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Which WordPress News Plugin Is Right for You?

Which WordPress News Plugin Is Right for You?

Which WordPress News Plugin Is Right for You?If you’re a news publisher, a news section is your bread and butter. If you’re a business, a news section provides a place to publish recent successes and upcoming events. If you’re an independent developer, a news section lets you keep your followers up to date on recent changes.

Regardless of who you are, a news section can add value to your site. The question is, how can you integrate it into your site in the best way possible.

WordPress offers a number of plugins to help improve click-through and reduce bounce rate on news items. Most of these come in the form of sliders, grids, carousels, and tickers.

We checked several different news plugins from the WordPress plugin directory to find out which work best. Keep reading to see a narrowed down list of the top six.

The first plugin on our list, WP News and Scrolling Widgets, is one of the more powerful and well known WordPress news plugins. It allows sites to create, manage, and display news content through widgets, sliders, and grids, in addition to being a news management tool separate from WordPress pages and posts.

Once installed, the plugin adds a News tab to the WordPress admin panel. In this tab, users can easily add, edit, and manage news content. The news editor itself is very similar to the standard editing interface you’ll find with WordPress posts and pages. It allows you to create content, set an excerpt and feature image, and select what categories and tags should apply.

The News tab in the WP News plugin

Once you’ve created content, a range of shortcodes are available for site owners to make customized news widgets. The news widgets can filter content based on category, date, and type. Customizations can also be made to how content is displayed. A guide on managing this process can be found in the How It Works subheading.

By default, WP News does not offer a huge number of features, and its only real benefit is the management section. For customization, you’ll find just four shortcodes for displaying content in either grid or list views. If you pay and upgrade to pro, your options increase significantly.

How WP News Shortcode works

Pro offers over 120 designs, along with 6 shortcodes, Visual Composer page builder support, a recent news display type, 100% multi language support, the ability to add custom CSS, and drag and drop ordering for content organization.

Pricing for pro starts at $149 for a personal, lifetime license. If news is a big part of your site, it may be worth paying for the added functionality. If you don’t want to spend anything, it’s probably better to stick with something else on this list.

Pros

  • Incredible customization options
  • 120+ different layouts and the ability to use Google Fonts
  • Integration with social media
  • Custom CSS

Cons

  • Requires premium to get the most out of it

Fancy News is a simple and easy to use news slider plugin. Instead of adding a complex series of steps to the process of selecting what news is show, Fancy news provides a single, easy to use shortcode generator in the Tools section of the WordPress admin interface.

Unfortunately, this provides only a limited number of options for customization, as well as content curation. For example, recent news cannot be featured without the aid of an RSS feed to pull from. Design-wise, typical customizations can be made, including size, excerpts, speed, color, and links.

Fancy News Customization options

Fancy News is a great free editor, but doesn’t offer some of the functionality you’ll find with WP News and Scrolling Widgets.

Pros

  • Allows for automatic filtering of news content based on your preferences
  • Offers a shortcode builder to maximize the plugin’s capabilities
  • Supports auto sliding

Cons

  • Lacks some of the powerful features found in other News slider plugins
  • Relatively basic customization options

WP News is a stable, easy to use news plugin that allows for news sites to create and display customizable sliders, carousels, and news tabs.

As far as news plugins go, WP News offers a no-frills, easy to manage news curation experience. By default, you’ll find six different WordPress widgets included, with each including its own style options. The customization here is limited, as can be seen by one of the features being “Unlimited Color Variation”.

Despite this lack of customization, the plugin itself is very lightweight and requires fewer server resources when compared with alternatives. Moreover, WP News comes with a unique feature you won’t find elsewhere on this list: it is an Elementor Addon.

Elementor is a custom WordPress page builder. Used by over 2 million sites, it provides users with a drag and drop interface for creating new content and optimizing old.

The WP News addon for Elementor means improved integration, so site builders can create complex user experiences more easily, while also implementing a lightweight news plugin for news curation.

WP News is available for free from the WordPress plugin directory.

Pros

  • Simple, easy to use news plugin
  • Support for sliders, carousels, and tabs
  • Is an Elementor addon

Cons

  • Lacks some of the functionality of alternatives
  • Limited support
  • Requires Elementor to work

Simple News is another lightweight news plugin designed to allow content creators to output unordered lists. It does this by adding a new post type called “News”.

In terms of customization, Simple News offers four image sizes, and a single style for the widget itself. It is possible, however,  to remove the default and insert your own CSS. Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as some of the point and click customization interfaces offered by alternatives.

Simple News customizer is incredibly simple

Overall, Simple News is great if you’re looking for something simple. Otherwise, it may be better to create your own custom news feeds with the coding knowledge you would put into custom CSS here.

Pros

  • Adds a new post type “NEWS” to the WordPress editor
  • Easy to use Shortcodes
  • Easy to add widget
  • Ability to filter results by Category ID

Cons

  • Advanced Customization requires CSS knowledge
  • Lacks functionality compared with alternatives

One of the best news tickers available, Ditty News Ticker lets site owners create customized news tickers across their site. An unlimited number of ticks can be added, with the ability to edit content, links, and destination (new or same tab).

From a design perspective, Ditty News Ticker also allows you to edit how the ticker appears in pages. You can change dimensions, speed, display type, and more. Once you decide on the ticker settings, you can easily insert into pages, posts, and widgets with either shortcode or a direct php function.

Ditty News Ticker editing interface

 

The ability to add unique ticker content is something you don’t find with several other news tickers, and means you can optimize content based around your goals, instead of just settling on the default.

Pros

  • Great customization options compared with other tickers
  • Ability to add custom shortcode easily

Cons

  • Somewhat difficult to navigate

More lightweight than Ditty, PJ is a news ticker that does what it says on the package and little else.

Edits to the look and feel of the PJ News Ticker must be performed through the settings section of the WordPress interface. From here, it’s possible to edit the header, color scheme, speed, font size, and content.

PJ News Ticker Settings

Once you’ve decided on what you want the ticker to look like, you can easily insert it into your site with shortcode. This allows you to select custom post types, categories, or the 5 most recent posts.

PJ won’t give you the same level of customization as Ditty, but it does provide a solid, easy to manage news ticker capable of automatically delivering your most recent content.

Pros

  • Easy to use interface
  • Lightweight plugin that requires few resources

Cons

  • Shortcode customization can be troublesome
  • Lacks the customization options of other news tickers

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What Happens When A Link To Your WordPress Site Is Clicked?

What Happens When A Link To Your WordPress Site Is Clicked?

What Happens When A Link To Your WordPress Site Is Clicked?You’re reading this article, which means you clicked a link, a string of characters that uniquely identifies this document, one of the billions on the web. You might have clicked a link on the Hostdedi blog’s index page, or a page of Google search results, or a Facebook page. But wherever you came from, you got here in the same way, and that process is what we’re going to talk about.

The Domain Name System

When you click a link in a hypertext document, you ask the browser to download and display the associated content. Before the browser can download anything, it needs to know which of the millions of servers on the web has that page. The human-readable web address (URL) doesn’t encode that information in a way that is useful to machines. The web address must be translated into an IP address that can be used to route information around the web. That’s the job of the Domain Name System (DNS).

There are two types of DNS server: recursive and authoritative. Recursive DNS servers are responsible for finding out the IP address associated with a URL. They’re usually managed by the ISP that provides the internet connection a browser is using, although not always. An authoritative DNS server knows the IP addresses for a chunk of the web. Recursive servers ask authoritative servers for the relevant IP address.

Recursive DNS servers are like librarians: they know a lot, but not everything. Often they need to consult authoritative external resources to answer a question, and in the DNS system, that’s the authoritative DNS server.

The browser sends a request to the recursive DNS server. If it knows the IP address of the site, it sends it to the browser immediately. If it doesn’t, it has to ask authoritative DNS servers. Authoritative DNS servers are organized in a hierarchy, an upside-down tree. At the top are root servers that know which authoritative DNS servers are responsible for .com, .net, and so on.

If the host’s web address is blog.nexcess.net, the authoritative DNS server that knows about .net addresses is asked which server knows about nexcess.net addresses. Then the DNS server that knows about nexcess.net is asked about blog.nexcess.net.

Our authoritative DNS servers know which IP is associated with blog.nexcess.net, so it tells the recursive DNS server the browser queried, which then tells the browser. At this point, the browser has the information it needs to send a request to the server hosting our blog.

A Note On Simplification

In this article, we’re focusing on DNS, HTTP, and TCP. These protocols and systems are the top of a deep stack of technologies, so our description is partial — we’re missing a lot out because it’s not relevant to most WordPress clients.

The HTTP Request

The browser knows the IP address of the server hosting our blog, so it sends the server a message announcing that it would like to open a connection. There is a bit of back and forth chatter between the browser and the server, following which a TCP connection is established between the two. TCP/IP is the network protocol one layer down from HTTP, the protocol of the web.

The server and the browser are talking to each other, so it’s time for the browser to get to the point. It sends the server a message that looks something like this:

GET /a-blog-article HTTP/1.1
Host: blog.nexcess.net

This asks the server to retrieve the resource /a-blog-article on the server at blog.nexcess.net. Assuming that such a resource exists, the server sends a response, which includes headers with details about what is being sent and a response body — the HTML of the article itself.

Now the browser has the HTML, but before we talk about the rendering process, let’s loop back to look at what happened on the server before the HTML was sent.

WordPress

WordPress doesn’t send the browser pre-made HTML. When the browser sends a request for a page on a WordPress site, the HTML is built on-the-fly in the milliseconds between request and response. WordPress is composed of dozens of files in the PHP programming language and its these files that build the page. When they run, the PHP files combine data from the database with templates to create a complete page of HTML.

It is this ability to generate HTML dynamically that makes WordPress so flexible and powerful. Each request can be answered with different content, providing a unique experience to each user. HTTP itself is stateless: it remembers nothing between requests, which would make a complex session-based web application impossible. But with session cookies and dynamic page generation, WordPress can provide an app-like experience from the server.

If you want to know more about how WordPress generates pages, take a look at What Is The WordPress Loop?

The Browser

The browser has the HTML document, but there is more to be done before it can render the page. A web page is made of more than just HTML. HTML controls the structure of the document and its textual content, but its appearance is determined by CSS. Many pages also include JavaScript for interactive or dynamic features.

CSS and JavaScript files are linked to in the <head> section of an HTML page. The browser sees those links, downloads the resources, and uses them to shape the final page. Once this initial data is downloaded, the JavaScript is executed, and it may want to download more resources from third-party servers. Each resource included in an HTML page kicks off a response-request cycle similar to the one we have already described: DNS, TCP connection setup, HTTP request, and so on. You can see why including lots of third-party resources makes for slow page-loads.

Once everything is fetched, the browser has what it needs to render the document and display it to the user.

Small Delays, Large Latencies

As you can see, a lot happens between a click and a rendered web page. Small delays at each stage add up to substantial latencies. The browser can’t do anything until the DNS server sends it the right IP address. If the web hosting server is slow to respond, the browser is left waiting. If WordPress doesn’t have the resources it needs to quickly execute PHP files and query the database, page rendering is delayed. Web pages that fire off a lot of additional requests and include multiple large JavaScript files introduce numerous delays. Geographic distance between the server and browser slows everything down.

Responsibility for optimizing each of these steps is split between the web hosting provider and the site owner. We take care of DNS performance, network optimization, server resources, and more, ensuring that we can deliver data as quickly as possible. But as a site owner, you are responsible for optimizing page sizes and the number of external resources each page loads.

Together, our performance-optimized hosting and a well-optimized front-end experience make for a fast and responsive user experience.

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How Does WordPress Work?

How Does WordPress Work?

As a WordPress hosting client, you don’t need to know how WordPress works behind the scenes. In fact, WordPress was created so that people could focus on writing and publishing, not on the technical details. But it’s useful to have a basic grasp of what’s happening under the hood of your WordPress site. It may help you to diagnose problems more easily and understand why WordPress behaves as it does.

The Building Blocks of a WordPress Site

Carl Sagan once said that “if you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” Something similar is true of a complex piece of software like WordPress. If you wanted to fully understand WordPress, you’d have to be a developer, a network engineer, a database administrator, and a designer. It would take (several) books to explain the WordPress universe from scratch, so let’s stick with the basic building blocks.

WordPress is a PHP application that relies on three key components: a web server, a database, and a programming language interpreter.

  • Apache. Apache is a web server. It is responsible for listening for requests from a browser and sending a response – the web page – back. After Apache receives a request, it gives the URL and other information to WordPress, which then generates the web page.
  • MySQL. MySQL is a relational database – it stores information in tables. All of the blog posts on a WordPress site are stored in a table called wp_posts, for example.
  • PHP interpreter. WordPress core is a collection of files that contain code written in the PHP programming language. It is the execution of these files that generates web pages.

The PHP files can be divided into two basic groups: template files and files that contain functions – reusable chunks of code – and constants that are used in templates and elsewhere in WordPress’ code. WordPress is a content management system, so the template files are the most interesting from our perspective. They generate the web pages.

Generating a HTML Page

When the Apache web server receives a request for a page, WordPress first runs a number of set-up scripts, including the wp-config.php file that provides information such as which database WordPress should use.

After the set-up phase is complete, WordPress starts the process of generating an HTML page by executing a template file. The template files are a mixture of HTML and PHP. The role of the PHP code is to fetch data from the MySQL database and to process it into HTML. Exactly which HTML is output depends on various factors: the available data, which user is logged in, the time of day, and more. Other functions are executed on template pages, but the ultimate goal is to dynamically generate an HTML page that can be sent to the requesting browser.

There are many template files and which one is executed depends on a complex set of rules, but is primarily determined by the URL of the request. For example, if the URL is the site’s home page and the site is configured to display a list of blog posts, the home.php file is executed, unless there is a front-page.php file, in which case that is executed.

The full template hierarchy for the front page looks like this:

There are templates for posts, pages, tag indexes, category indexes, the 404 page, and more. Most of them are provided by the site’s theme.

Hooking In

You might have noticed that we haven’t mentioned plugins yet. Plugins can change the HTML that is rendered on a page, but their code does not live in the template files. Instead, WordPress provides a number of hooks onto which people can hang their own code. Hooks are the foundation of an event-based system for extending WordPress. Developers can register code to be executed when an event occurs. There are dozens of events developers can hook into, such as wp_loaded, which runs after WordPress is fully loaded, and pre_get_posts, which runs before a database query.

Hooks come in two varieties: action hooks and filter hooks. The difference between them is not important for our explanation of how WordPress works. It is enough to understand that the code associated with hooks can carry out actions and change the HTML that is output. For example, a hook can be used to add a widget to a page.

WordPress plugins use hooks to integrate their functionality with the HTML rendering process, and they’re one of WordPress’s major strengths. WordPress would be much less powerful if it didn’t provide a mechanism for developers to extend its functionality.

As we said at the beginning of this article, there is a lot more happening beneath the hood of a WordPress site than can be explained in a blog article, but we hope that reading this has given you a useful understanding of what happens when someone loads a page on your WordPress site.

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The 5 Best WordPress Form Plugins

The 5 Best WordPress Form Plugins

The 5 Best WordPress Form PluginsWhether you’re using them for lead collection, a means of contact, or registration pages, forms are an important part of your site. They help you manage leads and visitors more effectively, and – when done right – help to create incredible user experiences.

So, the question you should be asking is: What’s the best form plugin for WordPress? We’ve crawled through the list of over 9,000 plugins that appear when you type “form” into the WordPress plugin directory, to bring you 5 of the best.

You could just opt for the first one you see, but then you’ll probably miss out on some of the functionality and flexibility that come with alternatives. The plugins you’ll find below have been judged based on their effectiveness, user-friendliness, and ability to create a great looking form.

A powerful form plugin with a free version available for those who don’t need added features. Overall, a great form builder with a powerful interface, but the price starts to rise once you need access to its premium extensions.

Ninja Forms is a great form builder in its free version

Pros

One of the biggest advantages of Ninja Forms is that its free version is already incredibly well equipped to manage most form builds. Under the hood you’ll find integration capabilities, field control, and a translation service. Moreover, being free, you can download and install Ninja Forms on as many sites as you want.

If you’re looking for added functionality, Ninja Forms has established itself as a leading provider of form extensions. You can purchase modules for Salesforce integration, SMS notifications, and a campaign monitor.

Another advantage of Ninja Forms is its community. There to help and guide new users, it’s also comprised of a large number of devs who can help you to create custom functions easily.

Cons

Ninja Forms is a great plugin for versatility and, in general, is very easy to use. However, once you start working with action hooks and filters, the form builder can become very complicated.

Moreover, if you’re looking for specialist features such as Salesforce integration, you’re going to have to pay for it. But this is true with almost any form builder.

 

Another powerful form builder with some great functionality included for free. By far one of the most popular form plugins for WordPress, but also with additional fees if you require more.

WP forms makes building forms in wordpress simple

Pros

You would be forgiven for thinking that WP Forms is the official form building plugin for WordPress – the name, the quality, and its simplicity. But it’s not. It’s just a really easy to use and well made form builder.

The free version is powerful and will suit most user’s needs, with paid extensions available for those who want to do more. Once you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll find geolocation functionality, form abandonment, conditional logic rules, the ability to connect the form for user-submitted content, login and user registration, and more.

WP Forms also come with the Surveys and polls add-on. We’ve found this to be an incredibly powerful and versatile add-on that allows you to easily generate interactive surveys and generate real-time reports. Highly recommended.

Cons

The main idea behind WP Forms is that it’s user friendly. To do that, it sacrifices some of the more complex form building features you’ll find in the other options listed.

Moreover, as far as free versions go, WP Forms’ free offering is powerful but lacks some of the versatility you’ll find in competitors like Ninja Forms.

 

A form plugin designed to make creating forms as easy as possible with a drag and drop interface and some advanced functionality.

Everest forms makes WordPress Form Creation easier than ever before

Pros

This might just be the simplest form builder for WordPress.  Everest forms allows you to create forms by dragging and dropping the elements you want, where you want. This makes the form creation process easy. Inside the form builder, you’ll find support for multiple columns, spam protection, multiple email recipients, and a huge array of possible form fields.

Everest forms also allows you to insert forms into your pages and posts by using shortcode – making page creation a lot simpler.

Everest comes with several form design templates to choose from, so you don’t have to start from nothing. You can also view form entries directly from your dashboard, instead of having to open the plugin every time.

Cons

Its drag and drop functionality makes Everest one of our favorite form builders for beginners looking for simplicity. However, that simplicity comes with the sacrifice of flexibility. There are some features you won’t be able to implement with Everest that you would with some of the alternatives on this list. Great for small and medium sized sites, but maybe not the right tool for bigger ones.

Easy forms for Mailchimp is designed so you can add unlimited Mailchimp sign up forms to your website. The only problem is you’ll need a Mailchimp account to run it properly.

Easy forms is a great WordPress plugin for lead capture

Pros

Coming from Mailchimp, Easy Forms has a great pedigree. You can expect a premium and easy to manage experience, and a powerful toolset for list management. Moreover, with the ability to connect Easy Forms to you Mailchimp account, you’re able to better organize and coordinate your landing page and form experiences.

Easy Forms gives you easy form building functionality with the ability to use built-in CSS classes or add your own. It also allow for multiple fields, customizable success and error messages, and spam protection.

Easy Forms also allows for you to view all of your list statistics from your WordPress dashboard, a great feature for streamlining your list building efforts.

Cons

One of its biggest advantages is its biggest downfall. If you don’t have a Mailchimp account – or don’t want one – this is immediately not going to be the right plugin for you and your site.

 

The oldest and wisest of the contact form plugins. As the most downloaded contact form plugin in the WordPress plugin directory, Contact Form 7 holds a special place in the hearts of WordPress CMS builds everywhere. Unfortunately, it hasn’t kept up with the times and may be better served as a piece of nostalgia than a production site plugin.

Contact forms 7 isn't the best form plugin but it is popular

Pros

It’s free and you can install it on as many sites are you want. That means it’s perfect for use with dev sites where you don’t need to test the form capabilities (or don’t want to pay for your license to be extended).

That being said, there are several extensions available on the WordPress plugin market for you to expand functionality. For instance, you can easily add conditional fields with a free extension.

Cons

Unfortunately, that’s about where the pros stop. Contact Form 7 may be the grandad of form plugins, but age doesn’t always come with functionality. We are more likely to recommend the alternatives on this list if you’re looking for a powerful, production ready form builder.

What Is the Best WordPress Form Plugin?

If you’re looking for the best free form plugin for WordPress, then we highly recommend either WP Forms or Ninja forms. Both of these offer powerful free versions that provide great form building options. Contact Form 7 is also a good option, but doesn’t quite make it into the our top pick due to not having a great UI.

If you’re looking for something easy to use, then we would recommend Everest Forms. The UI is great and the drag and drop interface makes building any form simple.

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Cagematch: Drupal Vs WordPress

Cagematch: Drupal Vs WordPress

Drupal vs wordpressWhen it comes to designing a worthwhile website, the choice of content management system (CMS) may not be readily apparent. Complicating this choice are the almost-tribal sentiments of each system’s loyalists, each convinced of the “rightness” of their favorite. But both are open source, free to use, and provide a multitude of plug-ins and modules.  So which is the real winner of a Drupal vs WordPress standoff?

Drupal 8 just saw release, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Based on our experience, the go-to for nearly one-third of all websites is WordPress. It dominates 60% of the CMS market. Why deviate?

To find the answer, let’s toss Drupal 8 and WordPress into a cage and see who comes out on top!

Ease of Use

WordPress is known for its 5-minute install and for low barrier-to-entry. Many newbies cut their teeth on WordPress and end up with an adequate and reasonably fast, if not glamorous, website. As noted below, themes are plentiful and can easily turn a plain-Jane sight into something you’d be proud to show the public.

To get there with Drupal, you’ll need the skills of a developer. What Drupal lacks in simplicity, it makes up for in power and flexibility, but this is a deal-breaker for people that just want to publish a blog or make a small, functional website for their fledgling business.

Winner: 

WordPress is the Winner

Themes and Plug-ins

The awesome thing about WordPress is the sheer number of plug-ins and themes, and the relative ease of deploying them. Many are free, though not all are created equal, and paying for premium items can yield better support and overall product. For example, WooCommerce is free and gives limited eCommerce capabilities to WordPress, but expect to dip into your wallet if you want to add features or payment types.

For brevity, we’ll extend the definition of “plug-ins” to include what Drupal calls “modules.” Drupal has plenty of options for plug-ins and themes, though nowhere near as many as WordPress, and you’ll once again need the “D” word to properly make use of them.

Winner:

WordPress is the Winner

Security

WordPress doesn’t have a great reputation for security. Its popularity makes it an attractive target for prospective attackers, as does its status as an amateur-friendly CMS. Furthermore, while WordPress is quick to respond to security threats, the same cannot be said from many of the same plug-ins that make it so popular.  The more you add, the greater the threat becomes, as each plug-in serves as a possible vector for attack. Is it possible to maintain a secure WordPress site? Absolutely. It starts by choosing an experienced web host (*cough* we might know one *cough* *cough*), and finishes by you taking steps to stay current on each and every theme and plug-in on your site.

As long as you’re running Drupal 7 or later, you’re as safe as New York State, the Government of Australia, whitehouse.gov, Twitter, eBay, and NASA, all of whom use Drupal. This should not be interpreted to mean that Drupal sites are immune to security threats. Rather, the smaller number of poorly-coded plug-ins and themes, combined with the more developer-centric requirements, make it less vulnerable to Internet villany.

Winner:

Drupal is the Winner

Flexibility

WordPress was born as a blogging platform. It tends to be best suited for websites presenting most of their information within articles, as opposed to albums of interconnected information. Time and the devoted efforts of the open source community have diversified it considerably, although you’ll need to rely on plug-ins to broaden its functionality.

Drupal can do anything. We advise against choosing it as your blogging platform, but if you have developer know-how or the resources to hire one, the potential is virtually limitless. Drupal is also innately mobile-friendly and has stronger core support for multilingual content. Finally. WordPress plug-ins themselves tend to be “plug-and-play” solutions, while Drupal plug-ins offer richer customization capabilities.

Winner:

Drupal is the Winner

Access Control

WordPress was designed with simplicity in mind, allowing for easy and swift editorial collaboration among a handful of team members. This is great for blogging, but won’t offer enough granularity for any enterprise requiring a team with numerous roles and permissions. This can be extended with a plug-in, of course, but that’s another one to find, watch for vulnerabilities, possibly even pay for.

With a built-in access control system that allows fine-tuned control, Drupal is the clear winner here. You can create custom roles, set multiple levels of user permissions with different degrees of access, and grant multiple roles to a single user. Even if such granularity doesn’t appeal to you now, it gives you scalability if and when your team grows.

Winner:

Drupal is the Winner

Support

Both WordPress and Drupal have eager and knowledgeable online communities that love nothing better than to bring others into the fold. You’ll find no shortage of online tutorials and documentation for either platform.

That said, if you’re looking for developer support — optional for WordPress but practically mandatory for Drupal — you’ll pay more for the latter than the former. This is simple supply and demand, as WordPress developers vastly outnumber their Drupal brethren.

Winner:

WordPress is the Winner

Drupal vs WordPress: Who’s the Winner?

We know, we know! We don’t like ties, either.

Looks like you’ll have to play judge and cast the deciding vote for who has earned the right to build your site. If it helps, we’re happy to help you host WordPress or Drupal, and we’ll keep any “tribal sentiments” to ourselves.

Drupal

WordPress

Ease of UseNot user-friendly to lay persons; developer assistance advisedGets the job done easily and quickly; easy to install
Themes and Plug-insNot as many, harder to installMany and easy to install
SecurityFavored by governments; user knowledge tends to make it more resilient to attackEach theme and plug-in is a potential vulnerability; popularity makes it a favorite target of attackers
FlexibilityBetter at anything other than blogging, provided you have dev skills; innate mobile and multilingual functionalityGreat for blogging; needs plug-ins for everything else; effective plug-ins can be costly
Access ControlInnate fine-tuned controlLimited without plug-ins
SupportHelpful community, but developers are more costly than their WordPress counterpartsHelpful community, developers are optional and less costly

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10 Reasons WordPress Is a Good Choice For SEO

10 Reasons WordPress Is a Good Choice For SEO

SEO and WordPressIs WordPress really a good choice for SEO? The short answer is yes.

As an application that powers over 32.5% of the internet (we’ve got stats), WordPress has to be optimized so search engines can easily find, index, and rank content. Many professionals even recommend WordPress for SEO purposes.

If you’re a site owner and on the fence about which CMS you should be managing your content in, keep reading for 10 reasons why WordPress will improve your search engine optimization strategy.

 

1.WordPress Makes Crawling Easy

Crawling is when a search engine combs the web for new content and indexes it for when people search. It does this by reading the code that a web page is based on. If the code is messy or hard to read, crawling can be a problem. If your site isn’t crawled properly, it’s almost impossible for it to begin ranking for the search terms you want.

WordPress sites are designed so the code looks standardized across all pages of a site, making it easy for Google’s spiders to find, index, and rank pages. You just have to put in your content.

2. Site Speed

While site speed itself isn’t a ranking factor, a slow site can lead to a decrease in conversions, a higher bounce rate, and other issues that can affect your search ranking. If you’re running a WordPress site and it’s running slowly, there is likely something wrong with how you’ve optimized your CMS or with your hosting infrastructure.

In general, WordPress sites are fast and lightweight because WordPress itself uses up limited resources. You can check your site speed by using lighthouse. If you find that your site is slower than it should be, it may be a good idea to check in with your hosting provider and see if they have any advise, or try optimizing your site for yourself.

3. Social Media Integration

In one report, 82% of agencies said that their social strategy was highly integrated with their SEO strategy. With Google’s modern focus on engagement and intent, this shouldn’t be surprising. Multiple studies have indicated that social media engagement leads to improved rankings. And the higher your ranking, the more you’re expected to engage with others.

Social media is also a great tool for analyzing and iterating on what works and with who. Built-in audience insight tools such as Facebook’s Audience Insights, make defining and discovering new audiences simple. Measuring engagement with your social content then makes finding the best and most relevant content even easier.  If you haven’t started getting active on social, then it’s probably about time you did.

Meta tags area incredibly easy in WordPress

4. Meta Data

Meta data is information that will not be shown on a page but is associated with it. Title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs are good examples of meta data. This information is actually coded into the page itself, so it can be delivered to search engines and crawlers. While not always a direct ranking factor, meta data does influence a number of other factors that can lead to a higher or lower rankings.

WordPress makes meta data simple, especially if you download and install a WordPress SEO plugin.

Permalink editing is a core functionality of WordPress and its SEO benefits

5. Permalinks

Permalinks are the URLs on your site. You can easily edit permalinks through your WordPress dashboard, giving them the format your want.

Permalinks can affect your rankings through the keywords that they contain. The click-through rate on them also has an influence. The less they are clicked, the lower they will be ranked. As permalinks are shown in Google search results, users may be put off by something that looks overly complicated or irrelevant, thereby leading to a lower click-through rate.

The ability to customize WordPress permalinks is an incredibly powerful feature, and one that can help a site in danger of being lost to low rankings get back on top.

UX is an indirect effector of SEO for WordPress

6. User Experience

Good user experiences can lead to sites that do exceptionally well. The opposite is true as well. A good user experience (UX) is more complicated than just making it easy to navigate a site; it means optimizing site speed, streamlining the buyer’s journey, and more.

And these factors do contribute to a site’s ranking. If on-page content is optimized around a searched-for keyword but the bounce rate is high, it’s a clear indicator that a site’s UX isn’t up to scratch. Similarly, if a site has a less than stellar time on page, there’s probably an issue with the page’s content or the experience a user has.

WordPress makes user experience a little easier with its pre-built themes. These generally follow web design best practices and make important elements of your site clear and easy to find. All you have to worry about is on-page content.

Spam comments are easily avoided in wordpress by default

7. Blockable Spam Comments

One of WordPress’ strengths is the ability for visitors to leave comments and communicate with one another. This functionality increases engagement, time on page, and can have a positive effect on reducing bounce rate. However, not all comments are positive. Enter the dreaded spam comment.

Spam comments can have a detrimental affect on SEO by including keywords and content that are irrelevant to a page’s keyword goals. A spam post that tries to promote baby shoes on a tech blog is not what you want.

WordPress makes preventing spam comments easy through a combination of three steps:

  1. Akismet – the WordPress stock comment checker for automatically removing and blocking spam.
  2. Cookies for Comments – Detects bots and stops them from posting spam in the comments section.
  3. “Nofollow” to links in the comments – By default, WordPress makes links in the comments section “Nofollow”, meaning you don’t have to worry about passing PageRank to negative sites.

8. Optimized for Mobile

Mobile is a big deal for site owners. In 2018, 61.2% of internet users accessed websites using a mobile device. Unsurprisingly, Google and other search engines have suggested that responsive design is a ranking factor, with numerous professionals having felt that it is one of the more important factors since 2015.

WordPress, if you’re running on the latest version and taking advantage of an up-to-date theme, is responsive out of the box. This means that instead of having to focus on design that includes mobile users, you’re able to focus on your content. WordPress will do the rest.

Image optimization in WordPress can be done with good plugins

9. SEO Optimized Images

How can an image be optimized for SEO? Easy, by being quick to load and including relevant “alternative text”.

WordPress makes alternative text easy by having a box dedicated to it in the image details screen. For optimized images, installing an image optimization plugin will help you to provide site visitors with images that are quick to load while also maintaining image quality.

plugins offer WordPress a huge amount of SEO optimizations

10. WordPress SEO Plugins

One of the reasons WordPress can be a good CMS for getting started with SEO is the collection of SEO plugins available to help content creators optimize their posts and pages. Plugins like Yoast and All In One SEO make adding meta data, keywords, and tags simple.

There are also a number of other useful WordPress plugins available that can help with SEO indirectly.

  • W3 Cache is a great plugin for optimizing site speed and improving user experience.
  • Nested Pages is great for optimizing your URL structure and making content easy to navigate.
  • Speed Booster Pack helps to increase your site’s speed quickly and easily.

Remember, too many plugins and your site can become too slow. If that happens, you’re more likely to end up losing rankings as opposed to gaining them.

Improving Your WordPress Strategy

If you came to this page wondering whether WordPress is bad for SEO, you now know that it’s not. In fact, between stock features, feature-filled plugins, and a huge number of content and UX possibilities, WordPress may be one of the best CMS applications if you want to focus on SEO.

That doesn’t mean that you should stop here though. There are a number of optimizations you can implement yourself to make your site rank number 1; from optimizing your site for conversions to employing a hosting foundation that helps you to deliver the performance visitors expect.

Wonder what hosting solution is best for you? See what other users have to say by reading 2019’s State of Hosting. Download it for free now.

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WordPress Posts vs. Pages: What’s the Difference?

WordPress Posts vs. Pages: What’s the Difference?

WordPress pages vs postsPages and posts are what make WordPress such a versatile platform for content curation. Each offer unique advantages for both on-page and off-page elements, including design, functionality, aggregation, and SEO.

If you’re worried whether you’re using posts and pages correctly, keep reading. This article aims to look at the differences and provide a clear rationale for what content should go where.

 

What Is a WordPress Page?

A WordPress page is a static webpage. That’s a page that doesn’t change and isn’t part of an aggregated list. Some good examples of pages include your about page, policy pages, and any legal pages. The reason these work best as pages is that they are core pages that will not disappear from your site.

By default, pages are hierarchical. This means that some pages are given more importance than others. For example, the page at www.mysite.com/ is seen as more important than the page at www.mysite.com/page/idea. This allows for pages to be easily navigated by users and crawled by search engines.

For SEO, pages are perfectly suited to short tail keyword optimization. This means keywords with high competition and traffic volume.

What Is a WordPress Post?

A WordPress post is at the center of the CMS blogging functionality. If you’re using WordPress in order to blog, you’ll spend most of your time creating posts.

Posts are different from pages as they can be aggregated and curated in chronological order. This is done by content being archived based on the month and year it was created. Readers can then access the most recent content first. However, because of this older content is often harder to find.

One of the reasons posts are better for certain types of content is because they allow site owners to develop a community. Social sharing plugins allow for content to be shared on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and readers can leave comments and interact with one another.

Additionally, the editing experience is slightly different with posts. Down the right-hand side of a WordPress post, you’ll see several additional options that you won’t find on a page. This includes categories, tags, permalink, and excerpt. We’ll discuss these in more detail later.

WordPress Pages vs. Posts Summary


Pages

Posts

Best for core/navigational pagesBest for blog posts
Allows hierarchy structureAllows chronological ordering
Allows custom designAllows social sharing
Is a static pageAllows commenting
Not aggregated in RSS feedAggregated in RSS feed
Always easy to findCan be hard to find over time
Best for short tail SEO contentBest for long tail SEO content

The Features of WordPress Posts and Pages

Posts and pages have different functionalities available to them. The main differences are shown in the table below.


Feature

Pages

Posts

CommentsYes (but not shown)Yes
AuthorYes (but not shown)Yes
Publish DateYes (but not shown)Yes
Categories & TagsNoYes
Archive AbilityNoYes
“Sticky”NoYes
Post FormatNoYes
RSS FeedNoYes
Static PagesYesNo
Custom OrderingYesNo
Custom URL StructureYesNo

When to Use WordPress Pages or Posts

Pages and posts were created because they work best with different types of content. To help you get a better idea of what types of content should go where, we’ve put together some common examples.

Social Content: Posts

WordPress posts should be your go to if you’re planning on sharing the content socially through platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You can install social sharing plugins to fully optimize your WordPress site for this. WP Social Sharing is a popular option for many site owners.

Business Updates/ Press Releases: Posts

If you’re looking to provide users with a quick update or information on new developments in your business or industry, opt for a post. Posts allow readers to see more recent content first, and as it ages it is automatically archived. Moreover, readers will be able to comment and discuss the developments on the same page.

Blog posts should be posts in wordpress and not pages

Blog Entries: Posts

If you’re a blogger looking to create lots of content around a specific niche, then you’re probably going to be working with Posts. Posts let you easily group content with tags so it can easily be sorted thematically. This works especially well for travel bloggers, who are likely to create a lot of content based on each of the places they visit.

Posts also allow readers to access the most recent articles quickly and make it easier sharing on social media.

Tutorials: Posts

If you’re creating tutorials then posts are a better option. Posts allow for tagging and categories so you can sort the content thematically. Custom navigation pages that show all content under a particular tag or category can also be created easily by doing this.

Posts are also optimized for sharing tutorials on social media and attracting a community. Each tutorial will quickly populate with user-generated questions and answers, as readers are able to post comments on the same page.

If you want to get really fancy, it’s possible to create a custom post type in WordPress that dispenses with post features that you don’t need. For example, you can remove dates so that tutorials no longer seem ‘dated’ after a few months.

Content That Requires a Unique Design: Pages

Whether you’re creating pages with the new Gutenberg editor, the classic WYSIWYG, or have decided to use a page builder plugin, some pages will need to look unique.

Pages are the best option as posts come with specific layout settings. This is great for creating thematic links across your site, but can be a hindrance when you want something a little different. Pages are easily customized through the editor and CSS.

An About Page should be a page and the editor will look like this

About: Pages

Your about page will always be there. It will probably change over time as you update your company information, but you’re unlikely to remove it. For this reason, a page is your best choice.

Homepage: Pages

If there is one page on your site that won’t disappear, it’s the homepage. For many visitors, it will be one of the first pages they visit, meaning a unique design can make all the difference between leaving instantly, or clicking through. In case you haven’t already guessed, your homepage should be a page, not a post.

Navigational Content: Pages

By navigational content, we mean locations where several different articles or posts are brought together with a series of links. A good example in the travel niche is destination pages. These pages provide information on a destination and then link out to several different articles that look at that destination in more detail.

For tutorials, this page may provide an introduction to the course, along with a general overview, and a list of the individual lessons. readers will then be able to use this page to navigate to the tutorial they are looking for.

Navigation pages are unlikely to disappear, even if the content itself will change. These pages are not optimized for social sharing, but users are much more likely to share individual articles than they are the overview.

How will wordPress posts and pages affect SEOWordPress Posts vs Pages SEO

WordPress posts and pages differ in the way that they present on-page content to search engines. This can affect a piece of content’s SEO. However, neither a page nor a post are necessarily more beneficial than the other. Rather, the type of content that you place into either is what will lead to its real SEO benefits.

Our advice above applies to choosing the right format for the right content. If you have difficulty deciding on what is best for a piece of content not mentioned above, the general rules are as follows:

  • Posts are best for content that will be (somewhat) regularly updated or changed.
  • Posts are best for content that you want to share socially and allow commenting on.
  • Pages are best for content that will remain (for the most part) the same.
  • Pages are best for content where you want to target SEO short tail keywords.

Is There a limit on How Many Posts or Pages Can Be Created?

Nope. You can create as many posts or pages as you want with WordPress. The only limiting factor is your hosting storage. See our cloud solutions for examples of different hosting storage allowances.

 

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Your Enterprise WordPress Site Should Be In The Cloud

Your Enterprise WordPress Site Should Be In The Cloud

Enterprise organizations choose WordPress for their primary website and for secondary sites more often than any other content management system. As we reported last year, WordPress is neck-and-neck with Adobe Experience Manager for primary sites, and the clear leader for other types of sites, including marketing sites, eCommerce stores, and internal sites.

For many enterprise companies, the right CMS is obvious; choosing a hosting platform isn’t quite so straightforward. Large companies with high-traffic WordPress sites can choose between many different hosting options, but, for most, a public cloud platform specialized for WordPress is the most reliable, most scalable, and best performing hosting available.

What do enterprise organizations want from WordPress hosting? Reliability tops the list; downtime can cost millions in lost revenue. Security is also key; data leaks and malware infections cause colossal embarrassment. Scalability is just as important; large businesses need to know that their site can grow quickly, both over the long-term and to accommodate short-term traffic spikes.

Reliability

Reliability is largely a function of redundancy. A single point of failure will fail eventually, whether it’s a server, a network connection, or a power supply. Cloud platforms are not inherently redundant, but the best are engineered with redundancy at the core. A cloud platform like the Hostdedi Cloud is designed for comprehensive redundancy at the level of the network, power system, and server. No other hosting modality offers the same rock-solid redundancy.

Security

Enterprise WordPress and WooCommerce sites are juicy targets for criminals. Rich with data and users, sites owned by large businesses are targeted multiple times a day. A managed WordPress cloud platform is almost certainly more secure than alternative hosting options. The Hostdedi Cloud was built and is managed by experts in cloud technology and WordPress. Hostdedi Cloud accounts are equipped with a complete SSL Stack, Forward Secrecy, and are hosted in a PCI Compliant environment. They also benefit from a Web Application Firewall that can repel most common attacks against web applications.

Scalability

Scalability is the cloud’s killer feature. The Hostdedi Cloud is built on a large pool of compute and storage resources. Each WordPress site is allocated a slice of that pool. The size of that slice can be adjusted on the fly. Sites can be scaled rapidly without migration. The site’s hosting platform will grow organically as traffic increases over time. But it can also scale quickly in response to traffic peaks. With, cloud autoscaling, WordPress sites experiencing higher than normal loads will automatically receive additional resources.

Managed cloud WordPress hosting platforms offer the ideal mix of scalability, security, and reliability for enterprise WordPress sites. The Hostdedi Cloud combines those benefits with comprehensive performance optimization for the ultimate in enterprise WordPress hosting.

To learn more about WordPress cloud hosting and the benefits, challenges, and strategies of cloud migration, download our free ebook, A Complete Guide to Migrating Your Site to the Cloud.

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WordPress 5.1 Encourages Site Owners To Update PHP

WordPress 5.1 Encourages Site Owners To Update PHP

WordPress 5.1 Encourages Site Owners To Update PHPIs it better to maintain backward compatibility with out-of-date software or to encourage users to update to more recent versions? Backward compatibility with old versions of PHP keeps WordPress accessible to non-technical users who can’t update. On the other hand, maintaining backward compatibility is a lot of work for developers and prevents them from taking advantage of new technologies. Out-of-date software is also a security risk.

The WordPress project has tended to prefer backward compatibility. In 2019, WordPress is happy to run on a version of PHP introduced more than a decade ago. With the release of WordPress 5.1, WordPress will begin to encourage a move away from older versions of PHP, with new features that make it easier to update and that highlight when a WordPress site runs on an outdated version of PHP.

Admin Notifications of Outdated PHP Versions

WordPress 5.1 will warn admin users when their site runs on an outdated version of PHP. The site will present a notification in the dashboard that informs users of their PHP version with a link to an information page on WordPress.org. At release, the notifications will be triggered for PHP versions older than PHP 5.6. As we discussed in a recent blog post, PHP 5.6 is no longer supported, but it is the most widely used version of PHP.

The cutoff release for the notification isn’t hard-coded but provided via a new API endpoint on WordPress.org. Using an API allows the minimum version to be changed independently of the version of WordPress a site is using.

At Hostdedi, PHP versions 7.2, 7.1, 7.0 & 5.6 are available to clients. Clients can change their PHP version at any time through Siteworx, their Client Portal account, or by reaching out to our support team 24/7/365.

Plugin PHP Requirements

WordPress displays a warning when users browse plugins that are incompatible with their version of WordPress. At the moment, it doesn’t display a warning when the PHP version is incompatible. In WordPress 5.1, that will change. WordPress will warn users when they look at a plugin that doesn’t support their version of PHP. Even better, it will enforce plugin version requirements. Incompatible plugins cause a host of problems, including the “white screen of death,” so disabling the ability to install incompatible versions will prevent users from breaking their site (and reduce support requests).

White Screen of Death Protection

The white screen of death (WSOD) occurs when WordPress encounters a fatal error, often caused by plugin incompatibilities. Updating the PHP version of a site can lead to incompatibilities with older plugins and cause a WSOD. WordPress users are reluctant to risk breaking their site and possibly losing access to it altogether, so they don’t update.

WordPress 5.1 introduces WSOD Protection, which provides limited protection against errors caused by plugin incompatibilities. WSOD Protection can determine which plugin caused a fatal error and disable it in the admin interface, allowing users to access the site and fix the problem. WSOD Only works in the admin interface, because disabling plugins on the front-end can cause security and other issues.

At the time of writing, the WordPress 5.1 release candidate is available for testing. It can be installed with the Beta Tester plugin. Installing development versions of WordPress on your production site is a bad idea, but Hostdedi Cloud users can quickly create a staging site for testing.

 

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5 Takeaways From WordCamp Phoenix

5 Takeaways From WordCamp Phoenix

5 top takeaways from WordCamp Phoenix 2019PHOENIX, AZ  — Ten years of WordCamp Phoenix and it’s still as strong as ever. This year was even better, with some informative sessions from incredible speakers. Answers on content marketing, SEO, page creation, and how to optimize business practices all made an appearance.

Our team members Gasper, Amber, and Rigo were on the ground, gathering as much information as possible for those that couldn’t attend. By the end of the event, they came up with what they felt were the five best takeaways from the weekend of content.

1. Artificial Intelligence and Personalization Go Hand in Hand

75% of businesses are planning to implement AI-Based marketing solutions within the next 2 years, and there’s a reason for this. AI solutions have consistently shown that they are able to outperform standard, intuition-based marketing. Not only do they have access to vital data, but they are also able to implement solutions more quickly than their human counterparts.

AI and Machine Learning are here to stay at WCPHX

In her session, Crystal Taggart talked about how “You no longer have to be smart enough to know the difference between a cat and a dog”. While an oversimplification, her point stands: technology has now advanced to a point where it can be employed for the purposes of pattern recognition. This allows businesses to employ the best content and delivery strategies on a case by case basis.

So does this mean the end of the marketer? No. In fact, now is more important than ever to have a specialist at the helm, guiding your AI solutions towards the correct strategies and answers. While AI and machine learning solutions are able to handle the legwork, marketers will continue to set the correct goals and objectives. As discussed by Dallin Harris, a good strategist works hard to identify trends so they can exploit them.

2. It’s Time to Prepare for Voice Search

Between sessions on voice search optimization and how to adapt WordPress to power an Alexa Skill, WordCamp Phoenix offered developers a chance to discuss what and how voice capabilities and search should look. Voice search is here already, it just hasn’t been fully optimized yet.

Particularly relevant for voice search was the implication of content that doesn’t hit number 1 in search results, but number 0. These are known as featured snippets and will likely feature as one of Google’s main assets for delivering answers to voice search questions.

One session answered how to optimize content so it is more likely to appear in featured snippets. Trying to keep word count low for specific answers and the use of a single phrase just once per every 100 words, were two of the recommendations. While not a 100% foolproof system, this does allow site owners good insight into how Google is starting to adapt to voice search.

3. Technical SEO Is Important

With voice search continuing to grow, now is the time to implement technical SEO to the letter. As more marketers and agencies dial in on content strategy and implementation, it’s going to be the small things that make a difference between ranking 1 and ranking none.

WordCamp Phoenix had multiple sessions on SEO, including the Technical SEO of eCommerce & Large WordPress sites. They looked at the use of canonical tags, how to control content with noindex and nofollow tags, as well as how to implement XML sitemaps and review the Robots.txt file. These are all important for large, high-volume sites trying to leverage the most from off-page SEO.

While technical SEO did make several appearances, this does not mean that on-page and content SEO are no longer important. In fact, off-page SEO works best when aligned with on-page SEO. Instead, technical SEO has grown in importance as SERP competition continues to grow more fierce.

4. Security Is Still a Primary Concern

Security should still be at the forefront of site owners’ concerns – especially for those that use WooCommerce. Rahul Nagare talked about the importance of knowing the difference between WordPress and WooCommerce security. As a hosting solutions provider, we second this. WooCommerce requires a separate set of security precautions put in place due to being an eCommerce platform.

For example, if you are looking to manage card data, then it’s important for your store to be PCI compliant. This means that your platform conforms to standards set by the payment card industry so your customers are protected. Hostdedi ensure all of their eCommerce solutions are PCI compliant.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

One of the biggest takeaways this year: don’t be afraid to fail. Multiple speakers talked about how failure is an important step to success. Instead of trying to avoid failure, it’s important to embrace it and learn from it.

our 5 top takeaways from WordCamp Phoenix

This links to each takeaway outlined here, which in turn have been informed by multiple failures on the part of multiple developers, site owners, and users. As was talked about SEO “You will fail at first and that is okay. Learn from each mistake and you will find your success”.

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