Speeding Up Your WordPress Site With WP-Rocket

Speeding Up Your WordPress Site With WP-Rocket

What is WP Rocket?

WP Rocket is a caching and optimization plugin that takes the code, content, images, videos and other pieces of your website and finds a faster way to present them to your website visitors. That can be storing them on their computers or on a CDN (content data network). It can be combining or moving CSS and javascript files to minimize the time spend processing the code. It can be reducing the number of calls made off the server to Google or other sites.

WP Rocket does all of this, with about ten minutes of setup and a few bucks. Speaking of a few bucks… if you want to purchase WP Rocket, go to bebizzy.com/rocket and get started today!

WP Rocket

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

How Can WP Rocket Speed Up My Website?

There’s only so much you can do technically to increase your website speed. Load times are based on server response times, bandwidth, hard drive speeds… and then it’s down to the software. 

CDNs and optimized code definitely help but eventually you’re down to leaning on more involved 

Features

  • Basic setup was done in about 10 minutes.  Advanced setup, configuration and testing can take additional time, but all options are pretty much toggled on/off.
  • Page caching
    Really decreases page load time by serving up indexed and cached items.
  • Preloading
    Because the crawler simulates a visit to preload the cache, the indexing of your website by search engines is instantly improved.
  • Sitemap loading
  • GZIP Compression
    WP Rocket compresses HTML, CSS, javascript and other code to optimize it by decreasing the size.
  • Browser Caching
    Modern browsers can look for the same photo, video, HTML code and other pieces of a website faster locally that it can sending requests to a website. WP Rocket helps optimize that.
  • Database optimization
    WP Rocket helps clean up databases and make them run more efficiently.
  • Google fonts
    Decreases the requests for unused fonts by only grabbing what is needed to properly display on the site.
  • Remove query strings from Static Resources
    Improves load time and testing scores by removing query strings from CSS and JS files.
  • Lazyload images and videos
    Images and other content doesn’t load until it becomes evident the visitor wants or needs them.
  • Defer Javascript
    Load JS files at the bottom of the page unless necessary elsewhere. This speeds up the page by not loading code before visible items.
  • CDN
    I have mine connected to my Stackpath CDNs, but Cloudflare and other URLS are easily inserted in the settings.
  • Works with eCommerce

Pricing 

All pricing for WP Rocket is on an annual basis to keep updates and support access. You could allow the plugin to lapse, but as WordPress, PHP versions, your themes, your other plugins and more advance the plugin may not work as intended and also become a security issue.

  • $49 for one site
  • $99 for three sites (annual)
  • $249 for unlimited websites

Some other features

  • Works for multi-lingual sites
  • Works in multisite environments
  • You can turn on and off features to connected users with a simple toggle button
  • All features of the plugin can work on mobile without additional programming or configuration.

Support is email support. Only sent one ticket but got a response in about two hours, which is decent.

If you’re looking to speed up your WordPress site, I can’t recommend WP Rocket enough! Head over to https://bebizzy.com/rocket and get signed up.

Do you use WP Rocket or another caching pluging? Leave me comments @BeBizzy on Twitter!

WP Rocket

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

My Favorite Apps and Plugins – Episode #100!

My Favorite Apps and Plugins – Episode #100!

We made it! Episide 100!

I’ve always hoped we would reach this milestone, but it seemed so far away. But here we are, the 100th episode of the BeBizzy Break Podcast!

On today’s podcast we will discuss the apps and plugins I use on a daily basis for general business, WordPress and podcasting. 

BeBizzy's Favorite Apps and Plugins

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Links to previous podcast posts on my favorite apps and plugins.

Favorite Applications/WP programs I use on a daily or weekly basis. You, or someone you work with or know, may find some of these very helpful. 

Keep in mind a few of these may be affiliate links… it won’t cost you any more, but I will make a few dollars off the referral, so thank you!

General Apps

WordPress

Podcasting Gear

We’re always looking for new and different plugins and applications to test and review. Have one? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

BeBizzy's Favorite Apps and Plugins

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Time To Check If You Own Your Digital Real Estate

Time To Check If You Own Your Digital Real Estate

Do You Own Your Digital Business Real Estate

Your business probably has a domain, email addresses, SSLs and ton of other places you live your digital life. But do YOU have control of them, or does another company or employee own it?

Own Your Digital Real Estate

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

There are several things you should own in your digital life. Among the main reasons for having control of this is when it needs to be renewed, YOU get the notice and can choose to do the update or not. What you should “own” is : 

  • Domain – your domain is your home. It is where your customers are looking for information, so make sure you have leased the domain and are the administrative contact.
  • Social Media Accounts – social media is getting more prevelant in your life, for better or worse. But it’s where many people live on the internet, so if you are posting and driving traffic from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, create the account yourself and have control of it.
  • SSLs – If you are using an SSL, and you should, again lease the SSL yourself instead of through your host, developer or other company.
    WordPress Plugins – Many websites lean on plugins to achieve certain tasks. Not renewing the plugin can cause the site to lose functionality.
  • Email Accounts – Whether you like to admit it or not, companies rely more on email than phone calls. Know, and own the location that hosts your email. Get admin rights as well.
  • Google Analytics Account – did you know Google Analytics accounts and information are not transferable? That’s right… if your previous developer or marketing team created the GA account there’s a good chance if you ever want to move it or take control of it yourself you get to start over. So create your own account and move now.

Some digital items are not critical or even beneficial to own yourself. Things the you can “own” but it’s ok for your marketing or technical team to own as well are: 

  • Admin access – Many relationships are known to be “over” prior to announcing it’s done. Having admin access to the site, or at the very minimum READ access, will allow you to download the files and databases in advance to something catastrophic from happening.
  • Hosting – it’s unusual for many small companies to lease their own server space since it can be expensive and put the management back on you as the business owner to handle when it goes down needs updating or has other issues.
  • Google Ads – Most of the time Google Ads are managed by marketing teams and can be accessed by the business owner and the marketing agency.
  • Social Media/Review Management – Admin access can be given to marketing teams or management companies, and it can also be revoked just as easily.

With “owning” these pieces of your digital  comes some great responsibility. If you choose to log into ANY of these items, make sure you do not make changes unless you are prepared for the possible issues. In many cases data and files may not be backed up and if deleted or edited it can be costly, or even impossible to recover.

I’ll use this to issue my standard warning of back up, back up, back up. Own your backups. Save your backups. Download and backup your social media posts and other info. Keep your email server backed up. 

Backups are normally portable and in an emergency you can set up a new server and site in days, not weeks. But if you don’t “own” your domain you are relying on someone else to point towards the new host, which can be an issue. By owning it yourself you still may need help but you just need to find THAT person instead of relying on a negative relationship to accomplish the task. Own your own digital real estate.

Own Your Digital Real Estate

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Comments or No Comments on WordPress?

Comments or No Comments on WordPress?

ShouId I allow comments on my WordPress website?

It’s an ageless question. Leave comments turned on in every page of my website, only leave them on the blog posts, or turn them off everywhere?

There are pluses and minuses to all varieties of answers, but on today’s episode of the BeBizzy Break Podcast we talk about should you leave them on, how you can protect yourself if you do, and how to remove them if you don’t.

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Some Things To Consider About Comments

In short, WP comments is feedback, positive or negative, left by visitors to your website. Usually they are at the bottom of the page and while they can many time require some data provided by the commentor, it doesn’t always provide a way to communicate with the person making the comments outside the page.

On the plus side, comments are a great way for your visitors, customers and readers to leave a message about the content. That usually involves something positive or negative, a response back to a current comment, or a general comment about the site or author. These comments can serve as a “social proof” to other visitors that you have an engaged community and might prompt a newsletter signup, frequent visits, or even a sale.

However, the negative side of comments are distracting at best, and damaging at worst. Un-monitored  commenters can be aggressive, even threatening, at times. Comments can be very negative about the content, the author or the company hosting the page. SPAM commenters can come in and offer their services or products in the comment thread to supplement or replace the products offered on the page. Images and language can be used in the comments that could potentially be abusive, even illegal, if not monitored or combated.

So, you can see while comments can be a valuable way to increase reader engagement, sometimes they really should be turned off for the protection of the website owner, and the consumers of the content.

How Can I Protect My Comment Stream?

There are several things you can do to protect your website from malicious comments. 

  • Require an account with verifiable email addresses before commenting : This will sort out the low hanging fruit of people who do not want to be found after making negative comments. These folks don’t have “burner” email accounts and fake names, so supplying actual names and contact info can sometimes be enough deterrent.
  • Put a comment filter in place like Akismet : Akismet will look for obvious signs of spamming and put these comments in a held state waiting for approval. Then the admin (or you) can go in and either approve or reject. If rejected, you will have the option to block all from this user/IP.
    Version:4.1.9
    Requires:4.6 or higher
    Compatible up to:5.7.1
    Released:20 October 2005
    Downloads:195667743
    Last Updated:02 March 2021
    Ratings:
    4.7
    (4.7 star out of 5)
  • Use a comment system like Disqus : Moving away from the standard WordPress commenting system and use a system like Disqus will allow users to use the same information across several websites. So just logging into the Disqus system and making comments speeds up the process.

    Version:3.0.21
    Requires:4.4 or higher
    Compatible up to:5.6.3
    Released:28 August 2008
    Downloads:3899194
    Last Updated:01 February 2021
    Ratings:
    2.7
    (2.7 star out of 5)

  • Employ monitors or admins : No one has time to monitor website comments if the site is large and doing well. For smaller, less visited sites you can see every comment, respond and remove as necessary. But if the site grows, you will have to employ or recruit some people to help out. Often these are frequent commenters who volunteer or can be trusted, but occasionally you will have to pay for professional help. 

How Can I Turn Comments Off?

I’m a fan of turning comments off. I simply don’t have the time, or the desire, to look through every post, comment, article and page to look for valuable or damaging content. So I turn them off with a plugin for my website, and my client’s websites.

  • WordPress settings has a toggle to turn off “future” comments : This works great if you’re building a new site and don’t have any comments. But if you do, the old comments will remain
  • Disable Comments Plugin : simply my go-to comment killer plugin. This be installed and activated, then configured to turn off all, none, or some of the comments on the site. Want comments only on blog posts, not pages? Easy. Want to kill all of them? Even easier.
    Version:2.1.1
    Requires:5.0 or higher
    Compatible up to:5.7.1
    Released:27 May 2011
    Downloads:10907559
    Last Updated:06 April 2021
    Ratings:
    4.7
    (4.7 star out of 5)
  • Disable Comments and Delete Comments Plugin : A fairly new plugin that does the same thing more or less as the earlier disable comments plugin. Quite simply, it just deletes and disables all comments.
    Version:
    Requires: or higher
    Compatible up to:
    Released:01 January 1970
    Downloads:
    Last Updated:01 January 1970
    Ratings:
    0
    (0 star out of 5)

Comments can be a great way to measure engagement, have visitors promote or provide critical analysis of your content, and even allow pingbacks and other shares of the content. But they can also be a drain on resources, especially time, and even be distracting or abusive to your other readers. Use them with caution, put failsafes in place, and if it gets unmanageable, turn them off before they become damaging to your and your website. 

Have any questions or suggestions on website comments? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Additional Uses for Forms On Your Website

Additional Uses for Forms On Your Website

Forms are great for gathering data

We pretty much all have forms on our websites. They are wonderful for having a formatted method of sending emails to us without allowing too much customization, loss of data, or emissions by customers.

But did you know you could also use forms for hundreds of other uses? 

On today’s BeBizzy Break Podcast we talk about a few of the ways  you can use forms in addition to email forms.

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Email forms are great ways to gather required information like names, email addresses, phone numbers and the like. But a large number of other WordPress plugins allow the creation and use of other forms to greatly extend the functionality of the website, and increase the conversions.

Some of the form plugins I use on websites are Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7, Ultimate Member and more.

  • Signups – Email newsletters, mailing list, or creating a website user . The basic construction is inside WordPress, but MailChimp, Constant Contact and other newsletter systems have form builders that allow you to customize and gather the information you want.
  • Single Product Sales Form. Have something you want to sell on your website but giant tools like WooCommerce are too much? Instead, create a form that has the Purchase button built in and sell it right inside the form.
  • Gather some information prior to allowing access to digital content. Have a video, PDF, or other digital property that you would like to require some sort of field entry proir to downloading? Forms can require a field be completed, a checkbox to be clicked, or even a password to be entered before access is granted.
  • Connect to another application. Many of us have external applications like project management, time tracking, Dropbox and many others which enhance our technology. I personally use Gravity Forms to send support tickets to my Accelo system. API’s are a great way to hand off data from a form into that application, saving valuable time and again formatting the information in a way that is more usable by you and your staff.
  • Take reservations. I built a form using another Gravity Forms plugin for calendar date selection to send reservation info for a condo in Montana to the website owner. There are tons of extensions available to add functionality to the forms.
  • Booking system. I use forms for my DJ business, BeLoud Entertainment, as a booking system. It gathers a desired username, the couple’s names, contact info, date and a few other items. All of that information is now there so once I can approve the date, it transfers all of that into a booking system WordPress plugin.
  • Multi page questionnaire. Some people really frown on filling out a HUGE form, but if you just show one or two fields, then transfer that to another page with three or four more fields they will most likely comply.

These are just a few of the ways you can use forms to enhance your website. I also use forms to schedule meetings and podcast interviews. Build a quiz, gather resumes, get critical informatin via surveys, let users add data to a business directory… all are creative uses for forms on your website.

Have any questions or suggestions on using forms? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Increase Site Speed By Decreasing Image File Size

Increase Site Speed By Decreasing Image File Size

Nothing Will Speed Up Your Site Faster Than Optimizing Images

Using a tool like GTMetrix.com will point out some obvious issues with your website. More often than not image size, compression and resolutions will be at the top of the list to fix. 

On our first #WPWednesday episode of the BeBizzy Break Podcast we talk about why and how you should be optimizing your images for better site load times. 

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What Can Be Managed In An Image File?

Format

  • JPG – most common. Compressed using “lossy” compression, which means you lose some quality when you save the compressed file.
  • PNG – A “lossless” compression type but can be a larger file size. Works best of images using less than 16 colors (icons, logos, etc).
  • GIF – Used for small images and short animations. Images will lose quality due to this format’s limitations.
  • WebP – a fairly new image format for the web. It promises 26% smaller in size to PNG, and approximately 30% smaller than comparable JPEG images. However, WebP is not supported on all servers and browsers so your website could be displayed oddly to most users.
  • TIF – Highest quality image best used for commercial images and not used very often on the web

 Compression

  • JPG and PNG can both be compressed using various softwares. However, when you compress an image you will lose quality, so keep an eye on how that photos looks at various sizes that may appear in a responsive site before you implement.
  • Compression is a great way to decrease the file size of an image. For example :
    • 2000×1500 image recently used as a background on a website – 9MB uncompressed – 7 seconds to download on 10Mbit/s line
    • 2000×1500 at 30% compression – .20MB – close to ZERO seconds to download
    • That same 30% compression at 1000×750 size – .07MB and very little time to download

Responsive Websites

  • Sites that display differently based on the type of device and resolution automatically will sometimes need different sized images to display correctly. Unless you manually tell it what image to use the program (the WordPress theme) will determine this on its own. Keep in mind the sizes can range from a vertical smartphone screen all the way to a 50″ television.
  • For best results use a variety of image sizes, use WPMU’s Smush Pro, or look at your Google Analytics to see what types of devices are more likely to view the page.

How Can You Change File Size?

  • Photoshop – industry “standard” but can be expensive.
  • PaintShop Pro – I’ve used this software for many years. Many Photoshop features but much less expensive.
  • GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program – FREE open source Photoshop clone has many of the same features and it’s the best price.
  • TinyPNG – WordPress plugin that automatically compresses files on upload.
  • WPMU Smush & Smush Pro – very versatile program that compresses images and creates multiple sizes that get automatically used where needed.
  • reSmush.it – Regarded as the best image compression WordPress plugin. Limits optimization to uploads lower than 5MB in size.
  • Optimizilla – free online image compressor. You can upload up to 20 images and it will create downloads of the compressed files.
  • JPEG Optimizer – another free online app that lets you select compression values.

Make Sure Your New Images Are Displayed

  • Upload and replace the current images. I suggest deleting the originals AFTER you make sure the compressed images are quality and are working correct just to save space on your site or server. It’s always a good idea of backing them up first just in case.
  • Clear your server and browser cache to remove any memory of the old file paths.
  • Check the site at GTMetrix again and see if anything else needs to be compressed.

What Else Can I Do To Affect Image Load Times?

  • Use a CDN. Content delivery networks are servers dedicated to sending cached media to your website. They are optimized to send this data quicker than your standard web server.
  • Use a host that has SSD hard drives. I was amazed on how much quicker my website loaded when I moved to an SSD from a standard hard drive.
  • Speaking of hosts, move from a shared environment to a VPS or dedicated server. That removes you from the pool of sites on one box that are running who-knows-what and sucking up all the server’s resources.

WordPress News

Have any questions or suggestions on editing your images to make your WordPress website load faster? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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The “I Need A Website” Scam (and do you accept credit cards?)

The “I Need A Website” Scam (and do you accept credit cards?)

It’s a scam!

itsascamI received an email through my contact form today from “Carl” or “Amos.”

Hello, how are you doing today? My name is Carl Amos, I wanna know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards ?? kindly get back to me… so i can send you the job details.Thanks Amos

Sounds good if you’re a web designer, right? Here’s a tip… it’s a scam.

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Just Like Superman 3

Back a few years ago in December 2016 I received a similar email message, except the website product was gacillia nuts.  They wanted a website, provided very few details at first, and wanted to know if I accepted credit cards.

When you respond that you do indeed accept credit cards, you get some more information. Here’s the email I received:

Thank you for your quick response. I have business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in IN and the company is based on importing and exporting of Salon Equipment such as Dryer, haircream, Weavon, Hairdressing, Clippers, i need the best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?. so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible.DEMO_WEBSITE_URL_REMOVED... I have a private consultant that has the text content and logo for the site. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate.
1. I want 10pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as DOMAIN_NAME_REMOVED
4. you will be updating the site for me twice in a month.
5. i will be providing the images, logos and content for the site.
6. i want the site up and running before ending of 2 to 3months.
7. My budget is $6,000 to $12,000
8. Give me your personal cell phone number
9. Are you the Owner

office-space-printer-scene-amazonHere’s the flags:

  • Usually an “importer” of products, either hairdryers or gacillia nuts.
  • The scam almost always seems to be 10 pages.
  • Only English language.
  • The sample domain name they send always gets an error that it cannot find the server, even though they say in the email they would like a domain “like XXXXXX.com.”
  • Hint in one of the first emails that they already have a graphic designer or project manager that will need to be paid.

Here’s where it gets weird.

I sent a response back to CarlAmos, asking if I should build a site like this? THIS being a link to a website documenting this exact scam. CarlAmos responded with “Yes, that’s it!” and asked for an estimate. 

If you pursue this little game a little further, the actual scam comes to light. The scammer, CarlAmos in this movie, has an associate who is a project manager, graphic designer, or content developer. CarlAmos will pay you whatever your estimate is, plus a little bit more via the credit card. In turn, you have to write a check to the PM/GD/CD that works for them. They won’t sign a contract, won’t fill out a 1099 as an independent contractor, nothing. Just cut them a check and keep the rest. 

What happens next is how they make their money. You wrote a check to pay their contractor. That check is cashed for real money, not deposited. They will then do a chargeback on the credit card transaction, which withdraws the money from your account, you pay a chargeback fee/fine, and when you try to stop payment on the check (which has a fee associated with it), the check’s already been cashed so they have their money. You’re out the initial payment, the money in the check and the chargeback fee. That might leave a mark…

Luckily I’ve seen this movie before, might have been Superman 3, and knew it was rotten. I’m most likely going to just let this go, and then maybe send CarlAmos this link so they know I’m on to them and they can remove me from the list. 

In the past when I’ve pushed them to get on a call to discuss I’ve gotten a response that they have a hearing impairment and rather than going through a relay service, it’s best to communicate via email or text. That’s B.S., they just don’t want to talk face to face and have the curtain pulled back when you can hide behind email. 

too-good-to-be-trueBut here’s the reason I posted this today… if something seems a little to good to be true, it probably is. I’m a small web design firm in North Dakota. Sure, I’ve done work for companies in New York, San Diego, LA, Boston, Austin and more, but to get a guy from IN (India?) wanting a website built for him, an importer, just triggered a few warning bells.

Take a few moments to qualify your potential client. Get the company name, look everything up, including the content of the email, and see if anything weird pulls up. Sometimes it hurts to walk away from potential business, but in cases like this it’s a good decision.

UPDATE 7/2/2019 – I got a NEW variant of this scam.

Hello Sir/Madam ,

This David Serrano from Kirkland Shipping,We looking for laptop computers to purchase for our new business branch and want to know if you have them available in stock or can either custom order them for us.We also do have specifications we would like the computers to come with and also if you can tell us how much a laptop with these specifications is going to cost for plus tax…Here are the specifications below

    • An i7 Core Processor
    • 16gb of Memory
    • 1tb of Hard drive or 512 SSD
    • Screen Size can either be 13′ , 14′ or 15.6′
    • Must come with a Touch Screen and a backlit Keyboard
    • Either a windows 10 Home premium or Professional
    • Brands can either be Dell ,Apple,Hp or Lenovo

NB : Also advise me if you do take credit card payment , Thank You

UPDATE 7/23/2019 – This weekend I received a message from another WordPress developer who thanked me for posting this information, and relayed his story, which was very similar to the gacillia nuts request I received months ago.

I need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible.https://attra.ncat.org….The site would only be informational,so i need you to give me an estimate based on the site i gave you to check out,the estimate should include hosting and i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out and i have a private project consultant,he has the text content and the logos for the site.
FMT3.

1. I want the same number of pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language.u
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as farmsproducts.co.
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be proving the images, logos and content for thesite.
6. i want the site up and running before my return

The developer got a little nervous and did some Google searches, stumbling on my podcast and blog post. Luckily he realized it was a scam and he pulled the plug. A win for the good guys!

Have you been sent this scam or something similar? Let me know @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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How and Why To Use WordPress Plugins

How and Why To Use WordPress Plugins

What Are WordPress Plugins?

Plugins are a powerful way to add functionality and uniqueness to your website. They range from Free, to free with premium (Freemium), or a paid model.

Most plugins are created by solo plugin developers, but a few are created by large theme and plugin houses. Because of this, expect a wide variety of support models

Some common front-end uses for plugins include calendars, contact forms, social media displays, content display like videos, image galleries and sound, sliders, and much more

But did you know there were quite a few administrative plugins for things like user management, security, SSL migration, analytics, database management, caching and a ton more.

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What are the benefits?

  • Plugins are easy to install – Search the WordPress plugin repository, or just click “Add New” in the plugins menu, install, activate and configure. The entire process can take as little as two minutes.
  • Big cost savings on custom development or programming – With just a few clicks something that can take days, or even weeks to develop can be added to a site.
  • Plugins are powerful – CDN plugins can add speed to a website. Contact forms can add lead generation to a site. Calendars can increase engagement and make it easy to distribute events. Social media plugins can bring in posts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms, and can make it easy to share on these networks. All of this functionality would take a much greater amount of time to develop by hand instead of using WordPress plugins.
  • WordPress security – WordPress by itself is fairly secure. If you use a good password, have it installed on a decent host with a good username/password there, and take a few other precautions your site will be protected. However, if you really want to lock down admin access, make secure & frequent backups, or really shore up your security, plugins are a great way to do so.
    • Good backups and great passwords are still the best thing you can do, in my opinion.

But what are the possible issues with WordPress plugins?

  • Malware – There are some plugins that have been developed by some programmers with less-than-positive intentions. Backdooors and even malware programmed right into the software do happen.
  • Must be maintained – As you add plugins to the website it’s important to know maintenance becomes more important. Keeping the plugins, the theme and the WordPress core is valuable to keeping the site secure and running as it should. However, sometimes and update to one plugins and conflict with others, so running backups is very important.
  • Can be exploited – If a plugin is “abandoned,” meaning no longer updated, or even if a plugin is poorly programmed it can open a hole to bad actors. Keep you plugins updated to make sure you are as protected as possible and if a plugin has been abandoned for a significant amount of time, try to find a similar solution, or even  try to find a developer to fix or edit the current plugin.
  • Unused or Deactivated Plugins are Still Vulnerable – Just because you’re not using a plugin, or even if you deactivated it, the code is still vulnerable and could be exploited. Once you stop using a plugin, deactivate it in your Plugin directory, then delete it from the server to avoid potential issues.

Tips on selecting good plugins

  • Research the best plugin options – Google has tons of articles on the “Best WordPress Plugins for …” often with the most current year attached. You don’t want a list from 2012, as things have changed quite a bit in the last six or seven years. See what everyone else is using and what the pros and cons are of using each plugin.
  • Review WordPress Plugin repository Information – Each plugin has a page in the repository.  They will have a 1-5 star rating, when it was last updates, how many times it’s been installed, what version of WordPress it’s been test on, reviews, how to install, and links to support. If any of this information causes concern proceed with caution or find a different solution.
  • Be Prepared to Retreat – Sometimes installing a new plugin causes unforeseen issues with your theme or other installed plugins on the website, so be prepared to deactivate the plugins, or in the event of a catastrophic issue, restore a backup. It’s recommended to install in test environments if possible, or on the live site when the site it’s being used at its peak.
  • Try several plugins – Since most plugins are free, it’s ok to try several until you find one that meets your needs. Just remember to deactivate and delete the ones you aren’t using to keep the site safe.

Plugins are a great way to make WordPress a powerful, secure environment. With just a little bit of care, and some selective processes in finding the best plugin you can make your WordPress as good as it can possibly be.

Have any questions or comments on WordPress plugins? Send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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5 Things You Need To Know About WP 5 – Gutenberg

5 Things You Need To Know About WP 5 – Gutenberg

WordPress 5.0, or Gutenberg, was finally released on December 6, 2018, just a few weeks before the Christmas holiday, and just in time to say it was released in 2018.

The Gutenberg release is a new page builder that is being designed to integrate with WordPress core. Gutenberg will add content blocks and page builder-like functionality to every up-to-date WordPress website. When in use, it will replace TinyMCE as the default content editor. With Gutenberg, content is added in blocks of various types from the WordPress backend.

You can download an the most recent version of WordPress here, or get access to previous versions here, just in case you need to retreat.. 

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5 Things You Need To Know About WordPress 5.0 – Gutenberg

 

  • Blocks : WP5 is based on blocks, or portions of content. Each paragraph of text is a separate block, as well as images, galleries, lists, quotes, audio videos and more.It even makes it easier to embed objects from YouTube, social media accounts, Google Maps, and just about anywhere else. But the biggest advantage to using the new editor is formatting and layout blocks. Now it’s easier to add columns, page breaks, spacers and other elements to the page that traditionally could only be done easily in certain themes live Divi or Elementor.

 

  • The Classic Editor is still a click away, as well as the Edit as HTML editor in case you want to get into the code. While there are other benefits to using the updated editor and code, those who still wish to use the classic WordPress editor can do so simply by clicking the Classic Editor tab on the editor box. Access to the HTML editor is under the three dot menu, or typing Ctrl + Shift + Alt + M (clicking seems much easier!) on your keyboard. I still see benefits to using the HTML editor when embedding content or doing some special formatting work.Just some fair warning. If you’re going to use WordPress long-term and you don’t use themes that allow you to edit in their environment, you will have to learn how to use the new Gutenberg editor as the classic editor will most likely be phased out eventually.

 

  • Plugins and Themes may not be compatible with Gutenberg. Theme editors and plugin developers have been scrambling for months to prepare for WordPress 5.0.Here’s the problem… while the theme and plugins may work individually, there’s a fair chance that code that used to play well with others could not cause unusual conflicts or even critical failures when several plugins are enabled with your theme. It is highly recommended you 1) backup before updating in case you need to retreat, and 2) test in a staging environment to see if there’s anything that could go wrong and fix it there before making the site live. Use this time to maybe replace some “abandoned” plugins and find newer, better alternatives to your current plugins. Or maybe you don’t even need some older plugins as the results may have been incorporated into WordPress or your themes.

 

  • Faster? While I haven’t seen anything online confirming Gutenberg to be faster than WordPress 4.x, I can give you anecdotable evidence that several of the sites I’ve upgraded saw a noticeable increase in speed. Nothing documented, and these sites are fairly small,  but it’s tangible. I still haven’t updated the largest of my client’s sites, as I’m waiting for a few versions of 5.0.x to come in, as well as some incremental updates to the Divi theme before I jump in.

 

  • This IS an upgrade! Many of the recent WordPress updates were small, almost unnoticeable unless you lived in the environment all-day, everyday. But Gutenberg will change the way most people use WordPress for the better, even if the initial change is tough. WordPress 5.x is faster, will be more secure, have more options, be ready for PHP 7.3 and beyond, and enable theme and plugin developers many more options in the coming months and years.

Here’s the short version of what you just read or heard. Prepare for the WordPress 5.0 update by backing everything up and getting a base to return to in case there’s a big problem. This would be a good time to migrate everything to a staging or test environment if you have access to one. Update your themes and plugins to the most recent version to make sure they can work with WP5. Then run the Gutenberg updater in your WordPress dashboard. Cross your fingers and see what worked and what didn’t. Be prepared to spend a fair amount of time looking at the site and making some changes to some things. After testing, make another backup (don’t overwrite the old one!) and migrate back to the live environment, or run the same sequence of updates there. Pray, test and enjoy your updated version of WordPress. As promised in the podcast, here’s some basic information on the Gutenberg editor.

Run in some issues with your WordPress update? Give BeBizzy a call at 701-214-6271 or contact us through bebizzy.com or our social media channels and we’ll see if we can help you out! Have any questions or suggestions on going paperless? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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What Are Landing Pages and Why Do I Need One?

What Are Landing Pages and Why Do I Need One?

Landing Pages

You’ve probably heard of landing pages. You may even HAVE a landing page. But you also might not know why you have it, what it’s doing, or even how to fix it if you’re not seeing results.

On today’s Episode 70 of the BeBizzy Break Podcast we talk with the Landing Page School Podcast host Nicholas Scalice and find out what you might, and might not, know about landing pages.

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First, some tech news

First, two big updates in the last week or so.

WordPress 4.9.8 was launched.  We are getting very close to 5.0, which will include the Gutenberg update to WordPress. Very anticipated version which will bring on a visual editor and promises to change the WP landscape for the better. That remains to be seen with older websites, themes, etc. But the 4.9.8 update does have the “Try Gutenberg” callout. It’s an opportunity to try the Gutenberg editor before it is released in 5.0. I have not doesn’t it yet, but will test shortly.

Also has 18 privacy fixes and a few other improvements. I’ve updated all my sites with not issues, but make sure you back up before you do anything.

Also, Android released it’s Android P (Pie) update for the Google Pixel phones. I updated my Pixel 2 XL on Monday. Small changes in the notifications and menus, but for the most part it was a pretty seamless update. I’m sure there will be more as I use it, including the Adaptive Battery feature, which promises to turn down battery usage on apps that are not in use at the time, but still running.

Finally, Samsung will be announcing the Note 9 tomorrow (Aug 9). Lots of huge improvements for this devices anticipated including a bigger battery, better screen and camera, and the Adaptive Battery. Can’t wait for that announcement. FYI, you can sign up to watch the announcement live at this Samsung website.

Now on to today’s main topic… landing pages. Most of you have heard the term, and maybe even use them on your websites. But I have a couple of sites that are going to be implementing them, and decided now would be a great time to bring in an expert, which is why I called on Nicholas Scalice, the host of the Landing Page School Podcast.  So this is me, and Nicolas Scalice… enjoy.

What are Landing Pages

Landing pages are a page on your website that has a very specific purpose, audience, and/or message. It should be developed to get the visitor to perform one action… purchase something, sign up, request info, download a PDF, contact you… one specific action.

The difference between a home page, or even an interior page and a landing page is on these pages, you are directing visitors to other pages in the website to get more information, and on a landing page, again, you are getting visitors to do that one specific action.

How to Get Traffic To A Landing Page

Most traffic is directed to landing pages through paid marketing efforts. Things like Google Ads and Facebook ads allow you to be very specific to the audience and who you would drive to see the main message on that landing page. It also works if you drive landing pages through traditional means like billboards, radio, tv, print, etc because you are serving a very specific message on both the ad and the landing page. The trick is NOT to drive all of this traffic to the home page, as that has a very open message instead of the message match between the ad copy and the page.

What Should You Have On A Landing Page?

Nicholas gave us six items to have on a landing page which answer certain questions :

  1. What Is It? What is the offer? What is the landing page about?
  2. Can It Help Me? Is it something that can make my life or business better or easier?
  3. Do I Like It? Is the visual design of the page good and trushworthy?
  4. Do Others Like It? Is there social proof that says other visitors and clients like it?
  5. Trust. Is there something on the landing page that says this site and/or product is trustworthy?
  6. How Do I Get It? What’s the call to action? How do I order, sign up, or purchase?

In regards to length of the page, there is not measurement. In fact, it’s good practice to NOT index the page so SEO rules don’t apply. Concentrate on conversion optimization, not SEO optimization. Also keep in mind, where your customers will be viewing the page. If it’s mobile, small images, less text and other mobile tricks should be implemented to work on phones and tablets. Responsive or mobile themes are necessary in today’s business climate!

What Are Mistakes Made on Landing Pages?

The number one mistake made on landing pages is not having a great offer. The site might be awesome, and the ad-spend might be well thought out, but the offer might not be well thought of. Some poorly designed pages do very well, while a well designed site might not convert because the offer is bad.

It’s also a mistake to have incorrect “micro-copy,” the text on your buttons, subheadings, etc that are action focused. If you can build the “value” into the button or other text it will convert better. Try completing the phrase “I want to…” with the button or link text. I want to contact you, I want to download the free e-book, I want to purchase your widget all work great.

A/B Testing

You’re probably never going to develop the perfect landing page on run #1. A/B testing only works if you have enough traffic, and you have a plan on what to test, how long, what are we testing for, etc.

Nicholas suggests testing “bigger things” like the offer instead of button color or text.

How Do I Build A Landing Page

Unbounce : drag and drop builder for

WordPress : Page Builder called Elementor, and other themes make it easy to build quickly and efficiently.

LeadPages : Landing page creator that also interfaces with WordPress and other platforms.

How Can I Contact Nicholas Scalice?

Have any questions or suggestions landing pages or any other technology affecting your business? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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