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Doing Product Pages Right – Hostdedi Blog

How much effort have you put into your product page? Yes, I know you found information and images from the manufacturer and added them. Sure, you named the product and maybe if you were really working on good product pages, you took an extra picture of the product in use to highlight what it really looks like to your customers.

But I know most ecommerce sites don’t even go that far.

About 10 years ago I worked in retail and one of my jobs was to add products to our site, but only after everything else was done and if the boss couldn’t find anything extra for me to do. This was shortsighted and meant that they didn’t see much business from their online store. But if you don’t put any effort into your product pages, the natural outcome is little traction with your site.

It’s important to remember that your online users can’t touch your product. They can’t ask a salesperson a question or get specific feedback on how the product worked for someone they can talk to. Customers are reliant on the information you provide them to help them make a purchase.

Today we’re going to talk about how to design a great product page. Remember, from the product name to the reviews, your product page is a landing page. Its job is to sell your products to your customers.

Product Name

If your product page is a landing and sales page, then the first thing you need to look at is the name of your product. This is the title of your page and you should spend just as much time thinking about this as you would for any blog post you want to rank well in search engines. The more descriptive your product name is, the better it is, at least up to a point.

We’ve all seen ridiculously keyword-stuffed Amazon product titles. We want to use a descriptive product name, but not crossover into the realm of these overloaded titles.

Take a look at these Mpow headphones on Amazon.

If you’re looking for waterproof Bluetooth sports headphones with controls on the headphones, the title is a great match. I think it’s getting close to being a bit long, but just by reading the product name, you get a summary of all the features that the headphones provide.

When you’re looking at your product names use the Google Keyword Planner to investigate what terms are ranking well for your product. Use these terms to help you craft a well-optimized title that will bring customers to your landing page.

Description

When it comes to your product description, the first thing to ask yourself is “what questions will myom customers have”. A description that answers your customer’s questions poorly will mean they make a purchase they’re not happy with. Then they’ll want to return it, and you may get a poor review on the product.

According to Nielsen Group, 20% of missed purchases were because a product didn’t have the information a customer was looking for in the description. If users don’t see the information they’re looking for in your product description, they’re going to turn to Google. That means you risk having them find the product at a better price elsewhere. Making your customers search to get more information is just like losing the purchase and all future purchases from your customer.

As you write your product description ask yourself what questions the customer will have about your product? Your goal is to answer the questions and deflate the objections that customers will have so that they feel confident in their purchase.

Good product descriptions are jargon-free. They’re not heavy on marketing text, but are to the point and clear. If you’re talking about 5 different feature highlights, use bullet points so that readers can scan to get the information they need quickly.

If you’ve got many of the same types of products, say dishwashers, then take the time to standardize the language across suppliers. Don’t list measurements in inches for one product and then centimetres for other products. Standardize on one method, or if you deal with international clients let them choose what measurement they want to see. You can see a great example of this with Apidura Cycling bags. They let users change between inches and centimetres for their bag measurements. This puts their users in control.

Product Images

After your product name and description, it’s important to focus on the images you provide to your customer. Remember, they can’t touch the product. They can’t tell how big it is, or exactly what shade of blue it is. They are relying entirely on you to provide this information with your images.

There are two ways to go with product images. You can choose to use a backdrop with other stuff that matches the product, or you can go with a flat white version. Keep the style consistent including the dimensions used with the final images. I think the best option is to have a combination of both of these options.

Bellroy is a great example of both methods combined. They show you several images of their products on a flat white background. They also add it with known items, like physical bills and blank cards that are the same size as credit cards. You get to see high-quality uncluttered photos to judge colour and texture, then clean photos that help you get an idea of the size of items you’re looking at.

Bellroy also provides high-quality images for each color option for a product. You don’t have to guess based on a color swatch, you can see exactly what you’re choosing as you make changes.

While this may look like a lot of work, it’s just a bit of work and a small investment. You don’t need a fancy camera. Any smartphone in the last few years will do. If you don’t have natural light, then you will need to purchase a consistent light source. You can usually find the Godox SL60W for under $200. If you’re dealing with small products and want to have an extra clean background, then look at a softbox. You can find these on Amazon for as little as $30.

With a light source and a softbox, all it takes is a bit of practice. Take a bunch of test images from different angles. If you spend a weekend playing around you’ll improve greatly so that you can get good images for Monday.

If you’re looking for a great walkthrough on product photography, check out the video below by Peter McKinnon.

Once you’ve got the images, take a few minutes to edit them for color and contrast. Most people use a sized template so that every image on the site is the same size. 

If you’re not sure what this means, it’s like having a company letterhead you always use. In this case, it’s a Photoshop file that’s 2000X2000 and every image you take goes on the same template so that your site images look uniform. 

Then once you have your images on the template looking how you want them, save them out in a web format. Look to keep them under 700kb if possible. To help with this at the final stage you can use tools like Kraken to optimize the images as you upload them.

Putting some effort into your product images will help your store stand above the competition.

Adding To Cart

Next, your add to cart button. There are a few mistakes that many sites make with this crucial interaction. First, make sure that users can see the button without scrolling across all devices. It should be obvious and a contrasting color from the rest of your site so that it stands out. You can see a good example of this on MEC below.

Note that they have a nice product image, and the purchase button is in a vibrant green and stays with the customer as they scroll on a mobile device.

You also need to make sure that it’s clear to the user something happened when they add something to the cart. Luckily WooCommerce has this as a default with a banner being displayed to a user after a product has been successfully added to the cart.

The second most important interaction after your main purchase button may be the option to add a product to a wishlist. A good spot for this is just below the main purchase CTA. I have many wish lists on Amazon for when I’m ready to revamp parts of my office. I already have my desk video setup all picked out in a wishlist. When it’s time to purchase I just need to add all those products to my cart, and then checkout.

Showing your product in use can show how easy it is to use to customers that are concerned about that. Yes, it might mean some duplicate information, but highlight the benefits and deflate the objections with your videos, just like you do with your marketing copy. Some studies suggest that a good product video increases conversion to sale by 84%. Videos are also known to have higher click through rates in search.

You can see this if we head back to Bellroy. The first thing that comes up with their products is a video of their product in use. 

Just like good product photos don’t have to be a huge investment, decent video doesn’t have to be a huge investment. The light I recommended above is a great video light. Your recent smartphone is a decent video camera. Add a lavalier microphone to this setup for $50 and you’ve got a good video setup.

Pricing

When it comes to pricing, it’s pretty straight forward. Make sure you don’t hide any price increases from your users. If the blue version is more expensive, change the price when the user selects the blue version (don’t worry both WooCommerce & Magento do this out of the box). Just under the price is also a good place to add product availability information. Don’t let your customers try to add something to the cart only to find that the product isn’t available in their chosen combination of size and color.

Social Proof: Reviews

Did you know that user reviews are 12 times more powerful at convincing people to purchase than your marketing copy is? That means you need to employ ratings on your site. Display the overall rating, usually stars, at the top near your product title and description. Then after all the product information your customers want, display the reviews you’ve gathered from users.

It’s important to make your reviews filterable, and don’t censor bad reviews. I’ve often read the bad reviews for a product to find the pain points and then purchased because I don’t care about any of the major issues with it.

One great plugin to help enhance the reviews on your site is WooCommerce Product Reviews Pro. This plugin will let you add product photos and user videos to your reviews to supercharge your social proof.

Remember, your product page is a landing page and should be optimized for search engines and to convert visitors to customers. As I said when I talked specifically about mCommerce, make sure that you A/B Test the changes you’re making to your product pages to help ensure that they’re having the effect you expect. If you can put a bit of effort into your product pages, you’ll see big rewards in your sales.

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How to Build an Affiliate Marketing Website

One thing 2020 has taught us is the importance of an online presence. And many people have taken the extra time at home to start side hustles. The Internet is the way to do it.

So much of the buying process has moved online which means there is a larger pool of searches and potential customers. Affiliate marketing is positioned just right to capitalize on this increased web activity.

Building a website and designing a website are different things. The process below will help you build without needing to write any code. The good news is there are many tools available to everyday people, and we will point out which ones are worth choosing to save you time and money.

As an entrepreneur, your time is most valuable, so let’s get started.

7 Steps to Build an Affiliate Marketing Website

1. Choose your Niche

One of the first rules veteran affiliate marketers point out is finding your niche. Narrow down your focus to a single industry with only two or three affiliate products you promote.

“Choose a niche and work with companies within it. You can be an affiliate for just about anything, but readers won’t trust your opinions or click your links if you’re not an authority. Similarly, a reader might even write off your entire site as spam if it’s stuffed with irrelevant links. Do your best to select affiliate programs that fit naturally with our content.”

Kyla, WP Explorer

Your objective will be to create as much content as you can about the topics within your niche. So be sure to pick something you enjoy and have knowledge about – otherwise it will become a chore to you and eventually you will stop.

Some examples of niches:

  • Travel
  • Finance
  • Web Hosting
  • Fashion & beauty
  • Video games
  • Outdoors
  • Fitness & nutrition
  • 3D printing
  • Science experiments
  • DIY crafts

Some niches are more profitable and competitive than others, so be sure to do some research before committing to a niche. You should look at what other content creators have published to get an idea of what you could create. Perhaps there is a topic that is not covered, or topics you know much more about.

If you can create content that is updated with new information, or in a format that is more engaging, then it is an opportunity to explore.

The list goes on and almost every category has a way to implement affiliate marketing. Often the key to winning is finding ways to be creative in how you deliver your content.

2. Pick a Domain Name

First, you need to name your website by picking a domain name. For example, nexcess.net.

This can be changed later so don’t feel stuck if you can’t decide just yet. Most hosting companies will let you use a temporary domain as a placeholder.

It’s common practice to find a domain name that is the same name as your business name or your personal name. You can also select from different TLDs (top level domains) like .com and .net.. For about $15, you can register a new domain for a year.

Try to avoid using hyphens and keep the length as short as possible. This helps visitors more easily type and find your website. Make it memorable and easy to say.

Also, take the time to check social media platforms to see if the matching username is available.

3. Choose WordPress

WordPress has now become the leading CMS (Content Management System) for building websites of all types.

It doesn’t matter if your site is a blog, store, membership site, or forum. WordPress is very versatile because it is free and open source. 

With WordPress, you are the owner of your website content, which means you can use affiliate links to monetize. This makes WordPress unlike other platforms that restrict what you can have on your site and even delete your work if they choose.

Many independent developers have already created themes and plugins you can add to your site to make it look unique and function exactly how you want. That sounds technical, but it’s actually very easy to install and remove plugins with only a few clicks. The good news is that most plugins are free to install.

WordPress sites need to be hosted in order to be accessible on the Internet. Hostdedi has built specific hosting plans optimized for WordPress sites to be fast and secure. With Hostdedi, it is very quick and easy to set up your hosting, so you can focus on building up your site.

We host your websites on our servers where our experts manage the routine tasks of security and performance. This is called “managed hosting” because unlike shared hosting, you would normally be responsible for the maintenance of your sites.

Daily backups, automatic updates, and uptime monitoring is taken care of when you host your site with Hostdedi. But if you do need help, we are always available 24/7 by phone, chat, and email.

We also offer hosting plans optimized for WooCommerce stores, which is a specific type of WordPress site that utilizes the WooCommerce plugin to turn your site into a streamlined online store.

4. Get Hosting for Your Site

Next, it’s time to set up your hosting account. Hostdedi offers various plans for the needs of all types of websites. And if you already have a website, our team can migrate if for free to Hostdedi.

For this guide, we will use the Spark plan. It is a great option for new websites and beginners, while still getting amazing performance. There is even a 14-day free trial (no credit card required) if you want to test it first.

There is the option to save by prepaying annually for your hosting, or to pay on a monthly basis. There are no contracts, and you can always upgrade once your website has started growing.

Once you have selected your plan, you will create your Hostdedi account. Just enter your name, email, and create a password.

Select which of our data centers should host your website. We have locations all over the world:

  1. Southfield, Michigan
  2. London, UK
  3. Sydney, Australia
  4. San Jose, California
  5. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Then create a nickname for your hosting plan. For example, “My Travel Blog”.

Enter your personal information.

Enter your payment details. If you have a coupon code, you can apply it here and see your discount. Click purchase.

Next, you will receive a welcome email with your receipt and a link to login to your account. It will also provide contact information for our support team if you ever need some help.

From your Hostdedi dashboard, you will have access to your domain names and website settings.

To login to your WordPress dashboard for your site, click on Environment. Your login credentials are found there. Next, click App Admin. Alternatively, you can type your domain’s login URL in the browser. For example, https://mydomain.com/wp-admin/

Both of these methods will take you to the login page for your WordPress site.

5. Install a Theme and Add Plugins

Enter your credentials to login to your WordPress dashboard. Here is where you will be able to design your site, create blog posts, add plugins, and much more.

It may look a bit intimidating, but as you explore, you will find it is very easy to navigate. A great thing about WordPress is the community and the large amount of helpful resources to help with just about any question. It’s only a Google search away.

Next, you need to install a theme. These are pre-built layouts that change the design of your website. Go to Appearance, Themes, and Add New. You can always come back and change it later. There are even premium themes you can buy such as the Astra theme.

Click the Install button – it’s that easy. Then go to Appearance, and Customize to see what your theme can do and make it look how you want. Once you have configured the theme to your liking, click Activate to update your live website.

Plugins are extensions that add a function to your website. Let’s say you want your visitors to be able to contact you directly from your site – there are several plugins that will do this. Go to Plugins, and Add New. Just like themes, you can search for plugins that fit your needs.

Pay attention to the reviews and what people are saying about the plugin. Also, take into consideration which plugins have active support, since you don’t want to build functionality on your site around a plugin that may not have support down the road, leading to vulnerability issues.

6. Publish Your Affiliate Content

This is the meat of your affiliate marketing strategy, and the reason people will come to your site. A good practice is to publish often and publish valuable content. 

Another reason WordPress is so popular is because creating posts is not difficult at all. This helps content creators be able to publish new content more quickly.

To reiterate – it helps immensely to focus on topics you are passionate about. Boredom will hinder you from working on new content and ultimately earning any affiliate income.

“If you are looking to build an affiliate marketing website the key to your success is keeping it as niched as possible. Affiliate marketing and SEO go hand in hand. So do your keyword research and keep things as niched as possible. Publish as much quality content as you can for the first 6-9 months. Stay the course and you will start to see significant traffic and conversions after those first 9 months of hustle.”

Kelan & Brittany Kline, The Savvy Couple

Over time, if you have created quality content, then it will begin to rank on search results and be shared. This is the true test to know if you are adding value to your audience. The result of that will be them beginning to use your affiliate links.

While creating your content, you should be aware of, and seek out, affiliate opportunities within your niche that fits well with your target audience.

Determine which products your audience will benefit from the most and which offers affiliate commissions. Most companies will have an affiliate page that lists these details.

Promoting too many affiliate products can have a negative effect on your image. The foundation of being an affiliate marketer is earning a level of trust with your audience. These days, the Internet collectively has become more aware of how to spot websites with the sole intent to sell.

Once you have been approved into an affiliate program, you can begin using your affiliate links. Each company provides you an affiliate account that you can log into to see your performance and earnings. Here, you can copy your affiliate links.

Then you can insert your affiliate links into your articles. YouTube allows affiliate links to be placed in the video descriptions. And Linktree is a tool for adding affiliate links to your Instagram bio.

To add affiliate links in WordPress, go to your WordPress dashboard and click on Posts, then Edit under your selected post. Affiliate links can be embedded into text, buttons, or images. Select or highlight where you want to add the link and click the hyperlink icon. Paste your affiliate link into the field and press Enter

Finally, click Publish in the top right corner of the page to update the change on your live website. Shortly, any new visitors to your site will be able to use your affiliate link. 

Serious affiliate marketers monitor their traffic and conversions. Installing Google Analytics will show you the activity on your website. Some WordPress plugins like Google Site Kit let you see your traffic data from your WordPress dashboard.

Simply pasting affiliate links is not enough. To be successful, you will need to find what strategies work for you to promote your affiliate content. Connecting with other like minded authorities in your niche is a great place to start.

Sign Up to Become a Hostdedi Affiliate Today

Now that you have built your website, you may be a good fit for our Hostdedi affiliate program. If you believe your audience would be interested in our hosting services, sign up to become an affiliate. We hold regular affiliate contests for opportunities to win extra cash and other bonuses.

Subscribe to our affiliate newsletter to learn more.

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Hostdedi and Oliver POS connect Ecommerce ans Brick & Mortar

As global ecommerce sales continue experiencing exponential growth, Hostdedi, a leader in digital commerce, is partnering with leading-edge software company Oliver POS, to roll-out revolutionary technology for WooCommerce merchants. This latest ecommerce application brings essential data directly into the point-of-sale system from the online store, connecting both channels for seamless inventory management and increased sales opportunities. 

Oliver POS’ cloud-based technology provides real-time insights into inventory, products, sales, orders, customers, and more. This data is directly accessible from both the POS system and the online store. There is no need to configure or populate more than a single product catalog, and any changes made either in the store or POS system will automatically sync to the other platform. Providing real-time visibility into stock levels and a buyer’s history gives users across the business an easy way to complete a sale and provide a personalized experience to every customer. This data can drive upsell recommendations, discounts and offers, and special perks like free shipping at checkout. 

“Typically, in-store and online sales run entirely separate from one another, leading to mismatched inventories, scattered data, and a lot of wasted time” says Jan Stilling, CRO of Oliver. “With Oliver POS technology, your WooCommerce store stays completely synced with your physical store at all times.” 

Hostdedi is at the forefront of continuous innovation for WooCommerce and the store owners and agencies who use the platform. Through the partnership, Hostdedi will be the first solution provider to include this technology as a core feature of their Managed WooCommerce offering, giving SMBs and enterprises a much-needed tool to bridge the data gap between retail storefronts, online stores, pop-up shops and other outlets. 

Even greater opportunities lie in the Oliver POS app store where Hostdedi will be actively leading new app development. The tool is designed to be customized, welcoming new apps that simplify POS interactions including marketing, accounting, scheduling tools and more – everything to make sales conversions easier. 

“New application opportunities that elevate the customer experience and drive revenue at point of sale are limitless,” says Chris Lema, VP of Product at Hostdedi. “As ecommerce channels expand, the need for tech and data synchronization becomes even more important. We’re excited to be leading the way through open source innovation that provides tremendous value to the industry’.

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Hostdedi Enhances Auto Scaling for Traffic Spikes



Hostdedi, the market leader in Open Source Digital Commerce, has launched a new feature designed to keep heavy-trafficked websites stable under strain. Hostdedi Advanced Auto Scaling is ideal for agencies & enterprises looking to plan ahead and optimize ecommerce performance during the extreme traffic spikes expected for this year’s holiday season. 

Hostdedi Auto Scaling

For online stores, having a multitude of website visitors is similar to managing long lines in a brick and mortar store. When many people line up to check out at the same time, new registers will open to ease the flow and keep consumers engaged instead of enraged. Hostdedi launched Advanced Auto Scaling as a feature that continuously monitors websites for traffic and dynamically adds resources to accommodate bursts in user concurrency. When a scaling event is triggered and Hostdedi Auto Scaling is enabled, product pages and checkouts remain fast and crash-proof,  helping reduce cart abandonment while providing a consistent customer experience.

‘While significant traffic is a good problem to have, if you’re not prepared to handle it, you may lose a customer for life’ says Chris Lema, VP of Product at Hostdedi. ‘If you’re with a host that doesn’t offer auto scaling – or they can scale but it’s not automated – once your site gets overloaded, you’re likely to see delays and even crash. When Hostdedi Advanced Auto Scaling is enabled, it is “simply set it and forget it”. The magic lies in automation”, said Lema.  

Pricing & Availability

Advanced Auto Scaling is available for every Hostdedi customer on any of our Managed Magento, Managed WooCommerce and Managed WordPress plans for $99/month. Providing even greater flexibility, if more resources are ever needed, additional containers with 10 PHP workers a piece can be added for $50/day.

At Hostdedi, we’re focused on delivering a (truly) managed content and commerce platform for SMBs and the Web Professionals who create for them.  Advanced Auto-Scaling comes to the rescue when traffic surges, maintaining speed, security and a great customer experience.   Hostdedi customers can promote flash sales, see activity from a post that goes viral, or prepare for seasonal spikes like holiday shopping with no worries that their site can handle success when it comes their way.  

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How to Take Your WooCommerce Site Mobile

While I’d like to assume that all ecommerce sites are thinking about their mobile shopping experience, my shopping proves otherwise. As a consumer, I’m regularly greeted with poor mobile purchasing experiences that leave me frustrated. From sites that take forever to load, to sites where it feels like I can’t find the products I’m looking for. Mobile ecommerce (also called mCommerce or M-Commerce) ranges from excellent to so frustrating throwing your device seems like the best option to end your shopping experience.

Today we’re going to look at why you need to take your eCommerce mobile process seriously. Then we’ll take a look at best practices for building a good mobile experience.

Why Does Mobile Ecommerce Matter?

It wasn’t that long ago that mobile sites were nice to have, but not required part of a web presence. Today, mobile use eclipses desktop usage of the web.

Source

Add to that the huge rise in mCommerce by users. In 2018 around 40% of shopping was done via mobile devices[^1]. Cyber Monday saw that number rise to 54% of traffic. Despite this rise, conversions for mobile devices often lag behind desktop purchasing conversions by a significant amount. This is often because site owners don’t take the needs of mobile users into account.

When it comes to browsing your site, a mobile user may spend 4 minutes browsing, while a desktop user is willing to put 5 minutes into the effort[^2]. 40% of mobile users say they’ll leave a site if it isn’t mobile friendly[^3] and this trumps loyalty to your store. 14% of shoppers say they don’t care if they favor your brand, a bad mobile experience will have them looking at your competitors[^4].

It continues to baffle me why store owners put so little effort into providing a good shopping experience for 40% of their users. They would never dream of making 40% of the people that walk into their store wear some blindfold that made everything harder to find, yet it’s too much expense for them to spend money on optimizing for their mobile shoppers.

When you’re not willing to spend time optimizing your mobile shopping experience, you’re telling 40% of your online customers that they’re not worth your effort. In return, they’re going to shop with your competitors.

mCommerce Best Practices

Now that we should all agree that serving mobile customers is a key to having a great eCommerce experience, let’s look at some of the best practices you need to look at when you’re building that ideal experience.

If you have an existing site, one of the best ways to find low hanging fruit is to use online testing tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly test suite. Run those tests on your site and then use the results to identify the biggest issues. Budget regularly to fix these issues so that you can provide a better experience to your users.

Mobile First Design

One of the biggest trends to emerge over the last number of years in web development is mobile-first design. This is where you start with the stripped-down mobile version of your site and then add on tablet and desktop versions. While you’re doing this it’s worth questioning if your mobile site didn’t need a big popup for your email list, why does your desktop site. We know from Google’s documentation that they feel adding a popup covering mobile content is a sign they should not rank your site as high. By not including it on your mobile site you said that it wasn’t as important as other actions users could take. Why did it gain importance for desktop or tablet users? It’s likely that this content is just as in the way on desktop and should stay cut from those experiences as well.

You can see a well-executed example of an email list request below at the Twin Six site. Note the small green bar at the bottom, which doesn’t get in your way as you shop but is obviously pushing their email list.

Another key to mCommerce design is to make your pathways to purchase clear. That means aiming to get a user to the product they’re looking for in 3 actions. Then from finding their product, make it a clear pathway to purchase a product without needing to navigate upsell items or other things that put barriers in the way of purchasing.

For each call to action on your site, you need to take into account your market and which devices they use and where they can reach on your site. If you know that the mobile devices are big on your site and that you sell primarily to women, who often have smaller hands, then making sure that any buttons are in their range is crucial to making your site easy to use.

Which way is easiest for users to swipe to interact with your product images? How much content shows on the screen of your top few mobile devices? All of these things should be taken into account when you build out your mCommerce site.

Product Pages

When it comes to product pages, you need to think about what type of information users will be looking for. One-third of purchasing decisions include information from many sites that has already been gathered via a mobile device[^5]. Does your product page highlight the same information that users have gathered?

With a small screen, it can be hard for a user to see exactly what they’re looking at. High-quality images from all angles can help users look at each aspect of the product they’re interested in. High-quality images are easy to get today. With a bit of thought about lighting the phone, you have in your pocket easily produces excellent images. If that’s out of reach, hire a local photographer or work out a trade with them. My friend takes the menu pictures for a few local restaurants and gets free food for her and her party when she’s there. I’ve enjoyed a few wonderful meals due to her photography trade.

While some sites may produce decent images of their products, they then fall down on the mobile navigation of those images. Make sure that users can pinch or double-tap to zoom images. Make sure that swipe gestures work as expected. Frustrated users will head off to your competitor. 

It’s also worth looking at video demonstrations of the product. Can a user see the size of the product in the hands of someone? Can they see how many ports are on that computer they want to purchase, or how much room is inside the case? You can use this type of content to make your site more attractive to users, and it can even be placed on YouTube to bring in more sales.

Finally, when it comes to the purchase button, make it obvious. It should be easy to find and have a color that makes it stand out from the rest of your site design. It should be within the reach of your users on their devices without needing to adjust the grip they have on their mobile phones.

Cart

Once you have a user with products in your cart, you’re closer to purchase but that doesn’t mean a sale is guaranteed. One thing that many sites do poorly is to make their cart hard to edit. Many users will add a bunch of products to their cart and then decide which ones they’re going to purchase at checkout. It should be easy for users to remove items from their cart, and you’re going to get bonus points for making it easy to add products to a wishlist for a user.

When I visit Cotton Bureau I look through and add all the shirts that interest me to my cart. Then I look at the hundreds of dollars the purchase will cost and cut down what I’m purchasing to meet the budget I have. The only place I fault Cotton Bureau is that they don’t let me pass the shirts I decided not to purchase to a wishlist so I can see them and purchase them later.

One thing to avoid, according to the Nielson Group, is the dreaded “Update” button. Don’t make your users update their cart to have changes reflected in the totals. Unfortunately, the default WooCommerce cart does include this update button, but you can use Auto Update Cart for WooCommerce to remove it and improve the experience of your users.

You should also take advantage of device-specific features like Hand off which lets iOS, iPadOS, and macOS users pick up where they left off in their browser sessions. If coded properly, you can take advantage of this and send the products in a user’s cart to their other devices.

Checkout

When it comes to checkout, one of the first things to do is make sure that a user is not required to create an account at checkout. Even if you have a membership site that requires an account, work to secure the purchase first. Once a user has purchased you can provide instructions on setting up their account. With WooCommerce, as long as they use the same email all purchases a user has made will show up in their account once they create one.

There is always a lot of information to fill in at checkout, so make it as easy as possible. That means you need to label your checkout fields properly so that the proper keyboard is provided to users. If you’re asking for a phone number, they should see the numeric keyboard on their devices.

It’s also worth taking advantage of any facility you can to help users by filling in information. Don’t ask for the country they’re in, you can detect that with your site and fill it in for them. If you ask for the Zip Code or Postal Code before City and State information you can fill in City and State without having your user spend time on them.

If you can’t autofill their state information, make sure you don’t present it in a dropdown without any search. Huge dropdowns are terrible to scroll through on mobile devices. At the very least let a user search for their State/Province/Country inside your dropdown to save them time and frustration.

Most mobile devices have some facility to autofill form fields, make sure that your checkout process works with these systems. You should also take the time to make sure that any password or username fields on your site will work with the password management systems built into devices. 

When it comes to the order summaries on your checkout page, make sure that you present all the charges to your users. If you’ve grabbed the Zip Code, use that to estimate shipping and taxes instead of surprising users with it in a later step. If at all possible, show users their order total, and the CTA that completes a purchase on a single screen of their device.

For payment options, make sure you’re aware of what regions you’re selling into and what the preferred payment methods are. While you should offer the payment options your users want, don’t overwhelm them with every payment option you could add to your site. Look at adding Apple Pay, Google Pay, and then maybe your credit card processing. Feel free to test whether adding PayPal One-Touch or other payment gateways increase or decrease your sales, but don’t offer them a multitude of options.

If you’re offering your processing then make sure that your site works with built-in card filling systems. On iOS devices, you can open your camera and show it your Credit Card to have payment fields filled in. This can go a long way to making sure that a user isn’t frustrated at filling in a bunch of extra information. 

Now that we’ve looked at the whole purchase process, let’s take a look at a few other areas you need to optimize for an ideal mCommerce experience.

Build for Speed

Many countries don’t have fast mobile bandwidth so you need to make sure that you keep the bandwidth-limited and only display the content you MUST display to get a sale. Waiting trumps site loyalty with 14% of shoppers saying they’ll go to a different site if they have to wait too long. That means you need to run speed tests on your site and cut out any interactions or code that stands in the way of a user making a purchase.

Optimize Images

While I said above that you should have high-quality images, there is a point where your images are far too big for the web. A good rule of thumb is that images should be under 1MB, well under. This can be done by optimizing images and reducing their overall dimensions. 

Tools like Kraken have plugins for WordPress that can take care of this for you on image upload. For big sites that have a legacy of poorly optimized images, you can use command line tools like jpegoptim or pngcrush to optimize folders of images recursively. In early 2020 I used jpegoptim and pngcrush to deal with my clients 50K+ images build up over 10+ years. We saved 20GB of disk space and huge amounts of bandwidth monthly.

Minify CSS, JS, HTML, and Cache

In addition to compressing your images, you should be looking at minifying your CSS JavaScript and HTML. One of my favorite tools to do this is WP Rocket. I’ve found this to consistently provide huge speed improvements on client sites without huge amounts of time spent configuring the plugin. 

If you want to use WP Rocket with our Hostdedi CDN, we have instructions in our documentation.

Cut Tracking and Sharing

Another spot to easily optimize your site is with the tracking and sharing scripts you use. Yes, you need some analytics to see what your users are doing and to prioritize which devices need optimization, but you don’t need 5 tracking scripts and 3 social sharing scripts loaded on each page.

For most sites, social sharing buttons are a vast wasteland showing that no one is sharing your content. Worse yet, for mobile users, they often cover up portions of the content making the mobile experience terrible. I’ve left many sites because their social buttons make the content I was coming to consume unreadable.

Cut down everything you don’t need to keep the site functioning and provide a better experience to your users.

Keep Refining

Even if you go through all the suggestions above and improve your site, you’ll need to keep improving your mCommerce experience. In October 2020 Apple released iPadOS 14 which added Scribble support for the Apple Pencil. Yes, most sites should work with this without any changes, but did you test it to make sure?

Making sure that your site is optimized for mobile users is an ongoing task, just like optimizing your site for desktop users is. For each change, you make, try to do A/B testing so that you are making choices that improve user experience and site conversions. At the same time, make sure that you don’t optimize only for mobile and thus make users with other devices have a worse experience.

At the end of the day, mobile usage is not a fad. It’s here to stay and something you will need to make sure you account for if you want to keep making sales to your customers.

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Agency Matters: Preparing Your Ecommerce Clients for Black Friday

Holiday sales events are right around the corner and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be ready for anything. This year ecommerce sales have blown projections out of the water, and even in an unstable economic climate, the holiday shopping season is anyone’s guess.

Our advice?

Prepare your clients’ sites now, be ready for that wave of traffic, and if it never comes, at least you won’t be explaining why they missed out on the biggest quarter of the year because their site couldn’t handle the traffic. 🤷‍♀️

Here’s a list to start running through.

Ask Them If They Have Any Sales or High-Traffic Events Planned

The main concern for developers outside of user experience and site functionality during the holidays is site performance. In order to set up the site for success though, you need to know what your clients are planning.

Get a detailed list of their promotions, including which products they’re targeting, which pages they’re sending traffic, dates, discount offers and codes – absolutely everything.

But above all else, communicate to them that preparing ahead of time will allow you to allocate the hosting resources they need to avoid server crashes and a slow site. Their conversions are on the line, after all.

Check Host Bandwidth Limitations and Prepare Your Clients

Holiday traffic spikes can be unpredictable to say the least, and sometimes a service restriction buried in your host’s SLA can be what throws an unexpected wrench in your client’s plans.

Remember – there’s no such thing as unlimited bandwidth. Read the fine print in your hosting agreement and press support until you get a real answer, so you can determine exactly what happens when a big wave of traffic hits your clients’ sites.

Run Performance Tests NOW

Weeks before those sales events kick off, start running performance tests across the site to determine how it holds up under dramatic increases in traffic. Are there issues with slow checkouts? Are you getting 502 errors?

Read this article to learn more about how to run performance tests on your WooCommerce store.

Get Enterprise Clients Set Up With Performance Solutions

If you’re running ecommerce sites for ecommerce clients who have high traffic volumes on a regular basis, you’ll need extra robust solutions to get them through the holidays without a hitch. Most enterprise hosting solutions require long-term contracts, but Hostdedi offers a new feature, Advanced Auto Scaling, that allows you to toggle on more resources incrementally, with no long term agreements.

Learn More About Advanced Auto Scaling

Get EVERY Magento 1 Store On Safe Harbor

Magento 1 reached end of life over the summer, which means that any client still running their store on this platform is at massive risk of compromising their customers’ data and being out of PCI compliance.

If they’re holding off on a migration because the timing isn’t right or funds are tight, send them our way to get them set up on Safe Harbor by Hostdedi. It’s a solution that will keep Magento 1 stores PCI compliant and secure until they figure something out.

Learn More About Safe Harbor

Implement Optimization Plugins for WordPress Sites

If you don’t already have speed optimization plugins running on your clients’ WordPress sites, it’s time to implement them and start testing now. Start with image compression, CDNs, and lazy loading, and eliminate redundant plugins wherever you can.

WordPress plugins are famous for not getting along and breaking sites when you have the wrong ones turned on at the same time. That’s why the Hostdedi WooCommerce and WordPress experts created Value Added Bundles – to save you money, and tons of time trying to optimize the right combination of plugins.

Learn More About WooCommerce Plugin Bundles

Set Up Coupons

Get a full list of coupons from your clients and start getting them imported into your client’s ecommerce application. Be mindful of any conflicts too – if a coupon can’t be combined with another offer, be sure to create a rule for that.

Optimize for Mobile Buyers

This. Is. EVERYTHING.

You’re probably a really good web developer, which means you probably already know that the majority of traffic these days is coming from someone on their phone. Tiny mobile devices are the new rulers of ecommerce user experience, and your sites HAVE to play nice with them.

Make sure your clients’ sites are extremely mobile friendly, and consider deploying a PWA (if nothing else, going into the new year) to keep the user experience fluid across browsers and devices.

Enable Save/Favorite Features

Giving shoppers a way to favorite items or add them to a wishlist is a great way to help your clients capture more revenue. 

Walk Through Checkouts 

Improving your clients’ checkouts can have a dramatic impact on their revenue, so be sure to walk through it as a user and take any notes on areas that may need improvement.

Cart optimization is a big topic on its own, but here are some tips on what to look into:

  • Use a persistent cart that tracks items, even if the user leaves the site and comes back later
  • Add credit card scanner to make entering payment details easier
  • Offer a few ways to pay
  • Keep it simple – try to limit it to a single page checkout
  • Reduce form fields wherever possible
  • Ask for payment details last
  • Make shipping costs clear and simple early in the process
  • Enable guest checkouts

Enable In-Cart Upselling

Smart product recommendations and upsells are a massive driver of revenue for ecommerce brands – give your clients the technology they need to capitalize on this area, too.

Ask About Abandoned Cart Emails

Abandoned cart recovery can make up for a lot of lost revenue. Talk to your clients to make sure they have retargeting set up for those carts, whether it’s ads or emails, and make sure their sites are set up to implement it ahead of Black Friday.

Audit Their Search Functionality

A good search function on an ecommerce sites can help place customers with products they’re trying to find – a bad one can send them somewhere else. Audit your clients’ search plugins, and if they don’t have one, be sure to get one setup ASAP.

Elasticsearch 

Make Sure Brick and Mortar Clients Are Using a Cloud POS

If your clients are running physical stores and online stores, be sure to have them use a cloud POS that will integrate the data across both the website and in-store purchases. 

Hostdedi has just partnered with Oliver POS for our WooCommerce clients, and it’s a fantastic solution that not only integrates this data, but does it for free on an open source platform that you can create custom apps for.

Learn More About Oliver POS

Clarify Terms For Free Shipping With Your Clients and Set It Up

Studies show time and time again that free shipping, even with an elevated product cost, triggers more customers to buy. Be sure to clarify the threshold for free shipping, program it into the checkout, and communicate it clearly across the site.

You’ll also want to clarify the time it takes to deliver items clearly throughout the site and checkout.

Have a User-Friendly Return System Ready

Simple, free returns keep customers coming back. Have a returns policy and process clearly outlined on your site, and make it easily accessible to customers.

Have a Plan for the Unexpected

Site performance is going to be your biggest concern as a developer during the holiday shopping season. The weakest link is ALWAYS going to be the potential for a site to crash and keep you on the phone all night with hosting support working on a fix.

If you’re not working with a managed platform like Hostdedi, you’re going to need to more closely monitor site performance and bandwidth.

But with Hostdedi, you can clock out at five.

Thanks to our auto scaling, your client’s sites will automatically get the resources they need when traffic spikes, with the first 24 hours of auto scaling completely free of additional charges.

Learn more about Hostdedi Managed WooCommerce and Magento hosting, and we’ll handle the migration for you.

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What is a 502 error?

Is your website throwing 502 errors? You’re not alone.

Plenty of site owners encounter this error page from time to time. It’s typically a problem related to an overwhelmed server that’s getting too many simultaneous requests. Fortunately, there are some things you can do about it.

Error 502s can present in a lot of different ways, and you can, in fact, code how these pages will be displayed. Here are just a few examples of what a 502 error page might say:

  • 502 Bad Gateway
  • Error 502: Bad Gateway
  • HTTP 502
  • Temporary Error (502)
  • 502 Service Temporarily Overloaded
  • Error 502

You get the idea.

What Causes An Error 502 Bad Gateway?

There are several HTTP status codes that a browser can display as a way to tell you that something has gone wrong, and what the error correlates to.

In the case of an error 502 bad gateway, this error code typically indicates that the server was not able to fulfill the request and load the page for the user.

There are a few different things that can cause an error 502 page to show up for a user, but most often, they’re typically related to two things: server capacity, and concurrent users, i.e. how much traffic the server your site is hosted on can handle, and how many users are making requests on your website.

The Cost of a 502 Error for An Ecommerce Site

The typical internet user navigates away from a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. When your site gives them a 502 error message, how many users do you think will stick around and refresh the page? And once they leave, how many users will come back an hour or a day later?

Slow site speed coupled with 502 errors can make a dent in your conversion rate, ultimately costing you revenue and site profitability.

How to Fix a 502 Error

On the site owner side, a 502 error usually means there aren’t enough resources available to serve your webpage to all of your users. What’s likely the issue is that your host’s server is getting more traffic than it can handle. To fix this, you either need to upgrade your plan, or switch to a host with auto scaling (like us), so that when your site does get a traffic spike, users aren’t getting 502 errors.

When you switch over to Hostdedi, you’ll get a free site migration, a two-week free trial, and up to 24 hours of free auto scaling included with your plan – with no need to upgrade until you’re actually ready.

This means that the next time you do get a traffic spike, our servers will automatically compensate and deploy additional PHP workers, not only managing the extra traffic and preventing 502 errors, but keeping your website fast and high-performance.

If you’re stuck in a contract with your current host, Hostdedi will buy you out of it – click here to learn more about our Cover Your Costs program.

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What is Server Time/UTC Time?

If you’ve ever had to work with servers, you’re probably familiar with UTC time, also known as Coordinated Universal Time. UTC time is the standardized time used by most computers and servers around the world.

On some level, any time your server does anything at a specific time or on a schedule, you’re using UTC time. Here’s a few examples:

  • Scheduling a sale
  • Scheduling a blog post
  • Charging someone’s monthly subscription order
  • Sending out follow up emails

UTC Offset

UTC is universal. For example, if my New York, USA server and my server in Sydney, Australia should have the exact same UTC time.  This works well for computers while humans use the local time for keeping time. 

To make times a little easier to work with servers, use an offset.

  • New York uses UTC-4h or UTC-5h when not in daylight savings time.
  • Sydney uses UTC+10h and UTC+11h when in daylight savings.

These offsets will affect all of your scheduled actions. If you have a blog post scheduled for 8am the server will use the offset to determine when the post should publish.

Application Offset

In addition to a UTC offset for your server time, there are also application offsets. Here’s the timezone settings in WordPress which can be found under Settings -> General:

Whatever application you use (WordPress, Magento, etc.), you’ll likely have similar timezone settings.

These applications will often guess or set a default location. Sometimes this is based on your server location. For example, if my store is in Denver (which is mountain time) and my server is in New York (eastern time) my application will likely assume I want to use eastern time.

And if I want to close an application or end a sale at midnight it might actually end at 10pm mountain time and midnight eastern time. You’ll always want to check your applications local time to make sure it’s correct.

Why Are My Scheduled Actions Firing At the Wrong Time?

Generally speaking, you don’t have to know what UTC time is. But when you run into an application not working correctly, you’ll have to dig in and see where a time is set incorrectly.

  1. First, you’ll want to check your application (WordPress, Magento, etc.) and make sure those settings are correct.
  2. If your application settings are correct, then you’ll want to make sure your server has it’s offset set correctly. 

If you’re using Managed WordPress, Managed WooCommerce, or Magento Cloud you can reach out to support for help. We’ll make sure your UTC time is set correctly, check your application settings, and point you in the right direction if it’s a 3rd party app.

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The Top 5 SEO Plugins for WordPress Compared

Whether your WordPress website is a personal blog, ecommerce store, or hosting website, choosing the right SEO plugin shouldn’t be ignored. In this post, we’re comparing the top SEO plugins for WordPress, so you can learn how to best optimize your site for search engines. Doing this the right way will improve your search visibility, page and post ranking, boost your traffic, and improve your sales. 

You may have heard about the Yoast SEO plugin by now which is currently the most popular All-In-One SEO tool for WordPress.

But, did you know that there are also other well viable options on the market as well? SEO Optimization tool Rank Math has built a huge and successful community in a short period.

This proves that while you are building your fantastic website with quality content, ready for visitors to consume, you don’t have to think about things such as; will anyone see my content or if my website is good enough.

With so many great solutions out there, driving the website traffic has never been this easy.

In this article you will learn the following:

  1. What are SEO Plugins for WordPress
  2. SEO tips everyone should use
  3. 6 Best SEO Plugins compared

Let’s get started!

What are SEO Plugins for WordPress

The great thing about SEO plugins is that even if you are not SEO-savvy, you can still take advantage of the latest SEO tweaks. They provide a great all-in-one solution for the end-user.

All you have to do is choose the Plugins option on your WordPress Dashboard, click “Add New”, type the name of the plugin in the search bar, Install, and Activate.

Most of these SEO Tools come either with a free version and optional premium version as well. Just keep in mind that none of these tools is a perfect “do-it-all” option. 

There are a lot of other things to consider when it comes to search engine optimization such as keyword research.

This brings us to the next chapter.

SEO Tips You Should Consider

Even though all-in-one SEO tools are great, there are other important things you have to do as well.

If ranking high on Google and other search engines was easy as walking, everyone in the world would have a successful website and do this.

Since that is not the reality, and the majority of published posts don’t get any traffic, here are some useful SEO tips that we recommend.

KEYWORD RESEARCH

This is the most important step to take. There are many great free and paid tools that will ease your keyword pursuits such as Ahrefs and Ubersuggest.

Once you have found a niche with relatively low competition you are ready to go. Oh and don’t forget to export as many keywords as you can for future use.

USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

You have published a few posts and pages, so what do you do next? Share all your post on all major social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Pinterest.

Join all major groups, follow the biggest profiles, and don’t forget to take part in discussions as often as possible.

To rank your page on the first page of search engines, you shouldn’t forget to build links from other websites and use internal links.

Since links are an important ranking factor and each acquired backlink is viewed differently by Google, do not sleep on this.

Now, let’s see which plugins made our top list.

Our Top 5 favorite SEO Plugins for WordPress

1. Yoast SEO

[ embed video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUmVHHvsLsw ]

PRICING: Free/Premium(from $104.50)
ACTIVE INSTALLATIONS: 5+ million
WP SCORE: 4.9 out of 5

KEY FEATURES: 

  • Keyword optimization
  • Readability check
  • Redirect feature
  • Google Search Console integration
  • Automatic creation of XML sitemap
  • Excluding the “noindex” types of content from being indexed in search engine results
  • Title and meta description templates
  • Duplicate content detection
  • Regular updates
  • Open Graph data for sharing posts on social media

Yoast SEO is the most popular SEO tool for WordPress, and for a reason. It has over 5 million active installations and over 25.000 five star user reviews.

It comes as a free and premium version. While the premium option comes with extra things like redirect manager, internal link suggestions and block, content insights. The free option is great as well.

It is the complete SEO tool that helps websites to rank higher in search engines, and the Yoast team provides regular support on wordpress.org forums(Premium Users).

Anyone new or old to WordPress should at least give the free Yoast version a try.

2. Rank Math

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PRICING: Free/Premium(coming in Fall 2020)
ACTIVE INSTALLATIONS: 500.000+
WP SCORE: 4.9 out of 5

KEY FEATURES: 

  • Easy to follow Setup Wizard
  • User-Friendly Interface
  • Google Webmaster Central Integration(In progress)
  • Keyword Comparison & Google Trends Tool(TBA)
  • Google Crawl Errors
  • Contextual Help (tooltips, notices, help tabs, etc)
  • Image SEO
  • Schema rich snippets and article schema
  • News Sitemap for Submitting Websites on Google News(TBA)
  • Ping Search Engines
  • Manage meta tags such as noindex, noarchive and such

Rank Math is the new player in the SEO website optimization game and the fastest-growing as well. Some would argue that it’s also the most powerful.

This fantastic tool lets you optimize your website for search engines and social media. Unlike Yoast, Rank Math is still a free tool packed with premium options which otherwise, you would have to pay for.

The premium version is gonna be released very soon with more features that are announced on their official Facebook page. If you are still doubting whether you should switch from Yoast to Rank Math, don’t worry, you can do this easily by the 1-click migration wizard which comes integrated by default.

3. All-In-One SEO Pack

PRICING: Free/Premium(from $57)
ACTIVE INSTALLATIONS: 2+ million
WP SCORE: 4.7 out of 5

KEY FEATURES: 

  • XML Sitemap support 
  • RSS Sitemap
  • Google AMP support
  • Google Analytics support
  • Schema.org Markup
  • Support for SEO on Custom Post Types
  • ONLY free plugin to provide SEO Integration for e-Commerce sites, including WooCommerce
  • Nonce Security built into All in One SEO Pack
  • Generates META tags automatically
  • Built-in API so other plugins/themes can access and extend its functionality

If you don’t want to use Yoast or Rank Math, consider the All-in-One SEO Pack as your third option. As with the before-mentioned plugins, it also does the same thing, and it has a clean and user-friendly interface.

It offers a wide range of features, both free and paid tools to which help your website. One of the neat features this plugin offers is that you can use it to edit .htaccess file without FTP and edit your robots.txt file which is suited even for complete beginners.

As with Yoast and Rank Math, it also supports AMP (Google-friendly mobile version of your website). You can also optimize the WooCommerce store for SEO, and it’s packed with additional addons as well.

Clean, simple, and more affordable than Yoast. 

4. SEOPress

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PRICING: Free/Premium for $39
ACTIVE INSTALLATIONS: 100.000+
WP SCORE: 4.9 out of 5

KEY FEATURES: 

  • Redirections and 404 monitoring
  • Google Analytics stats in your WordPress dashboard
  • Video XML Sitemap
  • Titles & metas
  • XML sitemap
  • HTML sitemap
  • Backlinks from integration with Majestic
  • Keyword suggestions for your content via Google’s Suggestion tool
  • Google Structured Data Types: product, recipe, review, FAQ, course, article, event, local business, and video
  • Google Page Speed integration

SEOPress is a popular, fast, and simple SEO friendly plugin tool for website optimization. This is all thanks to its affordable price, clean interface that comes with a comprehensive set of features.

As with other SEO plugin tools in this list, expect to find open graph support, image, and content, XML sitemaps, meta title, and description features integrated within the plugin.

This means that you don’t have to slow down your website with other plugins that do one specific thing since SEOPress provides that in one affordable package. 

What differentiates this plugin from others in its price range is a unique feature of discovering new keywords via Google’s Suggestion tool.

5. SEO Framework

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PRICING: Free/Premium(from $7)
ACTIVE INSTALLATIONS: 100.000+
WP SCORE: 4.9 out of 5

KEY FEATURES: 

  • Duplicated content protection
  • XML Sitemap(Basic & Google News)
  • SEO Management for Robots direction, 301 redirects, and Canonical URLs
  • SMO manage­ment for Open Graph, oEmbed, RSS manage­ment
  • Includes structured data for breadcrumbs, corporate contact, blog posts, site links, search box
  • Automation for the title, robots, Facebook tags, Twitter card, and structured data generation
  • Google Search Console integration 
  • Bing webmasters tools 
  • Pinterest Analytics
  • Google AMP

SEO Framework is the only plugin on the list which claims to be a white hat SEO tool and it’s a great alternative to Yoast and Rank Math.

More lightweight than others and can intelligently generate critical SEO meta tags. This is achieved by reading a user’s WordPress environment in any language.

Design vise, the plugin is clean, simple, and looks like a part of WordPress. What it offers differently than others in the game is a colorful scale that shows you exactly what should you do next.

You can start with SEO Framework for free without any obstructive ads harassing you while you work. I would single out two fantastic features of this plugin and those are:

  • Uses a focus subject instead of a focus keyword, encouraging you to write more naturally 
  • Without any additional plugin, SEO Framework removes spam comments

Side-by-Side Comparison

Let’s do a quick rundown of all five Seo Plugins, compare their features, and see how they stack against each other. 

While Rank Math is completely free and has clear advantages against other plugins, keep in mind that a premium version is coming out in the coming months.

Yoast Rank Math All-In-One SEO Pack  SEOPress SEO Framework
Free Version Available Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Annual Pricing $39/site N/A $57/site $39/site $105/two sites
Rank Tracking Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
On-Page Optimization Premium Yes No No No
XML Sitemap Yes Yes Premium Yes Yes
Customer Support Premium Yes Premium Yes Yes

Conclusion

SEO can get hard and confusing without the right tools. While using any of the mentioned tools is great on its own, here are some other options to accompany top SEO plugins for WordPress you should check out:

If we had to choose only one from all of these plugins, that would be Yoast in case you want a right-out-of-the-box simple and easy-to-use plugin. Otherwise, Rank Math is a tremendous option for those who like to fiddle around with extra features.

Either way, your website needs SEO optimization, so it’s best to just pick one tool and stick with it, as there is something for everyone on the list.

It is alright if you don’t become an SEO expert in one day, as these things take time. Try to take it easy and have fun.

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The Benefits of Enabling Password Protection

Using password protection provides an added layer of security to your website. When password protection is enabled, any visitor requesting access to view your website url, or temporary domain name, will trigger a prompt asking for a username and password to gain entry. Once a user provides valid credentials, they will have access to the website as normal. 

This is a handy tool during the migration process to a Hostdedi cloud hosting plan or upgrading your existing hosting plan. After the migration process is finished, enabling password protection should be standard practice for website owners who want to verify everything is working as normal, before changing DNS records and sending traffic to the new server. This process is also known as going live.

It is recommended that all staging and development sites enable password protection to prevent search engine bots crawling the site, indexing content and providing links on the search results pages.

Customers not on a cloud hosting account, or unable to enable password protection by following the steps in this article are encouraged to create a support ticket and talk to a support technician.

The benefits of enabling password protection

It’s a common practice these days for website owners and developers to utilize a staging and/or development environment. There are many benefits including the proper way to test WordPress updates, fix/determine the issue of a bug and to even rebuild the website while keeping the production site fully intact.

Three of the major benefits to enabling password protection include: 

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Page Rank
  2. Sales on the correct website
  3. Hidden from hackers

SEO & Page Rank

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the key to every  website being found on the internet. Each page, post or e-commerce product can have it’s own individual SEO strategy while contributing to the overall success of the website itself. Once a page is published on your website, search engine robots crawl your site and start assigning value to the page in order to help determine the overall score. This score is used to determine where your website ranks in a Search Engine Result Page. Also known as SERPs. 

One of the biggest benefits to having password protection enabled is the privacy from search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. These services provide robots that crawl the internet and index all available information. Which is great for any Production website using an E-commerce solution. However, duplicate content and outdated information can hurt your page rank. In almost every case, a staging or development site is a direct copy from production. Enabling password protection denies every visitor to the site, human or robot, unless a username and password are provided. Eliminating any chances of a secondary site to harm the SEO & page rank of your live website.

The same is true during the migration process. Technically speaking, when you sign up for a Managed WordPress Hosting plan, our services create a temporary domain name in order for the site to become “alive” in order to import or migrate a website from one host to another. After the migration process, if you do not enable the password protection feature, you run risk of having multiple websites saying the same thing. And all  you were trying to do was move hosts. 

Sales on the correct website

If a search engine bot is able to identify and crawl a secondary website, the search engine will start to index the page and deliver the search results to an end user. Which is never a good thing. Especially these days when we start talking about desktop and mobile traffic. Users on a desktop device might take notice of the website address and realize they are in the wrong place. However, not everyone knows different website environments and will consider the site they are currently using to be the “Production” or live website. The user will place a transaction on the staging site and will expect their products to be downloaded or delivered. Enabling password protection on your secondary site can prevent this from happening in the future.

This in itself might cause more issues down the line.If a sale is made on the Staging site, the same will not show on the Production site. The sale will also be incorrectly identified. Meaning the sales id could be #112 on the staging site, but the production site’s last sale was id #674839. Other things like remarketing, analytics tracking and email drip campaigns can also be missed as the staging site was not created to do the same things as production.

Hidden from Hackers 

Having one website is enough to worry about. Not just the maintenance and execution of the site. High ranking websites are often seen as potential targets. Production websites are usually thought of as “Stable” and very unlikely to be exposed to a potential hack. Mainly because the code living on the Production environment has been tested and vetted by the team. Which is a great thing. A secondary website might not be so lucky. 

There have been many cases where a new version of a WordPress theme or plugin has discovered a security issue and needs to be fixed. Well, if you installed the latest version of the theme or plugin, the secondary environment is now susceptible to an attack. Due to the code still being in place and the website being a front facing public entity. Enabling password protection will stop any hack attempt from happening on the front end of the website.

Setbacks to using Password Protection

Newton’s third law states “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The same is true with enabling password protection. Requiring a username and password be entered in order to view the website can be tough enough. Especially if you’re running a team of more than a few people. Hopefully everyone is using a tool like a password manager and has access.

Another setback to using password protection is denying data to be delivered from one site to another. When using a WordPress plugin like Jetpack, users have the option of using the WordPress.com CDN and a feature called Photon. When enabled, all images inside of the media library are uploaded to the Photon CDN. When a page is loaded, WordPress loads the image from the CDN and not the media library. This is a practice commonly used to enhance page speed. However, when Jetpack is enabled on a secondary environment with password protection enabled, the images will not load on page. Your only option is to disable the Photon feature or remove the password protection.

Headless WordPress is another area where password protection can cause more harm than good. Headless WordPress uses the backend of WordPress plus the WordPress Rest API to provide a data endpoint. This data endpoint is used by popular Javascript libraries like React and Gatsby to build the front end of a website or application. If the website has password protection on, the front end of the website or application will not be able to show any content. This can be hazardous to teams when trying to debug an issue, fix an error or build a new feature.

It’s very important to understand that Password Protection is used to hide the content of a website from visitors passing through. Password Protection does not stop access to the server itself. A developer can use a SFTP program, the command line and deployment methods to manipulate the website files. If a hacker was to gain access to those credentials, the results could be detrimental to the environment, website and business.

Enabling password protection in the Hostdedi portal

You will need to login to the portal to enable password protection.

In the Hostdedi portal, click on the Plan tab to view your current hosting plans.

Click on the name of a hosting plan to access the plan dashboard.

Next you will see a list of websites installed on the plan. Click on the name of the website to access the site dashboard.

Once inside of the site dashboard, click on the access tab. 

Once the table loads, you’ll see the section titled “Password Protection”. 

There is a toggle switch customers can use to enable the feature. Customers are provided with the username on screen. Customers must click on View Password to retrieve the password to gain entry to the website. Customers can also reset the password at any time. 

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