Filter: WordPress CMS

How to Effectively Manage Your Website

When investing in a new website, many people mistakenly believe that designing and launching a site is all the work that is needed to maintain a presence on the Internet. Unfortunately a website is never a finished product because it needs to be constantly evolving in order to keep up with advances in the fast-paced digital world. Visitors will click out of your website disgruntled, if there are broken links, pages load slowly, or content on it is not updated regularly. The lack of proper web management also gives the impression of a business not paying attention to its customer experience. On a security point, hackers too are regularly trying to exploit sites by stealing data.  The fallout from a website hack can be huge.  The costs of a hacked or broken website far outweigh the investment on regular site management to stay secure within its operating environment. Therefore, websites cannot work flawlessly without regular maintenance to keep everything up-to-date and secure.

Whether you do the tasks yourself or hire out the work for website maintenance, it still needs to get done. To effectively manage your site, you need to consider five key areas:

  • Content
  • Code
  • Performance
  • Backups
  • Security

1. Managing Your Site Content

It is so important to keep creating fresh and relevant content for your site—which can include text, product information, images, videos, free giveaways and more—to draw in new visitors and engage existing customers to read, share and comment. It will benefit you to publish regularly, support content sharing, and manage comments on your site to encourage people to check back often because it will give you a boost in your search engine rankings. To stay on track, decide on a publishing schedule and the types of content to publish. Consider the following types of content for your site-

  • Product updates– Announcements for launch or discontinuation of products and price changes. You will need to update navigation and create a new page for the product or remove the pages of discontinued offerings.
  • Company News – Update all information about your company and employees, whether it is media mentions, news articles related to your site or products, new staff announcements, etc as social proof to build trust among visitors.
  • Feature Addition– Go over your site and make improvements to features as and when necessary, such as adding a blog or buttons/links to social profiles, FAQ section, etc.
  • Giveaways – Consider including free downloads, giveaways or running a contest periodically to create buzz around your site.

To get your content noticed by visitors and search engines, you need to get the word out using available tools discussed below.

  • Subscription – You can lure subscribers to your site with free offers of downloadable e-book or whitepapers.
  • RSS Feeds – Create an RSS feed for your regular readers and use a widget to make subscribing easy.
  • Social media – Identify the right social media platforms for your target audience and build your presence on these networks by scheduling regular posts.  Use available social media plugins like WP to Twitter, Postcron and Share This to post new content and prompt readers to share it through their own social media accounts.

If you are running a blog or a community site then it is absolutely essential to enable comments so your readers feel more engaged with your content. Even though you want your readers to voice their opinions, you still have to moderate comments before they are published and decide on how to respond to them.

2. Managing Your Site’s Code

None of the content will be displayed in browsers without some code to power your site. All websites, particularly those with databases and built on Content Management Systems, depend on complicated lines of code and specific software on your web host. Third party software, like WordPress and Joomla are always updating their software for bug fixes, security patches or feature enhancements. Your website may quickly become outdated if the code, database tables, or software is not upgraded regularly with the latest patches and security releases. The plugins, extensions and themes on your site should also have code that is efficient, reliable, and compatible.

3. Managing Your Site Performance

For a high-performing site, you have to identify areas of improvement in your website ranging from design, user interface, and content. You have to constantly manage the performance of your site against its specific goals—such as generating more traffic, increasing conversions, etc.—to encourage visitors to return. To maximize your website performance, you also need to manage the following tasks:

  • Search Engine Optimization to help your site appear on the first page of the search results for the keywords/phrase your target audience may be using to look for content.
  • Conversion optimization to encourage visitors to take action such as consuming your content, joining your community, making a purchase, subscribing, or calling your business.
  • Gain a better understanding of your site, stats and conversions, and how people behave on it using plugins such as Google Analytics.
  • Track in-site activity like bounce rates, referring sites, geo-location of visitors to your site, etc. through your web hosting account.

Optimize your site through responsive design for all platforms your visitors may use, including mobile and touch devices as well as desktop PCs. Not only should the site’s layout automatically resize on smaller screens, navigation should be easy too. Alternatively use an adaptive theme to ensure responsiveness for layout across platforms, through the use of CSS and also server side techniques with the use of PHP.  You also have to ensure fast page load times by testing site speed regularly so that it does not impact traffic adversely.

4. Managing Your Site Back-Up

You can avoid potential headaches by backing up your website regularly. Even if your web host provides backup services for your site on their servers, it is wise to take a few minutes to create and store back-ups as soon as you make changes or edits to your site. Do not rely on doing this job manually.  If you do, Murphy’s Law says that you will forget to back-up your site the day before it goes down or is hacked. Rather install and configure a plugin to take regular automatic back-ups of your site and store them securely. Consider the times and days when you do most of the work on your site, and schedule backups accordingly.

5. Managing Your Site Security

People with malicious intent often trawl sites to discover vulnerabilities in code and backdoors to gain access to your site.  Therefore, it is vital to manage the security of your server and website software by implementing the latest patches and new security releases. It would be wise to take some additional steps to guard against hackers and spammers on your site, as outlined below:

  • Have secure site administration
  • Ensure correct configurations for added security
  • Use SFTP instead of FTP when editing or loading site files
  • Use strong passwords for access to admin directory
  • Only use plugins and themes from trusted sources.
  • Lock down parts of your site or restrict access by including Restrict access by IP address

If you’re running an e-commerce site or multisite installation, use SSL for added protection to encrypt data between the browser and the server.

Be sure to monitor your site for attacks so you can take action as quickly as possible. Once an exploit has taken place, hackers often leave depository code to continue manipulating your system for their benefits, so you also need to address the source of the hack and fix any damage it has caused, and then upgrade the website code.

Website Management Made Easy

For a high-performing and secure site that engages successfully with its audience, you will have to actively manage the following major tasks on an ongoing basis:

  • Creating content to engage with readers
  • Keeping your code and software up to date
  • Monitoring your site’s performance to improve reliability and page speed
  • Improving search engine optimization and conversion optimization to make your site valuable to visitors
  • Setting up regular automated back-ups so that you can restore your site anytime and anywhere
  • Enhancing your site’s security to protect from hackers and spammers

Your web designer should provide you with a bug & glitch-free, professional website and your web host should ensure a secure and reliable hosting environment with updated software, security patches, and backups of your website. But ultimately it is your responsibility as the site owner to ensure regular attention and maintenance for your website.

website design

Freshen Up Your Website- 5 Trending Website Design Tips

In the dynamic web design industry, trends are forever changing with advances in technology, tools and web platforms. Though some ongoing trends may prevail for longer, many keep changing to align with expectations of the target audience. But good web design, either when conforming or challenging current norms, will always incorporate principles of visual design, perception, and the human-computer interaction. Last year was all about user experience, responsive design and minimalist approach in websites but with developments in the most popular web frameworks, you can expect exciting and cutting-edge trends & styles in web design for 2016. Read on to know how you can use current web design trends in vogue to liven up your website.

1. Color Trends – Bold is Beautiful

To make your website stand out among similar looking sites, with the same WordPress themes and borrowed UI elements like buttons and menus, it is imperative to bring in variation. Use bold colors! The use of color is the most powerful and engaging design practice to easily grab the attention of the user. Breathe new life into the design of your site with vibrant, bright pastel color tones. Do not ignore the rich color palette any longer. Replace dull, understated and overused tones such as metallic chrome or muted blue with solid bold accent color shades like lilac, web green, cherry red. Do not be shy of using happy, rich colors to define your brand and help enrich the user’s journey online.

2. Make a Statement with Graphic Text

Typography has always been a vital component of great web design and branding.  The creative integration of texts and other graphic elements of images, textures and patterns can have a massive impact on the visitor’s perception of the overall site look. The way we view text online is changing with the focus on fonts, font sizes and styles moving from safe, plain and boring to bold, large fonts. It has become easier to make a design stand out with use of different web fonts due to its easy accessibility, thanks to Google Fonts and Typekit. It is possible for designers to make customizable changes by tweaking default designs from stroke thickness, character width, and serif typefaces, using Prototypo, and FontArk. Be adventurous and harness the power of artistic and dramatic fonts to make a strong statement.

3. Design Around the Customer Journey

Designers and site owners should preferably be guided by the customers’ journey through the website. Customer-centric web design does just that, with its emphasis on structuring and optimizing the site in order to make that journey better. Instead of focusing just on promotional offers and sales, concentrate on implementing a web design to attract your ideal buyer to further support them, speak to them and provide solutions to them as they go through your site. The goal is to allow the content on your site to speak to your audience in order to effectively convert visitors to valuable leads and sales. The customer-centric website design elements have to be in tune with the prospective customers. Most importantly, keep in mind Google’s algorithmic changes and customer behavior data. Your website has to load fast, be clearly organized & easy to navigate, have well-defined product/services, and contact information can never be more than a click away.

4. Layout Design- Centered Content or Split Content

Be goal-centric when choosing your layout design. Centered content layout is a powerful style, ideal for content-light pages, that is fast becoming an established practice on homepage designs. Centered content places the main message of the page right at the center of the screen with eye-catching visuals or smooth textures around it for a spectacular effect.  But if your pages are content- heavy, offering many products, services or categories, the preferred design layout is split-screen. Split content divides the content into wide sections, sometimes with a distinct look for each. Designers have more room for creativity, without endangering the clarity of content hierarchies. Split content gives users the choice of immediately heading where they want to, bringing them to the correct landing pages, thereby increasing the chance of converting.

5. Get Clever with Hidden Menus

There are many users that hate the omnipresent Hamburger Menu or navicon.  Help is at hand with the more intuitive navigation of clever menus. You can latch onto this new trend of using clever menus as it makes the user interaction simple and efficient through a clean design and by removing distracting menu objects. Hidden navigations only appear when the user is ready to move on and take action by clicking on the appropriate icon. Hidden menus work really well for responsive web design too, which is the standard for small screens. It may soon be fully responsive to even multi-directional scrolling.

Go From Drab to Fab!

These major web design trends along with essentials of flat design, material design, card layout, grid pattern and symmetrical sites are all going to change our web experience. Businesses should not shy away from updating their online presence to keep up with the demands of the modern, younger and more mobile consumer. Make sure your website is still hip and relevant in 2016. Incorporate these 5 hot design tips and your website will be sure to go from drab to fab!

10 Popular WordPress Plugins You Should Be Using

WordPress is the most popular and easy to use content management systems (CMS) utilized by millions of entrepreneurs, businesses and webmasters across the globe. Because WordPress is a free open source platform, it allows developers to contribute themes and plugins that extend the design and functionality of your website. The best part for many businesses is these added features come without the need to know how to code. Developers have generated thousands of useful free WordPress plugins in addition to premium plugins that carry a price tag. This article will guide you in making the best plugin choices for your website.

1. W3 Total Cache

Your site’s speed plays an important role in search engine rankings. W3 Total Cache helps you optimize your WordPress site for speed and performance. It allows you to easily setup page and browser caching, compress pages for quicker downloads, and setup a content delivery network for your static files.

2. Hello Bar

HelloBar is one of the more popular lead generation tools available.  It allows you to add eye-catching notification bars to the top of a webpage which can be used for driving traffic to a designated landing page. Any WordPress blogger can easily integrate HelloBar onto a blog with this simple WordPress plugin.

3. Akismet

Say goodbye to content spam.  Akismet is a content spam filtering service that is able to identify anything that appears to be spam and automatically moves the content to WordPress installation’s spam folder. You can look in your dashboard to check Aksimet Stats for a breakdown of your spam, missed spam, real comments, and false positives that have been mistaken for spam by Akismet that you can flag as genuine.

4. WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

Yoast SEO is an absolute must to boost any WordPress site’s search engine optimization; enabling more potential customers to find you. This plugin allows you to manage page titles, add meta descriptions, homepage descriptions, sitemaps or keyword stuffing. There is also a premium version with many additional, helpful add-ons.

5. Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms is the most beginner and developer friendly contact form plugin for WordPress. It can be used to add almost any kind of online form to your WordPress website. It comes with powerful add-ons which allow you to create online survey, user submitted posts, web directory, or almost anything where a user input is required.

6. Broken Link Checker

Broken Link Checker is a great plugin that can help improve the user experience on your website. Why? Because clinking on links that don’t work can be frustrating and often times a visitor will just leave the website. This plugin will check your content for broken links and missing images and notify you.

7. Google XML Sitemaps for videos

Google XML sitemaps is the best plugin to help you in submitting a XML sitemap of blogs containing video to search engines so that the search engines can easily recognize and index them.  Your Video Sitemap will include web pages which embed videos from YouTube or which links to videos on YouTube. If a YouTube video that you have in your blog has been removed from YouTube, the record in the Sitemap file will be ignored by Googlebot.

8. Floating Social

Social media share buttons are a must have for every site, but they can significantly impact your site’s speed. The floating social bar was created to maximize your social media visibility without impacting your site speed.Floating social bar is a light-weight WordPress plugin that adds a horizontal floating share bar to your blog posts, pages, and other post types. The floating ability allows this eye-catching social media bar to get you maximum shares.

9. Disqus

Enabling comments on your blog is one great way to engage with your readers.  Disqus makes commenting easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commenters across a thriving discussion community.

10. Sucuri Security

Everyone wants to keep their WordPress site protected and secure from hackers. Sucuri Security is a useful web based security toolset plugin for security integrity monitoring, activity monitoring, malware, malicious coding scanning, or bug detection, blacklist monitoring, security hardening, and security notifications. This plugin is the best way to ensure your site is secure, especially if you are running an online retail store or if you store sensitive customer information. Sucuri Security works in the background to actively monitor your site for potential threats and warns you immediately to take post-hack security actions.

The List Doesn’t End There

There are many more useful WordPress plugins such as WordPress Importer and Next Gen Gallery. The one caveat is more is not always better. Sometimes plugins can conflict with each other or your theme, and the possibility of this happening increases with the amount of plugins you use. Your best bet is to use only the plugins you need. The good news is, if you do find that a plugin conflicts, there is probably a similar plugin that works perfectly with your set up.  This flexibility is one of the features that makes WordPress and its plugins such a popular platform.

Choosing the Right WordPress Plugins for Your Site

Quality plugins for WordPress websites are more than simple, useful codes written to fill in temporary feature needs. Plugins can add a social component to a blog or business and have a serious, quantifiable effect; they can enable global content sharing, build loyal communities and even make the smallest of websites a viable commerce center. So choosing the right plugin and knowing how to make that choice is quite important.

WordPress plugin expert Brian Lis says the key is to choose only a few plugins that fit your needs. Standard plugins can run for free and premium versions vary in price, but all are implemented in the same way a mobile app is: You download the plugins to your hardware, file them in your content directory and then activate them. The best plugins — often the premium ones — are consistently updated by their engineers and are easy to troubleshoot because of their large, collaborative user base.

Premium plugins perform reliably and minimize problems, such as website downturn, that can come with running a site. Functions such as defining “security vulnerabilities, conflicts, and increased load times,” are most important, because they prevent system crashing. It’s ironic, then, that certain plugin combinations will cause a site to crash, especially when developers use too many of them at the same time.

The nature of plugin development is the cause of the challenge. Anyone can build a WordPress plugin, and sometimes official instruction documents that detail build conflicts aren’t available. For these reasons, Lis says, top developers often use fewer than 10 plugins per build. “Anything over 30 plugins is generally an invitation for problems.”

Even if a plugin seems like it’s optimally useful, thorough testing and analysis bears out the truth. Lis says he once worked on a site using a single stat-tracking plugin that “took over 1.5 gigs in [the site’s] database [while] their website was only 50 megs. The speed difference once that stat-tracking plugin was removed was significant.”

The factors that go into load times can be varied and include what type of server or provider you use, whether your site is multimedia heavy or uses slow caching or whether it is connected to a content-delivery network. It might also be a signal that the website is coded poorly. In any case, a select combination of premium and standard plugins that work well together and offer serious benefits, like security and reduced load times, while unsexy, are more important than checking off every box of possible site functionality.

 Plugins Every WordPress Site Should Use

Before adding plugins, businesses should back up all files. Lis says plugin failure rates are at 1 percent, but that tiny percentage can cause serious damage to the infrastructure.

Here are the plugins no site should do without:

Security: Limit Login Attempts (standard)

Hackers can brute-force their way into WordPress software because it allows unlimited login attempts. The best way to prevent this is by locking the number of attempts, and this plugin does it cleanly and efficiently. Users have noted the great customer service.

E-commerce: WooCommerce (premium)

This is a fully featured suite of great plugin applications. The software offers extensions that help both small and large businesses provide a variety of product options, including shipping choices, recurring payments, CSV product importing, one-page checkout and even a deep suite of marketing features.

Forms: Gravity Forms (premium)

Managing forms is a breeze using this plugin. You can create order forms with pricing fields, add PayPal for add-ons, create configurable entry lists, and a lot more. It’s also easy to customize any form, including CSS column layouts.

Membership: WishList Member (premium)

WishList Member is an awesome membership curator that can grow with your site. If you’re a major blogger who wants to offer a few paid articles in between tons of free content, you can offer free, trial or paid memberships, or you can create member upgrade levels for each of paid post.

Backup: WordPress Backup to Dropbox (standard)
You need to back up your whole system on a server, but your content also needs backup. WordPress Backup to Dropbox takes your files and SQL database and sends them to your Dropbox account folder (subscription required). The plugin uses the OAuth (authorization standard), so your account details are secure.

Analytics: Google Analytics for WordPress (standard)
A lot of people use Google Analytics, and this is the best plugin incorporating it. According to load-speed analysts, this tracking software is swift. It also comes with a wide variety of customizable demo options, such as categories for page views per user.

Social Sharing: Sociable (standard)
A customizable plugin that makes icons easy to see on a webpage is also one of the most popular. With two different choices for styling (including Skyscraper, which incorporates commenting data), it nicely features the big networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Digg and StumbleUpon.

Despite the many ways plugins can help, it’s important to temper expectations. Lis says the difference between hugely successful sites and modest ones comes down to execution of content, not necessarily plugin use.

The best sites “have meaningful content followed by a community of advocates for that website,” he says.

As a result, the best practice for beginners vetting plugins is to keep things simple and use the free ones “until you’ve perfected the core functionality. Once your core functionality is tested and true, [you can] begin adding in the bells and whistles [of the premium sites].”

Website owners with modest budgets can easily build out a site with plugins for analytics managers, file trackers, SEO enhancers, XML sitemaps, social sharing, social feeds and graphics software. cleardot

[image: nyengendadi/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos] 

 

Why WordPress Makes Sense for Your Company Website

According to its official website, WordPress (WP) now powers more than 17 percent of the World Wide Web. The content management system (CMS) far outpaces other CMSs, such as Drupal and Joomla.

Despite its success, however, many companies write off WordPress as “just another blogging tool.” Many people wonder whether this consumer tool can really deliver the complete online experience for their businesses.

Word on the Street

Thousands of companies use WordPress. The New York Times, CNN, UPS and Sony all use WP to power their blogs, which are read by millions of users worldwide. The idea that WordPress is confined to blogging remains pervasive, but WordPress use is changing. As the WordPress Showcase page notes, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Sweden’s official website are powered entirely by WordPress; so are technology websites Gigaom and TechCrunch, along with InStyle.com and the New York Observer.

The Amazing Evolution of WordPress

So how did this humble CMS make the jump from personal use to industry standard? It started in 2001, when Michel Valdrighi launched b2 cafelog, a stylish, streamlined blogging platform. In 2003, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little “forked” b2’s source code to create WordPress version 0.71 (Gold). It had no dashboard but allowed users to assign a status — Publish, Draft or Private — to a post. Compared to other platforms available at the time, WP was a godsend.

The year 2004 saw the release of version 1.0 (Miles), giving users the ability to assign multiple categories to posts and to include search-engine-friendly permalinks. Version 1.2 (Mingus) was released the same year and introduced plugins. In 2005, version 1.5 (Strayhorn) featured the first iteration of WP’s popular dashboard. Version 2.0 (Ellington) also went live in 2005 and gave users the advanced TinyMCE editor and the ability to upload images. By 2008, the platform was being used by thousands of bloggers worldwide; versions 2.5 (Brecker) and 2.7 (Coltrane) included support for multiple image uploads and a sidebar of links to essential WP tools, along with a one-click plugin installer.

By 2010, the core components of WordPress were stable, useful and extremely popular. The next three years focused on making WordPress content easily searchable and manageable. The most recent version, 3.8 (Parker) introduced a new admin design and default theme named “Twenty Fourteen.”

What’s the Big Deal About WordPress?

Sure, WordPress has made a name for itself among bloggers and businesses alike. But with a host of website design tools available online, why use this blog-platform-turned-CMS? First, it’s free. No licensing fee, no purchase agreement. Free. Reputable web hosts support WordPress deployments, and many hosts have developed custom themes they make available to clients at no charge. The platform is easy to use, intuitive and browser-based, meaning any Internet-enabled computer can be used to manage content. WordPress also has clean and simple code, making it attractive to popular search engines.

But solid infrastructure isn’t the only benefit of WordPress. Plugins exist to make every aspect of site management easier; W3 Total Cache, for example, improves website speed for users by scaling down the size of CSS, JS and HTML resources. Meanwhile, the Google XML Sitemaps plugin generates an XML sitemap that helps search engines better index a company’s website, and the All in One SEO Pack helps optimize content.

The WordPress community is also extremely active, with resource sites like Woo Themes, WPBeginner and Lynda.com all offering tips on how to get the most out of a WP page.

Relegating WordPress to the status of “blogging tool” is easy to do because the platform is free, it’s simple to use and it focuses on general functionality, leaving third parties to create specific-use plugins. But many companies miss the true value of this CMS: flexibility.

WordPress empowers companies to create how they want, when they want, and frees them up to spend more time running, promoting and managing their businesses and less time haggling with the backend infrastructure of a siloed CMS.

[image: kalexanderson/Flickr]

Getting the Most Out of Your WordPress Site

WordPress is one of the most common content management systems (CMSs) available to individuals and businesses, but as with any solution, tweaks and optimization may be required to make it a perfect fit.

Brandon Sharp, a solutions specialist for web hosting provider Lunarpages, says that the worst thing you can do with a WordPress site is “install it and forget it.”

“A website is just like a car. It needs routine maintenance to ensure that it is going to run and function properly for years to come,” says Sharp. “What happens if you don’t change the oil in your car? The car breaks down, and you have a huge repair bill. Make sure that your WordPress core, themes and plug-ins are up to date.”

After all, if organizations don’t maintain and nurture their websites, how can they expect the sites to take care of their customers?

Here are a few best practices that will help keep your WordPress install humming along.

Limit the Number of Plug-Ins

First and foremost, reduce the number of plug-ins to a simple core set. While it’s easy to get addicted to the functionality that they provide, plug-ins consume resources and memory on the server that runs your WordPress site. “If your WordPress site is hosted in a shared environment, you have limited use of the resources. You’ll want to make sure that your site is able to load in a reasonable amount of time so that visitors do not abandon your home page,” says Sharp.

Optimize Your Home Page

If your website is a digital storefront, you want to ensure that the front door — the home page — opens quickly to allow customers in. WordPress offers the option to quantify the number of stories that appear on the home page, and you may want to consider posting abstracts of articles rather than the entire text. Sharp recommends sticking to five or six of the most relevant or new items.

Install a Caching Plug-In

Caching the content on your site is one of the best things you can do to optimize site performance. Caching saves an instance of your article locally on the server. This allows WordPress to load content more quickly because it doesn’t have to read the content from the WordPress database. Sharp has a video tutorial that walks you through the process of implementing WP Super Cache. Another popular caching plug-in is W3 Total Cache.

Keep WordPress Updated

WordPress frequently publishes updates to introduce new site optimization and security fixes. You should log in regularly to the administrative console within your WordPress install and check for these. When they do appear, run them! As a bonus, WordPress will alert you if any third-party items are incompatible with the update.

Prevent Spammers

Sharp recommends installing both Akismet as well as a CAPTCHA plug-in to reduce the amount of spam that appears in your comments. Using CAPTCHA for your comments “prevents hackers and bots from trying to gain access and wreak havoc on your blog,” he says.

Prioritize Backups and Database Optimizations

Always ensure that you have a regular backup routine in place for the physical files on the server and the database powering the site. Database backups can be automated using a variety of available plug-ins, many of which also offer optimization for routine maintenance of the WordPress database. Once you have a local copy of the database stored within your file structure on the server, back those database and PHP files up regularly to an offsite location.

Monitor Third-Party Scripts and Images

Another thing that can dramatically slow down the load time of your WordPress site is third-party graphics or scripts. If you are linking images from a site other than your own, you are at the mercy of how fast that site can deliver the images. Wherever possible, try to have images stored locally within your WordPress install. Similarly, running third-party JavaScript or analytics can increase load time, particularly if the script has to be processed elsewhere. If you are running advertising on your site, again, you are at the mercy of a third-party to serve those ads. Be selective with the ad networks you use and prioritize those that don’t hinder your site’s performance.

Hosting Considerations with WordPress

When considering a web host for your WordPress install, there are a few technical considerations to keep in mind:

  • How much memory, CPU and disk space will be allocated to your WordPress installation?
  • Is the hosting provider oversubscribing the number of sites on a server (meaning, are they jam-packing a server with too many sites)? If you are using a shared server, all sites will be competing for memory and CPU, which means that a “noisy neighbor” may affect your site’s performance.
  • How much control do you have over the server your WordPress site is running on?
  • Should you move from a shared server to a virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated physical or cloud server? While it may be more costly, you will definitely have better processing power and more memory at your disposal if you do.

Take Your Time

While the web is a medium that allows for instant publishing, Sharp says it’s important not to rush — especially if you are installing WordPress for the first time.

“Take your time on installation and configuration,” he says. “A poorly installed or configured site leads to many issues down the road.”

[image: Silent47/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos]

Bulletproofing Your WordPress Site Against A Brute Force Attack

A brute force attack involves trying any and all combinations of commonly used passwords to gain access to an account or access to the administration section of your WordPress site. WordPress is one of the most commonly used frameworks for building websites today. Therefore, it should be no surprise that it is also one of the most commonly hacked as well. We believe that this threat warrants a list of tips, that when used, can thwart any attempts to gain access to your website.

How can you protect yourself against these type of attacks on WordPress?

  1. DELETE THE ‘ADMIN’ USER FOR YOUR WP SITE
    Once you have installed WP on your account, you will want to log into it by visiting http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-login.php. Here you will be asked for your username and password to access the administration section. Navigate to the ‘Add New’ User section found at http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/user-new.php. Although the WordPress minimum requirement is only 7 characters, Lunarpages recommends passwords of at least 12 characters. You will also want to be sure to select Administrator as the role for this new user from the dropdown menu at the bottom.

    Once you have created this new user, navigate to http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/users.php, hover over the original Admin user and select ‘Delete’. If you have posts that were created by the ‘Admin’ user, you will be asked what you want to do with them when you are deleting this user. These posts are commonly re-assigned to the new user you just created.
  2. CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS REGULARLY
    You will want to update your new user’s password every 90 days. Be sure to keep a record of passwords used, and do not repeat them. Always create new passwords when updating. We list deleting the admin user and updating passwords regularly as the most important factors since these are the main focus of a brute force attack. Do not use passwords like: admin, admin123, administrator, pass, password, password1, passwd, root, qwerty, q1w2e3, 000000, 123456, 987654321. If you are having trouble creating a strong password, consider a service such as those found at http://www.random.org/passwords and http://strongpasswordgenerator.com. Additionally, if you have multiple users on your website, either set up a schedule for all to see that requires regular updates to passwords or let them know that you will be making the updates and will provide them with new ones regularly.
  3. INSTALL SECURITY PLUGINS ON YOUR WP SITE
    There are a number of quality plugins that you can take advantage of for free from WordPress.org. Here is a short list to get you started:

  4. PASSWORD PROTECT YOUR WP-LOGIN PAGE
    Found in all control panels available through Lunarpages, password protecting your login page is another secondary effort that you can make. Look for the following icons in your control panel.
  5. MANAGED HOSTING
    We realize that building a website can be difficult. For those that need to focus on running their business, or simply do not have the time needed to stay on top of updates, we offer our Managed Hosting services to all levels of hosting plans. For more information how Managed Hosting can help your site and free up valuable time for you, please visit https://www.lpwebhosting.com/managed/overview.

Top 10 Best AdSense WordPress Plugins

Plugins on WordPress can do a variety of different functions and we’ve taken the time to look up the ones that are going to be helpful in putting ads on your website. There are many reasons why having ads on your site is a good idea; one of these benefits includes the opportunity to earn some extra revenue! By using these plugins, you’ll have the ability to modify colors and size display of the advertisements, decide where to post ads on your site, and much more. By taking advantage of the customizable options that are offered to you, having advertisements can improve the overall look and feel of your website and can create for more visitors. With the ten listed plugins, adding advertisements to your site becomes a little bit easier as you will save time and have more control of the ads being displayed on your site.

Easy Advertisement Insert – Discontinued plugin

This Plugin requires version 2.8 or higher and allows people to be able to add advertisements to their blog from the backend. There are 8 different options on where you can put the advertisement.

Adspot 1: Below posts title on the front page.
Adspot 2: Below the title when post is open.
Adspot 3: Below post content when post is open.
Adspot 4: Below title when a page is open.
Adspot 5: Below page content when a page is open.
Adspot 6: Below the comment boxes.
Adspot 7: Above the header.
Adspot 8: Below the footer.

Eli’s WordCents AdSense Widget with Analytics

This widget requires version 2.8 or higher. This widget goes on your sidebar so that it displays ads and also allows for customizable analytics.

Simple AdSense Inserter – Discontinued plugin

This plugin allows for you to insert AdSense ads in all of your posts and also allows for you to add an AdSense widget to your sidebar. This widget is very simple! A version of 3.3 of is needed.

Google AdSense Plugin

Just like the title states, this plugin allows for you to apply Google AdSense to your website. With this plugin, you are able to customize the look of an advertisement including the color, number of ads, and more. Version 2.9 or higher is needed.

AdSense Insert – Discontinued plugin

This plugin allows for ads to be automatically and wisely posted to your blog without breaking up photos. Some great features about this plugin include the ability to have ads be added in the sidebar, header, and footer. Additionally, the quantity of ads can be reliant on how long the body of your post is. This plugin requires 2.8 or higher.

Quick AdSense

This plugin offers a fast way to insert AdSense or any Ads codes anywhere into a blog post. There are so many great features that come with this plugin. A couple of these features are the option to display a maximum of 10 ads on a page and a simple configuration interface. Version 2.5 or higher is needed.

WP Simple AdSense Insertion

This plugin is for you to easily insert Google AdSense to all your posts, sidebars, and pages. This plugin is really great if you aren’t the most tech savvy person, are new to WordPress, and like straightforwardness. A version of 3.0 or higher is needed of WP.

AdSense Extreme – This plugin has been deemed unsafe by wordpress

There are many great attributes to this plugin including but not limited to the ability to add ads in different places, ads widgets, there are different languages supported including English, Spanish, and Italian. Additionally, this plugin contributes to reducing the risk of being expelled from Google. Moreover, this plugin has the ability to increase your profits. Version 2.8 or higher is needed.

Easy AdSense

This is a great plugin in order to help you to create revenue from your blog! There are so many different features that this plugin offers that give you lots of control and a set of options, while at the same time keeping things very simple. Some of the features of this plugin include putting link units or AdSense Blocks in headers and footers, adding sidebar widgets, and much more. This plugin requires version 2.6 or higher.

AdSense Widget

You can use this widget to select the ad size that is displayed on your site, customize colors, hide ads for users and admins, and also see which ads are getting the clicks to see their performance. This requires version 2.8 or higher.

Hopefully these plugins will make it easier for you to take advantage of the use of ads on your website and monetize some of your traffic. Have you used any of these plugins or have any other recommendations? Let us know in the comments!

If you need a great host for your WordPress site, Lunarpages offers WordPress hosting via Softaculous for easy WordPress installation. For simple WordPress sites, our Basic Hosting is the first step to creating your successful online presence, while our Business Hosting comes with the tools, scripts, and support you need to run an efficient and secure business or ecommerce website powered by WordPress.

Ten WordPress Plugins Worth Considering

WordPress, created in 2003, has become the most popular content management system on the Internet with over 1 million actual users and influencing tens of millions. Many programmers, both amateur and professional, have augmented the power and usability of WordPress by creating plugins that enhance the user experience and make it easier on the blog or site owner to create and manage content.

Adding a WordPress plugin is easy and can yield great benefits. Plugins are unique in that they can be a great solution to a problem you’ve been actively trying to solve, or a “Why didn’t I think of that” tool to improve your website or blog without any programming knowledge necessary. Consider how you or your business could employ one of the 10 great WordPress plugins below:

1. WP Super Cache: A very fast caching engine for WordPress that produces static html files. WP Super Cache is a static caching plugin for WordPress that generates html files which are served directly by Apache without processing comparatively heavy PHP scripts. After an html file is generated your web server will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts. By using this plugin you will speed up your WordPress site significantly.

2. My Review Plugin: With My Review you’ll be able to add a ratings element to your site which allows visitors to rank anything from new products to poetry. You can even upload thumbnail images of what’s being rated; use a star, a letter grade or a pass/fail ranking system. Best of all, users can easily customize the formatting by modifying the template found in the plugin’s directory.

3. Mobile Press: Mobile Press fully optimizes your site for access by mobile devices, which are easily outpacing desktops and even laptop computers as access points. Right now there are over 5.3 billion mobile users worldwide. Astoundingly, about 25% of Americans only access the web on their mobile devices. Mobile Press is also SEO enabled so you’ll build traffic no matter the access point.

4. WP Auctions: If it’s auctions you’re looking for, this plugin can help. WP Auctions allows you to set up an auction directly onto your website or blog. Privatize your auctions to allow only trusted bidders, set a reserve price, or create a “buy it now” feature. PHP Bay Pro also integrates existing EBay auction ads into WordPress.

5. Google XML: Just because your site has excellent video doesn’t mean it’s getting you more traffic. Google XMLmakes sure your video content is recognized and indexed by both Google and other search engines.

6. Styles with Shortcodes: This site features over 100 shortcodes that allow you to add fonts, highlighted elements, Facebook likes, Twitter buttons, and much more to your site without any coding knowledge! Styles with Shortcodeswill make your site more functional and professional looking with a simple click.

7. Simple Press: Do you want more feedback and greater discussion generated on your site or blog? Add a forum to your site quickly and easily using Simple:Press. You can choose the forum’s color and style, grant rankings for users, and even link your forum topics to blog posts.

8. Twitter Widget Pro: A better way to manage your site’s Twitter feed. If your site or blog has multiple contributors, each with their own Twitter account, Twitter Widget Pro can help keep things straight!

9. WPGeoTagger: This practical plugin allows you to embed maps, so your events and posts can literally point people in the direction they need to go! Best of all, WP GeoTagger is integrated with GoogleMaps.

10. Gravity Forms: Another super-practical plugin, Gravity Forms creates contact forms, order forms, contest forms, etc., all with your choice of template-based forms that are available for immediate use or completely customizable forms and fields. You can set a limit on the number of contest entries or the length of time certain forms should appear on your site.

BONUS:
WordPress Email Newsletter:
Create informative newsletters for your business with WordPress Email Newsletter. Don’t let your email lists go to waste while you’re pursuing social media. This plugin makes it not only cheap, but easy to communicate with your email contacts as often as you like. These WordPress Plugins are a great start to exploring the over 15,000 plugins that have been created for WordPress. Enjoy!