Tag: wordpress

How to Start a Web Design Business

15-Best-Small-Business-Website-Examples

Many researchers predict the number of web design businesses in the United States will reach 75,531 this year, with an annual growth rate of 6.6%. As a web developer, you’re competing against big agencies as well as freelancers. Although the growth of web development businesses in the U.S. is on an upward trajectory, there is also competition from around the world. If you want to compete against all the other options available, you must consider some factors that help web design businesses stand out from the crowd and gather a loyal group of clients.

Learn Your Craft

Lemonade

The most successful web designers specialize in one or two areas. While they might know how to create parallax scrolling and can deliver that if a customer wants it, their specialty might be in mobile design. It’s essential to not only understand the basic concepts of design, but also to know coding, such as HTML, SQL and PHP. You don’t need a formal education to become a web developer, but you do need knowledge. You can gain know-how from college courses, online courses, self-guided study or hands-on learning where you intern under a more experienced designer.

Wordpress or Jamstack?

Vorteasy

The most commonly used CMS, Wordpress, powers around 30% of all websites online, and is the go to CMS for many web design agencies. Its probably the best option for most business and personal sites due to its extensive customization and 3rd party integrations, and the Woocommerce eCommerce option. However, there are newer stacks which can be useful for smaller of different kinds of site, Jamstack is one of them. Jamstack is an amalgamation of Javascript client side libraries & APIs in an agile streamlined environment and is becoming popular among many developers to produce fast functional websites.

Find Clients

Ebuilder

One of your first steps as a web design business is finding clients. Without clients, you won’t have any income, and your business will flounder. At first, your clients may be small local business owners you know personally and gigs through sites such as Fiverr and Upwork. With time, you’ll develop contacts and receive referrals from happy clients. Ideally, your client base will consist of a couple of big accounts and many smaller accounts. The larger accounts bring in plenty of cash, while the smaller ones keep the lights on and help you if you lose a big client unexpectedly. Tell everyone you know about your new business, pass out cards and network with business owners in your area.

Track Value

medchain

Understand the key performance indicators for your business and ask your teams to work with accounting to track how much time you’re spending on each client versus the money that client brings into your agency. Analyze the cost for each invoice you send to that client. For example, one client might love every design you create and sign off on the changes with only a minor tweak. Another client might hate every design you send their way and ask for revision after revision. The value of the client who rarely asks for changes is higher because they take up less of your time for the same amount of money.

Even though it’s difficult to let those first clients go as your company grows, if you want a profitable business, you must release the smaller clients who are eating up all your time. Each year, take a look at your bottom 20% in key performance indicators. Consider if the client brings in additional people through referrals and the actual cost of doing business with the people in that bottom 20%. Release the ones who are not benefiting your business so you can make room for other, better-paying clients.

Fix Problems

taylorpearson

As your business grows, you’ll run into a variety of growing pains. Every three to six months, look at the efficiency of your operations. Are customers complaining about wait times? You may need to hire another designer to keep up with demand. Are people failing to pay invoices? You may need to go to a model where clients pay 25% up front and then in increments throughout the design process.

Only about half of business startups make it past their fifth year. The most common cause of failure is due to cash flow problems. Pay close attention to money going out and money coming in, and ensure there is a balance between the two. If your employee costs are higher than your income, you’ll run out of money fast. If you’re not quite ready to hire a full-time employee, but you have more work than you can handle, hire freelancers or temporary workers to get you through the growth phase until you can afford to bring someone new into the company.

Develop a Great Team

denzilla

When you are ready to hire people to help you run your business, find the absolute best team possible. While you might not be able to pay workers the same as a large corporation, you can offer other perks a big company might not, such as bringing pets to work or offering extra days off. Create a strong company culture that feels more like a family than work, and you’re more likely to attract and keep top talent.

Improve Your CX

fps

Customer experience, or CX, is one of the most vital elements in attracting and keeping new customers. Around 67% of consumers say they expect a good experience more today than ever before. Not only should your company’s website draw in the user and keep their attention, but the CX carries on to the customer service you offer once the buyer makes a purchase and how easy it is to work with you. Excellent CX requires attention to detail and ongoing training for your employees.

Grow Your Business

Ayaygood

When you’re ready, growing your business is often as easy as asking your current customers for referrals. Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most effective ways to reach new clients. If you’ve developed a speciality area, use social media and advertise to that market segment. Keep a close eye on your growth, with the understanding that growth is often a tipping point in cash flow issues, and you should be able to steadily grow your business year after year, making it profitable and secure. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Building Vue Wordpress Rest API websites!

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Filed under: eCommerce, Trends, WordpressTagged with: ,

Wordpress Tips For Google Indexing

Everyone wants to be on Google’s first page, maybe even the first place? There probably isn’t a website owner out there who doesn’t dream of it.

After all, you invested a lot of time and energy to create the best possible website. Why wouldn’t you want your effort to be rewarded?

However, you know what’s the first step to getting to Google’s pole position? Getting the site indexed at all. Sometimes websites don’t even make it that far.

In the online universe, that’s pretty much a disaster. If you are not picked up by search engines, your website is going to be invisible for 99.999% of the people on the Internet and you can completely forget about organic traffic.

Granted, there are alternate traffic sources, but visitors from search engines remain one of the most important and potentially profitable options.

In order to avoid this kind of catastrophe, in this article, we will look at reasons why you may be shunned by Google and then over a step-by-step approach to ensure this doesn’t happen.

How Does Google Find My Site?

Before we get started, we need to settle on some search engine basics and important vocabulary. This will make it easier for beginner to understand the following.

To find content for their search results, Google relies on so-called search spiders. These are automated programs that scour the Internet and report the content of websites to search engines.

All major search engines have their own spiders (for example, Google’s is called Googlebot, and there are many more out there.

The process of exploring a website and its content is called crawling. It’s what the Googlebot does to understand what your posts and pages are all about.

The phase after that is called indexing. It means if your content has been deemed worthy by the snarky little robot, it is then processed and added to the Google index. This index, in turn, feeds into the search results

What If My Site Isn’t Indexed By Google?

The first step to see whether your site has popped up on Google’s radar is typing site:yourdomain.com into the Google search bar (naturally, exchange yourdomain.com with your actual domain).

This will show you all the pages under your domain that Google has on their index. If the results are completely empty, that means the search engine is either completely oblivious of your content or something is going on with your site that keeps it from being indexed.

This can happen for several reasons:

  • There are problems with your server such as technical issues or faulty configuration
  • Your website violates some of Google’s terms and has been penalized
  • Your WordPress site or its SEO settings are configured badly
  • You haven’t taken any measures to get indexed or even noticed
  • The site is too new and Google hasn’t had enough time to add it to their index

Every case is different and there can be more than one issue at play. However, don’t worry, though we will go over each of these factors in detail below.

Also, note if you are here because you would like to improve the rankings of your already-indexed posts and pages. That is a different case and you might want to check out these articles .

Making Sure Your Website Gets Indexed by Google

In a way, we are completely at Google’s mercy when it comes to being found on the web. No index, no organic traffic.

However, the good news is that there are plenty of things we can do to move Google into giving us a spot in their SERPs which we will talk about in the following.

Use A Good Hosting Provider

One of the first potential barriers to getting indexed by Google is the hardware your site runs on.

Slow server speed, downtime, and disconnects can cause search spiders to abandon their cause. While not very common, it is a possibility.

Since in hosting you get what you pay for, investing in a quality host with good hardware and excellent availability is always worth it.

Write High-Quality Content

The thing about being indexed by Google is, we don’t just want them to be aware of our site, but be aware of it in a good way.

If your site is empty or — worse — full of crappy content, it might get indexed but it won’t get anywhere near the front row of the SERPs. That’s almost as bad as not being indexed at all.

It’s no secret that Google cares about the relevancy and quality of your content. For that reason, when you set up your site, focus on high-quality, useful, original content. Naturally, that also means to stay away from duplicate and/or scraped content.

Check Settings In WordPress

During the development phase, usually the last thing we want is to be indexed by search engines. In fact, we want to keep Google and Co as far away from our site as possible.

Otherwise, we may be caught with incomplete (and thus low-quality) content and Google will form an opinion about our site based on that. No good.

The problem is only when we forget to revert the measures we have taken to keep search engines away after our site goes live.

One of the most common mistakes is to leave “discourage search engines from indexing this site” active in the back end of WordPress. That’s basically a death sentence for organic traffic on your site.

So, in order to make sure you get indexed (or if you are having problems appearing on Google), definitely have a look at this setting at the bottom of Settings > Reading to make sure it is unchecked.

Don’t forget to save if you made any changes.

Set Up The robots.txt file Correctly

Telling WordPress to discourage search engines does a bunch of things. For one, it adds noindex and nofollow meta tags to the head of your website (more on that below) and also keeps anyone from pinging your site.

Most importantly though, this setting configures the WordPress-internal robots.txt file to disallow all search spiders from indexing your site.

In case you didn’t know, robots.txt is an important server tool to directly communicate with search engines. You can use it to tell them which parts of your site you want them to index and which you don’t.

Because of that, you or your developer will often set up an additional robots.txt file to control indexing during development. While that’s fine and dandy, it becomes a problem when you forget to change it back.

Share Your Site Online

As I said earlier, in order to index your site, search engines first need to find it.

How do they do that? In short, links.

When an already-indexed page points to your site, it becomes much more likely that Google will find you as well.

So, what is an easy way to create a link to your site?

The answer: social networks.

By sharing your website on Facebook and Twitter, you can alert search engines (and fellow humans) that there is a new site in town.

While it’s true that many of these links will usually be set to nofollow, search engines that track social signals (like Google) should still be alerted to your presence.

Sign Up To Google Analytics

Regardless of indexing, in order to gather more info on the performance of your site, you will want to install some sort of Analytics

In that regard, most of us opt for Google Analytics because it’s free, comprehensive and gives us all the necessary information to work with Google.

However, there is another good reason: When you set up Google’s analytics suite, you also tell Google that there is a website they should pay attention to which makes it more likely that they will.

And if you are feeling adventurous and want more advanced tuning, you might want to have a look at SEMRush, its got an absolute ton of tools in there which can be used, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Create A Sitemap

A sitemap is an XML document that contains a list of all the content on your site. It tells search engines what you have to offer and how often they should check back to see if there’s anything new.

In short, sitemaps are a great tool for guiding search spiders and creating one for your website is a good idea.

To do so, we have several plugins at our disposal. One of the most popular is Google XML Sitemaps which is trusted by more than a million users.

So just go for one you feel comfortable with and tweak it until you get it right.

Submit Your Site To Google

However, the usefulness of sitemaps doesn’t stop there. After all, do you just want to let it sit around and wait for Google to discover it?

Here’s a better idea: How about letting the search giant know exactly where your sitemap is located so they can start indexing your content right away?

You can do exactly that in the Google Webmaster Tools. If you don’t have an account yet, use the link above to set one up.

Google Webmaster Tools give you a lot of information about what Google knows and thinks about your site and how you can further improve it.

After connecting your site to the Webmaster Tools, go to your account and access Crawl > Sitemaps. Here, click on Add/Test Sitemap in the upper right corner.

website indexed by Google submit sitemap

Now all you need to do is add the address of your sitemap to the end of your domain. It’s usually something like yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.

Set Your Preferred Domain

While we are in the Webmaster Tools, why not use the opportunity to also set up your preferred domain?

Why so? You see, your site usually exists in two different domain forms, namely http://yourdomain.com/ and http://www.yourdomain.com/.

While both point to the same location and both are fine for Google, technically it is not the same domain. Instead, the www version is a subdomain.

If you don’t submit both sites to Google and tell them which one you prefer, sometimes you will get a message that your website isn’t indexed even though it is but the wrong version.

To avoid this, make sure you add both site versions to your GWT account (from the Search Console dashboard). After that, access both web properties and use the settings button in the upper right corner to go to Site settings.

Google webmaster tools site settings

Set both sites to the same preferred URL (your choice) and Google will from then on stick to one version for crawling and indexing.

Now all you have to do is set a redirect on your site that points people accessing the non-preferred version to the preferred one. Done.

Check For Crawl Errors

When indexing fails, it can often be because there is something technical wrong with your site. Thankfully, if that is the case, Google Webmaster Tools will warn you about it.

It will do so directly on your dashboard (the big Crawl Errors window) and under Crawl > Crawl Errors.

website indexed by Google crawl errors

Most often errors will be 404s, meaning links to URLs that don’t exist.

It’s fine if there are a few of them (it happens), however, in this place you will also notice if there is something bigger going on that keeps your site from being indexed.

This information is crucial for taking remedial action and you can find similar notices in your Sitemaps menu.

Request Google To Crawl Your Site

If you do have problems on your page and have taken steps to correct them, you can then ask Google to kindly have a look at the affected pages again.

This way you will know whether your solution worked and also tell Google that these pages are ok now without having to wait for them to crawl your site in their own sweet time.

To do so, you first need to fetch the URLs in question. This happens under Crawl > Fetch as Google.

website indexed by Google fetch as Google

Here you can input any page on your domain for Google to check and via Fetch and Rendereven display it the way their search spiders see it. The latter can help you spot errors or other things that go wrong during processing your page.

Once you have fetched a page, it will appear in the list at the bottom with a button that says Submit to index. If the fetching and rendering goes well, you can use this to tell Google to try and add the page to their index.

You can either submit only the page itself or include all direct links it points to. You are allowed to add 500 pages per month with the first option and 10 with the second.

Check .htaccess

.htaccess is another important file on your server with info for browsers and search engines how to use and deal with your site.

For example, .htaccess contains rewrite information, which is enables you to use pretty permalinks. Besides that, it can also contain permissions for different directories on your site.

While that’s super useful, it also means that this file can be a problem source for your site’s indexing efforts.

It’s a bit beyond this article to go into this (very technical) topic, however, if you are experiencing problems with indexing that you can’t explain otherwise, checking this file might be worth it.

Sometimes it can be enough to go to Settings > Permalinks in the WordPress back end and click on Save Changes to have WordPress flush the .htaccess file. If this step doesn’t work, you may have to do some googling.

Check Meta Tags

Meta tags are elements in the code of your site that provide additional information about its content and architecture.

For example, if you set a meta description in a WordPress SEO plugin, it will show up inside a meta tag in the head section of your page.

One tag named robots in particular is very important.

Its value can be index/noindex and follow/nofollow. As you can probably guess these are directives aimed at search engine spiders.

In fact, the aforementioned “discourage search engines” option in WordPress adds a noindex, nofollow tag to your site until switched off.

If you are experiencing indexing problems (or just want to make sure there isn’t a problem), you can check the head of your site via Firebug or your browser’s developer tools.

Should meta tags like that exist, you will find them quite easily. After that, it’s only a matter of figuring out which plugin or program is responsible for putting them there.

Get Quality Backlinks To Your Site

As mentioned earlier, search spiders usually find a site through a direct link.

However, links are not only a pathway to your website but also a way for Google to judge its quality.

While in earlier times you could go to any kind of web directory and shoot yourself links until you ranked high, today this kind of behavior will hurt you more than help you.

By now, it’s all about link quality.

Google determines a high-quality link by the following characteristics:

  • Relevancy — The link is coming from a site related to your topic or industry
  • Trustworthiness — Not from a low-quality or spammy website
  • Activity — The link actually sends traffic your way
  • Relevant anchor text — The text that functions as a link (like this one) is meaningful
  • Link location — Links inside an editorial piece carry more weight than sidebar or footer links
  • PageRank — If Google already trusts the linking page, they will also feel good about websites it links to
  • Uniqueness — Different websites that refer to you once are more valuable than one website linking to you over and over again
  • Reciprocity — If the link is a one-way street (meaning you don’t link back to the same site), it means there is no link exchange scheme going on

That’s a tall order, I know. But be aware that not every backlink has to have all those characteristics to help you in your ranking.

Acquiring high-quality backlinks is an art form in itself, and Backlinko has written an excellent guide on how to do it.

It’s also more of a long-term strategy and not a quick fix, but it is worth it. Not only will it help you get found but also make your site more valuable in Google’s eyes.

And that’s a good thing because the more valuable Google thinks you are the more pages they will index from your site.

It Can Take A While..

Patience doesn’t come easy to everyone, but sometimes there is no other way.

Even if you do everything right, it’s unlikely that Google will index you two minutes after going live. That’s just not how it works.

While it is possible to appear in search results within 24 hours, there is no guarantee that this will actually happen.

So, if you are the impatient kind and have done everything you can, go read a book, take a walk, eat some doritos or do something else for a while until it’s time to check the results of your efforts.

How To Get Indexed In A Nutshell

One of the first steps towards search engine success and free organic traffic is getting indexed by Google. Without being picked up by search engines, all the SEO in the world will not do you any good.

Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to make getting indexed more likely. From correct server and WordPress settings to content optimization and backlinking — the possibilities to improve your chances are numerous.

Following the above tips should lay a solid groundwork for appearing in the SERPs. You can also use many of them for troubleshooting if you are experiencing problems.If you want to ramp things up a bit, and are prepared to get your hands dirty with some analytics and tweaking, then I’d recommend SEMRush, go and get the free trial of that to start with.

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on the Best new SEO software!

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Filed under: eCommerce, Marketing, Strategy, WordpressTagged with: , ,

How To Scale Wordpress For High Traffic Sites

wordpress-shortcodes

Get Scale With Your High Traffic Wordpress Site

Scalability is crucial for running a successful WordPress enterprise website. After all, if you experience a sudden surge in traffic (for example, as the result of a viral content post), you’ll want your website to be able to cope. Failing to do so could turn your site’s success into its failure.

Fortunately, ensuring your site is optimally scalable doesn’t have to be a daunting task. It requires testing how your site performs under pressure, identifying the elements that are causing slow load speeds, and choosing a reliable host provider.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through some steps you can take to ensure your site stays speedy under heavy traffic.

Understanding High Traffic

In order to understand why scalability is important for your WordPress enterprise site, it’s important to see exactly how high traffic can slow down performance. This way, the task of implementing measures to increase scalability becomes much easier.

‘Bottlenecking’ Traffic

Most WordPress themes and plugins should function reasonably well under a moderate amount of traffic strain. However, a sudden increase in traffic could cause them to push server resources to their breaking points.

The process of overloading server resources is known as ‘bottlenecking traffic’, and it’s definitely something you want to avoid. In addition to driving visitors away, an underperforming site will create the impression of unprofessionalism and unreliability.

Serving High Traffic

The best approach for scaling WordPress and avoiding bottlenecks is via the “less is more” approach. This means ensuring requests sent to your site require minimal resources, and little effort to render and serve.

Ensuring you have a good caching system in place is important for improving site performance under strain. With cached versions of your site available to users, your server won’t have to take a hit every time a user makes a new request.

It could be the case that your database is causing bottlenecks. Although it’s possible to use a tool such as HyperDB to resolve this issue yourself, they have limited use. Switching to a better hosting plan is an easier (and better) option.

Given the tasks that need to be performed to ensure scalability, you may ask Is WordPress really a viable Content Management System (CMS) for my enterprise site? The answer to this question is an emphatic “Yes”!

Scaling WordPress for Enterprise Sites

WordPress is a great platform for enterprise sites of virtually any size. In addition to being highly secure, it is extremely scalable and able to serve tens of thousands of logged-in users at a time. The wide variety of performance-enhancing plugins available for WordPress, coupled with its elastic architecture, also contribute to its scalability.

Although there are plenty of ways to extend the default platform, it’s strongly recommended to invest in scalable WordPress hosting to enjoy the best results. With enterprise hosting, you won’t need to invest time and resources ensuring your site is scalable. Instead, you’ll benefit from a robust architecture, regularly audited and adjusted, and reliable support.

In short, by choosing managed enterprise hosting WordPress hosting (such as that offered by WP Engine) or the VPS or Dedicated hosting we use, you can rest easy knowing your site will function at peak performance, regardless of the traffic strain.

Keep Your Options Table Under Control

Earlier, we mentioned how your database can give rise to a traffic bottleneck. This is because it stores practically all of your WordPress site’s data within. The Options table is one particular source of potential bottlenecks, which brings us to the next section.

Overloading the Options Table

The Options table (or wp_options for default setups) can be accessed through phpMyAdmin, or your host’s equivalent service. Your table should display in a similar fashion to the following:

scaling wordpress site for high traffic

Tweaking aspects of the database can break your installation, so we recommend backing up your site beforehand).

Within the Options table, the option_value column has the LONGTEXT string type. Knowing why is complex, but essentially, it means each column can store up to 4GB of data in a single row. However, just because it’s possible doesn’t mean you should store that much data.

While removing unnecessary plugins or choosing a more lightweight theme can help reduce table size, some poorly-coded plugins leave behind data after being uninstalled. Working through a good guide on optimizing your database is a sound strategy.

Autoloaded Queries

Some data from your tables is ‘autoloaded’ – usually relating to your themes, plugins, and widgets. However, autoloaded queries can be a silent page speed killer. If you’re having page load speed issues, try identifying how many queries are being autoloaded.

Again, a solid guide will help you, but you’ll essentially need to run MySQL queries on your database. For example, the following assumes a default table prefix of wp_:

mysql> SELECT count(*) FROM wp_options WHERE autoload=’yes’;

A good rule of thumb is to shoot for fewer than 200 autoloaded queries on any given WordPress page (although having more than 200 isn’t necessarily a cause for concern). Usually, an excessive amount of autoloaded queries indicates your site is still carrying weight from old plugins and themes. Getting rid of these can help improve your site speed and scalability.

There are a variety of other methods you can use to clean out unnecessary autoloaded data, and as with the previous step, you should back up your WordPress site before proceeding.

Scalable WordPress Hosting

As we mentioned earlier, a great way to take the guesswork out of keeping your site scalable is to invest in robust WordPress enterprise hosting. WP Engine can create a custom enterprise hosting solution geared to the specific needs of your organization.

WP Engine for Scaling WordPress

WP Engine’s infrastructure is ideal for enterprise websites with high traffic (accommodating spikes ranging from 10,000 to 100 million users effortlessly). We deliver high availability solutions to keep your site uptime protected, and your data backed up in the event of a performance issue.

What’s more, when you choose WP Engine, you can enjoy peace of mind. The support team are able to field your enquiries 24/7.

So get in touch with us for more details on high speed hosting with WP Engine or our own dedicated Wordpress hosting plans. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on the Hidden Costs of Website Hosting!

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Filed under: Strategy, WordpressTagged with: , ,

Progressive Web Apps For WordPress

pwa

The Nuts and Bolts of Progressive Web Apps for Wordpress

In a nutshell, a ‘Progressive Web App’ (PWA) is software that utilizes the most current web technologies available. Therefore, as technology advances, current PWAs will be superseded by other solutions.

A good example of a PWA usually offers push notifications using JavaScript, is always up to date, and doesn’t require any complex installation. In addition, they should work for every user regardless of browser type, and be considered safe (usually due to delivery via secure HTTPS).

In this post, we’ll discuss the web application development process, then look at how to build web apps in WordPress. Finally, we’ll round up some themes and plugins that may help you along the way. Let’s get started!

WordPress Web Application Development

WordPress can be a foundation for developing applications. However, this requires an understanding of User Experience (UX), HTML, CSS, PHP, and JavaScript. Even basic plugin creation can take time to learn.

As for PWAs, there are many benefits, but one key advantage is the time saved reproducing a completed app on multiple production sites. For this, you’ll likely want to turn to ‘Service Workers’.

WordPress Service Workers

A ‘Service Worker’ is essentially a script that enables your PWA to integrate the best aspects of traditional and native web apps. It’s usually written in JavaScript, and much like a client-side proxy, enables you to determine how to respond to resource requests. A precache reduces the need for a persistent internet connection, creating a reliable user experience.

Service Workers are capable of handling push notifications easily, and can also synchronize data in the background. What’s more, they will usually receive centralized updates, so you’ll always be working with the latest version.

How to Build Web Apps with WordPress

Depending on the type of PWA you’re developing, the process can be very involved. For example, you’ll need to identify the specifics of jQuery requests, test snippets and develop segmented database returns, integrate variables for different platform variations (as well as style elements), then wrap it all into a framework of code that looks good and functions well.

You’ll also need to choose both a back end and front end framework. Of course, WordPress is going to be your back end Content Management System (CMS), but you’ll also want to choose a suitable server stack

Your choice on the front end will be more refined when working with WordPress – many choose either Bootstrap or AngularJS, although Facebook’s ReactJS and VueJS are also popular:

Bootstrap for web apps with wordpress
Bootstrap also includes a number of stylish themes to help you customize your framework.You can also use UIKit which is a modular component based CSS and Javascript framework.

WordPress Web App Themes

‘Web app themes’ enable WordPress to act as a PWA, without the need to code from scratch. They’re often full-featured, and offer the most power and flexibility for your PWA.

Good free solutions are thin on the ground – understandable given their intended application. With that in mind, you’ll have to open your wallet to find a suitable theme. For starters, Ubold is one of the most popular options, built on top of Bootstrap:

Ubold web app theme for wordpress

It provides a number of menu styles, along with thousands of FontAwesome icons to choose from. In addition, Ubold also includes sample Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and eCommerce applications, to show what the theme’s capable of.

Alternatively, you could opt for OneUI:

OneUI as a web app for wordpress

This theme (based on Bootstrap and AngularJS) enables you to build your front and back end within one framework, and includes four versions to help kickstart your development. In addition, it’s designed to be as lightweight as possible, and is completely modular, meaning it’s as flexible as you need it to be.

WordPress Web App Plugins

There are also WordPress plugins to help you create a PWA, but these operate on a smaller scale. They usually only let you implement one or two features, which can still make a dramatic change to how a WordPress website behaves.

Wordpress plugins for web apps

For example, WordPress Mobile Soft enables you to set up a PWA without it affecting your primary theme, and also makes sure it’s ready for mobile devices. What’s more, you’ll also be able to use an search engine optimized URL, enabling visitors to navigate easily to your PWA.

wordpress mobile pack for web apps

Similarly, WordPress Mobile Pack lets you create a PWA from your existing WordPress website, and also comes with several mobile app themes, making this a potential all-in-one solution. WordPress Mobile Pack is supported on iOS and Android devices, and is also compatible with most popular browsers, including Safari, Google Chrome, and Android’s native browser.

In a nutshell, the tools that make development and deployment easier and more accessible will be the ones that attract the most users. However, the overall performance of your PWA often comes down to the hosting provider you choose.

We provide best-in-class customer service for building PWA or Wordpress Mobile Apps. What’s more, our hosting offers versatility for mobile sites and PWAs, due to the wide range of available features. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Vue JS Rest API websites.

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SEO Link Building & Establishing Authority

Links

Crank up the SEO juice

You’ve created content that people are searching for, that answers their questions, and that search engines can understand, but those qualities alone don’t mean it’ll rank. To outrank the rest of the sites with those qualities, you have to establish authority. That can be accomplished by earning links from authoritative websites, building your brand, and nurturing an audience who will help amplify your content.

Google has confirmed that links and quality content are two of the three most important ranking factors for SEO. Trustworthy sites tend to link to other trustworthy sites, and spammy sites tend to link to other spammy sites. But what is a link, exactly? How do you go about earning them from other websites? Let’s start with the basics.

What are links?

Inbound links, also known as backlinks or external links, are HTML hyperlinks that point from one website to another. They’re the currency of the Internet, as they act a lot like real-life reputation. If you went on vacation and asked three people (all completely unrelated to one another) what the best coffee shop in town was, and they all said, “Cuppa Joe on Main Street,” you would feel confident that Cuppa Joe is indeed the best coffee place in town. Links do that for search engines.

Since the late 1990s, search engines have treated links as votes for popularity and importance on the web.

Internal links, or links that connect internal pages of the same domain, work very similarly for your website. A high amount of internal links pointing to a particular page on your site will provide a signal to Google that the page is important, so long as it’s done naturally and not in a spammy way.

The engines themselves have refined the way they view links, now using algorithms to evaluate sites and pages based on the links they find. But what’s in those algorithms? How do the engines evaluate all those links? It all starts with the concept of E-A-T.

You are what you E-A-T

Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines put a great deal of importance on the concept of E-A-T — an acronym for expert, authoritative, and trustworthy. Sites that don’t display these characteristics tend to be seen as lower-quality in the eyes of the engines, while those that do are subsequently rewarded. E-A-T is becoming more and more important as search evolves and increases the importance of solving for user intent.

Creating a site that’s considered expert, authoritative, and trustworthy should be your guiding light as you practice SEO. Not only will it simply result in a better site, but it’s future-proof. After all, providing great value to searchers is what Google itself is trying to do.

E-A-T and links to your site

The more popular and important a site is, the more weight the links from that site carry. A site like Wikipedia, for example, has thousands of diverse sites linking to it. This indicates it provides lots of expertise, has cultivated authority, and is trusted among those other sites.

To earn trust and authority with search engines, you’ll need links from websites that display the qualities of E-A-T. These don’t have to be Wikipedia-level sites, but they should provide searchers with credible, trustworthy content.

Page Authority, and Spam Score are important. In general, you’ll want links from sites with a higher Domain Authority than your sites.

Followed vs. nofollowed links

Remember how links act as votes? The rel=nofollow attribute (pronounced as two words, “no follow”) allows you to link to a resource while removing your “vote” for search engine purposes.

Just like it sounds, “nofollow” tells search engines not to follow the link. Some engines still follow them simply to discover new pages, but these links don’t pass link equity (the “votes of popularity” we talked about above), so they can be useful in situations where a page is either linking to an untrustworthy source or was paid for or created by the owner of the destination page.

Say, for example, you write a post about link building practices, and want to call out an example of poor, spammy link building. You could link to the offending site without signaling to Google that you trust it.

Standard links (ones that haven’t had nofollow added) look like this:

I love SEMRush 

Nofollow link markup looks like this:

I love SEMRush 

If follow links pass all the link equity, shouldn’t that mean you want only follow links?

Not necessarily. Think about all the legitimate places you can create links to your own website: a Facebook profile, a Yelp page, a Twitter account, etc. These are all natural places to add links to your website, but they shouldn’t count as votes for your website. (Setting up a Twitter profile with a link to your site isn’t a vote from Twitter that they like your site.)

It’s natural for your site to have a balance between nofollowed and followed backlinks in its link profile (more on link profiles below). A nofollow link might not pass authority, but it could send valuable traffic to your site and even lead to future followed links.

  • Tip: Use SEMRush extension for Google Chrome to highlight links on any page to find out whether they’re nofollow or follow without ever having to view the source code!

Your link profile

Your link profile is an overall assessment of all the inbound links your site has earned: the total number of links, their quality (or spamminess), their diversity (is one site linking to you hundreds of times, or are hundreds of sites linking to you once?), and more. The state of your link profile helps search engines understand how your site relates to other sites on the Internet. There are various SEO tools that allow you to analyze your link profile and begin to understand its overall makeup.

How can I see which inbound links point to my website?

Use SEMRush and set up your site’s URL. You’ll be able to see how many and which websites are linking back to you.

What are the qualities of a healthy link profile?

When people began to learn about the power of links, they began manipulating them for their benefit. They’d find ways to gain artificial links just to increase their search engine rankings. While these dangerous tactics can sometimes work, they are against Google’s terms of service and can get a website deindexed (removal of web pages or entire domains from search results). You should always try to maintain a healthy link profile.

A healthy link profile is one that indicates to search engines that you’re earning your links and authority fairly. Just like you shouldn’t lie, cheat, or steal, you should strive to ensure your link profile is honest and earned via your hard work.

Links are earned or editorially placed

Editorial links are links added naturally by sites and pages that want to link to your website.

The foundation of acquiring earned links is almost always through creating high-quality content that people genuinely wish to reference. This is where describing extremely high-quality content is essential! If you can provide the best and most interesting resource on the web, people will naturally link to it.

Naturally earned links require no specific action from you, other than the creation of worthy content and the ability to create awareness about it.

  • Tip: Earned mentions are often unlinked! When websites are referring to your brand or a specific piece of content you’ve published, they will often mention it without linking to it. To find these earned mentions, use SEMRush. You can then reach out to those publishers to see if they’ll update those mentions with links.

Links are relevant and from topically similar websites

Links from websites within a topic-specific community are generally better than links from websites that aren’t relevant to your site. If your website sells dog houses, a link from the Society of Dog Breeders matters much more than one from the Roller Skating Association. Additionally, links from topically irrelevant sources can send confusing signals to search engines regarding what your page is about.

  • Tip: Linking domains don’t have to match the topic of your page exactly, but they should be related. Avoid pursuing backlinks from sources that are completely off-topic; there are far better uses of your time.

Anchor text is descriptive and relevant, without being spammy

Anchor text helps tell Google what the topic of your page is about. If dozens of links point to a page with a variation of a word or phrase, the page has a higher likelihood of ranking well for those types of phrases. However, proceed with caution! Too many backlinks with the same anchor text could indicate to the search engines that you’re trying to manipulate your site’s ranking in search results.

  • Tip: Use the “Anchor Text” report in SEMRush to see what anchor text other websites are using to link to your content.

Links send qualified traffic to your site

Link building should never be solely about search engine rankings. Esteemed SEO and link building thought leader Eric Ward used to say that you should build your links as though Google might disappear tomorrow. In essence, you should focus on acquiring links that will bring qualified traffic to your website — another reason why it’s important to acquire links from relevant websites whose audience would find value in your site, as well.

  • Tip: Use the “Referral Traffic” report in Google Analytics to evaluate websites that are currently sending you traffic. How can you continue to build relationships with similar types of websites?

Link building don’ts & things to avoid

Spammy link profiles are just that: full of links built in unnatural, sneaky, or otherwise low-quality ways. Practices like buying links or engaging in a link exchange might seem like the easy way out, but doing so is dangerous and could put all of your hard work at risk.

A guiding principle for your link building efforts is to never try to manipulate a site’s ranking in search results. But isn’t that the entire goal of SEO? To increase a site’s ranking in search results? And herein lies the confusion. Google wants you to earn links, not build them, but the line between the two is often blurry. To avoid penalties for unnatural links (known as “link spam”), Google has made clear what should be avoided.

Purchased links

Google and Bing both seek to discount the influence of paid links in their organic search results. While a search engine can’t know which links were earned vs. paid for from viewing the link itself, there are clues it uses to detect patterns that indicate foul play. Websites caught buying or selling followed links risk severe penalties that will severely drop their rankings. (By the way, exchanging goods or services for a link is also a form of payment and qualifies as buying links.)

Link exchanges / reciprocal linking

If you’ve ever received a “you link to me and I’ll link you you” email from someone you have no affiliation with, you’ve been targeted for a link exchange. Google’s quality guidelines caution against “excessive” link exchange and similar partner programs conducted exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, so there is some indication that this type of exchange on a smaller scale might not trigger any link spam alarms.

It is acceptable, and even valuable, to link to people you work with, partner with, or have some other affiliation with and have them link back to you.

It’s the exchange of links at mass scale with unaffiliated sites that can warrant penalties.

Low-quality directory links

These used to be a popular source of manipulation. A large number of pay-for-placement web directories exist to serve this market and pass themselves off as legitimate, with varying degrees of success. These types of sites tend to look very similar, with large lists of websites and their descriptions (typically, the site’s critical keyword is used as the anchor text to link back to the submittor’s site).

There are many more manipulative link building tactics that search engines have identified. In most cases, they have found algorithmic methods for reducing their impact. As new spam systems emerge, engineers will continue to fight them with targeted algorithms, human reviews, and the collection of spam reports from webmasters and SEOs. By and large, it isn’t worth finding ways around them.

How to build high-quality backlinks

Link building comes in many shapes and sizes, but one thing is always true: link campaigns should always match your unique goals. With that said, there are some popular methods that tend to work well for most campaigns. This is not an exhaustive list, so visit Moz’s blog posts on link building for more detail on this topic.

Find customer and partner links

If you have partners you work with regularly, or loyal customers that love your brand, there are ways to earn links from them with relative ease. You might send out partnership badges (graphic icons that signify mutual respect), or offer to write up testimonials of their products. Both of those offer things they can display on their website along with links back to you.

Publish a blog

This content and link building strategy is so popular and valuable that it’s one of the few recommended personally by the engineers at Google. Blogs have the unique ability to contribute fresh material on a consistent basis, generate conversations across the web, and earn listings and links from other blogs.

Careful, though — you should avoid low-quality guest posting just for the sake of link building. Google has advised against this and your energy is better spent elsewhere.

Create unique resources

Creating unique, high quality resources is no easy task, but it’s well worth the effort. High quality content that is promoted in the right ways can be widely shared. It can help to create pieces that have the following traits:

Creating a resource like this is a great way to attract a lot of links with one page. You could also create a highly-specific resource — without as broad of an appeal — that targeted a handful of websites. You might see a higher rate of success, but that approach isn’t as scalable.

Users who see this kind of unique content often want to share it with friends, and bloggers/tech-savvy webmasters who see it will often do so through links. These high quality, editorially earned votes are invaluable to building trust, authority, and rankings potential.

Build resource pages

Resource pages are a great way to build links. However, to find them you’ll want to know some Advanced Google operators to make discovering them a bit easier.

For example, if you were doing link building for a company that made pots and pans, you could search for: cooking intitle:”resources” and see which pages might be good link targets.

This can also give you great ideas for content creation — just think about which types of resources you could create that these pages would all like to reference/link to.

Get involved in your local community

For a local business (one that meets its customers in person), community outreach can result in some of the most valuable and influential links.

  • Engage in sponsorships and scholarships.
  • Host or participate in community events, seminars, workshops, and organizations.
  • Donate to worthy local causes and join local business associations.
  • Post jobs and offer internships.
  • Promote loyalty programs.
  • Run a local competition.
  • Develop real-world relationships with related local businesses to discover how you can team up to improve the health of your local economy.

All of these smart and authentic strategies provide good local link opportunities.

Refurbish top content

You likely already know which of your site’s content earns the most traffic, converts the most customers, or retains visitors for the longest amount of time.

Take that content and refurbish it for other platforms (Slideshare, YouTube, Instagram, Quora, etc.) to expand your acquisition funnel beyond Google.

You can also dust off, update, and simply republish older content on the same platform. If you discover that a few trusted industry websites all linked to a popular resource that’s gone stale, update it and let those industry websites know — you may just earn a good link.

You can also do this with images. Reach out to websites that are using your images and not citing/linking back to you and ask if they’d mind including a link.

Be newsworthy

Earning the attention of the press, bloggers, and news media is an effective, time-honored way to earn links. Sometimes this is as simple as giving something away for free, releasing a great new product, or stating something controversial. Since so much of SEO is about creating a digital representation of your brand in the real world, to succeed in SEO, you have to be a great brand.

Be personal and genuine

The most common mistake new SEOs make when trying to build links is not taking the time to craft a custom, personal, and valuable initial outreach email. You know as well as anyone how annoying spammy emails can be, so make sure yours doesn’t make people roll their eyes.

Your goal for an initial outreach email is simply to get a response. These tips can help:

  • Make it personal by mentioning something the person is working on, where they went to school, their dog, etc.
  • Provide value. Let them know about a broken link on their website or a page that isn’t working on mobile.
  • Keep it short.
  • Ask one simple question (typically not for a link; you’ll likely want to build a rapport first).

Earning Links

Earning links can be very resource-intensive, so you’ll likely want to measure your success to prove the value of those efforts.

Metrics for link building should match up with the site’s overall KPIs. These might be sales, email subscriptions, page views, etc. You should also evaluate Domain and/or Page Authority scores, the ranking of desired keywords, and the amount of traffic to your content.

Beyond links: How awareness, amplification, and sentiment impact authority

A lot of the methods you’d use to build links will also indirectly build your brand. In fact, you can view link building as a great way to increase awareness of your brand, the topics on which you’re an authority, and the products or services you offer.

Once your target audience knows about you and you have valuable content to share, let your audience know about it! Sharing your content on social platforms will not only make your audience aware of your content, but it can also encourage them to amplify that awareness to their own networks, thereby extending your own reach.

Are social shares the same as links? No. But shares to the right people can result in links. Social shares can also promote an increase in traffic and new visitors to your website, which can grow brand awareness, and with a growth in brand awareness can come a growth in trust and links. The connection between social signals and rankings seems indirect, but even indirect correlations can be helpful for informing strategy.

Trustworthiness goes a long way

For search engines, trust is largely determined by the quality and quantity of the links your domain has earned, but that’s not to say that there aren’t other factors at play that can influence your site’s authority. Think about all the different ways you come to trust a brand:

  • Awareness (you know they exist)
  • Helpfulness (they provide answers to your questions)
  • Integrity (they do what they say they will)
  • Quality (their product or service provides value; possibly more than others you’ve tried)
  • Continued value (they continue to provide value even after you’ve gotten what you needed)
  • Voice (they communicate in unique, memorable ways)
  • Sentiment (others have good things to say about their experience with the brand)

That last point is what we’re going to focus on here. Reviews of your brand, its products, or its services can make or break a business.

In your effort to establish authority from reviews, follow these review rules of thumb:

  • Never pay any individual or agency to create a fake positive review for your business or a fake negative review of a competitor.
  • Don’t review your own business or the businesses of your competitors. Don’t have your staff do so either.
  • Never offer incentives of any kind in exchange for reviews.
  • All reviews must be left directly by customers in their own accounts; never post reviews on behalf of a customer or employ an agency to do so.
  • Don’t set up a review station/kiosk in your place of business; many reviews stemming from the same IP can be viewed as spam.
  • Read the guidelines of each review platform where you’re hoping to earn reviews.

Be aware that review spam is a problem that’s taken on global proportions, and that violation of governmental truth-in-advertising guidelines has led to legal prosecution and heavy fines. It’s just too dangerous to be worth it. Playing by the rules and offering exceptional customer experiences is the winning combination for building both trust and authority over time.

Semrush

Conclusion

Authority is built when brands are doing great things in the real-world, making customers happy, creating and sharing great content, and earning links from reputable sources. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Wordpress Redirects!
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Filed under: Marketing, Strategy, WordpressTagged with: ,

Redirects to Make or Break Your Wordpress Migrate

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Redirects in Wordpress

Correctly redirecting your URLs is one of the most important things you can do to make a site migration go smoothly, but there are clear processes to follow if you want to get it right. Here we break down the rules to successful migration of a Wordpress site.

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Redirects are one way that can make or break your site migration. Site migration can mean a lot of different things depending on your context.

Talking about migration, I’m coming from the experience of these primary activities.

CMS moving/URL format

One example of a migration might be taking on a client and they previously used a CMS that had a default kind of URL formatting, and it was dated something.

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So it was /2018/May/ and then the post. Then we’re changing the CMS. We have more flexibility with how our pages, our URLs are structured, so we’re going to move it to just /post or something like that. In that way a lot of URLs are going to be moving around because you are changing the way that those URLs are structured.

“Keywordy” naming conventions

Another instance is that sometimes a client will come to us with dated or keywordy URLs, and we want to change this to be a lot cleaner, shorten them where possible, just make them more human-readable.

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An example of that would be the client used URLs like /best-plumber-dallas, and we want to change it to something a little bit cleaner, more natural, and not as keywordy, to just /plumbers or something like that. So that can be another example of lots of URLs moving around if we’re taking over a whole site and we’re kind of wanting to do away with those.

Content overhaul

Another example is if we’re doing a complete content overhaul. Maybe the client comes to us and they say, “We’ve been writing content and blogging for a really long time, and we’re not seeing the traffic and the rankings that we want. Can you do a thorough audit of all of our content?” Usually what we notice is that you have maybe even thousands of pages, but only four of them are ranking.

So there are a lot of just redundant pages, pages that are thin and would be stronger together, some pages that just don’t really serve a purpose and we want to just let die. So that’s another example where we would be merging URLs, moving pages around, just letting some drop completely. That’s another example of migrating things around that I’m referring to.

We already know all this? but..

Generally, SEO people know or should know the importance of redirection. If there’s not a redirect, there’s no path to follow to tell the search engine where you’ve moved your page to.

It’s frustrating for users if they click on a link that no longer works, that doesn’t take them to the proper destination, and its a bad user experience. We know it’s important, and we know what it does. It passes link equity. It makes sure people aren’t frustrated. It helps to get the correct page indexed. If you’re like me, you’ve also been in those situations where you have to spend entire days fixing 404s to correct traffic loss or whatever after a migration, or you’re fixing 301s that were maybe done but they were sent to all kinds of weird places.

Mistakes still happen though, even though we know the importance of redirects.

Unclear ownership

Unclear ownership is something that can happen, especially if you’re on a scrappier team, a smaller team and maybe you don’t handle these things very often enough to have a defined process for this. I’ve been in situations where I assumed the tech was going to do it, and the tech assumed that the project assistant was going to do it.

We’re all kind of pointing fingers at each other with no clear ownership, and then the ball gets dropped because no one really knows whose responsibility it is. So don’t drop the ball, just make sure that you designate someone to do it and that they know and you know that that person is going to be handling it.

Deadlines

Another thing is deadlines. Internal and external deadlines can affect this. So one example that encountered pretty often is the client would say, “We really need this project done by next Monday because we’re launching another initiative. We’re doing a TV commercial, and our domain is going to be listed on the TV commercial. So I’d really like this stuff wrapped up when those commercials go live.”

So those kind of external deadlines can affect how quickly we have to work. A lot of times it just gets left off because it is not a very visible thing. If you don’t know the importance of redirects, you might handle things like content and making sure the buttons all work and the template looks nice and things like that, the visible things. Where people assume that redirects, oh, that’s just a backend thing. We can take care of it later. Unfortunately, redirects usually fall into that category if the person doing it doesn’t really know the importance of it.

Non-SEOs handling the redirection

Then another situation that can cause site migration errors and 404s after moving around is non-SEOs handling this. Now you don’t have to be a really experienced SEO usually to handle these types of things. It depends on your CMS and how complicated is the way that you’re implementing your redirects. But sometimes if it’s easy, if your CMS makes redirection easy, it can be treated as like a data entry-type of job, and it can be delegated to someone who maybe doesn’t know the importance of doing all of them or formatting them properly or directing them to the places that they’re supposed to go.

The rules of redirection for site migrations

Now that we kind of know what I’m talking about with migrations and why they kind of sometimes still happen, I’m going to launch into some rules that will hopefully help prevent site migration errors because of failed redirects.

Create one-to-one redirects

Number one, always create one-to-one redirects. This is super important. What I’ve seen sometimes is it could save me tons of time if I just use a wildcard and redirect all of these pages to the homepage or to the blog homepage or something like that. But what that tells Google is that Page A has moved to Page B, whereas that’s not the case. You’re not moving all of these pages to the homepage. They haven’t actually moved there. So it’s an irrelevant redirect, and Google has even said, I think, that they treat those essentially as a soft 404. They don’t even count. So make sure you don’t do that. Make sure you’re always linking URL to its new location, one-to-one every single time for every URL that’s moving.

Watch out for redirect chains

Two, watch out for chains. I think Google says something oddly specific, like watch out for redirect chains, three, no more than five. Just try to limit it as much as possible. By chains, I mean you have URL A, and then you redirect it to B, and then later you decide to move it to a third location. Instead of doing this and going through a middleman, A to B to C, shorten it if you can. Go straight from the source to the destination, A to C.

Watch out for loops

Three, watch out for loops. Similarly what can happen is you redirect position A to URL B to another version C and then back to A. What happens is it’s chasing its tail. It will never resolve, so you’re redirecting it in a loop. So watch out for things like that. One way to check those things I think is a nifty tool, Screaming Frog has a redirect chains report. So you can see if you’re kind of encountering any of those issues after you’ve implemented your redirects.

404 strategically

Number four, 404 strategically. The presence of 404s on your site alone, that is not going to hurt your site’s rankings. It is letting pages die that were ranking and bringing your site traffic that is going to cause issues. Obviously, if a page is 404ing, eventually Google is going to take that out of the index if you don’t redirect it to its new location. If that page was ranking really well, if it was bringing your site traffic, you’re going to lose the benefits of it. If it had links to it, you’re going to lose the benefits of that backlink if it dies.

So if you’re going to 404, just do it strategically. You can let pages die. Like in these situations, maybe you’re just outright deleting a page and it has no new location, nothing relevant to redirect it to. That’s okay. Just know that you’re going to lose any of the benefits that URL was bringing your site.

Prioritize “SEO valuable” URLs

Number five, prioritize “SEO valuable” URLs, and I do that because I prefer to obviously redirect everything that you’re moving, everything that’s legitimately moving.

But because of situations like deadlines and things like that, when we’re down to the wire, I think it’s really important to at least have started out with your most important URLs. So those are URLs that are ranking really well, giving you a lot of good traffic, URLs that you’ve earned links to. So those really SEO valuable URLs, if you have a deadline and you don’t get to finish all of your redirects before this project goes live, at least you have those most critical, most important URLs handled first.

Again, obviously, it’s not ideal, I don’t think in my mind, to save any until after the launch. Obviously, I think it’s best to have them all set up by the time it goes live. But if that’s not the case and you’re getting rushed and you have to launch, at least you will have handled the most important URLs for SEO value.

Test!

Number six, just to end it off, test. I think it’s super important just to monitor these things, because you could think that you have set these all up right, but maybe there were some formatting errors, or maybe you mistakenly redirected something to the wrong place. It is super important just to test. So what you can do, you can do a site:domain.com and just start clicking on all the results that come up and see if any are redirecting to the wrong place, maybe they’re 404ing.

Just checking all of those indexed URLs to make sure that they’re going to a proper new destination.

You should be using SEMRush for analysis, and there is an article here, which gives you more details on this.

But it can also scan your site for errors like 404s namely. So if there are any issues like that, 500 or 400 type errors, SEMRush will catch them and notify you, you can also run other tools in there like the backlinks tool etc to check any of those.

There are plenty of other ways you can test and find errors. But the most important thing to remember is just to do it, just to test and make sure that even once you’ve implemented these things, that you’re checking and making sure that there are no issues after a launch. I would check right after a launch and then a couple of days later, and then just tweak things until you are happy with it.

So now you can do redirects properly! Here’s another link for SEMRush, go get yourself a free copy!

Semrush

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Mapping SERPS Overlays!

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Filed under: Strategy, WordpressTagged with: , ,

Finding SEO Opportunities From Log Files

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Log Files For SEO Purposes

I use web crawlers regularly. While they are very useful, they only imitate search engine crawlers’ behavior, which means you aren’t always getting the full picture.

The only tool that can give you a real overview of how search engines crawl your site are log files. Despite this, many people are still obsessed with crawl budget — the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl.

Log file analysis may discover URLs on your site that you had no idea about but that search engines are crawling anyway — a major waste of Google server resources (Google Webmaster Blog):

“Wasting server resources on pages like these will drain crawl activity from pages that do actually have value, which may cause a significant delay in discovering great content on a site.”

While it’s a fascinating topic, the fact is that most sites don’t need to worry that much about crawl budget —an observation shared by John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google) quite a few times already.

There’s still a huge value in analyzing logs produced from those crawls, though. It will show what pages Google is crawling and if anything needs to be fixed.

When you know exactly what your log files are telling you, you’ll gain valuable insights about how Google crawls and views your site, which means you can optimize for this data to increase traffic. And the bigger the site, the greater the impact fixing these issues will have.

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What are server logs?

A log file is a recording of everything that goes in and out of a server. Think of it as a ledger of requests made by crawlers and real users. You can see exactly what resources Google is crawling on your site.

You can also see what errors need your attention such as duplicate content and other aspects which may impact your search appearance.

Analyzing logs is not rocket science — the logic is the same as when working with tables in Excel or Google Sheets. The hardest part is getting access to them — exporting and filtering that data.

Looking at a log file for the first time may also feel somewhat daunting because when you open one, you see something like this:

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Calm down and take a closer look at a single line:

66.249.65.107 - - [08/Dec/2017:04:54:20 -0400] "GET /contact/ HTTP/1.1" 200 11179 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" 

You’ll quickly recognize that:

  • 66.249.65.107 is the IP address (who)
  • [08/Dec/2017:04:54:20 -0400] is the Timestamp (when)
  • GET is the Method
  • /contact/ is the Requested URL (what)
  • 200 is the Status Code (result)
  • 11179 is the Bytes Transferred (size)
  • “-” is the Referrer URL (source) — it’s empty because this request was made by a crawler
  • Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html) is the User Agent (signature) — this is user agent of Googlebot (Desktop)

Once you know what each line is composed of, it’s not so scary. It’s just a lot of information. But that’s where the next step comes in handy.

Tools you can use

There are many tools you can choose from that will help you analyze your log files. I won’t give you a full run-down of available ones, but it’s important to know the difference between static and real-time tools.

  • Static — This only analyzes a static file. You can’t extend the time frame. Want to analyze another period? You need to request a new log file. My favourite tool for analyzing static log files is Power BI.
  • Real-time — Gives you direct access to logs. I really like open source ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana). It takes a moderate effort to implement it but once the stack is ready, it allows me changing the time frame based on my needs without needing to contact our developers.

Start analyzing

Don’t just dive into logs with a hope to find something — start asking questions. If you don’t formulate your questions at the beginning, you will end up in a rabbit hole with no direction and no real insights.

Here are a few samples of questions I use at the start of my analysis:

  • Which search engines crawl my website?
  • Which URLs are crawled most often?
  • Which content types are crawled most often?
  • Which status codes are returned?

If you see that Google is crawling non-existing pages (404), you can start asking which of those requested URLs return 404 status code.

Order the list by the number of requests, evaluate the ones with the highest number to find the pages with the highest priority (the more requests, the higher priority), and consider whether to redirect that URL or do any other action.

 

url-number-of-requests-69062.jpg

If you use a CDN or cache server, you need to get that data as well to get the full picture.

Segment your data

Grouping data into segments provides aggregate numbers that give you the big picture. This makes it easier to spot trends you might have missed by looking only at individual URLs. You can locate problematic sections and drill down if needed.

There are various ways to group URLs:

  • Group by content type (single product pages vs. category pages)
  • Group by language (English pages vs. French pages)
  • Group by storefront (Canadian store vs. US store)
  • Group by file format (JS vs. images vs. CSS)

Don’t forget to slice your data by user-agent. Looking at Google Desktop, Google Smartphone, and Bing all together won’t surface any useful insights.

Monitor behavior changes over time

Your site changes over time, which means so will crawlers’ behavior. Googlebot often decreases or increases the crawl rate based on factors such as a page’s speed, internal link structure, and the existence of crawl traps.

It’s a good idea to check in with your log files throughout the year or when executing website changes. I look at logs almost on a weekly basis when releasing significant changes for large websites.

By analyzing server logs twice a year, at the very least, you’ll surface changes in crawler’s behavior.

Watch for spoofing

Spambots and scrapers don’t like being blocked, so they may fake their identity — they leverage Googlebot’s user agent to avoid spam filters.

To verify if a web crawler accessing your server really is Googlebot, you can run a reverse DNS lookup and then a forward DNS lookup. More on this topic can be found in Google Webmaster Help Center.

Merge logs with other data sources

While it’s no necessary to connect to other data sources, doing so will unlock another level of insight and context that regular log analysis might not be able to give you. An ability to easily connect multiple datasets and extract insights from them is the main reason why Power BI is my tool of choice, but you can use any tool that you’re familiar with (e.g. Tableau).

 

power-bi-relationships-73973.jpg

Blend server logs with multiple other sources such as Google Analytics data, keyword ranking, sitemaps, crawl data, and start asking questions like:

  • What pages are not included in the sitemap.xml but are crawled extensively?
  • What pages are included in the Sitemap.xml file but are not crawled?
  • Are revenue-driving pages crawled often?
  • Is the majority of crawled pages indexable?

You may be surprised by the insights you’ll uncover that can help strengthen your SEO strategy. For instance, discovering that almost 70 percent of Googlebot requests are for pages that are not indexable is an insight you can act on.

 

power-bi-indexability-99667.jpg

You can see more examples of blending log files with other data sources in my post about advanced log analysis.

Use logs to debug Google Analytics

Don’t think of server logs as just another SEO tool. Logs are also an invaluable source of information that can help pinpoint technical errors before they become a larger problem.

Last year, Google Analytics reported a drop in organic traffic for a companies branded search queries. But the keyword tracking tool, STAT Search Analytics, and other tools showed no movement that would have warranted the drop. So, what was going on?

Server logs helped us understand the situation: There was no real drop in traffic. It was our newly deployed WAF (Web Application Firewall) that was overriding the referrer, which caused some organic traffic to be incorrectly classified as direct traffic in Google Analytics.

Using log files in conjunction with keyword tracking in STAT helped us uncover the whole story and diagnose this issue quickly.

Putting it all together

Log analysis is a must-do, especially once you start working with large websites.

My advice is to start with segmenting data and monitoring changes over time. Once you feel ready, explore the possibilities of blending logs with your crawl data or Google Analytics. That’s where great insights are hidden.
If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Wordpress Redirects!

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Filed under: Marketing, Strategy, WordpressTagged with: , ,

5 Easy Steps to Creating a Sitemap For a Website

What is a sitemap?

When it comes to getting your website ranked, you need to take advantage of as many SEO hacks as possible. Creating a sitemap is one technique that will definitely help improve your SEO strategy.

Some of you may be more familiar with this than others. I’ll give you a quick crash course on the basics of sitemaps before I show you how to build a website sitemap on your own.

Simply put, a sitemap, or XML sitemap, is a list of different pages on a website. XML is short for “extensible markup language,” which is a way to display information on a site.

I’ve consulted with so many website owners who are intimidated by this concept because sitemaps are considered a technical component of SEO. But in all reality, you don’t need to be a tech wizard or have a tech background to create a sitemap. As you’ll learn shortly, it’s really not that difficult.

Why do you need a sitemap?

Search engines like Google are committed to displaying the most relevant results to people for any given search query. In order do this effectively, they use site crawlers to read, organize, and index information on the Internet.

XML sitemaps make it easier for search engine crawlers to read the content on your site and index the pages accordingly. As a result, this increases your chances of boosting the SEO ranking of your website.

Your sitemap will tell search engines the location of a page on your website, when it was updated, the updating frequency, and the importance of the page as it’s related to other pages on your site. Without a proper sitemap, Google bots might think that your site has duplicate content, which will actually hurt your SEO ranking.

If you’re ready for your website to get indexed faster by search engines, just follow these five easy steps to create a sitemap.

Step 1: Review the structure of your pages

The first thing you need to do is look at the existing content on your website and see how everything is structured.

Look at a sitemap template and figure out how your pages would be displayed on the table.

website sitemap template

This is a very basic example that’s easy to follow.

It all starts from the homepage. Then you have to ask yourself where your homepage links to. You likely already have this figured out based on the menu options on your site.

But when it comes to SEO, not all pages are created equal. You have to keep the depth of your website in mind when you’re doing this. Recognize that the pages further away from your site’s homepage will be harder to rank for.

According to Search Engine Journal, you should aim to create a sitemap that has a shallow depth, meaning it only takes three clicks to navigate to any page on your website. That’s much better for SEO purposes.

So you need to create a hierarchy of pages based on importance and how you want them to be indexed. Prioritize your content into tiers that follow a logical hierarchy. Here’s an example to show you what I’m talking about.

page hierarchy

As you can see, the About page links to Our Team as well as Mission & Values. Then the Our Team page links to Management and Contact Us.

The About Us page is the most important, which is why it’s part of the top-level navigation. It wouldn’t make sense to have the management page be prioritized at the same level as Products, Pricing, and Blogs, which is why it falls under third-level content.

Similarly, if the Basic pricing package was positioned above the Compare Packages page, it would throw the logical structure out of whack.

So use these visual sitemap templates to determine the organization of your pages. Some of you may already have a structure that makes sense but just needs some slight tweaking.

Remember, you want to try to set it up so every page can be reached in three clicks.

Step 2: Code your URLs

Now that you’ve gone through and identified the importance of each page and matched that importance in your site structure, it’s time to code those URLs.

The way to do this is by formatting each URL with XML tags. If you have any experience with HTML coding, this will be a breeze for you. As I said earlier, the “ML” in XML stands for markup language, which is the same for HTML.

Even if this is new to you, it’s not that tough to figure it out. Start by getting a text editor where you can create an XML file.

Visual Studio Code is a great option for you to consider, it runs on Linux, Windows or Mac and its FREE!

Vscode

 

Then add the corresponding code for each URL. Here, given its a Wordpress site, its a master xml file which lists the urls of the sub sitemaps, which are arranged in various categories.

  • location
  • last modified

Here are some examples of how the code will look for each one with different types.

  • http://www.examplesite.com/page1
  • 2019-1-10
  • weekly
  • 2

Take your time and make sure you go through this properly. The text editor makes your life much easier when it comes to adding this code, but it still requires you to be sharp.

Step 3: Validate the code

Any time you code manually, human error is possible. But, for your sitemap to function properly, you can’t have any mistakes in the coding.

Fortunately, there are tools that will help validate your code to ensure the syntax is correct. There’s software available online that can help you do this. Just run a quick Google search for sitemap validation, and you’ll find something.

I like to use the XML Sitemap Validator tool.

xml sitemap generator

This will point out any errors in your code.

For example, if you forget to add an end tag or something like that, it can quickly be identified and fixed.

Step 4: Add your sitemap to the root and robots.txt

Locate the root folder of your website and add the sitemap file to this folder.

Doing this will actually add the page to your site as well. This is not a problem at all. As a matter of fact, lots of websites have this. Just type in a website and add “/sitemap/” to the URL and see what pops up.

Here’s an example from the Apple website.

apple sitemap

Notice the structure and logical hierarchy of each section. This relates back to what we discussed in the first step.

Now, this can be taken one step further. You can even look at the code on different websites by adding “/sitemap.xml” to the URL.

Here’s what that looks like on the HubSpot website.

hubspot sitemap

In addition to adding the sitemap file to your root folder, you’ll also want to add it to the robots.txt file. You’ll find this in the roots folder as well.

Basically, this to give instructions for any crawlers indexing your website.

There are a couple of different uses for the robots.txt folder. You can set this up to show search engines URLs that you don’t want them to index when they’re crawling on your site.

Let’s go back to Apple and see what their robots.txt page looks like.

robots.txt

As you can see, they have “disallow” for several pages on their site. So crawlers ignore these.

apple sitemap files

However, Apple also includes their sitemap files on here as well.

Not everyone you ask will tell you to add your sitemaps to the robots.txt file. So I’ll let you decide that for yourself.

With that said, I’m definitely a firm believer in following the best practices of successful websites and businesses. If a giant like Apple uses this, it can’t be too bad of an idea for you to consider.

Step 5: Submit your sitemap

Now that your sitemap has been created and added to your site files, it’s time to submit them to search engines.

In order to do this, you need to go through Google Search Console. Some of you may already have this set up. If not, you can get started very easily.

Once you’re on the search console dashboard, navigate to Crawl > Sitemaps.

Google search console

Next, click on Add/Test Sitemap on the top right corner of the screen.

This is a chance for you to test your sitemap again for any errors before you continue. Obviously, you’ll want to fix any mistakes found. Once your sitemap is free of errors, click submit and that’s it. Google will handle everything else from here. Now crawlers will index your site with ease, which will boost your SEO ranking.

Alternative options

While these five steps are pretty simple and straightforward, some of you might be a little uncomfortable manually changing the code on your website. That’s perfectly understandable. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of other solutions that can create a sitemap for you, without having to edit the code yourself.

I’ll go through some of the top options for you to consider.

Yoast plugin

If you have a WordPress website, you can install the Yoast plugin to create a sitemap for your website.

Yoast gives you the option to turn your sitemap on and off with a simple toggle switch. You can find all of your XML sitemap options from the SEO tab via WordPress once the plugin has been installed.

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is desktop software that offers a wide range of SEO tools. It’s free to use and generate a sitemap as long as the website has fewer than 500 pages. For those of you with larger websites, you’ll need to upgrade the paid version.

Screaming Frog allows you to make all of the coding changes that we talked about earlier, but without actually changing the code yourself. Instead, you follow a prompt that’s much more user-friendly, and written in plain English. Then the code for the sitemap file will be changed automatically. Here’s a screenshot to show you what I mean.

screaming frog configuration

Just navigate through the tabs, change your settings, and the sitemap file will be adjusted accordingly.

Slickplan

I really like Slickplan because of the visual sitemap builder feature. You’ll have the opportunity to use a sitemap template, similar to the ones we looked at earlier.

From here, you can drag and drop different pages into the template to organize the structure of your website. Once you’re done, and you’re happy with the way your visual sitemap looks, you can export it as an XML file.

Slickplan is paid software, but they offer a free trial. It’s at least worth trying if you’re on the fence about purchasing a plan.

Conclusion

If you’re ready to take your SEO strategy to the next level, you need to create a sitemap for your website.

There is no reason to be intimidated by this anymore. As you can see from this guide, it’s easy to create a sitemap in just five steps.

  1. Review your pages
  2. Code the URLs
  3. Validate your code
  4. Add the sitemap to the root and robots.txt
  5. Submit the sitemap

That’s it!

For those of you who are still on the fence about manually changing code on your website, there are other options for you to consider. The Internet is full of sitemap resources, but the Yoast plugin, Screaming Frog, and Slickplan are all great choices to start. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on JetOctopus Web Crawler!

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Filed under: Strategy, WordpressTagged with: ,

Social Media Tips for Wordpress Site Owners

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Social media can be a boon for Wordpress website owners. It helps you to expand your reach by connecting with new audiences and prospective customers, and provides a platform on which you can advertise your products or services.

One study shows that consumers are 71% more likely to buy a product or service after a positive social media experience, while the number of social media users in 2018 reached a massive 3.196 billion. This was 13% higher than the year previously.

In fact, so powerful is social media that some businesses use it exclusively to advertise and generate sales.

However, like any marketing channel, it’s crucial to target your customer segment and communicate with them in the right way. Failure to do this will result in your efforts landing on deaf ears, which is a huge waste of time and money.

So, take a look at these top 6 tips on how to create an effective and sustainable social media strategy for your small business.

Identify your target audience and make a plan

Before you post a single word, work out who you want to connect with on social media and for what reason. For example:

    1. Prospective customers for lead generation and sales.
    2. Existing customers for relationship building and customer service.
    3. Stakeholders and investors for future backing.
    4. All of the above.

Of course, you can engage with more than one group simultaneously on a single social media channel. But it’s important to narrow down your audience in order to recognise their needs, and understand how your service can solve their problems. Sometimes it’s beneficial to first understand who you are NOT targeting — such as a certain age group, geographical area, or business type — so that you can hone your content to make it more relevant to your readers. That way, you’re more likely to gain traction with your followers and encourage ‘likes’ and shares, which will spread your brand to a wider audience.

Monitor your followers

Social media is all about attracting followers so you can communicate with an engaged community of people. However, while the initial aim is to build lots of followers to increase your reach, you should monitor your followers and be ready to clear out ‘spam’ accounts.

Any time you publicly share information, there is a risk of attracting the wrong people. This is of particular concern for small businesses who don’t have the resources in place to monitor and handle privacy concerns. This article explains some of the social media mistakes that can lead to privacy issues, and you can help prevent these by taking some basic steps.

Firstly, protect your home and personal information by using a registered business address. If you work from home, you can use a virtual office as your company office. This provides a business address with mailing services and on-site workspace, which provides a corporate environment for your company without the cost of a full-time office.

You can then use your virtual office for all your public social media and marketing accounts. For instance, register a web domain name under your virtual address, your social media accounts, your company letterhead and business cards, website ‘contact’ page, and more. It will add a layer of protection and separate your business from your home life.

Research your competitors

Getting started on social media can be daunting. One of the best ways to speed up the learning process is to follow what your competitors are doing. Make sure it’s a well-followed social media account with plenty of recent positive activity, and draw inspiration (but don’t copy!) from the type of content they post. You can also look at successful social media profiles of businesses from other industries to see how they engage with their followers.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to check out some of the poorer efforts to see what NOT to do. You’ll soon figure it out — if you find yourself skimming messages with no inclination to click or share, they’re not hitting the right notes. Learn from their mistakes.

Choose specific social media platforms

Social Media Trends Flipsnack

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is to sign up to multiple social media platforms. Our advice is to start with ONE social media platform with a view to add a second, and later a third, once you have found your stride.

So which one to choose? You might have an idea that Facebook or Instagram is better for lifestyle products, while Twitter and LinkedIn suits B2B service businesses. Even if you’re familiar with social media for business, don’t make assumptions — research as much as you can before taking the leap. This report from Hubspot is a great place to start, as it provides detailed demographics information for all of the major social networks and will help you gauge where your audience spends their time online.

Create a content calendar

So once you’ve established who you’re targeting and which social platform provides the best way to reach them, it’s time to start posting. Start by creating a content calendar detailing which type of content you will post, and when.

A golden rule of social media marketing is: don’t ‘sell’ too much. Try to avoid posting bland product listings and special offers. Aim for the 80:20 rule: 80% of your social media content should be informative, educational, or entertaining. The remaining 20% can promote your brand or highlight products for sale.

That means you need good, useful content that’s not overly promotional. This can include your own blog posts and editorial content, but you can also look to external sources for helpful information. Keep a lookout for articles, free guides and how-to information that you can share on your social media profile. Add a short comment explaining why the post is worth reading and how it can help.

TIP: Always tag the original company or author in your post, as they are more likely to acknowledge your tweet and return the favor by sharing it on their own profile. That effectively broadcasts your brand to a whole new audience.

Post regularly and build your audience

Social media is all about consistency. Post regularly, ideally at the specific times when your audience is most active. When is the best time to post? That depends on your target audience. Check out this detailed guide from Sprout Social for solid information on the best publishing times for each major network and industry.

To help keep things running smoothly, you can schedule posts to go live by using a tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck — this ensures that your posts will continue to appear even when you’re out of the office.

One thing to remember about social media is that it’s not all about ‘me, me, me’. It’s SOCIAL media — think of it as a two-way conversation and rather than simply publishing a steady stream of one-way messages, aim to communicate with your followers and respond to their posts in the same way that you aim to garner responses from them.

Above all, your social media activity should always add value. Whether it’s a useful step-by-step guide, a special offer to help your customers save money, or a lighthearted Friday afternoon post to raise some laughs, always aim to provide relevant, engaging content that resonates with your audience. You can use a tool like Crowdfire to get a lot of things done, its free at basic level, which is pretty efficient. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Social Media Management!

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Filed under: eCommerce, Marketing, WordpressTagged with: ,

Website Fonts That Compliment

Fonts for Web & Wordpress Design

In website design, people often overlook minor details, like typography.

I know what some of you might be thinking. How important can a website’s font really be?

Believe it or not, something as simple as choosing the right font can have a major impact on conversion. Plus, website fonts affect the overall appearance of your site.

Now it’s unlikely that you’ve been on a website and thought, “Wow, this font is great!”

It doesn’t smack you in the face & it just isn’t something that our minds are trained to look for and I’m not expecting you to find a font that’s going to “wow” your website visitors. But, I can guarantee that you’ve been on websites that have fonts that were generic, unappealing, difficult to read, or felt out of place. You obviously don’t want people to have that impression of your website.

Why your website font matters

Here’s something to consider: different website fonts can change the reader’s perception of a particular topic.

Errol Morris conducted a survey in an article published in The New York Times in 2012. He included a passage from a book that claimed we live in an ear of unprecedented safety, and followed the passage up with two questions:

  1. Is the claim true? (yes or no)
  2. How confident are you with the answer? (slightly, moderately, very)

As it turns out, Morris didn’t care about anyone’s opinion. He just wanted to know if the font could influence their answers. Forty thousand people unknowingly participated in this experiment. While everyone read the same passage; they did not all see it in the same typography.

Check out these results.

Weighted Agreement

This graph shows all of the respondents who agreed to the first question. Morris took their levels of confidence in the second question and assigned a weighted value to each response.

In doing so, it’s clear that there was a difference between how confident people were in agreeing with the claims being made based on the font they were presented in. Now let’s look and see the results of respondents who disagreed with the passage.

Weighted Disagreement

Compare the two graphs. Do you notice any similarities?

As you can see, the Baskerville font was ranked highest for weighted agreement and lowest for weighted disagreement. Comic Sans font ranked lowest for weighted agreement, and ranked high for weighted disagreement.

Based on this data, Morris was able to conclude that fonts can influence the way people perceive information. Basically, the typeface can actually affect the credibility of your website.

In short — yes, website fonts matter.

The best Google Font pairings for 2019

You don’t want to have the same font everywhere on your site; that’s too boring. Mix it up! But make sure you pick fonts that go well together. I created this guide to help you do just that.

There are plenty of platforms for finding free fonts, but Google Fonts is my favorite. I identified the top Google Fonts pairings for 2019. So check out my list, and pick out a combination that works best for your website.

Open Sans and Roboto

Open Sans and Roboto Font

The header of this screenshot is Open Sans semi-bold. The paragraph below it is Roboto regular. I think the semi-bold header just ads a bit more punch than the regular weight of Open Sans, but it’s fine if you go with that option as well.

The reason why these fonts work so well together is because they are both crisp and extremely legible.

You’ve got lots of different options here to consider for your website design. This combination could be used to convey the value proposition on your homepage. Use the Open Sans header as a point of emphasis, and then elaborate on the subject using Roboto.

These fonts work well together if you swap them as well. You could use Roboto as the header, and Open Sans for the paragraph. In this case, I’d recommend going with Roboto medium, and Open Sans regular.

Playfair Display and Montserrat

Playfair Display and Montserrat Font

This font combination works best for shorter text on your website. I wouldn’t necessarily use it on a blog post or something like that.

However, this pairing is perfect for a product title and product description, especially for ecommerce shops in the fashion industry. The lighter weight font, like Montserrat light, gives the text a certain level of elegance that fits with a luxury brand persona.

Interestingly enough, if you swap the two and use Montserrat as the header, the persona changes to something that feels futuristic or techy. That combination can work well for some of you who are promoting a game, or even on a landing page to download your mobile gaming app.

Either way, these two fonts work well together. It depends on the theme and overall message that you’re going for on your website.

Lora and Alegreya

Lora and Alegreya Font

Lora bold is strong and legible, which is why it’s perfect for title pages. While the typography is powerful, it’s still friendly and inviting.

Alegreya regular compliments Lora really well, especially when used for captioning images.

While Alegreya is definitely legible, it can be challenging to read for long stretches, which is why it’s better for short text like captions or quick descriptions. I would not recommend experimenting with any other variations of Alegreya. Adding weight or italics to this font loses the legibility.

Now if you swap their positions, Alegreya bold works fine for title and header text. Lora regular is legible, so you could consider using it for longer text. I think this combination would be perfect for something like a customer testimonial or short case study.

Merriweather and Lato

Merriweather and Lato Font

Merriweather light and Lato regular is a very clean and professional combination.

It’s a popular choice because the options are so versatile. Merriweather light is modern, tasteful, and appealing. When it’s followed up with text written in Lato, the pairing feels trustworthy.

I’d recommend using this combination on your homepage. For those of you who have a design that involves scrolling to learn more information, this text combination will work perfectly. I’m picturing a website visitor scrolling down your home screen, seeing an image on the left side of the page and this font combination on the right. When they continue scrolling, the next image will be on the right, and the text will be on the left.

If this sounds like your current design, definitely consider using this combination to add a touch of professionalism to your content.

Amatic SC and Josefin Slab

Amatic SC and Josefin Slab Font

The font combination of Amatic SC bold and Josefin Slab italic is definitely not for everyone. I can’t say that I would recommend it to the majority of websites, but it’s an ideal combination for artsy websites. If you’re a musician, painter, or photographer, these fonts can be used sparingly on your pages.

The key here is to make sure that the text has plenty of space to breathe. I’d recommend using it against white or very light backgrounds. So check out my post on the top trending website color schemes of 2019 as well.

If you sell ceramics or sculptures, this font can be very appealing to your audience and fit nicely with the overall theme of your business.

Just make sure you don’t go overboard. Using too much of this on the screen is unappealing and challenging to read. So pick something else for longer blocks of text, such as your biography or about me pages.

Cinzel and Raleway

Cinzel and Raleway Font

Cinzel is a bold font (no pun intended). It’s all capital letters, which makes it more suitable for short text as opposed to long blog posts or things of that nature.

It’s complemented really by a font that’s a bit more traditional, like Raleway. These two fonts are perfect for websites in the food and drink industry.

You could consider using this to spice up your online menu. Have the menu categories in Cinzel black, the meal titles in Cinzel bold, and the description of the item written in Raleway regular.

If you really want to be unique, you can swap the two and use Raleway for headings and Cinzel for the body text. This could work well for local coffee shops that update their website with daily specials or weekly brews.

PT Sans Narrow and PT Sans

PT Sans Narrow and PT Sans

PT Sans Narrow and PT Sans is a classic combination. This versatile choice will work well for nearly any website in 2019.

Since both fonts are so legible, you can use it for text in short-form, as well as long-form content such as blog posts.

I like these fonts because they are easy to read, but not too generic and boring. PT Sans Narrow and PT Sans are inviting, so consider using them on home screens and landing pages.

How to pick the best website fonts

Now that you’ve seen some of the best Google Fonts combinations of 2019, how can you decide which one is best for your website?

The first thing you need to do is determine what type of content the font will be used for. Decide if the fonts are for your blog, homepage, landing page, product description, or navigation menu.

You’ll also want to consider the type of business you have, as well as the audience you’re targeting. Does the font need to be professional? Or do you have some room to be a bit unique?

The key to pairing two fonts together is contrast. The fonts should be different enough that each is distinguishable, but not so different that the reader is distracted.

You may want to use a few font combinations on your website, but don’t go overboard. Keep it simple. Each page should just have two fonts; three at most. If you want to use more, consider using variations of the fonts already on the page (light, italic, medium, bold, etc.) instead.

Summary

Fonts are important, so it time to get rid of the default. Google Fonts is one of the best resources for free website fonts. The platform has some of the top site fonts that compliment each other.

  • Open Sans and Roboto
  • Playfair Display and Montserrat
  • Lora and Alegreya
  • Merriweather and Lato
  • Amatic SC and Josefin Slab
  • Cinzel and Raleway
  • PT Sans Narrow and PT Sans

And to get an idea how to differentiate between the different types of font check out this Creative Bloq article. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Website Planning!

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The Hidden Costs of Website Hosting

The price of web hosting and what to expect as you grow

Creating a website is exciting. In many cases, it means you’re starting or expanding your own business.

But in order for your website to be live on the Internet, it needs to be hosted. In short, web hosting provides storage space and access for websites.

So, you know you need it and you know you’ll need to consider the website hosting costs. Like anything else, the costs associated with hosting your website can influence some of your decisions.

Like nearly every other product and service, there isn’t one set for website hosting. There are even some hidden costs associated with site hosting that you need to be aware of.

Allow me to explain.

If you cut corners initially with site hosting costs, it can end up costing you more money down the road. You could run into issues that are more expensive than you might think.

I developed this guide to help educate you on how much website hosting will really cost. We’ll go through different elements that you need to take into consideration.

Types of Web Hosting

There are three main types of website hosting.

  • shared hosting
  • virtual private server (VPS)
  • dedicated hosting

The costs vary based on which type of web hosting you use.

Types of Website Hosting

Shared hosting is the least expensive option. That’s because your site gets stored in a server that hosts other websites too. Dedicated servers are be the top of the line option — one that comes at a premium price. Just as the name implies, your site gets hosted on a single server you have all to yourself. (If you’re a small business, dedicated is likely way more than you need.) VPS hosting falls in between these two options. It’s less expensive than a dedicated server but has additional features and greater flexibility than shared hosting.

Free Website Hosting

What about free website hosting? Is it good? Do I recommend it?

These are questions that I get asked all of the time. For those of you who are interested in this, you check out this guide on the best free web hosting.

While free hosting is definitely an option you can consider, there is an old saying that you should keep in mind: You get what you pay for.

Now, this isn’t necessarily true all of the time. If you buy a $500 designer shirt, is it really that much better than a cheap $5 shirt? Probably not. But when it comes to web hosting, free or cheap isn’t always better.

So why do so many services offer free hosting packages? They are able to make money in other ways.

Some free hosting services make money from the banner ads displayed on your website, or even banners on your own dashboard. Some get paid with ads on forums that they force you to visit and post on in order to receive your free hosting. You’ll see web hosting plans that are offered free but then entice you to switch and upgrade to paid service.

You might even come across a startup company that’s running a web host for the first time, and offering free hosting before they transition and go after paying clients. This is something you’ll want to avoid for sure.

Website Traffic

It’s natural to try and save some money with a free or inexpensive hosting service. But eventually, your site is going to grow. Obviously, this is a good thing.

However, when your site reaches a certain size, the host may begin to throttle your website if you’re on a shared server.

A couple of things can happen from here. None are good news for your website.

It’s possible that website visitors will have trouble accessing your pages and content. They might even see error messages when attempting to connect to your site.

Even if an error message doesn’t appear, the increased load time will cause people to bounce. That’s a major problem. As loading times increase, page abandonment increases as well.

Load Time Adandonment Chart

Slow loading times are extremely costly. 40% of people abandon websites that take more than three seconds to load. 80% of people who leave your site because of slow speed say that they won’t return.

This is extremely costly for your website, so make sure you understand the basic principles that boost your website loading time. Upgrading and paying more for your web hosting can save you thousands of dollars in lead generation, customer acquisition costs, and sales.

Security

Reliable websites need to be secure. Safety always needs to be a top priority for your business.

This is especially true if you’re processing payments. Think about all of the sensitive information that your website has on it. It’s your responsibility to protect your site visitors and customers from cybercriminals and malicious attacks.

Here are just some of the minimum security measures that you need to keep in mind.

  • spam filtering
  • security audits
  • firewall configuring
  • network protocols
  • scans for malware and viruses
  • passwords
  • multi-level authentication
  • user permissions

A popular security option is a secured cloud where you can store all of your documents and manage files. However, all of this costs money.

But if you pay for a reliable web hosting service, you can get all of these features included as part of your subscription. This is much better than having to pay for them individually, or even worse, pay the costs of your website getting compromised or having security problems.

Servers

You need to make sure that your site hosting servers are reliable as well. Read reviews and do your research before you sign up for any hosting service based on attractive pricing alone.

The best servers have updated software, 24/7 monitoring, regular maintenance, and automatic updates.

Earlier we talked about the different types of web hosting. Your server will depend on which option you choose.

It’s worth mentioning that the size of the dedicated hosting market across the world is growing each year.

Dedicated Server Use Chart

Does this mean you need to have a dedicated server? Not necessarily.

Your website will perform better if you do, but depending on the size of your site right now, it’s not completely necessary.

But if you decide to upgrade or change your server at some point in the future, there will be additional costs associated with that transition, including some possible down time on your site.

Operational Costs

I consult with lots of business owners who just want to host their website on their own. They have a technical background and don’t think it will be a problem.

But just because you have the ability to self-host, doesn’t mean that you should. I’m not saying this to discourage you, but I don’t want to see you have to deal with hidden or unexpected costs.

You’ve got a business to run. Hosting your own website shouldn’t take away from your daily business tasks.

If you pay for a web hosting service, you’ll benefit from things like servers, bandwidth, storage, automatic updates, maintenance, and data migrations. Do you really want to have to worry about all of this?

Let a hosting provider do all of the heavy lifting for you. Hosting a site on your own can increase your operational costs. It will take time out of your day, and you may even need to hire more people. This is an inefficient use of your resources.

Instead, I’d recommend just finding the right hosting provider from the beginning. Then you can focus your efforts on running your business and avoid unexpected costs.

Renewal and Setup Fees

When you first purchase web hosting, the price might seem great. But that is likely just your initial cost for signing up.

The promotional rates aren’t usually the final price and probably won’t last forever.

Make sure you read the fine print to see what your renewal costs will be. Whether that’s next month, next year, or three years down the road. In most cases, there is no way around the price jump, but you should be ready for it.

Eventually, you should be expecting to pay full price. This will likely come when you renew.

Some services will also charge you for a setup fee.

Web Hosting Setup Fees

In the example above, the setup fee is free. But this isn’t always be the case.

For those of you who are paying for dedicated servers, the setup cost is definitely justifiable. That’s because your provider may need to physically add hardware components and set up software that you requested.

Conclusion

Hosting is a requirement for every website. There are lots of different options for you to consider.

The costs vary depending on which route you choose. Some options are more expensive than others. You may even decide to look for free website hosting.

Regardless of your decision, there will be some hidden costs that you need to be prepared for. A plan that saves you money up front could cost you extra down the road with your website traffic, operational costs, and security. Be prepared for additional fees associated with renewals and setups as well.

It’s important to make sure that you’re always using a reputable host. WP Engine currently have a special promotion which includes ALL their StudioPress themes FREE, and you can Grab That Here!

If you still have questions about the costs associated with website hosting, you can ask me about it in the comments section, and I’ll be happy to help you out. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on
Website Analytics Tools!

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Filed under: Strategy, WordpressTagged with: ,

Content Or Data, Which Is King In Content Marketing?

SRMO_Reasearch_Map

The Content Versus Data Mini Debate

In the modern media era of TV and Internet, there has always been a fundamental tension between content and distribution. Is it better to own the content, or is it better to own the platforms and distribution mechanisms to get that content to the customer? For now, content is king, but is there a new contender to the throne: data?

Of course, data in its raw form is useless. It’s just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s. But when you are able to analyze that data, it can become very powerful. That’s especially true since we are moving from an era of “structured” data to an era of “unstructured” data.From a marketing perspective, the easiest way to think about the difference between “structured” data and “unstructured” data is by thinking of the typical customer survey that you might send out after someone has purchased a product or visited your store. Most of the questions will be simple “yes/no” questions. Or they will ask customers to rate you on a scale of 1-10. All of that is “structured” data. It’s easy to put into a database and then analyze for insights. You can perform all kinds of statistical calculations very easily.

But then comes all the “unstructured” data. And this is where organizations are really stepping up their game. For example, that same customer survey might ask a question like, “Is there anything else you’d like to tell us that’s not included here?” That prompts a customer to write an open-ended response. Just a few years ago, that would have required a human to analyze it. Now, thanks to the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, it’s possible to have a computer analyze it and add it to a growing database.

And the type of “unstructured” data that’s available today is growing at a prodigious pace, primarily thanks to all the digital devices out there. Your mobile phone is a potential treasure trove of data that grows by the minute. What company wouldn’t want to know the precise GPS location of every place you’ve visited during the day?

The rise of artificial intelligence

Moreover, the type of analysis that’s possible today is becoming quite impressive. There’s a whole new field called “predictive analytics,” which essentially promises to predict future customer behavior based on known data. You can literally predict how a marketing campaign will do, based on what you know about certain types of customers. Companies like Salesforce are coming up with AI-powered marketing solutions that promise to help companies find the proverbial needle in the haystack.

So it’s no surprise that so many companies have jumped aboard the Big Data bandwagon. It promises to streamline just about every part of a company and create new revenue opportunities. As the analytical tools become more and more powerful, it’s leading to real excitement about the potential ability of AI to transform organizations.

Is Data the new oil?

Data Science Vs Big Data Vs

 

Within the mainstream media, in fact, it’s now fashionable to compare the role of data in the digital economy to the role of oil in the analog economy. Back in 2014, WIRED magazine breathlessly proclaimed that, “Data is the new oil of the digital economy.” Earlier this year, The Economist remarked that, “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.”

If you follow this analogy to its logical end, it would seem to imply that companies best able to harness and extract this data will become the most valuable in the world. Just as oil companies like Exxon Mobil became the most valuable and powerful in the world until the rise of Silicon Valley’s Internet champions, it’s plausible that new artificial intelligence (AI) companies will become the most valuable in the world, once they’ve truly figured out how to harness the remarkable power of data. However, seeming reasonable or probable does not necessarily make it a certainty, and this is where the human element holds sway, people generally recognise the value of a well written piece from the personal perspective of the author, something which can probably never be replicated by a machine, at least not to the degree that it becomes untraceable.

Wordup to core values

Wordup

 

Anyone reading thus far and wondering what the punch line or relevance to their Wordpress site or enterprise is, then its pretty straightforward.

The people who analyse your content generally, typically the likes of Google, who employ rocket scientists to do it, are well known to value relevant content written by real people with real opinion and information to get across to the audience. They are also pretty expert at weeding out artificial or bot created content to the point of penalising sites which use it. So you’ve still got to create content, and you might need some help with that. We provide a full content strategy for Wordpress sites which are built by us, and so do others.

Wordup, the content marketing people, who specialize in content marketing and copywriting services with a considerable degree of success are also well worth a look if you need high end copywriting or content marketing services. Working with brands like Tag Heur, Wavemaker, Jacobs, Mindshare and Munity, they seem to have done a pretty stellar job of elevating the presence of those, and seemingly without any AI or a bot in sight. So I guess for now and the forseeable future, content may still be king, and especially high quality and empirical or personal statistical content written by genuine people with a valid and valuable insight to get across. So get in touch if you need any help with your Wordpress site content, and you can also see if Wordup may be able to help. Just make sure you have already had a burger!
If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Wordpress Dynamic Content!

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Filed under: Marketing, Strategy, TrendsTagged with: ,