Blog

Why Managed WordPress Hosting is the Way to Go

When looking at your list of things to do, worrying about your web hosting is something you don’t want to see too high up on that list. After all, if you’re a business owner, blogger, or even a hobbyist, the last thing you want to concern yourself with is how your content is being delivered to your audience  when your primary concern should be actually producing the high quality content your audience demands. That’s why when first setting up your WordPress site, you want to make an informed decision about the hosting solution you’re going to be calling home.

 

You want to get your hosting right the first time. It’ll save you money, time, and headaches down the line. If you’re looking to launch a WordPress site (or even migrate one if your current experience is a poor one) and you want to do so with minimal hurdles and tech know-how, this is the list of information for you. You’ve probably decided to go with WordPress because of its popularity and easy to learn interface. Why not choose a hosting solution to match? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you’ll want to partner with a web hosting company that will manage the backend of your site for you.

Managed vs Self-Managed

 

Hosting comes in a variety of packages. Different pricing, hardware, services etc. make up the monthly plan that you sign up for. One key thing to look for is if your prospective hosting company will perform some managerial duties for you. With a self-managed plan, you get some server space and a “good luck.” If you’re the type of person who likes getting their hands dirty and enjoys the technical aspect of running a site, go for it. However, the majority of people looking to host a WordPress site don’t want to deal with the daily duties of maintaining not only a site, but the server. Do you want to be troubleshooting the reason why your site seems to be running slow the past couple of days when you have looming content deadlines or product to ship?

 

Probably not.

 

With a managed plan, you have a support team there to monitor things like performance and security for you. Here are a few categories where managed hosting reigns supreme over self-managed.

Support

 

Support is key when maintaining a website. You want someone to call when issues arrive during peak traffic times. Nothing is worse than being told “the server is fine, must be something with your site” when you call your hosting provider. A managed host troubleshoots your site issues and consistently monitors your site to make note of any irregularities. Your business never sleeps and never should your support.

Updates and Backups

 

As anyone familiar with WordPress knows, it’s very important to keep your WordPress software up to date for a whole bunch of reasons. Performance, security, and compatibility all depend upon using the latest version of WordPress. Do you want to spend time doing regular software updates? Probably not, so let your hosting company do it for you. The same thing goes for your backup situation. It’s extremely important to make regular backups of your site. Just like you need to regularly backup your computer and phone, your site needs the same attention. The unexpected happens, as we all know. When seeming disaster strikes, you need to be prepared. Your hosting company performing site backups for you gives you peace of mind. You know your data is safe and retrievable and you don’t have to kick yourself for forgetting to do your own manual backup.

Scalability

 

When it comes to your web operations, success can sometimes feel like a double edged sword. Big wins, big success, and big traffic increases translates into the need for a big increase in site resources. Nothing is worse than seeing all of your marketing efforts finally pay off and then your site crashes because it has been pushed to its limits. If a new visitor is greeted with a blank page or error message, they may never return. A managed WordPress hosting provider can help with your scalability efforts and get your site up to speed so it can handle the new influx of traffic you’re experiencing. And speaking of speed…

Speed

 

Want a consistently fast performing site? Go with a managed host. WordPress sites can slow down for a wide variety of reasons. Why waste time trying to tweak settings when your hosting company can monitor all these indicators for you? Leave site optimization to the pros.

 

Conclusion

 

If you want the best performance and hosting services for the lowest price, partner with WP.land. We’ll have your site up in minutes and our support staff is always available to help with any issues you may come across.

How WordPress Can Help You Become an Entrepreneur

You’ve always wanted to be your own boss. For as long as you can remember, you’ve marched to the beat of your own drum. The thought of having to be somewhere from nine to five, Monday to Friday, making money for someone else drives you crazy. If only you could build your own business for cheap. You know you have ideas that would work if only you could execute them quickly and for minimal costs. Well, have you considered how dynamic WordPress can be for business use?

 

There are many ways someone with an entrepreneurial spirit can leverage the power of WordPress to, if not outright replace their current source of income in the short term, plant the seeds of a strong business that will grow in time. Granted, your business idea will have to somehow relate to the digital realm in order to really maximize the benefits here. But, every kind of business these days needs a website. So, even if you want to be a yoga instructor or jazz saxophonist, you’re going to need a site to market yourself, anyway. WordPress can help there, too.

 

Let’s examine why WordPress is an excellent tool for creating and/or expanding a business.

 

Built in Translation

 

This item tops the list because it’s a recent development that will surely be of interest to business owners of all kinds who want to reach as many customers as possible. While WordPress can currently boast about hosting content written in 137 different languages, reaching the people who don’t speak yours just got a lot easier.

 

As of this past Thanksgiving, there is now an easy to install Google Translate widget that any site owner can take advantage of. The beauty of the internet, and why so many entrepreneurs rely on it to build their businesses, is how much “smaller” it makes the world. Your customers are no longer just people in your neighborhood. They can be in Indonesia, Turkey, or Russia. If you plan on selling goods or services from your site, it needs to be readable to visitors from all over the world. This simple to install Google Translate widget will automatically swap out your English content for content in one of 103 languages. Talk about cheap and easy translation services. Download the plugin today.

 

Cheap to Produce

 

WordPress is great for entrepreneurs just starting out because it requires a minimal budget to run. Cheap WordPress hosting will likely be your only real recurring cost to start. But for a few dollars a month, it can easily pay for itself within your first day of business. This is where your particular business comes into play. Say you want to become an internet marketer or you want to build sites for other business on the cheap. With cheap WordPress hosting, you can easily deploy multiple sites relatively quickly for a variety of reasons. Want to get into the world of affiliate marketing and passive income? You’ll need to get multiple sites up cheaply in order to create your network of blogs for paying affiliate links. If you’re looking to create websites for clients, with the right hosting provider you can get many sites online for a low price.

 

Whether you’re a novice web designer or marketer, you’ll be able to easily get high performing sites up for your clients thanks to the many options WordPress gives you.

 

Easy to Learn

 

If you’re looking for a career change in the digital sphere but you don’t know where to begin, WordPress make the move easy. WordPress has been developed with the average person in mind rather than just people with computer science degrees. You don’t need to have gone through a graphic design course in order to get a site live. With the right assets, you can easily insert pictures into pre-made templates (more commonly referred to as themes) and have a professional looking site in no time. Once you become comfortable with the user interface, you’ll be confident making changes to your site and can get down to actually running your business.

 

You Can Keep it Traditional

 

If you’re not interested in the digital aspect of running a business, WordPress can still act as a virtual storefront for your traditional retail operation. If you’re used to selling products, after a quick set up, you can have a fully functional ecommerce site at your disposal. From there, you can use your existing salesman skillset to sell and ship products directly to your customers, cutting out the middle man. Nothing can free you up to run your own business like eliminating the overhead of needing a brick and mortar store front. A WordPress-based ecommerce site can be the solution you need to finally find success on your own.

 

Conclusion

 

New business owners should absolutely consider using WordPress for their web-based strategy. It’s simple to use, scalable, low cost, and it can achieve nearly any goal you want to accomplish with it. With the right hosting solution, you’ll be ready to take on the world.

How to Sell the C-Suite on WordPress

If you’ve been an IT manager or digital marketer for any period of time, you know the challenges you sometimes face trying to sell the C-suite on new initiatives. Doing a full site migration (or investing in a site upgrade at all) can be met with some resistance by business leaders because of the perceived cost vs. gain of a digital marketing campaign. Thankfully, we’re well past the days of having to sell business owners of having a site, period. Everyone, more or less, now understands the value of having a website. But, once it gets more technical than that, you may need to make a sales pitch to ensure you’re developing the right kind of site.

 

WordPress is the ideal platform for creating a site for your business. As an IT or marketing professional, you probably already know this. But, if you need to make the hard sell to the big decision makers, the following points should make your case for you.

 

It’s Easy to Use

 

If nothing else, this should be the biggest selling point. After all, there’s a reason you’re in charge of digital and the C-suite doesn’t want to know too much about it. Things involving the web are often labeled “difficult” or you may hear a response like “I don’t understand computer stuff. I’m just good at my part of the job.” Comments like that are fairly common. WordPress allows you to bypass “computer stuff” and just get your work done.

 

WordPress is no more complicated than (perhaps even easier to use than) your company’s intranet. As long as someone knows their login credentials, they can easily make edits to the site. Entry fields are self explanatory and the user interface shares much in common with your typical word processing software that nearly everyone in the professional workforce is already using.

 

It’s Popular

 

Okay, “everyone else is doing it!” may not be the verbiage you want to use. But, there are definitely advantages to using a content management platform that is currently being used by 26% of the entire internet. So, what does that mean in practical application? For starters, it means there is an abundance of documentation for troubleshooting any issues that arise. And if there’s one thing business owners demand, it’s quick fixes to problems. Another thing widespread usage accomplishes is guaranteed functionality. As you know, the development of WordPress plugins and themes are an industry unto themselves. No matter what you want your site to be able to do, there is something to install to accomplish that. Need an ecommerce site? There’s a plugin for that. Want to develop your own small social media network? Believe it or not, there are plugins for that as well. As an added bonus, installing these features is as simple as can be. This is certainly true when comparing installing plugins to hand coding scripts.

 

Security

 

The security advantages of WordPress tie into its widespread use and popularity. When software is open source, like WordPress is, the community takes it upon themselves to “police” the product. WordPress undergoes pretty regular updates. One of the major reasons for this is security updates. As WordPress releases come out, new vulnerabilities are discovered by the public and are patched up in subsequent updates. This means WordPress is constantly being evaluated for security related weaknesses, which should put your CEO at ease. For extra security tips to really put your site on lockdown, there are plenty of lists to choose from.

 

Easily Customizable

 

Let’s be honest; businesses like to revamp every once in awhile and “modernize” their look. The core of one’s branding may stay the same, but the assets need to be updated. WordPress makes doing this a breeze. Switching out content is as easy as understanding the word processor-like interface. Pictures can be easily added to posts or to multiple pages (logos, banners, etc.) just by uploading them once to the correct place in the CMS.

 

Thanks to simple labeling, nearly any user can comfortably access the site and make the desired changes. The changes are reflected instantly, and voila, a whole new site. You can also always install different themes to completely change the layout whenever you desire.

 

Hosting

 

Much like with plugins and themes, the popularity of WordPress has caused a proliferation of WordPress hosting companies. At WP.land, our philosophy is simplicity. We think your C-suite would agree that the best kind of website is one you can more or less set and forget. That’s why we provide easy hosting solutions that give you the resources you need without having to worry about the technical aspect of managing a server. No matter the size of your site, we have a solution for you. And if your business needs dictate expanding your site? We make sure scalability is a piece of cake. Contact us today to learn more.

Upping Your SEO Game on WordPress

Is it magic? Is it a science? Does it even really exist? These questions could pertain to many different things, but today we’re talking about that elusive part of maintaining a competitive website known as search engine optimization (SEO). SEO often feels like one of those buzzwords or bits of marketing jargon that you see everywhere but don’t quite get what exactly it’s supposed to mean. Will you rocket to number one on Google, leapfrogging Wikipedia, if you take these specific steps that adhere to the well-defined rules of SEO? No, that’s not how it works at all. But, there are some definite things that Google likes that site owners can do to improve their rankings and we have at least enough proof to be confident they’ll work most of the time.

 

Using WordPress as your content management system makes the technical work of strengthening your SEO efforts easier. WordPress was designed with best SEO practices in mind and there are many plugins in development specifically for SEO. These plugins help with the formatting of your content and the insertion of vital meta data that search engines love. Jetpack is a good starting point. Let’s look at some tips for upping your SEO game on your WordPress site.

 

Watch Your URLs

 

Have you noticed that when you create a new post on WordPress, the page often has a long URL that doesn’t seem very intuitive to human eyes? Well, it turns out that they’re not easily readable for Google’s crawlers either. In your control panel, you want to change the permalink URLs that WordPress generates into easily readable words that can contain keywords you’re trying to rank for.

 

Block Crawlers Until Your Site is Ready to be “Seen”

 

This tip can really only apply to brand new sites. If your site has been around for a few years already, there is already a Google history. However, if you’re just launching your site, make sure you check the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” box in the Search Engine Visibility section. You can also use rel=”noindex” and rel=”nofollow” tags to discourage indexing if a post isn’t quite ready for prime time yet. Once your blog is up to speed, you can remove all these index blocking tactics and let Google crawl the site.

 

Sitemap

 

Simply put, an XML sitemap is a must. Giving Google a map to follow does help in the algorithm that generate search rank results. If you don’t even know where to begin developing an XML sitemap, there’s a plugin for that. Check out Google XML Sitemaps for easy installation.

 

Who Are You Linking To?

 

It’s not just about what’s on your site and who links to you. Search engines also take into account who you link to. That’s why you want to become familiar with the rel=”nofollow” tag. Think of it as having a certain number of “credibility points” that you’re depleting each time you link to a site that either isn’t relevant to your niche, doesn’t go to a useful site, or ends up pointing to a site that isn’t of a certain quality. Use the tag when you’re linking to sites you don’t think will help increase your rank.

 

Have a Good Host

 

Believe it or not, site speed is very important to SEO efforts. While a good deal of a site’s speed comes down to the integrity of a site’s code, your web hosting company plays a part as well. The quality of your hosting company’s servers play a big part in how quickly your site loads. Also be aware of possibly hitting bandwidth limits. This problem can easily be remedied by changing your monthly plan, however.

 

No Spam Bots Allowed

 

You’re definitely familiar with the spam comments you see on so many websites. Don’t let them get through and post publicly on yours! Be sure to carefully curate your comments section. Also, implement a review system so that no comments actually reach the public view without your manual approval. A large number of spam comments could end up getting your site labeled as a spam site by Google which will definitely hurt your rankings.

 

Interlink

 

That new post you just created is probably great and you rightfully want everyone to see it. But, that doesn’t mean you should neglect your older, high quality content. Linking many of your pages together, rather than linking away from your domain, creates another path for search engine crawlers to follow. This cohesiveness will make your site easier to read by visitors both human and machine.

 

Conclusion

 

At the end of the day, bolstering your SEO efforts isn’t rocket science. The decisions you would make to create a better experience for your human visitors will most likely benefit your placement in the search engines as well. Remember, it’s visitor interaction that ultimately determines how worthwhile your site is in the eyes of Google.

Thinking Outside the Box: Creative Ways to Use WordPress

We often focus on how WordPress is an excellent CMS for running a blog, an ecommerce site, portfolio, or any other general purpose site you want to launch quickly and painlessly. But, what if your needs are a bit unusual? Maybe you want to set up some sort of company hub or promotional landing page. Perhaps even a small social networking site for friends or certain professional circles you have. Did you know WordPress has the flexibility to meet all kind of project needs? That’s the beauty of the platform. Your only limitation, really, is your imagination.

 

This is why WordPress is the CMS of choice for any project. Once you get a hang of the basic functionality, you’re up and running. Page creation stays the same no matter what kind of site you’re creating and managing assets like photos is a breeze. You’ll want to become pretty familiar with plugins in your niche, though, in order to really harness the power that WordPress has to help you see your project to completion.

 

All you need is a WordPress hosting company, a list of plugins that’ll help you accomplish your goal, and a theme to bring it all together. From there, you can create nearly any kind of site you can imagine. Let’s look at some of the “outside the box” projects you can create with WordPress.

 

Social Network

 

Let’s start with a disclaimer right off the bat: this suggestion isn’t meant to state that you’re going to build the next Facebook on WordPress. Maybe one day you’ll build something proprietary that can compete, but when looking to build a social network on WordPress, we’re talking something small scale for people in your immediate social circles. The attractiveness of developing your own social network is the level of control you’ll have. With services like Facebook and Twitter you’re tied to their terms and conditions along with whatever privacy issues those terms bring. You’re also subject to whatever widescale security breaches a third party service can have that exposes your personal data to malicious groups. WordPress’ privacy settings can be made so stringent that you can completely control who has access to your network and how much. As far as plugins that add the traditional functionality one comes to expect from a social network (logins, profiles, etc.) WP Mingle is a popular choice.

 

Internal Project Management

 

Every office worker is probably familiar with some variation of a company intranet. You know the deal: it’s a secure, central location for assignments, areas of responsibility, contact info, PTO accounting, and more. Many of solutions companies pay for can feel like bloated pieces of software or not offer the features you desire. Believe it or not, with some know-how you can transform WordPress into your new project management platform. The learn-to-code business Treehouse actually built their company intranet on WordPress and they’ve written an extensive guide on how they got the desired functionality. If you’re not looking to do too much hacking (which the folks at Treehouse had to do to get their exact set up, manually changing things in the theme, etc.) then there are more traditional workarounds via the plugin solution. A good plugin for this is the appropriately named Simple Intranet which will do much of the heavy lifting for you. You will most likely want to opt for the paid version however in order to get all the necessary functionality.

 

Wiki

 

Are you a big fan of a certain show or book series? Do you run a business that has many technical terms involved or a variety of topics you think your customers should be more informed about? If you answered “yes” to these questions or feel like your situation is similar, you may be interested in using WordPress to create a wiki that provides all the facts you want your visitors to have. Wikis can be very useful for organizing information and generating traffic. Creating a wiki site is relatively easy with WordPress thanks to the WordPress Wiki theme offered by the folks at Themeforest.

 

Ratings and Reviews

 

Feel like channeling your inner Roger Ebert? Looking to get into some affiliate marketing? Creating an easy to read reviews site where you can cover whatever topic you’d wish with star ratings may be the WordPress project for you. You can open up reviews to visitors for more interaction or limit review making ability to yourself for a more authoritative voice. The goal you have for your site will determine how much access you allow. Creating a reviews site via plugin can be done for a variety of costs but it certainly beats hacking away at theme code on your own.

 

WordPress is the most versatile platform on the web. With reliable hosting and a nearly endless amount of plugins, WordPress can help you reach any goal.

Where to Find the Best Premium WordPress Themes

WordPress, as a platform, has many benefits to it. Ease of use, scalability, and functionality are all near the top of the list. But the major selling point may be the ability to use themes. Themes, as you know, are the premade templates that allow site owners to easily plug in their content without all of the advanced web design work that goes into creating a layout in Photoshop, carving it into HTML, and then coding the entire site. With WordPress, you select the theme you want, easily install it, and then just concern yourself with whatever words and images you want to use.

 

Some people choose to go with a free theme to bring their site to life. While there are many good looking free themes, if your WordPress site is being used for professional reasons, you’re probably going to want to opt for a paid premium theme. Premium themes are the way to go for excellent design and, more importantly, more robust functionality. Premium themes offer more integrated features such as ecommerce functionality. Another major selling point of premium themes is the support from the theme developer. Free themes are free for a reason. You can download it and hack away if there’s an issue (assuming you have the know-how), but you won’t have the customer support that a paid theme comes with. With premium themes, the developer has a vested interest in your satisfaction with their product.

 

By now, you must be wondering where you can find these awesome premium themes for your WordPress site. There are many places where you can find high quality themes. From there, it’s just a matter of making sure your WordPress hosting company can make the accommodations to install it. Let’s take a look at some of the providers who deliver high quality premium WordPress themes.

 

ThemeForest

 

ThemeForest is one of the most popular WordPress premium theme sites out there. With over 20,000 themes to choose from, you could spend weeks looking through everything available. Pricing is also of interest. While the standard +$50 themes are certainly present, there are some templates available for as low as $2. It’s a great place for deal hunters and those on a budget. ThemeForest is also part of the EnvatoMarket umbrella company that also owns sites like CodeCanyon, which provides WordPress users with premium plugins and scripts.

 

ElegantThemes

 

ElegantThemes offers a very interesting service when compared to a site like ThemeForest. While you pay for individual themes on ThemeForest, ElegantThemes offers its entire library (currently 87 themes) for one annual payment of $69 to start. Paying $89 gets you a developer’s subscription which gives you access to all the plugins the Elegant team develops as well as more power to manipulate your themes. If subscriptions aren’t your thing and you know you just want to own something outright, for a one time fee of $249 you get lifetime developer level access. At nearly ninety themes, this may be the option for you if you plan on running multiple sites or if you’re a web developer looking to create sites for clients.

 

ThriveThemes

 

ThriveThemes is specific in what is offered. They are themes with, well, a theme. That is, all of ThriveThemes’ templates are designed with conversion in mind.  The plugins offered adhere to the same focus. If your WordPress site’s purpose is to gain subscribers, buyers, or leads, ThriveThemes might be the place for you. ThriveThemes offers a sort of combination of what ThemeForest and ElegantThemes do pricing structure wise. You can buy single site licenses for their themes, unlimited use of a single theme, or buy into their membership program which gives you access to all of their themes for one price. This gives you options depending on your needs.

 

ThemeIsle

 

ThemeIsle offers a relatively small, specialized selection of themes. Its strength lies in its focus on offering themes and plugins best suited for different use cases. Search by Business, Magazine, Ecommerce, Portfolio, and more. They also offer pricing that’s perfect for both the individual business owner and for an agency. Like with ThriveThemes, you can buy an annual subscription license or a lifetime license that gives you access to all twenty of ThemeIsle’s themes and all ten of their special plugins. As an added bonus, each purchase tier offers more robust customer support. Top members get priority support and lifetime updates.

 

Conclusion

 

These four premium theme sites are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding the best WordPress themes for your site. Whether you’re running an ecommerce site, a lead generator, or a simple informational site, there is a theme for you. Your WordPress hosting company can help you with getting your site up and running in no time. Check out what these sites have to offer and get a professional looking WordPress site today.

Why Your Budget Shouldn’t Keep You from Having High Quality Images

When it comes to how we take in things on the web, it’s safe to say we’re pretty visual. That doesn’t mean people don’t read, but when we’re skimming through a site to see if there is something of use there for us, our eyes often gravitate to pictures and headings. We may not do it consciously, but we’ve all developed these skimming techniques in order to save time in a world where nearly everything is vying for our attention. Thanks to smartphones, there is always something else to move onto and check out. If you use your WordPress site to sell a product or service, you know how simple it is to add content. The same process you use to add text to your site is more or less the same exact way you can add photos.

 

Big Value

 

It is very important to have relevant images on your site to complement your existing content. Studies consistently show that images increase engagement and the probability of a visitor making a conversion. Let’s take a look at some stats. Studies have shown that colored images increase the chance of content being read by up to 80%. Another study shows that content with quality, relevant images gets 94% more views than content without images. Nearly doubling your page views can be as simple as adding pictures. And here’s one more stat for you; nearly half of marketers surveyed say photography is absolutely critical to their efforts. As you can see, both marketers and business owners have discovered the value in having images to complement their content.

 

So, if your site is currently light on images, why is that?

 

There are a few common answers to that question. One is “Well, I’m not a photographer.” That’s perfectly valid. Another may be “I don’t have the money to pay for professional photos.” This, too, is understandable. Yours may be a different answer, but they all share a common thread: they’re not taking into account the huge amount of free, professional photos available for everyone to use.

 

That’s Right. Free.

 

Now you’re probably wondering how “free” free photos really are. After all, we all know about stock photos and their association with Shutterstock. Shutterstock has a huge selection of stock photos to be sure, but they come at a steep price. Unless you have a digital advertising agency, it may not be worth paying for a license. But, luckily there are some lesser known sites offering stock photos. See, the terms of Creative Commons licensed images allow them to be distributed, re-purposed (not necessarily edited), and inserted in commercial works. The commercial use part is key because there are certain kinds of Creative Commons licenses, like the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license, where you can only use them for “personal” use, like on a blog. Depending on how you use your site, you’ll have to be discerning what sources you pull images from. If it’s a personal, informational site, you don’t really have much to worry about. But if you’re advertising or selling a product, you’ll have to be careful that the image you’re using is cleared for commercial use. Typically, it falls under the Creative Commons license CC0. If you’re looking for these CC0 or public domain images, there are a surprisingly large number of sites where you can find them. Some may require a free registration, but that’s all. Of course, if you’re feeling generous, you can donate to the sites via PayPal to thank the photographers.

 

Here are ten great sites you can start using today to add quality images to your site today:

 

Pixabay

 

Pexels

 

Little Visuals

 

Public Domain Archive

 

New Old Stock

 

Viintage

 

Unsplash

 

The British Library

 

Pickup Image

 

Gratisography

 

One Caveat

 

Each of the sites have their own unique collections because their content is created on an individual, charitable basis. If, say, Pexels doesn’t have what you’re looking for, you may find something closer to what you want on Pixabay. Use all ten of these sites to your advantage. An important thing to note, however, is that if you’re running an ecommerce site, your chances of finding product images will be low. Those you will more than likely need to produce yourself. Public domain sites are more useful for aesthetic flourishes such as adding related visuals to a blog post to break up the text. Luckily, depending on your niche, your smartphone camera and decent lighting are probably enough to produce quality product images.

 

If you’re preparing to do a site redesign, it’s important to see what options are being offered by your web hosting company. WordPress has the capability to easily organize your images and insert them into your pre-existing content. But, if you’re suddenly loading your site with images, you’re going to need the hosting space for all of it. Moreover, you may need to increase your bandwidth to accommodate increased traffic if you do indeed end up doubling your viewers. Contact your web hosting company and review your plan today.

 

How to Increase Your Ecommerce Conversion Rates

As we’ve covered before, WordPress is a great platform to use as an ecommerce solution thanks to its wide variety of plugins and high adoption rates across the web. If you’ve been using WordPress to power your ecommerce business you know how simple it is. But, as any business owner knows, you can’t just rest on your laurels. You always want to have a better month than last. If your sales have plateaued and your current efforts aren’t yielding the results you want, there are some changes you could start making today to drum up conversions.

 

None of these suggestions require developer know-how, but you’ll need to be good with creating visuals. Strong writing will go a long way, too. You may want to seek out a contractor to create your assets, but comfort levels are subjective. Here are some great ways you can improve your site to encourage more sales.

 

Professional Quality Images

 

High quality pictures of your products are the most important thing to have on your website. How big of an effect do images have on an ecommerce site? Well, it’s pretty sizable. Professionals have found that higher quality images can increase conversions by up to three times. Site visitors use images to establish a couple of things. First, it’s a trustworthiness issue. The more professional of an appearance, the higher the chances a customer will feel comfortable providing you with their private information. Shoppers are careful with their credit cards in these times of identity theft. Secondly, images provide critical information about what they’re purchasing. If relevant information is lacking, they will take their business elsewhere. But, a high quality image that shows the details of a product will encourage a conversion.

 

Of course, you might be asking “what does high quality mean?” While that’s subjective, good composition (the featured image being centered in the frame) and a crisp appearance (no stretching or pixilation) are the two critical things to strive for.

 

Make Sure Sales are Highlighted

 

This may seem obvious, however not every site has a dedicated sales section. Your mileage may vary depending on your specific business, but shoppers gravitate to a “sales” heading. Studies show 47% of people who make purchases online exclusively buy discounted items. And 62% of online shoppers claim when they go to a site they seek out the section that indicates sales or specials. Shoppers have been conditioned to be deal hunters. There are many email based businesses (think Groupon) that are constantly offering big deals, inspiring consumers to buy products or services they otherwise never would have considered before.

 

That’s not to say you need to have huge discounts. However, providing an easily accessible and prominent section of the site displaying what is currently on sale can trigger behavior that will increase the possibility of conversion.

 

Put Real Thought Into Your Copy

 

Great copy, like great product photos, tells a story. That is, they are tools of persuasion. However, good copy doesn’t make the “hard sell.” It’s simply clear, useful, and only as long as it needs to be. Useful copy allows your visitors to make an informed decision. It doesn’t tell them to buy. They come to that decision themselves.

 

Depending on the nature of your products, you may opt for concise product descriptions that are just the facts. If you opt for longer, make sure you’re using your space wisely. If you want to be thorough, then make sure you’re using your copy to answer every major potential question a customer may have rather than pitching them on the product.

 

Do You Charge for Shipping?

 

Maybe this one never occurred to you because it’s generally accepted that, hey, it costs money to send things through the mail. But consumers want no part of it. Free shipping is a make or break factor for the vast majority of customers. Many say if there’s no free shipping, they won’t make the purchase. But even more would agree that as long as there is a free shipping offer of some kind (spend more than $25, let’s say) they will make a purchase big enough to hit that threshold. Consumers have a fascinating response to free shipping offers.

 

You may have concerns that absorbing shipping costs will hurt your bottom line. Many businesses manage to make this work. The primary reason why so many businesses opt to just deal with absorbing the shipping costs is because customers will spend more on the items themselves, thus producing a value.

 

Conclusion

 

As you can see, improving your ecommerce site isn’t as daunting as you might have imagined. In fact, sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective ones. Of course people like seeing nice pictures and not paying for shipping! But there are tangible results showing just how important it is to have these things. If you’re having issues updating your site or dealing with traffic spikes, contact your web hosting company to see what solutions they can offer you.

Top 7 Ways to Increase Site Traffic

The best problem to have in business is having your demand outpace your capabilities. Sure, there are initial growing pains. But once you play catch up, you can reap the benefits. In the realm of a web based business, the worst you’ll have to do is contact your web hosting company about upgrading your server tier plan. So, if you haven’t been hitting your sales and traffic goals, or you’re ready to take things to the next level, let’s take a look at some ways anyone can start increasing traffic to your site today.

 

Because you’re a business owner (or marketer) you probably don’t want to get caught up in the technical details. If that aspect of running a site doesn’t interest you, you’re in luck. None of these suggestions are dependent upon your technical know-how. You won’t have to open a text editor and stare at your site’s code. WordPress makes everything simpler.  All it takes is strategy and good, old-fashioned tried and true marketing. Here are just seven of the ways you can begin bumping up your site traffic.

 

Promote Interaction on Your Site

 

It’s more effective to speak with your customers than to speak at them. If you look at the model editorial sites have followed for the past decade, you’ll see that they’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of hosting comments sections. While your site may not lend itself to a comments section, you can install a forum for onsite conversation and leverage social media plugins to encourage conversation off-site as well.

 

Blog Consistently

 

Fresh content is what keeps people returning to your site. Even if you run an ecommerce site that stays more or less static, the inclusion of a WordPress blog allows for easily indexed content that will provide SEO benefits as well as useful material for customers. Blogs are also great fodder for conversation on social networks. Speaking of using blogs to begin conversations, that leads us to our next tip.

 

Promote Your Blog Posts

 

There are multiple ways you can get your content out there. Leveraging your email lists is a classic and effective method of promoting whatever it is you’re looking to get eyeballs on that week. Traditionally, this is a great way to promote coupons and sales which undoubtedly drive traffic. You can also promote blog posts here occasionally. If people subscribed to your list are already conditioned to follow the links you provide via sales, this is a good way to increase blog traffic, which will elevate overall organic search traffic for your site.

 

Use Community Discovery Tools

 

Obviously, you’re eventually going to have reach beyond your existing scope. Email lists and social networks are good, but they use existing connections for the most part. Submitting your content to a site like StumbleUpon or joining a blogger network where you can interact with others in your industry (and cross promote one another) are great ways to reach audiences you wouldn’t have reached before. There is a sense of randomness involved (especially with StumbleUpon) but not all advertising is specifically targeted.

 

Interact with the Media

 

Depending on your particular niche, you may find yourself with opportunities to participate in some PR work. It’s always important to have a solid contact form plugin installed on your WordPress site for this very reason. Journalists often reach out to business owners looking to get comments for stories. Twitter is another great place where you can gain traction by interacting with more social circles.

 

Link to Relevant Content

 

This tip is actually two suggestions in one. First, yes link to other relevant pages on your own site. It’ll help visitors navigate your site better and focus them so that they follow the funnel into a conversion. But, paying it forward also has its benefits. Link to outside sources as well. Generally, site owners will reciprocate if appropriate. If you build links to sites with higher traffic, that will certainly help you in your search engine optimization efforts.

 

Use SEO Plugins

 

WordPress is known for its huge array of plugins that allow you to add functionality to your site without having to know how to code. Increasing traffic isn’t just about performing marketing duties. There are some technical elements to this as well. SEO plugins make this easy. With simple installation, all you need to do is enter the pertinent information into the provided text fields like you do any other kind of content. Check out Jetpack for the most comprehensive multi use plugin.

 

That’s a solid start to getting a strategy underway to boost your site traffic. Though there were seven tips listed here, there are plenty more for you to discover as you see your visitor count increase. Remember, your WordPress site is easily scalable. With the right hosting solution, you’ll be prepared to easily handle the growth in your traffic.

Why Creatives Should Use WordPress for Their Portfolios

 

If you’re a creative professional or aspiring artist, having a portfolio website is key to finding work and establishing a reputation. If you’ve ever worked in a creative field, you know having samples to show is just as important, if not more important, than simply having a resume. The work itself is also only part of the story. How you display that work also signals to employers how serious you are. Creative work extends to every aspect of design. That’s why the platform you choose to host your portfolio on should be reliable, adaptable, and aesthetically appealing. Of course, WordPress is more than up to the task. While everyone knows the benefits of WordPress when it comes to running a business, its capabilities as a portfolio platform shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’ve been looking to update your web presence and don’t know where to begin, here are some ways creatives can use WordPress to quickly establish a killer online portfolio. Be sure to find a reliable web hosting provider that will keep your portfolio site running 24/7 regardless of how much multimedia you’re uploading to your site.

 

Pick the Perfect Theme

 

One of the most attractive qualities of WordPress is the ability to have nearly any look you want for your site thanks to easily installable themes. Of course, with so many choices, you’re going to need to narrow down your search a bit. The first question you want to ask yourself is, “What am I looking to accomplish with this portfolio?” If it’s simply a repository of your work, you want a clean theme that won’t take away from the work itself. For photographers, a theme like Oshine or Uncode could be what you need. Oshine is minimalist while Uncode offers a wide range of features that you can use (or choose not to use) depending on your specific goals. Ultimately, you’ll want to choose a theme that applies to what your actual field is. If you’re a writer, you have more wiggle room. Any clean theme with a white background and a focus on one piece of writing at a time should work for you. Get creative. Just avoid overcrowding because then you’ll lose reader focus. Guide your visitors to the pieces you want them to read by establishing order.

 

Choose a Plugin Instead

 

Suppose you already have a site established for some other purpose or you don’t want to choose a whole theme dedicated to just a portfolio. A portfolio plugin can add a portfolio section to nearly any theme for quick installation (or removal, if you so choose). Some portfolio plugins include Essential Grid, which adds grid layouts to your site for both text and image samples of your work. You can include as many rows and columns as you’d like, custom colors, content sources, layouts, and more. Media Grid is another solid choice if you’re looking to arrange photos, videos, or audio in a fully customizable grid layout. There are more portfolio plugins out there, so check them out. They’re a convenient way to turn an existing site into a showcase of your work

 

Carefully Select Your Content

 

Now we’re getting to the part you’ll probably spend quite a bit of time on. After all, this is what you’re going to be building your brand on. It’s time to choose the samples of your work that best represent you. You’re not going to want to throw everything you’ve ever done on your site. It’s important to choose work that is relevant, recent, and high quality. Show off what you’re most proud of. Also remember that context is everything. Whether you’re a writer, artist, engineer, or developer, you have to tell a story with your portfolio. Work presented without context isn’t as effective as work samples provided with an explanation as to how it fits into your overall body of work. Write short contextual descriptions for each work you present in your portfolio so potential employers can better understand your process and the way you work. Generally, a single page of your very best work is enough when it comes to a portfolio. Just like with a resume, few people will spend time combing through your entire history. Put your best foot forward.

 

Establish a Method of Contact

 

This is a small (and obvious) point to make, but it is important. Now that you’ve spent all this time presenting your work, having a way for visitors to reach you for employment opportunities wraps the whole thing up. After all, what good is a portfolio if it doesn’t get you more work? Consider installing a contact form plugin so you can collect pertinent information from visitors at the initial point of contact. Alternatively, you could just provide an email address, but then you have no real filter or introductory information. Whatever you choose, make sure your preferred method of contact is prominently displayed on your site.

 

Set up your portfolio site today. With WordPress, it’s easy and you’ll be up and running in no time.