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How to Reduce Bounce Rate on Your WordPress Site

How to Reduce Bounce Rate on Your WordPress Site

Every site owner should know about and track their bounce rate. As one of the core factors Google uses to analyze site quality, the lower your bounce rate, the better you’ll rank.

Luckily, there are some simple techniques for reducing bounce rate on your WordPress site. This article will look at how to find your bounce rate, how it racks up when compared to the rest of your industry, and what you should be doing to improve it.

What Is Bounce Rate?

Google states that “a bounce is a single-page session.” A bounce is when someone visitors your website and then clicks away without doing anything. The visitor may not leave the page immediately, but they don’t click a link to another page on the same site. In analytics applications, bounces are measured as zero-length visits because after the first page loads, there is no further interaction.

Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors that leave a WordPress site after viewing one page. A high bounce rate is not always a bad thing. If a landing page exists to collect email addresses, there may be no expectation that the visitor continues after submitting their contact details. Similarly, single-page websites may not have anywhere else for the visitor to go. While Google has stated that bounce rate isn’t one of the most important ranking signals, it does contribute to a site’s ranking. Moreover, for most lead generation and content sites, a high bounce rate indicates a problem.

Content sites that rely on advertising make more revenue when readers visit more pages. Business sites use content to attract customers, but the aim is to move visitors through a purchasing funnel that involves more than one page. Online stores expect shoppers to browse products across several pages and visit the checkout.

Reducing bounce rate is an important aspect of conversion rate optimization (CRO), and there are many tried-and-tested techniques for encouraging visitors to continue their visit after the first page.

How to Find Your Bounce Rate

Before you come to any conclusions, you’re going to want to find out what your bounce rate is. To do this, you’re going to want to use Google Analytics. If you haven’t set this up already, WPBeginner has a great article on getting started with WordPress and Google Analytics, or you can install a WordPress plugin to manage the process for you.

Once you’ve set up Analytics and collected enough data, you can then take a look at where you’re at. Start by opening your Google Analytics interface, and navigate to Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages. This will show you which pages have the highest/lowest bounce rates.

A few other places you may want to check include:

  • Acquisition -> Channels -> Bounce Rate (See which channel has the highest bounce)
  • Acquisition -> Source/Medium -> Bounce Rate (See which sources have the highest bounce)
  • Acquisition -> AdWords -> Campaigns -> Bounce Rate (see how your AdWords campaigns are performing)

Bounce Rate by Industry

For most websites and industries, bounce rate hovers between 26% and 70%, with the average being closer to 50%.

According to data collected by CXL, the industry with the highest bounce rate is Food & Drink, closely followed by Science, and then by Reference. The lowest bounce rate was afforded to Real Estate, with Shopping, and then Games narrowly behind.

CXL’s numbers are a good guide for seeing how you compare to the rest of your industry. However, it’s important to remember that each industry has outliers. CXL mention that they removed 1% bounce sites from their sample (which did exist). Moreover, with over a 20% difference between the industries with the highest and lowest bounce rates, it’s important to understand that higher bounce rates are prevalent in certain industries. If you’ve managed lower regardless, well done!

How to Reduce Bounce Rates

Below are ten of our favorite tips to decrease bounce rate on your WordPress website.

1. Don’t Surprise Visitors

When a person clicks on a link to your WordPress site, they are acting on an intention. That intention is informed by information they receive about the content of the page, often from search results or social media posts.

If the content on the page doesn’t align with the intention of the visitor, they will leave. Misleading headlines, titles, and meta descriptions are a common cause of misunderstanding. Make sure that the metadata search engines and social media networks use to create snippets accurately reflects the content of the page.

Also make sure to check any additional site links that appear in search results. These will provide visitors with a great way to find the content they want quickly through search results.

Check your google additional site links2. Optimize For Content First

Before you can start with the nitty-gritty of bounce rate reduction, you’re going to need to take a long, hard look at your WordPress site’s content. What do you think? Have you chosen content that your audience will truly be interested in?

Content first strategies have long been a lynchpin in the digital marketing space for a reason: they work. Before you can hope to keep people on your website, you’re going to need to make sure that you have content that will keep them there.

Optimize Your Content for Long tails

A great way to optimize your content is to target long tail keywords. These are keywords that match user search queries. They tend to have lower traffic than short tail keywords, but they also target specific audiences. By targeting the right long tails, you’re able to attract more relevant visitors and so reduce your site’s bounce rate.

It’s important that your content as a whole, links up to create a content web – or at least is organized in such a way that many ‘webs’ exist. This is in direct reference to the halo effect – wherein a single piece of misdirected content can cause a cognitive bias against your website. According to one study by Edelman, 49% of buyers had a lowered opinion of a business after reading poor or inappropriate content.

3. Optimize Your Site’s Speed

Site speed isn’t only an important ranking factor, it’s also a great way to reduce bounce rate. If your site content is loading slowly, you’re going to have a lot of visitors turn away instantly. Improving site speed may be the fastest way to reduce bounce rate.

There are several ways to improve site speed. We’ve put together a list of simple optimizations for your website that anyone can do. These include compressing site elements and simplifying design. This will have the added advantage of improving user experience.

Another way to improve your site speed is to invest in a high-quality hosting provider. Pay attention to metrics such as full page load time and ignore TTFB. You’re going to want to find a host that is optimized for content to appear from the perspective of the visitor, not a machine.

  Hostdedi solutions offer high-performance and reliability. Hostdedi Cloud.

4. Avoid Pop-Ups

If the first thing you’re showing visitors is a pop-up, what do you think they’re more likely to do? Even if they do click that pop-up, they’re going to be navigating away from your site and you’re going to be losing that traffic anyway.

Yes, pop-ups do offer advantages, but they shouldn’t be everywhere. There have been several studies into what is called “Banner Blindness”. These studies have repeatedly shown that ads are often ignored, with some studies showing numbers as high as 93% of the time.

We highly recommend instead using non-invasive WordPress plugins that help boost conversions and lead collection. You’ll have a lot more success reducing bounce rate by incorporating content that looks like it’s meant to belong, as opposed to “popping up”.

5. Make Sure Your Site Is Accessible

Small fonts can be a person’s worst nightmare. They may mean you can fit more on the page, but that doesn’t mean people are going to read it – especially if they’re having to squint.

Multiple tests have shown that websites that are easier to read and navigate have higher conversion and retention rates. This is especially true when it comes to the power of white space.

A website that does not use white space

White space should be featured throughout your website, and accessibility is a great reason for making sure it’s there. It makes the content on the page easier to understand, improves user experience, and allows you to direct a visitor’s gaze to important content such as CTAs.

6. Design Matters

Have you ever clicked a link in Google and been taken to a site that looks like it was designed in 1998, that has tiny text or otherwise unpleasant typography, or that crams so much superfluous information onto a page that you can’t find what you are looking for? We know we have, and our reaction is to hit the back button and pick a different search result.

Content should be easy to find, easy to read, and easy on the eye.

7. Provide A Clear Route Forward

Visitors don’t waste time hunting for links: they have to be obvious. Each page on a site should contain a mix of links to other pages. These links should be organized in a way the visitor expects.

  • With few exceptions, web pages should provide discoverable and well-organized navigation menus. The page’s logo or main header should link to the home page. The site’s top-level architecture should be represented. For example, if you look at the top of this page, you will see links to our hosting services, our about page, and our help content.
  • Lead generation landing pages should have a clear call to action with a link that takes visitors where you want them to go.
  • Content pages should have a related content widget, so that users can find more content that interests them.
  • Content pages should also include internal links that take users to other parts of the site.

In addition to linking, it is a good idea to include a prominent search tool so that visitors can quickly find specific information.

8. Mobile-Friendly Design

Over half of Google searches are carried out on mobile devices. In the early days of the mobile web, users would put up with the frustrations of pinching and zooming around poorly optimized pages. That is no longer the case. If a site is poorly optimized for mobile screens, users will go elsewhere.

9. Minimize Interruptions

Users have long since lost patience with sites that display content-blocking modal popups as soon as they arrive. They come to your WordPress site for the content, and it’s better to let them see it immediately than to hide it behind a popup. Using popups and interstitials in the moments after a visitor arrives can also harm a site’s SEO on mobile devices.


The key takeaway here should be relevancy. It’s important that your content and experience are relevant to your site’s visitors. WordPress is a great tool for achieving this, by helping you to adopt a content first, targeted strategy.

Because of this, bounce rate reduction isn’t as hard as it may at first seem. It does, however, require a time investment. No one is going to reduce their bounce rate significantly overnight. The quickest way to improve site speed is to migrate to another hosting provider with a high-performance infrastructure. However, this will require a migration.

Overall, to reduce bounce rate on your WordPress site, ensure that users get the content they expect, that they get it immediately, that it’s readable and discoverable, and that there is an obvious route to other pages on the site.

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10 WordPress Plugins That Use AI and Machine Learning

10 WordPress Plugins That Use AI and Machine Learning

10 WordPress Plugins Which Use AI and Machine LearningMachine learning and AI are everywhere. While only 33 percent of consumers believe they use an AI or machine learning service, the reality is that 77 percent actually do. WordPress sites are no exception, with several plugins that incorporate machine learning and AI technologies on the market.

By AI and machine learning, we mean a system or application which can manage a task that formerly required a human being. With machine learning, this means being able to read data and draw conclusions from it, then use those conclusions to add value to a service. For instance, machine learning can help you to adapt and present your content in a better way by analyzing how your average visitor interacts with it. If one piece of content is better than another, an AI and machine learning service might try to show more similar content.

In order to help you better adapt your WordPress site to the advantages of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we’ve put together a list of the 10 most useful WordPress machine learning and AI plugins you can install on your website. We’ve also separated these under the headings of better content, bigger reach, better intuitiveness, and better security. 


WordLift Machine Learning Plugin

WordLift: Create Incredible Content

WordLift helps WordPress content creators to develop better content by using data to motivate content choices. Images, graphs, data points, and more, are found by WordLift’s machine learning algorithm based on the type of content your audience has favored in the past.

Content recommendations are made regularly. Reliable facts and sources are provided, in order to make sure your content is correct and relevant to the audience it’s aimed at. You’ll also find recommendations designed around schema markup and AI-powered SEO considerations. WordLift also allows you to create your own site wiki – a helpful tool for modern content marketing.


Recomendo WordPress AI plugin

Recomendo: Present User-Tailored Content

When you load Netflix, YouTube or another video streaming website, you are presented with a list of recommended videos. That list if curated based on several different data points collected from your past viewing and search habits. Recomendo does the same thing, except with WordPress content.

One of the great things about Recomendo is that it requires practically no setup. Simply install the plugin on your WordPress site, drag the widget into your theme, and let the AI and machine learning algorithm do its job.


watsonfinds AI WordPress Plugin

WatsonFinds: Understand How Emotional Your Content Is

WatsonFinds was developed by IBM in order to analyze the emotional impact of content. If you think your content falls flat with its readers, this is a brilliant way to find how you can increase engagement and resonance.

The plugin works through your WordPress post editor interface and gives your content an emotional score based on the words you choose and other contextual factors.

Take WatsonFinds with a grain of salt. While the app is useful for checking as to whether you’re entirely off-base, it doesn’t always get it right. Bear in mind that as more data become available to it, its accuracy will increase.


After the Deadline WordPress PLugin

After the Deadline: Improve Your Writing

Do you need to get a post out today and feel you haven’t had enough time to check it? After the Deadline comes as a part of Jetpack and enables last-minute contextual spell check. The AI-driven plugin learns from previous mistakes, making it more accurate than conventional spellcheck (see: Word) and will offer you smart suggestions on how to improve your language and create more engaging content on a micro level.After the Deadline will detect style errors, cliches, misused words, biased language, and more.

Similar to other content analysis tools, you’ll find After the Deadline in your WordPress post editor, where you can enable it with a click.  

Live Chat 247 Chatbots for WordPress

Live Chat 24/7: Have a 24/7 Presence

51 percent of consumers state that a business needs 24/7 availability. For larger organizations, this just means hiring more staff to cover traditionally “out-of-hours” periods. However, for smaller businesses, this can be a problem. Enter the WordPress AI plugin Live Chat 24/7.

As one of the best chatbots for WordPress, Live Chat 24/7 will automatically build a knowledge base to connect questions and answers. This will allow your brand to remain online 24/7 and chat with customers. Because of its AI elements, it doesn’t just repeat stock sentences but learns from real-life conversations you have with customers through the service. Definitely one of the most intelligent and useful chatbots for WordPress.


GTranslate WordPress Artificial intelligence Plugin

GTranslate: Open up a World of Possibilities

Access a worldwide market, regardless of what language they speak, with the Google language translator plugin. Simple load the plugin onto your WordPress site and add the translator using either a widget or shortcode.

While Google translate uses a machine learning algorithm to gradually improve its translations, it’s still not 100%. The language will sound awkward in some cases. Several WordPress publishers have found that indicating the content being presented was translated by an app can help to reduce bounce rate.



WooCommerce Darwin Pricing Integration machine learning

Darwin Pricing Integration: Increase WooCommerce Store Revenue

Have you noticed that some of your discounts perform better in certain locations? Darwin Pricing aims to optimize your discounts by monitoring your competition in real-time and use artificial intelligence to deliver geo-targeted sales campaigns.

The WooCommerce Darwin Pricing Integration plugin allows for you to integrate this with your WooCommerce store. Instead of targeting customers with a one-size-fits-all approach, you’re able to segment them based on how they’ll perceive discounts and product offerings.

Moreover, as the plugin continues to collect data, it will begin to provide you with future recommendations for your business based on customer behavior in the past.



Did you mean machine learning wordpress plugin

Did You Mean: Make 404 Pages Better

404 pages are the worst. Dead or missing content can immediately turn a reader off to your website or blog. The Did You Mean plugin makes things a little better by displaying on any 404 pages and presenting visitors with the most contextually similar post available.

Instead of running into a dead end, visitors are then able to continue on your website through a convenient and easy to use funnel. Moreover, Did You Know also helps improve your WordPress search but providing a more user-friendly experience.


akismet WordPress machine learning plugin

Akismet: Defend Against Spam

Askiment is one of the two plugins that comes pre-installed on your WordPress website. It is a tool for detecting and removing spam comments from your site. For a number of WordPress websites, this is incredibly important. There’s nothing worse than having your comment section filled with adverts for products and services you don’t want to endorse.

While Akismet may come loaded with stock WordPress, we’ve included it as it does use AI and machine learning in order to filter spam comments. This plugin is used by millions of WordPress websites, which makes It an example of AI and machine learning technology people use without even realizing it.


Quttera Malware Scanner

Quttera Malware Scanner: Defend Against Malware With AI

Quttera is a malware scanner with a twist: it runs in the Cloud and uses AI and machine learning techniques to achieve the best results.

Instead of just sticking to a predefined list of threats, Quttera adapts over time and recognizes emergent threats which haven’t been seen before. Its ability to recognize unknown threats and protect your site is one of it’s best features and gives it a definite advantage over other malware scanners.


Machine Learning, AI, and WordPress

Machine learning in the WordPress community is relatively new. While the plugins shown above are great for expanding the capabilities of your website, they don’t always work the way you want or expect them to.

We highly recommend testing the plugins with your WordPress site and a small user group, before pushing them live to your entire readership. Recomendo or Kindred Posts may not create too much disruption if they don’t work correctly, but Live Chat 24/7 can.

However, with 72 percent of business leaders agreeing that AI is a “business advantage”, employing these technologies on your site is quickly becoming a case of staying up-to-date with the competition.

Don’t forget to make sure that you manage your WordPress plugin security by following these simple steps.

What machine learning and AI WordPress plugins do you use?

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January 2018’s Best Magento, CMS, and Design/Development Content

January 2018’s Best Magento, CMS, and Design/Development Content

Now that we’re well into the New Year, let’s take a look at what’s been trending so far so we can stay on top of the game! Check out this month’s roundup and if you’re looking for the same great articles the rest of the year, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Enjoy and…

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Five Automation Tools Every Blogger Needs

Five Automation Tools Every Blogger Needs

Automation Tools, Blogger ToolsEvery writer I have ever met is a procrastinator. There’s something about sitting down in front of a blank screen and creating a piece of writing from nothing that sends the best of us running for the cat videos or cleaning supplies.

I like writing, but I’m not fond of dealing with all the little tasks that come along with being a blogger, so I automate anything remotely repetitive.

Over the years, I have built up a handy collection of automation tools, some of which I use dozens of times a day. They take care of small tasks like scheduling social media posts and filling in web forms so that I can focus on the work that really matters.

I’m a Mac user, so some of these tools are only available on the Mac, but the rest are web applications that anyone can use.

Keyboard Maestro 8

It’s hard to explain what Keyboard Maestro (KM) does because it does just about everything. If you can think of something you want to automate on your Mac, I’ll bet my dinner that Keyboard Maestro can do it.

At its most basic, KM carries out actions in response to triggers. Triggers can be hotkeys, typed strings of text, the time of day, joining a WiFi network, and many others. Actions — referred to as macros by KM — can be anything from inserting a text snippet to full GUI automation.

To get an idea of what KM can do, check out this video. I use it to fill in spreadsheets, set up my workspace, build invoices, convert files and upload them to Google Drive, automatically send various emails, and lots more.

Text ExpanderTextExpander is a snippet manager: it inserts snippets of text when you enter abbreviations. A simple example is inserting WordPress when I type “wwp” (which stops me getting the CamelCase wrong).

But TextExpander goes much further. Snippets can include custom fill-in fields, pop-up menus, dates, and times. Snippets can even be JavaScript or shell scripts, which gives advanced users unlimited snippet power.

TextExpander and Keyboard Maestro have some cross-over, and KM is a fine snippet tool, but TextExpander is slick enough to justify the extra expense.


IFTTT and Zapier tie together web applications via their APIs. Both work on a “trigger” then “action” system. For example, I use Zapier to connect WordPress and (spoiler warning) Buffer. When I post to WordPress, Zapier receives the information about the article and uses it to schedule social media posts in Buffer.

Both Zapier and IFTTT are capable of connecting hundreds of applications, but I find that Zapier offers a more reliable experience.


BufferBuffer really needs no introduction: it’s been around long enough that every blogger I know uses it religiously. But, if you’re new to the game, Buffer is an excellent service for queuing social media posts. I typically queue up the day’s posts in advance, so I don’t have to risk opening Twitter and being sucked into its irresistible time sink.



ConvertKITFinally, ConvertKIT is a powerful email automation system built especially for bloggers. It provides forms for collecting emails, automated email sending with drag-and-drop sequencing, and solid subscriber segmenting.

Automation makes your computer work for you, rather than the other way around. If you spend any time engaged in repetitive tasks, use automation tools to get your computer to do them for you — that’s what it’s for.

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3 Expert Tips to Improve Your Conversions

3 Expert Tips to Improve Your Conversions

How to Write Blog Titles: 3 Expert Tips to Improve Your Conversions

Photo by Damian Zaleski on Unsplash

Before you wow readers with your content, before you develop an emotional connection between them and your brand, before they even click on your article… you have to get your foot in the door. Therein lies the art of writing blog titles.

Blog titles and headlines are a quick pitch to encourage visitors to read your content — and by “quick,” we mean less than a sentence. Each individual word must be chosen with care, because only the best titles translate into clicks.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of expert advice on writing blog titles. Apply them now to turn your blog from a list of words into a conversion powerhouse.


If you’re looking for quick and actionable advice for writing headlines, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. Numbers in titles generate 73% more engagement and social sharing.

The thinking is that numbers give browsers an idea of what they’re getting into. If this article was just said “Expert Tips…” you wouldn’t know if it was a blurb post with 1 or 2 tips, or an epic manifesto full of hundreds of writing tidbits. By including the set number, you get an idea of this piece’s length and depth, making it more comfortable to click.

Diving deeper, odd numbers work better than even numbers. They seem more natural, whereas even numbers seem like the author manipulated the data to round it off. Going deeper still, lucky number 7 has the best results.

Use Power Words

Some words can make a big difference, but others can make a gargantuan difference. Content marketing strategist Kerri Stover recently compiled a list of 17 “must-use” words in headlines. While some of them fall into the clickbait category (there’s nothing shocking about “shocking” blog posts anymore), there’s still enough wisdom there worth repeating.

Try adding some of these power words into your next blog title:

  • New — Everyone likes new things.
  • Now — Great for immediacy and urgency.
  • Who/What/Where/When/Why/How — Question words add an inherent mystery into your blog title, playing on the browser’s natural curiosity.
  • You and Your — Addressing the reader directly to develope a personal connection. It gets them from thinking in the general to thinking about how the post will apply to their lives specifically.
  • Video — Videos are popular content anyway, so mentioning you have one is a good selling point.

It’s not enough to throw these words into your headline haphazardly. Make sure you only use them when they flow organically.

Keywords and Colons

When it comes to keywords in blog titles, you start to stray from set-in-stone rules and rely more on instinct. Statistically speaking, formulas work; but rely on formulas too much and your headlines will become repetitive and uninteresting.

The rule for using SEO keywords in headlines is to have them close to the beginning of the title. We find one strategy that works well is:

keyword phrase + colon or hyphen + the value proposition

This checks all the right boxes: keyword at the start, explaining the article’s value, plus titles with colons or hyphens actually perform 9% better. We formatted this article’s title like this as an example.

But again, using this formula every time will have the opposite effect, and regular readers will catch on that you’re phoning in your headlines. It’s best to use this formula sparingly, and remember that keywords don’t always need to start a title for the post to be successful.

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Find Out How Your WordPress Plugin Is Used With Wisdom

Find Out How Your WordPress Plugin Is Used With Wisdom

Find Out How Your WordPress Plugin Is Used With Wisdom

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

A few weeks ago we, wrote about a proposal to add data collection facilities to WordPress. The proposal was rejected, but that doesn’t mean the points it made weren’t valid. Collecting data about real-world software use can be valuable to developers. Wisdom is a premium WordPress plugin that allows plugin developers to collect information about how and where their plugin is used.

There’s often a disconnect between software developers and their users. It can be hard for plugin developers — who are WordPress experts — to put themselves in the shoes of the average WordPress user. What seems like a great idea to a developer may get no traction at all with users. Interfaces that seem intuitive to a developer might confuse users. And a developer could waste weeks of time building new features that aren’t used.

Real-world usage data helps developers focus on what matters most to users. But that’s not the only benefit. Armed with detailed information about usage patterns, developers can create user-friendly interfaces that reduce the amount of time they’re required to spend dealing with support requests. For developers with premium plugins or premium tiers, data collected from users can help increase conversions and revenue — if you know what users want, it’s easier to build a business providing features they’ll pay for.

Wisdom makes it easy for developers to collect useful information from sites that install their plugin. Developers simply install a snippet in their plugin files and tracker code on their website. When a plugin user agrees to have their data harvested, the developer will receive a variety of information, including the theme installed on the site, the WordPress version number, and which plugin settings are being used.

The WordPress plugin repository is strict about data collection from users. Plugin developers can’t collect data without getting an opt-in from users. Wisdom includes a two-part opt-in process. Firstly, users can opt in to having general usage data collected. Secondly, they can agree to have their email address collected. Email collection can be useful to developers, but users are often rightly wary of allowing emails to be transmitted to a third-party. Wisdom allows developers to deactivate the email collection opt-in altogether.

If you aren’t using the WordPress plugin repository, it’s possible to disable the opt-in altogether, but I’d advise plugin developers to be open about data collection.

Wisdom isn’t inexpensive, and the range of data it can collect isn’t as a rich as many full-blown analytics solutions, but it’s worth consideration if you want to know more about how your plugin is being used and make evidence-based decisions about future development.

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Which Languages Do You Need To Know?

Which Languages Do You Need To Know?

Theme DevelopmentWordPress is enormously popular and that popularity shows no sign of waning. If you learn how to build themes, plugins, and other integrations, you can tap into a massive market. It’s a competitive market, to be sure, but one that offers opportunities to developers in many different areas: bespoke theme and plugin development, premium theme and plugin development, WordPress management and security services, and, with the introduction of the REST API, the ability to build novel and innovative front-end and back-end integrations that transform WordPress.

You could learn WordPress development as you go, picking up snippets of knowledge here and there as you work to solve problems. But I’d advise prospective WordPress developers to invest some time into understanding the fundamentals of the technologies WordPress is built on. Fundamental knowledge will help you write code and solve problems more efficiently, as well as avoid common security and performance pitfalls.

So, what do you need to know to be a WordPress developer?


HTML is the markup language webpages are written in. WordPress uses HTML everywhere: themes are largely written in HTML and WordPress’ most important job is to produce HTML that browsers understand.

While HTML structures documents, CSS dictates how those documents appear on the page. HTML may say “this is a header,” but CSS says what the headers look like.

HTML and CSS are the basic building blocks of all web development. They’re essential to any sort of web development, including WordPress development. There are any number of excellent free resources for learning HTML and CSS on the web, but rather than cobbling knowledge together from tutorials, I’d advise new learners to take a course from Code School or Code Academy, which cover the fundamentals and provide a strong grounding learners can build on.


Unlike HTML and CSS, PHP is general purpose programming language that can be used to build almost any piece of software. WordPress is a PHP-based application — to develop a deep understanding of how WordPress works, PHP is vital. As programming languages go, PHP is not difficult to learn, but if you have no prior knowledge of programming, you should set aside a few weeks to learn the basics.

To develop themes, you won’t need more than the basics of PHP and an understanding of how it’s used in the WordPress theme architecture, but if your aim is to build plugins and more advanced WordPress integrations, you’ll need a strong grasp of PHP and the APIs that WordPress makes available.

You’ll find no shortage of learning resources for PHP, but I’m going to once again recommend you use Code School or Code Academy, both of which offer excellent PHP tracks.


Web applications like WordPress can be divided into two parts, the code that runs on the server and the code that runs in the web browser. There are many different server-side languages, but, as we’ve discussed, WordPress uses PHP. There is only one language that runs natively in web browsers: JavaScript. JavaScript is used heavily in WordPress themes, so learning JavaScript (or at least JQuery) is essential if you’re to progress as a WordPress developer.

There’s another excellent reason to learn JavaScript: the new WordPress REST API can be accessed with any language, but the JavaScript ecosystem provides many frameworks specifically designed for building interactive front-end interfaces. WordPress’ creator, Matt Mullenweg, has advised WordPress developers to “learn JavaScript, deeply.” In fact, if you have no prior knowledge of coding, I’d advise you start with JavaScript and then move to PHP.

As you might expect, CodeSchool and CodeAcademy have JavaScript tracks, but new learners should check out these resources too:

This might seem a little complicated, but it’s possible to pick up a thorough grounding in the fundamentals you need to get started on WordPress development with a couple of months of dedicated study. Then, as you work on WordPress projects, your knowledge and expertise will deepen. WordPress development offers great opportunities to new developers, and, most importantly, there’s a huge community willing and able to help you and make WordPress development fun.

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Will Moving To A JavaScript Front-End Hurt Your WordPress Site’s SEO?

Will Moving To A JavaScript Front-End Hurt Your WordPress Site’s SEO?

SEOWhen the REST API was first introduced, Matt Mullenweg said WordPress developers should “learn JavaScript, deeply”. The REST API, which recently gained new content endpoints, makes WordPress more than a content management framework: it can now act as the back-end for a huge variety front-end applications and we can expect to see more WordPress themes embracing JavaScript and the API.

In 2017, web apps are par for the course. Many of the pages we see on the web are put together by JavaScript code running in the browser. Modern web apps render most of the content on the front-end or use a hybrid server-side / client-side technique. In time, that’ll be the case for WordPress too, which has many WordPress users wondering if the adoption of JavaScript-based front-ends and themes is going to hurt their SEO — can Googlebot cope?

The short answer is yes; Googlebot can cope perfectly well with JavaScript of the level of complexity involved in most web applications. It will deal with JavaScript-created content just as well as HTML built on the server. There are some limitations, but for the most part, JavaScript doesn’t make Googlebot sweat.

In the past, search engine optimization best practice has encouraged server-side rendering, the strategy used by WordPress. The browser sends a request to the content management system, which gathers up data from the database, executes PHP scripts, and combines the results with templates. The output is HTML that browsers — and search engine crawlers — can handle without a problem.

A few years ago, search engine crawlers weren’t all that great at dealing with JavaScript, and site owners couldn’t guarantee JavaScript that rendered content or handled routing would be executed properly.

Last year, John Mueller, webmaster trends analyst at Google and a frequent poster on SEO issues, published a post on Google Plus that detailed best practices for JavaScript SEO — if developers steer clear of the some of the gotchas mentioned, JavaScript front-ends won’t have a negative impact on SEO. Google is quite capable of indexing content — including title and meta description tags — rendered by JavaScript. Similar advice is also given on Google’s guide to building crawlable web applications.

If you have any doubts about whether a particular theme or front-end app is crawlable and indexable, Google provides a Fetch As Google tool so site owners can see how their site looks to Google.

Finally, engineer Stephan Boyer ran several experiments to test whether Google is capable of executing JavaScript in a number of scenarios, and, although the tests were far from comprehensive, Google passed with flying colors.

JavaScript is a big part of WordPress’ future, and many of the most interesting advancements in the WordPress world will involve JavaScript front-ends and themes. Happily, it appears you shouldn’t let SEO worries prevent you from embracing the future of WordPress wholeheartedly.

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Three Plugins For Quickly Adding Images To Your WordPress Blog Posts

Three Plugins For Quickly Adding Images To Your WordPress Blog Posts

WordPress BlogIt’s not essential for every blog post to have a featured image, but a relevant, eye-catching, and compelling image enriches the reader’s experience and helps to make a post more noticeable — and clickable — on social media.

I like to add an image to every blog post I publish. Sometimes they’re directly related to the content, sometimes the only relationship is a vague association between the subject of the post and the picture, and sometimes I include an image just because I think it looks cool.

I write a lot of blog posts, which means searching through hundreds of images on both free and paid stock image sites, and, if the post is for my personal blog, searching through my own image catalogue.

For the most part I use free image sites: those that make images available under a Creative Commons license or in the public domain. The quality of public domain and CC images has improved enormously over the last few years, largely thanks to sites like Unsplash, which list the work of professional photographers.

But it’s not enough to rely solely on Unsplash and its peers. Everyone knows about these sites, which means the same images appear on dozens of posts. If you want originality, it’s a good idea to create your own images or throw the net a little wider.

For a long time, my WordPress image workflow wasn’t well organized. I’d finish a post, open up five or six image hosting sites in tabs, and spend the next twenty minutes running searches and perusing the results until I found the perfect image.

Today, I use three WordPress plugins that let me integrate WordPress with my most frequently used image sources.

Lightroom To WordPress

I use Adobe’s Lightroom to organize my personal image collection, and until recently there was no easy way to integrate my Lightroom collection and the WordPress Media Library.

I was very happy when Automattic released Lightroom To Adobe, a WordPress plugin that allows Lightroom users to choose and import images from within the WordPress dashboard.

If you want to use this plugin, you’ll need a account and have the Jetpack plugin installed.

Instant Images

I’ve already talked about how much I enjoy using Unsplash, and although I’m an admirer of the Unsplash interface, I prefer to be able to search for images from within WordPress.

Instant Images is a straightforward WordPress / Unsplash integration, allowing users to search the Unsplash catalogue and upload images to their Media Library.

This plugin is also great for WordPress developers who need filler or demo images.

Image Inject

When Unsplash doesn’t deliver or I want some variety, I use the Image Inject plugin, which performs a similar function to Instant Images, but includes both Flickr Creative Commons and images from Pixabay.

Neither source offers the same guaranteed high-quality images as Unsplash, but there are plenty of diamonds in the rough. Before Unsplash, Flickr CC search was my go-to source for blog images.

With these plugins, my image-searching workflow is more efficient, and I spend less time trawling through image hosting websites and more time writing.

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4 Plugins To Turn A WordPress Site Into A Powerful Education Platform

4 Plugins To Turn A WordPress Site Into A Powerful Education Platform

PluginsWhen we think about WordPress, it usually brings to mind business sites, portfolios, and blogs, but as a fully fledged content management system, WordPress is flexible enough to be put to all sorts of different uses, including as a powerful educational tool.

With the proliferation of mobile devices and tablets, not to mention the explosion in online learning among people of all ages, teachers should seriously consider integrating a website into their educational workflows, both as a central location for course materials and as an educational tool that can be used by students to publish and collaborate. Educators who don’t embrace the preferred communication platforms of their students limit their potential and that of their students.

WordPress is the perfect foundation for building an education site, and developers in the WordPress community have created a number of plugins that make it straightforward to deploy education-focused features. I’d like to highlight five of them today.


Sensei, from WooCommerce, provides a complete coursework solution that allows for the creation and publishing of courses, lessons, and quizzes. It integrates well with WooCommerce, so education entrepreneurs can charge for access to their content.

Other features include quick user registration, testing, quiz grading, and course analytics.


This is also a course management system, but more suited to higher education and specifically designed to meet the needs of research groups, but it has useful features for any higher-level academic teaching. TeachPress is focused on academic publishing and provides comprehensive BibTeX integration for citation importing and exporting, as well as an integrated course enrollment system, and a variety of shortcodes for displaying publication lists, publication searches, and course overviews.

mTouch Quiz

There are any number of quiz plugins for WordPress, but I’m highlighting this one because it’s designed with touch interfaces in mind, so students can take multi choice quizzes from their tablets and phones.

Batch Create

This is a premium plugin from WPMUDev, so it isn’t free, but it can save a huge amount of time for educators who need to create lots of blogs or sites for their students to publish on. Doing it manually would be very time consuming, but with Batch Create, educators using WordPress Multisite can upload a CSV or XLS file exported from their enrollment records and the plugin will add users or create new sites.

I’ve only got space here to share a few educational plugins, but there are many more that I could have included. Instead, I’d like to open the floor to the educators out there: what are your favorite WordPress plugins and how have they contributed to your teaching?

About Graeme Caldwell – Graeme works as an inbound marketer for Hostdedi, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting. Follow Hostdedi on Twitter at @nexcess, Like them on Facebook and check out their tech/hosting blog,

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