12 Nov 2018

21 Ways to Speed Up WordPress

WordPress is an extremely popular publishing platform which is used to power millions of blogs and websites around the world. It can be used to create blogs and websites that are rich in features and enables you to publish posts and pages, customise your site with various widgets, themes and bespoke menus and use plug-ins to make your site even more functional and impressive. Read on if you have been looking for ways to speed up WordPress.

One of the main drawbacks of the platform is that it can sometimes grind to a halt for various reasons. However, there are many steps you can take to speed up the performance of WordPress to save time and make using it more enjoyable. At UK Web Host Review, we’ve taken the time to outline some of the most effective techniques for boosting the performance of your WordPress site.

The key benefits of WordPress

WordPress has helped many companies and organisations to save significant amounts of time and money. This is because WordPress is so simple to use that it it’s possible to run your own site yourself without relying on help from outside. Many companies not in a position to pay someone else to design, build and maintain websites have used WordPress to oversee website management themselves.

Some companies have paid outside sources substantial figures to create websites on their behalf, only to find they have to hand over more money every time they wish to make the smallest change. Thankfully, WordPress is so simple to use that updating your site can become a breeze. WordPress has proved itself to be ideal for those who don’t wish to opt for an unprofessional-looking free site but cannot pour vast sums of money into expensive, high-end sites.

A host of themes and plugins

WordPress can provide you with a simple yet effective and professional site that can rank well on the search engines, drive visits and boost sales if applicable. WordPress itself is free, whilst there are many inexpensive yet impressive web hosting solutions available to you. The vast range of themes and plugs-ins on offer means you don’t need to settle for an undistinctive, generic website when you go down the WordPress route. You can even build a highly-functional website without extensive programming knowledge. If you don’t have the time to set up your website yourself using WordPress, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to get someone else to do it for you for a modest fee.

Great for business

There are more than 10,000 plugs in available that will let you add vast types of functionality to your site including SEO, social media sharing, slideshows and much more. Thousands of themes are on offer, and you can change the appearance and layout of your site easily without having vast experience and skill. You can update your website whenever you like, and what’s also great about WordPress sites is that they are looked upon very favourably by Google and the other leading search engines. Google has actually taken the step of recommending WordPress for business sites. The ability to update your site with ease, means you can post the frequent content that wins over search engines and customers alike, boosting brand engagement and exposure levels remarkably. Studies suggest that almost one in ten sites are now powered by WordPress. What’s more is that the platform has a vibrant and thriving community, which means help is never far away if you do need assistance with something, including ways to speed up WordPress.

Why you should look for ways to speed up WordPress today

So, why is speeding up your WordPress so beneficial? There are many benefits attached to speeding up the performance of your site. Speeding up your site will bring you faster-loading pages, which in turn will enhance the user experience, reduce visitor frustration, increase return visits and support SEO efforts. Studies have shown a drastic drop in human attention span over recent years. In fact, it’s said that during the 16 years leading up to 2016, the average attention span was cut from 12 to 7 seconds. This means it’s essential that site visitors are instantly met with an efficient and smooth service. You need to convince site users to stick around as soon as they land on your page. If your site loads slowly, visitors may well head elsewhere before it has loaded fully.

Keep visitors onsite

One case study showed that just a 1-second delay could reduce conversions by 7%, customer satisfaction by 16% and page views by 11%. Slow-loading websites have been penalised by Google for some time, which means you could be risking being pushed way down the rankings and losing vast numbers of visitors if you fail to speed up your site.

 

Let’s take a look at 21 ways to speed up WordPress right now

1. Research reasons for slow loads

The speed test report may suggest many methods for improvement. Although some of the language may seem complex and off-putting, gaining a grasp of these terms can be extremely valuable. The main reasons for slow loading times for WordPress sites include badly-configured web hosting servers, poorly-configured WordPress with unserved cache pages, unoptimised images, badly-coded plug-ins and external scripts like ads. The more you know about the technicalities behind slow loading times, the better.

2. Check the performance of your site

Don’t think that just because your site loads up quickly for you that others are getting the same results. If you regularly visit your own site, it may have been stored in your browser’s cache, leading to it opening swiftly. However, those visiting your site for the first time may still be met with slow loading times. Users in different parts of the world may also get different results. There are many tools online that will let you test your loading speeds from different locations. Although 2 seconds may be regarded as an acceptable load time, some users aren’t even this patient. Even removing half or a full second from load time can result in a much better experience for site visitors.

3. Choose the right WordPress host

It’s essential that we don’t underestimate the importance of a quality web host. Reputable shared web hosting providers will spend sufficient time on optimising performance, though shared hosting does mean sharing resources with a large amount of other people. Busy neighbouring sites can have a significant impact on the whole server and therefore your site. You may well wish to opt for a managed hosting service over a shared one. Opt for a managed service and you’ll be able to benefit from highly-optimised server configurations as well as automatic back-ups, updates and complex but valuable security configurations that will enhance the security of your site. This step is regarded as one of the most effective ways to speed up WordPress.

The hosting of your site is widely agreed to be amongst the most important factors when it comes to loading times. Many providers offering “unlimited” bandwidth are unable to provide impressive loading times, especially during peak hours. Furthermore, the vast majority of these providers can’t guarantee more than 99% uptime per month. Nonetheless, the prices of quality hosting packages have fallen significantly with the passage of time. Some companies offering cloud servers require you to do a great deal of the legwork yourself, which can be daunting for those lacking in technical experience. However, there are many hosting providers available who will do most of the work on your behalf and will happily come to your assistance if you do need to be pointed in the right direction.

4. Use a reliable WordPress caching plugin

When many people are visiting your site simultaneously, performance can be negatively affected. However, a caching plug in can make your site up to five times faster. The plug in creates a copy of a page the first tie it loads and displays a cached version of it to every visitor after that. You won’t need a caching plugin if you have a managed server as they will look after this for you. Caching drastically simplifies the process the server has to go through when showing pages to users. Some of of the most reputable and useful WordPress plugins are part of the caching category and will greatly improve loading times. What’s also great is that many of them are totally free and wonderfully easy to utilise. W3 Total Cache has regularly been named as one of the most reliable cache plugins on the market and requires you to simply install and activate it to see vastly enhanced loading times immediately.

5. Update your site regularly

Updating your site regularly is essential. Themes and plug-ins are refreshed regularly, and if you fail to take advantage of them, you could become vulnerable to bugs and security issues as well as slow loading times. Keep on top of the latest updates to avoid performance being affected. Make sure your site, plugins and themes are all updated to the very latest versions. What’s also advantageous about updating your site with new content regularly is that doing so is looked on very favourably by the likes of Google, who also reward fast-loading sites that offer fast performance with better rankings.

6. Optimising images

Visitors are much more likely to hang around when you display images on your page. However, you could be risking vastly reduced load times if your images are not optimised. You can optimise them with photo editing software, which will cut down file sizes and can be used to change the format of your images. In fact, compression can cut the amount of data in your image by up to 20% without significant quality being lost. PNG images are heavy on data, which means its hugely advisable to switch to JPEG if possible.

Yahoo!’s discontinued image optimiser Smush.it had a great reputation when it comes to reducing file sizes without noticeably reducing quality. However, the process of reducing one image at a time can be time-consuming, so if you do have a large number of images to upload and are short on time, you may well wish to make use of free plugins like WP-SmushIt which will treat all your images quickly as you upload them and has won a great deal of praise amongst the WordPress community.

7. Take advantage of excerpts

WordPress will continue to entirety of each article on your homepage and your archives unless you instruct it not to. This leads to homepages, categories, archive pages and tags loading slower. If full articles are shown, visitors may not decide to visit the page in question, which means pageview numbers can be negatively affected. By using excerpts, you can convince users to click through to view full pages and spend more time on your site. The Settings menu enables you to show summaries to your visitors rather than the full text.

8. Break comments into pages

Although it’s always great to see vast numbers of visitors commenting on your articles and joining the discussion, loading comments can also take time. The Discussion part of the Settings menu offers a Break Comments into Pages option that will help you avoid this problem and enable you to avoid slow loading times likely to send guests away.

9. Content Delivery Networks

A Content Delivery Network or CDN will help you speed up loading times for visitors no matter where they are. Without a CDN, users in the country where your server is based will experience faster loading times than visitors located elsewhere. CDNs are consist of servers from across the world, with all servers storing static files like images, JavaScript and CSS that make up your site. Using a CDN means users will be served filed from the server nearest to them, whilst your own web hosting server will perform quicker because of the reduced pressure on it.

 

 

Most well-known and well-read WordPress blogs are now making use of CDNs in order to cater for visitors across the world effectively. The Max CDN Content Delivery Network has a great online reputation and has been complimented for its intuitive dashboard and generous pricing structure. Furthermore, it comes with video tutorials designed to make the setting-up process smoother and quicker.

10. Avoid uploading videos directly to WordPress

Uploading your videos directly to WordPress can also vastly reduce loading times. What’s also worrying about this is that hosting videos directly can be very expensive in terms on bandwidth, and you could be faced with a big bill from your hosting provider, who may even decide to close your site. Even if you’re paying for so-called unlimited bandwidth, you may still be met with tough penalties. Hosting videos will also make backup sizes swell and make the restoration process much more difficult. However, help is at hand. You can instead embed videos that you have uploaded to services like YouTube who do have the bandwidth. Just cut and paste the URL into the post and it will be embedded seamlessly, helping you avoid slow load times and penalisation.

11. Choose a speedy theme

Though scores of great WordPress themes are available, it’s important to consider speed when selecting one. Some of the most visually-impressive themes have bad coding and can have an adverse effect on load times. Try to strike a happy balance between performance and visual quality when selecting a theme. You may need to experiment with a number of themes before you reach the best compromise. Many WordPress site owners opt for simple theme and select a number of high-performance plugins to get the right visual feel and efficiency. Some of the most reputable theme shops include StudioPress and Array Themes and are great channels for obtaining impressive themes that won’t result in snail-like loading times.

12. Faster slider plugins

Sliders are particularly popular amongst WordPress users but do have a tendency to lengthen loading times. What’s more is that they can even undermine your attempts at speeding up your site, such as choosing optimised images. It’s wise to spend time online researching the best slider plugins for your needs. Nivo Slider, Soliliquy and Meteor all have a great reputation amongst leading WordPress experts and veterans.

13. Faster gallery plugins

Do you need to display a large number of photographs? As we have already mentioned, photographs that haven’t been optimised can lead to poor loading times. Many professional photographers using WordPress opt for speedy gallery plugs ins that have been designed for speedy loads. There are many reliable and fast gallery plugins on the market – some of the most reputable and acclaimed include Envira Gallery, NextGEN and Foo Gallery.

14. Splitting longer posts into pages

There are many great reasons for adding detailed, lengthy posts to your WordPress site. Long post can provide your readers with detailed analysis and facts about complex topics and really establish yourself as a leading player in your field. They can also be fantastic for SEO. However, if you do post extensive information supported by a string of images, loading times can be impacted. One way to get around this is to separate your longer posts into pages. Splitting posts into sections isn’t complex – you simply need to use the <!––nextpage––> tag when you wish to end one section and begin another. Long posts don’t need to have an unwanted effect on loading times.

 

15. Prevent pingbacks and trackbacks

Pingbacks and trackbacks tell you whenever your site receives a link, but they can put your server resources under pressure. What’s more there are other resources you can use to assess links of your site, such as Google Webmaster Tools. The pressure on your server comes from the way requests from WordPress are sent back and forth when link ups are made. Additionally, hackers and other cybercriminals can exploit pingbacks and trackbacks in DDoS attacks. You can switch off this functionality in the Discussion area of Settings. Simply deselect “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” to disable pingbacks and trackbacks.

WordPress is designed to interact with other blogs equipped with trackbacks and pingbacks. When you are mentioned on another site or blog, data on your own post is updated. Don’t worry about backlinks being lost if you disable trackbacks and pingbacks – you’ll only be losing clutter on your site by taking this step.

16. Cut down external HTTP requests

Though it is helpful to use some files from other sites, overdoing things can also impact load times. A large number of plugins and themes load files from other sites, with many making use of scripts, images and more from the likes of Google and Facebook. However, if your plugins make a large number of requests, chances are that loading times will be effected. You can get around this by disabling some scripts and styles.

Alternatively, you may wish to merge them into a single file. This task may seem more complex than many of the other tips and tricks we’ve discussed in this article, but making these changes and gaining a rich understanding of what you need to do to reduce HTTP requests can be worth its weight in gold. There are many tutorials online that will show you how to cut down HTTP requests and disable JavaScript and CSS files from plugins to boost loading times and bring your visitors a smoother and faster site experience.

The process of minification won’t lead to unwanted results but will eliminate unnecessary characters from HTML, JavaScript and CSS files. Minification reduces load times and boosts performance by removing redundant code and unnecessary characters. Various studies have shown how minification makes a significant difference to the performance of WordPress sites. You can also speed up WordPress by minimising page size and reducing the number of calls to JavaScript and CSS.

17. Use GZIP compression

Many computers owners choose to compress files on their computers in order to save disc space after looking for ways to speed up WordPress. The equivalent of this for WordPress users is GZIP compression, which cuts down bandwidth usage and reduces the time it takes for users to access your site. It means the browser unzips your site before they enter it. There are many plugins available that will enable you to compress your files, though you can also add the code below to your .htaccess file.

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

 

 

18. Reducing database calls

Again, this step may seem somewhat complex but you can expect your efforts to pay off if you invest time in understanding what you need to do to reduce database calls. You will need to gain some understanding of PHP and the template files of WordPress to perform this step. Unnecessary direct database calls and requests can put too much pressure on your server and can result from badly-coded WordPress themes. Even themes that are otherwise coded impressively may make database calls just to get simple information. The tag <?php marks the beginning of a new database call. If you’re using a child theme to customise your site, the calls can be deleted and replaced with specific information. You can also replace them with static information when using a parent theme.

19. Remove unnecessary information from your WordPress database

Once you have been using WordPress for some time, you will probably come across a significant amount of unnecessary information. The WP-Sweep plug in can be used to eliminate much of this and will get rid of unused tags, trashed posts and much more, giving your database a much-needed and valuable spring clean. Furthermore, you can optimise the entire structure of your database with just one click.

20. Cut back post revisions

Post revisions can fill up a great deal of your database, and some experts suggest that they might have a negative impact on plugin database queries. Plugins that don’t exclude revisions could search through revisions when they don’t need to. However, it’s relatively easy to limit the amount of revisions kept for every article. You can achieve this by adding the code define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 4 ); to your wp-config.php file, which will result in only the last four revisions being kept and older revisions being discarded.

If you’d prefer to use a plugin for post revisions, options are available. A plugin called Revision Control enables you to revert to previous versions if mistakes are made and enables you to decide how many revisions you wish to save so your backend isn’t clogged up with scores of old drafts that you no longer require.

21. Stopping hotlinking and leaching of your content

The higher the quality of your content is, the bigger the chances of someone else using it without your permission become. When other site owners choose to serve your images from their URLs on your site rather than uploading them to your servers, they are using your bandwith, without you even being able to enjoy extra traffic as compensation. Add the code below to your .htaccess file to stop others hotlinking your images.

#disable hotlinking of images with forbidden or custom image option
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?wpbeginner.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?google.com [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]

You may also be negatively impacted by content scraping websites, which take content from your RSS feed to create their own posts. Fortunately, there are many tutorials online which will help you prevent content scraping from your WordPress site.

Conclusion

Reducing the loading time of your site will vastly improve the experience of your visitors, no matter which device they are viewing your site on. No matter whether they are navigating your WordPress site through their desktop, PC, smartphone or tablet, you can follow the instructions above to create a better experience for site visitors and start enjoying much quicker loading times. Though many of the above steps are relatively simple, it’s certainly worth spending some time getting to grips with the more complex instructions in order to start getting the desired results.

Improving loading times won’t just create a better experience for your visitors, it will help you impress the search engines and make your own use of the site more enjoyable whilst enabling you to cut down your bandwidth and avoid other negative scenarios including unforeseen costs and even the closure of your site, whether that be temporary or permanent in nature.

 

 

Optimising speeds is essential for running a quality WordPress site. To make the most of your site and keep visitors and search engines happy, you need to gain a deep understanding of what affects WordPress speeds, how to identify a quality hosting provider, understand what makes a great hosting service, understand what your own unique needs and requirements are and know what the best plugs ins to install are.

By using excerpts, splitting comments into pages, using a reliable CDN, updating your site with the best new plugins and themes, using faster slider and gallery plugins, optimising images, reducing database calls and HTTP requests, cleaning up your back end frequently, clearing out old post revisions, disabling hotlinking and leeching, preventing pingbacks and trackbacks and using GZIP compression, you can turn a poorly-performing or even merely adequate WordPress site into a great one. There are various techniques you can use if you have been searching for way to speed up WordPress.

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02 Nov 2018

5 Best Drag & Drop Website Builders in 2019

Using the modern technology we have available today, this list of best drag and drop website builders in 2018 will show you how easy it is to create a website. The magic really sits behind how quickly this can be achieved; from blogs to portfolios, business websites to eCommerce stores.

Most drag and drop site builders don’t require any coding knowledge, making them a great source for absolutely anyone. We’ve certainly moved along in time from the days where HTML and CSS is a requirement to create a website!

1. Wix

First on our list (which should tell you a lot already) is Wix’s website builder. When you compare Wix to other drag and drop builders on the market, it really does excel. Whether you’re creating a new business, personal, portfolio, or blog site, it’s quick and easy to achieve with Wix.

There’s a great selection of templates to choose from before you get started. Simply filter by category to find the perfect design to suit your needs! The beauty of this drag and drop website builder is that you can tailor each template to your website or business. If you like the design but don’t like the colour, it’s a simple and quick method to change it.

One of the main selling points of Wix is just how simple and easy to use it is. Whether you’re creating a blog, forum, website, or eCommerce shop, the process is very self explanatory. Simply drag and drop existing or new components onto your web page, and within a matter of hours you can achieve the perfect website.

 

Pros:

• Easy to use drag and drop functionality
• Templates sorted by category so you can find your perfect design
• Ability to switch between desktop and mobile views to ensure your site is mobile friendly
• Affordable pricing and scalability dependent on needs

Cons:

• If you want adverts to be removed, you’ll need to pay a higher price
• Once you’ve selected a template and gone live, you can’t change your selection

 

2. Shopify

Shopify is a versatile eCommerce drag and drop website builder. No matter what type of online store you’re looking to run, Shopify will give you the tools to achieve it. Shopify is designed to integrate with lots of other apps, including your social media channels. It’s drag and drop functionality makes it really simple to create the perfect online shop.

One of the main features that stands out for me is Shopify’s analytics. You can monitor your sales, shipping, customer information, etc. allowing you to monitor every aspect of your website. Handy easy to use graphs are available so you can have an instant overview of how your eCommerce website is performing.

You can even add a blog section to your website to engage your customers. That’s right, it doesn’t just have to be a shop, there’s so much more you can do with Shopify, and that’s why I love it.

 

Pros:

• Tonnes of analytics to monitor website and eCommerce performance
• User friendly UI even if you’ve never created an online shop before
• Plenty of templates and designs to choose from for inspiration
• Easy to integrate with other apps and social media platforms

Cons:

• Can be quite pricey dependent on the plan you choose
• Transaction fees apply on sales

 

3. Squarespace

Squarespace is insanely easy to use, which is why it makes it’s way comfortably into our best drag and drop website builders. Because of how user friendly it is, Squarespace is a popular website builder among users all over the world (including celebrities)! No matter whether your website is a portfolio, blog, eCommerce store, or anything else, you can achieve it with Squarespace.

There are lots of professionally designed templates from you to choose from. Creating a wedding website, online food shop, or showing off your musical talents? It’s all really simple to do with this drag and drop builder. You can quite easily get a website live over the space of a couple of hours – I told you it was easy!

The beauty of Squarespace is that it’s not limited – you can fully customise any template to achieve the perfect design. What’s more, it’s an all-in-one package if you want it to be, offering a domain name, SSL certificate, and more.

 

Pros:

• Exquisite and professional templates
• Mobile responsive approach
• Style Editor gives you full drag and drop customisable control

Cons:

• Pricier than other comparative drag and drop builders
• No separate mobile builder

 

4. Ukit

Russian based Ukit prides itself on it’s drag and drop technology. The beauty of this website builder is that you don’t need to know or understand an ounce of code to build your perfect website. There’s several hundreds of templates to choose from, so you won’t be lost for inspiration – that’s for sure!

Once you’ve created an account, you’ll get to select a domain name and input your business details. Ukit is designed for businesses, so if you’re looking for a personal website, this wouldn’t be our recommended choice. Once you’ve got past the initial stages, your basic web pages will be setup for you (home, about, blog, and contact pages).

The only thing you really need to add is your own content, and you’re good to go! There’s easy to use widgets and blocks that you can drag and drop onto your site, placing things exactly where you want them. In my experience, you can get a website live with Ukit in just a couple of hours.

 

Pros:

• Free 14-day trial giving you premium access
• Stunning templates that rival the likes of Squarespace
• Your business and website will automatically be connected to Google Maps, Google Console and Google Analytics

Cons:

• Weekly-based backups as opposed to daily
• Domain names do not include WHOIS protection

 

5. Weebly

Weebly is a long-standing and professional drag and drop website builder. You can create any type of website with Weebly, whether it be for personal or business reasons. You’ll get to choose the type of style you want for your Weebly website straight away, where it’s technology will take over and do most of the work for you.

Weebly’s drag and drop editor is very intuitive, so if you’ve never used one before, it won’t be a scary experience. Getting a website live doesn’t take much time or effort, so you’ll be able to see your website on the internet in no time at all. There’s lots of templates to choose from, so if you’re not feeling creative, there will be something for you.

What excites me the most about Weebly is it’s mobile app. So, if you’re not at the computer and you need to make some changes on the go, you can! Plus, you’ll get to see your website in mobile view which is a bonus too!

 

Pros:

• Mobile app to access your website builder and make changes on the go
• Intuitive drag and drop software
• No experience required to get your website live the same day

Cons:

• Advanced marketing tools are hard or impossible to get working
• Migration to another CMS platform is very difficult

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06 Jun 2018

Why Businesses need to Embrace Local SEO

What is Local SEO?

First things first, what is local SEO? In simple terms, it’s Search Engine Optimisation that is specifically designed to attract your target audience or users in a targeted geographical location. So, if you’re a graphic design company in Edinburgh, U.K., and you only want to attract users within this area, you’d use local SEO.

 

Local SEO is very specific, but in turn often produces greater results, because you’ll have less competition than if you were to target a wider audience. This also means that you might be able to save money too, as your SEO will be focussing on a small catchment area.

Why is Local SEO important to embrace?

Google is constantly updating their ranking algorithm, so keeping up-to-date with local SEO is very important. Recently, Google stated that local searches with high relevance, combined with a high-quality website with original content, would be prioritised over those that rank lower on their algorithm.

So, the aim of the game is to get your business’ website on the first page of Google, so that when a user searches using relevant keywords to your website, yours will appear in Google’s business listings, as well as on the search engine itself.

 

How do you improve your Google Business listing?

It may sound simple, but ensuring your business’ information is accurate and consistent is one of the most important factors in improving your Google Business listing. As well as Google My Business, there are other sites, such as, Foursquare and Yelp which can help towards getting your business seen – but the information about your business on these websites must be the same! The same process should apply to your business if you have multiple branches, too.

Does a small difference really matter? Yes, it really does. Google are becoming very strict when it comes to SEO and page ranking; as well as improving your ranking, Google will penalise your website’s ranking if it doesn’t conform to their standards. Google RankBrain is Google’s AI system used in their search algorithm; we won’t lie, it’s a complicated system, but it’s definitely worth checking out in order to improve your website’s SEO techniques.

 

What else can improve your Local SEO?

Some simple changes to your website can improve your local SEO, similar to general SEO. Ensuring that you include relevant keywords in your page title is an absolute must! It might be tempting to overload on your keywords – the more keywords you have, the better chance you’ll be seen on Google, right? Wrong! Remember, Google’s algorithm will not go easy on you if you’re not sensible about your SEO techniques. There are also many software options for you to fix and correct SEO issues (many of these we use ourselves.

When applying your SEO strategy, natural, interesting, relevant, and engaging content is the way forward. Let’s face it, who wants to visit a website where you’ll get bombarded with irrelevant, low-quality content that doesn’t give you the information you require. For example, if your website sells cakes, make sure your content is about cakes. You can include blog articles, and relevant links to other websites, but if you get carried away and lose your reader’s attention, your ranking will be adversely affected.

 

Can smart phones make a difference to your Local SEO?

Absolutely! Think about it, when you’re out and about shopping and you fancy a bite to eat, what do you do? You probably use your smart pone to check Google to see the information and location of local restaurants nearby. That’s local SEO right there! According to Statista.com 73% of the U.S., as of January 2017, were using their mobile phone to browse the internet, and 90% in Japan.

Ensuring that your website for your business is mobile optimised is very important. Most professional web developers and designers will make sure your website is at the top of it’s game on both desktop and mobile. Here are some simple steps to take to ensure that your mobile website uses local SEO to its full potential:

  • Include your business’ telephone number on your website (this means a mobile user can simply click on your number, and it will initiate a call to your business)
  • Include your business’ name and address on your website
  • Integrate Google Maps on your website (a mobile user can click on your location, and receive directions straight to your door)

 www.statista.com – Mobile internet user penetration rate in selected countries as of January 2017

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03 Feb 2018

3 Advanced SEO Strategies for 2018

#1 User Experience

In 2017, Google announced that RankBrain is now considered to be one of the most important ranking factors. As the technology behind RankBrain continues to develop in 2018, it is going to become a lot more important as the year progresses. Essentially, RankBrain is an advanced system which will govern the way in which Google presents its search results.

When you enter a search term into Google, the search engine will display a list of results that closely match the keywords that you have entered. Let’s say for example, you entered a search term and there was a really great post in position 5 on the first page of the results. This piece of content covers everything you need to know. This will send positive signals to Google and so it will boost the rankings of this page. If you click on the website that is currently ranking number one and the content is really bad, you will leave the page after just a few seconds.

RankBrain will notice this and if enough people bounce from the page back to the SERP, Google will remove it from the #1 position. RankBrain focuses on two things; The amount of time someone spends on your page and the percentage of people who click on your results.

#2 In depth content

In the old world of SEO, Google would evaluate each web page to see how many times a specific keyword was mentioned. The Google spider would check that the keyword appeared in the title tag, URL, Image ALT tag, description and H1 tag. Although Google still looks at this, it is not as important as it once was. Instead of measuring content Google also focuses on the context.

Google focuses on showing web users the best possible result. The best pages will cover a topic in incredible detail which is focused, actionable and above all valuable to the reader. When you provide in depth content for web visitors, everything they need to know about a given topic is covered so they don’t have to look elsewhere.

But writing advanced in depth content that Google wants is not as easy as you may think. First, the content must be at least 2,000 words. This is just the right amount of words to cover everything and provide the right amount of detail that your web visitor needs. Rather than being focused on keywords, Google is now more focused on topics. Once you have completed your post, you should try to incorporate LSI keywords. These are key terms that are associated with the topic of the page. When Google crawls your page and picks up these keywords, it will realise that the page covers the topic in great detail.

There are lots of ways that you can find LSI keywords including LSI Graph, the ‘searches related to’ found at the bottom of the SERP and the Google Keyword Planner. If for example you were looking to explore LSI search terms that relate to web hosting, head over to LSI graph and enter this search term:

 

The term web hosting displays the following LSI keywords:

 

#3 Mobile Index

Google have recently announced that they are making the switch to a new ‘mobile first index’. This means that Google will consider the mobile version of your website as the ‘real’ version. This will be the case even if someone accesses your website from a desktop computer. The majority of searches are carried out on a mobile device and this is only going to increase as the year’s progress. Although it has not been released yet, it is important that your website is ready.

Here are our top tips for preparing your website:

Consistency – Make sure that your site is consistent across desktop and mobile devices. One of the main issues is hidden content. Hidden content displays as a ‘more’ label on a mobile device. Any content displayed below this tag will be ignored. Make sure that if you use these tags in your content they are removed so readers can see all of your content.

Responsive – If you haven’t already you need to move from m. to responsive

Usability – Make sure that your websites are user friendly for mobile users. If mobile users have trouble accessing your content, making a purchase or browsing pages, you need to make changes. There is a great little tool by Google called the Mobile Friendly Test. Just enter your URL and the tool will let you know whether it passes the mobile friendly test:

So there you have it. Three advanced SEO strategies that will keep your SEO on top form in 2018.

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10 Jan 2018

5 Reasons to Start a Blog Today

If you are looking for new ways to reach your target audience and start generating more sales, then have you thought about starting a blog? There are so many different marketing tools available right now but which ones should you be investing time and effort into? In 2017, 53% of marketers said that blog content creation was their top inbound marketing priority. So there are a lot of people out there that are seeing great results through the creation of blogs and intend to keep blogging for the foreseeable future.

Let’s look at some of the main reason you should start a blog today:

 

1. You can do it for free

You do not have to pay to set up a blog or a website to run your blog from because there are so many free blogging platforms available right now. Most of the major websites offer a free service, including WordPress so you could get a blog up and running without paying a penny. Whilst free blogging services are great for many people, if you are looking to generate business through your blog you may want to look at some of the premium blog hosting options but you can still get this for a relatively low amount.

 

2. More indexed pages = Rank higher in search engines

Every blog post is counted by the search engines as an indexed page and the more indexed pages you have, as a rule, the better your website will perform in the rankings. Of course, there are many other factors that play a part in this, so you cannot simply post blog after blog and hope that you will get to that top spot in the Google results. But having a regular, high-quality blog will certainly help your website to perform better organically.

 

3. Attract your target audience

In order for potential customers to find you, you must help them to find you by creating content that is useful and relevant to them. The best kind of blogs will help your target audience to solve problems and help them in some form. Offering expert advice is a guaranteed way to reach out to people looking for the type of services that you can provide. So for example, if you have a plumbing business, your blog could help people to solve common issues like a leaking tap, or some other kind of issue.

The people who are trying to fix a leaking tap will search for relevant information and your blog will be there in the results for them to use. If they are still struggling with the problem, they may decide it is easier to call the experts in and your contact details will be standing out for them at the top of your blog page.

4. Demonstrate expertise

That leads nicely to the other great benefits of creating a blog to help to solve a problem. If the blog reader manages to fix the issue themselves, they will follow your blogs or will remember you when they next have an issue. When you add value, people see you as a trusted source and there is a big likelihood that they will come to you with future business. So in this example, whilst writing a blog about fixing a leaking tap might not gain instant business, over the long-term you will build up larger numbers of followers and become a source of increasing authority. You can also write about niche specific topics like this site about scooters and hoverboards that might not become huge sites but could build loyal followings. Start generating some ideas and then decide on a focus point.

 

5. To generate money

Looking at blogging from a different perspective, rather than looking to attract customers for your business, you can make blogging your business. Or in other words, you can make money by creating blogs that are well followed. So many people have become successful bloggers or even vloggers and it is a great money making opportunity if you can find the right formula for success. Bloggers at the top of their game are making a 7 figure annual salary! You make money from ads that people pay to display on your website and the more followers you can attract, the more money you can make.

These are just five reasons to start a blog but there are many more benefits to creating and publishing high-quality blogs. In 2018 blogging will feature highly as a content marketing strategy, so our advice to you would be to look at the different blogging platforms that are available and see how easy they are to set up.

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29 Nov 2017

The Importance of UX Design

Many people make the mistake of not paying enough attention to UX (or user experience). They spend weeks and months curating what they perceive to be excellent content, create pages and pages of information without ever really thinking about the experience of the website user.

There are many different aspects that determine whether a user’s experience is a good one, but there are a few generic principles that anybody setting up a website should be aware of:

#1 Page loading
Users hate slow loading pages and if your website is taking longer than 3 seconds to load up then you are probably losing huge sections of your visitors at the very first hurdle. You can test your page loading speed through various tools like Pingdom.com and they will even highlight some improvements that you can make.

Sometimes it can be as simple as your choice of image and not having optimised it for web use. Or it might be that your web host isn’t providing a high enough level of performance and you need to review some other hosting options.

#2 Keep it simple
Sometimes people go that far with trying to impress users that they over complicate the website. Over-cluttering pages with content is not helpful and can be confusing for users. Having clear titles and navigation menus are important aspects of the UX and also bears a lot of influence on the search engine results.

#3 Call to Action
Having a strong, well-placed Call to Action not only helps boost your conversion rates, it also makes it really easy for your visitors to contact you in the best way available. It gives them the quick option of getting straight to your contact methods rather than needing to search around your website to find them.

#4 Responsive
People are accessing websites from a wide range of devices and screen sizes. What a desktop user sees does not always reflect the same experience as mobile users. Having a responsive website will ensure that mobile users will not be faced with an unfriendly looking version that is impossible to navigate around. Most new websites are built to be responsive and the fact that 55% of internet traffic is through mobile users makes this even more important.

 
#5 Readability
Large blocks of text are a user’s worst nightmare. It is no fun scrolling through unformatted text and your users will soon get bored of reading in this format. Try to reduce the amount of pages that are predominantly text – could a video be used instead to covey information?
Also, having short sentences will help to make the text easier to read and using formatting such as bullets and headings will also make the content more readable. Good use of paragraphs also makes it easier for the reader to take in the information.
 
#6 Carefully plan your ‘above the fold’ area
What sits within the above the fold section is really important for the UX. This is the first content that users will see and it will generally determine their opinions of the quality of your website straight away. They say first impressions count and with website design, this is definitely the case. So think about what you are putting into this area to ensure that it is going to impress the user.
You should use the space to give users a good idea of what your website is all about and what your key products and services are. The navigation menu should be clearly displayed in this area so that the user can easily move from page to page. Most developers would also recommend that your CTA goes into this area, as well as your business logo and any strapline that you have.

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26 Oct 2017

Vim – The Charity Crusader

Vim as you may already know is one of the most popular text editors around but what really stands it apart from the rest is that it is charityware. By that we mean that it is a type of software that supports charity whilst doing its standard job. As it is free open source software, the developers ask users to make a donation to charity instead of other types of payment.

So if you are a programmer looking for a great text editor, wouldn’t you like to know that you are helping a charity? It is certainly a good selling point for many. Aside from that, it is regarded as high quality text editing software and has even won a number of awards. Vim stands for Vi Improved (although originally Vi Imitation) to outline the improved features over Vi. It works across a range of operating systems, which many text editors struggle to do.

Vim was first released to the public back in 1991 and has been helping developers ever since. Bram Moolenaar first brought Vim into the programming world and wanted it to be used for good, as charityware.

Besides being for a very good cause, Vim is popular with programmers (some of our team at UK Web Host Review use it)

– It is free and offers lots of supporting resources from the community of users

– It can be used through a remote connection

– It is lightweight and portable

– You can use Vim plugins

– It can be used with many different languages e.g. HTML, CSS, Javascript and around 200 more!

So what is Vim doing for charity?

Moolenaar decided that he wanted to make a difference for children in Uganda and specifically children living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Users of Vim are asked to

Donate to the International Child Care Fund, which passes the money onto Kibaale Children’s Centre in southern Uganda. The AIDS epidemic in Uganda is of great concern, with up to an estimated 30% of the population being infected by the virus. One of the terrible consequences of this means that there is a very large number of orphans who may not have access to everyday necessities like water and food.

The KCC supports the children in many ways, including the provision of much needed vaccinations and also education to help prevent the spreading of AIDS. They also work hard to ensure that children have access to schools and are provided with the right level of education to enable them to support themselves in the future.

In 2016 Uganda experienced a drought that made life even harder for those living there, with food and water supplies at a real low. Without the intervention of ICCF and similar organisations, the results of the drought would have been much worse. They have funded the building of water tanks at schools so that all children have access to water whenever they need it.

What Moolenaar has done is tried to show the world that that his product, Vim has made life much easier for programmers who are able to live a comfortable life. He has highlighted that across the world the simple things we take for granted are not readily available. A small donation can make a huge difference to children who have suffered from tragic circumstances and can help to support them to get a good education and job.

Vim is well regarded for its simplistic nature and the huge impact it has in helping programmers and web developers. Moolenaar is applying a similarly simplistic approach to give children the basic tools to a better life. In an interview he did with Binpress he notes his motivation for helping charity as coming from his own experience whilst he developed Vim. He had no job and asked for sponsorship to help him out, which led him to think about the role of sponsorship and how big an impact it can have.

It is safe to say Bram Moolenaar has made a huge impact on the world, both to programmers and to the children of Uganda. What a great guy and what a fantastic text editor!

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11 Oct 2017

The 7 Best WordPress Plugins for Displaying a Video Gallery

When it comes time to showcase your skills or product/service on your WordPress site through video, you will need to use a plugin designed to support your video media or content. Lucky for you, there are quite a few options available to get your videos uploaded and display a glowing video gallery.

Let’s have look at some of the awesome plugins offered by the talented people at WordPress to help you do this:

First up – Envira Gallery

Envira is by far the best WordPress video gallery plugin and is super easy to install on your site. This plugin allows you to create and compile a video gallery at the touch of a button and comes equipped with easy to use drop and drag widgets that help get the job done. This plugin allows you to create galleries form Youtube, Vimeo, Wistia and self-hosted WordPress videos.

 

YouTube Simple Gallery

The name is a giveaway if you are wondering how difficult it is to use this plugin. This amazing plugin automatically uses custom post types to add, organize and even categorize your videos with the click of a button. The YouTube Simple Gallery short code is used to create a listed video gallery which can be edited and formatted to change the overall appearance of the video gallery list.

YouTube Showcase

This is another easy to use plugin which offers some of the same features as the Simple Gallery. The main difference of this plugin is the overall beauty of the gallery layout and there are also additional drop and drag widgets available to make the process easier. This WordPress Video Gallery Plug boasts all of the same functionality as the Simple Gallery but looks much better from a design point of view.

WordPress Video Gallery

If HD is your thing then this plugin is a must. WordPress Video Gallery offers High Definition video play and the skins are highly customisable. This plugin also offers you the option of seeing what your videos will look like and all of the features can be changed before going live with your gallery. This plugin is a must for large video files that must be seen in HD.

Workbox Video from Vimeo & YouTube

This plugin works on a much more basic level in comparison to other video gallery plugins and is compatible with Vimeo, YouTube, and Wista. This plugin uses a simple user interface to add URL’s of the videos that you want to use and will create your gallery based on these videos. This plugin also lets you create multiple galleries with different sets of videos so you can create different subject based video galleries.

WPG Cool Gallery

WPG Cool Gallery is a simple to use plugin that allows you to upload and display videos into an easily navigated frame and gives your viewers the option of seeing your gallery all on one page or individually through a pop-up window. This plugin works with YouTube and Vimeo to display a fully responsive galley.

Ultimate Video Gallery

This easy to use plugin benefits from the ability to create endless galleries to upload and uses short code to create and manage the video gallery. This plugin uses a very simple design interface to load the videos straight from the source and all of the features are customisable if you wish.

Any of these options would make an amazing addition to your WordPress site and these galleries are sure to showcase your skills or media in a mind-blowing way and can be done quickly and easily.

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01 Aug 2017

Show Category Descriptions in WordPress

If you wish to add category descriptions to your WordPress site, help is at hand. Before we look at ways to display category descriptions in WP, let’s have a quick look at some of the main reasons why WordPress has become such as popular content publishing profile over recent years.

One of the most celebrated things about WordPress is the fact that that you can change the design of your site extremely quickly without compromising the quality of its appearance. There are thousands of themes to choose from and an active global community of WP experts willing to help you out if you do ever find yourself stuck and require advice on making its many features work for you. Plugs in enable you to boost the functionality of your site massively, even if you only have the most basic knowledge of programming. More than 10,000 plugins are on offer, and new ones are being developed and launched all the time. Whether you need a plug in for social media integration, photos, SEO or many other purposes, help is available.

Updating a WP site is easy. Anyone who can create a Word document can publish an article on WP. What’s more is that the search engines treat WP sites extremely favourably, and Google has recommended WordPress for business sites.

If you do wish to display category descriptions on your site, read on. Categories are incredibly useful and can boost the WP experience not only for you but your visitors too. They enable you to organise content with ease and make it much easier for users to find it. Furthermore, they are great for SEO.

WordPress has two built-in taxonomies known as categories and tags. The taxonomies make it easy to sort content into topics. In WordPress, you can add descriptions to categories, which is something many WP users remain unaware of because they can create categories when writing posts which don’t let them add descriptions.

To get around this, go to the Posts » Categories page. If you are creating a new category, you can enter the name and description and click on the ‘Add new category’ button.

You can also add descriptions to categories that already exist by clicking on the ‘edit’ button beneath said category. Do this and you’ll be taken to the category edit screen which lets you add a description. Click the ‘update’ button so your changes are not lost.

You can go through this process again as many times as you need to until all your categories have descriptions. The same method enables you to add descriptions for your tags.

Do you need to show category descriptions on the Category Archive Page?

Whilst many WP themes automatically show the category description on the category archive pages, this is not always the case. If your theme is not showing category descriptions on archive pages, you can put things right by editing your theme files. Use an FTP client to connect to your WP site and go to /wp-content/themes/your-current-theme/ folder. Find and edit your category.php file. If your theme doesn’t have one, you can edit the archive.php file. Copy and paste the following code in the place you want your category description to be shown.

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<?php

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the_archive_description( ‘<div class=”taxonomy-description”>’, ‘</div>’ );

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?>

Save the changes and upload the file to your website. Once you have done this, you can head to the category archive page on the site to view the description.

Show Category Description in WordPress Theme

You can use the category_description template tag below to show the category description in other areas of your website.

<?php echo category_description(3); ?>

Replace 3 with your own category ID.

Use the code below to display category descriptions inside a single post.

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$catID = get_the_category();

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echo category_description( $catID[0] );

This code will get all the categories for the current post and output the category description of the first category.

You can list each of your WordPress categories with a description in list format by adding the code below to your theme’s functions.php file:

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function wpb_catlist_desc() {

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$string = ‘<ul>’;

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$catlist = get_terms( ‘category’ );

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if ( ! empty( $catlist ) ) {

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foreach ( $catlist as $key => $item ) {

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$string .= ‘<li>’. $item->name . ‘<br />’;

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$string .= ‘<em>’. $item->description . ‘</em> </li>’;

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}

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}

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$string .= ‘</ul>’;

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return $string;

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}

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add_shortcode(‘wpb_categories’, ‘wpb_catlist_desc’);

The above code will create a shortcode. This will display all categories and the descriptions that go with them in a plain list. You will then be able to use [wpb_categories] in your posts and pages. Enable shortcodes for widgets if you need to use the shortcode in a text widget.

More about Category Descriptions

The Category Description function is overlooked by many but can be incredibly useful. You may have seen the category description on many occasions without noticing it. Many people glance over this box when they are setting up and editing descriptions. Though not all WordPress site owners require or even want a category description, descriptions can provide your users with valuable information, make your site more exciting and efficient and boost the SEO of your site.

Do I need to use Category Descriptions?

Category Descriptions may prove invaluable if you regularly post about various topics and feel it would be beneficial to divide the content on your site into sections. If you don’t specify a category, your post will be filed in the default one, which is often ‘Uncategorized’. You can change your default category in the Settings » Writing screen. Posts don’t have to come under a single category – they can be filed under various different fields, which is very handy if you are posting content that suits a number of different fields. Your WP Posts can also have tags as well as categories. More and more WP users are experiencing the benefits of Category Descriptions.

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19 Jul 2017

Integrating MailChimp and WordPress

If you’re keen to enhance your online presence, you should be paying close attention to e-mail lists. Subscribers can play a pivotal role in making your blog a long-term success, but you do need the right tools to create a useful and valuable list. MailChimp is one of the world’s top e-mail service providers, whilst WordPress is the most popular CMS on the planet. These tools can both support us in our quest to create a subscribers list.

The benefits of MailChimp

There are many trusted e-mail service providers on the market, so what makes MailChimp so special? Not only is the plugin free to use, it has a simple email subscription widget and there’s little to no chance of you facing issues with corruptions or compatibility. Designing an email and setting up a campaign is also easy, and you can manage your campaigns either from the WP or MC sides. There are many different analytics to look at, allowing you see the different ways your audience responds to different kinds of media. You can also use A/B testing to find new ways to serve them more efficiently.

Get the plugin

To get started, you will need to get the MailChimp plugin from the WP plugin page, download and install it. You will need to activate the plugin. You can also get the plugin from your dashboard. Just go to Plugins>Add New and type MailChimp for WordPress into the search box.

You will need an API key if MailChimp is to function. Make sure you click on the “Get your API key here button.

Once you have clicked to get your API key, you will be taken to the MailChimp site. Once you have registered you will have access to the key. You then need to copy and paste it into the plugin dashboard.

Create your e-mail list

After you have taken these steps, you can start creating your e-mail list, which will help you keep track of subscribers. You will need to add details including company name, address and other information. There is a notification section beneath the form. You can have the notifications sent to9 any of your e-mail addresses. These notifications will tell you about user activity and let you know when someone has subscribed or unsubscribed. It is wise to opt for a daily summary to stay in the loop without being bombarded with notifications.

Make a signup form

You can create a signup form by using the down button on the generated list. To make sure this form appears on your site, you need to go to the widget section and click on Appearance> Widget to make a text widget. Give your widget a simple title and put the code into the widget area. This code will activate the widget.

Exporting old subscriber details

If you need to import an old subscriber lists to your MailChimp account, you can export the list in CSV format or as a delimited text file. Upload the file to MailChimp and edit necessary fields. MailChimp also makes it easy to create and send out newsletters. The templates allow you to build newsletters within moments and distribute them with just one click. You can use the Create Template button for creating a template and follow the instructions. The template will support drag and drop.

The campaign set-up wizard

The campaign can be orchestrated with a wizard. MailChimp has four campaign types including regular, plain-text, A/B testing and RSS campaigns. Once you are ready, you can send the newsletter and press the confirm button to finalise everything. MailChimp will tell you if it finds any errors. You can schedule your campaign by setting the date and time. Paid users can also take advantage of other options including Batch Delivery, Timewarp and Send Time Optimization.

WordPress and MailChimp

MailChimp is widely agreed to be one of the finest newsletter service on the market, and is a great match for WordPress. WP and MC have large active communities that can help you if you ever do run into problems whilst using them or integrating them with one another. WordPress has been the most popular CMS on the market for many years and is extremely SEO-friendly. In fact, it’s said that the main search engines including Google look very favourably upon sites that have been created with WordPress.

WordPress is open source software that is free to use, free to edit and free to distribute. The vast majority of leading hosting companies offer one-click installation of WordPress. It’s always a good ideas to ask about WordPress service before you commit to a hosting package. There are many great reasons for opting for MailChimp too, including the way that enables you to send out newsletters to Twitter followers with one click.

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