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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02 Jan 2017

Should I Start Blogging in 2017?

If you are a business owner then you have probably thought about starting a blog, or if you haven’t given it any thought then maybe it is time that you did! If you’re not sure exactly what a blog is, take a look at this handy guide – Introduction to Blogging. It can take less an hour to setup a blog and get started. All you need is a solid hosting provider and some content to get started!

When blogging was first introduced there was a conception that it was for people who like to have their say and give their opinion on whatever area of expertise (or in many cases lack of expertise) that they held without always adding any great value.

In the current day, blogging has transformed into a powerful business marketing strategy that business owners can’t afford to miss out on and I’ll explain why:

 

  1. Search Engine Optimisation

The key to getting increased traffic to your website is to rank highly in the search engines. Publishing a regular blog will enable you to rank higher as you will have more content that gets indexed. Links to your website will also influence the SEO ranking. In order to get other sites linking to yours you’ll need to create great content that adds value.

 

  1. Attract new Customers

If you can write a blog that people either enjoy reading or find useful, then they are more likely to do custom with you. Let’s say for example, you are a Plumber and you write a blog on how to fix a dripping tap, people who want to fix their dripping tap are likely to head to the Internet for the solution. Whilst you might think this is doing you out of business because you are advising them how to do it themselves, they may not have found your services otherwise. Plus, they will remember your website (or their internet browser will) when they are looking for someone to do a bigger plumbing job.

If you create a blog that is great quality, people are also compelled to share it with friends and family, increasing your reach every time your blog gets a share! Find out more about how Social Media Marketing can help your business.

 

  1. Boost your Reputation

If you have high quality, valuable and professional content in your blog then your business will be seen in the same way. Credibility is a big factor in marketing and you can get ahead of the competition by creating blogs that boost your reputation as a highly competent business. Try and become an “expert” in your field and start writing quality content focused on your market.

 

  1. It doesn’t take much time or money

If you already have a website then you probably already have the blog functionality available to use. Writing a blog every fortnight shouldn’t take too long, especially when you’re writing about something that you know inside out. If you’re not confident with writing or you want to develop something really creative and don’t have the skills yourself, you could pay someone else to do it at a fairly reasonable price. You will probably find that the investment turns out to more than pay for itself.

  1. Interact with your Customers to find out what they want

One of the great things about blogs is that people can add comments. Perhaps there is a service that people want and you currently don’t provide because you thought there wasn’t any demand. If Customers use comments to ask for this service, you’re getting that you couldn’t get through and channel other than social media.

There are many other great reasons to start writing blogs but these ones alone show you that you should start blogging if you haven’t already. You can even do it part time to start off with and see how it goes. Maybe it’ll give you enough income to leave your job!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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30 Oct 2016

How To Customize The Text Editor of Your WordPress Site

WordPress started out as a simple blogging platform and over time has almost become a full framework for applications. One thing that hasn’t evolved much with time is the text editor or the kitchen sink. Users have been resorting to plugins to add functionality and to give it some style. While WordPress 4.0 did dramatically improve the editor, there’s still plenty of room left for more customization and improvement.

Why Would You Customize The Editor?

One of the biggest problems with the editor is that you still have to click the preview button to get a feel of how your front end looks. When you add up the time spent switching between your previews and back to your editor to make additional content changes, you’d be surprised how much time is wasted. Basically, you’ll instantly receive the benefit of a true WYSIWYG editor when you customize the text editor to look and function like the front end of your site.

If you’re a reseller or build WordPress sites for people, then you know that a lot of your clients aren’t going to be technically capable of managing their own sites or changing content. This is when they end up calling you at 4AM to tell you that they accidentally removed something when they tried to edit their site.

This happens a lot…

Having a true WYSIWYG editor for your text editor will dramatically reduce all of these mishaps. Why doesn’t WordPress have a true front-end editor yet? No one knows but the promise of having one has been on the horizon for years and competitors such as Weebly and Squarespace have made their sites super user friendly by adding front-end editors. It may be because there’s a downside to the front-end editors in terms of functionality and content flow when creating content.

 

Not only that but most of the front-end editors that are offered by those competitors aren’t solid, have bugs, create disgusting code and don’t have things such as Meta boxes. So while you can try to use a plugin like Visual Composer, be warned that not only does it create messy code but they’re often buggy and unreliable. I can’t count the number of times I’ve clicked save and nothing happened or things were deleted for no reason.

Warning: This is an advanced tutorial and beginner things like WordPress installation won’t be explained. You should have knowledge of how WordPress works and CSS before beginning.

wordpress-responsive

Step 1 – A Fresh Install

Make sure you’re doing this on a brand new fresh install of WordPress, preferably a remote version on your own computer. It shouldn’t need to be said but don’t do this with someone’s website to test things out, do this on a test website, try out a free theme if you need to.

Step 2 – Understanding the Core

Once there’s same sample content via your fresh WordPress install and a fresh theme to look at, you have to understand how the core of WordPress works and the functions of the text editor to get the most out of it. TinyMCE is a great tool but it’s completely ignorant of anything going on outside the editor. There’s one core file that controls TinyMCE but thankfully for us, the creators have allowed us to load additional stylesheets into it.

While it’s great that ever since 3.0.0, you’ve been able to add stylesheets in a function called add_editor_style in includes/theme.php, we’re going to be looking at more efficient ways to call the function. The very first thing we need to do is look for a file called editor-style.css. Does this file exist already for your theme?

The editor should look for the file editor-style.css by default but we can check for this in the development console. It’s F12 for most browsers and on the right hand pane, we can easily see that it indeed is pulling style from editor-style.css. A quick re-cap so far:

  • WordPress is powered by a powerful editor called TinyMCE but it lacks some core functionality that we’re going to be messing with
  • TinyMCE while it does come with core styling allows for the overwriting of its styling with a native function in WordPress
  • WordPress calls this function add_editor_style in includes/theme.php to allow people to do such a thing

Step 3 – Making Some Changes

Taking the steps above, if you’ve determined that there is an editor’s stylesheet in your theme’s folder, then you want to make sure you save a backup of this file and copy it. Call it something like custom-editor-style.css and place it in the exact same folder location. This is far more efficient than backing up the entire theme and database.

Next, we need for WordPress to actively search for that file rather than trying to find the default one. To do this, navigate to your theme’s folder and look for functions.php. We need to open this up and call add_editor_style to make sure that it’s going to use your new stylesheet rather than the old one.

Add the following code to the theme’s function.php and when you’re done, simply hit save. If you’re editing directly from a FTP client, make sure you re-upload the file.

// This is the code for adding a custom stylesheet to the WordPress post editor

function my_theme_add_editor_styles() {

  add_editor_style( 'custom-editor-style.css' );

}

 

add_action( 'admin_init', 'my_theme_add_editor_styles' );

Where custom-editor-style.css is, if you’ve named your new file something different, change it to that name. Next, we need to make sure that the editor is actually using the stylesheet and the default stylesheet isn’t overriding your new one. Simply look at the inspector to confirm this. Earlier we confirmed you’d need some CSS knowledge so you should have a few changes already made in that stylesheet to see if any of the changes have gone through.

Are the changes being tracked by the backend as well? Let’s do a quick test by changing the color of your headers. Find the following in your stylesheet or add it if it’s not there. By default, all of the headers should be listed.

h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6 {color: red; font-size: 35px;}

You can make the color whatever hexcode or color you want and you change the font-size to whatever you want but this is for testing purposes at this point. Is everything working great so far? It should be but let’s test something else by adding a little splash of border to the images in TinyMCE.

For this, all we have to do is target the TinyMCE main styling ID which is by default, #tinymce. This is the ID that it automatically generates in the body, regardless of the WordPress version you’re using, as long as it has TinyMCE. When we generate a border for our images, we should see the results instantly. This is the last CSS example we’re going to do because the entire point of this is to make sure that we have complete control over the styling of TinyMCE.

To generate a border around all TinyMCE images, simply type in the following in the stylesheet we made:

#tinymce img {border: 5px solid blue;}

From this point on, you should be able to style everything the way you want it now that we’ve confirmed the style changes are taking effect. If you’re new to CSS or styling, there are plenty of guides online such as Codeacademy that’s 100% free and has great tutorials on styling and a lot more.

What about Sites That Don’t Have an Existing Editor Stylesheet?

If this is the case, which it usually isn’t, you can simply open up the custom-editor-style.css file and replace the contents of that file with this:

@import url(‘my-style.css’);

The first time you do this, don’t panic if things look broken. It will take some time going back and forth, making sure changes were saved, etc. The steps above should give you a nice base to work with and if you’re new to styling, it should give you some practice as well. One great file to look at is the basic styling sheet for the theme Twenty Sixteen. This is a nice starting point and can help you map out your styling strategy for customizing your own.

Conclusion

That’s simply it. With a couple of steps you can begin editing the default look and behavior of your editor to feel far more like a WYSIWYG editor and like the front-end. There’s so much more you can do with the editor as well, such as adding styling based on different post types or custom post types. For these advanced tutorials, we’d highly recommend consulting with the WordPress documentation before touching anything.

While there are some plugins that do this for you, they need to be constantly updated, most of them are outdated, they slow down the site and plugins like Visual Composer as mentioned earlier are notorious for bugs, breaking your site, producing messy code and slowing down the site. The steps mentioned above are a great starting point for creating a truly customized editor. We’re still years away from a fully functional WYSIWYG TinyMCE that works flawlessly.

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