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4 Proven Ways to Maximize Your WordPress Website’s Performance

(Image Source)

You should know by now that starting a WordPress website is easy to do, even if you have no web development technical knowledge or experience.

After all, hosting providers provide setup wizards and one-click WordPress installations. Not to mention, there are plenty of free resources available to help you when you have a problem.

But what you may not realize is that once your website is up and running, you’ve only just begun.

For example, you have to:

  • Plan and publish killer on your blog to drive traffic
  • Capture emails and create an email signature to encourage campaign opens and click throughs
  • Build a social media presence to expose your brand to a broader audience
  • Upload and promote eCommerce products and services
  • Perform keyword research, optimize for SEO, and monitor your competition
  • And so much more

And to top it off, if you don’t focus on your site’s speed and performance, it won’t matter how much work you do; you won’t rank well in search results and your traffic numbers will suffer.

Plus, with 40% of people abandoning websites that don’t load within 3 seconds, you can expect a high bounce rate, low conversion rates, and minimal revenue generated if you aren’t proactive.

As overwhelming as all of this may sound, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

If you need help maximizing your WordPress website’s performance, check out these helpful tips and start worrying about other things instead such as growing your following or business.

1. Monitor Site Speed

Remember what we said earlier about people abandoning websites that don’t load fast?

Well, it’s true.

And if you don’t do something about a slow loading website, you’ll never become a success.

The best thing you can do when you set out to maximize your website’s speed and performance is to find out where you stand right now before making any changes.

To do this, use the online Google PageSpeed Insights tool. It’s free to use and only requires you to enter your site’s URL for analysis.

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After your site is analyzed, you’ll be able to see how fast both your desktop and mobile sites load and even receive suggestions from Google for making improvements.

Once you’ve established a baseline, every time you make a significant change on your site to maximize its performance, you can retest your site and see how far you’ve come.

Continue to monitor your site’s speed and performance as long as you’re in business to ensure your site visitors get the best user experience possible.

2. Optimize Your Images

When it comes to having the best performing WordPress website around, 46% of web performance experts say that image optimization should be your number one priority.

After all, images tend to take the longest to load on your website.

And your site visitors won’t see a thing on your site until every image loads into their browser, which may take longer than 3 seconds if you’re not careful.

Luckily, when you use WordPress as your content management system, optimizing images is a cinch. Using the popular Smush It plugin, you can do the following to your site’s images:

  • Resize images’ heights and widths, so they aren’t too large
  • Compress images into smaller files without sacrificing their quality
  • Process JPG, PNG, and GIF formats
  • Manually compress images or set Smush It to do it automatically when you upload a new image
  • Bulk compress images to save time

Also, Smush It uses their own servers to do all the work, so your site’s server is never compromised, which also helps keep things running fast.

(Image Source – my website)

Adding images to your website is a great way to grab people’s attention and get them to take action.

They also serve as a good way to break up long text, so people don’t leave before reading everything you have to say.

Not to mention, creating a custom business logo and uploading it to your WordPress site is the best way to build brand recognition and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.

But if the images hurt you more than they help, there is no sense using them. That’s why you need to invest some time into optimizing them for maximum loading speeds.

3. Use a Reliable Hosting Provider

There are so many hosting providers out there to choose from that it can be tough to figure out which one is best. This is especially true if you are just starting out and are on a limited budget.

However, we can make things a little easier for you by telling you what to look for in a good hosting provider so you know your site will load fast and perform well – all the time.

So, let’s see what a high-quality web hosting plan should have:

  • Support for PHP 7, the fastest version to date
  • Built-in security measure to prevent DDoS attacks, brute force attacks, and other malicious activity that can take your site down
  • Bandwidth and storage amounts that will let you scale as your business grows (and handle one-time traffic spikes too)
  • An easy to use cPanel that you can access when something goes wrong
  • Automated backups of your site that are easy to restore in case your site goes down (because it does happen)
  • 24/7 support to help stop speed and performance issues in their tracks
  • Uptime guarantees
  • Built-in speed and performance features

(Image source – my account)

Lastly, you should research a reliable third-party company for buying a unique domain name if the hosting provider you decide to go with doesn’t offer domain name registrations.

After all, a website is no good without a domain name. And the one you choose will have a direct impact on the success of your business.

People will associate your domain name with what you have to offer. If you don’t use one that correlates with your industry, you’ll miss opportunities to get people to convert because they’ll never click on your site.

If you make your domain name too long or complicated, people will mistype it and never show up.

And if you choose a domain name that infringes on a copyright or trademark, you can expect legal troubles to come your way.

That’s why using a good company to register your domain name and putting some extra thought into it is crucial for your future success.

4. Enable Browser Caching

People that return to your website are doing so because you have something they want. And if you make their user experience seamless, chances are high they’ll continue to return.

Enabling browser caching on your website an excellent strategy for delivering static content to site visitors as fast as possible.

That’s because those files are stored in your site’s cache.

And, when someone who has visited your site before returns, they will be given the stored files without having to wait for them to reload through your site’s server and their browser.

For a WordPress website, you can use a free caching plugin such as WP Super Cache, select a single checkbox, and start serving up cached content right away.

(Image Source – my website)

There are also other popular caching plugins such as W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache, and Comet Cache if you want to look into alternatives.

Final Thoughts

As you see are plenty of easy ways to make sure your site is performing the way your site visitors expect it to.

You just need to set aside some time to see how fast your site is loading now, and then make changes based on those results.

Before you know it, you’ll be ranking higher in search results, more traffic will be coming to your site, and you’ll see a lower bounce rate as people stay engaged with your content when they arrive.

So, if you’ve just launched your WordPress site and want to make sure you continue to grow and become a success, implement a few of the above strategies and you’ll be all set!

 

5 Smart Ways to Secure Your WordPress Website from Cyber Threats

As the most popular content management system of all time, WordPress has ushered in a new age of web development.

Rather than relying on sheer coding skills, anyone today can build a fully functional website with pre-made themes, plugins, and a dash of patience. WordPress also made sure these “building blocks” are readily available in one place, allowing for a more streamlined and efficient web development workflow.

Unfortunately, this unparalleled ease of use has its own downsides.

As WordPress users become accustomed to having tools that help them overcome challenges, some of them may overlook the importance of actually learning the conventions of building and managing a website.

This includes keeping a website secure from the plethora of cyber threats.

The good news is, WordPress security isn’t exactly rocket science. You just need to know the best practices that can protect your website from security breaches.

Here are 5 proven cybersecurity tips that will protect your WordPress website:

1. Keep Your CMS Updated

Truth be told, WordPress isn’t exactly known as the most secure CMS out there.

According to statistics, over 70 percent of all WordPress installations have security vulnerabilities. This may cause would-be website owners to reconsider their decision to choose WordPress as their CMS.

On the flip side, the WordPress team tirelessly works in the background to roll out security patches as soon as possible. WordPress users only need to take the initiative and install these updates once they’re ready.

To view all the available updates for your WordPress CMS, navigate to the “Updates” section under the “Dashboard” menu.

On top of core CMS updates, you can also view available updates for your plugins and themes regardless if they’re active or not. Since patches are downloaded and installed on the server side, updating your entire WordPress ecosystem should only take a couple of minutes to complete.

2. Use SSL Encryption

SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, is a standard encryption technology that can protect transmitted data from hackers.

You can tell if a website uses SSL encryption if its address starts with “https” along with a “secure” indicator rather than just “http.”

Whenever a user tries to access a secure website, the web server shares a public key as part of the website’s SSL certificate. Once the web server’s identity is verified, a unique session key will be generated by the client to encrypt the connection.

To use SSL encryption on your website, the first step is to purchase an SSL certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority or CA.

Most web hosting companies also offer SSL certificates for sale. If you choose to purchase from your hosting provider, contact them and ask if they will handle the rest of the installation process or not.

You can also purchase an SSL certificate from third-party website security companies like Symantec.

As an added bonus, SSL certificates from certain CAs may come with a security seal, which can be displayed on your website. These seals help build buyer confidence and improve the conversion rates on SaaS websites, dropshipping e-commerce stores, or any site that requires users to enter their potentially sensitive data.

3. Use a Web Application Firewall

A Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attack is among the most common forms of cyber threats on the web. It utilizes a network of infected computers—also known as botnets—to flood a web server and deny access to real users.

You might think that your website is too small to be targeted by such an elaborate tactic. However, you may be surprised to learn that DDoS attacks can be launched against you by competitors for as little as $10 per hour from the deep web.

To mitigate attacks, experienced WordPress developers make sure their sites are protected by a Web Application Firewall or WAF.

In simple terms, a WAF functions as a sieve that filters every HTTP request that goes in and out of your website. This can keep your WordPress website safe from hackers, malware, and hijacked traffic.

Although WordPress is teeming with plugins that include a firewall, you should also consider third-party security services that bundle it with other features, such as IP blocking, malware scanning, spam prevention.

4. Vet Your Theme and Plugin Source

Selecting a theme for a WordPress website heavily influences the rest of the development process — not just from a design standpoint, but also in terms of security.

Remember, the WordPress theme and plugin landscapes are dotted with security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. This is one of the drawbacks of having extensive compatibility with third-party website components.

Before you install a new theme and create landing pages for your WordPress site, exercise caution and look for existing reviews. This will allow you to verify the credibility of your source and prevent introducing security vulnerabilities to your WordPress installation.

To save yourself the trouble of background checks, you can always rely on official WordPress directories for your theme and plugin needs. These website resources go through an intricate review process to ensure their security, stability, and compatibility.

5. Regularly Create Backups

When it comes to cybersecurity, you can never be too safe.

You need every layer of protection you can get if you want your WordPress website to continue growing. And as a last line of defense, a backup will make sure you can always restore your website in case a cyber attack manages to get through.

Some of the most popular backup solutions for WordPress are UpdraftPlus, BackWPup, and Jetpack. All three options enable you to set regular backup schedules, which takes away the pressure of having to create a new backup every time you apply changes to your website.

Conclusion

WordPress development is an ongoing learning experience even for veterans. This is especially true considering the ever-evolving challenges of website security.

The strategies above will not only protect your WordPress site from all sorts of cyber attacks, it’ll also give you that much-needed peace of mind as you explore the full capabilities of the CMS.

If you have questions or other tips you want to share, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Cheers!

Let’s Talk SEO: 10 High-quality WordPress Plugins to get SEO Done

Source: freepik.com

WordPress is the most commonly used open source content management system (CMS) that powers more than 26 million websites, or almost one third of the entire internet. It powers some huge brands’ websites, such as NASA, BBC America, Disney, Sony, TechCrunch, Time Magazine and many more. It’s also considered to be the most SEO-friendly CMS of them all, and there’s a huge number of WordPress plugins that can make it even more efficient in this respect. Firstly, let’s see what you should expect from an SEO-focused plugin and have a quick overview of the few basic criteria upon which you can choose the right ones.

What should I look for in WordPress plugins?

Source: kinsta.com (screenshot)

When it comes to improving your SEO with a plugin, there’s several qualities that you should focus on when deciding which ones to use. First of all, you need to make sure that the plugins you installed don’t slow your website down, because that way you’re not just failing to improve your SEO, but you can even experience some negative effects on your rankings.

Therefore, you have to make sure that plugins you use are well-developed and that the code is perfectly efficient, with no unnecessary entities that would ruin your website’s performance. That’s why it also makes a lot of sense to install plugins that are versatile and multi-functional, as downloading a separate plugin for every important SEO feature could put some unnecessary burden on your site. This strategy also helps to avoid compatibility problems – the more plugins you install, the bigger chance of incompatibility between them.

Compatibility problems can also be prevented with regular updates, so you need to make sure that the plugins you have to provide such a service. It’s important that the plugin is carefully and continually maintained so that new bugs don’t put your website at risk. Here you should try to rely on other users’ experiences and mistakes. Hence looking at reviews and ratings before downloading anything is always a good idea. It’s not a 100% reliable method, but it’s a good start.

WordPress is such a huge enterprise that it offers more than 55,000 plugins developed for this CMS, and this number is growing every day. They are developed by top WordPress website design companies, developer teams, SEO firms and independent individuals. It’s impossible to cover the entire landscape of WordPress plugins in a single post, but it’s possible to single out some of the best ones, at least when it comes to those that primarily deal with SEO issues. Here’s a list of 10 plugins that can help you with optimizing your WordPress website for various search engines. Another good source of plugins is Codester.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is the single most popular WordPress SEO Plugin, with over 5 million downloads so far. There’s a free version available, but the premium version does offer some additional conveniences, such as optimization for multiple keywords. Probably the biggest advantage of Yoast SEO is that it’s extremely comprehensive and multi-faceted. It can be very handy as it can easily do the job of many different plugins, perform a complete SEO page analysis and award an appropriate score for each page.

Furthermore, it’s a rather easy one to use and it’s comprehensible for novice users, yet not too primitive for experts. The traffic-light color system used for different SEO indicators is understandable to everyone. Yoast SEO can create a sitemap and link up your website with both Google and Bing Webmaster console. Among other things it can do, there’s integration of social media, checking content for length as well as handling your redirections and alt tags. It’s got thousands of reviews and is generally considered one of the most reliable plugins out there.

Redirection

Unlike the previous one, Redirection belongs to the group of WordPress plugins that are narrowly-focused and used to handle one specific task. Obviously, in this case it’s redirections and redirection-related issues. This plugin can be very useful when you decide to migrate pages to a new website but want to retain the authority, backlinks and other important SEO aspects. It can follow 404 errors and map them to 301 redirects as well as ensure a URL is passed to another page without much hassle. This plugin also gives you access to all the redirection-related data, so you can easily keep track of when and where the redirections have happened.

Broken Link Checker

Broken links can hurt your SEO both directly and indirectly, especially if those links are internal. Hence this is something that has to be regularly checked. Broken Link Checker is a free plugin that finds broken links for you and notifies you right away. Then you can choose to edit or remove these links without actually having to edit the post at all. Apart from that, it does some other useful things, like not allowing search engines to follow broken links, as well as detecting missing images and redirects. However, it can get quite heavy and slow your server down, which is why it’s blocked by some hosting providers.

All in One SEO Pack

This is the second most popular free plugin, being topped only by Yoast. And much like Yoast, All in One SEO Pack is multi-functional and covers many areas that are important for your SEO. It’s slightly less user-friendly though, but still perfectly suitable for beginners. Some of the features offered by this plugin are XML sitemap, automatic optimization of titles and whole pages for all search engines and an automatic generation of meta tags. It’s also up-to-date with mobile optimization and supports Accelerated Mobile Pages.

Smush Image Compression and Optimization

Slow page loading does not just hurt your SEO, it can also destroy your traffic and make your bounce rate skyrocket. Namely, 40 percent of users are not ready to wait for more than three seconds for a page to load. And one of the most common reasons for a slow website is the fact that the uploaded images have not been optimized well enough. Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin can compress all the images on your website so that you don’t have to do that manually. Compressing or resizing the images can significantly increase page speed and provide a much better experience for your visitors.

W3 Total Cache

This plugin also improves your website’s performance, although not by optimizing images but by, roughly speaking, optimizing the code. It can compress and minify CSS and JavaScript files and cache them, thus saving you up to 80 percent of the bandwidth. In fact, the creators claim that it brings a tenfold improvement in the website’s performance. There’s a simpler version of the plugin, WP Super Cache, which is convenient for beginners, but if you want to take full advantage of all the customization options this plugin offers, you should definitely go for W3 Total Cache.

WP Meta SEO

One of the most important advantages of WP Meta SEO is that it’s accessible to both beginners and experts, the former not finding it too cryptic and the latter not finding it too basic. It is one of the WordPress plugins that keeps you up-to-date with the current status of the most important SEO parameters for your website.

Among other important features, it offers to create XML and HTML sitemaps, and there’s an option to import metadata from Yoast, the most prominent name in the industry. Finally, the biggest advantage is the bulk processing feature, which enables you to improve some of the SEO-related factors across the entire website in just a few clicks. You simply select the content and the image size and WP Meta SEO does the rest for you.

SEO Squirrly

SEO Squirrly is both human and robot-friendly, which means both user satisfaction and high search engine rankings. With this plugin, you’ll get weekly reports on how you’re performing when it comes to all crucial SEO statistics. This includes the results of a keyword research, where it recommends the keywords you should focus on in order to gain some traffic. It even offers real-time advice on optimization while you’re writing or editing an article. Among other things, SEO Squirrly creates an XML sitemap for your site, helps you write top-quality copy and supplies you with images that are free of copyright.

All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets

This is a plugin that helps you generate a brief summary of what your website is about. This summary is shown whenever the site appears in the search engine results. It’s just a quick overview of what you are and what you do, together with your rating and an image of your choice. This improves your CTR and your search engine rankings. All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets also helps with some Facebook-related issues – namely, it ensures that the right info is presented to users every time someone shares a link from your website.

Rankie

The last of the WordPress plugins we’ll look into is Rankie. Rankie is basically a plugin that checks rank of your website for every relevant keyword and sends you reports on this every day. These reports are also sent to you on a monthly and annual level. Rankie generates ranking graphs for all of the crucial keywords and delivers a list of suggested keywords based on the existing ones. Finally, it provides you with a log that allows you to check each and every action the plugin has performed.

Conclusion

Source: pixabay.com

Never underestimate the importance of SEO for your website. Good SEO is one of the most efficient ways of gaining organic traffic and ultimately getting your site to be really visible. WordPress is the best CMS you can use for this purpose and plugins can give you some additional help with optimization.

If you’re avoiding to deal with this because you consider yourself not to be IT-minded, that’s no excuse. Most of these plugins are easy to understand and handle, even for beginners. Therefore, if you have a WordPress website, check what you’re missing in your SEO efforts, do a little research on what you can do about it and try changing it for the better with the clever use of appropriate plugins.

 

Author: Meaghan Yorke

Meaghan is a web designer who is also quite passionate about digital marketing. These days she is all about researching various IT related topics and collaborating with other bloggers. When she is not working she enjoys dancing classical ballet.

 

An In-Depth Guide to Creating Custom Page Templates for a WordPress Websites

Introduction to WordPress Page Templates

The process of creating a website can be filled with frustration and confusion. WordPress makes this process much easier, offering one of the easiest ways to successfully create a business website, personal blog, or landing page.

WordPress is specifically designed to offer users the ability to tweak everything about their page template. These page templates are basically one way for WordPress and the template to communicate in order to display the appropriate web page layout or design.

For example, a user may wish to equip their website with a personal blog widget. This can be efficiently done by selecting the Blog prefab from the template section, and then the template data will be applied to the web page. Suddenly with the click of a button, a web page has been configured to utilize a blog template to save hours of prototyping and configuration nightmares.

Step 1 – Creating Custom Page Templates (The WordPress Template File)

In order to successfully get started in customizing WordPress page templates, it is best to start with finding a text editor that is easy to use. This can be Notepad, Wordpad, or some other standard text editor that allows you to easily save and load documents with.

Once you have selected a text editing software, you should create the template file by creating a new text file, adding the following line of code…

<?php /* Template Name: TEMPLATE_NAME_GOES_HERE */ ?>

Replace the TEMPLATE_NAME_GOES_HERE with the name of your web page template. You can then save the template file. The file extension has to end with .php in order for WordPress to recognize the template file.

Step 2 – FTP Client Connection

Once you have created the template file, you will need to upload it to your website. This can be done using a popular FTP client, such as FileZilla FileZilla is a free FTP client that allows you to transfer data with ease.

Before initiating the transfer process, be sure to have logged into WordPress and established a web page. Once this is completed, you can then upload your custom website page template to your website theme.

Once the template file is uploaded, WordPress should successfully recognize the template on the template drop down menu. Select the newly uploaded template and the file should open up within the editor.

Step 3 – Editing Custom Page Templates on WordPress

There are a few different options when finally editing the web page template within the editor. The first option is to start from scratch and slowly add HTML code, PHP code, or tags to the template file. This can be tedious, and is only recommended for experienced website designers and coders.

The second option requires access to a WordPress theme. Select the theme and copy the code within the page template file provided by the WordPress theme. Paste this code into your own custom page template file and begin adding and removing contents. This is the easiest way to start editing and customizing a page template.

There are also code snippets available on the internet than can be copied into your custom page template file in order to establish web page layouts, or to present other useful widgets or tools on your web page.

Step 4 – Additional Details about Editing Page Templates

As you continue to apply new code snippets to your WordPress template, it should become easier to understand the process of customizing a web page. Each section of the template code is usually designed for a specific region of the web page. These sections can be easily managed within the page template file. Every time this file is edited, it will need to be re-uploaded through the FTP client onto the WordPress website.

You can also edit page template files directly through the WordPress page editing screen. This can allow for the ability to make quick tweaks and adjustments to the page template without having to go through the entire FTP transfer and upload process.

It is also smart to create one baseline page template that can be used with your WordPress theme, across your entire website. This baseline page should be blank so that you can copy the page template and paste its contents into a new page file whenever you are creating a new page on your website. This process will save time instead of having to start from scratch each time.

Conclusion to WordPress Page Templates

There are a number of common practices that can be recommended before starting your official WordPress website. Some of these practices have been summarized in the sections above. While this article can provide assistance in creating your WordPress page template, the truth is that only personal experience will genuinely get you comfortable when it comes to customizing web page templates.

For some users, this experience can take some time to understand. But with every minute that you spend working with WordPress page templates, you will slowly grow more comfortable with the tools that are offered in order to customize your website.

There are many tutorials and code snippets that are available as resources on the internet for free. If this article is not enough to get you started, there are plenty of other resources that can be utilized in order to get started. This article has summarized the simple process of creating, editing, and uploading a custom page template file to a WordPress website.

The best way to get experienced working with anything is through experience, and I assure you that with consistent practice, you will eventually become a master of editing custom page templates on WordPress.

BIO

In addition to being the editor at designrfix and writing about tech, web and graphic design among other subjects, I love “unplug” and be outdoors hiking and enjoying nature. If you can’t reach me, it’s probably because where I am at doesn’t have cell phone reception.