All posts by Tony

I am involved in web training and consulting: AdWords, Blogging, E-commerce, Email Marketing with MailChimp, Google Analytics, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing and WordPress. Interests? I enjoy family and friends, the great outdoors and the internet. I enjoy reading, dining, shows, traveling as well as participating in sport activities.

The Importance of Having a Good Hosting Company

This is what happens if your website does not load:

  1. your visitors won’t be able to access your site (not good w.r.t. customer service…).
  2. you won’t be able to access your Admin Area and therefore you won’t be able to do any work on your site.
  3. if you are running Campaigns on Google Ads, Facebook, Pinterest, other – visitors clicking on your Ads will be directed to a page that shows: “Page Not Found – Internal Servor Error”.. believe me, your customers won’t be impressed.
  4. Google bot will try and crawl your site but cannot find your pages. Result? Google down-ranks your site on Google search. Very bad for your SEO!!

WordPressTrainingJohannesburg.com was down for 10 hours yesterday. Talk about someone about to get a nervous breakdown…

My website http://www.wordpresstrainingjohannesburg.com/ is hosted by https://www.bluehost.com .  My “hobby” website https://fitandfunnow.com is hosted by WordPress.com.

I have received good service from both hosting companies and so it was with great surprise (and shock!) that I saw that my one website was not loading yesterday.

After a few online chats to Bluehost and getting nowhere I contacted Bluehost’s Head Office in the United States. They said that the server needed upgrading and that I would have to authorise upgrade from EasyApache 3 to EasyApache 4 which I did and the website was subsequently uploaded to the internet. Why request authorization? just do it…

Fortunately no such issues with WordPress.com hosting!!

Why am I writing this post? To let you know the incredible importance of having a “good” company host your website. You don’t want your website to be down… EVER!

Which companies would I recommend?

Internationally  https://wordpress.com or  https://www.hetzner.com and in South Africa https://hetzner.co.za/

Should you have a Developer and should your Developer host your website for you, then hopefully your website is in competent hands and you should be experiencing no issues.

One more note: should your site be the free version of WordPress.com then you have nothing to worry about as WordPress.com will be the host of your free website. And should you one day upgrade from the free plan to a paid (premium) plan, I would recommend your stay with WordPress.com hosting.

At times, what is expensive today is going to save you much time and money later on.

Google Ads – Why you Need to Use Broad Match Modifier

Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) recently introduced ‘Broad Match Modifier’ that lets you create keywords that are more targeted than broad match, yet have a greater reach than phrase or exact match.

With modified broad match, you put a plus sign (+) in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. The words that are preceded by a (+) sign must appear in the user’s keyword phrase exactly or as a close variation.

The words that are not following a (+) sign will trigger ads on more significant query variations.

This feature can drive more traffic than phrase or exact match, and attract more qualified traffic than broad match.

What are examples of modified broad match phrases?

Say your broad match phrase was “red purses.” That phrase could prompt ads on relevant query variations like “red bags,” “colorful purses,” “women’s clutches,” etc.

But if your modified broad match was “+red purses,” the word red or some close variant would have to appear in the keyword phrase.

Close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms and stemming.

So the query “redd purses” or “reddish bags,” for example, could trigger your ad.

If you made your modified broad match “red +purses,” the word purse or some close variant would have to appear in the keyword phrase. Examples include “colorful purses,” “colorful purse,” or “women’s purrses.”

Hasn’t Google Ads had a feature like this before?

Google Ads hasn’t had a feature quite like this one, though years ago Google’s broad match was more targeted than its current broad match.

Broad match meant that words in a keyphrase could appear in any order in a query. Eventually Google switched over to its current version of broad match, and many people complained.

They felt that Google prompted ads for terms that weren’t necessarily relevant, requiring them to draw up long negative keyword lists.

One WebmasterWorld forum user complained, for example, that he saw queries as exotic as “zebras near chicago” for “widgets near chicago.”

How do I enable modified broad match?

Go into your Google Ads account, click on the Keywords tab, and select the keyword phrase you want to edit. Click on the current match type in the Type column and choose modified broad match from the drop-down menu. Add the necessary (+) signs to the keyword phrase.

How do I know if modified broad match is a good idea for my campaign?

If you decide to give it a try, make sure you track how your campaign performance evolves. See, for example, how your clicks, CPCs, conversions, return on investment, and so on change. Google notes in its broad match modifier overview that you can produce a performance report that just details information about modified broad match keywords.

If modified broad match keywords seem to be improving your ROI, then stick with them. If not, stay with broad match, phrase match, or exact match.

[Click on the screenshot below to enlarge it]

Google Ads - Why you Need to Use Modified Broad Match Modifier

Sources:

5 Easy But Effective Ways to Optimize your PPC Keywords >

Top 9 AdWords Mistakes You Really Need To Avoid >

What Is Modified Broad Match? Using the Broad Match Modifier in PPC >

Compress your PNG/JPG Files by up to 80% and Retain Full Transparency

I received the following email from Nur:

Hello there ,

Thank you for telling me about this WordPress plug-in to compress my pictures.

But then I discovered that adding plug-ins to my site itself causes the site speed to go down, which kinda ruins the purpose. So that is why I decided to look around for a free online tool.

After some exploring, I wanted to suggest it as an alternative to the plug in:

https://www.websiteplanet.com/webtools/imagecompressor/

This is a free online tool that allows you to compress pictures that are up to 50 MB in size both in jpeg and in png format! So maybe sharing it with your users can help them too.

In hope I helped back,

Nur

Editor’s note: Nur, I briefly went over the website and it seems to be effective. Thanks for sharing this with us.

10 Tips: Increase WooCommerce Conversion Rate with Product Tables

All WooCommerce stores share a single aim: To increase conversions and get more sales. Whatever your wider business goals, that’s what it all comes down to!

If you Google ‘WooCommerce conversion rate optimisation’, you’ll find lots of general advice on how to convert more visitors into paying customers. This usually focusses on improvements to the cart and checkout. These are important, but often forget that you need to convince customers to buy your products in the first place.

In this article, I’m going to do the opposite. I’ll provide specific and actionable tips on how you can convince customers to add more products to their cart using a specific tool: product tables.

WooCommerce product tables are an excellent tool for increasing your sales. By adding well designed table layouts to your store, you can present products in user-friendly ways that make it easier for customers to buy from you.

Source: 10 Tips: Increase WooCommerce Conversion Rate with Product Tables

Bed and Breakfast Themes – 20+ WordPress Themes to Showcase Bed & Breakfasts

Bed and breakfast themes are niche WordPress themes available for the hotel and lodging industry. They’re designed to showcase a single location as is typical with B&Bs, so they need to be powerful and well-designed yet minimalist enough to not be too bloated with features intended for large hotel chains.

This post features a collection of over 20 bed and breakfast themes available for WordPress. These themes are more than capable of showcasing B&Bs effectively through the styles and features they offer. Let’s go over what exactly a bed and breakfast is and what features you should look for before we get into the list.

Read the article: Bed and Breakfast Themes – 20+ WordPress Themes to Showcase Bed & Breakfasts

5 Reasons You Might Want to Switch WordPress Hosting Providers

It can be tempting to think any working web host will provide you with a top-notch experience, but that, unfortunately, isn’t always the case. No two hosting providers are the same, and performance can vary wildly between different hosts. All that means that even if you’re feeling happy with your WordPress host (and definitely if you’re not!), you might not necessarily be getting the best service possible. And that’s why it’s important to look at some metrics that indicate when it’s time to switch WordPress hosting providers.

The good news is that moving to a new hosting service isn’t as difficult as it sounds. So even if you’re ambivalent about your current host, we encourage you to consider these metrics because there’s a decent chance you might be able to improve your site’s hosting situation without much hassle or money.

Because of how important metrics like uptime and page load times are to your site’s success, every little improvement counts. For that reason, whether you’re happy with your current host or not, we’re going to walk you through five reasons you might want to switch WordPress hosting providers and explain what makes each important. Let’s get started!

Read full article: 5 Reasons You Might Want to Switch WordPress Hosting Providers

WordPress.com Business Now Supports Plugins and Third-Party Themes

For many years, WordPress.com has been a simple way for people to create their own beautiful WordPress website in minutes.

But that simplicity came with a tradeoff — WordPress.com did not offer built-in support for the thousands of third-party plugins and themes that helped make WordPress the world’s largest and most open web publishing platform.

Now, we’ve made a significant change to the WordPress.com Business plan: you can access and add third-party plugins and themes built by the WordPress community. It’s the simplicity, speed, and expert support that you’ve always loved about WordPress.com, plugged in.

People love WordPress because it is totally customizable. With support for plugins and third-party themes, WordPress.com Business users will be able to connect their sites to great email and social media tools, ecommerce solutions, publishing and subscription services, and more.

This is a big step for us, and there’s a lot more work to do — over the coming weeks and months, we’re going to be working with partners and developers to help make the experience even easier for you to install and use these plugins and themes on WordPress.com.

And every WordPress.com Business user gets real-time concierge support – live chat with one of our Happiness Engineers and we can help you make the most of these new features.

WordPress is the world’s most popular web platform, and we’re proud to keep this community growing and thriving. Thanks for your continued support.

WordPress.com Business Now Supports Plugins and Third-Party Themes

Source: WordPress.com Business Now Supports Plugins and Third-Party Themes — The WordPress.com Blog

44 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog

Starting a blog for the first time is an amazing, yet intimidating experience.

Thinking that people are actually going to read – and even share – something you wrote. It’s unlike any other feeling I can describe.

But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Starting a blog is hard work, and there are a lot of pitfalls along the way. Especially if it’s your first time. So many pitfalls, in fact, that we’ve come up with a full list of 44 things we wish we knew before starting our first blogs. That way, you don’t have to make these mistakes yourself!

But who are “we” exactly, right? Well, this post is a group effort. It features three bloggers chipping in and sharing their best advice on the topic.

So grab a coffee and get cozy, we’re about to review everything we’ve learned in the past 5+ years. Enjoy!

Read full article: 44 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog

New ‘Contact Form’ Experience on Jetpack 5.2

Introduction: Contact Form – Jetpack 5.2

Jetpack 5.2 brings you a brand new Contact Form experience, a better explanation of recommended features, and several performance improvements.

New Contact Form

Jetpack’s Contact Form for WordPress is one of our most popular free features. And with good reason: it’s the simplest and most effective way of enabling your readers to get in touch with you be it for praise, complaints, requests or suggestions.

And now we’ve made it much simpler and faster to use.

[Click on a screenshot to enlarge it]

New 'Contact Form' Experience on Jetpack 5.2

The next time you add a contact form to a page on your site you will see a new visual interface right inside the editor instead of a popup. Enjoy a full editing experience including adding and customizing fields and labels, re-ordering them by dragging, and easily setting email subject lines and recipients.

To edit, simply click on the form itself, and hit the “edit” icon. You can edit or remove the existing fields, or add new ones by going to the bottom of the form and clicking “add field.”

screen shot of new jetpack contact form - Contact Form - Jetpack 5.2

Click on the contact form and then the “Edit” icon in order to add new, change the order of, or delete fields in your form.

 

Simply drag and drop your fields to organize their order the way you want them. Click “Update Form” at the bottom when you’re done to save your changes.

screen shot of new jetpack contact form - Contact Form - Jetpack 5.2

Click “Add Field” at the bottom of your new contact form to add new fields. Click “Update Form” to save your changes.

Recommended Features

When you install Jetpack on a new site, Jetpack recommends activating certain popular features that are most valued by users.

Jetpack has now improved this experience to better showcase and explain what the features and how they benefit your WordPress site.

Performance Improvements

Jetpack has also streamlined and reduced weight (file size) of the plugin as well as fixed bugs and introduced enhancements for stability. All these are under the hood ensuring a smoother Jetpack functioning with each version.

Full Changelog and Thanks

The changelog provides the full list of updates and changes in this release and if you have feedback please get in touch as always.

Install Jetpack on your site or upgrade your current version today and Jetpack know what you think.

Jetpack thanks contributors to this release:

Alexandru Bucur, Anthony, Artur Piszek, Ben Lowery, Brandon Kraft, Daniel Walmsley, Derek Smart, Donncha Ó Caoimh, Drew Butler, Elio Rivero, Eric Binnion, Filipe Varela, George Stephanis, Igor Zinovyev, Marko Andrijasevic, Michael Arestad, Michael Turk, Miguel Lezama, Mohammad Jangda, Payton Swick, Richard Muscat, Rob Landers, Stephen Edgar, Thomas Guillot.

Source:

Jetpack 5.2: New Contact Form Experience

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15 Ways to Get High-Quality Backlinks to Your WordPress Site

15 Ways to Get High-Quality Backlinks to Your WordPress Site

Do you remember when black hat SEO was a major problem? Google eventually caught on to these unethical SEO tactics employed by shady (and, let’s be honest, lazy) people, so it may not have had a chance to get too close to you. Nevertheless, if you’ve ever had a client ask if you knew where they could buy links from, that’s definitely a remnant of those black hat SEO days—and something you want to stay away from at all costs.

I think the worst part about black hat SEO was the aftermath. It’s not like building up backlinks was the problem. It was the manner in which people acquired those backlinks that was, since they basically tricked the search algorithms into rewarding quantity over quality.

Being a few years away from the pervasiveness of black hat SEO abuses, I think it’s time for us all to get back in the saddle and get over that fear that Backlinks = Bad. We know that search engines recognize a strong network of backlinks as a signal of authority (even if they won’t admit it). It’s just a matter of knowing how to gain those links through genuine link-building strategies.

In this article, I want to talk about what high-quality backlinks are and how to go about building up a strong network of high-quality backlinks to improve your site’s search ranking, all while still staying in the good graces of the search engines and your visitors.

The Various Ways to Use Links to Improve SEO

Let’s start with the basics. There are typically three kinds of links you’re interested in when building a WordPress site:

Internal links connect readers of your site with other pages of content within the site. This keeps them moving through related topic after related topic, which in turn helps demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.

External links connect readers of your site with other websites. But why would you ever want to provide a link that could potentially push a visitor off your site? Well, it’s usually because you want to give a source credit for information you’ve included on your site. You know this back from high school. Quotes, statistics, and original research should always be cited. It’s also good for improving the user experience when you suggesting they do something and then provide them with a quick link to follow through on that action.

Which brings me to backlinks. These are links that point back to your site, but appear on other websites. Let’s say you published a hilarious infographic on the differences between dating in the ‘90s versus dating in the ‘10s. You may find that a whole bunch of dating sites, women’s and men’s e-magazines, and maybe even Buzzfeed want to embed a copy of it on their blogs. In turn, they’ll likely give your site credit with a backlink. (Basically, an external link, but in reverse.)

Internal and external links are both important for creating a strong impression on your WordPress site. However, high-quality backlinks are even more important as they demonstrate to search engines (and readers) that you’re a trusted authority around the web, and that your content is so good that others can’t help but drive their own traffic to it. Of course, these backlinks are only going to be beneficial if:

  • They’re genuine (meaning you didn’t pay someone to plant them).
  • They’re relevant and, consequently, drive relevant traffic to your site.
  • They come from reputable sources.

It’s this last point that can give marketers some pause since backlinks from websites with poor reputations can negatively affect SEO. So, if there were ever a reason not to want to actively work on building a network of backlinks to your site, that would be the one caveat. However, it should be easy enough to work around this. So long as you’re creating connections with reputable and high-authority websites, and paying attention to where your backlinks come from, you should be fine.

15 Ways to Get High-Quality Backlinks to Your WordPress Site

According to a 2015 study done by Moz, they found a very strong correlation between top ranked sites on Google and external links. Of the top 50 search results they assessed, they found that 99.2% of them had at least one backlink. While it’s not impossible to rank without a backlink, the evidence suggests that if you want to make that coveted first page of search results, you need at least one high-quality backlink.

Okay, so now that we got that out of the way…

We know that backlinks are awesome for SEO. We also know that we need to be careful when going about obtaining them. Here are some tips on how you can inspire popular, high-authority, and well-trusted websites to link to your website:

#1. Write Actionable Blog Posts

Well-written and informative blog posts are awesome. It’s basically like you’re giving away free lessons to your visitors in exchange for their patronage. However, if you want to motivate them to link back to your site within their own content, you have to give them something more. Blog posts that provide actionable tips—usually in list format or a step-by-step guide—will give others the opportunity to leverage your expert guidance for their own benefit.

#2. Write Guest Articles

This is really no different than writing content for your site. The only difference is that you have to follow someone else’s guidelines before it gets published. If you do go this route, don’t stress over embedding links to your site within the article; in fact, most outlets frown upon that. Simply just ask if you can put one link in your bio. If the site has a high enough profile, that one link is all you’ll need anyway.

#3. Blog on Third-Party Sites

Backlinks - Medium The Cooper Review
The Cooper Review has its own site and yet the author posts content to Medium regularly.

Perhaps the best place to put well-thought-out and informative posts is on third-party blogging sites. Obviously, that’s not to say these sites wouldn’t benefit from how-to articles. It’s all about creating content for the right place and the right time, and these sites are usually about straight-up thought leadership content. LinkedIn and Medium are good ones to look into.

#4. Develop Long-form Content

Writing a piece of content that discusses the merits of adopting an older dog is nice when you want to connect with your audience, but writing a guide on the 100 ways to help an older dog adapt to its surroundings would most likely elicit a stronger response. If you really want people to link to your content, create something truly of value. Long-form content like e-books, white papers, and manuals work best for this.

#5. Create Tutorials

Another way you could create helpful content others are dying to link to is by developing tutorials. Whether you’re a WordPress developer who recorded a live WordPress training session or a web designer who has created an infographic on the 15 tips for mastering the latest design trend, these creative tutorials that come straight from the expert are always an attractive sell.

#6. Write a Case Study

Backlinks - Kissmetrics case study
Great example of a well-done case study being embedded AND linked to on other sites.

Before I write any new content, the first thing I do is search for statistical evidence of the point I want to make. The way I see it, my audience will have an easier time listening to me if I point them to solid proof.

That’s why case studies are so powerful. Find a client’s before-and-after success story, write it up with tons of visuals and statistics, and publish on your site (with client’s consent of course). If your case study makes a solid argument for why CTAs belong above the fold, others may find your data valuable enough to link to and use in their own work.

#7. Showcase Partner Logos

This is one of those tit-for-tat situations, but nevertheless is one that will work if you get a valuable backlink out of it. If your business partners with high-profile companies, talk to them about showing off your logos on each other’s websites.

#8. Provide Reviews for Others

Yes, it can be annoying to receive a testimonial or review request from someone when you’re in the middle of a rush rebranding job and barely have time to stop and collect last month’s invoices. The next time this happens, however, I’d urge you to just say “yes”. In exchange for a testimonial or review, you can ask them to include a link back to your site.

#9. Get Your Link Out on Social

Backlinks - CMSWire Links
CMSWire includes a backlink to their site in their Twitter bio, in their self-promotional posts, and even in the name of their Twitter page.

Although Google has made it clear they don’t (or, more accurately, can’t) use social media as a ranking factor for websites, that doesn’t mean social can’t be used for backlinking opportunities. You can:

  • Add your site’s URL to all your social media profiles—for your company, yourself, and maybe even encourage employees to do so as well.
  • Promote your content and business’ products or services through posts on social.
  • Create videos, slideshows, and other visual content for niche social media sites (like YouTube or Instagram) and include a link back to your site in the description.

#10. Show Off on Social

While you work on generating your own backlinks, don’t forget to encourage others to share your content as well. The worst way to do this? “Hey guys, I just published this article. Please share it for me!” The best way to do this? Talk about topics on social that are relevant to your business. Trust me, people will take notice—especially if you’re sharing their content and tagging them. Quid pro quo is alive and well on social media.

#11. Update Your Gravatar

Backlinks - Gravatar
Gravatar is really so easy to set up. If you’re planning on being active on other sites, you’d be smart to get this profile (and your backlink) set up.

Did you know that Gravatar is part of the Automattic family? This means that any website—including your own WordPress site—linked to Gravatar can pull in the profile you’ve created there. This ensures that your website URL will show up on any site where your Gravatar bio does (like when you comment on another blog).

#12. Create Profiles on Q&A Sites

As a WordPress professional, you know how strong the community is around it. There are a number of opportunities to get involved with that community and to lend your input when your expertise is needed. Sites like Stack OverflowQuora, the WordPress forums, and, of course, the WPMU DEV community.

#13. Upload Your Portfolio

Backlinks - Dribbble Example
An example of how your URL backlink will appear on a portfolio site.

Do you have a design portfolio or something free to give away like a plugin or wireframe kit? Hop on sites like Dribbble, create a profile (with a link to your site), and start sharing.

#14. Get Interviewed

Are you a local expert? Or perhaps you developed a new technique or product that others would find valuable? Maybe you just helped a major Fortune 500 revamp their website? Whatever waves you’re making in your part of the world, use it to get interviewed by podcasts, local new sites, or niche bloggers. In exchange for the interview, they’ll likely give your site a shout-out.

#15. Issue a Press Release

Backlinks - Press Release
Here’s a snapshot of PlayBuzz’s press release where they garnered two links back to their site.

Along that same vein, if you have something truly newsworthy happen to you (like one of your sites won an Awwward or you just sold a million copies of your plugin), issue a press release about it. And not just on your website. Use a service like PRweb so it’ll get picked up by other news channels that will link back to your site, too.

Once you’ve got this backlink train in motion, don’t forget to review the backlinks coming in to your site. You can find a list of these by going to Google Search Console; look under Search Traffic > Links to Your Site. If you find any questionable links (meaning they’re irrelevant or come from inappropriate sites), you can disconnect them.

Wrapping Up

Black hat SEO made things a little hairy for marketers and web developers for a while. But now that those shady SEO tactics are, for the most part, gone, we can focus on using positive link building strategies for our sites. A strong network of high-authority backlinks can speak volumes to the credibility of your business, so take some time to think about how best to get your site in front of others and motivate them to link back to it from their own sites.

Source:

15 Ways to Get High-Quality Backlinks to Your WordPress Site  posted on  wpmudev.com by  Suzanne Scacca