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How to Reduce Bounce Rate on Your WordPress Site

How to Reduce Bounce Rate on Your WordPress Site

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

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

What Is Bounce Rate?

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

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

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

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

How to Find Your Bounce Rate

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

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

A few other places you may want to check include:

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

Bounce Rate by Industry

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

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

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

How to Reduce Bounce Rates

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

1. Don’t Surprise Visitors

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

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

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

Check your google additional site links2. Optimize For Content First

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

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

Optimize Your Content for Long tails

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

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

3. Optimize Your Site’s Speed

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

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

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

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

4. Avoid Pop-Ups

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

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

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

5. Make Sure Your Site Is Accessible

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

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

A website that does not use white space

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

6. Design Matters

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

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

7. Provide A Clear Route Forward

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

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

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

8. Mobile-Friendly Design

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

9. Minimize Interruptions

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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What Is The WordPress Loop?

What Is The WordPress Loop?

What Is The WordPress LoopWordPress is written in PHP, a programming language frequently used on the web. PHP code generates the HTML pages sent to a browser by querying the database to gather content and combine it with templates. From this, a final output is generated and displayed to users.

This is why WordPress is so powerful. In addition to being a content management system, WordPress is a framework: it provides functions and APIs that developers can use to build a website. In essence, a WordPress theme is a bundle of code that takes advantage of this framework.

Developing Themes with the Loop

One of the most important of the APIs provided by WordPress is The Loop. The Loop controls how content is displayed on a page. It’s used to display post listings, single posts, and pages.

It’s important to understand that a WordPress site doesn’t have only one loop. In fact, every major PHP file in a theme is a template file with a loop. This allows for WordPress developers to create unique page types that exploit their own Loop attributes.

The rest of a theme comprises CSS files and PHP files with functions that are imported into the template files.

An Example of a WordPress Loop

A basic WordPress loop looks like this:

<?php if ( have_posts() ) : while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>

<h1 class="post-title">
<?php the_title();; ?>
</h1>

<div class="post-content">
<?php the_content(); ?>
</div>

<?php endwhile; else : ?>
<?php endif; ?>


There is quite a lot going on here, so we’ll explain in sections:

<?php if ( have_posts() ) : while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>

This line begins The Loop with an if statement that checks to see whether there are any posts to loop through. Then it begins a while loop, starting The Loop proper. The code between this line and the end of the while loop will be repeated for each post (which might only be one post, depending on which file this code appears in and the URL being accessed).

Adding Content to The Loop

In order to add content to a Loop, you need to mark it out using HTML with embedded PHP. You can add information like post titles, descriptions, content, dates, authors, and more. You can also include fixed repetitive content if you prefer a certain style.

<h1 class="post-title">
<?php the_title(); ?>
</h1>

This section contains HTML with an embedded PHP function for inserting the post title. In the code, this PHP function is called the_title, which is a template tag provided by WordPress.

Template tags are used to display information from the database. Here, the post title of the current post is inserted. The next few lines of code are similar, but the the_content template tag is used to insert the post’s content.

WordPress provides several hundred template tags, and themes are largely constructed from HTML, the output of template tags, and other PHP functions provided by WordPress or created by the developer. A typical WordPress template file is longer and more complex than this simple example, but works on the same principle.

To see The Loop in use, look inside your WordPress installation’s wp-content/themes directory. The following files are likely to include The Loop:

  • index.php is the base template file that is used as a fallback if a specific template file is not present.
  • home.php is the home page template. By default it lists the blog’s posts.
  • single.php is the template for individual blog posts.

There are several other templates that might be present.

With a basic understanding of The Loop, template files, and template tags, you should be able to make minor changes to your WordPress theme, but before you do, read this post that discusses how to create a child theme.

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A Better Abstraction for Content Creation?

A Better Abstraction for Content Creation?

Gutenberg's Blocks- A Better Abstraction for Content CreationThe biggest user-facing difference between WordPress’s current editor – the classic editor – and the new Gutenberg editor is the block interface. Gutenberg is a block-based editor. But what is a block? How are blocks different to the classic editor’s familiar editing interface? Why were blocks chosen instead of some other content editing abstraction?

Leaky Abstractions

A web page is composed of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. HTML structures and contains the content. CSS determines the appearance of the content in a browser. JavaScript can modify almost anything about the page programmatically.

In WordPress, themes and plugins provide much of the HTML, CSS and JavaScript, but a large part of the HTML is based on the content that the user adds to a post or page.

WordPress users don’t often interact directly with a post’s HTML. It is possible to write content in HTML, wrapping it in the required tags, but it’s inconvenient for everyone and challenging for users who don’t know HTML. The classic editor is an abstraction from the HTML that makes it easier to write and publish content.

The user writes their post, adds images, and applies formatting. WordPress takes care of translating the representation the user sees into the HTML that it and browsers can work with, and back again for further editing. It’s surprisingly difficult to get this right — the organizations that build web browsers spend millions of dollars to hire the smartest developers to work on HTML parsing. There are many ways to cause issues when transitioning between representations.

That’s one of the reasons the text in the editor doesn’t always behave as you might expect it to. Occasionally, users are forced to edit the HTML directly because of formatting glitches, incorrect addition of white spacing, and other difficulties.

The classic editor is a leaky abstraction. Its job is to abstract away the complexities of the underlying HTML, but those complexities are not hidden as well as they might be. The editing experience is affected and constrained by the HTML representation.

The leakiness of the abstraction becomes even more apparent where shortcodes are concerned. Shortcodes are snippets of code that add functionality or content to the page, but they bear little relation to an ideal editing experience. They provide no clue about what they do. There is no obvious visual representation of their functionality.

Blocks Are a More Watertight Abstraction

The classic editor gives users the abstraction of a post, which has an occasionally uncertain relationship with the HTML that WordPress relies on. In Gutenberg, we have the block instead.

A block is a unit of content that provides an intuitive user experience. What the users see in the interface is everything that they should need to know about a block. There is no HTML lurking behind it to cause problems. Blocks encapsulate their functionality and its presentation, allowing users to focus on the content while WordPress takes care of the hidden complexity.

As the Gutenberg Handbook puts it:

“The main point is to let the machines work at what they are good at, and optimize for the user and the document.”

In Gutenberg, everything is a block that lives in the framework of the post or page. There are simple rules for adding new blocks, moving blocks around in relation to each other, and configuring their behavior.

Of course, there is a great deal of complexity hidden behind the interface visible to the user. Web browsers don’t understand blocks; they understand HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Blocks have to be turned into a browser-friendly format at some point.

But that point isn’t while the user is interacting with them. While they are being edited, posts with blocks are kept in memory as a complex tree-like data structure containing content and configurations. When stored to disk, the data is serialized as the HTML that WordPress and plugins expect. There is a back-and-forth translation between the block data structure and HTML, but it is not something the WordPress user needs to think about.

There are trade-offs in any significant change, and some WordPress users regret that Gutenberg’s editing interface is several steps removed from the final HTML output, but for most WordPress users, Gutenberg is a long-awaited improvement.

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What’s New In WordPress 5.0?

What’s New In WordPress 5.0?

What's New In WordPress 5.0?WordPress 5.0 has been released, and for many site owners, the question of whether it’s worth upgrading is towards the top of their list.

While we’re not going to force you to make a decision – our hosting solutions give you the option of when you want to upgrade your CMS – we are going to present you with some of the new features that come with WordPress 5.0.

WordPress 5.0 Is Gutenberg

WordPress releases often introduce significant changes and new features, but WordPress 5.0 outdoes past major version bumps in scope and impact. WordPress 5.0 is the Gutenberg release.

The Gutenberg editor has consumed the attention of the WordPress community since it was first mooted in 2016. It has been available as a feature plugin for almost two years. With the forthcoming release of WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg will be the default editor. When you update, your WordPress site’s editor will be very different, although you can go back to the classic editor if you choose.

Gutenberg is the focus of WordPress 5.0, but there are other noteworthy changes, including a new theme with Gutenberg support and the usual mix of small fixes and security patches.

What Does the New Gutenberg Editor Mean?

Gutenberg is a block-based editor. Blocks contain content such as paragraphs and images, and they replace shortcodes. Think of blocks as standalone units of content that can be moved around the page to create custom layouts. Writing in Gutenberg is nothing like writing in the classic editor: it’s more powerful, more flexible, and more intuitive. But it does take some getting used to.

Gutenberg is more than an evolution of the user interface. It has a profound impact on all areas of WordPress, particularly themes and plugins, which may need to be edited for compatibility. Many theme and plugin developers have made the necessary changes, but some have not. Before upgrading a production WordPress site or WooCommerce store to WordPress 5.0, run tests on a dev or staging site. Testing will bring to light theme and plugin compatibility problems and other regressions.

  See how Hostdedi Dev Sites help you to quickly create development and staging environments for testing.

Gutenberg is the default editor in WordPress 5.0, but you are not required to use it. The Classic Editor replaces Gutenberg with the familiar editing experience.

You should plan to update even if you don’t want to use Gutenberg. It’s not necessary to update immediately. WordPress 4.9 will be supported for some time to come, but Gutenberg is here to stay and declining to update to avoid Gutenberg is not a viable long-term strategy. If you don’t want to use Gutenberg, it is best to update and then install the Classic Editor plugin.

A New Automattic Theme: Twenty Nineteen

WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg New Theme

The Twenty Nineteen theme is a simple Gutenberg-compatible theme. It is based on the Underscores framework and the gutenberg-starter-theme. Twenty Nineteen is among the plainer default themes of recent years, with a single-column layout, no support for sidebars, and a single navigation menu (plus a social links menu).

If you want to download Twenty Nineteen for implementing changes on a local environment,  you can grab a development version for testing from the project’s GitHub repository.

What Else Is New?

In addition to Gutenberg, WordPress 5.0 will come packed with several other new features. Here are some highlights.

  • Improvements to the WordPress Rest API. The rest API is designed to make a developers life easier by optimizing the ability to send and pull data from a WordPress site. 5.0 will make this even easier.
  • Custom Theme Development. In addition to the Twenty Nineteen theme, there will be a huge number of other themes available, and the ability for developers to make new ones will become even easier. Blocks will make theme development much more intuitive and not require a development background.
  • Improved Responsive Design. Yes, it’s been a concern for many for a long time, but WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg editor’s row and column feature will make responsive design better.

Tables with WordPress Gutenberg

  Start a high-performance, high-reliability WordPress site with Hostdedi. Now with 75% OFF.

Will WordPress 5.0 Affect My Current Site?

There have been reports of WordPress 5.0 installs breaking some websites. This is either due to an incompatibility with themes or plugins. 

Several developers have been hard at work trying to update their themes and plugins, and the coming months with continue to see an increase in compatibility. Thanks to Automattic releasing 5.0 in advance, many of the most popular plugins and themes are already compatible with the new iteration.

If you’re unsure if your website will be compatible, we highly recommend spinning up a dev environment and testing the new version before going live.

The Future of Gutenberg

At this year’s WordCamp US – the largest meeting of the WordPress Community – Matt Mullenweg talked about the future of WordPress and where it would be going. This includes 4 stages. Stage 1 was the release of 5.0.

Stage 2 – Focus on theme and plugin customization.

Stage 3 – Focus on creating a collaboration workspace.

Stage 4 – Focus on official support for multilingual sites.

In addition to these phases, the team behind WordPress have also talked about aiming for two updates every month. This should mean a series of minor updates along the way to add functionality and improve any issues users find.

Are You Ready for WordPress 5.0?

Despite worry from the community, 5.0 expands on the functionality of WordPress and helps to bring a lot of advanced features to more people. We’re looking forward to seeing WordPress continue to develop.

If you would like to get started with WordPress Gutenberg, you can follow our guide to Gutenberg to learn about the new block editor and how to create content experiences your audience will love.

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Building An Appointment Booking System With WordPress

Building An Appointment Booking System With WordPress

Building An Appointment Booking System With WordPressManaging appointments is one of the biggest overheads for service-oriented small businesses. Businesses that handle appointments manually often hire one or more employees to book appointments, schedule staff, make reminder calls, and a host of other administrative tasks that go along with scheduling a busy office.

The personal touch is important, but managing appointments the old-fashioned way is expensive and inefficient. It’s also prone to errors, with double-bookings and missed sessions a common occurrence for many businesses. Forward-looking businesses automate the appointment booking process, reducing costs and errors.

The ideal appointment booking service is almost entirely automated. A client decides to make an appointment and visits the business’s website. They’re presented with a calendar that includes available appointment slots. They choose the slot that is most appropriate for them, and perhaps enter payment details. The system adds the appointment to the professional’s calendar, sends a confirmation to the client, and also sends one or more reminders on the day of the appointment.

WordPress is capable of doing all of this, in addition to being an excellent content management system on which to build a small-business lead generation site.

The Ideal Appointment Booking System

There is a basic set a functionality that all customer-facing scheduling systems should provide.

  • An intuitive calendar interface that clients can use to choose an appointment date and time. It should be easy to use and not expect too much technical ability from clients.
  • Multiple calendars for managing appointments for several professionals and for different appointment types.
  • Automated reminders: it’s been shown that sending automated email or SMS reminders significantly reduces no-shows.
  • Integration with other calendaring services: professionals may prefer to use their mobile device’s native calendar or a cloud calendar such as Google Calendar.

Because WordPress is such a popular business content management system, there are many appointment scheduling plugins to choose from. We’ll have a look at two of the most popular: BirchPress Scheduler and Appointment Calendar.

BirchPress Scheduler is a premium appointment booking plugin that ticks all the boxes. It provides an easy-to-use customizable booking form that can be embedded in any WordPress post or page, and configurable email notifications and reminders. BirchPress can also be used to take credit card payments with PayPal or other payment gateways via WooCommerce integrations.

For newer businesses without the budget to pay for BirchPress, Appointment Calendar is a viable alternative with a free option that would suit most small businesses. Appointment Calendar provides a mobile-friendly booking calendar with email notifications. The premium version of the plugin adds many more features, including unlimited staff and services, Google Calendar sync, email reminders, and payment gateway integration.

Neither of the plugins we have looked at includes native SMS integration, but if you would like to send SMS notifications to clients, the WP Twilio Core plugin provides text messaging functionality via the popular Twilio platform.

WordPress, when combined with performance-optimized WordPress hosting and one of the scheduling plugins we have looked at, is a complete website solution for any appointment-based enterprise.

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Cookies, WordPress, And The GDPR

Cookies, WordPress, And The GDPR

Cookies, WordPress, And The GDPRThe web was created to deliver documents to browsers. At first, there was no mechanism for maintaining state to keep track of information between requests. Without state, WooCommerce shopping carts, the WordPress admin interface, and other interactive web experiences couldn’t work.

The cookie was introduced so that the web could remember, but a web that can remember what is in your shopping cart can also remember who you are. Cookies are used by site owners to track us on their site and by advertising companies to track us across hundreds of sites.

With enough information, cookies — small files containing a unique code — can identify individuals and keep track of them as they move around the web. Because cookies are a form of personally identifiable information, they fall under the scope of the GDPR.

In this article, I’m going to focus on cookies, which are a specific technique for maintaining state and identifying users. It’s important to note that the GDPR applies to all technologies that play the same role, not just cookies. You can’t get around the GDPR by using the Web Cache API to store identifying information, for example.

The Old Cookie Regime

The GDPR is not the first EU regulation to deal with cookies. We have all seen the cookie warning banners that say something like: “By using this site you consent for cookies to be used”. By continuing to use the site, the visitor gave implicit consent to its cookies. The GDPR is much stricter and implied consent is no longer sufficient, as we’ll discuss.

Essential vs. Non-Essential Cookies

The GDPR doesn’t care about cookies per se. It cares about data that can be used to personally identify individuals. Some cookies aren’t used to identify shoppers: the session cookies used for shopping carts, for example. These “essential” cookies, do not need consent.

Consent

Consent is another word for permission. Under the GDPR, implied consent is not sufficient. Consent has to be active, unambiguous, specific, and modifiable.

For WordPress site owners, that means:

  • Visitors must actively opt-in. Sites that automatically tick opt-in boxes or as users to opt-out are not compliant.
  • Visitors must be able to opt-in or out to each cookie that you plan to store on their computer. For some sites that might be hundreds of cookies. In the first instance, it is acceptable to group cookies by category so that users can opt-out of “social media cookies,” or “analytics cookies,” but they must also be able to opt-in and out for individual cookies.
  • Consent must be modifiable. That means it should be easy for users to change their mind about consent.

Additionally, consent can’t be used as a condition for showing content. The GDPR specifically forbids denying access to content if consent is not given.

Cookies And WordPress

There are a number of plugins to help WordPress site owners manage cookie permissions, including:

These plugins — with a little coding in some cases — can display a consent banner and block the loading of cookies and scripts until after consent has been given.

Getting consent to use cookies is straightforward enough, but it can be a real headache to identify exactly which cookies a site is serving. Many sites include tracking scripts and embeds, which use their own cookies and may include more scripts which use still more cookies, and so on.

Cookiebot is a cloud service with a WordPress plugin that can scan websites to identify the cookies they serve and create a cookie listing that can be used to obtain consent.

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Hosting Your Podcast With WordPress

Hosting Your Podcast With WordPress

Hosting Your Podcast With WordPressIn the last few years, podcasts have evolved. Once a niche interest, the most popular podcasts are listened to by millions of people. Anyone with an internet connection, a microphone, and something to say can publish a podcast. Businesses use podcasts as part of their content marketing strategy. Popular podcasts attract a significant amount of advertising money, largely because their niche appeal allows for targeted advertising.

But once a podcast has been recorded, it needs to be hosted online. Unlike a blog post, a podcast can’t just be uploaded to a site — that’s a hosted audio file, not a podcast. Before taking a look at the role WordPress plays in podcast hosting, let’s discuss the various components that make up a podcast.

The anatomy of a podcast

Of course, the audio file is the most important part of a podcast. The audio file can be hosted on the same server as a WordPress site, but most podcasters choose to use external file hosting designed for that purpose. Podcast files are large and they can burn through a WordPress hosting account’s bandwidth.

Although a traditional website isn’t strictly necessary for a podcast, most podcasts have a site. It is used to promote the podcast, to display show notes, and a site is necessary if the podcast is to be discoverable by Google and other search engines.

Next is the RSS feed. Just like a blog, a podcast has an RSS feed. But unlike a blog, the feed is an essential part of a podcast. It is unusual for podcast listeners to visit a podcast’s website to listen, instead they use a podcast app’s search tools, which provide results from a podcast directory.

Podcasts are submitted to directories via the RSS feed. Without an RSS feed, there is no directory listing. The RSS feed is also used by podcast apps to list episodes, discover new episodes, and download the podcast’s file.

WordPress provides two of the important parts of a podcast: the website and the RSS feed — three if you also want to host the podcast audio files on a WordPress server.

WordPress and podcasts

The RSS feed for a podcast is a little different to the RSS feed used by a blog: it contains an “enclosure” for the audio file and additional information that isn’t part of the standard feed. Not so long ago, creating a podcast RSS feed was a bit of a pain, but today there are excellent WordPress plugins that will take care of it.

Seriously Simple Podcasting (SSP) is one of the most full-featured podcasting solutions available for WordPress. It makes it easy to create a podcast feed suitable for submission to podcast directories, including iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. It also includes a media player, should people want to listen via your WordPress site. The media files can be hosted on any third-party hosting platform or on the site itself. SSP has its own plugin ecosystem, which includes useful additions such as podcast analytics.

WordPress, combined with performance-optimized WordPress hosting and the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin, provides everything you need to publish your podcasts.

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Five Plugin Red Flags WordPress Hosting Clients Need To Know About

Five Plugin Red Flags WordPress Hosting Clients Need To Know About

Five Plugin Red Flags WordPress Hosting Clients Need To Know AboutThe fact that WordPress is open source and has such a huge, vibrant developer community is great. For the most part, the huge number of plugins available come with the security afforded by millions of downloads, high ratings, and reliable developers who have worked hard to become known figures in the community.

However, not all plugins are safe and automated protections you may rely on, aren’t effective as pointing out which aren’t. This is because a plugin is a package of PHP code that may also contain files such as images or JavaScript. The code in a WordPress plugin has privileged access to the site and its database. Any JavaScript code is trusted by visitor’s browsers. Because of this, it’s important to make sure that it doesn’t contain security vulnerabilities or malware.

Almost all of the most popular plugins in the official repository are perfectly safe. Plugins with many thousands of users are intensely scrutinized and problems come to light quickly. But there are tens of thousands of WordPress plugins and it’s wise to be vigilant.

The best way to find out if a plugin is safe is to check the code, but it isn’t reasonable to expect that of most WordPress hosting clients. This article looks at how you can identify unsafe WordPress plugins without looking at the code, by identifying the top red flags for knowing what to avoid.

1. Is The Plugin From A Reputable Source?

To be safe, you should install plugins from the official repository or from the website of a developer with a good reputation in the community. Google the name of the developer to find out what has been written about their plugins. If you find mostly negative commentary or no information at all, you may want to find an alternative.

Check the version of the WordPress Plugin you're installing

2. Has It Been Updated Recently?

Abandoned plugins don’t get security updates and may be incompatible with your version of WordPress. Even if a plugin has not been abandoned, infrequent updates are a bad sign.

The plugin’s page on the official repository will tell you when it was last updated and which versions of WordPress it is compatible with. Avoid plugins that haven’t been updated in the last few months. Even if an old plugin seems to work properly, there may be hidden issues.

3. Does It Have Ongoing Support?

Does your WordPress Plugin have ongoing supportCheck the support section of the plugin page on WordPress to see if the plugin has continuous and active support. You’ll be able to see how many issues have been identified and how many have been solved by the developer community within the last few months. Moreover, by clicking “view support forum”, you’ll be able to see how active the plugin community has been and how much support it has from other users.

4. Is It A “Free” Premium Plugin?

Many developers of premium plugins also release a free version with limited functionality. It is perfectly fine to use these plugins. But if you find a fully functional premium plugin offered for free, do not install it. Plugin pirates install malware in these so-called “nulled” plugins.

5. Did The Plugin Recently Change Owners?

This isn’t always an indication of a problem: developers sell or transfer plugins for many reasons. But in recent months there have been incidents of popular plugins ending up in the hands of unscrupulous developers.

6. Does the Developer Have a Bad Reputation?

Before installing the plugin, it can be a good idea to check up on the reputation of the developer. A quick google search of their name can merit a lot of results here. Similarly, it can merit nothing at all. This, in itself, can be a red flag and suggest the developer is either new to the WordPress scene or isn’t trusted.

7. Is It Popular With WordPress Users?

Rating of the WordPress plugin on whether it is unsafePlugins with few users are more likely to cause problems. There are millions of WordPress sites, so if only a handful of WordPress users have installed a plugin, you should be cautious. There are a couple of possibilities: the plugin targets a narrow niche or it is being avoided by other WordPress users. It may also be a brand new plugin, but that should be a red flag too.

As a rule, stick to plugins that are installed on lots of WordPress sites: problems are more likely to have been noticed and ironed out.

 

8. Is It Compatible With the Latest WordPress Version?

Checking for updated compatibility is a good step towards being able to judge the reliability and safety of a plugin. The “Requires WordPress Version” will let you know how far back you need to go in order to have the plugin properly work with your website. Making sure you have the latest version is as much about security as it is about optimizing your WordPress site for performance.

Avoid this message for WordPress plugins

Finally, if you happen to see the message above, it’s definitely not a good idea to install the plugin. There’s a reason why the developer hasn’t updated it, and it’s probably not one you want to know.

The WordPress Community Is, In General, Reliable

There are thousands of honest, competent, and generous plugin developers. But there are some bad apples, as there are in any large community. Before installing a plugin, run through these seven simple checks to keep your WordPress site safe.


Blog Post SummaryLooking to get started with WordPress Gutenberg? Learn how to use it with our Guide to Gutenberg. We’ll take you through the entire process of setting up your first page with blocks.

Are you a developer looking to code your own applications with WordPress? Explore the benefits for headless WordPress and see if it’s the right choice for you.


 

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Headless WordPress: What Is It?

Headless WordPress: What Is It?

Headless WordPress- What Is ItIn the years WordPress has been around, we’ve seen it grow from a small community project into one of the largest CMS platforms available; currently powering over 30% of the web. In that time, multiple iterations have risen and fallen, and various developments continue to make waves in the WordPress community – even official ones (Gutenberg, anyone?).

Headless WordPress is one of those developments. A form of Headless CMS, headless WordPress allows for expanded creative freedom by allowing you to adopt an alternate front-end suited to your needs. 

This article will cover what headless WordPress is and some of the benefits and disadvantages of adopting this development style.

What Is Headless WordPress?

WordPress is made up of three parts.

  • A database
  • A layer of PHP code
  • A front-end

On standard WordPress sites, the layer of PHP code interacts with the database to create an admin interface, that content of which is then displayed through the front-end.  

To use WordPress as a headless content management system, you chop off (or bypass) the user-facing front-end and replace it with something else.

A diagram of Headless WordPress

This is possible because WordPress has a REST API that other applications can use to request posts, static files, and other content. In simple terms, the rest API allows for content to be converted into raw data for interpretation by alternate systems.

This means that a developer can build a JavaScript web application that runs in the browser, taking the content stored in WordPress’s database and displaying it in any way the developer sees fit.

But it doesn’t have to be a JavaScript web application: it might be a native mobile app, a desktop app, or any other piece of software that can request content over HTTP and display it to a user.

So it is possible to use WordPress as a headless content management system, but why would you want to?

The Benefits of Headless WordPress

WordPress, in its native form, is already incredibly flexible. However, there are several cases where WordPress doesn’t fit the requirements of a business. In these cases, adding headless capabilities adds to that flexibility in a way that can add value.

You may want to adopt a headless WordPress environment if you:

  • Want to develop in JavaScript or an alternate programming language
  • You’re building a SaaS environment
  • You have a smaller budget but want a customized user-facing website.

These are all great reasons for adopting headless WordPress. To really understand why, we need to look at each in a little more detail.

Develop in JavaScript

Develop with JavaScript on Headless WordPressYou can access the REST API in any language with a HTTP library. However, in practice, headless CMS’s are most often used with JavaScript.

JavaScript is, by some measures, the most popular programming language in the world. Millions of web developers know JavaScript inside out. The same is not true of PHP, the language WordPress is written in.

For this reason, headless WordPress gives front-end developers the powerful content management capabilities of WordPress, without asking them to create WordPress themes or code with WordPress’s API.

Build a PWA With WordPress (SaaS)

Progressive web applications have taken the web development world by storm in the past year. They use modern web technologies to provide web applications with some of the abilities of native applications.  As a result, WordPress renders its pages on the server, but there are advantages to rendering content in the browser.

A PWA can cache content from the API, rendering it instantly on page transitions; cached content works while the device is offline, and PWAs can use push notifications and other niceties typically reserved for native applications.

Build static sites With WordPress

Static websites are a popular alternative to client-rendered web apps. If content doesn’t change rapidly enough to justify dynamic page generation, a static site is a viable alternative. Tools like Gatsby and Next.js can pull content from backends and use them to create a static site. There is a Headless WordPress starter kit based on Next.js, but it is not for the faint of heart.

Use WordPress as the Backend for Anything

Although I’ve concentrated on JavaScript options, a headless WordPress installation can be used as the backend for any project that requires content management, from native applications to corporate intranets to IoT dashboards.

The Drawbacks Of Headless WordPress

A headless WordPress installation has many applications, but it isn’t for everyone. The WordPress front-end and WordPress themes are one of the reasons WordPress is so popular: themes make it possible to quickly get up-and-running with a fast and professional-looking site.

Building a separate front-end for WordPress is much more expensive than simply installing a WordPress theme. It’s really only an option for developers or businesses that are happy to hire a developer.

Headless WordPress is interesting, and it shows just how flexible WordPress has become, but it is likely that only a tiny portion of WordPress’s millions of users will have any need of a headless CMS.

 


Blog Post SummaryInterested in more WordPress?  Check out our guide to Gutenberg, where we cover how to get started with some of the new editor’s most powerful features.

Alternatively, are you looking to optimize WordPress for eCommerce? See if WooCommerce is the right choice before opting for headless WordPress.


 

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