BloggingPro » WordPress Plugins http://www.bloggingpro.com News, plugins and themes for blogging applications Mon, 08 Sep 2014 12:00:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 6 WordPress Plugins That Make Migration & Mass Content Creation Simple http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/07/21/best-wordpress-migration-backup-plugins/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/07/21/best-wordpress-migration-backup-plugins/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:00:34 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=30615 There comes a time in every online marketer or website owner’s life when it’s time to move your website and find a new home. Whether it’s because of a poor performing  web host provider or rebranding to a new domain name. Migration can be a pain and without the right tools and knowledge it’s very easy to lose data and create a situation where your site is down and unavailable for days. Losing you potential revenue and visitors.

wordpress themes

Migration is oftentimes technical requiring you to backup and restore databases, move images and other files into their correct directory structures, move and reactivate plugins and widgets. It’s heavy stuff, especially if you have a site rich with thousands of articles and images.

Thankfully, WordPress makes things much easier by allowing the creation of plugins that help take the hassle out of moving. Helping to ensure data integrity and as little downtime as possible.

Here we go:

Widget Importer & Exporter

The Widget Importer and Exporter is nifty little plugin that you can use to create export files containing your widgets that can be shared and uploaded to other WordPress sites. Widget creation has always been a very common problem as usually when WordPress sites are migrated, it’s required to manual copy and create every single widget item individually.

It has a variety of practical applications. It can aid in the process of moving widgets from one site to another and also makes life easier if any of your themes or settings change that could potentially mess up your plugin settings (with Widget Importer & Exporter, you can re-import them en masse and save time). The plugin also takes conflicting and non-existing sidebars into consideration and handles them very well.

Widget Importer and Exporter does exactly what it claims to do and receives a ton of positive reviews.

All-in-One WP Migration

The All-in-One WP Migration plugin allows you to export your database, media files, plugins, and themes in one session and is multisite compatible. You can also apply unlimited find and replace operations on your database and the plugin will also fix any serialization problems that occur during find/replace operations. This is very useful for easily renaming to new domain details and any other prefixes you might want to change as part of the migration process.

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It certainly is an all-in-one solution for WordPress migration and is also well accepted by the community.

WP-DBManager

If you’d like to simply make a copy of your WordPress database then WP-DBManager is an excellent tool packed with additional features to help maintain the health, integrity and security of your database and its backup files.

Although it’s not geared towards being a migration tool, it can save you in the instance of your site being hacked or for some reason becoming corrupt. It’s additional features such as automated scheduled backups, database repair and optimization can be a life saver when you need a backup most. It ensures that you have a copy of your database for restoration in case something tragic happens.

An excellent free backup tool that should accompany every WordPress installation.

Duplicator

Duplicator promises to migrate, backup, copy and clone any WordPress installation from one location to another. The plugin, however, is geared towards more advanced / technical WordPress users and they actually warn not to initiate any of the features without having an above average knowledge of WordPress.

With the demo below, you’ll see that the plugin offers a lot of feedback and scanning capability to help determine file and database sizes and other key info points.

A great tool for every WordPress enthusiast.

WordPress Move

WordPress Move is slightly less powerful than the other plugins I mentioned and requires a bit of customization and tweaking which includes adding FTP access credentials for your new site’s domain. You will also need to have the plugin installed and configured at the destination WordPress installation.

Though less powerful it’s still worth a mention and may prove useful for your preferences.

For Mass Content Creation:

Bulk Page Creator

If you ever need to create a multitude of pages you’re in luck. Bulk Page Creator allows you, from a single screen, to create as many pages you as like, customizing page titles and even specifying a template for content on each page.

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This plugin is a great time saver and is essential if you’re working with a large content site.

Have you ever used the plugins we’ve discussed? We would love your feedback on your experience in the comments below.

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Easy Steps to Add a Welcome Pop-Up Box on Your Blog http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/06/28/easy-steps-add-welcome-pop-box-blog/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/06/28/easy-steps-add-welcome-pop-box-blog/#comments Sun, 29 Jun 2014 02:56:37 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=30524 Anything that pops up on the web is sure to attract attention regardless of its content. But one can be more enticed to read through the content if the pop up box appears on a site you really intend to visit.

Bloggers and publishers can do this via their WordPress site particularly through the widgetized welcome popup plugin. This tool allows a popup window to show automatically when a person visits your site.

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About the Welcome Popup

The welcome popup window has many uses. It can be utilized to introduce your business or your expertise. You can use it to notify visitors about an interesting development in your business, an upcoming event or a new product. Additionally, you can use it to include a call to action or an opt-in form for your visitors.

It is also possible to edit the content using the WYSIWYG editor and shortcodes are allowed. In addition, you can set the frequency of showing it on your blog or website such as once per visit, once fore very few days or every time.

Customization of the popup window is another great advantage. This means you can adjust the window size, overlay colors, font scheme color, background image, number of widget areas, autoclose time and content. The CSS can also be edited.

How to Install the Plugin

To use this plugin in your WordPress site, you need to follow some simple and straightforward steps. Just install and activate it. Once it is activated, a menu item entitled Welcome Popup will show under the Settings section.

Click the menu Settings and Welcome Popup and choose your preferred display mode, color, size, autoclose time, number of widget areas among others.

You can then proceed with selecting the pages where you want the welcome popup to display. Choose between the “homepage and particular posts/pages” or “particular posts/pages” display mode. To assign a particular post or page, just go to the post/page editor and set the welcome popup checkbox.

If you want to add widgets in the welcome popup, you can do so by going to the Appearance section on the left column then go to Widgets. On the widgets page, drag and drop your chosen widgets into the welcome popup area.

There’s a wealth of plugins available today including the WordPress video plugin that are sure to make your blog or website more interactive. Using them is a great way to drive traffic moving forward.

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4 Powerful Free CRM Integrations & Plugins for Your WordPress Site http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/06/09/4-powerful-free-crm-integrations-plugins-wordpress-site/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/06/09/4-powerful-free-crm-integrations-plugins-wordpress-site/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 23:54:08 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=30406 If you’re not measuring your website or business’ performance, or keeping track of client interactions and relationships then you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. As we grow towards learning more about social and business triggers, we realize that having valuable data truly is invaluable. Regardless of whatever type of venture you’re running online. This is the reason for Client Relationship Management (CRMs) becoming so popular in recent times and although the term is new to a majority of us, the term and activities have been around since the 90’s.

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Essentially, CRM refers to the art of using technology to synchronize activities and data from all departments in a business to better understand and relate to clients. It’s about knowing your customers, your readers and your audience. The more you know about your prospects and clients the better your position will be for developing successful strategies to monetize. CRMs ensure that you’re well equipped to keep track of this oftentimes overwhelming data.

With all the premium names in the CRM market like Salesforce and Insight.ly, there are still simple, yet powerful free solutions for the average user who wants to get the ball rolling.

Thanks to the open source WordPress ecosystem, here are 4 free WordPress CRM plugins to get you started.

CiviCRM

CiviCRM is developed specially for non-profits and civic-sector organizations for Drupal, Joomla and WordPress and is perfect for managing events, fundraisers and other types of campaigns. The developers have a closely knit community dedicated to making this software package free and robust. Regardless of its original purpose, the software is free to download by anyone with an interest in its use and building out their own tailor fit CRM solution.

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It’s a powerful software package out of box and is a great way to begin storing and keeping track of clients and your business, all within your WordPress dashboard. It also comes with useful front-end functionality for accommodating membership signups and receiving contributions.

You”ll quickly discover that CiviCRM is powerful not only for your online business but also extending your offline activities and other areas of your business or community.

Click here to access CiviCRM.

WP-CRM

Leveraging WordPress’ basic user management system, WP-CRM allows you to manage lead generation and detailed contact information. With the use of customizable forms, the plugin allows you to edit and manage contacts from within your WordPress admin. Each contact record can be categorized by contact type and has a correspondence thread, so you can keep track of all interactions.

Download WP-CRM here.

PauPress

The PauPress WordPress plugin comes with all the basics you’d expect from a CRM such as basic user detail management, form creation, the ability to create custom fields, strong client organization features, reports, bulk actions and data management. The plugin blends seamlessly with the WordPress interface.

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The developer version of the plugin comes with additional features such as MailChimp integration, e-commerce engine, user content submissions, membership and directory features and more. However, the basic free package is quite enough to get you started.

Download Paupress here.

WordPress Leads

The WordPress Leads plugin will probably be the most user-friendly and complete solution for the WordPress lover as it works in conjunction with WordPress Landing Pages & WordPress Calls to Action to create a powerful & free lead generation system for your website. It’s a feature packed solution that comes with everything you’ll ever need from a basic CRM.

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The plugin integrates with 75 other email marketing service providers and premium CRMs, Google Analytics, offers powerful reporting and client analysis tools, track page conversions, visual form builder, lead synchronization with other systems, search functions and detailed client info. A complete all-in-one.

Download WordPress Leads here.

All the plugins reviewed come with excellent community support to help you get started with better managing client and business data.

If you haven’t already developed a system for client management, now is the time. And if WordPress is your website platform of choice then it’s now easier than ever to manage your business centrally.

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How to Add a Floating Sticky Sidebar to WordPress & Boost Conversions (Without Code) http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/06/02/create-floating-sticky-fixed-sidebar-wordpress-plugin/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/06/02/create-floating-sticky-fixed-sidebar-wordpress-plugin/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 22:17:23 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=30390 With readers growing blind to banner ads and attention spans decreasing, we need new ways to increase readership and garner more clickthroughs. Sticky elements that hover, float, slide and pop out at us do tend to have higher clickthrough rates than traditional static content. When used sparingly of course. Therefore, visual appeal and positioning play keys roles in determining how users interact with your content and other site elements. Having great content is the first step and an attractive design and layout seals the deal.

wordpress blog customization

Thankfully, it’s quite easy to integrate styles that help boost the visibility of various blog elements without the need to jump into code. Through simple yet powerful WordPress tools and editing plugins, we can accomplish great things without dabbling in too much code. One very effective element design is the floating sidebar.

The floating sidebar ensures that at least one section of your sidebar is always visible as your readers scroll down the page. Making whatever content in that position stand out whether it’s an ad, email signup box or link to more content on your site.

Here’s a quick walkthrough of this awesome WordPress plugin.

Install the Q2W3 Fixed Widget (Sticky Widget)

The Q2W3 Fixed Widget is capable of instantly transforming any widgetized sidebar element into a customizable sticky, non-intrusive  attention seeker.

Once the plugin is installed and activated, hover over Appearance, then select Fixed Widget Options. Here you’ll be presented with a set of options that most WordPress users can ignore. However, depending on your particular theme and layout, you may need to adjust margins and other properties.

floating sidebar wordpress plugin

Essentially, you’re able to tweak the options until they fit your theme perfectly.

Margin Top & Bottom: These refer to the vertical positioning of your widget

Refresh Interval: Changing this may be necessary if your theme uses dynamic content such as infinite scroll, lazy load and other javascript based elements. If you don’t have dynamic content, this can be set to zero.

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The other elements usually work out of the box and are self explanatory.

The Next Step

Go to your Widgets page in WordPress admin and check the particular widget you’d like to make sticky. Hit Save and you’re done!

Click here to download the Q2W3 Fixed Widget.

Begin Focusing on Conversions

Writing with real conversions in mind as the end result is one of the keys to building a successful blog. A results-driven mindset leads to better writing, improved engagement for readers and an open mind to strategies that work.

A sticky bar is ideal for any content you need to standout and coupled with these powerful conversion optimization strategies, you’ll be well on your way to making your website or blog a greater success.

Bear in mind, however, that simplicity is always better when trying to improve clicks and conversion on your site. One main, targeted option presented to readers will far outperform a crowded page with 10 call to action buttons. More does not mean better in these scenarios and can degrade user experience. Do everything in moderation.

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A Forum May Be The Missing Link From Your Blog – 3 Powerful WP Plugins http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/05/05/wordpress-blog-needs-forum-plugins/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/05/05/wordpress-blog-needs-forum-plugins/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 01:14:46 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=30273 As you grow and develop as a blogger or writer you will need to continuously focus on how you’re going to drive traffic by providing content readers find interesting. Your ability to spark conversations and get people thinking and talking about you, your brand or commentary is what will help create relationships and build authority. Authority in search engines or in the minds of your readers is not about how much content you can create but how much value you can squeeze into every encounter.

wordpress forum plugins

As bloggers, how do we provide value for our users and readers? Your answer will depend on what your goals are and what niches you’re serving, but in our field, engaging conversations have proven to be particularly valuable. This is the reason many marketers who have ventured into the world of forum building have enjoy success beyond what they could ever imagine. Since this form of communication offers a richer, more personal and direct experience for individuals seeking answers to questions and a desire to interact.

A forum might be the missing puzzle piece in your blog marketing strategy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that a forum is an automatic solution for garnering authority and traffic but it’s a tool when executed properly and with diligence, produces real results.

The Benefits of Building & Maintaining a Forum

Community Driven Free Content – Helping You to Rank Higher

There’s no doubt that building a forum is an extremely challenging task. However, the hard work pays off richly. Due to its conversational nature, most of the content will be created by the discussions and topics generated by users of the site. All this user generated content is adding value to your site in the form of search engine crawlable information. This contributes massively to how content rich your site becomes and is a pool of resources for search engines to present your site in results pages.

The value will be greater if it’s a forum that encourages users to ask questions. These questions posed on the forum will more than likely serve others using search engines to find information and answers to similar questions. Thus increasing search traffic and relevance on that particular subject.

Reader Loyalty

On the road to building authority in your niche, reader trust and loyalty will play key roles for your blog’s performance and strategy. As readers create their accounts and build their reputation and profile on your forum, it becomes more like a valid identity that needs to be maintained. An identity within a community that hopefully provides interesting topics daily that appeal to them; with new characters showing up everyday to engage. This is the type of experience you should build and once you’ve accomplished that, it doesn’t stop growing.

Greater Access to Visitors

Since forums are usually very closely-knit, whether it’s through sharing thoughts on mutual interests or combating in opposing views and critiques, you have a unique opportunity to frequently talk directly to users without being intrusive. As relationships build you’ll earn the right to market, promote and ask questions about basically anything reasonable. It offers unprecedented access.

The Great Thing About WordPress

The awesome thing about WordPress is that you do not need to build a forum website from scratch. There are quite a few free and paid plugins out there to integrate a forum easily into your current blog without drastically changing the look and feel of your existing theme. The plugins are super compatible with WordPress and are frequently maintained to ensure quality.

The 3 main ready-to-go, out of box WordPress forum plugins I recommend are:

1. bbPress

Developed by the creators of WordPress, bbPress integrates seamlessly with basically any WordPress installation. It provides a clean, familiar interface with functions for moderation, post subscriptions, topics, replies, spam filtering and customized widgets. Plus, content created within the forum is SEO-friendly.

Check out bbPress here.

2. WP Symposium

WP Symposium has a more social network feel to it with practically all the options supported by bbPress. It comes in both free and paid version and offers more advanced features such as post voting, creating forums within forums, deeper access restrictions, managing users ranks and layout customization.

A very flexible plugin if you need more options.

Download WP Symposium here.

3. AnsPress

AnPress WordPress Forum plugin

AnsPress is still in development but pretty useful nonetheless. It’s not your typical forum presentation but leans towards a questions and answers format similar to Quora.com. This plugin requires very little modification as the out of box look perfectly suits the purpose. The plugin’s features are not quite as extensive as those above, however. Users can comment on questions and answers with voting included; and both answers and questions can be edited and flagged.

Another unique way to approach community building options for your blog.

Download AnsPress here.

A forum may certainly be the next thing you should try to give your blog’s brand a boost. Bear in mind that you will need to execute this new venture with a well thought out marketing plan of action. It’s not a set and forget scheme, but will require your complete investment of time and patience. That thought shouldn’t be strange since that’s how the greatest communities are built, not by accident.

Do you have any experience with forum community building? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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The Ultimate Resource Guide for New WordPress Bloggers in 2014 http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/04/28/seo-blogging-plugins-social-media-guide-for-new-wp-bloggers/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/04/28/seo-blogging-plugins-social-media-guide-for-new-wp-bloggers/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 23:34:51 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=30206 Thinking of launching a WordPress blog/site? Or maybe you’ve grown tired of your existing blog after learning that you’ve been doing it all wrong? It’s not too late to start or restart. Blogging and internet marketing in general to achieve real results is getting more challenging by the day but at the same time there are definite methods and routes to take to achieve success.

wordpress bloggers

In this fast paced blogging race there’s no time to reinvent the wheel and learn everything on your own from scratch but there exists a vast pool of resources made available from those who have traveled the long hard journey and persevered. Trying to find the perfect marketing model, best WordPress themes and tried and proven SEO techniques can be daunting. So I’ve decided to share some of my experiences developing websites and building blogs to make your journey more seamless and rewarding.

Running a successful WordPress blog requires a dedicated approach to quality, persistence and patience when working towards genuine and profitable results. Here are key resources every blogger will need to build a solid and secure foundation for a successful online business. These plugins, tools and resources are tried and tested over the years so I can definitely vouch for them.

Email Marketing

In your overall marketing strategy there needs to be a way for you to develop lasting relationships with site visitors beyond your blog articles. Email list building is a powerful way to accomplish this, which enables you to keep in touch with subscribers on a more regular basis. An opportunity for you to build trust through powerful relationships.

GetResponse is one of the most powerful email marketing solutions you’ll find on the market and a tool like this is vital for your list building. Forget about sending individual emails via your personal email accounts. Their software allows you to create professional campaigns with statistics and template creation. Their Learning Center is also a useful resource to get started on setting up a mailing list and how to market to your acquired audience. In addition, they have a useful WordPress plugin to integrate a subscription form on your blog that links directly to your GetResponse account. Certainly powerful.

Building relationships will be vital for your long-term blogging success.

WordPress Themes

The main things to take note of when choosing your WordPress theme are:Responsive wordpress themes

  1. Is it mobile-friendly and responsive?
  2. Does the design make sense and places content as priority?
  3. Is it from a reliable source?
  4. Is it customizable with a user-friendly admin panel?

These are important qualities to consider when choosing a theme, whether it’s a free theme or paid. I particularly love WordPress themes on the Themeforest marketplace and for free themes, I encourage you to try WP Explorer.

The Technical Stuff

Web Hosting & Domain Registration

Finding the right web host for a self hosted WordPress site is quite challenging as there are so many skewed reviews and false claims geared towards making the respective hosting provider look great. Even when their service is frankly, poor and debilitating. I’ve used about 7 different web hosts in the past before settling with the perfect ones that simply work.

Don’t spend hours searching, here are the top performing web hosts for your WordPress blog:

For lower budget and moderate traffic: HostGator & Bluehost – Both starting at around $5 per month, depending on your plan.

For higher end services with the ability to scale for huge spikes in traffic and resource demands, then WP Engine is perfect. Their package starts at $29 per month. More expensive but is highly recommended if you’ve managed to build a very busy blog with high user resource demands.

You won’t go wrong with these options.

Vital WordPress Plugins to Install

Here are some powerful free plugins to install to get you going with security, SEO and social sharing:

WP DB Manager – I can’t stress enough the importance of having backups to secure your content. This plugin automatically backups up your database and will even email you a copy of your database files on a regular schedule.

SEO by Yoast – This is probably the only SEO plugin you’ll ever need. Forget about plugins that claim to automatically boost your rankings. Magically! Those statements are ridiculously untrue and you’ll be wasting time and money. This plugin allows you to create important sitemaps, assign title and description meta data and many more SEO related functions for perfect on-site optimization.

Login Lockdown – Login lockdown blocks users from accessing your admin dashboard once they’ve repeatedly incorrectly attempted to login to your site. This is the typical profile of a brute force hack.

Flare Social Share Icons – This is a beautiful set of floating social sharing icons to complement your WordPress theme. You need a method for your content to be shared and this is one of the most elegant plugins available for free.

There are definitely more plugins out there to try depending on what you want to accomplish but installing these will ensure you’re not wasting time on the basics.

Google Tools

Google Analytics – This allows you to track all traffic coming to your site. This is vital for studying your visitor behavior to determine your marketing strategies that work.

Google Webmaster Tools – A free and powerful SEO tool that most webmasters under utilize and end up paying for services that this tool offers for free. Integrating this tool will allow you to track links to your site, revise your linking profile, get your websites indexed by Google faster and many other tools that affect the health and performance of your website in search. A must have.

Keyword Planner – This is the Google Adwords keyword tool that advertisers use to determine which keywords to target for their search advertising campaigns. Although this is targeted to advertisers, the keyword data provided will help you to better understand what people are searching for and the volumes and value of the different phrases on the market. Use this to help steer your site’s content toward relevant and regularly searched keyword terms.

More SEO Resources & Which to Trust

Everybody these days seem to be an expert on SEO. However, there’s some advice that will potentially destroy your site’s reputation in search engines in the long-term. Here are the only SEO resources you’ll need to launch the first leg of your blogging journey:

Google’s Webmaster Tools Youtube Channel – Look for Matt Cutts’ series of videos where he answers question posed by users throughout the global web community. Chances are some of the questions you have will be answered here, saving you a lot of time.

Check out this video with Matts Cutts addressing WordPress and best practices at Word Camp 2009. It’s an old video but still relevant and useful nonetheless.

The Quicksprout University – The online guide was created by Neil Patel, who is a proven white-hat SEO expert with real experiences that helped many major brands improve their rankings in search engines. Neil is a huge advocate for safe and authentic techniques that yield real results in the long-term that last. He debunks the hype and shares what really works for websites and businesses. It’s a lot of content and is worth approaching like a study.

Any resources on the web that claim to be able to show you how to rank overnight without much effort should be avoided. Note also, that in many cases these techniques work but in due time Google’s algorithms will notice the site’s profile and will downgrade the its ranking or even blacklist. Black hat is not a long-term strategy for blogs looking for reputable and long-term success.

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Social Media & Marketing

Social media is another powerful tool when it comes to building relationships. I know many new bloggers are asking how can I get 1,000 followers or how can I create a respected voice that will lead to sales and income? It begins with one reader or user at a time. Do not think about trying to acquire 1,000 fans or followers. Instead, think about how you intend to create genuine relationships. The numbers are irrelevant and your focus on that superficial metric will not yield maximum results. Remember, we’re thinking long-term and your energy needs to be directed to providing genuine experiences for all. So as you engage users on social networks, be of service to those you come in contact with, share and engage in useful conversation. The opportunities will come to talk about your brand and website, that just should never be your primary goal. You’re not a traditional salesman.

Building your profile in these communities  will yield excellent results for you. A presence on 100 different social sites will not make a bigger splash but instead drive you thin. As a new blogger, target and focus only on a few networks and make those few count in a big way.

The tool to use here is Hootsuite which allows you to seamlessly manage 5 social media accounts from a neat interface along with a few other useful tools for bloggers. Thus eliminating the need to be switching screens and logins. A powerful time saver.

The networks I recommend for new bloggers are mainly Twitter, Google +, Triberr, LinkedIn & Facebook. The list order is intentional. Every follower, user and connection is important and worth engaging at some level. That’s how you’ll begin to build your reputation.

Your First Blogging Book to Read

The first book on blogging I’ll encourage you to start reading is Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. His book takes readers through the practical steps of running and marketing a blog. It’s a guide / workbook that gets you working on the techniques that actually yield results in daily bite size chunks. It’s super easy to read and is powerful for both seasoned and new bloggers. The book simply gets you working and helps to mold your habits to that of success. This book will change your blogging life and set you on the right track.

Other Trends & Concepts to Watch

Bear in mind that the blogging landscape is always changing and you will always need to be on the lookout for where attention is shifting and how networks are expanding and reaching more people. Here are 3 vital concepts that will benefit you to keep an eye on and begin preparing for a revolution.

Video Blogging – As more users consume content via sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, you will need to position yourself to take advantage of this audience and begin producing your content through this medium. Video is much easier to consume.

Social Signals & SEO – Basically, the more your content is shared, mentioned, linked and bookmarked, it gives the impression to search engines that your content is useful, relevant and share-worthy. That’s the type of content that gets prioritized in search engines. Therefore your social media strategy cannot be ignored.

Content Marketing – Content marketing is changing and the old techniques and key performance indicators are falling away. The perfect content strategy will make a huge difference a year from now. Catch up with Contently’s Content Strategists blog as they share the content marketing strategies that work while giving real statistics and insights into proven data.

Hopefully, this guide has helped to shed some light on how to approach your blogging journey. Remember to take it all one step at a time and I can confidently say that these resources are all you’ll need to get the ball rolling towards making a huge, positive impact in the blogosphere.

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5 Steps To Easily Create Successful WordPress Landing Pages http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/04/16/5-steps-easily-create-successful-wordpress-landing-pages/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/04/16/5-steps-easily-create-successful-wordpress-landing-pages/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 01:24:33 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=30152 wordpress landing pages
A successful landing page can make or break a product. Poorly crafted landing pages will drive visitors away, while well done landing pages will entice them to learn more and hopefully become a paying customer! In this post I’m going to show you how to use the new FastLine Page Builder plugin to easily bring your landing page ideas to reality within your WordPress powered website.

Before you get your hands dirty, you’ll need to do some homework. After all, it’s not about the tools you use, but the content and message you are trying to convey. With that said, let’s get inspired.

1. Getting Inspired

Throughout the years, I’ve found that it’s a heck of a lot easier to come up with ideas by looking at what others have done than staring at a blank page. The internet is a vast landscape that offers many different avenues for finding inspiration, with the most ubiquitous being a Google search. Just pop in some terms that are relevant to what you’re trying to create and have a look at what others have been up to.

No matter where you like to look on the internet (or in print if you fancy that) for inspiration, get out there and start throwing some ideas around in your head. Once you feel confident in moving forward with an idea, you’re ready to start planning out your content.

2. Plan Your Content

Before you start thinking about layout, you’ll need to put some thought into the content for your new landing page. I don’t recommend worrying too much about making it perfect at this point, that will come later. Instead, I typically create an outline of what I want to say on the page starting with the main hero/headline and work my way down to the supporting sections.

Don’t hesitate to include filler text where needed to help move the creative process along. You don’t want to get hung up trying to write the perfect sentence at this point in the process! We’ll get into fine tuning things after we have a built layout to work with.

3. Choose A Page Builder

Now that you’re inspired and have an idea of what your content will look like, let’s get building! WordPress’ default editor is fantastic for blogging, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite as well for creating custom landing pages. To achieve a custom layout without having to write code, you’re going to have to choose a page builder plugin to use.

The page builder options seem endless these days and unfortunately, many of them aren’t good enough to get the job done without a lot of headache. While the link above offers a handful of solid solutions, today I’m going to be talking about the FastLine Page Builder plugin, recently released by yours truly!

4. Create A Quick Draft

To get things moving along, try to complete the first draft of your landing page quickly. This will allow you to start seeing things visually while assessing whether your ideas are working while they come to life. You’ll see in the example below that I created in less than five minutes, things aren’t perfect, but it’s a start.
wordpress landing pages
Accomplishing this within the FastLine Page Builder is easy. Just drag the content you want in your page from the panel on the right, fill out the settings for that module and click save!

Go ahead and try out a handful of quick ideas to see what’s working for you and what’s not. Once you’re happy with your draft layout it’s time to tighten your page up and get it ready for launch!

5. Finishing Up

Once you have the structure of your layout together, it’s time to start tightening up the content. I like to start with one section at a time, fine tuning the text and images until I feel like that section is perfect or close to it. This is the step where you want to spend as much time as possible getting those things right that you waited on earlier.

After I’ve gone through everything, I typically set the page aside for a few hours, possibly a day, and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes for another round of fine tuning. At this point, I like to take a step back and ask myself if the final product conveys the message that I am trying to get across. If it does, great! If not, I’ll continue fine tuning the content until I have a page that I feel is ready for prime time.

Conclusion

The beauty of using a WordPress page builder plugin to create your landing pages is that you aren’t limited by technical constraints or the quotas you might encounter when using a cloud solution. Getting good at building successful landing pages takes time, but it’s a lot easier to practice when you can create as many as you would like, quickly and easily, using a tool like the FastLine Page Builder plugin.

When creating a landing page that you intend to help you sell, always remember to get inspired, focus on your content and use a tool that will make accomplishing your goals a breeze.

Why not give the FastLine Page Builder plugin and see how it makes your task easier and get results?

This post was written by Justin Busa of FastLine Media.

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6 Free WordPress Plugins to Retain Readers & Decrease Bounce Rate http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/04/14/free-wordpress-plugins-reduce-decrease-bounce-rate/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/04/14/free-wordpress-plugins-reduce-decrease-bounce-rate/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 21:06:57 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=30133 If a majority of your readers are visiting your blog only to leave within a few seconds without ever venturing to additional pages, chances are your blog has a high bounce rate. That’s not pretty. It means that your content may not be attractive, does not effectively target the right readers or something could be technically wrong with your site that is preventing readers from seeing relevant content.

blog bounce rate

Retaining readers is the key to having profitable experiences with your blog, regardless of your niche. Therefore, whatever you’re selling, you need to capture the attention of your readers. These statistics are vital for reviewing your online business model and testing different messages that work. Google Analytics is a free tool that every blogger should be using to keep track of site visitors. If you haven’t yet created an account and started tracking, now’s the time. Your statistics tell a very honest story of how successful your blogging tactics are.

In addition to making more engaging content, reducing site load times and encouraging discussion, there are a few useful WordPress plugins that can be installed to help create that engaging experience for users. Prompting them to click often, read and buy more of your stuff.

Here we go:

1. nrelate Flyout Plugin

nrelate flyout wordpress plugin

The nrelate Flyout Plugin initiates a neat slide out panel at the bottom of your readers’ screen prompting them to click through to more content on your blog. It’s difficult to ignore as it moves in a manner that breaks the flow of the scrolling page, without being too intrusive. It captures the readers attention. Ensure your article titles are engaging enough to entice a click through though.

The plugin automatically analyzes your website to display the most related and best suited results in the fly out. The plugin is set by default to fly out at the end of the article content, presumably at the point your readers would complete reading the article.

2. Thank Me Later Plugin

thank me later wordpress plugin

Thank Me Later automatically sends your readers a customizable HTML “thank you” email once they submit a post comment. Therefore, without wasting any time, you can start engaging via email, nudging the reader to come back for more.

Use this plugin sparingly, however, since the reader did not sign up for a “newsletter” by submitting a comment. Keep the tone of the email message as a thank you note with a brief reminder to check back the site for more.

3. Comment Redirect

Comment Redirect automatically sends your first time blog readers to a page of your choice after submitting a comment. A much safer and non-intrusive method than the Thank Me Later. This page can be a highly optimized sales page, subscription page or a presentation of your most valuable content; encouraging the user to keep reading on. A very simple, yet powerful plugin to direct your readers to the content you want to push.

4. YARRP

The Yet Another Related Posts Plugin automatically displays pages and posts related to the page your users are currently reading. Your blog should not present one instance or type of content unless you’re aggressively trying to convert for a specific service. Otherwise, as a reader completes an article, there should be an opportunity to read something else. YARRP takes care of this by presenting customizable related stories.

5. WPTouch Mobile Plugin

free wordpress mobile plugin

After analyzing your website statistics for your blog, you may notice that the majority of your readers who leave your pages without reading are mobile users. This could mean that your site isn’t presented well on mobile devices and thus your site is ignored when accessed. The WP Touch plugin serves up a beautiful mobile version of your website to all mobile users.

As over 50% of all global internet users now access the web primarily through a mobile device, it’s imperative that your site renders seamlessly for these devices. You are missing out on a great deal of traffic and potential sales by ignoring this. There’s no excuse as this plugin makes it as easy as a click of a but.

6. Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box

This Scroll Triggered Pop-up Box plugin comes with a feature usually found in premium, paid plugins. That’s a triggered pop-up that you can customize with any content you wish. The pop-up box is designed to be triggered based on certain events you specify such as percentage of the page scrolled by the user, reaching the end of a post or comment or other element.

This free plugin comes packed with lots of features giving you control over its design through predefined templates or your own HTML and CSS and other settings that can help the pop-up box to be as less intrusive as possible.

scroll triggered pop up wordpress plugin

Reducing Your Bounce Rate is Easier Than You Think

Your bounce rate can drastically change by implementing just a few simple changes to your blog. Many without the use of plugins and an example of which is by simply asking or requesting input from your audience. It’s time to conduct an audit of your WordPress site to determine how you can offer more to your readers and build more sustained relationships.

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5 Powerful Drag & Drop Page & Layout Builder Plugins for WordPress http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/03/24/5-drag-drop-page-layout-builder-plugins-wordpress/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/03/24/5-drag-drop-page-layout-builder-plugins-wordpress/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 23:53:41 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=29999 Gone are the days of being completely reliant on a web developer for getting the most out of your website or blog design. To make any changes that affected design and functionality, one would almost always have to consult a developer or designer to get the job done. Or maybe you’re still in that boat. With the rise in availability of free and premium WordPress themes many non-developers have been able to easily launch respectable web presences.

Wordpress Page Builder

Theme and plugin marketplaces such as Themeforest, Eleganthemes or Woothemes provide lots of quality themes to choose from with functions that seamlessly offer the average person, with a little heart, the ability to customize their website to a certain degree.

Traditionally, there’s a limit on what can be done with these premium themes and users often find themselves hitting a ceiling on how far they can go in customizing themes without the help of a developer. At some point, what you do with your theme still ends up looking similar to others who may have purchased the same theme you’re using. You still sacrifice originality.

The great news is that WordPress developers around the world are continuously working to revolutionize how non-developers work online and we now have a few powerful plugins with the power to completely overhaul any WordPress website without getting into any serious coding.

Here are 5 affordable, easy to use and powerful WordPress layout builder plugins that will place the power of a developer in your hands. They’re all you’ll ever need.

1. Visual Composer for WordPress

Visual Composer is one of the best layout builder plugins I’ve used so far as the creators are somewhat close to perfecting the art of making the design process seamless for newbies. There’s still a slight learning curve though. However, nothing too terrifying.

You’ll find this plugin on codecanyon.net, a WordPress plugin marketplace with so many options you won’t know what to do with yourself. Visual Composer builds layouts that are responsive and mobile-ready and with over 40 beautiful content elements. It also gives users the option of embedding widgets within page and post content. Something that many other theme builders can’t get right.

The cool thing about this plugin that makes it stand-out is that it gives you the option to create your own reusable page layouts templates. Other page builders require that you start from scratch for every page you’re building. So if you have a cool layout that you want to use for multiple pages, simply save that layout design and open for use on your other pages. Big time saver! The plugin has worked with every theme I’ve used it on, which means great compatibility, and can be used with almost any post type.

Check out the video below to get a more in-depth look at its features in use.

It’s an affordable $30 at the Codecanyon marketplace. Trust me, that’s a steal for all the capabilities packed into the plugin.

Get the Visual Composer WordPress plugin here.

2. Elegant Themes Drag & Drop Page Builder

This drag and drop page builder is a great layout builder plugin that allows you to create multi-column and highly customizable layouts for your WordPress site. Its unique canvas allows you to add preset elements such as sliders, tabs, buttons, columns, icons, boxes, tabbed content and more to uniquely customize your pages.

Here’s a video to get an idea of how the plugin works:

Elegant Themes is a theme club, so their price of $89 not only gives you access to download the page builder plugin but also full access to download their database of 87 premium WordPress themes. That’s a great deal and their themes are well built.

Download their page builder plugin here.

3. Ether Content Builder

Ether is another Codecanyon marketplace plugin for the non-developer interested in creating powerful site layouts and designs. Not quite as feature rich and seamless as I would want it to be but its a pretty useful page builder nevertheless.

Give the plugin a test drive here and you’ll find their sales page here.

Free Options:

If you’re definitely on a tight budget and really need some extra customization options for your website or blog for free, then these will give you a start.

4. Zilla Shortcodes Plugin

This is a useful free WordPress plugin allowing you to add columns, buttons, toggles, alerts and tabs with the click of a button. Its not as powerful as the paid options above but will definitely give you functions and features you won’t find in your standard WordPress installation.

Download the plugin from Themezilla here.

5. Shortcodes Ultimate

Though I’ve never given this WordPress plugin a try, it seems to provide a decent set of options such as column layouts, tabs, media embeds, sliders, dividers, boasting 40+ shortcodes and responsive layouts. They have a 4.7 out of 5 star rating in the WordPress plugin repository so that should count for something.

screenshot-2

Download and give it a try.

These options are free but bear in mind that free plugins don’t usually come with active support. If you run into any problems using them, you will basically have to rely on the WordPress community to help out.

These powerful drag and drop WordPress layout builder plugins are exactly what you’ll need to customize your blog or traditional website.

Have you spotted or used any WordPress layout builders that you absolutely love and think tops these that I’ve mentioned? Feel free to share them below in the comments.

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Plugin Review: Pippity Popup http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/03/06/plugin-review-pippity-popup/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/03/06/plugin-review-pippity-popup/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 12:00:15 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=29672 Let me get this straight from the get go: I am not a big fan of popups on web sites. I think they’re intrusive, especially if you can’t get rid of them without subscribing or responding to whatever call to action is presented.

Pippity popup

You’ll understand then, that when the idea of using a popup plugin for BloggingPro (and other Splashpress Media sites) were brought up, I was less than enthusiastic. Then again, I recognize the fact that many other big web sites are using popups – not to mention my belief in trying something at least once and seeing how it goes.

That brings us to the WordPress plugin called Pippity.

What Pippity Does

Pippity is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create popups to invite people to sign up for your newsletter. Just like any other plugin, you install it on your WordPress site, and then configure it to your satisfaction. That’s where Pippity stands out.

Advantages of Pippity and Our Own Experience

I’ve never hidden my lack of enthusiasm for popups, but Pippity offers such flexibility that you are able to tweak your popup so that it works in the “best possible way”.

What does this mean? In my book, important elements include:

  • Aesthetics – the popup has to look good and match the site’s theme
  • Customization of popup elements – being able to use custom images, choose fonts, etc.
  • Settings that will offer users as an unobstrusive experience as possible
  • Easy set up

Guess what? I was totally relieved that Pippity meets all of the above.

Setting up

If you’ve installed other WordPress plugins before, this should be a breeze. It’s basically the same process, except that you will have to connect your email newsletter service/platform to the plugin. To be honest, I was surprised to see how easy it was to do that.

Pippity Popup

We use Aweber for our newsletter service, and it was a matter of clicking the “Automagic” feature, which gives you clear instructions to connect the services. All you need is the ability to follow instructions and a little common sense.

Themes

Pippity Themes

Pippity has 12 basic designs to choose from, so that you can opt for the one that fits your site’s theme best. This is great if you don’t have a lot of time, or you don’t have enough technical knowledge to create your own theme. That leads us to another crucial point: Pippity allows you to upload your own theme.

Customization of elements

Pippity customization

Once you’ve settled on the general look of your Pippity popup,  you can then go ahead and tweak the design as much as you want. Change the font type, size, and color if you want. You can also change the colors of other elements – opacity, copy,

Settings

You know how irritating it can be when popups keep popping up no matter what you do? With Pippity, you can make sure your readers don’t have that experience. You have full control over the behavior of your popup – from how many seconds before the popup shows up to pageviews before the popup appears. The latter is important to me, because I think users should see at least one page/post before being invited to subscribe to a newsletter, don’t you? You can also choose how many days before the popup appears again, making sure you give readers time to breathe.

Our Results

Before using Pippity, what we had was this little tab on the side of the web page.

Newsletter Signup Tab

Readers have to click on the tab for the newsletter sign up form to show up.

Newsletter Signup Tab Open

It worked, sure, but we didn’t really get a lot of sign ups even though it had been there for months on end. With only a hundred or so subscribers, there really wasn’t much to lose by trying out Pippity popup, right? So tried it we did, and you might have noticed this popup showing up in recent weeks.

Pippity Popup

Believe it or not, we’ve almost quadrupled our subscribers since we’ve used Pippity, and we’re still getting sign ups every day.

This is a case of me eating my words. I may not like popups but with the right tools and proper tweaking and testing, they do work!

Do you have your own newsletter? Why not give Pippity a try?

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Back to Basics for WordPress Content Management http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/01/23/back-basics-wordpress-content-management/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/01/23/back-basics-wordpress-content-management/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=29411 As a WordPress developer, I love to geek out when building client sites. Finding excuses to use shortcodes, leveraging page templates & custom fields to standardize design and imagining better data structure with custom post types are part of my daily joys.

wordpress-yesSource

My clients however couldn’t care less. In fact, most of them don’t even understand what I did to create the customized admin interface that they assume to be “standard WordPress” anyway. All they want is something that works well and is easy to use.

That’s good news for WordPress, which a great CMS solution: all about making things work, keeping content organized and providing edit tools that are intuitive.

A few months ago, I was working on a custom WooCommerce project that sold products so complex that the FAQ page became a rather important part of the puzzle. Their old site’s FAQ page was just a bunch of answered dumped onto a page. As a result, a large part of the owner’s time was wasted responding to inquiries already answered on the website. So I searched the repository for some cool FAQ plugins to use and what I found was very interesting.

All the popular FAQ plugins, such as WP Awesome FAQ Plugin and SP responsive wp-faq plugin, were highly-involving custom post-type based solutions. The philosophy behind them is that 1 question = 1 post so that the questions can be organized by taxonomies and displayed with templates.

Custom Post Types are too involving for some cases.

There is no doubt that these plugins are well engineered and that custom post types are an amazingly fun and powerful feature to use, but they have a strong short-coming. Anyone who has committed to a custom post-type driven plugin and decides to switch to a different solution knows what I am talking about: there isn’t an easy way to keep your data if the name of the post-type is different from one plugin to another. Savvy WordPress developers can attempt to edit the database manually; but for regular users it’s a nightmare of copy-pasting.

In fact, for something like FAQs where there are many small questions and answers that just creating such a large amount of posts can be a irritatingly repetitive task. Even when that’s done, there will be extra work teaching the client to use said system and explaining its value.

There has to be another way.

That’s what I told myself when thinking of the best solution possible to keep my client’s FAQ page simple and yet easily search-able.

I pondered that one of the core features behind the success of WordPress is that it provides a standardized way to format content. All posts, taxonomies, users and settings can be exported and maintained across installs, updates and themes. This is also why HTML itself works: all browsers expect the same tags and know how to display them.

Every page has headers.

In my search for the most obvious solution possible, I realized that just about every page online that is longer than a couple paragraphs makes use of HTML header tags. They structure the page visually, making it easier to browse and skip right to the content that sparks your interest.

So why not simply index those headers?

That’s exactly what I did. I wrote up some jQuery to browse the FAQ page for headers and generate a list of index links on the fly. Upon clicking one of those links, a user’s browser will scroll straight down to the header it indexes.

Problem solved!

Combined with a contextual search form for users who aren’t blessed with knowledge of the on-page search available with modern browsers; I had created an elegant solution to simplify searching through an entire FAQ. It was so simple to implement that I was literally able to copy-paste their old FAQ page from a non-WordPress site. As for my client they will never have to worry about managing dozens of posts or manually editing a list of anchor links.

the contextual search and index of links to headers

So came the Search & Index Page Content plugin.

I have released this solution in a simple, unobtrusive plugin format. Simply sliding a widget into the sidebar and wrapping a page’s content with a shortcode will reveal the search form and headers index links… for that page only. Search & Index Page Content works for any WP 3.6+ install, as long as your post or page to index contains headers.

download Search & Index Page Content

So next time you are over-engineering a solution to a basic web design problem using WordPress, try to ask yourself: “isn’t there a simpler way?”.

822

Adal Bermann is a full-time WordPress developer based in San Francisco. Follow him on Google+ and at ADALDESIGN.com

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How to Eliminate WordPress Blog Comment Spam http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/01/14/eliminate-wordpress-blog-comment-spam/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/01/14/eliminate-wordpress-blog-comment-spam/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2014 12:08:45 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=29365
How to Eliminate WordPress Blog Comment Spam (via http://paulschaecker.blogspot.nl)

By Sven Hylten-Cavallius in Blogs & Podcasts Featured One of the most serious problems with any blogging system, including WordPress, is that the comments area is wide open to that scourge of the Internet, spammers. In this case, it’s comment spam…



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5 Useful WordPress Plugins & Methods to Make Your Website Faster http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/08/26/5-useful-wordpress-plugins-methods-to-make-your-website-faster/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/08/26/5-useful-wordpress-plugins-methods-to-make-your-website-faster/#comments Mon, 26 Aug 2013 12:00:59 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=28519 wordpress plugins
Got a slow website? I know how frustrating it can be to open your website only to wait 3 minutes until it fully loads. If your website garners many daily visitors, I can only imagine the sheer panic you may feel when you open your website only to see that it’s not loading at all. “How many visitors am I losing this very moment?” you may wonder. Did you know that your website conversion rate decreases by a whopping 7% for every second your website loading speed is delayed?

There could be two reasons as to why your website is always painfully slow:

–       Your website is using more resources than available (too much content)

–       Your web hosting service is terrible

All is not lost, though. There are many different WordPress plugins and tricks to make your website faster without the need to remove content or switch web hosting services (only if it’s not too bad). Let us clue you in on 5 of them:

Smush.it

wordpress plugins

Created by Yahoo, this plugin comes in especially useful for image-based websites. It speeds up your website by optimizing images. The plugin does it in several different ways:

–       Stripping meta data from JPEGs

–       Optimizing JPEG compression

–       Converting GIFs to indexed PNGs

–       Stripping the unused colors from indexed images

Whenever you add an image to a page or post, Smush.it automatically optimizes it without you having to do anything. If you want a quick fix to your website’s slow speed, you can use the plugin to “smush” your existing images via your media library.

W3 Total Cache

wordpress plugins

Advertised as the only WordPress Performance Optimization framework that actually works, W3 Total Cache improves your website speed by compressing CSS and JavaScript in memory, caching feeds, search result, database, and objects in memory or on disk, grouping javaScript by template with embed location control, and minifying all the unnecessary codes in posts, pages, feeds, JavaScript, and CSS. In other words, W3 Total Cache does all the dirty work for you. This plugin especially comes in useful if you don’t trust yourself to get your hands dirty with coding.

According to the developers of this excellent plugin, you can “improve the user experience for your readers without having to change WordPress, your theme, your plugins, or how you produce your content.” Definitely at the top of the list of WordPress plugins.

WP Database Optimizer

wordpress plugins

You know how sometimes you need to defragment your hard drive? Well, you need to do the same with your WordPress site. It’s because your database is constantly changing and you need to clean it up. WP Database Optimizer is an excellent plugin that automatically optimizes your database on a schedule. It clears all your deleted posts and plugins out of the database.

Using a content delivery network

A content delivery network is a system of servers with multiple data centers all over the Internet that pays ISPS, carriers, and network operators to host servers with them. The sole purpose of a content delivery network is to deliver content in the fastest way possible. This comes in especially useful if you have visitors from other countries. Did you know that someone in the U.K. usually has to wait longer for your website to load than if he had been in the U.S.A.? Because most reputable content delivery networks have servers in multiple countries, visitors from all over the world will be able to access your site much quicker.

MaxCDN is a great content delivery network to use.

Tweaking your .htaccess file

If you’re confident enough to take the matter into your own hands, you can try several different manual solutions, including tweaking your .htaccess file. To do this, you need to take the following steps:

Properly cache your content by inserting the following code into your .htaccess file:

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType text/html “access plus 20 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 3 weeks”
ExpiresByType text/javascript “access plus 3 weeks”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 month”

This helps your server set decent rules for caching your content. Add an extra line for every file type you want to cache.

Compress some text files by inserting the following code into your .htaccess file:

# Compress some text file types
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html text/css text/xml application/x-javascript

# Deactivate compression for buggy browsers
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0[678] no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html

# Set header information for proxies
Header append Vary User-Agent

Feel free to tweak the code to suit your preferences. You can add more lines to compress more types of text files you want to compress. This code allows your server to decrease download time, reduce your bandwidth, and deliver content much faster.

Do you have any website performance-increasing tricks up your sleeve? If so, please share them with us!

This guest article was provided by Simon, who is working for Jangomail, a mass e-mail service provider.  You can check out more of Simon’s work at his blogs at: http://simonsblogpark.com/.

Lead image via Ana Felix Garjan

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Top 10 Plugins You Should Always Install on Your WordPress Blog http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/08/07/top-10-wordpress-plugins-you-should-always-install/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/08/07/top-10-wordpress-plugins-you-should-always-install/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 12:00:50 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=28421 wordpress plugins
These best way to make the most of your blog is to produce high quality content and have the right plugins to get you to where you want to be. Lets explore the Top 10 plugins that you should install on your WordPress blog.

Yoast SEO

What – Yoast is a complete SEO tool that comes with features such as Post Title and meta description templates, RSS enhancements, Permalink clean up and many more.

Why – This is crucial for your website because you need to rank high in the search engines to get found and be seen by your target audience So the better you optimize your blog, the more visibility you will receive from the search engines.

YouAPPi Content Recommendation Plugin

What – When you’re reading through a blog about your favorite sports team or financial advice this plugin adds app recommendations at the bottom of the post that are relevant to the content on the page and to the individual engaged user.

Why – The importance of this plugin is that not only will your readers be more interested in downloading the apps suggested because they are relevant to the topic they’re reading about but it puts a little money in your pocket because YouAPPi pays publishers per download of apps.

W3 Total Cache

What – The focus of this plugin is to be your WPO or WordPress Performance Optimization tool. It helps with your user experience and the speed of your page.

Why – Because people aren’t going to stick around your blog very long if your page doesn’t load in a timely manner and the user experience is poor.

Vault Press

What – Every site needs a security system and a way to keep things backed up. That’s what Valut Press does.

Why – As a blogger you want to be able to sleep well at night knowing your amazing blog isn’t being messed with. Here’s some other security plugins for WordPress, right from the Blogging Pro blog.

Digg Digg

What – Digg Digg works hand in hand with buffer to be an all in one social spreading plugin. It allows you to display all your buttons in one place.

Why – You don’t want people to just read your latest post and say: “that was cool” and then forget about it. You need to remind them to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. so they share it with their friends.

Disqus

What – Disqus is a community of communities that helps you build your community of active readers who are interested in your content. At the end of the day, this helps create stronger engagement with your readers.

Why – Well there’s not much of a point in having a blog if you aren’t trying to share content that people are going to be interested in reading.

Akismet

What – Are you tired of comment spam? Then you need to get the plugin called Akismet. I know that sounds like a lame infomercial but that’s exactly what it does and it’s awesome so deal with it!

Why – People aren’t going to take your blog seriously if you’re allowing every spammy junk comment on your site. Keep it together man. It will be appreciated.

Gravity Forms

What – Well you want to include an sweet contact form into your blog but it’s way too much work to figure it out yourself so you install gravity forms and it takes care of that for you.

Why – Because you’re interested in what your readers think you should improve or have to say about your material you’re putting out. Also you want a way to be contacted by advertisers and guest posters who want to be included on your blog as well.

Facebook Subscribe

What – This allows people to like you on Facebook so they are subscribed to whatever cool stuff you post on your FB page.

Why – People want to feel and be connected. What better way than to let them connect with you on Facebook and be your “Friend”? I can’t think of a better way, can you?

Backup Buddy

What – This excellent plugin allows you to do three crucial things. Backs up all your info, restores your site if it gets hacked or broken in any way, and moves it to a new domain if you change your domain name.

Why – You never know when you’re going to need any of these features but it helps with your piece of mind knowing you have that capability whenever it comes up.

These are all handy and helpful plugins and we recommend you install all of them once your blog is up and running. Happy blogging!

Greg is a member of the youAPPi marketing team. youAPPi is a mobile application company who helps app developers grow the number of app installs through their app recommendation and discovery publisher program. To learn more about youAPPi, you can visit their blog.

Image via Blogging Keys

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Most Popular WordPress Security Plugins http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/08/06/most-popular-wordpress-security-plugins/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/08/06/most-popular-wordpress-security-plugins/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 06:43:38 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=28415 wordpress security
Online security is such a big issue these days. We, ourselves, have been the target of massive security attacks. Whether you have been in the same situation, or you simply want to make sure that your WordPress site is as secure as possible, here is an infographic that can help you.

Created by the guys at WPTemplate, the infographic highlights the most popular WordPress security plugins. WordPress itself works at making sure their platform is secure, but there are other plugins that you can utilize to add layers of security.

From anti-spam measures to checking existing vulnerabilities to backup – these popular WordPress security plugins should avoid potential headaches down the road.

WordPress Most Popular Security Plugins
WordPress Templates

Do you use any of these plugins? What other security plugins would you recommend for WordPress users?

Lead image via atwoodz

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Not All WordPress Caching Plugins Are the Same http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/06/05/not-all-wordpress-caching-plugins-are-the-same/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/06/05/not-all-wordpress-caching-plugins-are-the-same/#comments Wed, 05 Jun 2013 15:24:39 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=28058 W3 Total Cache LogoIf you read my previous column about caching in WordPress, you know that it is incredibly important, for both the speed of your site and the health of your server, to run some kind of caching plugin on your installation.

But what’s lesser known is that you not only have a variety of caching plugins available for you on WordPress, but they aren’t all the same.

This isn’t to say that one is “better” or “worse” than another, but rather, that they have different aims, goals and purposes. A cache that is right for a friend’s site might not be right for yours and vice versa.

So how do you find which caching plugin is right for you? It starts with understanding why these plugins are different and then evaluating your needs honestly so that you’ll be able to pick the right one.

Simply put, this isn’t so much a guide to tell you which caching plugin is right or best for you, but rather, a guide to help you understand that there are options and figure out which one is the best for your situation.

Why and How Are Caching Plugins Different?

On a fundamental level, all caching plugins do the exact same thing. They are designed to make your site load faster and require fewer resources by allowing your server to offer static pages rather than having to generate a new page using PHP and MySQL for every visitor who comes to your site.

The trade off is that, while your pages will be less dynamic, meaning they won’t update as frequently, they will load faster and your site can handle more visitors. For most sites, the drawback on the tradeoff is barely noticeable.

But while all caching plugins do the same thing, they get there by dramatically different ways. Simply put, there are a lot of ways that a server can create, store and deliver a cached version of the page and how a plugin achieves the effect can have a great impact on its performance and it the actual impact it has.

For example, W3 Total Cache, by itself, has six different options for page cache settings, just one of its options. Some of the options are aimed at simplicity, some are aimed at sacrificing server resources for additional speed and some are designed for heavily customized and unusual environments.

Using a caching plugin or a caching plugin setup that’s a poor fit for your server can actually slow your site down or create more problems for you.

So, how do you choose which one is right for you? I would advise doing your own research as the plugins available are constantly changing, but your evaluation always starts with an honest look at your site and your site’s needs.

What Do You Need?

The first step to picking a caching plugin is to take a honest look at your needs. What kind of traffic levels are you seeing? How big of a threat are traffic spikes? How complex is your site? What kind of hosting do you have? Are you having any issues with slowness now?

The truth is that most blogs can get by with a relatively simple caching plugin such as Quick Cache, Lite Cache or Hyper Cache. In all of the above cases, the plugin is geared toward simplicity and toward helping the largest number of WordPress sites possible.

While you’ll still need to research which is right for you, you probably don’t need W3 Total Cache, which is meant to be more of a caching framework than a plugin. The deluge of options, many of which aren’t even available on shared servers can not only confuse but can actually open the door to poor settings that can slow a site down or overly tax a server.

For those needing more power than a basic caching plugin but less than W3 Total Cache, a system such as WP Super Cache might be a good fit as it’s a compromise between the simplicity of the basic caching plugins and the power of W3 Total Cache. However, it too may be too much if you don’t need to choose your caching type or use a content delivery network.

Generally, when choosing a caching plugin, it’s more important to choose a plugin that has the features you need and not necessarily the one with the most options. More options, while important to those who need them, are often just more problems, especially if you’re out of your depth.

So what features do you need? Your average blog with a routine updating schedule will see a significant boost with any caching system that uses disk-based caching (other alternatives are faster but generally use more memory and server resources) and either through mod_rewrite, which requires you to edit your .htaccess file, or through PHP caching.

Database caching, object caching, etc. probably aren’t necessary. In fact, Hostgator recommends you turn them off if you use W3 Total Cache. While they’re powerful tools in some situations, for most blogs with typical hosting setups they don’t add that much, if anything.

In fact, if you overtax your server with the wrong settings, it could actually go slower than without caching at all.

Bottom Line

While W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache are both great plugins and can work wonders for your site, it’s important to remember that they are not the only caching plugins out there and others might be better tuned to your server and your level of expertise.

While it’s tempting to choose the caching plugin with the most options or the longest history, if you’re going to use a fairly standard setup for your site, it’s likely best to go with a plugin that was built from the ground up around that setup and not one that includes it as one option among dozens.

Simply put, caching plugins are not magical fixes for a slow site and they can, if used improperly, create problems for your site and the decision of which to use should be weighed carefully.

However, when making that decision, don’t limit yourself to the one or two best known ones. While they are certainly well known for a reason, there are other options out there and they might be better for you.

In the end, if a different caching program can provide less stress for you and your server, it’s probably worth going with it, even if it isn’t the one everyone else seems to be using.

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Effective SEO Plugins for WordPress http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/01/15/effective-seo-plugins-for-wordpress/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/01/15/effective-seo-plugins-for-wordpress/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2013 00:19:26 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=26848 WordPress

Search Engine Optimization or popularly known as SEO, plays a key role in popularizing your website. If you have a WordPress blog and wish to bring some visibility to it, you don’t have to go to great lengths. There are exclusive plug-ins available to do the job for you. Organize your traffic and increase your visibility to the right audience using these tools. Here are a few effective SEO plug-ins for WordPress:

All in One SEO Pack:

It is one of the most popular ones used on WordPress. You will be able to personalize all the features of your content including the title, description, individual tags, etc. It is an ideal choice for both starters and advanced users. It also has the feature to avoid duplicate content from being found on your blog. Some of the features include Google Analytics compatibility, custom post type support, default optimization of titles to adhere with search engine rules, etc.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/

HeadSpace 2:

If you want a multi-functionality plug-in, then this is the one to go for. It can cover assorted SEO functionalities. You get to tag your posts, create custom-made descriptions or titles which help in enhancing your page ranking. HeadSpace 2 is modular and offers module features that help you configure the blog the way you want, without the requirement of too many plug-ins

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/headspace2/

Sitemap Generator:

Sitemap Generator helps create a sitemap for your blog. This is not similar to the usual XML sitemaps available, but a genuine sitemap generator that helps you customize the page anyway you want. The key features Sitemap Generator offers are multi-level page navigation and categories or pages, supports or permalinks, content customization, the order for lists, etc. The XML sitemap generated by the plug-in is ideal for Google (which is the most used search engine).

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sitemap-generator-wp/

Broken Link Character:

Broken Link Character automatically searches all your posts for broken links and sends you notifications if it finds anything. It also checks for links that don’t work and redirects them, and searches for missing images. It stops search engines from following the broken links. You can update the links directly through your plug-in instead of manually changing and updating the posts. The minute you install Broken Link Character, it starts searching for links, bookmarks and posts. The search time will depend on the amount of content you have on your blog. Based on the content it might take a few minutes to an hour. You can keep yourself updated by going to Settings and clicking on Link Checker.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/broken-link-checker/

SEO Friendly Images:

Not just your content, you have to optimize your images for the search engines as well. If you don’t have ALT or TITLE set for your images, SEO Friendly Images will do it automatically for you. ALT is a key to Search Engine Optimization as it helps describe the image to the search engine that is indexing your site. When a user is searching for a particular image, it plays a key role in pushing the search engine to index your image higher. Though TITLE is not s important as ALT, it is an important feature for users as they can read the title given to the image by hovering over it.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/seo-image/

Google XML Sitemaps Generator:

Google, Yahoo, Opera, etc. are some of the most used search engines by people around the world. If you want your blog to be visible, you have to abide by the rules set by this search engine. The Google XML Sitemaps Generator helps generate particular XML sitemaps that will help your blog get indexed better on these sites. When you have a good sitemap in place, it makes the job of the crawlers to view the full layout of your site and index them, swifter. The plug-in is compatible with all the WordPress pages. It also notifies the particular search engine automatically when post a new content on your blog.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/

These are a few plug-ins you can consider downloading to improve the chances of your page being visible to various search engines. With these Search Engine Optimization add-ons, you have chances of getting higher rankings for your websites. Use these to bring in more traffic to your blog and popularize your page in return.

This is a guest post by Jake Anderson of fastinternetdeals.com, a site that offers savings and current information on att internet as well as att.com services.

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The Importance of Caching in WordPress http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/01/09/the-importance-of-caching-in-wordpress/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/01/09/the-importance-of-caching-in-wordpress/#comments Wed, 09 Jan 2013 15:52:41 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=26752 W3 Total Cache LogoI had a pretty rough night last month.

After relaxing for a bit with my wife, I checked my site only to find that it wasn’t there at all. Instead, I was greeted with an error message saying that WordPress could not connect to the database.

I logged into my server’s control panel and noticed that the server load was unfathomably high, much more than it could ever take. I’d been dealing with a weird CPU issue for a while so I restarted the server, expecting it to correct itself.

But when my server eventually restarted, the site came back but only for a second, it quickly went down again. Whatever was causing it wasn’t just a temporary issue.

I contacted my host, which told me that they were seeing very high levels of traffic to the server, more than it could handle. It turns out the article I had written about a recent plagiarism case on Reddit was getting some attention both via Reddit itself and Google searches. The volume just seemed too high.

But then I looked at the sample level of traffic that I managed to snag when the site came back up briefly. It was high, many times my normal level, but nothing the server shouldn’t be able to take easily. It had, in the past, handled spiked much bigger than this.

My host agreed and we worked together to keep the site offline but give me access. Once in, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake.

The week before, I had to, in an emergency, create a new theme for my site. As part of that I had disabled W3 Total Cache. While a great move at the time, when I was done I had forgotten to reenable it and the site was without any kind of caching.

I reenabled the plugin, checked that it was working and then opened the site back up to the rest of the world. Sure enough, though the load was high and the server was straining some, it was nowhere near buckling. The highly-elevated traffic remained for several days and, through it all, there wasn’t as much as a glitch or a hiccup.

If I had remembered to reenable W3 Total Cache, or any caching plugin, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the traffic spike until I checked the stats the next day and I certainly wouldn’t have people on Reddit commenting about how quickly my site went down.

It was an embarrassment that ended up being minor, but it serves as a reminder to every WordPress user: Make sure you are using a caching plugin.

Why Caching is Important

Most people don’t think about what happens behind the scenes every time someone visits a page, but your server does.

If you use WordPress, or any other similar content management system that doesn’t have caching, there are a series of steps that your server has to complete to go from page requested to page delivered.

Basically, without caching, when a visitor tried to load a page, the page itself doesn’t exist. Instead, the server receives the request, WordPress queries the database for the content that’s supposed to be in the page and builds the page on the fly before delivery. Once that visitor is gone or goes to another page, the page disappears and the process starts over again.

While this is an over-simplification, the main issue is that the server has to create the page every time someone looks at it. While this is great in that rapidly-changing pages are updated for each visitor, it’s a lot of work for a server and even a decent VPS, such as my own, can struggle under that if there are a lot of visitors coming at once.

A caching plugin, ont he other hand, keeps WordPress from having to create a new page every time. The page is created once and held onto (or cached) for a period of time, usually a few hours. Subsequent visitors to that page get the cached version, which prevents the server from having to check the database and assemble the page from scratch.

To the visitor, this is much faster and to the server, this is much easier.

To use a personal computer example. Imagine, if instead of using copy and paste, you had to retype a paragraph into a new document every time you wanted to repeat the text. Though retyping it lets you make changes to it as you go, copying and pasting is much easier and faster for you.

But as great as caching is, it’s something that’s frightfully easy to forget and the reason is very simple.

Why Caching is Easy to Forget

A lot of bloggers don’t see the need or importance of caching and it’s easy to see why. Caching is most useful when a lot of people are trying to load the same content. Most blogs don’t see the kind of traffic level where caching has a major impact one way or another.

For example, if a page your site only gets a visitor once or twice a day, then it probably is being loaded dynamically every visit, caching or no. The reason is that the cache, most likely, expires between visitors, forcing the creation of a new page.

On low-to-medium traffic sites, there are probably only a few pages that get enough traffic to regularly deliver cached content and, even then, it’s probably doesn’t adversely impact the server. A well-optimized server can serve a decent number of dynamic pages without a problem.

So while caching probably has at least some speed benefit, it’s usually one that’s difficult to notice, especially to the naked eye.

This prompts many bloggers to skip on caching or, in my case, forget to check if it’s working, because everything functions fine without it.

However, as my case showed, it can be a road to disaster.

When Caching Matters

One of the strange things about the Internet is that it has a way of quickly giving a lot of attention to something that had very little of it previously. Between social media such as Facebook and Twitter as well as social news sites like Reddit, a tidal wave of traffic can hit any site at any time.

These types of moments are what bloggers work for, an opportunity to reach a large audience and a chance to capitalize and maybe grow your reach long-term. However, you can’t do that if your site is down.

But it doesn’t make sense to buy and pay for hosting strong enough to survive those waves when 99% of the time you will only need a fraction of it. It’s like buying a huge bathtub to hold a glass of water, expensive and wasteful.

Instead, the best thing you can do is make sure your site is as efficient as possible so it can survive waves of traffic visiting the same page without trouble. Caching is the best way to do that.

So, if you don’t cache, you’re severely limiting the number of visitors your site can receive. While that may be fine most of the time, it basically shuts the door in the face of potential visitors who are coming to see you at your most popular.

Bottom Line

In the end, WordPress is a great CMS for many sites but its lack of caching means that it can easily overpower even decent servers quickly. Fortunately, a decent caching system is never more than a plugin away.

Truth be told, my reminder was not a particularly painful one, it could have been much worse. An hour or sporadic downtime could have turned into much longer since the site wasn’t “down” in a sense that my monitors would detect. It could have gone until the next morning before returning to normal.

However, I’m not going to let dumb luck be what helps me get my site back up. I’m going to make sure to always run a caching program and, though I’m certain I’ll have to disable it from time to time to do work, I’m going to make double sure to reenable it when done.

I don’t want to risk another Reddit wave shutting me down…

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Five Powerful Shopping/Ecommerce Plugin Solutions For WordPress http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/01/03/five-powerful-shoppingecommerce-plugin-solutions-for-wordpress/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/01/03/five-powerful-shoppingecommerce-plugin-solutions-for-wordpress/#comments Fri, 04 Jan 2013 01:58:07 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=26822 WordPress

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

Setting up a business online has proven to be a winning move for many people. Taking advantage of the explosive growth of online commerce is something you can also take advantage of with your site.

If you want to start your own e-commerce site, conversion is quite easy. One of the things you need to do is to install an e-commerce or shopping plugin. There’s no reason to worry about the platform on which your site is built on. There are many e-commerce or shopping plugins being developed for various platforms. In fact, you can even convert your WordPress-powered blog into a shopping site by just installing a plugin. There are many WordPress plugins that will put a shopping functionality to your blog. Her are some of them:

Quick Shop

This e-commerce plugin supports WordPress sits that uses the Sidebar Widgets. With this plugin, a widget will be placed on the side that shows the items in the cart. The user can remove items from the cart directly from the widget.

WP e-Commerce

This is one of the most popular plugins for shopping or e-commerce. The plugin has full features for selling products or services and even paying fees through the site.

Yak Shopping Cart

This is a great plugin if you want to pair your blog entries with certain products or services that you are planning to sell. With this plugin, the post ID also turns into the product code. There are three different pages that will appear in the WordPress management screen – product display and order fulfillment, product management, and a rudimentary sales report.

eShop

The eShop plugin for WordPress has many useful features that you will find essential for your ecommerce site – You can use the WordPress editor to create pages or posts to make product descriptions, the ability to list many products, the ability to have multiple options for products, the ability to upload downloadable products, generate and download sales data, Three different ways to calculate shipping charges, and a feature to input various zone settings by country or US state.

ArtPal

This is a plugin that caters to a particular niche – namely, artists. The plugin allows for the seamless integration of PayPal with your WordPress blogs so artists can sell their work on the internet.

 

About The Author

Dana has recently established her own e-commerce site, which now also offers the best credit card deals Australia.

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5 Nightmare Scenarios for Your Blog http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/10/31/6-nightmare-scenarios-for-your-blog/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/10/31/6-nightmare-scenarios-for-your-blog/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 19:24:05 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=26606 It’s Halloween in the United States (and much of the rest of the world). As such, people are gathering together for parties, going trick or treating and telling scary stories.

In that spirit, last week on Performancing I discussed legal nightmares that can happen to you and your blog. Specifically, there were three scenarios that, while sounding like nothing more than legal theory, actually happened to one or more bloggers.

In that spirit, here are five more practical horror stories to keep you awake when it comes to your blog. Best part of all is that I don’t have to give specific examples because each and every one of these have happened not once or twice, but hundreds, if not thousands, of times.

So if you’re wondering about the gruesome ways your blog can be mangled, kidnapped or killed, here are just five of the more common (and more sudden) ways to consider.

1. The Ghost Blog

If there’s one thing that Halloween reminds us of, it’s our own mortality. Today we are living, breathing and thinking creatures but that could completely change in an instant. But ghost stories tell us that, in some cases, we can live on, at least briefly, as ghosts of our former selves, mere shadows that terrify the living.

Such is true with blogs as well. Blogs, as with all websites, are surprisingly fragile creatures. Database crashes, hard drive failures, natural disasters, human error, etc. can all destroy a website in seconds and leave only a trace of it, the caches, behind to wonder the Internet like a ghost.

Though various backup and cloud technologies have made websites more durable, in an Internet where cheap shared hosting is still the norm and most webmasters forget to backup their sites, it’s not uncommon for sites to simply disappear from the Web, never to be heard from again.

That is, save the whispers of the dead.

2. The Invisible Blog

The idea of the invisible person has been a part of science fiction for at least 1897, when H.G. Well wrote the famous novel “The Invisible Man”. Invisible man stories always raise interesting questions about what it means to be a person and what life would be like if no one could see nor hear you.

However, that’s nearly the exact plight of many blogs on the Internet.

The problem is very simple. By far the most common way to discover a new website is through the search engines and the largest search engine, by a long shot, is Google.

However, Google is a notoriously fickle mistress. Known for dropping or deeply demoting sites in its many updates, shake ups and algorithm changes.

But it doesn’t take a Google shakeup to make your site invisible, human error can result in your site blocking the search engines, essentially making it invisible to them.

While many of these problems can be fixed easily and a site can recover, it can be frightening to realize that no one can find your site, anywhere. That, in turn, raises an interesting philosophical question: If a site exists but can’t be found, does it really exist at all?

3. The Zombie Blog

These days, thanks in large part to George Romero and Night of the Living Dead, we equate the word “zombie” with the undead. However, for most of history a zombie was a living person turned into a mindless drone, an unthinking, unfeeling slave to their zombie master. Movies such as “White Zombie” take this approach.

The same thing can happen to your website. Blogs, basically are applications that display content, usually pulled from a database, in a certain way. But like any software, blogs are vulnerable to attack from the outside.

Spammers, virus authors, pranksters and others are constantly searching for blogs that they can take over and use for their ends, whether it’s posting spammy links, spreading malware or just deface them.

The consequences for this can be dire. Google tends to quarantine hacked sites by either removing them or reducing them in the results. For visitors, things can be even worse as they run the risk of becoming infected themselves or being subjected to unexpected and inappropriate content.

Though most sites can recover if they have a good backup, the best defense is a good offense and that means good security procedures and constant vigilance against possible attacks.

4. The Disfigured Blog

Horror movies, like all scary stories, are filled with tales of disfigured people, often caused by tragic accidents, who despite their outward appearance, have a heart of gold but are still shunned by society. “Phantom of the Opera” being, most likely, the best known example.

But while it’s tempting to say that, for a blog, content is king, that is akin to saying “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”. It’s a theoretically true, but still somewhat naive statement.

Appearance is important that is doubly true for a website, which is a visual medium. But website themes are evolving and are no longer static themes filled with dynamic content. Increasingly, they are more like plugins, using the database to determine your site’s appearance.

This opens the door to a new slew of opportunities and problems. Database corruption, crashes, error and problems can leave your site disfigured, mangled. But even if you don’t use an advanced theme, any third-pary elements you include can suddenly break or change, causing your theme to fall apart.

It’s entirely possible that you could wake up one morning and find that your site is not how you left it. Shocking both you and your visitors into wondering what happened.

5. The Dead Blog

In horror movies, death is rarely final. Villains and heroes alike often find ways to come back from beyond the grave, whether it is for a sequel, a final showdown or just to scare the audience one more time.

However, in real life, death is much more final and blogs, like their owners, die every day. Most are abandoned by their owners, left to freeze to death in the cold, uncaring blackness that can be the Internet.

Other sites are shut down more directly, with accounts being closed and sites deliberately shuttered. Though this may seem the more humane way to end a site, it’s often much worse, leaving a deluge of broken links across the Web and harming other sites that were referencing it.

These sites, and the errors they create, are missed deeply by those who try to visit it. However, some times, even online, they can be resurrected though here it doesn’t take a voodoo curse, instead, it just takes a webmaster, either the same one or a different one, who wants to give the idea another try.

Bottom Line

The bad news is that all of these nightmares are fairly common. The good news is that they are all, more or less, relatively avoidable. With good backups, solid security and dedication to your blog, you can either avoid or easily recover from most of these scenarios.

So if you want to sleep better at night and not have nightmares about what could happen to your site, the best thing you can do is be smart about how you run it. If you take reasonable precautions to protect your site, you’ll likely avoid any major disasters.

That being said, it’s still worth being aware that all of the work you’re doing amounts to zeroes and ones on computers across the world. Your work can turn out to be nothing but dust in the digital wind.

In short, what you spend years to create could be taken from you in a second. That’s just the nature of the digital world.

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Eight Best Free Contact Forms for WordPress http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/08/20/eight-best-free-contact-forms-for-wordpress/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/08/20/eight-best-free-contact-forms-for-wordpress/#comments Tue, 21 Aug 2012 02:20:12 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=25994 You’ve done all the work, you’ve managed to get a user of the interweb notice you and then click on your website. You’ve even managed to get them interested enough to ask for more information. Now you’ve managed all that and then weirdly the user doesn’t contact you. Dang. Looks like you need a new contact form, pronto!

Here’s a look at 8 of the best free Contact Forms we’ve found for WordPress.  We selected these plugins based on some features that we felt were key to defining a complete plugin.

Customization

A customizable contact form plugin is one that allows you to create custom fields, change the look and style of the form and define what steps to do after the visitor hits send. We like plugins that also give you the option to:

  • Send a copy of the email to the visitor that sent the message.
  • Define a list of recipients for each contact form on your site.

Ease of use

The ia a huge trade-off between having great customizability and having a plugin that works out of the box. Improving customizability involves increasing the amount of CSS and HTML a user would have to know. A good plugin manages to have a great user interface which still allows the user to customize but replaces the need for html/css input with a huge list of options and buttons.

Management

A contact form plugin that gives you a dashboard to manage all the contact information you receive through your form and helps get rid of the spam is a great Contact form plugin.

Looks

A good looking contact form that matches the style of your website easily is a feature that is very high up on our list.

Spam protection

A good Contact Form helps keep the spam away by way of :

  • Maybe using Akismet to provide spam prevention.
  • Using Catpcha’s to keep the robots away.
  • Using AJAX to load forms so that the form is hidden from bots.

Extra features

We give extra points to plugins that provide features that keep them out of the ordinary list.

If you’re still here, keep reading for our extensive review of 8 of the best free WordPress contact form plugins.

JetpackContactform

Jetpack is one plugin that’s installed on most WordPress sites. It comes packed with a decent ContactForm. Users of WordPress.com will already be quite familiar with the form building interface.

Screenshot of the Contact form by Jetpack

Here are some features of Jetpack that I think work in it’s favor:

  • Create multiple contact forms, only one per post though.
  • Each form can have its own recipient list.
  • Create your own custom fields.
  • Jetpack uses Akismet so the amount of spam should be minimal.
  • A feedback management area is provided where you can see and manage all the messages sent to you.

There are some negatives to be considered:

  • You cannot provide a file upload field.
  • You cannot includes CAPTCHA’s for better security.
  • You cannot easily modify the structure of the form.
  • It does not use Jquery and AJAX for form submissions without page reload

Although you can’t change the style and structure of the form easily, it is very simple to use and it would suit a beginner WordPress user’s needs. It being bundled with Jetpack is another advantage, as you already have it installed and that’s one less plugin to install.

Unfortunately, Jetpack, in its current version, conflicts with the plugin SimpleFacebookConnect, a plugin that is quite popular itself.

Points

Customization: 5/10

Ease of Use: 8/10

Management: 8/10

Looks: 6/10

Spam Protection: 7/10

Extra Features: 6/10 ( Jetpack’s contact forms’ extra feature is that it comes withJetpack, score! )

Points for bad behavior: -2 for not working along with SimpleFacebookConnect

ContactForm

Settings for Contact Form

Contact form, brought to you by the people at bestwebsoft, is a plugin that is very easy to use and it offers a few more features than Jetpack.

Some features that stand out;

  • The ability to provide an attachment field in the form.
  • Option to send a copy of the message sent to the visitor.

Similar to Jetpack, this plugin is not very customizable. To add extra fields, you need to modify the plugin (contact_form.php file). You can configure only one email address as the recipient for all the contact forms on your site. In order to customize the styles for this form you need to have knowledge of html and css or you could contact them and pay them to customize the form for you.

Some negatives to worry about:

  • No catpchas, no akismet, no spam management
  • No message management from the dashboard itself, like Jetpack

The plugin developers do provide great support on their forum and you can pay them 10$ to get your form to suit your needs.

Points

Customization: 6/10

Ease of Use: 7/10

Management: 0/10

Looks: 6/10

Spam Protection: 5/10

Extra Features: 4/10 ( For their great support on the forums )

EasyContactforms

Custom Field management

Easy contact forms is exactly what they say it is, a very easy to use contact form. It’s almost completely customizable with great support on their website.

I’ve listed some of its features below to help you make a decision.

  • The form builder is very easy to use and it provides you with tools to completely customize your form.
  • You can create your own custom field types.
  • You can upload files.
  • You can add CATPCHA’s to the form.
  • Reasonable antispam protection and multiple data validation layers.
  • You can create multiple forms and the plugin dashboard provides a great Form management interface.
  • Easy to use contact management and entry management tool.
  • Each contact form has a separate notification message recipient list.
  • Each contact form has its own email templates.
  • Contact form data may be added to Contact History.
  • Any contact form may be configured to have its own style settings.

Easycontactform is loaded with features and only feature i see missing is the use of AJAX to submit forms.

Points

Customization: 9/10

Ease of Use: 9/10

Management: 8/10

Looks: 7/10

Spam Protection: 8/10

Extra Features: 7/10 ( Great form, contact management )

Customcontactform

Form management for Custom Contact form

The Custom contact form plugin is pretty feature packed, as good, if not better, feature wise when compared to  the EasyContactForm. One disadvantage I see is that the dashboard interface isn’t all that appealing. It could be improved.

Some standout features are:

  • Custom HTML Forms Feature – if you are a web developer you can write your own form html and use this plugin simply to process your form requests. Comes with a few useful features.
  • Export form submissions to CSV.
  • Create custom styles in the style manager to change the appearance of your forms: borders, font sizes, colors, padding, margins, background etc
  • Show a stylish JQuery form thank you message or use a custom thank you page.

Points

Customization: 9/10

Ease of Use: 6.5/10

Management: 8/10

Looks: 7/10

Spam Protection: 8/10

Extra Features: 7/10 ( Export to csv and the style manager )

Fastsecurecontactform

Extra fields

This is a highly customisable contact form that blocks all automated spammers. The dashboard interface can be a bit overwhelming as there are a options that can be configured, but with time you can easily get the hang of it. Here’s a quick look at some of the features that make this plugin so popular.

  • Backup/restore tool. You can backup/restore all your forms or single forms and settings.
  • Easy to hide subject and message fields for use as a newsletter signup.
  • Supports sending mail to multiple departments.
  • Optional – posted data can be sent as a query string on the redirect URL.
  • Optional – autoresponder E-mail message.
  • CAPTCHA can be turned off or hidden from logged in users and or admins.
  • Auto form fill for logged in users.
  • Customizable form field titles.
  • Customizable CSS style.
  • Pre-fill in form fields from a URL query string. SeeFAQ
  • Save emails to the WordPress database, or export to CSV or Excel. SeeFAQ

Fast secure contact form comes bundled with with vCita, vCita extends your contact form and lets your users Schedule Meetings based on your availability. You can meet users with web-based video, talk over phone conference, set a location for meetings and collect payments for your time and services. For those who aren’t keen on vCita, the plugin gives you option to disable it.

Points

Customization: 9/10

Ease of Use: 8/10

Management: 9/10

Looks: 8/10

Spam Protection: 9/10

Extra Features: 7/10 ( Loads of them! )

AJAX , Modal contact forms

Slickcontactforms

Slick contact form

Widget settings for the Slick Contact Form

This plugin creates a widget, which adds a contact form using either a floating, drop down button or a sticky, sliding tab. It can handle multiple forms on each page and the location of the floating button or sliding tab can be easily set from the widget control panel.

Each form includes up to 3 text input fields and one text area. The input labels and type of validation can be set via the widget control panel. You would need to edit php theme files in order to add the widget control panel to the dashboard. Slickcontactforms do provide a good tutorial on how to do that.

The widget control panel is used to edit the style of the widget. You can pretty much change the whole look of the form and choose among 4 skins that are provided. The contact form also includes a “Honeypot” style captcha to help minimize spam – this works by having a blank input field hidden from view of the user but visible to spambots. If the field contains text the mail will not be sent – no more annoying & tricky captcha systems.

Some advantages of using slick:

  • Form processed using jQuery & AJAX – no page refresh!
  • You can choose to make the form either a floating or sliding form in true AJAX style.
  • The widget control panel is very easy to use.
  • You can add multiple forms to your site.
  • You can configure multiple recipients and differe;nt recipients for each form.

We can’t but mention some disadvantages of the form

  • No comment/feedback management tool.
  • Can’t add more than 3 text fields and one textarea.
  • No file attachment field provided.

Points

Customization: 8/10

Ease of Use: 7/10

Management: 0/10

Looks: 9/10

Spam Protection: 9/10

Extra Features: 7/10 ( good spam protection )

UsernoisemodalFeedback/ContactForm

Settings for Usernoise Contact Form

Usernoise contact form

If you’re looking for a very good looking and well designed AJAX feedback form, this is it. This plugin is more tuned for Feedback than just for contact. It’s got some great UI elements that allow the user to select the type of feedback: Idea, Problem, Question and Praise. Notifications of new messages pop up right in your admin navigation bar, making it simple and convenient to stay up to date on what your visitors are thinking.

Usernoise also records all of the messages submitted through your site.

The Usernoisecontactform is virtually spam-proof. This is the beauty of having a modal contact form. The form is not visible to robots because it is loaded with AJAX when the page is loaded and therefore the bots don’t see it.

Some standout features:

  • The flexible typography feature causes the text to automatically match your site’s style.
  • It is very easy to setup and it requires no code ( compared to the slick contact form )

Some negatives to consider:

  • The form isn’t very customizable in terms of fields. You can disable fields provided but you cannot add your own.
  • There is not option to add a file upload field.
  • Multiple forms aren’t possible.
  • There can be just one recipients address.

Points

Customization: 6/10

Ease of Use: 8/10

Management: 8/10

Looks: 9/10

Spam Protection: 9/10

Extra Features: 7/10

ContactForm 7

Contact Form 7 settings

Contactform 7 is one of most popular contact form plugins. It is a fully featured plugin that includes all of the best features expected in a contact form plugin, like

  • File Upload & File Attachment.
  • Multiple contact forms.
  • Akismet Spam Filtering.
  • CAPTCHA.
  • Drop Down Menus / Radial Options.
  • Ajax-powered submitting.

The interface is a bit more technical than other plugins which can act as a deterrent if you’re not that familiar with HTML and CSS.

Contact form 7 has great support and a host of other plugins have been developed to compliment Contact form 7

Points

Customization: 9/10

Ease of Use: 7/10

Management: 5/10

Looks: 7/10

Spam Protection: 8/10

Extra Features: 7/10 ( For all the extra plugins you can add to CF 7 )

WordPress Form Maker


WordPress form maker is powerful and functional tool for websites owners . With the functionality and ease of use of this plugin can be compared just a few plugins. It have a user-friendly interface, that allow you easily and quickly add the form from admin panel.
The form includes Ten main elements for creating a new form Custom HTML, Text Input,Time and Date, Select ,Checkbox, Radio, File upload*, Captcha, Map*, Buttons
Spider form plugin can be used for creating contact, mailing list, survey, application, event registration and party invitation forms.

You can download it from official website of this WordPress Form plugin.

Conclusions

For us it’s a tie up between the EasyContactForm and the FastandsecureContactForm for their ease of use and exhaustive feature set. The forms can be easily and completely customized.

If your looking for a great looking AJAX form and you don’t need a lot of fields in your form then we’d recommend the SlickcontactForm.

For those of you who are looking for a contact form with character and who don’t require complex contact forms, don’t look further that the UsernoiseContactForm.

That’s it from us, look out for more plugin reviews as we do them.

 

About The Author

Sheela Sequeira is the product marketing manager at BlogVault, a premium WordPressBackup and Restore service. Sheela spends her time mastering WordPress and getting people to backup their websites. Tweet with Sheela @blogVaultnet

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Onpage SEO Plugin for WordPress Blogs http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/08/15/onpage-seo-plugin-for-wordpress-blogs/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/08/15/onpage-seo-plugin-for-wordpress-blogs/#comments Wed, 15 Aug 2012 10:10:03 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=25972 WordPress is really a powerful framework for designing PHP based dynamic website. But some people face problems during their SEO venture. Some developer face problem to create the sitemap for their WordPress website. But WordPress has one great feature called Add-On and by using this feature one can add several plugin to the website with just few clicks. Similarly there is also some effective solution is available in WordPress plugin store.

Some popular SEO Onpage Plugin

There are several plugin available in WordPress which works exactly on the website page and process all functionality that manages and helps to build a strong SEO venture with the dynamic WordPress website.

SEOProcessor Plugin

SEOProcessor is one of the most popular SEO Onpage Plugin. This plugin control everything within the page from HTML tags to font decoration. It also guides to place keywords with proper highlighting decoration and also controls the keyword density. It also controls the blog posts and blog pages to upkeep with the SEO Strategies. It offers an interactive and detailed control option to monitor and handle the SEO process without any external tool or software.

Broken Link Checker

This is a very useful plugin for checking broken links in a WordPress website. Broken link is always very harmful for SEO, because it interrupts the crawling process and thus website rank may be lowered than usual. That is why developers need to keep a close eye on the links and should manage it seriously to keep up the smooth running of the SEO process. This plugin is very useful for that very factor.

Google XML Sitemaps

Creating sitemap for a WordPress site is really very tough job to do. This is very complicated and hectic process. That is why it is really necessary to use some sitemap creating plugin like Google XML Sitemap. This plugin helps to create XML site map for the WordPress website and can also interact with the developers account so that the newly updated sitemap can be posted to get ranked. This is Onpage plugin that works under the main interface of the website and do not require any special tool panel.


SEO Smart Links

Link is a very important issue in every SEO venture. That is why this really necessary to maintain the links profile. Not only external links but also internal. SEO Smart Links is a plugin that controls and modifies the link to smoothen the SEO procedure. This plugin helps completely to manage the link profiles and create a better SEO impact during search crawling.

W3 Total Cache

This is another backend plugin that helps to increase the page rank of any WordPress website or blogs. For every website speed is very important issues and every developer are concuss about making a fast loading website. But it can only be done by intelligent cache management. This plugin manages the cache intelligently and thus helps to build up a better visitor’s satisfaction along with better crawling convenience for the Blog or website.

So we can see that there are a huge numbers of Onpage plugin available for WordPress website that may help to create a better website or blog without much labor with coding and programming. And all these plugins are also very helpful for SEO process and helps to improve the search engine rank.

About The Author 

Margaret Jules lives in Finland and has been doing internet marketing for last 5 years. She loves travelling, meeting new people and works at SEO Morpheus.

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10 Plugins For Securing Your WordPress Based Website From Hackers http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/08/06/10-plugins-for-securing-your-wordpress-based-website-from-hackers/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/08/06/10-plugins-for-securing-your-wordpress-based-website-from-hackers/#comments Mon, 06 Aug 2012 06:57:52 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=25916 With its ease of use and versatile approach to fulfilling each individual’s needs WordPress opens the doors to the virtual universe.  As most of you know WordPress is the very popular software that allows each of us to install it, make mistakes with it and get it working again and again. With that in mind understand that you’re still moving forward, even if you’re falling on your face. This article offers the top ten most downloaded security plugins for WordPress.

My Top 10 Selections for 2012 of the Most Downloaded security plugins

1.   WP Security Scan – raises the level of the security for your Thesis theme for WordPress installation. It does this by scanning your site for security issues then suggests the methods you can use to fix them.

2.   WP-MalWatch – is designed to alert you when hackers have invaded your blog. When hackers do get into your WordPress blog site, they infest your site or blog with links to their sites. When you know they have invaded you can take the necessary actions to remove them from your world.

3.   WP Secure plug-in – provides security for your WordPress installation by hiding your plug-in directory and WP version from hackers and others. This is important to do because the cyber scum that inhabits our virtual world use the version and the list of plugins to locate one that they have hacked before to hack their way into your blog!  Add this plug-in to protect your website or blog.

4.   Website Defender WordPress Security plug-in – free and comprehensive security tool that helps you secure your WordPress installation and offers suggestions for strengthening your passwords, securing your database, and lots more

5.   Akismet – program that checks comments left on your blog or website to see if they appear to be spam and then allows you to review the spam it does catch through the blog “Comments” admin screen. Akismet comes pre-installed and once you apply for and install your API key you will find the controls for it in your options panel in your Dashboard.

6.   BackWPUp – plugin that backs up your WordPress files and database and store them wherever you decide.  You can schedule automatic backups and pick out which folders and tables you want to backup.

7.   CAPTCHA – adds anti-spam methods to WordPress on all your forms, comments, registrations, lost passwords, logins, or you can actually require a code for everything on your site.

8.   Exploit Scanner – strengthens the security for your WordPress installation by scanning your site for security vulnerabilities and suggesting methods in which you can fix the problem.

9.   BulletProof Security – security protection against: XSS, RFI, CRLF, CSRF, Base64, Code Injection and SQL Injection hacking and on and on. Like the name says, it protects against attacks of all kinds.

10.  Better WP Security – This really is the easiest way to secure your WordPress site. You can improve the security of your WordPress site in seconds.

I would urge a bit of caution when it comes to downloading and using third party plugins. No offense is intended to any of those folks. WordPress is only able to stand behind those plugins that they test prior to offering them to WordPress users. That means that you are on your own when you use something other than what WordPress offers. Proceed with caution.

Now that you have some idea of what the security plugins are all about don’t hesitate to spend some time – now – installing that security into your site. Doing so will provide you with worry-free time, time that you can use creating more content for your site!  Either you run the day or the day runs you. – Jim Rohn

 

About The Author

David Crawford has been working on the internet since 2003 and found early on that he really enjoys research and soon discovered that a research hound such as himself makes an excellent freelance writer as well.  As a huge fan of WordPress and the StudioPress themes he has worked within the WordPress Dashboard for years adding content for clients such as ShopWPThemes and writing Professional WordPress Themes reviews.

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ManageWP Worker Lets You Easily Manage Multiple WordPress Sites http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/06/23/managewp-worker-lets-you-easily-manage-multiple-wordpress-sites/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/06/23/managewp-worker-lets-you-easily-manage-multiple-wordpress-sites/#comments Sat, 23 Jun 2012 12:00:33 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=25502 ManageWP LogoInstalling and managing a single self-hosted WordPress site can keep your hands full, especially if you’re dedicated to publishing content on a regular basis. So it’s quite a given that handling multiple WordPress sites could be very daunting for both beginners and seasoned WordPress users. It takes a lot of time and effort to manage several WordPress installations, and for most of us, it can be overwhelming. Well, to borrow a saying from the smartphone crowd, there’s a plugin for that.

ManageWP Worker is a WordPress plugin that lets you take complete control of multiple WordPress sites from a single interface. From installation to monitoring, its suite of management tools has got you covered. Here are the highlights of this plugin to make you understand how it could help you manage your army of WordPress sites.

Deployment

ManageWP has a website cloning tool that lets you easily and quickly create new sites based on existing ones. This means you can tinker and play around with a test site and efficiently turn it into a production site with as little effort as possible. Mass migrations are also made easy because you only need to input FTP details and other hosting information into a single dashboard and you’re good to go. If you have ever experienced problems with switching a site from one host to another before, you know that this kind of convenience is very welcome.

Management & Backup

Once your WordPress sites are set up to use ManageWP, you can access each of their administration panels. This direct access to multiple admin panels bypasses the need to input a password for each site. Management of themes, plugins, and scheduled backups of multiple sites can be done in one clean and intuitive interface. In addition to that, you can also upgrade WordPress core files, plugins, and themes right from the ManageWP control panel.

ManageWP WorkerPublishing

If you are maintaining multiple blogs on Tumblr and other similar sites, you are familiar with the convenience of publishing content on multiple sites without logging in multiple times. Combine this type of convenience with the ability to bulk post content to multiple sites and you can cut back on time spent publishing content. You can spend more time developing brilliant ideas and engaging content instead of wasting time on publishing content one site at a time.

Optimization

ManageWP includes SEO analysis tools including keyword research and ranking tools. Combined with Google Analytics integration, you’ll get an extensive view of sites’ performance. You wouldn’t need other SEO plugins for generating reports and SEO analysis, but if those other plugins are working for you and they can play well with ManageWP, there’s no reason not to have all of them under the same roof, right?

Monitoring

Uptime monitoring and traffic alerts are also included in the ManageWP suite of features. These tools let you know if something has gone wrong with any of your sites or if there is a spike in your traffic. These tools give you the chance to resolve problems as soon as possible and take advantage of opportunities presented by a sudden increase in traffic.

Security

Of course, it’s easy to assume that managing multiple sites from a single location may present security risks, but ManageWP Worker makes sure that your sites are protected with the use of two-factor authentication, state-of-the-art encryption, and integration with Sucuri.net, a leader in website malware protection.

ManageWP Worker seems like overkill for people who handle only a handful of WordPress sites at a time especially because of the fact that it’s not free, but for those who are working on dozens of self-hosted WordPress sites as part of a business or professional blogging efforts, it’s definitely a solid investment.

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Is Integrating with Facebook Really a Good Idea? http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/06/13/is-integrating-with-facebook-really-a-good-idea/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/06/13/is-integrating-with-facebook-really-a-good-idea/#comments Wed, 13 Jun 2012 16:54:03 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=25427 Facebook Plugin SamplesYesterday, Facebook announced the launch of a new WordPress plugin that makes it easier than ever to integrate Facebook into your site.

Though integration has always been possible, it’s been a bit of a headache requiring a mashup of plugins and/or coding to integrate with Facebook’s notoriously verbose and complex API.

The new plugin makes integration easy. With a few minutes of setup and no coding, WordPress users can now add a social publisher that blasts their posts out over their feeds and fan pages, replace their WordPress comments with Facebook’s alternative, add a recommendations bar that finds related posts and also add like, subscribe and send buttons.

The plugin is both so powerful and useful that Samuel “Otto” Wood, the creator of the popular Simple Facebook Connect plugin, will eventually stop supporting it in favor of the official plugin.

But is integrating your site so tightly with Facebook really a good idea? The answer isn’t simple and it depends heavily on your site and the best way to decide is to look at the pros and cons while making the decision for yourself.

The Case in Favor

Facebook has, by most estimations, about 900 million monthly active users and over 500 million daily active users. You will be hard pressed to find someone who does not have a Facebook account available to them and, despite issues with its IPO and a survey that found users were spending less time on the site, a recent study by Comscore found that, once you factor in mobile usage, time spent on Facebook is still growing.

In short, Facebook is a behemoth of a site and one that most people either use regularly or have access to readily. Therefore, by integrating with Facebook, you aren’t likely turning away many of your readers. In fact, you’re likely making it easier for readers to interact with your site, by giving them the chance to log in, leave comments and otherwise participate with an account they already have.

However, integrating with Facebook gives you a great deal of features from easy sharing that encourages others to spread your work to their friends, a powerful commenting system that is almost completely spam free since only Facebook accounts can use it and the ability to have you and your site both subscribe-able so casual visitors will stay in touch for a long time to come.

This opens up a lot of great opportunities for promoting your site on Facebook and using it to reach a new audience.

Also, with the new Facebook plugin, you can introduce social sharing to your site, sometimes called “frictionless sharing” so that people are putting out articles on their feed as they read them (Note: The user has to select to turn this on) and give users recommendations on what they should read next so they are more likely to stay on your site when they are done reading.

In short, Facebook can be a major part of your marketing and promotional efforts, helping to make your content more viral, more sticky and more approachable to others.

However, these advantages come with a darker side and, on that front, the biggest problem that Facebook likely has is its own reputation.

The Case Against Facebook

The biggest problem that Facebook has is that it simply is not very trusted. Facebook has a history of controversy over its privacy policy and much of that centers around how Facebook has been accused of tracking people on other sites, namely sites that integrate Facebook into their offerings.

To make matters worse, Facebook is also deeply personal for most people as it uses their real name, hometown and other personal information. Those who want to remain anonymous, or even pseudonymous, can’t use Facebook.

So, even if your readers do trust Facebook, they may not be willing to trust you and your site with that level of intimacy. This could be especially difficult for sites that are in fields where people want their information kept private, such as sites offering medical and financial information.

Finally, you can get many of the benefits of Facebook integration without having to partner so closely. You can create a fan page, use a Like Box and even add various sharing buttons without getting overly involved with Facebook or forming a more permanent connection.

In short, it’s very possible Facebook integration could scare off your readers and, even if it doesn’t, it might not be necessary at all.

Bottom Line

So should you integrate your site with Facebook and, if so, how far should you go? The answer really depends on your site and your audience.

If you have an audience that demands privacy, security and/or anonymity, Facebook integration is a bad idea. It can seem invasive and inconsiderate to anyone concerned with those matters.

For more casual sites, integration might make sense. It can be a great way to help your site reach a new audience and encourage sharing while not putting a major burden on your readers. It can also add some new features to your site that might be compelling to readers, especially those already heavily involved with Facebook.

But then comes the most important question, is Facebook someone you want to partner with over the long haul? That’s a difficult question and it’s made thornier by the fact that, while Facebook is a juggernaut with no immediate signs of stopping, it’s recent troubles do show weakness in the company’s armor and, even as it continues to grow in numbers, its popularity seems to be declining.

This is especially true since Facebook has had so many struggles in the area of mobile, enough to encourage them to spend $1 billion to buy Instagram. It feels to many as if Facebook is behind the curve when it comes to the next evolution of the Web.

Combine that with Facebook’s tendency to make unpopular changes, such as their privacy policy shifts, powerful competitors, including Google, and general distrust, it’s easy to see why many wonder if Facebook isn’t already an empire in decline.

Indeed, the release of its WordPress plugin may not be an example of a rising tide lifting all boats, but rather, of Facebook trying to buoy its own ship.

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