We use WordPress all the time for our own sites, and clients. We are often asked the same questions about which ‘SEO’ plugins are the best to use for websites that use WordPress as their CMS.
We do believe that a good developer is worth their weight in gold but for those on a limited budget, this video is for you.
A general rule of thumb is ‘The less plugins, the better’ so if you have a good developer then use their skill set!!
WordPress SEO by Yoast
Download Yoast now and use it on every WordPress site you own. This plugin, in SEOmers opinion, is as important as the WordPress installation itself. It’s also extremely easy to use. Its great for starter SEO for the small business.
W3 Total Cache is the most powerful and comprehensive caching plugin available. This plugin handles everything from combine and minification for both CSS and JS to HTML linebreak and comment removal, disk caching, browser caching and more.
Not sure how to redirect by using something called a htaccess file? Redirection will make redirects extremely easy for you to 301 redirect an old URL to the new one. Never have a 404 (broken) page again!
Related posts help your readers discover your own related content by automatically linking to it at the bottom of each post. We normally show no more than 5 related posts under each page, this is great for helping lower bounce rate.
This plugin helps you to keeps your old posts alive by sharing them and driving more traffic to them from social networks. It also helps you to promote your content. You can set time and number of posts to share to drive more traffic
Do you have a post that gets a lot of traffic but you can’t figure out what to do with it? Use Social Locker to “lock up” content that can be unlocked with a Facebook Like, Tweet, or +1. Great way to accumulate some social metrics. Do not abuse this and only use for the really good content
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It’s any website owner’s worst nightmare; someone has got into your website and hacked it. Not only does it leave you feeling stressed and upset, but it also means you have a whole lot of work to do to restore your website.
Don’t take it to heart; most of the time you’ll have been hacked by an irritating bot rather than a malicious person, your website was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of the ways that a hacker can get into your website include;
Guessing your password – change it often and make it hard to guess.
Using malware to capture your login credentials.
Finding a security vulnerability in software you’re using (more likely with an outdated CMS).
Hacking someone else’s site that’s on the same server as you.
The first thing to do is take your website offline while it is being fixed. If you don’t know how to do it yourself, ask your web host to help. On the subject of hosts; if you think you might have been hacked because of whom you share a host with, change providers and avoid cheap web hosts in future. They don’t always have up to date security practices and you might end up sharing a host with a troublemaker. Check for reviews when choosing a host and don’t just go with a good offer.
Scan your computers for viruses and malware to make sure they aren’t infected with anything nasty, and it goes without saying that you should also make sure you keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.
Get the experts in to rebuild your site, or if you can do it yourself, go ahead, and take a few tips on board to avoid the same thing happening again. Nothing is infallible but there are a few tips that you can use to make your site less hacker-friendly.
Firstly, make sure that you keep all your content management systems and plugins up to date, downloading the newest versions as soon as they are available.
Get used to checking the files on your server or cPanel – that way if one day there’s something unfamiliar there you’ll spot it straight away, hopefully before it has a chance to do too much damage.
Never ever give out your passwords. If someone gets hold of your login credentials, change them immediately.
Avoid using free CMS themes if you can – it’s so easy for a theme or plugin to be changed so that any website using it can be compromised and even used for illegal activities.
Google Webmaster Tools will alert you and possibly show a ‘This site may of been hacked warning’ in Google search results. You must deal with this in your Google account
Unfortunately, hackers aren’t going to go away, much as we’d all like them to, but if you can make life as hard for them as possible, they may well leave your site alone in the future.
Choosing a web developer can be one of the most important decisions for your business. The web developer is going to be tasked with creating the online face of your company, and his or her skills will make or break your ability to successfully interact with your customers online. The developer creates your online shop window – you’ll want to make it an impressive one! Finding the perfect person for the job can be difficult. It’s not easy to find a really good developer or coder, who really ‘gets’ your business and is easy to work with. If the code is sloppy, it will impact on your website’s performance, so spending some time getting this important decision right will pay dividends for your business.
Agencies Agencies are often the first port of call when you’re looking for a developer. The benefits of going to an agency can include a wider talent pool, and in larger agencies the bonus of being able to tie in web development with other services too. This is all fantastic, but it will come at a cost – agencies, especially large digital media agencies, aren’t cheap. It can also be a hassle working with an agency, because you won’t always be able to speak to the right person, and as they will be working for more than one client at a time, it might take longer to get the work completed.
Freelancers Freelance web developers are especially good if you’re looking for someone in a particular niche – you know they will be really good at one particular area of the job. The problem is, finding the right person in that niche. If they are absolutely fantastic at coding but so used to sitting behind a screen that their people skills are hopeless, working with an individual web developer can be very frustrating. Money wise, a freelancer will usually be cheaper than an agency as they don’t have the overheads of a large digital media company, but on the downside, you might find your project is rushed – for a freelancer, time is money and so it’s in their interest to get the job done quickly. The only way around this is to hire on a day rate, but many freelancers don’t like working this way. When you’re making the decision between freelancer and web design agency, you also need to think about the size of your business and whether you’re likely to need an ongoing service from them. If you’re a small business looking for a start-up website, the cost and flexibility of a freelancer may be right for you, but for larger companies or anyone looking for an integrated approach, the convenience of an agency might just swing the decision.
A website is a must-have for all businesses, but with interactive being the buzz word for online presence right now, just setting up a static site and ignoring it isn’t enough anymore. You need to invest time and effort into your site’s performance if you want to make a website work to its full potential for your business.
Firstly, you need to know how well you’re doing, who is looking at your site, where they go, how long they stay…all the statistics that you can find out from good old Google analytics. They sound scary but once you’ve worked out how to use them, they are an absolute bonus for any business, because you’ll be able to work out where most of your traffic comes from and either target that audience more, or look at ways to encourage your preferred audience to click through.
Once you’ve got the cold hard figures, you can ask for feedback from the people who use the site. You’ll have to make this easy for them, and probably offer an incentive such as a freebie or an entry into a competition, because most people are busy and can’t be bothered to leave feedback unless they are complaining! Ask people for their thoughts about the site, try a bullet point questionnaire that takes a few minutes and covers things like ease of use, accessibility, interesting information, and whatever else you need to find out. Asking people what they’d like to see on the site in the future is another good way to target the site to its audience.
Use your results and the Google analytics to build a profile of your average visitor, and make the site something they will want to keep coming back to. How old are your visitors, where are they from, what do they search for and ultimately buy? Armed with that information, you can give them more of what they like and keep them coming back.
Check out your social media – can people link through to your business social media accounts from the site? Have you made it easy for people to follow you, and can they find you easily on Twitter or Facebook?
Another major part of keeping your website relevant is making sure that the information is up to date at all times. It’s not just a Google search thing (although Google does favour sites that contain regularly updated content) it’s common sense. Would you bookmark a website whose last blog entry was six months ago and whose news section was congratulating Kate and William on the birth of Prince George?
Most of these things don’t take long to do, and can make a real difference.
Is being a ‘brand’ just a gimmick? No, not as far as your SEO rankings are concerned. If you need convincing, try a little experiment in Google – search for anything from washing machines to holiday villas, and it’s the well-known brands that will be at the top of the Google rankings.
The reason for this is that rightly or wrongly, you’re more likely to be seen as trustworthy if you’re a recognised brand. Even if you’re Tesco, Starbucks or McDonalds, people know what to expect from you if they know your name – as long as it’s not a name that’s been dragged through the proverbial mud too often.
If your business has a strong brand, it encourages people to trust you, and then buy from you, which is what you want! A strong brand and a reputation for good products and service can cope with the occasional upset or bad review, but if people don’t know you, or anything about you, they might just be put off by someone else’s negative experience.
As far as Google is concerned, direct suppliers of branded goods and services trump the small suppliers and land right up there at the top of the list. Google does tend to turn its nose up at affiliate sellers because it doesn’t know them as well as it does the big brands they are promoting. It always looks for the brand, because that’s what people seem to want.
So, what’s branding all about? It starts with being proud of what you do and communicating that to the world – defining your brand as simply and effectively as possible. Think about your businesses values, strengths and USP, and big them up. You’ve got to stick with them for the long haul too, it’s no good having branding that boasts about unrivalled customer service unless you can actually live up to it.
Being a brand is about how you sell a product, not the product you sell – don’t overdo it and gush about a long list of selling points, that will just confuse potential customers (and search engines). Keep your brand identity simple, consistent and accurate and you’ll reap the benefits long term.
A review of the top 100 brand sites in the UK has found 36 per cent of websites are still not optimised for mobile use, according to the European Mobile Optimisation Study released this month by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB).
This overall figure is down six per cent year-on-year. The IAB’s head of mobile, Alex Kozloff, believes the review has “given excellent insight into how mobile is faring” and the sectors – such as automotive and retail – that are particularly excelling in the mobile world.
In the UK automotive sector, every single website reviewed was optimised for mobile compared to the rest of Europe, where the average for mobile optimised sites was just 85 per cent.
The UK also fared well in the responsive design survey, with 24 per cent of the top 100 UK advertisers, including Sky, Sainsbury’s, Disney and Chanel, boasting responsive websites compared to just 15 per cent in Spain, 13 per cent in France and Italy and a mere seven per cent in Germany.
Although mobile optimised designs deliver a consistent experience across multiple platforms for consumers, it has also been found that many image-heavy responsive design mobile sites are taking unacceptable levels of time to load.
A recent report by mobile web developer, Trilibis, found that 69 per cent of 155 prominent responsive design sites took four seconds or more to load on a smartphone – deemed an ‘unacceptable’ level of time.
The study claims that slow load times are the result of image-heavy websites. Trilibis claims a site’s load time struggles if a page weight goes beyond 1MB. Of the 155 sites analysed, almost two-thirds (61 per cent) delivered a home page at least 1MB in size.
By optimising the images on each of the sites with page weights exceeding 1MB, Trilibis was able to cut page weight on smartphone devices by more than three-quarters (77 per cent).
Page weight is certainly an important factor to consider for any business looking to develop a mobile-ready version of their existing website.
UK consumers are reportedly far more likely to purchase goods and services using their smartphone devices than anywhere else in Europe, according to new research from Google.
The search engine giant surveyed 18 countries across Europe with the UK boasting the highest percentage of consumers who make a monthly purchase using their smartphones (32 per cent), compared with a mere eight per cent in France and only 15 per cent in Germany.
There’s something about using mobile that the everyday consumer loves. The ability to have products always with us, always on, and instantly accessible makes it very easy to get what you need – and fast.
However, there have always been design constraints for mobile web sites, largely due to the fact that mobile screens are inherently smaller than desktop and laptops and are driven by touch. That’s why an increasing number of businesses large and small now have to consider the approach to web designs with mobile at the forefront of their mind.
Historically, web designers and their clients will have approached the desktop side of any project first, leaving the mobile part till later. But the rise of responsive design made many of us think with our mobile hat on far sooner during the creative process.
One design concept many websites are taking on board is ‘progressive enhancement’. This is a design concept which works from back-to-front in comparison to the design process of years gone by, developing a mobile design for your web page first, providing users with minimal screen real estate but an experience that looks great and functions smoothly.
It is from this design that it can then be enhanced for larger platforms from tablets to laptops to desktops. This has proved very successful for many businesses as it forces designers to create an initial streamlined product which looks and functions well without the bells and whistles.
By working in this way you have already gone through the editing process of trimming down the content your customer needs to its most critical elements and when you move forward to designing for laptop and desktop, designers have the chance to make it even more robust, providing a search and user experience like never before.
The percentage of Britons buying online with their smartphones increased in 2014 to more than three-quarters (77 per cent).
As people are increasingly using their smartphones for researching products, finding stores, reading maps and making important purchases, it’s essential for businesses to ensure their sites are mobile-ready.
Note from Dan: I was asked to take a look at a blog post written by Soo Smart from doublesdesign. I really liked it so asked her if we could steal it 🙂 You may think that web design and SEO is unrelated, well the truth is that the more you plan with a designer from the start, the better your website will perform at a later date.
A couple of weeks ago I was researching web design trends for 2014, I do this every year now as I want to be sure that my work fresh and appealing.
Of course, being true to yourself is an important factor in creating great design work (whether it is for web or print) and integrating specialist design skills into websites can go along way. For example there are a great number of illustration styles that designers have nurtured giving their sites, and their clients’ sites some great personalities.
As the internet matures, it looks to me as if designers are being taken more seriously now and influences from print design is finally finding firmer place in web design. Below are some key trends for 2014:
Proper typography at last, the use of Google web fonts http://www.google.com/fonts and Adobe Edge web fonts http://html.adobe.com/edge/webfonts/ has helped bring web typography firmly into the 21st century. No longer are we left languishing with just 5 fonts to choose from, now sites can use typography for what it was meant for – for delivering a message and making articles easier to read.
Of course grouping different fonts together can be a bit tricky, but old-school design staples remain firmly in place – sticking to two font families is safer. Being over-creative with too many different fonts will just make the site look messy.
2. Flat design
Skeuomorphism is out, flat illustration styles are in! Skeuomorphic illustration means a psuedo-realistic, 3D style with shiny highlights. However whilst I love to see bespoke illustration of all kinds on websites, the trend has been moving towards simpler, flatter styles that get the message across quickly.
There are so many businesses online now you need to make your site stands out above the competition, so why choose stock images that hundreds of other people use?
Instead of putting everything ‘up the top’, users are now regarding cluttered sites as a no-go area. It’s not just fashion or a trend that is dictating this, as the internet matures and people become more discerning over how sites should be laid out we see better site design becoming recognised. If you want to check out how people use websites ‘Don’t Make me think’ by Steve Krug who explains just how humans look at web pages. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Make-Me-Think-Usability/dp/0321344758
4. Large Hero Areas
Sliders going out of favour – well some people still love them and I often get asked to create them, but one of my favourite design features is a big image. This takes its cue from print design, using a large image area at the top of a website to replicate a front cover of a brochure is eye-catching.
Splash pages went out of fashion several years ago, but now the battle for higher rankings on search engines is ever more tightly fought, incorporating readable text with a great clear image looks to be the way forward in 2014. Of course, this doesn’t just mean you use any old big picture – the image must have relevance for the site and be crisp and clear – not too cluttered.
Instead of creating a second mobilised version of a site businesses have come to realise that it is more cost effective to have a site that responds to the device it is displayed on.
Now that responsive web design is settling in and clients are beginning to understand the benefits, it looks like it is here to stay. I expect it will start to mature over the next year or so and new technologies introduced on servers to make the delivery of the responsive sites more robust and quicker loading. Browsers becoming better aligned would also be nice to see.
6. Long Scrolling Page
I remember seeing some huge single paged sites towards the end of 2012 and wondered what effect that would have on their SEO. I think the clever way to do this would be to keep the content of a large scrolling page well organised and give the ability to jump to anchor points within the page. Nice Parralax vertical (soft) scrolling would make this a pleasant experience.
But to keep your search results as high as possible, it would be better to link to other pages within the site. This would also help stop the homepage loading time from becoming too slow.
7. Simplified colour schemes
Another one of my favourite design features! The trend towards limited colour palettes has been creeping in for a while now and is certainly easier on the eye. Couple this with a flat illustration style, created as a large hero image and you’re going to have a website that is bang on trend.
Fortunately there are as many styles as there are designers out there, the world would be a very boring place if everyone were the same.
So make it responsive with a large scrolling homepage too? Why not? People have now got used to using the scroll bar, your content is much more likely to be seen now that browser handling is more understood.
8. No more sidebars
This will be interesting to see if and how removing sidebars takes off. My research threw up this as a possible web design trend for 2014. Interestingly a couple of my recent projects have done away with the sidebar – but it really does depend on the type of site you are building.
If the web is taking more cues from print design, then remember one of the golden rules of human interaction is to make reading content easy – so huge wide columns will not be useful if badly implemented. Another interpretation on this could simply be removing the sidebar (and its consistent feature across all pages) and replace it with more columns of content. This would give more pages with diverse information and possibly better SEO.
I look forward to website design in 2014, it looks to be an exciting time.