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

Social Media displaces Phone Calls and emails in the UK

Social Media displaces Phone Calls and emails in the UK

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence Apps and Platforms Briefing subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

Teens and adults in the UK aged 16-24 spend the majority of their time communicating via social media on their mobile devices, according to a recent Ofcom report.

This is a major departure from the communication habits of older age groups in the UK, and highlights how social networks and messaging platforms are changing consumer behaviors.

  • The study found that, on average, UK teens and adults aged 16-24 spend an average of 4 hours and 14 minutes communicating daily. That’s almost double the average of social media time spent among all adults, which clocks in at 2 hours and 10 minutes.
  • Most of this time is spent in social networks and messaging apps for the youngest demographic. The youngest cohort, 16-24 year olds, spend the majority of their time communicating through social networks (27%) and messaging services (35%).
  • Older age groups showed a propensity to spend more texting, using email, and calling. For those 25+, the majority of time is spent communicating through email (35% UK average) and phone or video calls (20% UK average).
  • The decline of emailing and phone calls in the younger age bracket appears to be due to the rise in instant/photo/video messaging and social networking.

The varying behavior among different age groups is likely attributable in part to the tendency for younger generations to look to “umbrella services,” or larger services that bundle tools that enable them to complete a number of daily tasks. A user on Facebook or Facebook Messenger, for example, could place a video or phone call, send personal messages or business-related messages, and interact with social content like pictures, video, and posts from friends, without ever departing the Facebook ecosystem.

Source: Social media displaces phone calls and emails in the UK – Business Insider

4 Ways to Use Social Media SEO to Improve Your Search Engine Visibility 

A very useful article by Elegant Themes’ Dan Virgillito :

Did you know: 571 new sites are made and 70 new domains are registered on the internet within a minute? And that’s just counting a minute. You don’t even want to contemplate the average number of websites created within a year. Generally speaking, the competition for high search engine visibility is fiercer than ever. Even for established websites it’s a tough ask. That is where overlooked tactics like social media seo can give you a competitive edge.

On the whole, social signals / links don’t have a direct impact on the search engine rank of a website. They’re easy to manipulate, which is why search engines don’t give them a lot of importance. Yet, social media benefits search engine rank in unexpected ways.

Specifically, social media seo works in the following ways:

  • Webpages that gain social traction are indexed faster in search engines. The catch is that audience sharing the content must be active and earned.
  • The likelihood of other websites linking to your content increases when it gets shared and promoted on social media. Links are a major driver for search engine rank.
  • A strong presence on social media could boost brand awareness and positive reputation. The more popular your website, the more it will be searched for.

Point in fact, social media seo interaction certainly influences search engine visibility.

But it requires more than just creating a social media profile. Here are 4 tips to help you benefit from social media seo.

1. Fill Your Social Media Profiles with Relevant Information

Include as much relevant information as possible about your website while filling out your social media profiles. Most importantly, include the name and URL of your site, as well as the keywords you want to rank for in the description and the updates you post.

So when people share and engage with your social media updates, they’ll basically aid your brand awareness efforts. For instance, Dom & Tom Inc included important information about its blog post in the update it shared on its Facebook page, leveraging social media seo.

optimizing profiles for social media seo

Source: Facebook

The SEO title of the post is mentioned in the description. This will also get passed around when social media audiences share this update and tag their peers in the comments section.

Potentially, it could result in searches like “things to keep in mind when building apps for kids Dom & Tom” or “Dom & Tom tips for building kids apps,” bringing an indirect increase in Dom & Tom’s search engine visibility.

2. Striking Up Conversations Is an Integral Part of Social Media SEO

Undoubtedly, social media provides an easy way to start a conversation with your target audience to offer value and address pain points . Launch inquiries, post useful tips, start a general discussion and reply to the audiences’ comments with helpful tips.

Then, engage people in the conversation directly. Such engagements are key to creating and retaining an interactive community. Social media seo would encourage your existing customers to return while helping you develop authority for potential ones. Not to mention, a satisfied audience would be willing to spread the word about your company.

For instance, WordPress.com engages its Facebook audience by answering their queries in the comments section.

social media engagement and seo

Source: Facebook

When implementing this tactic, you can also capitalize on the immediacy of response, which 72% of customers listed as critical. Fast response will increase the willingness of people to recommend or praise your brand on social media.

Indirectly, it will result in SEO gains when someone mentions your name on their blog as a helpful resource.

3. Partner with Social Media Influencers

By and large, social media influencers can multiply the visibility of your social media content. Though increased readership won’t directly boost your search engine rank, you’ll create a gateway to more links in the future through this social media seo tactic.

For instance, if an influencer with 5 times bigger following than what your social media efforts can muster shares your content, it would be a boon for your visibility as the influencer’s audience start Googling you up. As a result, your published pieces will have better value after syndication.

Therefore, start connecting with relevant influencers to build a cycle in which they promote your content and talk about your brand. For instance, Kissmetrics partnered with Jeff Bullas and Ann Handley, two of the most respected content marketers, for a webinar.

social media seo influencers

Source: Facebook

The update was shared on social media. Both influencers also informed their audiences about the collaboration. On the whole, it resulted in increased brand awareness for the Kissmetrics brand.

Note: In such influencer-based collaborations, you’re likely to earn nofollow links from the influencers’ social media pages and dofollow links from their websites when they mention your name.

4. Create & Push Captivating Content

Eventually, social media seo comes down to developing compelling content and experiences that your audience will love to discuss and share. Ensure that your video, infographic, visual, text, etc. is unique and in line with the social experience.

Once your content sees some engagement, push it via social media advertising to create a healthy buzz. The incoming traffic will likely result in increased engagement, which could result in more external links. Actually, it’s quite rare to see a highly linked-to page with no social media shares. You can even use hashtags for better reach.

Check out the content shared by Blugraphic on its Facebook page.

Shareworthy content is essential for scial media SEO benefits

Source: Facebook

In one of the posts, they’ve made an album for Giraffey Free Uppercase Condensed Typeface. Other updates include videos and animations in actions. This is the kind of captivating content that social media audiences love to see and share.

Final Thoughts

While standard SEO practices continue to be the first preference when it comes to increasing search engine visibility, it seems that social media seo is fundamental for building authority. Therefore, put some effort into optimizing your social media profiles, connect with the right influencers, and post quality updates on each social media network. You will be surprised to see the ROI these endeavors bring overtime.

Source: 4 Ways to Use Social Media SEO to Improve Your Search Engine Visibility | Elegant Themes Blog

Need Social Media Marketing Training? >

This Week’s Must Read Blogs – 16 May 2017

Hi everyone, a couple of articles I found useful:

Security

New WannaCry Ransomware and How to Protect Yourself

This is another Wordfence public service announcement (PSA) that describes new WannaCry ransomware variants that have emerged in the past few hours and describes how to protect yourself against the WannaCry ransomware, also known as the WannaCrypt ransomware. Read the full article >

Plugins

Useful WordPress Plugins to Integrate Your Site with Google Services 2017

Figuring out how to integrate your WordPress website with a couple of useful Google services? It should not be difficult! There are lots of reliable WordPress plugins that are ready to connect your site with popular Google services. A very interesting article by MottoPress’ Ann Taylor. Read the full article >

New Themes

Photopress

Photopress is a simple WordPress theme for Photographers, Designers & just about any creative out there. Learn more >

11 Examples of Divi Small Business Websites

The world is filled with small businesses and there are more started every day. With that comes the constant need for new websites. There are lots of small businesses websites built with Divi to provide design inspiration for your next project. In this article we will take a look at 11 examples of Divi small business websites to help you with design ideas for your next Divi project. Read the full article >

Improved Stats and Distraction-Free Editing-Jetpack for WordPress

It’s often the little things that count — especially when it comes to your stats and writing. Based on valuable feedback from the community, Jetpack has just launched a few improvements that they think you’ll really love.

Site Stats

  • Today First: Now when you visit a site’s stats, you’ll see the Days view first, with data displayed for the last 30 days. A quick click on the arrow will take you to yesterday’s stats, or you can click on any bar to view full stats for a specific day.

switching-days-stats2 - Improved Stats and Distraction-Free Editing — Jetpack for WordPress

  • See More Information at Once: To better work with wider displays, we’ve extended the display area and have included three columns of statistics. The Weeks and Months views now also display up to 30 periods (if that data is available).
  • More Insights: Click the arrow next to a stat’s title for summaries of various periods, including a new All Time tab, list of Likes, and device previews. Clicking the Insights tab will show you detailed historical data for the entire site.Improved Stats and Distraction-Free Editing — Jetpack for WordPress - all time views - 1
  • Other improvements include an Average per Day view, Follower Totals, and the option to Download a CSV of your stats data.

Distraction-Free Editing

We’re proud to unveil some design changes to the WordPress.com editor that are available to all Jetpack users. It has the same great features you’ve come to expect, but with a cleaner, more refined experience — and a few new improvements, like a distraction-free writing mode.Improved Stats and Distraction-Free Editing — Jetpack for WordPress - 3

For those interested in the behind-the-scenes work that went into these improvements, you can read the full interview with Matías and Joen, the two designers who helped build this new experience.

We really hope you enjoy these new features. Feel free to contact us with any feedback or questions.

POSTED ON BY RICHARD MUSCAT

Source: Improved Stats and Distraction-Free Editing — Jetpack for WordPress

Consulting & Training: AdWords, Blogging, E-commerce, Email Marketing with MailChimp, Google Analytics, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing, WordPress

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