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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22 Jun 2017

What are the Best Google Analytics Plugins for WordPress?

If you have been searching for Google Analytics plugins to boost business and drive traffic, read on. There are many exciting and highly-proficient GA plugins for WordPress on the market that will help you get a deeper insight into the behavior of your site visitors and help you cater for them more effectively. Google Analytics was launched in 2005 after Google purchased Urchin. It is now one of the most popular web analytics services around.

Features of GA include various data visualisation tools including scorecards, motion charts and a dashboard. You can use the platform to view and assess changes in data and behaviour over time. It also offers segmentation for analysis of subsets like conversions and provides you with valuable custom reports alongside e-mail based sharing and communication. The platform integrates with various other Google products such as AdWords. The tool is targeted towards small and medium-sized sites, particularly retail websites.

Let’s take a look at some of the very best Google Analytics plugins for WordPress right now.

Analytics Cat

The process of adding Google Analytics to your WordPress site is quick and easy with Analytics Cat. The plugin doesn’t feature an array of unnecessary features and enables you to add your GA code to your site in under two minutes, without the site being slowed down. All you have to do to get started is install and activate the plugin, copy and paste the GA info and you’re ready to get started. The plugin works straight out of the box, and there is a useful quick-start guide to make the whole process wonderfully uncomplicated. What’s also great is that the plugin is totally free (we actually use this plugin our site).

Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

Google Analytics by MonsterInsights was once known as Google Analytics by Yoast. Free and paid-for versions are available, and the installation process is simple. Once you have configured the plugin, you’ll be able to track visitors, download numbers and click on outbound links. The intuitive plugin features tool that users can get to grips with quickly. You won’t need to open any other site to access analytical data after the plugin is installed, as everything you require can be seen on the dashboard. The plug in also uses lightweight code that doesn’t put vast amounts of pressure on the server. There are demographic and interest-based filters to take advantage of. Many users begin with the free version before graduating to the paid-for one.

WP Statistics

Also easy to get to grips with is WP Statistics. This plug in works flawlessly with a host of search engines including not only Google but Bing, Yahoo and many more. Visits are tracked based on GeoIP, and hashing IP addresses in the database are supported, protecting user privacy. The plugin can also track e-mail stats and place them in reports. You can export XML, TSV and CSV file data with the plug in, which is renowned for the quality and number of its export options. If you regularly need to produce reports to gain access to valuable information about user behaviour, WP Statistics could well be the perfect match for your needs.

Google Analytics WD

Web Dorado’s Google Analytics WD integrates Google Analytics into your site impressively, and there are many useful features to take advantage of, including stats overviews, traffic information, analytics reporting and more. The plugin is pleasingly responsive and has what it takes to give you a real edge over the competition. Free and premium versions are available. If you do find the free version to be somewhat restricted, you can opt for various Pro packages that rise in price depending on the features you require. The Pro plans unlock various features such as ecommerce tracking, pushover notifications, AdWords reports and full GA reporting to name but a few.

WP Power Stats

WP Power Stats works independently and has no connection with GA. It has built-in options that let you track visitors and generate reports based on a number of elements. Filters can be used to obtain greater analysis, and nine languages are supported. The plug in tells you about page views, unique views, devices used for viewing, browsers used, traffic sources, search terms, the geographical locations of visitors, operation systems and referrers details.

 

Analytics Stats Counter Statistics

This simple but valuable and reliable plugin only has a modest number of features, yet each one it does offer is incredibly useful. The plugin gives you an excellent insight into the activity happening around your site and supports IPv4 and IPv6 connections. It has an uncluttered analytic meter and can give you information about landing page performance, unique visitors, returning visitors, page views and stats based on geographical locations, screen resolution and more. The plugin app can prove very helpful if you’re running multiple blogs.

 

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

The Google Analytics Dashboard for WP may be perfect for you if funds are limited. The powerful plugin is available for free and has a popular live stats function that appears on each page or post. One limitation of the plugin is that you’re likely to get more use out of it as an advanced user, however it retains a vast host of valuable features, such as enabling you to add your own GA tracking code and show stats in the WP dashboard.

 

Analytify

This unfussy, popular plugin provides you with a detailed breakdown of post stats on the back and frontends. Rather than having to work your way through various individual sections of Google Analytics, you can see everything you need on a single page. There are increasing numbers of add-ons being prepared for the plugin, such as a feature that will allow you to track Woo Commerce and Easy Digital Downloads activity.

We hope you found our guide to the best Google Analytics plugins for WordPress useful. Hopefully, you’ll find something in the above list that meets your needs, preferences and budget perfectly.

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14 Jun 2017

How to Install Google Analytics

Okay so you have a website that you are about to launch, you have created loads of awesome content, you have some of the best features that you can have for a website and you’re ready to roll. You know that your visitors are going to love your website because you spent aging crafting unique, high quality content that is focused on your target audience.

What you should always remember is that it is important to effectively measure any kind of marketing method, whether it is an email campaign being measured for click throughs, or how many visitors are viewing each page on your website. These are key measurements of how well your marketing is working.

Google Analytics is a hugely popular choice when it comes to tracking website usage, partly because it is so easy to use and partly because it is free.

If you’re new to using Google Analytics, then here are some simple steps you will need to take to get up and running:

 

  1. Visit https://www.google.com/analytics to sign up for a new account. If you already have a Google account, you can use that one so you don’t need to create another account.

 

You might also want to take a quick look at the demo video to give you a better understanding of how everything works.

 

  1. Once you have either created your new account or signed in with your existing Google account, the following screen will then be displayed:

 

  1. For the purposes of this article, we are looking at tracking website usage but you can also use Google Analytics to track mobile app usage. You will be given the following fields to select from:

 

 

  • Select ‘Website’.
  • Enter an account name for the website you want to track (if you want to track several websites then make sure you can differentiate between each one easily).
  • Enter the website name and URL, followed by the type of business from the drop down list. Make sure that you select the correct time zone.
  1. The next section covers data sharing details which basically gives Google permission to access your data to provide analytical data and support, as well as using it for benchmarking. If you have any concerns about how your data will be used then read the privacy policy.
  2. Once you have selected your data sharing options, you can generate your tracking ID by clicking on the button at the bottom of the page:

  1. Read through the Terms of Service and if you are happy, click on the ‘I Accept’ button.
  2. You will then be presented with your unique tracking ID with the code that you will need to paste into any page on your website that you wish to track. The ID looks like UA-12345678-1 in terms of format.
  1. Familiarise yourself with some of the settings and if you want to monitor organic searches (where people have found you using a search engine), there is any area to add more than the default list of search engines.

At this point you will have successfully set up your account details ready to start using Google Analytics.

  1. You now have the choice between manually entering your code into your WordPress site or opt for one of the many plugins that will do it all for you.

A popular choice is the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP. So you need to go to Add New Plugin within your WordPress site and find the plugin that you want to add. Install your plugin as you normally would (you can get more advice on how to install a plugin) and you will get the following page:

 

10. Because you have already set up your Google Analytics account details, all you need to get started is to click Get Access Code. Copy the code that you are given into the Access Code field and you are ready to go.

You will be able to see a Google Analytics section has been added to your dashboard and you can find all of your website usage information in here.

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08 Jun 2017

How to Block IP Addresses in WordPress

Do you need to know how to block IP addresses in WordPress? If so, read on. There are many good reasons for blocking certain IP addresses from accessing your site. Many people choose to do this so they can avoid spam and reduce the likelihood of their sites being hacked. This article has been produced to tell you how to block IP addresses and tell you more about which IP addresses you may need to block to avoid attacks from cyber criminals and similar unscrupulous types.

What are IP addresses?

IP addresses can be compared to real-life addresses and telephone numbers. The addresses consist of 4 sets of numbers between 0 and 255 that are separated by dots. All computers that connect to the internet have IP addresses, which are given to them by ISPs or Internet Service Providers. Each time someone visits your site, their IP address is stored in your access log. In turn, each time you visit a website, the event is logged and your IP is stored. The fact that IP addresses are logged is very useful as it makes it easier to identify those engaging in unscruplous or illegal behavior related to your online space. IP addresses have resulted in many people having action taken against them for cybercrime including cyber bullying, hacking and more. However, some people opt to hide their IP addresses via VPN services. This can help them protect their personal information.

Reasons for blocking IP addresses

So, why would you need to block an IP address? Blocking an IP address can protect you from spam of various types including e-mail and comment spam, unwanted visitors, hacking and DDOS attacks. Symptoms of a DDOS attack include websites becoming inaccessible or pages taking too long to load. If you start to receive more spam e-mails or spam comments than usual, you may need to block IP addresses to stop this occurring.

Comment spam and DDOS attacks

WordPress can tell you the IP addresses of anyone that has left a comment on your site. Visit the comment page in the WP admin area to link comments up with IP addresses. Do you suspect you have come under a DDOS attack? If so, the first thing you should do is to look at your server’s access log. Login to the cPanel dashboard linked to your WP hosting account. Head to the ‘logs’ section and click the ’Raw Access Logs’ button. Click on your domain name in the access logs page so you can download the access logs file.

You will find the access log file in a gz. Archive file. Click on the file to extract it. There are various options available to you if you don’t currently have a program for extracting such files. You may wish to download a reputable program such as Windzip. Once you have extracted the files, you can open your access log file in a plain text editor such as Notepad. The file consists of raw data relating to all requests that have been made to your site. All lines start with the IP address that has made the request. Take care to avoid blocking yourself, trusted users and search engines from your site. If an IP address seems suspicious, there are IP lookup tools online that you can use to find out more about it. If you have a particularly high number of requests from a single address, this could be the source of the unwanted activity. You can copy and paste the IP addresses you are suspicious about into a new text file.

How to stop IP addresses leaving comments

Do you simply wish to prevent certain users from leaving comments? If so, you can do this in the WP admin area. Go to Settings » Discussion and scroll until you reach the ‘Comment Blacklist’ text box. The process is relatively simple – just copy and paste the unwanted IP addresses and click on ‘save changes’. Users with the IP addresses will now be unable to leave comments, though they will still be able to visit your site. However, this should help you win the battle against spam and help you deliver a better user experience for those who aren’t abusing your service. The offending users will see an error message when they attempt to leave a comment.

Have hackers attacked your site?

If you need to take more drastic steps to challenge those misusing your site, help is at hand. You can block IP addresses via cPanel to stop them gaining access to or viewing your site. This step may be for you if you have come under attack from DDOS or hackers. Login to the cPanel dashboard of the hosting account and head to the security section. You then need to click on the ‘IP Address Deny Manager’ button. This facility enables you to add any IP addresses that you need to block and can be of great value whether you need to block one or several addresses. If you do decide to unblock certain IP addresses – perhaps after learning someone else was responsible for the malicious behavior – you can do so in the same page.

Are you being attacked by addresses from across the world?

There may be situations where these steps are not enough. If you have come under attack from hacking attempts and DDOS threats from various random addresses from across the world, you can use a Web Application Firewall (WAF) for extra protection. One example of such a service is Sucuri, which is designed to protect you from such attacks and is ideal if keeping up with scores of offending IP addresses is simply not realistic. All of your site traffic will be sent through their servers so it can be assessed for suspicious behaviour. The facility can block all IP addresses deemed to be suspicious from accessing your site. The above steps can help you thwart hackers and keep your WordPress site safe from malicious attacks, so why not get started today?

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18 May 2017

How to Post to Facebook from WordPress Automatically

Are you interested in posting to Facebook from WordPress automatically? If so, read on. There are various good reasons for sending posts to Facebook automatically, and two of the main advantages of doing so is that it can boost your social media following and traffic levels. Facebook has more than a billion users, which means neglecting to tap into such a useful is unthinkable for anyone wishing to grow traffic levels and increase exposure.

To build up a strong following on Facebook, you need to take steps to engage with the community. There are many ways you can publish to the social media network automatically. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ways you can do this.

Use IFTTT

IFTTT stands for ‘If This Then That’ and enables you to automate online accounts and define applets. Applets connect two online accounts, searching for triggers on one account and performing actions on the other account when they are found. To make IFTTT post automatically, you need to sign up for a new account. Once you have done this, click on your username and select ‘New Applet’. The IFFFT wizard will then be launched. You will be asked to choose a service, so look for WordPress by typing it into the search box. After this, you will be asked to connect your WP site. Click on the connect button and enter your WP site address and login details into the pop-up. You will then be able to select from various triggers, including opting for posts in certain categories to be published or simply posting all posts.

You will then need to pick the ‘that’ part of the applet, in which case will be Facebook, which you need to search for then select. You can either post to a personal Facebook account or your business or service’s Facebook Page. You will need to give Facebook permission in a pop-up. Click on ‘Create a Link Post’ and decide how you wish to post to appear on Facebook.

Use a WordPress Plugin

This process gives you extra control despite being slightly more challenging to set up. It enables you to publish posts in different categories and tags and allows you to custom post types. To get started, you can install the AccessPress Facebook Auto plugin. When this is activated, you will see a new item called ‘AccessPress Facebook Auto Post’ in the WP admin bar. Click on it to go to the settings page. Check the box by the ‘Auto Publish’ option so auto-posting can occur. You then need to enter the Facebook application ID and secret keys, which you can get from the Facebook Developers website.

Use the ‘Add a new app’ button and enter a display name for the app. You will also need to give your email address and pick a category. To continue, click the ‘Create App ID’ button. An app will then be created by Facebook. Click on the Dashboard link on the next screen to go to the dashboard and see your ID and secret keys (click on the show button for this). Copy and paste the keys to settings page of the plugin in WordPress.

Go back to the app dashboard page and click ‘Choose Platform’. You will then be able to select a website as your platform. After this, you will be redirected to a Facebook page explaining how the app can be used on sites with few code snippets. Go to the ‘Tell us about your website’ section and key in the URL of your WP site. Click next to save the URL and the setup process will be almost completed. Go the App Review page so you can make your app public. You can now use your Facebook app on your WP site. Go back to the settings page for the plugin, enter your app ID and secret keys before clicking ‘save settings’ and click the ‘Authorize’ button to link the plugin with your FB account.

You will then be sent to Facebook and will be asked for permission in a popup. Click ‘continue’ and tell Facebook who can see the posts the apps adds. Allow permissions to post. You’ll then be returned to the plugin settings page on your WP site. Add your FB account ID in plugin settings. After this you’ll be able to auto-publish posts that come under specific categories and tags. The Facebook Auto Post plug in will then be able to share your posts automatically on the social media network.

Adding Facebook comments your WordPress site

You may also wish to add Facebook comments to your WP site. There are many advantages to doing this. Using Facebook comments can boost your site’s visibility on the network, and users can even share comments they make with their Facebook friends to give you more exposure and traffic. We actually generate a lot of traffic to our site from FaceBook. People using Facebook to comment can’t benefit from the cloak of anonymity, which makes them less likely to post spammy comments on your site. One disadvantage is that some people may feel unhappy about commenting with their social media profiles because they prefer the sense of anonymity.

Acting as the admin of the Facebook add enables you to be notified when new comments are left. There will be a Facebook comment moderation tool in your plugin’s settings page, and you can add new moderators in the settings link. Many WordPress site owners have experienced significant benefits after allowing WordPress to post to Facebook automatically and enabling Facebook users to post onto their WP sites.

Why use WordPress?

The benefits of running a WordPress are numerous. WordPress is famously easy to use and you can manage your site from any internet-connected computer or device. WP sites are looked upon incredibly fondly by search engines and you don’t need to get help from web designers when you wish to update your site. You can expand your site as your business grows and enhance the functionality of your site via a plethora of plugins.

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29 Mar 2017

What Makes a Good Web Host?

There are many web hosts out there wanting your business, but not all hosting services are created equal. That is why you need to know how to choose the right web hosting service for your needs. In fact, your needs are what determine the best fit for you. You also have to know what qualities make up a great host so you can find one.

 

Identify Your Hosting Needs

Before you look at the different qualities of good web hosts, you need to know what you need. Ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • What time of website am I building?
  • Do I need to use special software?
  • Do I need a host that also offers website building tools?
  • Do I need a host that allows FTP uploads?
  • How much web traffic am I looking for?

 

These questions are important because most hosts have multiple packages, and each package may cap bandwidth, how much traffic you are allowed to have with that particular package, e-commerce capabilities, the number of databases, and more. By identifying the type of site and the target size of your traffic, you have made the first step toward choosing the right host.

 

Qualities of a Good Web Host

The following are 18 qualities to look for in a good web host.

 

1. Reputable

When you decide to compare web hosts, it is important to look at reputable hosts. These hosting companies have longevity under their belts, so you have plenty of information to measure and compare.

 

2. Server Uptime

Server uptime shouldn’t be less than 99.8%. There is a very small amount of wiggle room for the host to have downtime, because it can happen, but any downtime should be extremely negligible.

To determine what type of uptime a web host has, you want to look at its reviews. A Google search can go a long way as you determine which hosts have had the most downtime according to their users. Make sure you look at dates to ensure that all the downtime you are seeing isn’t from the same event.

Real life example – The following is the uptime record for InMotion Hosting on March 2017. Note that there’s no downtime recorded since August 2016.

 

3. Shared Hosting vs. Private Hosting

Shared hosting is a low-cost option that allows you tens of thousands of unique visitors and a good amount of space. This is a great place to start if you aren’t sure how big your site will become. Think about 12 months in advance, so you have a good foundation to start with.

If you think your website is going to grow big within the next few years, private or dedicated hosting may be what you need. It comes at a higher expense, but a site that is growing is one that will most likely generate more than adequate revenue.

 

4. Cost

Cost is very important. You want the highest quality for the lowest cost.

However, make sure you don’t opt for a package that has less than you need. The good news is that if you find that you are getting close to the visitor cap your plan allows, you can upgrade.

As mentioned earlier, shared hosting will cost less than dedicated hosting. Again, the size of the site will determine what you need. You also need to look at the signup cost vs. the annual renewal cost. For shared hosting, around $10 per month is acceptable for monthly renewal. However, paying an entire year or even two years at once will save money.

 

5. Trials and Refunds

Some hosts offer trial periods, which means they will give you a refund if you aren’t satisfied with the service. If trials and refunds are offered, see if they refund the entire amount you paid or just a portion of it. Some hosting companies charge cancellation fees.

 

6. Website Backup

Websites can crash and can be hacked, which is why it’s imperative to have backups so the site can be restored quickly. If a host backs up websites regularly, then you don’t have to worry if an incident occurs. The host should be able to restore most, if not all, of the site quickly.

 

7. Website Security

Some hosts offer security features. While there is never a foolproof security method, security features can ensure that the chance of hacking is reduced significantly.

 

8. Customer Support

When something is wrong with your hosting, there is no time to waste. You can’t wait for customer support. Having 24/7 customer support is important, particularly live chat that allows you to get the help you need without having to pick up the phone.

 

9. E-Commerce Capabilities

If you plan to sell items through your website, you need e-commerce features. The host may offer shopping cart software if you don’t already have your own. Having a host with good e-commerce features support, a dedicated IP, SSL certification, and shopping cart software if you need it will allow you to run an online store properly.

 

10. Room to grow

Not all web hosts cater to everyone. For instance, a shared host may not have packages that accommodate a growing business. Some may not offer VPS or dedicated hosting solutions. And there are hosting companies that focus on blogging only. The key is to find hosting companies that you are comfortable with.

 

11. A User-Friendly Control Panel

A control panel, or cPanel, that is easy to use is very important. You at least should be able to make basic changes. If a control panel is difficult to follow, you may find yourself at the mercy of tech support more than you want to.

 

12. Reasonable Account Limits

A hosting plan may say that it is unlimited, but the fact is that there are limits. A web host may opt to suspend your account if you are using too much bandwidth or violating any aspect of its rules. Make sure you read the terms and conditions and rules for having a website so you can make sure you stay within compliance.

 

13. Email Account Availability

You most likely want an email address with your domain, so you want a host that can host your email. However, you may have found a great host that doesn’t host email. That’s OK, because there are other programs on the internet that will. Google Email Apps will host an email using your domain name. Just make sure the email service you choose has all the features you need.

 

14. Contract Period

Some hosts will allow you to pay month to month while others require a year. There are also some that require a two-year subscription. Unless there are money-back guarantees, you may not want to pay for two years in advance.

 

15. Add-On Features

Look at the add-on features that are offered. Does the host offer anything like free domain privacy? See if what it is offering is important to you and compare these features and their costs, or lack of cost, with one another.

 

16. Connection Speed

This is different from website load time. You need good connection speed so that changes made on the website will show almost immediately. You don’t want an urgent change to take hours to appear.

 

17. Host Operating System

Many hosts use Linux because that’s the industry standard. If you have a website that is using Microsoft.NET tools, you’ll need to use a Windows server. For most people new to setting up a blog or website, the operating system the host uses isn’t important. Windows servers aren’t as secure as Linux servers are, which is something to consider.

 

18. File Size Limits

Watch out for file size limits. Some hosts will limit the size of each file you upload. If you need to upload large files, this could cause a problem for you, and it could limit the type of files you can use.

 

The Bottom Line

Consider these 18 elements, and you will be able to find a host that meets all your needs. Determine what is important to you, compare hosts, and make your decision. That way, you can run a website that can easily grow and make the revenue you are looking for.

 

About the author – Jerry Low

Jerry Low is a geek dad who’s passionate in search optimization and building web assets. You can find out more of his work at Web Hosting Secret Revealed.

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15 Mar 2017

Why Website Development Is No Overnight Sensation [INFOGRAPHIC]

Smoothly run website development projects follow clearly defined steps – which all take time.  To create a great looking, robust and secure website which offers an exceptional user experience, is not going to happen overnight.

Wow betide any company that tries to cut corners along the way to placate an impatient client – tears and tantrums from designers, coders and the client are sure to surface on a regular basis.

If you run a web design company and need to explain to your client why their project may take several months, use this great infographic from New Design Group.

 

1. The Brief

Your client must prepare a detailed brief to form the strong foundations of a successful project.  They should define the target audience and goals of the site.  They need to work with the developers to agree on the technical specifications of the site. And only then can you provide the final project timeline and budget.

 

2. Planning

The web development company will carry out research and outline first concepts for the website. They will define how a someone will navigate the website, ensuring a pleasurable user experience.

Wireframes and mock-ups must be reviewed carefully by the client, so necessary adjustments can be flagged; any requests for significant changes later on will be costly in time and money.

 

3. Design

The creative juices of the web designers now get into action. They will identify the color scheme to match the company’s brand color palette. They will design headers, buttons and animations if required, and identify the best typography for the site. And throughout this stage, they will be planning a design which appears correctly on different devices – from small smart phones to large desktops.

 

4. Development

After the design prototype is approved, an appropriate framework or Content Management System (CMS) will be identified for the basis of the website. With customization, the final look and functionality of the website can be created, whether it’s an informative site or requires complex eCommerce functions.  Then content can be integrated and search engine optimization (SEO) activities can be implemented.

During this phase, site performance must be reviewed: loading speed should be fast, all aspects should function as expected, and private content should be made secure.

 

5. Launch

After final testing, the website will be transferred to the live server. The client should help in the quality assurance testing of the site, looking out for glitches or typing errors that need correction.

If necessary, the web development company will provide training and documentation to enable the client to make simple updates themselves.

 

6. Maintenance

A good web development company will provide support post go-live and help troubleshoot any issues encountered, and furthermore will help implement design, functionality and content updates.

 

Conclusion

The more your client understands the web design process, the better. They will realise significant changes late in the project will cause major delays, and will fully appreciate why they can’t have a nice, shiny new website after just a week.

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02 Mar 2017

[INFOGRAPHIC] 25 Features Every Online Business Must Have in 2017

For your business to succeed online you need to make sure that your website is feature packed! There are many small details that can make all the difference – both in terms of giving customers trust and also giving them extra functions that aid conversions and improve the overall user experience of your site. It makes your business stand apart from the other’s giving you a competitive edge.

This infographic shows 25 features that are key to improving your online business from showcasing your contact information to ensuring that you have a great UX structure that’ll boost conversions and aid usability. Both of which are key in 2017! Building trust within your site by adding testimonials, contact information and social media profiles is a sure way of increasing conversion rates. You can increase conversions through design and also by choosing a reliable web hosting provider. Check out some of the best web hosting companies for your money here!

 

When you are setting up a website for your business, you want it to be the best that you can make it. Initially you may think that a good website is one that looks attractive and yes this is a very important factor but there are other factors that you also need to prioritise. For example, the positioning of your content and various website features has a huge impact on the effectiveness of your website.

Creating a website that is easy to navigate around is critical from a user perspective, as if your website is confusing and over-crowded it is likely to make people leave your website. This is the biggest problem that you will have. You need to be able to drive people to your website through your marketing channels and then make your website so good that they don’t want to leave.

By developing content that is useful to your target audience, you will attract them to your site and they will be compelled to either sign up for a newsletter or call you to enquire about your products or services. How you want visitors to behave will vary on your type of business but if you want people to call you to arrange an appointment, for example, you would get better success rates if you position a strong call to action in a highly prominent position. This type of useful information is listed in this helpful infographic 25 features every online business must have in 2017.

Use this infographic as a template to build your website and position your content as shown. You will soon start to see that visitors are increasingly acting as you want them to do i.e. contacting you about your products or making an online purchase.

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13 Feb 2017

Does my business need a blog?

If you’re asking yourself the question about whether your business needs a blog then you’re already a step closer to discovering the power of a successful blogging strategy. If you are looking for new ways to expand your business, then marketing and more specifically blogging is a tested and proven method.

If you’re wondering what blogging can bring to your business, then wonder no more because we have rounded up some of the key benefits into a quick summary:

 

Improves the SEO of your website

In other words, more people will be able to find your website through search engines. Because you will have more pages and more links, this improves the search engine ranking. Obviously, if more people visit your site, this will lead to more customers. SEO ranking has been around for some time but now it is becoming a marketing method that even smaller businesses are investing time and money in. If you haven’t started tapping into it yet, the chances are that your competitors are and will be taking your potential customers with them.

 

The stats prove that you should!

Did you know that B2B companies that blog get 67% (stats taken in 2015) more leads than the ones that don’t use blogs? In a world where the percentage of online sales are increasing at a rapid rate, (increased by 11% in the UK in 2015) you can’t afford to miss out on operating with an online channel. This trend looks like it is here to stay and will only increase over the next few years. There is an App for all big stores these days, making online purchases much easier than walking into a shop and having to actually find items!

 

Improves the credibility of your business

If you are creating high quality blogs that demonstrate your expertise, this will influence people’s perception of your business. A blog is your channel to show people just how good your business is and what your business can do for your customers. You can build trust with customers and they will return to you for products and services once this trust is established.

 

It aligns to your Social Media Strategy

You can increase your social media following via your blog and encourage people to share your blog via Twitter, Facebook etc. to increase your customer reach. If you create a really useful blog, readers will be compelled to share it with their network or specific people that they think will be interested in the topic. If you don’t have a fully developed Social Media Strategy, it is time to develop one. Read Forbes’ Top 7 Social Media Trends That Dominated 2016 for some inspiration.

So, going back to the question ‘Does my business need a blog?’, I think we have successfully answered this question with a definite YES! If you are not taking advantage of all of the benefits that a blog brings then you are missing a vital part of a successful marketing strategy. Get that blog created now and don’t waste any more opportunities to generate leads for your business.

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