Popular content delivery network support
  • Extra support for membership sites
  • 3 years of premium support for commercial users

Pros: This is another easy to setup caching plugin without too many advanced options. The free version gives you a good opportunity to try before you buy, with the option of upgrading in the future.

Cons: Might be lacking in settings for some power users, but there is always the option to upgrade to the commercial version. The user interface isn’t the best looking either.

Price: free or $39 for access to the single-site pro version

Get ZenCache

W3 Total Cache

W3-Total-Cache

W3 Total Cache is a free WordPress plugin that is without a doubt the best option for those wanting total control over how their site and its content is cached. However, be warned, it is not for beginners and if you don’t have any experience or understanding of caching before you start using W3 Total Cache you may end up doing more harm than good. So remember to backup your WordPress website before you start!

That said, this is an impressive plugin with extensive customization options that many people more than appreciate and enjoy using. W3 Total Cache promotes benefits of at least a 10x improvement on overall site improvement and speed. It’s easy to see why it has over 1 million downloads and recommendations from sites like Pagely, HostGator, and Yoast.com./p>

Although W3 Total Cache has been designed for all types of website, it is actually a great choice for larger sites. It can maintain fast loading times even at high traffic periods, making it a good option for sites that experience large volumes of visitors at unexpected moments or at certain times of the day.

An impressive feature that enables this to happen is that the plugin has the ability to enable up to 80% bandwidth savings. This is done through minifying as well as HTTP compression of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and feeds.

This all combines to help visitors enjoy your site, even at its busiest times, decreasing bounce rates, working to improve search engine rankings, and hopefully increasing goal conversion rates.

W3-Total-Cache-Settings-605x350

Some of the best features of W3 Total Cache include:

  • Free to use
  • Easy to enable default mode
  • Premium support add-ons available
  • Wealth of settings and options on offer
  • Very popular plugin with high user rating
  • Potential 10x speed increase
  • Reported 80% bandwidth savings
  • Minification and compression of files
  • Support for the most popular content delivery networks
  • Recommended and used by tops web hosts and companies

Pros: W3 Total Cache is the power user’s dream in terms of the number of settings and options on offer. If you want full control over your caching plugin in order to get the best results, this could be the one for you. If you need help, you can purchase access to the support staff on a one-off basis.

Cons: Maybe too many settings and options for those new to caching.

Price: free or $99 pro version

W3 Total Cache does come with a simple one click set up. However, if you want to get the most out of this plugin you really need to take your time and read the 16 pages of options to configure the caching that best suits your site’s needs. If that sounds appealing, then W3 Total Cache could be for you.

Get W3 Total Cache

WP Super Cache

WP-Super-Cache

If you are after a free plugin but one that is just that bit simpler and easier to use, then may be just what you are looking for. It has fewer options and settings compared to W3 Total Cache, yet still offers an impressive free service.

WP Super Cache is the most popular cache plugin out there at the moment for WordPress users. It works by showing static files to 99% of your visitors. It does this by using mod rewrite or PHP. For the 1% of users that are known to the website, the plugin uses legacy caching. Therefore, this is another plugin that is a good option for membership sites. The recommended settings for this are also simple and easy to configure and set up.

WP-Super-Cache-Settings

Some of the best features of WP Super Cache include:

  • Free to use
  • Impressive amount of configuration options
  • Good feedback from its large user base
  • Minification and compression of files
  • Support for the most popular content delivery networks

Pros: A very popular tried and tested free WordPress caching that has lots of configuration options. This helps make it a good choice for a wide range of website types.

Cons: Like W3 Total Cache it might be a bit too complicated for some users and with no commercial version, there’s no premium support service to turn to.

Price: free

WP Super Cache is easy to install with the whole user experience being very friendly and clear. Yet this plugin’s options for configuration are in no way basic. Whilst it is not as feature rich as W3 Total Cache, it definitely provides more than enough options to deliver impressive results of speed and search engine optimization.

Get WP Super Cache

Cache Enabler

Cache-Enabler-for-WordPress

Cache Enabler is the new kid on the block in the world of WordPress caching plugins. However, as it’s been created by the KeyCDN team – experts at optimizing websites for faster loading times – it’s safe to say it’s a plugin that can be trusted with improving your site.

If you are looking for a lightweight caching plugin for WordPress then this could be the one for you. Cache Enabler works simply by converting your dynamic site into static HTML files.

These files are then stored on your server for fast and easy retrieval – there’s no more back and forth between databases and different servers as plugins, the WordPress software, and other files are tracked down and loaded.

Cache-Enabler-Settings-704x350

Cache Enabler boasts a quick and easy setup process, giving you the option of enabling caching for your WordPress website in no time at all. The plugin will take care of automated clearing of the cache when necessary, although you are free to manually carry out this task as and when needed.

Some of the best features of Cache Enabler include:

  • Free to use
  • Built by an experienced website performance optimization team
  • Lightweight installation and footprint
  • Content delivery network support
  • Quick and painless setup process

Pros: Cache Enabler aims to be the lightweight choice for those who want a free and easy caching solution for their WordPress website. Cache Enabler has been built by the KeyCDN team, so it’s from a trusted source.

Cons: Its a relatively new and little-used plugin so lacking the revisions and improvements of some of the more established free options.

Price: free

Cache Enabler is an exciting new option to consider if you want to make your WordPress website faster.

Get Cache Enabler

Summary

As you can see WordPress has some great option whether your look for a free solution or willing to pay for a premium caching plugin.

Installing a cache plugin is simple and a very effective way to improve page loading times.

Choose the right solution for your website and get started. Contact the Butler for advice or help getting started.

Original Article

It’s always interesting to look at the stats of a website’s Google Analytics account and see where all the traffic is coming from – especially from non-English speaking countries. This brings us to the topic of the following article courtesy of Tom Ewer – translating your WordPress website’s content into multiple languages on the fly and with handy plugins. Keep reading to learn more!

Providing multilingual content is an increasingly important requirement for sites worldwide.

Quick Guide to Translating Your WordPress Website into Any LanguageIn this article, we’ll show you why translation is so important, how to prepare your material and source translators, and how to manage multilingual content in WordPress.

Let’s start with whether you should consider translation at all.

Why You Should Translate Your Website

It can be hard to appreciate if you’re living in the Anglosphere, but English is a long way from the only game in town online.

Though English has dominated the web to date, nearly 66% of internet users are non-native English speakers and over 50% of all Google searches are in languages other than English. Those numbers are only going in one direction as well. As the rest of the world comes online, English is set to remain the lingua franca, but things are about to get a lot more polyglot pretty quickly.

This trend has been on the radar of the WordPress community in the last couple of years, with translation an increasingly hot topic and plugin translation now on most developers’ minds. The WordPress core team has also been mulling over the issue in recent times.

No matter how you slice it, there is a huge addressable market out there for sites of all shapes and sizes that monolingual sites (whether English or otherwise) just don’t cater to.

Translating content is a potential issue that sites of any kind of real scale will have to at least consider sooner or later. Depending on your geographic location and audience, it’s a need you might have to address tout suite even if you’re just starting out.

Let’s step through the main pros and cons starting with the potentially easy wins that translation can bring:

  • An increase in search traffic. Site owners such as Neil Patel have managed to increase search traffic by 47% in only three weeks by leaning on machine translation to quickly translate content into 82 languages.
  • Better ranking on international search engines. Google dominates in English, but it’s a long way from top spot in a very small but increasingly important set of markets. Russia, China, and Japan are the three big territories that stand out here.
  • The ability to enter multinational markets. Single-language sites are at a major disadvantage in a global marketplace. Non-English sites should offer English as a courtesy to international viewers, while English-speaking sites should at least focus on their nearest target language. This could be Spanish in the case of American sites or German in the case of British or European sites.

Translation is not the sort of project you just merrily stroll into as a site owner, however. There are also some potentially hairy downsides to consider before you take the plunge. Chief among them is the following:

  • Translation management. Managing a translation project brings its own set of concerns, the main one being do you actually have anybody on staff who can speak the target languages? If not, you will be forced to put yourself entirely in the hands of the translators when it comes to quality control.
  • Cost. Good translations cost money and the potential for embarrassment if you cut corners is large. Do you have adequate budget in place to really tackle translations professionally? If there is a back office or support component to servicing site users in another language, can you really handle it?
  • Site Performance. You want to be very certain that introducing a second or third language to your existing setup in WordPress doesn’t suddenly tank site performance or introduce unnecessary complications in terms of the overall user experience.

As with most things in life, common sense and judicious application of Occam’s Razor should be your guiding stars. If you’re running a website for a small hairdresser in suburban Pittsburgh, translation should not be at the top of your to-do list. If, on the other hand, you’re managing a boutique hotel in Berlin but only provide site content in German, you’ll be looking to get the translation ball rolling in a hurry to maximize your reach.

We’ll assume you’ve got a pressing need for translating your site for the remainder of the article. Let’s crack on with things and look at the first step you need to take – getting ready to actually transform content into another language.

Bad translation only gets half the job done.

Bad translation only gets half the job done.

Preparing Your Content for Translation

Once you’ve decided to bite the translation bullet, it’s time to start getting specific in terms what actually needs to move from language A to language B. Here are the key initial points to address in terms of whipping your content into translatable shape:

  1. Perform an existing content review: You need a clear overview of the size of the task at hand before you do anything else. Perform a complete content review of your existing site and clearly list what will and won’t be translated. Translation is typically charged per word, so handwavey “estimates” about how much content you have won’t cut it. You need a nailed-down list and a fixed word count.
  2. Decide on the type of translation: This basically boils down to a choice between human and machine-assisted translation. Human translation is always preferable, but budget can be a factor here. Get familiar with standard translation rates per language and use them as a guide to whether you can actually afford professional human translation. If you’re going down the machine route, you’ll have to live with the fact that translations will be passable at best.
  3. Identify who’s in charge: As alluded to above, translation projects are inherently tricky by nature. Make sure the project has one clearly defined owner (ideally a native speaker of the target language) and carefully considered milestones. Managing a full translation project can be a minefield so you want someone with organizational chops who’s not afraid to crack the whip in terms of deadlines and quality control.
  4. Factor in search engine optimization: Multilingual SEO isa broad and occasionally baffling topic and we won’t attempt to cover it in its entirety here. It needs to be on your radar, though.Search Engine Land, WPML and Moz.com all have excellent resources to dig deeper into the topic. If you’re looking at porting an existing site with a large amount of high-ranking content, it’s going to be worth your while talking to an expert in multilingual SEO directly.
  5. Identify your WordPress solution for publishing: There are a number of different approaches you can take within WordPress for actually delivering multilingual content. We’ll step through the main options here shortly, but it’s a subject you want to consider as close to the outset of the project as possible to ensure things run smoothly.

Once you’ve got your ducks in a row in terms of overall preparation, it’s time to actually engage the services of a translator.

Picking the Right Translator

As mentioned above, there are two basic options for translating your content: either get a human to do it or trust your luck to a machine. Let’s get the latter option out of the way first.

Tolingo translation agency.

Agencies like Tolingo can turn around translations quickly.

Machine translation has admittedly come an enormously long way in the last ten years – witness the increasingly impressive efforts of Google Translate for example – but it’s still a substantially less desirable option than professional human translation.

We recognize, of course, that some site owners may be really up against it in terms of time, budget and overall available resources, so occasionally machine translation may well be your only realistic option. In that case, by all means go for it, but be aware that it will inevitably be a long way short of perfect. Human translators will always be more accurate.

When you’re choosing a human translator, you have three basic options:

  1. In-house resources: For obvious reasons, the ideal solution is someone on your team who is fluent in the target language and already understands your business. If this is at all possible, go for it.
  2. Freelance translators: These are widely available on sites like Upwork and Fiverr if you are willing to invest the time in quality-checking and managing candidates. Specialist translation sites like Proz are also worth checking for freelance translators. The local embassy for your target language should also be able to provide you with a list of recognized translators, though prices here are likely to be at the top end of the range.
  3. Agencies: Again, you have a basic choice of online or offline resources here. A quick Google search or chat with someone in the relevant embassy should get you a list of offline/local resources. Online agencies such as One Hour Translation, TextMaster and Tolingo are also worth a look. Make sure you’re following a sensible set of guidelines when assessing agencies.

As with most types of projects, if you’re dealing with a supplier for the first time, it’s well worth asking them to complete a small test translation before going all-in on handing over what could potentially be a large amount of content that you’ll be paying a significant amount of money to get translated.

Regardless of which option you go for above, one factor you will have to consider if you do not understand the target language yourself is the subject of quality control upon delivery.

If your budget can handle it, it’s highly recommended that you have a native speaker perform quality assurance on the project deliverables. Translation is an inherently nuanced craft and it’s all too easy to get something that looks roughly right to someone with basic knowledge of the language, but that sounds dreadful to native-speaking ears.

Right! With all that out of the way, let’s move on to actually presenting your multilingual content to the world in WordPress.

Managing Your Translated Content in WordPress

There are two basic methods you can employ in WordPress to wrangle your translated content into shape. The most popular approach is to make use of a multilingual plugin to handle the heavy lifting of arranging translated content behind the scenes.

We’ve identified three options here in that regard, with the final one being something of a last resort. You’ll find options for engaging professional translation providers with both of the first two options.

1. Polylang

polylang

First up we have Polylang – a relatively recent addition to the multilingual space in WordPress but already boasting over 100,000 active installs and very high average ratings.

As befits a multilingual plugin, Polylang’s admin interface is already available in 41 languages. Solid online documentation is also at hand detailing all common aspects of its use.

Polylang includes support for right-to-left (RTL) languages and can be used to handle translations of pretty much any common aspect of your WordPress site such as posts, pages, media, categories, tags, and menus.

You can include a customizable language switcher as either a widget or integrate it in the navigation menu. Professional translations can be sourced from within the tool thanks to an integration with Lingotek Translation.

WP Beginner also recently ran an excellent introductory tutorial to using Polylang which is worth checking out if you’re considering using the plugin.

2. WPML

wpml

The WPML plugin from OnTheGoSystems is very much the grand old man of WordPress multilingual solutions and has been on the scene since 2007.

WPML is a premium plugin with pricing ranging from $29 to $195 depending on which license you go for. As you’d expect from a plugin that’s been in active development for over seven years, it’s a feature-packed affair and comes with a range of add-on plugins you can use to really leverage its power.

WPML stands out both for the range of themes and plugins (premium and otherwise) that it’s proven to work smoothly with, and for the quality of its online documentation and support.

WPML also supports management of translation projects from within the plugin and have a partnership with translation provider ICanLocalize if you are looking to outsource translations.

If your budget supports shelling out for a premium option, purchasing a copy of WPML puts you in safe hands with a tried and tested solution that’s the market leader for good reason.

3. Google Language Translator

google-language-translator

Google Language Translator is a free plugin that enables you to hook into Google Translate to provide automatic machine translations of your content.

As we stressed already in this article, this is really a last-resort option but it might be enough to get some site owners over the initial hump in terms of testing desire for multilingual content on the part of their audiences.

You’ve got options for showing and hiding Google branding and specific languages, along with support for shortcodes in posts, pages and widgets.

The Multisite Approach

The second main method of handling your translated content in WordPress is leaning on native Multisite functionality in order to have each language in its own WordPress install. You can find basic instructions for going down this route outlined in the WordPress Multilingual Codex.

If you’re considering this approach, both the Multisite Language Switcher plugin and MultilingualPress are worth investigating to make things a little easier to manage.

On balance though, you’re probably better off going with a tried and tested solution such as WPML or Polylang to handle things.

Conclusion

Tackling a translation project represents a substantial investment of both time and money, but the results for your business can be stellar.

To get the most bang for your buck, make sure you really invest the time at the planning stage to cover the main action items we’ve highlighted – in particular the areas of existing content review and assigning a clear project owner.

The success of your project will ultimately stand or fall on the quality of the translators you employ, so be prepared to do some serious due diligence here and use the tips we’ve outlined to guide you.

Luckily, once the translations are actually sourced, getting them into WordPress is relatively straightforward using the plugins we’ve mentioned.

Image credits: Ramen Water.

Credit: Original Article

Feeling adventurous and wanting to create your own custom WordPress theme from scratch? Hmmm, too adventurous? Well a good place to start when creating your own custom WordPress theme is to use another theme as a starting point. A great way to do this is to setup a “child theme” based on another theme. The following article by Daniel Pataki explains how to do this quite well. Happy theming!

WordPress themes can be amazing but there are so many examples of little things we all want to change. A color here, a font size there, perhaps use a different call to action on the buttons?

How to Create a WordPress Child ThemeThe problem is that modifying a theme even slightly prevents you from updating it to a newer version in the future, because if you do try to update, you lose all your changes.

Child themes solve this by allowing you to use all of the functionality of your chosen theme while allowing you to update it without the fear of losing your modifications.

In today’s Weekend WordPress Project, I’ll explain why you should be using a child theme and how you can get the job done.

How Child Themes Work And Why Use Them

Child themes are separate themes that rely on a parent theme for most of their functionality. If you are using a child theme, WordPress will check your child theme first to see if a specific functionality exists. If it doesn’t, it will use the parent theme. This is great because it allows you to modify only what you need.

Child themes should always be used if you plan on modifying even a single character in your theme. There are two very good reasons: updates and organization.

Updates

If you modify a theme without using a child theme you have two choices: You can opt to not update your theme in future, or you can update and lose any changes you’ve made to your theme.

The later option would technically work, but it is not recommended. Even if your changes are easy to copy and paste, why spend two minutes on an error-prone task on each update?

Not updating your theme should be out of the question. Almost all “why your website was hacked” lists contain outdated software as a top cause for security issues. You should always keep WordPress, your themes and plugins up to date, no exceptions.

Organization

When you add code to an existing theme you are adding to a codebase, which may be thousands and thousands of lines. Developers working on your site (and, indeed, you yourself) will have a hard time tracking down your changes. At least one direct result of this will be an increased development bill.

Since child themes fall back on parent themes unless otherwise specified, your child theme is essentially a changeset to an existing theme. This can result in extensive changes even though the child theme only has a couple of files and maybe 100 lines of code.

Creating A Child Theme

Creating a child theme is extremely simple, so much so you can copy and paste my example below.

To create a child theme for your theme, you will need to do the following steps:

  1. Create a theme directory in your WordPress install
  2. Create a stylesheet with information about your child theme
  3. Pull in the styles of your parent theme

Once these steps are completed you can activate your child theme and your website will look exactly the same as before, but it will be using your child theme.

So let’s go through the above steps in detail. For this example, I will be creating a child theme for the Twenty Fourteen default theme.

1. First, go to your theme directory and create a folder for your new theme. You may name it anything you’d like. For clarity’s sake, I will name my theme twentyfourteen-child.

2. The next step is to create a stylesheet file. This must be named style.css. Copy and paste the following code into the file you’ve just created:

/*
Theme Name: Twenty Fourteen Child
Theme URI: http://yourwebsite.com/twentyfourteen-child/
Description: My first child theme, based on Twenty Fourteen
Author: Daniel Pataki
Author URI: http://danielpataki.com
Template: twentyfourteen
Version: 1.0.0
Tags: black, green, white, light, dark, two-columns, three-columns, left-sidebar, right-sidebar, fixed-layout, responsive-layout, custom-background, custom-header, custom-menu, editor-style, featured-images, flexible-header, full-width-template, microformats, post-formats, rtl-language-support, sticky-post, theme-options, translation-ready, accessibility-ready, responsive-layout, infinite-scroll, post-slider, design, food, journal, magazine, news, photography, portfolio, clean, contemporary, dark, elegant, modern, professional, sophisticated
Text Domain: twenty-fourteen-child
*/

The two necessary items in the code above are the lines starting with “Theme Name" and “Template.” The theme name tells WordPress what the name of your theme is, and this is displayed in the theme selector. The template tells WordPress which theme it should consider as the parent theme. Most of the others are self-explanatory, with the exception of the text domain and the tags. The text domain is used for translating strings. The text domain should be unique for your theme and should be used whenever you use translation functions. See I18n for WordPress Developers for more information. The tags section is a list of tags that are used by the WordPress Theme Repository. For this example I looked at the style.css file of the parent theme and simply copy-pasted the tags from there.

3. At this point your child theme works just fine. If you activate it and reload the page all your content will be there but, it will have no styling information. I mentioned before that WordPress first looks for functionality in the child theme and if it isn’t present it falls back on the parent theme.

In our case we do have a stylesheet, so WordPress figures it shouldn’t load the parent file’s. To make sure we load the parent file’s stylesheet we will need to enqueue it. This can be done in the theme’s functions.php file, so go ahead and create that file now. In this file, copy-paste the following code:

add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'enqueue_parent_styles' );
function enqueue_parent_styles() {
wp_enqueue_style( 'parent-style', get_template_directory_uri().'/style.css' );
}

If you have no idea about PHP and you just want to change some styles, don’t worry about why this works. Feel free to go into your stylesheet file now and start making your changes. If you would like to learn more about enqueueing we have you covered right here on WPMU DEV with Adding Scripts and Styles to WordPress the Right Way With Enqueueing.

Child Theme Mechanics

So how does a child theme actually work? Child themes work on a file-level. When a file is used during the process of loading a theme it checks if it is present in the child theme. If it is, the content of that file is used. If it isn’t, the same file in the parent theme is used.

There is one exception to this rule, the theme’s functions file. The functions.php file in both the parent and the child theme is loaded. If the child theme’s functions replaced the parents you would either have a malfunctioning site, or you would need to copy-paste the entire contents of the parent theme’s function file into the child theme’s which would sort of defeat the purpose of extending a theme.

The workflow when modifying functionality is the following. If you want to make changes to the header, copy-paste the parent theme’s header.php file into your child theme. Edit the file to your heart’s content, save it and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Some Notes For Theme Makers

If you make your own themes there are a couple of guidelines you may want to follow to make child theme creation easier. The two most important ones are learning the difference between get_stylesheet_directory() and get_template_directory() and creating pluggable functions.

The Right Directory

When linking to assets using the mentioned functions you should always be aware that the get_template_ family of functions will always point to the directory of the parent theme while the get_stylesheet_ family of functions will always point to the child theme’s directory.

<a href="http://twitter.com/danielpataki"><img src="<?php echo get_template_directory_uri() ?>/images/twitter.png" alt='Twitter Logo'>Follow Me</a>
<a href="http://github.com/danielpataki"><img src="<?php echo get_stylesheet_directory_uri() ?>/images/github.png" alt='Github Logo'>On Github</a>

In the example above the first link takes its image from the parent theme, the second takes it from the child theme. There’s no good answer to which one you should use, it’s up to you.

The upside to using get_stylesheet_directory_uri() is that child theme developers can use their own image by simply creating it in the proper location. On the other hand, if the image doesn’t exist in the child theme it won’t be shown at all.

The reason for this is that if a child theme is active the get_stylesheet_directory_uri() function doesn’t check (and doesn’t know) which file you are loading so it won’t check for its existence, it will always spit back the URI for the child theme.

Modifiable Functions

The other method you should use is what WordPress calls pluggable functions. This makes it possible for child theme authors to overwrite the functions you define in the parent theme. This involves wrapping your functions in function_exists() checks.

Let’s presume you create a function for a customized post meta display named my_meta(). There is no way a child theme can modify this function because it can not be defined twice. The solution is to only create this function if it hasn’t been defined (remember, the child theme’s function file is loaded first).

if ( !is_defined( 'my_meta' ) ) {
function my_meta() {
// code for postmeta here
}
}

Conclusion

Using a few very simple copy-pastable steps you can create a future-proofed environment for your theme, which will save you a lot of headaches. While it may be tempting to use the built-in theme editor in WordPress, it almost always causes more issues than it solves if you’re not using a child theme.

Take a few minutes to follow along the tutorial here and your website and your developer will thank you for it. Finally, If you have any great tips about child themes, do let us know.

Credit: Original Article

Should You Upgrade Your Web HostingIt is taken for granted that you need hosting for your website. However, this relatively easy to make decision is far more critical to the success of your website than you may have first thought. Storage space, bandwidth, speed, uptime and reliability all play a part in the delivery of your website, however all these items are not created equal. The entire Web hosting industry works on the hope that a user’s needs will increase and that they will need to keep upgrading their resources or account as their business grows. But a major concern for many entrepreneurs and clients is the right time to upgrade the account. This article from Site Pro News deals with how to make that decision and the factors to consider before upgrading your Web hosting account.

Plan in Advance

An upgrade means a long-term commitment to pay a higher price for more resources or space. Jumping into an upgrade too soon will be a waste of money. Waiting till your resources run out completely maybe far worse than the wasted money. Striking a balance between both will help you identify the right time when you should make the upgrade. Plan and anticipate your requirements wisely. Not only will this help you save money, but it will help you optimize and monetize your online business too.

Conduct some empirical research

Many people upgrade their hosting account when they receive a storage or bandwidth usage alert. This means that they rarely study or analyze what is going wrong and why the resources were used up. When an alert for 80 percent bandwidth usage is received, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will run out of bandwidth by the end of the month, before the bandwidth counter resets. Sudden bandwidth usage could be attributed to backups, frequent hack attempts on your website, large e-mail attachments and may not necessarily require you to make an immediate upgrade. The same applies to disk space usage. If you are frequently getting usage alerts, then it maybe time to just upgrade your account.

Make the upgrade based on some tests or evidence. Ask your designers or programmers to guide you on how much you require and recheck their calculations or estimations.

Most clients initially insist on having a large amount of space and resources, especially when they are setting up a new website. We always recommend that they first start off with a small package or a standard package and then upgrade their way through to what they actually need. Upgrading

your account is a 30-second task and is automated. It’s better to start small and save up your money for when you really need to spend on hosting. If you leave your space or resources unused, not only are you wasting money, but you may also feel that the hosting space is not worth it.

Factor in other resource usage

While you may focus on any one factor which is being most consumed in your hosting account, do remember to strike a balance between all the other factors that maybe necessary in optimizing your cost and getting the most out of your expense. Although you may upgrade your account to the next level, it may be more cost effective in the short-term to upgrade to a more elaborate plan, if you are going to outgrow the number of databases or bandwidth along with the space. It is best to monitor your resources and estimate your needs in advance so that you can plan out an upgrade, factoring all the various variables that need to be considered for your online business.

Does it fit in your budget?

Upgrading may sound easy, but it requires you to make a long-term commitment, because once you start using up the extra space, it will become more difficult to reduce your usage. If you don’t really need to upgrade, look at other ways of cutting costs, like removing unwanted files or data, conserving bandwidth by compressing data, remove unnecessary tools which consume resources, keep an eye on usage spikes and logs.

Original Article Source

If you are considering changing or upgrading your hosting, make sure you give the WP Butler a call on 1300 739 301 or email support@wpbutler.com.au and look at what we can offer. Remember, you get what you pay for when it comes to hosting so don’t be tempted with $5 a month deals.

 Author: Сake78 (3D & photo)Even if you are using the latest and greatest easy to edit WordPress template, there is going to come a point where you are going to want to make a slight change to the layout or the positioning of an item or an entire section. As with most things WordPress, there is usually several ways to go about getting the same result. The team at BeginWP have put together this article which will show you several ways to go about implementing custom CSS.

Want to customize your WordPress site and make it look different? Then you will of course need to add some custom CSS to your site. Now, this custom CSS can be added to your WordPress site by many different methods and you can choose any of these methods as per your convenience.

New users sometimes wonder that what is the best way to add CSS to a site. Well, sometimes they make the mistake to do this by directly editing the theme’s style.css but this is not the correct way to do it. So let’s discuss all three methods to add custom CSS to WordPress and which one should you ‘actually’ use.

Method 1: By using a child theme

If you are already using a theme with a Framework and a child theme structure like Genesis, then you would most likely love this method. But even if you are not already using such a theme, then also you can make a child theme out of any theme. To learn how to make a child theme, here’s a very useful article that you should read.

So why should you use this method to make CSS changes? Well, that’s because if the developer updates the theme for design changes or bug fixes, and if you update the theme, then you will lose those changes, and your work will be overwritten. This means after a theme update, you will need to start making CSS changes again.

On the other hand, if you use a child theme to make CSS changes, then only the parent theme will be updated, and your hard work will remain preserved in the child theme.

Method 2: Using a plugin to edit CSS

Well, now this is the most easiest way to add some custom CSS quickly to your WordPress site without worrying about creating a child theme or editing the style.css and then fearing that your changes will be lost when you update the theme.

The main plus point of using this method to add CSS to your site is that your changes won’t be overwritten when your theme gets updated. Also the CSS that you add using this method can be used even if you install and activate a completely different theme. This is because the CSS is not stored in the theme, but it is stored in the plugin, and is available even after you install a different theme. Let’s take a look at two such useful plugins to add custom CSS.

Simple Custom CSS

The Simple Custom CSS plugin is perhaps the most popular plugin to add custom CSS to WordPress. The CSS added using this method will override Plugin and Theme default styles, which is very important if you want your new CSS to be applied.

Simple Custom CSS

After installing and activating this plugin, just go to Appearance and click on Custom CSS. Next, simply type your new custom CSS in the box provided and click on the “Update Custom CSS” button. Using this plugin is as simple as that.

WP Add Custom CSS

The WP Add Custom CSS plugin allows you to add custom CSS to the whole website and also to individual posts and pages. The CSS rules applied to the site will override the default stylesheets of your theme and plugins. This is a very useful plugin if you want to make changes to your entire site, or to just some individual posts and pages.

WordPress Add Custom CSS

After installing and activating this plugin, go to “Add Custom CSS” settings page and enter your CSS that you want to apply to the whole website. However, if you want to apply CSS to some specific posts or pages, then you will need to use the “Custom CSS” box in the editing area of that specific post or page.

Custom CSS Posts

Method 3: By editing style.css (Not recommended method)

As you can already read on the title, we highly recommend users NOT to edit theme’s style.css file. However, this is perhaps the most quickest way to customize the theme, but it has its own shortcomings. So why should you not edit style.css directly?

Well, that’s because let’s say in future you get a new theme update and if you have edited your style.css then you will lose those changes, as the new theme will overwrite your existing style.css file, which means you will now need to start from scratch again. That’s why, even though customizing a WordPress site using style.css is very easy and quick, you should not use this method as your changes will be lost if you update the theme.

But still, if you want to edit your style.css file then here’s how to do it. Simply login to your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance and you will see a new fly out menu. From this menu, click on Editor option.

Edit Style Sheet CSS

On this page, you will be mostly redirected to edit the style.css file. Verify this from the right-hand side where style.css is selected, if not, then click on it. You can now edit this file and when done, click on “Update File” button at the bottom.

Over to you

Now that you know all the options through which you can add custom CSS to your WordPress site, it’s time to choose the best option according to your needs. If you’re the one who is comfortable in coding, then you should create a child theme and then customize it. But if you’re not, then the plugin method too, is a good option.

Plugin method is also very suitable when the change that you are making is not theme specific, and you want that change in your next theme also. For example, let’s say you have added some CSS to style a subscribe box or social media buttons, and chances are you would want the same CSS in your next theme also. In such a case, using a plugin to add CSS is a good idea.

Original Article Source

Yet Another Google Algorithm UpdateHere we go again, yet another algorithm update from Google. But what does this really mean to website owners? If you are a business owner, I would argue that updates actually make things easier on you and your website if you are doing the right things. Google’s goal is to try and make it’s search results more relevant so the overall Google Search experience remains high. Google does this by constantly tweaking it’s algorithm to make sure only the best quality results are shown and the low quality or spammy sites are filtered out. This is where you benefit, less junk means a better chance for your good quality content to shine through. In today’s article the team at Site Pro News take a closer look at what the latest update is all about.

It’s a well-known fact that Google is regularly tinkering with its infamous search algorithms. Google is always striving to achieve peak usability and search experience for users. Since July, the search behemoth has been slowly rolling out an update to the Panda 4.2 algorithm which, ultimately, has taken months to complete.

Over the past two weeks, the webmaster and SEO communities have been abuzz as numerous signals show that a potential algorithm update has occurred; much more than the average daily adjustments and tweaks. While the signs of change could possibly be related to the Panda update, or even the Penguin revision, many speculate this is not the case.

For those who are unfamiliar with Penguin, the primary objective of this particular update revolves around black hat tactics. Penguins seeks to ostracize sites that have attempted any manner of cheating. While the primary focus of Penguin is on unnatural links, there are many other factors that Penguin is eyeballing as well. The cardinal rule of staying on Penguin’s good side is simple: Don’t attempt any black hat tactics.

Panda, on the other hand, is a search filter that dates back to 2011 and is designed to identify and demote websites that house low-quality content. Penguin is about following the rules, Panda is about nixing horrible and unreadable content.

Signs of an Update

The first suspicious results surfaced on Oct. 14-15 as various automated tools reflected spikes in organic traffic for some and massive drops for others. This fluctuation is believed to be in relation to Panda, however the peaks and valleys are not isolated to these two days alone.

Oct. 20-21, more dramatic rankings changes were reported; this round is believed to not be associated with the slow rollout of Panda and is thought to be something else entirely. Some have taken a liking to calling the theorized update the “Zombie Update” due to the close proximity to Halloween. And if your rankings were gobbled up, it would seem that zombies are indeed responsible — it certainly makes about as much sense as most other theories when the truth is often weeks away from surfacing.

These variations in rankings have been seen in plenty of automated tools.. SERPS.com displays a spike on Oct. 19 that comes to its final crescendo Oct. 21, RankRanger and Advanced Web Ranking show a massive peak on Oct. 20, and Algoroo depicts the same type of activity Oct. 21 as well. These spikes essentially point toward an enormous keyword ranking changeover. And while this data is subject to a variety of variables, all signs still point towards an undisclosed update.

Google Has No Comment

With the two separate incidents taking place within days of each other, the WebmasterWorld forum has exploded with comments and debates on the issue; people are most certainly looking for an explanation to this activity. Unfortunately, however, Google has been unwilling to provide any insight into the matter.

Alex Graves of David Naylor reached out via Twitter to Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, for confirmation as to what folks were seeing take place. When he asked Illyes if the changes were related to the Penguin algorithm update, Gary responded, “Penguin is not ready for prime time.” Seeking to probe further, Alex then asked Gary if the updates are associated with Panda in anyway. Gary responded, “Sorry, Alex, we don’t confirm updates to our core ranking algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to it, this could have been one.”

So while nearly no information was divulged here, it would seem that the changes could be a part of a core ranking algorithm modification. If this truly is the case, then now would be a good time for site owners who were adversely affected to comb their websites in search of any factors that may be holding them back, as well as to ensure that only SEO best practices have been implemented; which is something that should be done regularly anyway.

Google will speak out eventually, but the fact still remains that some folks are getting lambasted by some level of algorithm shifts. Don’t waste any further time investigating what Google is up to; place all hands on deck to fortify your own site and guarantee white hat practices and stellar content.

This is the way of the SEO world: If you’re swimming in a reactionary space, you may never feel as though you can get the rankings you deserve. Stay proactive; test your backlinks regularly, constantly improve upon your content creation, overhaul your meta data, and stay on top of Google’s best practices. That way, when unexpected algorithm shifts hit the Web, you won’t notice, unless it’s to celebrate even higher rankings.

Original Article Source

WordPress Video BackgroundsVideo backgrounds can look excellent and when implemented correctly can be attention grabbing and really effective.

They are super easy to install on your WordPress website.

In this article we will discuss the pros, cons and best practice for adding videos to your website.

Video Backgrounds: Creative Genius or Annoying Trend?

Video backgrounds? You mean that annoying trend where designers use video footage to detract from actual content?

That’s what some argue: video backgrounds are currently en vogue without good reason and should generally be avoided.

Others have taken the time to get to know the available techniques, and still prefer not to use it because they don’t feel that the technology has enough support (yet).

Most others seem to agree that if you execute it well, it can be really effective.

What does this mean for you? Not a great deal actually, since the general consensus is mixed. It’s up to you to analyze the pros and cons of video backgrounds, as they apply to your unique needs, then make an informed decision.

Video Backgrounds: Pros and Cons

Let’s warm up by exploring the key reasons why you might (not) choose to use video backgrounds:

Pros

  1. Done well, video is beautiful.
  2. Video backgrounds can engage with a visitor like no other medium.
  3. Video backgrounds can be used to sell products and services in a unique manner.

Cons

  1. Done poorly, video backgrounds represent an awful user experience.
  2. Video backgrounds can be distracting to and turn off visitors.
  3. Video backgrounds don’t work as naturally for non-business or non-entertainment sites

You might have a good idea where you stand at this point, but we need to explore some of the above benefits and issues in greater details in order to make a well-informed decision.

Understanding How Video Backgrounds Impact UX/UI

Before fiddling with this new technology, you should consider whether using video backgrounds will negatively impact the overall user experience of your website.

We can’t say this enough: while a video background can be effective, using them can go wrong quickly if you aren’t careful.

If you want to rely on your background video to sell your product, you will need to reconsider your approach. The intent behind video backgrounds is to create an ambiance by subtly contributing to the look and feel. A well-implemented video background won’t overpower the rest of the page.

Is your video there to complement the experience – focusing the attention on the content rather than itself? If not, your video will be distracting and irritating.

In many situations, it may be more appropriate to use video as a featured element rather than as an ambient background. Examples of these cases might include tutorials and in-depth product demonstrations.

Here are some basic questions to ask yourself when choosing a video background for your site:

  1. How does video strengthen my call to action? e.g. “It visually demonstrates the usefulness of my product” or “The topic of my blog is sports, which is driven by HD action”
  2. Will the video distract from the actual content of the page? i.e. does your video call too much attention to itself rather than provide the intended ambiance?
  3. Will the video make text unreadable?
  4. Will the call to action still be clear?

Don’t forget basic courtesies, either. Usability and accessibility are always important. Let your users pause the video if they have issues with focusing due to the excessive movement, and don’t force audio on your visitors. It is always best practice to let audio come as an option, rather than playing audio automatically.

Why Relying on Video Backgrounds Isn’t Mobile-Friendly

The current direction of web design is to consider mobile first (which is no surprise given that mobile internet usage reached 51% of the user market in 2015).

Video backgrounds are least friendly to the mobile audience for three key reasons:

  1. Many mobiles and tablets do not support auto-playing videos. Requiring your visitor to touch a website to play a video they didn’t expect to see in the first place is simply poor form.
  2. Mobiles and tablets often rely on data plans. Even optimized, a video is a large file. Offering such a large file to someone who simply wants to consume information and act on it will create a slow loading website that sucks down much of their data, and they probably won’t even get to see the video (see above).
  3. The technology changes slightly for each configuration. Are they on Android, iOS, or one of the lesser platforms? Are they using Chrome, Safari, or a more obscure browser? Video backgrounds cannot easily be configured and delivered to all of these platforms and apps.

If you’re set on video backgrounds and you’re not using it for anything pivotal, the simple workaround is to provide a fallback static image for mobile users.

Fallback Options for Mobile

Let’s assume the mobile experience isn’t a problem for a moment. Unfortunately, your video background implementation woes aren’t necessarily over.

Videos can create a lag effect for anyone not on a slow internet connection. You only have a few seconds to grab and keep their attention, and that lag may make the difference between a bounce and a potential customer.

While there are many plugins that offer fallbacks from video to image for mobile, there are not as many solutions for providing alternative behavior when the connection is too slow for your video to be effective in a non-mobile environment.

In fact, there’s no widely accepted solution for it at all!

It’s not impossible to attempt though. If you’re ready to get your hands dirty, you can experiment with JavaScript solutions to modify whether background videos load by detecting the connection speed of your user. Otherwise, you’ll have to cross your fingers and hope your non-mobile users have a decent connection!

There are simply no solid solutions for a slow connection fallback, which is why so many in the community agree that the technology isn’t ready yet.

Your best bet is to ensure that your videos are optimized for the web by offering the correctly compressed and encoded versions of your video for different devices. This process is an art unto itself, and is covered in the resources available at the end of this article.

Video Backgrounds: What to Keep in Mind

We have already covered the basics in a previous article in terms of you need to start installing video backgrounds on your WordPress website, so let’s now focus on the key considerations you should bear in mind when implementing video backgrounds:

  1. Am I providing a good fallback experience for mobile?
  2. Can I upload different video formats to provide the best experience for a variety of use-case scenarios?
  3. Is all of the page content still readable and accessible throughout the entire video?
  4. Does the video test well across multiple platforms?
  5. Will the video load well on poor to average connections?

As you can see from the article that video backgrounds can be great when used correctly, be sure to keep user experience in mind when deciding whether or not to implement a video background.

For help or advice implemented a video background contact the team at WP Butler

Original Article Source

SEO Success & Failures in 2015Here at WP Butler we are often called on to “fix” a website so it ranks higher in the search engines. The term “fix” in this case is a very broad request as there are many factors that mesh together to ultimately determine a site’s rankings. As another year passes we’ve witnessed yet another pile of quick fix SEO strategies hit the redundant scrap heap. Tina Courtney-Brown from Site Pro News takes a look back on the year that was and dares to gaze into the 2016 SEO crystal ball.

Every year brings a variety of promising new SEO tactics and strategies that business owners hope will launch their sites onto the first page of the SERPs. Throughout the course of the year, many sites implement these practices and ultimately end up in an SEO tailspin, only to crash and burn because of some tactic or understanding that went horribly awry.

2015 was no different. This year was a whirlwind of SEO news; numerous updates to Google’s algorithms, new factors to weigh and consider, and old methods reaching their demise. The SEO scene is in some ways unrecognizable, and in others it’s reliably consistent. The paradox is part of what keeps us on our toes.

As we reach the end of 2015, it is time to look back and reflect on what worked for throughout the year, what failed miserably, and what to carry with you into 2016.
Here is the 2015 SEO recap:

The Biggest Failures

Throughout the year, various aspects to SEO were altered, leaving many sites in dire conditions because of a lack of effort or by utilizing outdated strategies. Here are the prime areas of colossal mistakes:

Keywords

In 2015, one of the main changes to the landscape was found in keywords. Ranking for single short-tailed keywords simply does not hold the weight that it once did. With Google’s popular voice to text search feature, more and more folks are posing casual questions to the search giant for their queries. This means that mid- to long-tailed keywords have become more prevalent, more popular and more powerful than ever before. It used to be that shorter keywords were golden if you could cut through the competition. The way people search – especially on mobile devices – is changing the game.

Content

While content itself did not fail, certain types most certainly did. With Google’s Panda update, hordes of websites were demoted and severely dropped in rankings due to content that was thin, poorly-written, unoriginal, unhelpful, duplicate and more. Google now holds the value and usefulness of content to extremely high standards which means that content creators need to be on their A-game. No more mediocre efforts if you expect to rise above the clutter.

Backlinks

This is another SEO aspect that didn’t necessarily fail, but tactics did change, leading many sites to falter because of their unwillingness to update outmoded methods. When Google’s Penguin update hit the scene this year, sites that contained paid-links, unnatural links, spam-like links, links from sites with low-quality content and more were destroyed by the algorithm. Many folks have since made great friends with Google’s disavow tool but are still struggling to regain their stature in the ranks.

Success to Celebrate

There was plenty of good news on the SEO front this year; here were the biggest headlines:

User Experience

As far as Google is concerned, user experience on sites is paramount. This is why Google is constantly making updates, alterations, and adjustments to algorithms; for a better user experience. With that, Google is now beginning to expect the same from the sites that rank on the engine. For sites that contain a clean design, superior usability, and top-notch content, Google will ultimately favor your site versus one with a lower-class experience. This is a major win for all Internet users because it’s forcing companies to design people-friendly websites, not those that cater to bots.

Mobile Optimization

The advent of “Mobilegeddon” came with a warning to all site owners; optimize now or pay the price later. And as for those who did heed Google’s warning, it was reported in the six weeks following the update that mobile-friendly sites saw an 11 percent increase. With mobile devices taking over, it has become imperative that businesses ensure their sites are optimized for mobile in order to retain the competitive edge in SEO.

Local SEO

Local SEO shook things up a whole lot this year since people are increasingly conducting mobile searches seeking local solutions. According to Google, four out of five searchers use search engines for this exact reason. This year Google upped the ante for local businesses: it reduced results from displaying seven listings, to a condensed local three-pack; making local SEO all the more important.

What SEO Tips are Crucial in 2016

With 2016 just around the corner, it is time to begin refining your strategy for what comes next. Certain consistent aspects such as top-notch content, proper back linking, high-end UX, and optimum page speed will still apply, but a few newer elements will see an increase in importance.

The first big one is mobile; it is critical to implement a strong mobile design that seamlessly integrates all desktop features. Desktop has officially begun its demise and without a blueprint for mobile SEO, your site will increasingly drop in rank.

Next up are social signals. Social signals currently play a minimal role in SEO, but with Google now embedding Twitter tweets into search results, you had better expect social media to grow in importance as it relates to search visibility.

Lastly, video content will officially begin its takeover as the preferred content medium. With platforms like Vine, Periscope, Snapchat, and Blab surging in popularity, user priority is now shifting to favor visual content above all else. Google’s algorithms are becoming more sophisticated in ranking visual content, but it’s still crucial to include text descriptions with keywords for all of these related posts.

It’s no secret that SEO is constantly changing. To remain relevant in the coming year, you must embrace both the consistent and dynamic tricks. As 2016 approaches, prepare your blueprint with what you know will remain as a staple, what you can see coming down the pipeline, and as always, be ready to bend and flex because things will unforeseeably shift throughout the year.

Original Article Source

If you’re looking to whip your site into shape for 2016, give WP Butler a call on 1300 739 301 or email support@wpbutler.com.au and we can run through an SEO health check and set you on the path to better search engine rankings.

Google Search Console GuideJust a few months ago Google re-branded their Google Webmaster Tools to something a bit more user-friendly, Google Search Console. Upon launching a new website, the majority of small business owners are familiar with setting up the popular software and tools on offer courtesy of Google, like Google Analytics, because they want to see all the nitty gritty details of who and what is checking out their website. Well below is an article by Joe Fylan which will show you the basics of how to setup and use the Google Search Console.

Last spring Google re-branded Google Webmaster Tools to a name that was a little more user-friendly, Google Search Console. Most small business owners are familiar with Google Analytics and setting up Google’s popular software is often one of the first things that a business owner will do upon launching a new site. They’re interested to see who’s visiting their site and what they are doing.

What many business owners don’t realize is that before your website starts seeing results, you’ll need to make sure that Google has crawled, indexed and ranked your website. That’s where Google Search Console comes in. It’s Google’s way of communicating with website owners and helping them optimize their site in order garner maximum benefits from the world’s largest search engine.

Google Search Console doesn’t have the flashiest interface you’ve ever seen, there is more raw data than colorful charts and graphs. But as a small business owner, a little bit of time spent utilizing the platform can help you to improve your website visibility and placement in the SERPs.

Let’s take a closer look at how you, a small business owner, can use Google Search Console to your benefit.

Why You Should Use Google Search Console in Under 100 Words

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is something that Google provides for free to anyone with an account. It essentially opens up a two-way line of communication between the site owner and Google. Search Console will help you monitor, maintain and improve your website presence within Google’s search results.

More specifically, you’ll be able to see which search queries are applicable to your website and where you might be able to improve your ranking. You’ll also be able to manage your sitemaps, index submissions, and determine how well Googlebot is able to crawl your website.

Getting Set Up with GSC

We’re not going to spend a lot of time on this step because Google makes the process pretty darn easy. Once you’ve opened an account with Search Console, it’s as simple as the following 3 steps:

  1. Click the red “Add A Property” button
  2. Enter your URL
  3. Select a verification method and click “Verify”

That’s about all that’s required to get started. Note that there won’t be any data available when your site is first added. It will take some time (days and occasionally weeks) for data to begin populating. However, you can still use some of the features discussed below in the meantime.

Improving Your Website Performance With Search Console

As a small business owner, you want to make sure your website is well indexed and maintaining a competitive position in the SERPs. You probably also realize that any attempt to game the system or to artificially boost your rankings is likely to result in a penalty that is difficult or even impossible to recover from.

That does not mean, however, that the best course of action is inaction. Not too long ago we posted an article right here on Elegant Themes the made the argument that contrary to popular belief, SEO isn’t dead. Google actually wants you to make sure your website is optimized for search engines and that’s where Search Console come into play.

From the moment you log into Search Console, it becomes apparent that there is a lot of information and a lot of functionality to sort through. The question is how often should you be reviewing the data and which areas should you be focusing on in order to improve your site visibility?

Depending on the size of your site and how frequently you publish new content, once or twice each month should be adequate. While it’s worth familiarizing yourself with every part of Google Search Console, here’s where you should focus your time and energy:

  • Structured Data
  • HTML Improvements
  • Search Analytics
  • Index Status
  • Content Keywords
  • Crawl Errors
  • Fetch as Google
  • robots.txt tester
  • Sitemaps

Let’s take a closer look at each one of these areas:

Structured Data

When Google returns search results to users, those results often contain a unique presentation of certain information. This could include information that is specific to a recipe, like average rating and number of reviews. Or, it could include information about a movie title, product or event. For a local business, it could be even more simple, consisting of location and contact information.

Structured data is the standard method of annotating specific details that are relevant so that search engines are able to understand what the information really means or represents.

If your website contains enhanced information that would typically be displayed in the SERPs, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for any structured data errors that might have a negative impact on how your site is displayed to searchers.

If for some reason your theme does not use the required markup, Google offers a tool in Search Console called, “Data Highlighter”. This tool will allow you to easily highlight data and apply a specific and relevant tag. Once the data on a page is tagged, Google will automatically tag similar pages in the future anytime new content is created.

HTML Improvements

As Googlebot crawls your website, it will conveniently make a note of any HTML improvements that might help to improve the user experience of your website or its overall performance within the index. Specific improvements that you want to watch out for include:

  • Duplicate meta descriptions
  • Long or short meta descriptions
  • Issues with title tags
  • Non-indexable content

Search Analytics

Search Analytics is located under the Search Traffic tab and can provide valuable insights into how well your site is performing for specific queries. It’s important to remember that just because your website is displaying for a particular query does not mean that potential traffic generated by that query is relevant. This is where you have to give some thought as to which queries are most relevant to your website and its content.

Google recommends that you begin by sorting your queries based upon clicks rather than impressions. This will give you a more accurate picture as to which queries are actually driving traffic to your site. You can do this by checking all four boxes:

Search Console Selection

  1. Clicks – How many time a user clicked through to your website from a query
  2. Impressions – The total number of impressions
  3. CTR – Click through rate or the percentage of time a users clicked through to your site
  4. Position – The average position of your site when presented to users

Then, to sort by clicks, click the appropriate header:

Search Console Click Sort

Although you can’t see all the data (for privacy reasons), you can see from above image, that the first query for this particular site received 3 clicks. It just so happens that this was a branded term, making it less relevant. The second query in the list shows 1 click, 168 impressions and an average position of 19. It’s actually a highly relevant local term but as you can see, this site (which is relatively new) is performing poorly for that query (only a 0.6% CTR).

Note: I have avoided the use of a country filter in order to make this example clearer. If your business targets a specific country, you might consider the use of an appropriate filter.

As a business owner, I would be looking at the results above and thinking to myself that I need to improve my average position and click-through rate of the second term. Doing so could attract more qualified clicks and probably lots of additional business.

If you click on the actual query and then select pages, you’ll see which pages are ranking for this query. You can then take a closer look at each individual page (only the home page in this case) and examine the on-page SEO for each one. You could also compare the pages of your competitors. What are they doing that is better?

query drill down

This is an abbreviated version of the process, but it should be enough to get you started with analyzing and making improvements. You can work through all the relevant queries and pages, giving thought to how each one could be improved.

Index Status

Located under Google Index, Index Status shows the total number of pages of your website that Google has crawled and indexed. Although there is not a lot of information here, this simple chart can tell you quite a bit about the quality of your link structure.

indexed pages

If you publish content on a regular basis, you should see your total indexed pages demonstrating a steady uptrend. On the other hand if you see a rapid drop in the total number of indexed pages, it should be cause for concern. For example, Google may have detected malware on some pages of your site. Alternatively, if you’re publishing more pages than Google is indexing, is it possible that your internal linking structure needs some fine-tuning?

You’ll also notice an advanced tab that when clicked will indicate the number of pages that have been blocked as well as removed from the index.

Content Keywords

As Google crawls your website, it will take note of the keywords it finds. The significance of each keyword will depend on how often Google finds it on your site.

With this particular report, you will be able to get a clear idea of how Google is interpreting your site content. What does Googlebot think your website is about? The actual subject matter of your website should be reflected by the report.

Finally, if you notice keywords that look out of place or are inappropriate, this can be an indicator that your site may be been hacked. For example, if keywords related to “Levitra”  or “Viagra” are on the list, there is a good chance that you site has become victim to a pharma hack.

Crawl Errors

On an intermittent basis, you should examine your crawl error report for any issues and fix items that are listed. Although something as simple as a 404 error might not incur a penalty from Google, you’ll be able to determine where the link originates ans then fix the problem. The end result is a better user experience.

Fetch as Google

Fetch as Google is kind of like a manual Googlebot. Anytime you add new important content or want to check an existing page, you can use the fetch tool (with optional render). Using this tool will provide the most accurate answer as to how Google will “see” and render a particular page. This tool is a great way to make sure that your page and all the content on the page can be accessed by Google. This increases your chances of performing well in the SERPs.

Fetch as Google

Once you’ve entered a URL and clicked “Fetch” or “Fetch and Render”, Google will begin crawling the page. After a short wait, it will return a result that indicates the Googlebot type and status. The status could indicate complete, partial, redirected or another specific error.

If you click on the result, you’ll have access to additional information that shows what was fetched along with the download time. The rendering tab will show a comparison of how Google sees the site versus how a visitor sees the site. Any resources that were unreachable will also be listed here. This could include images, scripts or stylesheets.

Robots.txt Tester

Your robots.txt is a simple file that provides instructions to robots, or web crawlers (including Googlebot) about how to crawl your site. Actually, they’re more like a request than instructions since a robot could choose to ignore the request, as is often the case when there is malicious intent.

You can use the robots.txt Tester to determine whether Googlebot is able to crawl a specific URL or whether specific content that you want to be blocked is working correctly.

Sitemaps

Google makes it clear that a sitemap does not guarantee every item in your sitemap will be indexed. They also state that having one, although not required, is still a good idea. You’ll never be penalized for doing so.

There are some instances in particular where both having and submitting a sitemap through Google Search Console is highly recommended:

  1. If your website is new and/or has very few external links, it’s possible that it will take longer for Google to find and crawl the pages of your site. As soon as your site is ready to be viewed, it’s a good idea to create a sitemap and submit the URL to Google.
  2. If your website has a poor internal linking structure or is very large, it’s easier for Google to miss new content.

sitemap submission

Adding a sitemap is a simple process. Once it’s been created using a simple tool like Yoast SEO or Google XML Sitemaps, simply paste the URL of your sitemap into Search Console and click “Test Sitemap”. Once Google is done you can view the results and if everything looks good it’s ready for submission. That means going back to the main screen and again clicking “ADD/TEST SITEMAP”, only this time, enter the URL, click “Submit Sitemap”. Maybe in the future Google will fix this double entry issue, but for now we have to live with a poor user-experience.

There are some additional guidelines for larger sites, such as separating a large sitemap into several smaller ones and then using a sitemap index file. As your site grows in size, keep this in mind.

sitemap errors

At least on a monthly basis it’s a good idea to check your sitemaps for any errors or warnings and if possible, either resolve them or mark them as fixed.

Wrap Up

Although there are a few Search Console features that we haven’t covered here, we’ve managed to touch on the ones that have the greatest impact on your overall website visibility. If you’re a small business owner, these are all items that should be on a list of monthly to-do’s.

One additional point worth discussing is the importance of making sure you’ve enabled email notifications from within the settings tab. Your can request that Google email you for either all or just critical issues. For example, if they detect malware on your site, you be notified so that you can resolve the problem right away instead of when you happen to notice it.

So…

If you’ve got a website that you believe is infested with lots of amazing content, you need to make sure Google can crawl and index it, because this will give your website the best opportunity to perform well in the SERPs. Google Search Console isn’t the most attractive looking tool, but it’s loaded with handy info and it should be something you use to review your website and its content on a regular basis.

Credit: Original Article

WordPress SpeedPage load speed is a very important part of every website, a lot of the time page speed is neglected for cool animations or adding several large images to improve the design of your website.

Unfortunately this can effect the performance of your website and deter visitors ultimately effecting your websites search engine rankings and conversations.

Below are some tips on how to improve your WordPress site speed.

It is surprisingly easy to end up with a sluggish WordPress website, no matter how minimal you may have set out to make it. Little things from your web host choice all the way to your WordPress configuration can lead to slow loading times for visitors, and according to Kissmetrics, nearly 40% of people will surf somewhere else if the page takes more than a few seconds to display anything.

Slow performance is especially problematic for online stores, where you may have several visitors performing complex actions on your site at a single time. A majority of shoppers were found in this study to be less likely to buy from a site that is slow or displaying other problems that keep them from having a smooth experience.

While 30% are pretty patient, willing to wait 6-10 seconds for a page load, you want to aim for less than that. Most sites running WordPress can load between 1-3 seconds.

Here are a few effective tips for troubleshooting slow performance in the front-end of your site, and getting it running quickly and efficiently.

Why Your Site is Slow

The first step to troubleshooting a slow site or preparing a new one for snappy performance is understanding where slow-downs originate. The most common cause of slow page loads is slow internet speed, which is nothing you can control, but there are a number of things to check in your WordPress setup.

Things that can aggravate site load times in a site are:

  1. Cheap (slow) web hosting
  2. Low database memory allocation on your server
  3. Too many plugins activated
  4. Large file size of content such as HD images
  5. Script conflicts between plugins or large numbers of errors being generated
  6. 3rd Party content including videos, hosted files or banner ads that take too long to connect to the host

Your theme choice can be a factor in load speed as well. Some themes package a colossal amount of scripting, animations and other libraries that load on ever page.

What You Can Do

Evaluate Internet Speed

Sometimes slow loading is just your connection being slow, or your host being slow. The best test is to ask someone in a different location to try visiting your URL and see how their experience compares.

Your host can also test the load and explain any limitations of your hosting. If you have a large photography website, or an eCommerce site with a lot of traffic for example, you may need to upgrade to a VPS or WordPress hosting tier to avoid your traffic being throttled.

Run an Initial Speed Test

Both of these resources will scan your site for specific load inhibitors and produce a report. Keep in mind that it is going to advise you about all inhibitors, whether they are a real problem or not.

On Pingdom, all resources in your homepage will be listed. Typically the theme sylesheets load first, followed by plugins and scripting, and finally, the assets on the page, such as images, will load last and typically take the longest.

Pay special attention to the very first ping, which is how long it takes the browser to communicate with the server and receive a response from your domain. Long load times here indicate a DNS or server issue, so it may be worth running a “DNS Health” test on your main website URL.

For Google Pagespeed, ensure you are looking at the Desktop diagnostics tab. Items in the Red section of Pagespeed are the things to watch out for. If you are not familiar with the terminology used, below is a brief outline of what some of the results mean and what you should do about them or not:

Optimize Images

If you have a significant amount of graphics or images on your site, they can cause a lot of load time if they are not as small in file size as possible. In many cases, the savings are marginal and not necessary, but if you see the size reduction is more than a few hundred kb, you probably need to re-process and re-upload your images (details in the next section)

Reduce Server Response Time

Cheap hosting often means slow speeds, and can be made worse by other sites on the same host taking up too much bandwidth or database memory. Contact your host if this is brought up as an issue.

Reduce Content Loading Before the Fold (aka render-blocking content)

This is a pretty idealistic option and one you can’t do much to directly influence, as WordPress sites need to load a measure of data, scripting or stylesheets at the beginning of the page.

This is a pretty idealistic option and one you can’t do much to directly influence, as WordPress sites need to load a measure of data, scripting or stylesheets at the beginning of the page.

Your plugins and page templates will also dynamically load in scripts or styles being used on that page, and it all happens in the header. In most cases, this is not the cause of your site being slow, but can be if the page is looking for offsite content.

Optimize Images

If you have a significant amount of graphics or images on your site, they can cause a lot of load time if they are not as small in file size as possible. In many cases, the savings are marginal and not necessary, but if you see the size reduction is more than a few hundred kb, you probably need to re-process and re-upload your images (details in the next section)

Reduce Offsite Content

Cheap hosting often means slow speeds, and can be made worse by other sites on the same host taking up too much bandwidth or database memory. Contact your host if this is brought up as an issue.

Check Your Content

  • If you have a theme with a lot of video content that uses the video embed url field in posts, ensure the oEmbed url starts with //: or http:// and not https://
  • For sites with a lot of images, ensure images are optimized for the web by saving them as JPGs, scaling them down to no larger than 2000px wide or less than 2MB in file size. Download and run the Regenerate Thumbnails or WPSmush It plugin
  • Do not hotlink images. In other words, ensure all images on your site are hosted on your site and not from a 3rd party website, flickr, instagram or similar. These options are great for creating galleries using thumbnails and so on, but if these sites timeout on loading large images, your site will be slow.

Verify Plugin Compatibility

  • Temporarily deactivate all plugins (excluding WooCommerce), then clear your browser cache and test the load again. If it is improved, you will need to reactivate plugins one at a time to figure out if there is a conflict, or reduce the number of plugins you have activated.
  • Use as few plugins for front-end stuff as possible. Most hosts only allow between 32 and 64M of database memory for shared hosting, which can be quickly exceeded on sites running a ton of plugins. Evaluate how important a plugin is to your site and decide if it can be removed or consolidate by finding plugins that do more than one thing.
  • Always use plugins that are actively developed or supported by their author, are cleared for use on the current WordpPress version, and have a decent rating (make sure 5 star plugins have several hundred votes, not just a handful, which can be very misleading!)

If you are using WordPress SEO by Yoast, go to SEO > TITLES and uncheck the Force Rewrite Titles option. You can check the plugin’s support forums for examples of others affected by slowdowns and some possible solutions. If you find this helped, see the following for advice on optimizing settings.

  1. If you are using WP Super Cache, clear it, deactivate it, and replace it with a plugin that is known for less problems such as Quick Cache
  2. If you are using W3 Total Cache, go to PERFORMANCE > GENERAL SETTINGS and uncheck the Page Cache option, then empty the cache and re-test.
  3. Any plugin that imports data from another site will kill performance. This includes plugins that pull in feeds from an RSS source, social network plugins that pull in status updates, Flickr plugins that auto-post photos, and so on.
  4. WooCommerce sites should have SSL enabled only for the shop pages. Do not force it on the rest of your site as it just increases the amount of checks on the server end, unless you are using Obox Social Commerce or another Facebook app that requires full domain SSL. Contact your host for help with this step if you are eunsure how to target specific parts of your site or don’t know how to wildcard urls.

Install a Caching Plugin

I know, I know, we just said you should reduce the number of plugins installed, and have pointed out some issues with some caching plugins, but the bottom line is that when configured correctly, they increase speed for subsequent visits to your site substantially and do not take much memory.

If you want to forego using a plugin, check with your host on what kind of Server-side caching is available, such as Cloudflare, AWS, or Varnish

For advanced admins or sites that need a lot of control on Caching options, we recommend W3 Total Cache without Page Caching enabled. Please see the author’s documentation on configuration, and if you use WooCommerce, see this article!

For beginners or basic blog/portfolio sites, Quick Cache is a solid and actively developed plugin.

Increase Memory

See the following for advice from WordPress on how you can attempt to increase the memory allocated to your site. Some hosts do not allow edits to the php.ini, so you may need to contact them for help and troubleshooting on this step.

WordPress Codex: Increasing Memory Limit

Verify Server-side configurations

Things like extra content in your wp_config.php can trigger a ton of errors which you may not be seeing on the front-end, but which will slow the site.

The following article offers some great advice for optimizing your setup, specifically when working with caching plugins like W3 Total Cache:

Conclusion

Website speed is critically important to page performance & user experience

WP Butler are experts in optimising websites for the best possible performance, contact us to find out more.

Original Article

Google AnalyticsYou would never run a successful business without a set of well kept books. Those books or accounts will offer you great insight into how the business is tracking and provide you with the data to make decisions. The same should go for your website. Your analytics should be your dashboard by which you make decisions about your online marketing.

Knowing how your audience interacts with your website is crucial for your success. The best way to know your audience is through your traffic stats and this is what Google Analytics provides for FREE. In this article and how-to video, we will share why Google Analytics is important, and how you can install Google Analytics in your WordPress blog.

Why is Google Analytics So Important?

Google analytics allow you to keep track of:

Who visits your site

This part of analytics answers what is the geographical location of your audience, which browser did the user use to visit your site and many other important information such as: screen resolution, JavaScript support, Flash support, language and more. This data is extremely useful, and it can help in numerous ways. When getting a custom design, you can use the user data to make sure that your site will be compatible with your audience.

If most of your users does not have Flash support, then you should avoid adding flash element in your site. If most of your users are on 1280 screen resolutions, then make sure that your design is compatible with that resolution or smaller.

What they do when they are on your website

You can track where the user is going on your website, how long do they stay on your website, and what is the bounce rate (the percent of users exit your site on the first visit). By using this information, you can decrease the bounce rate and increase the depth of pageviews.

When they visit your website

By looking at the hottest hours in the day for your site, you can pick the time when you publish your post. If that time zone is not compatible with yours, then you can schedule your post to meet that hour.

Where did they arrive on your website from

This section of the analytics show you where did the user come from (for example: Search Engines, Direct Links, Referral links from another site). It also shows you what percentage of your visitors came from each of these sources. Google analytics gives you the breakdown of each of these categories. If it is the search engine category, then it shows you which search engine got you the most traffic, google, yahoo, bing etc.

The breakdown of referral sources show you which sites you need to work with the most. If your top referral source is twitter, then you need to have exclusive twitter content to make your twitter audience feel special. If your top referral source is an external website, then you might want to consider having a partnership with that website (link exchanges or something else).

How they interact with your site’s content

Google analytics show how your users interacted with your site’s content. It shows you what percent of the user clicked on which link on your site and much more. You can run A/B split tests by creating content experiments in Google Analytics to understand what works best to meet your goals. By seeing the user interactivity, you can work your content around your users. By seeing the answers to the questions above, you can focus on the strategies that work for your site and eliminate the strategies that don’t work.

Below is a video that will take you step by step through the process of adding Google Analytics to your WordPress site.

Original Article Source

WordPress Sitemap

Are you struggling to find your website on the Google Rankings? Perhaps Google is having trouble crawling your website.

This is where sitemaps come in to play, sitemaps help search engines crawl your website more effectively.

Thankfully WordPress has some fantastic plugins to help get a sitemap created quickly and easily, read below for more details.

Best Sitemap Plugins for WordPress

1. Google XML Sitemaps

google-xml

With over one million downloads, Google XML Sitemaps is the most popular sitemaps solution for WordPress. It generates an XML sitemap to help major search engines – such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com – to index your site better.

The plugin supports WordPress-generated pages and custom URLs and enables you to notify all of the search engines every time you create a new post. You’ll have to build the sitemap the first time after installation, but after that the plugin will take care of maintaining it dynamically as you make changes to your site.

Let’s recap and round up Google XML Sitemaps’ key features:

  • Easy-to-use and friendly user interface.
  • Generates special XML sitemaps for all major search engines.
  • Supports all kinds of WordPress generated pages and custom posts.
  • Dynamically edits the sitemap as more pages are added or removed.

2. PS Auto Sitemap

ps-sitemap

PS Auto Sitemap is an easy-to-use plugin that automatically generates a sitemap page based on your WordPress site. The plugin supports all WordPress-generated pages in addition to posts and categories.

Anyone with a little programming knowledge can fully customize their site’s sitemap by changing the display settings and adding built-in CSS skins to it. The plugin also enables users to limit the depth of the sitemap and set the display order for both pages and posts.

Let’s recap and round up PS Auto Sitemap key features:

  • Choose from 12 different designs for your sitemap’s display style.
  • Option to cache your sitemap content.
  • Select which pages, posts and categories should not be added to the sitemap.
  • Limit the depth of the sitemap.

3. Page-list

page-list

Page-list is a plugin that generates sitemaps for WordPress sites. It works straight out of the box.

One of the best things about Page-list is that it supports shortcodes. You’ll find an extensive list of parameters to go with them – 56 to be exact. There are four main shortcodes:

  1. [pagelist] – a tree of all pages
  2. [subpages] – a tree of all subpages to the current page.
  3. [siblings] – a tree of all sibling pages to the current page.
  4. [pagelist_ext] – list of pages with featured image and excerpt.

Let’s recap and round up Page-list’s key features:

  • Works right out of the box.
  • Customizable content for sitemaps.
  • Shortcode integration with over 50 parameters.
  • Option to display pages with featured image and excerpt.

4. WP Sitemap Page

WP Sitemap Page enables users to add a sitemap to their page using one simple shortcode. Adding the shortcode automatically generates a sitemap of your site and displays it on the page.

The plugin generates an HTML sitemap, which means that it cannot be submitted to search engines. However, it can improve your site’s user experience, helping visitors to find pages and posts easily.

Let’s recap and round up WP Sitemap Page’s key features:

  • Displays all pages, posts, categories, custom post types and taxonomies in the HTML sitemap.
  • Customize the look and feel of the sitemap.
  • Option to exclude pages and custom post types from being displayed.
  • Available in different languages and enables you to add your own translation.

5. Simple Sitemap

Simple Sitemap generates an HTML sitemap for your WordPress site. You can choose to display the content as a single list of pages and posts, or in a group format sorted by taxonomy using a drop-down box.

The sitemap is created in one column, which fits nicely on pages, posts, and even on sidebars. You can add the shortcode to text widgets as well. Simple Sitemap enables you to select the order in which pages and posts are displayed in its configuration settings.

Let’s recap and round up Simple Sitemap’s key features:

  • Generates an HTML sitemap.
  • Supports shortcodes which can be added to pages, posts and sidebars.
  • Customize the display order from the configuration settings.
  • Displays sitemaps as lists or in group format.

How to Submit Your Sitemap to Search Engines

In most cases, a search engine will automatically detect your site’s sitemap if you place it in the root of your domain.

In other cases, it’s a good idea to submit your submit your XML sitemap directly to Google and Bing to take advantage of analytics – pages indexed, pages submitted and any errors that it encounters.

Submitting Your Sitemap to Google

Google Webmaster Tools lets you submit your sitemap to Google.

  1. Login to Google Webmaster Tools with your Google account
  2. Select your site from the Search Console home page
  3. Click Sitemaps on the right side of the screen
  4. Click Add/Test Sitemap
  5. Type the name of your sitemap file into the text box
  6. Click Submit Sitemap
  7. You will see a notification once your sitemap is submitted

Submitting Your Sitemap to Bing

We’ll submit the XML sitemap to Bing using Bing Webmaster Tools:

  1. Log in to Bing Webmaster Tools with your Microsoft account
  2. Select your site from the home page
  3. Click Sitemaps on the right side of the screen
  4. On the next screen, give it the location of your XML sitemap on your site in Add a sitemap
  5. Enter any further credentials that validate you as the site owner
  6. Click Save

As you can see, adding a sitemap to your website is so easy to do there is no excuse not to do it. Not only will it help Google crawl your website but it also improves user experience by improving your websites navigation.

What are your waiting for? Pick one the plugins above and add a sitemap to your website today.

Original Article.
https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/sitemaps/

Launching WordPress WebsiteAre you ready to launch your WordPress site? Each day thousands of new sites appear on the web. That’s why you want to make sure that your website stands out and shines from the very beginning. Here at WPButler we use checklists for every part of our development process including pre-launch, go live and post-launch processes. The team at WPBeginner, have prepared this handy little checklist of things you should do before launching your WordPress website.

Getting Started

1. Install a WordPress backup Solution

You should always setup a WordPress backup solution on your website. Backups are like an insurance policy on your website. Should anything go wrong, you can always recover it. There are plenty of good free and paid WordPress backup plugins that you can setup on your website within minutes.

You want to make sure that the backups are automatically scheduled and are saved on a cloud storage service like Dropbox, Amazon S3, or Google Drive. We recommend using BackupBuddy, it is quick and easy to setup. It can also store your backups on multiple locations. It is also the easiest to restore.

2. Secure WordPress Admin Area

As the most popular content management system in the world, WordPress is often a popular target of hackers. Many WordPress sites run without having to face any of these threats for years, but it is always better to be prepared than to be sorry. See our list of 13 vital tips and hacks to protect your WordPress admin area.

For all of our sites, we setup a Sucuri firewall which makes your site super secure and prevent you from attacks. It is definitely a way to go if your site is a business.
Sucuri is like having a private security system and guards at your physical business location.

3. Check Your Site for 404 Errors

On a brand new website, 404 errors can create a bad user experience. You need to make sure all pages on your website are loading properly, and there are no missing links. If you have already added your site to Google Webmaster Tools, then you can find pages giving 404 not found error in your crawl report.

For a new website, it is likely that you haven’t added your site to Google Search Console or Webmaster tools. In this case, you will have to manually browse your site and make sure everything is working as expected. If you have a lot of content, then you can go through your most important pages first like about, contact, registration or login pages, etc.
You can setup email alerts for 404 errors on your WordPress site. This way you can easily monitor and fix them.

4. Setup Email for Your WordPress Site

Failing to send or receive emails from your WordPress site is one of the most common WordPress errors. Some of your email notifications may deliver, but some of them may not. The reason for this is that most mail servers consider it email spoofing when the sender’s email address does not match the originating domain or server. Please see our guide on how to fix WordPress not sending email issue.

5. Check All Forms on Your Site

Once you have setup email, the next thing you need to do is to make sure that all forms on your site are working. Test your contact forms, comment forms, email subscription forms, and so on. Make sure every form on your site works properly. Check your email list and send test emails to confirm that your emails are delivered to the right mailing list.

If you run a multi-author or multi-user WordPress site, then check your login and registration forms. Login with different user roles to check if you need to remove unnecessary items from WordPress admin area for user accounts.

6. Ecommerce Websites

Ecommerce websites need to check the user experience aspects of their websites more thoroughly. You should put yourself in the user’s shoes and try to browser products, add them to cart, and even do a test transaction to make sure everything works smoothly and flawlessly.

If you are selling digital goods, then make sure they are delivered promptly. For physical goods you will need to check your systems for smooth completion of orders. Some other things you need to check are receipts, invoices, shipping cost calculations, taxes, etc.

7. Check Images, Videos, Sliders

Images and videos make the modern web more interactive. Make sure that all images on your website are loading properly. See our guides on how to speed up WordPress by optimizing images for the web.

You should play the videos on your website using different devices and browsers to make sure that they work as intended. If you are using a WordPress slider plugin, then make sure that slider is working on all browsers and devices just as you intended it to be.

8. Test Social Integrations

Social media plays a very important role in a successful launch of any product. You need to make sure that you don’t miss out on that. Make sure that users can find ways to connect with your website on social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. You should confirm that social sharing plugins on your website are working properly. It’s also good to enable Twitter Cards, Facebook Open Graph meta-data, and social monitoring tools on your WordPress website.

9. Performance Tests

Performance related issues are usually the main concern during the development phase of a website. But now that you are about to launch your website, it is time to test your website one more time.

Check your website for speed using tools like Pingdom and Google Pagespeed tool. Speed is not only important for user experience it is also an important SEO factor. One of the best ways to speed up your WordPress site is installing a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache, and use a CDN like MaxCDN. Most managed WordPress hosting companies like WPEngine comes with built-in caching and includes CDN and backups as part of their plan.

10. Install Google Analytics

You cannot improve without knowing how your readers interact with your website. Google Analytics is the easiest way to track how your readers interact with your website. It tells you where your visitors are coming from, what they see on your site, when they leave and how well your site is doing.

It is important that you install Google Analytics before the launch, so you can track how your launch efforts performed. It will also help you keep a historical record of the day when you launched and how much your site has grown since then.

11. Check SEO settings

Search engines are amongst the top source of consistent free traffic for most websites. Optimizing your website for search engines can help you grow your traffic steadily after the launch. We use Yoast SEO plugin on all our websites. It is a comprehensive site optimization software for WordPress. Take a look at our tutorial on how to install and setup WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast to maximize your site’s SEO potential.

That’s all, we hope this article helped you prepare your checklist of things to do before launching your WordPress site. You may also want to see our list of 40 useful tools to manage and grow your WordPress blog.

Original Article Source

11 Types of Content that Really Drive TrafficIn today’s fast paced world and declining attention spans, your website and blog content has to work just that much harder. You’ve not only got to first gain the attention of your reader, you then have to hold it. Delivering the same old same old, day in day out may cut it for a little while, but eventually your readers are going to start tiring. To keep things fresh and upbeat, try changing the types of content you publish. The crew over at WPKUBE have put together a list of content types that should get your creative juices flowing and keep your readers more engaged.

They say that content is king. But to really rule the web, your content has to be epic. Like, really epic. It has to do more than just inform. It has to entertain, grab attention and be able to drive tons of traffic.

Unfortunately, a basic blog post isn’t always going to cut it. To fully utilize content marketing, your content needs to stand out. Here are 11 types of content that have the ability to really drive traffic back to your WordPress site.

1. Lists

List Post
People love lists. Think of how many posts you have read with the words “top,” “ways,” or “types.”

List posts are appealing. People love to read and share them. Not only do they deliver information, they give you the best of that information.

To create a list post, start by picking a topic. It should be something your readers are already interested in. Then pick your format. For example, if you’re still talking about content, you could do a post on The 7 ways content can boost your business or 10 top ways smart marketers use content. You could even negate the topic and do 10 things not to do. The possibilities really are endless, as long as you pick something people want to read about.

2. How-To Posts

How-to Post
Most people come to the Internet to learn something, so it makes sense that how-to posts tend to do well. These types of posts are also great for organic traffic, as search queries often start with “how to….”

The easiest way to write a how-to post is to figure out what problem you want to solve. What common problem does your audience seem to have?

Now offer them the solution. Introduce the problem you’re going to solve and then discuss the steps to your solution.

Bonus traffic generator: Add images or videos to help explain parts of your post. Videos can be shared and images can be pinned on Pinterest for even more traffic generating power.

3. Memes

You’ve seen these before. They’re funny. Easy to share. And they go viral.
Memes Post
But did you know they are easy to make?

They don’t require any special skills. With sites like Meme Creator and Quick Meme, you can pick a popular image or upload one of your own, and add text. That’s pretty much it.

While memes don’t typically qualify as a blog post on their own, they are great additions to written content. Also, the format of memes makes them perfect for sharing on social media to bring attention to your profiles.

4. Infographics

While some people like to read, others are more visual. An infographic takes information and presents it in a very different way. Not only does this make the information easy to digest, it can often make it more interesting.

Just take a look at this infographic from QuickSprout about the best times to post on social media.

So it should come as no surprise that infographics tend to get shared more often than a standard blog post. In fact, this study found that infographics are liked more and shared more than other types of content.

To get started with infographics, you can find free ones online. Or you can create your own. Creating an infographic allows you to brand the image with your name and URL, and helps you show off your expertise and your authority.

Not bad, right? There are artists who specialize in these types of graphics or you can try a service such as Visual.ly.

And for your enjoyment, take a look at our recent Infographic: WordPress.com Versus WordPress.org: Which WordPress Version is Best for Me?:

WordPress Infographic

5. Opinion Posts

Everyone has an opinion, why not share yours?

You may be thinking, why would anyone care what I have to say? The truth is, if done correctly, an opinion post can make a lot of people care.

An opinion post should ideally tackle a hot-topic issue and be written in first-person. It should be expressive, strong. The more opinionated your opinion post is, the more it will spread.

Why? These types of posts get people involved. They have the ability to stir up emotions in others, getting them to either agree or disagree with you. These posts often get a lot of shares, but also a lot of comments.

Keep in mind that opinion posts shouldn’t be a daily occurrence. There is such a thing as oversharing. Also, if readers disagree with you, keep it civil. This rule should hopefully apply to your readers’ comments as well.

6. Videos

If images make infographics enticing, videos are just as tempting. Why? Videos keep audiences engaged while requiring them to do just about nothing. They have the ability to convey a message in a memorable way.

You can share an existing video, or you can create your own. Make a video that shows how to do something, explains something or even a behind-the-scenes look.

No matter what type of video you choose, start by writing the script. Videos may be visual, but what you say (or write) is extremely important. Film your video and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo. Both are great sites for helping your video get extra views and search traffic.

7. Interviews

Interview Post
No matter your niche, there are going to be industry leaders. If you can land yourself an interview with someone influential, you will also be seen as influential.

To conduct an interview, you’re going to have to start by finding the right interviewee. Look for someone who has some influence in your industry, as well as a fairly large following. Contact them and set up a time you’re both available to talk.

The format of your interview should be fairly simple. Introduce your interviewee, pumping your audience up to hear what he or she has to say. Ask your first question, and let them answer. Rinse and repeat. You don’t want to make your interview too long, for the sake of your interviewee and also your listeners. Conclude the session by thanking the interviewee and adding a call-to-action.

8. In-Depth Guides

In-Depth Guides Post
Guides are long, informative blog posts. They should go above and beyond the information included in a blog post, and your reader should walk away feeling like they really learned something from your guide.

You can format your guides like a blog post and include it on your site – WPKube has their guides on the sidebar ­– or you can offer your guide as a PDF for download. Both have their advantages, and both tend to be in high-demand.

9. Reviews

Reviews Post
Is there a hot new tool or product that relates to your niche? If so, a review post can get your blog lots of attention and traffic.

A review post is similar to an opinion post in that you’ll be sharing your views on the tool or product. Start by giving a short summary of the tool’s features or a brief overview of the product. Don’t be afraid to give your honest opinion in your review; if you honestly don’t like something, let your readers know. It is this honesty they will come to value, and will want to pass on to others.

An added bonus to review posts is you can include your affiliate link to the book or product, earning you some residual income.

10. Case Studies

Case Study Post
A case study explains a product, service or concept, and its results. Pick something your ideal reader can relate to. Then tell your story. Explain who the case study involves, their goals and needs, any challenges they face, etc. Include statistics and real numbers.

By focusing on the story rather than the product or service, you can write your case study in a way that doesn’t sound like straight-up marketing. Think of it as explaining a success story rather than an actual “study.”

11. Roundup Posts

Round Up Posts
A roundup post is the best of the best around the web. The idea behind a great roundup post is to deliver as much quality information as you can in one post. I’m sure you’re thinking that sending people away from your site may seem counterproductive, but it’s a great way to deliver great information that readers want to share with others.

To create an effective roundup post, pick a topic and start searching. You can choose to do a weekly post of the best content from your niche, or a roundup of the best resources of all time. Link to outside posts and make sure you cite the authors.

An added benefit of a roundup post? If you let your featured bloggers know you included them, they are likely to share your post with their audience and on their social media channels, bringing you even more traffic.

Wrapping it Up

There you have it! These are the top 11 types of content that can generate traffic, shares and comments.

Good content has the ability to teach and entertain your audience, while elevating you to expert status. But it’s creating epic content that can really drive traffic far beyond writing a basic blog post.

Keep in mind what works for one site may not work for another. Try different types of content to see what works best for your site and your audience.

And remember, this list isn’t the be all, end all of content. Don’t be afraid to try new things and make it your own.

Article Original Source

New Vulnerabilities in 6 Popular WordPress PluginsWe here at WP Butler take WordPress website security very seriously, which is why we’re always vigilant when it comes to making sure our clients’ WordPress websites are up to date with the latest versions of WordPress and plugins wherever possible. This is to ensure that hackers and other malicious activities don’t take down our clients’ websites!

This week we have several high profile plugin vulnerabilities we’d like to bring your attention to. If you are using one of these plugins, upgrade to the fixed version immediately.

Fast Secure Contact Form

Fast Secure Contact Form - New Vulnerabilities in 6 Popular WordPress Plugins

(400,000+ active installs) version 4.0.37 and earlier contain an XSS vulnerability that was publicly announced on October 27th. This was fixed in version 4.0.38. Upgrade immediately if you haven’t already. Note that this plugin is very popular with over 400,000 active installs.

Bulletproof Security

Bulletproof Security - New Vulnerabilities in 6 Popular WordPress Plugins

(100,000+ active installs) version .52.4 contains a XSS vulnerability that was publicly announced 2 weeks ago. Please upgrade to the newest version which fixes the issue if you haven’t already.

Blubrry PowerPress podcasting plugin

Blubrry PowerPress podcasting plugin - New Vulnerabilities in 6 Popular WordPress Plugins

(50,000+ active installs) version 6.0.4 and earlier contains an XSS vulnerability publicly announced on October 27th.  Upgrade as soon as possible.

Form Manager version

(30,000+ active installs) 1.7.2 and earlier contain an unauthenticated remote command execution (RCE) vulnerability published on October 23rd. This was fixed in 1.7.3.  Upgrade as soon as possible.

WordPress Files Upload

(10,000+ active installs) version 3.4.0 and earlier allowed a malicious executable file to be uploaded and executed. This has been fixed in 3.4.1 which was released 13 days ago. Please upgrade immediately if you haven’t already.

Crony Cronjob Manager 0.4.4

(2000+ active installs) and earlier contained an XSS and CSRF vulnerability. The fix was released several weeks ago but it was publicly announced 15 days ago. If you haven’t upgraded this plugin, please do so immediately.

Kudos to Sathish from Cyber Security Works for discovering several of these vulnerabilities and the responsible disclosure.

So The Butler Says…

Make sure you keep on top of keeping your WordPress website and plugins up to date. If this is something you’re not comfortable doing by yourself…

WP Butler can help!

Simply purchase a WP Butler Priority Support Ticket and we can do this for you.

Credit: Original Article

Are You Sure You Want To Do ThisIt’s a fair questions I suppose, but what is WordPress actually saying to you as website administrator? It would be a far greater help if WordPress gave you a list of consequences if you proceed or the reasons behind the message in the first place. The problem is there are a number of possible causes that trigger this warning. The team at BeginWP have put together the following article which sheds some light on why this message can appear and what you can do to fix it.

When it comes to WordPress, there are a few error messages which are self-explanatory, while some error messages really confuse the user. For example, sometimes users are greeted with this error “Are you sure you want to do this?” which doesn’t exactly explain what the problem is, and to be honest, this is a very vague message. Now, there are many factors that can lead to this error. Therefore in this article, we will be looking at some possible solutions to fix this error “Are you sure you want to do this?” in WordPress.

Why and when does this error occur?

This error message appears when WordPress checks for nonce and it fails. These nonce are unique keys which are generated by a theme, plugin for a core WordPress file for verification. It is very much essential that this nonce check passes, or else you will get this error.

The above answer was a bit technical, but in simple terms, you can get this error when you are uploading a new theme, trying to install a new plugin or perhaps making any change in theme or plugin. You can also get this error when saving a post, as sometimes WordPress time outs.

When you get this error, you will also get a “Please try again” link with it, but on trying it again, you might still face the same problem. So here are some solutions to fix “Are you sure you want to do this?” error in WordPress.

Checking plugins

Deactivating a plugin can still cause the problem, that’s why if you want to know whether a plugin is the culprit or not, then you need to delete the plugins. If you don’t want to delete the plugin, then just use a FTP client, or File Manager in your cPanel and then rename wp-content/Plugins directory to something like Plugins.deactivate.

Once you do this, WordPress will deactivate all the plugins and you will also be able to see the message informing about the same in your WordPress admin area.

Now that all the plugins are truly deactivated, it is now time to try and reproduce the error. If the error does not appear again, then it means that a plugin is responsible for the error and you will need to find that plugin. To know which plugin is creating the problem, rename that Plugins.deactivate directory back to Plugins. Next, login to WordPress admin and activate plugins one by one until you find the one plugin that’s creating the problem.

Checking the theme

If in above step the plugin is not the culprit in your case, then the theme can be causing the problem. First, download your existing theme to your computer as a backup, and then delete the entire theme from your website. You will now be able to see a message that says “Reverting back to the default theme.” Don’t worry, this message is normal.

Now try to reproduce the error. If you are not getting the error anymore then the theme was the culprit. Also note that the theme’s folder should not have any spaces in it. For example, it should not be named as “My Theme” but it can be named as “MyTheme.”

Editing your php.ini file

If all else fails, then this is what you should try. To edit this php.ini file, you need to first locate it on your website. This is not a WordPress specific file, and that’s why it can be in any location, and that’s why it is better to ask your web host about the location of this file.

Once you find the location, edit this file and change the settings to these:
post_max_size=100M
upload_max_filesize=128M
max_execution_time = 300

Once you do this, you might want to restart your Apache; and if you are on a shared hosting, then you will need to contact your web host to do that.

Original Article Source

So with a little bit of trial and error through deactivating and reactivating plugins, swapping out themes and editing your php.ini file you should be able to get on top of this vague little warning. Just make sure that you have a backup before you start any of these fixes.

If you just aren’t confident enough running through these suggested fixes by yourself give WP Butler a call on 1300 739 301 or send a ticket to support@wpbutler.com.au and we can help you out. If you haven’t got your backups schedule sorted, check out our $79 monthly support package. It’s great peace mind and great value.

Modern devices with web design template. Vector illustration7 reason

WordPress is considered the most popular CMS around and is amazingly easy to use. Packed with features & functionality not to mention millions of easily installed plugins.

WordPress was once regarded as a platform for bloggers but has evolved into a robust platform for building user friendly, SEO ready & mobile friendly feature packed websites.

If you still need convincing check out the top 7 reasons to switch to WordPress below.

1. Its free

This CMS is free of charge with no hidden charges making it the perfect way for small businesses and start-ups to get that all important online presence. This will save you a lot of money and time that would have gone into the designing of a website from scratch and hiring the right professional for the job. Third parties and extra costs are thus eliminated as your in-house staff can take care of the installation, designing, and maintaining of your website easily.

2. Comes ready for use

With this tool, you do not need special skills to design a website as it comes ready to install. The touch and go features that come with this platform makes it great for people looking to launch their websites quickly and easily. This also means that you have control over every aspect of your website including maintenance that includes updating it which would have been a web designer’s task.

3. Versatility

WordPress is versatile and flexible thanks to its ability to adapt to different settings. Whether you are looking to start an online shop, restaurant website or personal blog, you will find plenty of options to choose from. This made possible by the availability of a wide selection of themes with the best extensions and features to suit your needs to perfection. Therefore, take the time to research which theme works best for your line of work as there are specific ones made for particular businesses that promise you better success.

4. Search engine-friendly

The coding behind WordPress is simple and clean which search engines love as it finds it easy to read and thus index. The platform also allows you to optimize your web pages to become search engine-friendly through keywords, meta tags etc. enhancing it further. Therefore, if you want your website to rank higher and boost your business, take advantage of this platform that gives your site a better chance over the competition.

5. Safe

WP has decent security features that come with the platform and to fortify it further security plugins are also available.

Auto upgrades are important as they allow your website to stay abreast with current trends and technologies. They also ensure the safety of your website from malicious attacks and similar vulnerabilities. Such features ensure that hackers, malware and other security breaches are kept at bay making it a safe option for your business website.

As an administrator, you also have the discretion of creating multiple users who have access to the website. To take care of the security end of the matter, you assign each user their level and capabilities.

6. Customisable

There are thousands of WordPress themes available in the market today meaning that you can customize your site in whichever design you wish. To this end, you will get plenty on features at your disposal to ensure that all your design requirements are met accordingly.

Do not worry about your website looking like another one; the chance of this is minimal as the themes come with different designs for each installation. You can also make use of features like widgets, plugins, shortcodes etc. that come with certain themes to customize your website further.

7. User-friendly

Another reason to use this platform for your business is because it is easy to use. This means that you will not waste your time learning how to get around your website after installation. Customizing the website is also easy making sure that you can add images, videos, audio etc. with a click of a button, no special skills needed.

Additionally, websites made from this platform attract visitors for the same reason – their user-friendliness and intuitive nature. This means well for your business as you will not only attract new visitors but you will also retain them.

Final Word

WordPress is a powerful platform that millions of businesses are benefiting from right now.

As you can see from above WordPress is packed full of features is easy to use, versatile, SEO friendly, safe & secure, fully customisable and extremely user friendly. Why wouldn’t you want to switch?

For more information about WordPress or if you need help moving you website over to WordPress get in touch with the WP Butler.

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WordPress Search PluginsIf visitors arrive at your website or blog and then can’t find what they are looking for, the chances of them returning is pretty slim. One of the key features to enabling visitors to quickly find the most relevant content is to offer them an on-page search function. Now WordPress does by default come with this function, however it is less than perfect. Joe Flylan at Elegant Themes has put together the following list of some of his favourite WordPress Search Plugins. Give one or all a try and see what result you can get.

Those of you who have been using WordPress for some time now know that its default search engine just doesn’t cut it once you have a few hundred articles posted on your site. One of the best ways to improve the user experience is to help your regular visitors find what they’re looking for as easily and quickly as possible.

Thankfully, there are several search plugins out there that will boost your site’s search experience and throw in some extra perks along the way. In this article, we’ll put some of the best search plugins for WordPress through their paces to help you make an informed decision when it comes upgrading your site’s search module.

Let’s put all of this into context before we dive into the list of plugins.

What’s Wrong With WordPress’ Default Search?

The default search engine integrated with WordPress is far from ideal. It has undergone significant changes over the years, but it still doesn’t provide the premium search functionality most users expect.

WordPress’ default search implements a simple searching algorithm which is known to display irrelevant results every now and then. Furthermore, it doesn’t allow users to limit searches to pre-specified items and it doesn’t excel at listing results by relevance to the search query that was entered by the user.

In the age of Google and being able to search the internet for information on any topic and nearly always finding what we are looking for, your website visitors are probably expecting the same sort of experience when searching your website. So why disappoint them?

Benefits of Enhanced Search

Search is one of the primary modules that should work flawlessly on every site. Think of it this way: if your visitors can’t find what they’re looking for on your site, is there a point of putting years of effort into creating content for them?

A subpar search module flushes all your (and your team member’s) hard work down the drain almost instantly. A well-implemented search module can:

  • Reduce your site’s bounce rate
  • Improve user experience
  • Help visitors find relevant content easily
  • Save visitors from manually going through the archives

Let’s go through some features that a good search plugin has for those of you who have been using the default search on WordPress up till now.

Features To Look For In a Search Plugin

Everyone has their own evaluation criteria for determining the best plugins in any category. When it comes to search plugins, some of the features you should look for in a good site search plugin are:

  • Easy to install and setup
  • Display search results based on both relevance and date
  • Support for Boolean expression based search
  • Searches everything from pages and posts to categories and custom fields
  • Perform a dynamic search (using Ajax technology) to prevent having to refresh the page
  • Options to exclude certain content from search results and assign weights to fresh content

Now that we’ve established the fact that replacing the default WordPress search plays a crucial part in improving user experience and set an evaluation criteria, let’s take a look at some of the best search plugins for your WordPress site.

The Best Search Plugins for WordPress

Replacing the default WordPress search with a plugin will do wonders for your site’s usability. It will enable visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for in a timely fashion and prevent them from leaving your site because it was simply too difficult to find what they are looking for.

Our list is by no means exhaustive and there are a ton of search plugins out there with outstanding functionality. For the purpose of this post, we’ve narrowed it down to six.
Let’s get on with the plugins.

Relevanssi

Relevanssi WordPress Search Plugin
Relevanssi is one of the most popular and robust search plugins for WordPress. It replaces the default search with partial-match search and sorts results by relevance (and that’s how Relevanssi got its name).

The plugin’s search engine implements the fuzzy search algorithm and offers a better presentation of search results. Its fuzzy search feature sets it apart from other search plugins. Basically, if a user searches for “cat” results for “catapult” will also be displayed. And now you’re thinking of a catapulting cat.

Another standout feature that Relevanssi offers is that it lets you search with Boolean expressions (does Google search ring a bell?)This feature lets you add Boolean expressions such as AND and OR to narrow down the results. For example, if you were looking for this section in a site, you would type “search plugins AND Relevanssi” in the search box.

Here’s a list of some of the powerful features it offers:

  • Implements fuzzy matching algorithm to display partially matched words
  • Search results displayed in order of relevance
  • Results that highlight the searched word or phrase
  • Results that match keywords in comments, tags, categories and custom fields

Relevanssi offers a premium version with three pricing plans to pick from:

  • Standard License for $49.95
  • Developer License for $79.95
  • Permanent License for $219.00

In the premium version, you get all of the features listed above plus some advanced features including:

  • Support for Multisite WordPress installations
  • Search and index user profiles, taxonomy term pages and arbitrary columns in wp_posts MySQL table
  • Weights for post types and taxonomies and extra weight to new posts
  • Highlight searched keywords for visitors from external search engines

You’ll find much praise of Relevanssi’s search experience across the WordPress community and its 80,000+ active installs with ~100 5-star reviews speak for themselves.

SearchWP

SeacrhWP WordPress Search Plugin
SearchWP is another popular upgrade for your WordPress website and it’s been my plugin of choice for improving the search capabilities of my own blog. If you are looking for a premium option or want the best of the best then SearchWP is hard to ignore.

However, that’s not to say it’s the right choice for everyone. For starters, this is a commercial-only plugin. There is no free option available.

After activating the SearchWP plugin on your site, the existing search boxes of your theme will continue to work. Only now they will return improved results. This helps your visitors to find more of the content they are looking for. Depending on how you’ve configured SearchWP, this could include posts, pages, items from the media library, and even products from your online shop.

There are a number of optional extensions available for SearchWP, which you get access to once you’ve purchased any of the licenses for this plugin. This is great on two counts. Firstly, you don’t have to purchase extra features after you’ve made the initial payment. Secondly, you need only install the extensions you plan on using, keeping the plugin as lightweight as possible.

Some examples of the optional extensions include bbPress and WooCommerce integration, live search, search term highlighting, fuzzy matching, and manual synonym definitions.

Setting up SearchWP really is like the sales copy claims and does instantly improve the site search capabilities of your WordPress site. Through the plugin dashboard, you can choose which content from your site to include in the index and display in the search results. This covers everything from posts, pages, and media, through to slugs and custom fields. You’re also able to easily give each item a custom weighting to determine how the search results are calculated.

From the dashboard, you can also quickly see the search stats for your site. This includes the keywords your visitors have been searching for, which can be a great source of inspiration for new blogs post topics.

With an affordable unlimited developer plan available, if you’re creating WordPress sites for clients, installing SearchWP is an easy way to avoid being inundated with queries about why the search functionality of a site you’ve developed isn’t working as expected.

Notable features of SearchWP include:

  • Instant integration with your site
  • Keyword stemming
  • PDF document indexing
  • Fine-grained control over the search algorithm
  • Exclude or attribute results
  • Multisite support

When it comes to pricing, SearchWP is available on the following plans:

  • Single: $49 (use on 1 site)
  • Business: $129 (use on 5 sites)
  • Developer: $249 (use on unlimited sites)

SearchWP is a feature packed commercial plugin that you can have up and running on your site in just a few clicks. If you need your site search upgraded today, you can’t go wrong with SearchWP.

Ajax Search Pro for WordPress

Ajax Search Pro WordPress Search Plugin
Ajax Search Pro displays search results dynamically
If you’re looking for a premium search experience for a reasonable price then Ajax Search Pro for WordPress is the logical “go-to” option. Most of you are familiar with Ajax technology but for those who aren’t let me refresh it for you. Ajax performs tasks (in this case searching) dynamically without having to refresh or reload the page.

In order to avoid a flat search experience, the developers behind Ajax Search Pro for WordPress designed search results to be presented along with featured images to make it visually appealing. The plugin offers a fully configurable relevance search for developers to fine-tune it and full-text search for database experts using MyIsam engine.

Ajax Search Pro for WordPress is one of the most customizable search plugins out there in terms of displaying search results. It features four built-in layouts with over 60 pre-defined themes for each.

Here’s a quick list of some additional features that Ajax Search Pro for WordPress provides:

  • Google keyword suggestions and autocomplete
  • Google Analytics integration to enable phrases to show up as pageviews
  • Built-in caching to reduce database queries and increase search performance
  • Adjustable search logic and smart image parsing

Personally, I found the demo to be quite enticing and agreed that it was fairly priced at $26.

Dave’s WordPress Live Search

Dave's Live Search WordPress Search Plugin
Dave’s WordPress Live Search is another popular free search plugin for WordPress. As the name implies, as well as being written by Dave, it provides a live search experience which means that search results are displayed instantaneously as users type in their queries.

Live search saves users from the two-click search process in which they have to wait for results to load after submitting the search query. Another benefit of this search is that users can view other posts that contain the same keywords which, in most cases, leads them to check out more than one post on your site.

Let’s look at the features Dave’s WordPress Live Search has on offer:

  • Performs live searches on all search queries
  • Search box works even if JavaScript is unavailable
  • Compatible with xLanguage and WPML plugins for a multilingual search experience

This plugin looks like a solid choice for anyone who wants to add live search to their site for free

Better Search

WordPress Better Search Plugin
Better Search is a free, lightweight plugin that replaces WordPress’ default search with a powerful search engine that provides contextual results sorted in order of relevance. The plugin searches the titles and content of pages, posts and custom post types.

Users can improve search results by assigning a greater weight to either the title or content and then customize the output. One of Better Search’s standout features is that it creates a “search heat map” to display your site’s most popular searches. You can add the “search heat map” to the footer or sidebar in your theme.

Here’s a list of some other features offered by Better Search:

  • Search results are automatically sorted by relevance
  • Options to enable/disable Boolean search
  • Highlights search keywords and phrases in the results
  • Add a list of stop words to implement a profanity filter

Better Search has over 5,000 downloads and is one of the better search plugins available for free. Anyone who wants to add powerful search functionality without spending a dime should consider this plugin.

Omnisearch by Jetpack

Omnisearch WordPress Search Plugin
Jetpack’s Omnisearch provides search functionality locally on your site and from select providers on the web. Although you can’t add it to your site’s frontend, it’s worth mentioning in this list if you’d like to add backend searching to your site.

Omnisearch works right out of the box once you’ve added Jetpack to your WordPress install. The search field on the Admin Bar will filter results from the site’s backend only.

The internal search engine functionality provided by Omnisearch enables webmasters to locate anything on their site, whether it’s a plugin, a theme or an image in your media library, using a single search box.

Here’s a list of features that you can leverage after activating Omnisearch:

  • A one-stop search shop for your WordPress site’s backend
  • Single search box for local searches
  • Searches plugins, themes, media, posts, pages, comments, and feedback

Improving your site’s frontend search experience is important but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the backend search altogether. Jetpack’s Omnisearch is an elegant backend searching solution for WordPress and developers can extend its functionality easily, for example, to add a results section.

Wrap Up

By now you know the importance of a well-functioning search module and some of the best alternatives to the default WordPress search tool.

Installing a plugin to enhance your site’s search capabilities and improve the overall search experience for visitors is vital. A high-performance search module will not only reduce your site’s bounce rate, but it will dramatically improve user experience and make your site a more useful resource.

Deciding which search plugin is the best choice for you will depend on the size of your site, which functionality is most important to you, and how much you’re willing to spend to get it.

Original Article Source

WordPress 4.4 Beta ReleaseWho doesn’t look forward to a new release of WordPress? Since our introduction to this amazing platform as far back as version 2.4, uploading and lifting the hood on a new WP version has been a Christmas like experience.

Some of the changes over the years have literally changed the way we use the platform whilst others are a little more subtle and have simply enhance our user experience. Here is a sneak peak of some of the new features we can look forward to in WordPress 4.4 due for realease on December 8, 2015 as compiled by the good folk at WPism

WordPress Embeds

Embeds make embedding rich content in WordPress really easy. You can easily embed content such as videos and tweets from websites like YouTube and Twitter by just pasting its URL in a single line.

In past, we had covered a list of websites that support oEmbeds for WordPress. The good news is that you no longer have to depend on that small list of Website.

WordPress 4.4 will now support nearly all sites that support the oEmbed standard. You can now start embedding rich media the easy way!

One more noteworthy changes with Embeds is that any oEmbeds consumer can embed posts from WordPress blogs. This means that WordPress has also become an oEmbed provider.

Here’s what the preview of an embedded WordPress post looks like;

WordPress Embeds
This feature was made possible with a plugin previously and now becoming a part of the core.

You can, however, choose not to allow embedding for your WordPress website. You will need to install this Disable Embeds plugin to prevent others from embedding your website.

Responsive Images

Support for responsive images is of the most exciting updates in WordPress 4.4. WordPress has added responsive image support to serve appropriate image sizes by default to all users.

WordPress will now load an appropriate image based on user’s device and screen size. This is done by adding native “srcset” and “sizes” support to WordPress.

The images that you upload will be automatically cropped to different sizes, and the user’s browser will serve an appropriate size.

Twenty Sixteen – Default wordPress Theme

Twenty Sixteen will be the default WordPress theme starting WordPress 4.4. The theme is already available to download from both WordPress themes directory and Github.

Twenty Sixteen WordPress Theme 2016

Twenty Sixteen was introduced back in August by Tammie Lister asking the community to contribute and get involved in the development process.

We have extensively written about Twenty Sixteen Theme here but here’re the main features of the theme;

  • Custom color options and default color schemes
  • Multiple menu positions and a social menu
  • Full-Width layout for Posts (optional sidebar)
  • Mobile-first approach
  • Custom background and header options
  • Custom excerpt option to add post intro

The theme is designed by Takashi Irie who had also designed Twenty Fourteen and Twenty Fifteen.

Original Article Source

Well there you have it, I hope you are as excited about the release of WordPress 4.4 as we are here. Just remember, when updating to WordPress 4.4 make sure to take a backup first. If you haven’t got your backups schedule sorted, check out our $79 monthly support package. It’s great peace mind and great value.