Archive for Plugins

Load WordPress FAST with Dreamhost, Amazon CloudFront and W3 Total Cache Plugin

First of all, why speed up your site?  The search engines now look at page load time to give your website a good page rank.  Plus, you may easily lose potential sales or email captures if your site takes more than a second to load!

My quest for faster load time information led me here: http://www.larre.com/2010/01/24/amazon-s3-and-cloudfront-with-wordpress-and-dreamhost/ – a blog post about using Amazon CloudFront with my web hosting company, Dreamhost to create a CDN (content delivery network) to spread out the http requests from users (thus decreasing load time).  Turns out, my favorite web hosting company, Dreamhost, is not only a green web hosting company, but is the first to roll out this new feature!

Dreamhost/Wordpress users, here are the steps involved:

1) Deactivate and delete any other caching plugins you may already have installed on your WordPress site.  Verify they are completely deleted using your ftp program to make sure the plugin folder is REALLY gone.

2) Create an Amazon AWS Account. Please note: it may take several hours for your account credentials to be functional.

3) Log into your Dreamhost web hosting panel and go to “Goodies” –> Amazon CloudFront.

4) Copy your Amazon CloudFront settings into the Dreamhost settings and click “Create CloudFront.”  Dreamhost automatically creates the new CloudFront bucket for you.  It will appear in your AWS Console after it is created.

6) Install W3Total Cache DEVELOPER version.

7) Activate the plugin and enable CDN only.

8 ) Configure the CDN settings and click “create bucket” then “test.”

9) Upload the media library, includes files, theme files and custom files to the CloudFront using W3 Total Cache , the AWS Management Console or S3Hub (for Mac) or the Firefox add-on S3Fox (for PC).

10) Make sure you set the ACP (permissions) to “Read Only” for “All Users” or “Everyone” otherwise your images and other content may not show up.  Here are the screenshots for using S3Hub:

Read up on how to use Amazon CloudFront.  Also you may want to take advantage of the new AWS default root object feature for enhanced security.  Let me know how it goes!

P.S. I am an affiliate of Dreamhost as well as a user and a big fan (as you can tell!).

2 great plugins allow you to add tables and add a Favicon

In this post, I am showcasing a few plugins I’ve tested that add functionality to your WordPress website:

1) Add custom tables with MCE Table Buttons plugin

This plugin allows you to insert a table to your specifications right within the WordPress WYSIWYG editor by adding buttons to the kitchen sink.  As you can see here,

You can give your whole table a… background color
then go back and make changes if you want to remove a color… or change the color

2) Add a favicon with Favicons by Ioane.  A favicon is the little image that appears on the left side of the tab of your browser like this:

To transform your own image into a favicon, use this Favicon Generator.

Design Portfolio: Featured Content Gallery

This screenshot of Patt Lind-Kyle’s home page shows one of my favorite WordPress add-ons: the Featured Content Gallery (FCG).  This plugin allows WordPress users/designers to add a rotating image gallery to the home page that links to featured blog posts when clicked on.  Here is another WordPress site that uses FCG (DrMillerBlogs.com):

Adding a Featured Content Gallery to an exisiting WordPress site involves designing custom images and associating them with the featured posts.  The total cost for this add-on depends on how many images are requested and ranges from $76-$152.  Ongoing maintenance or changes are billed at my hourly rate of $38.

If you would like to add a Featured Content Gallery to your site, call me at (530) 362-8586 or send an email to cat @ catswebweave.com.

Happy Holidays!

Catherine

The art of SEO: basic concepts for WordPress users

You’ve probably already heard that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a very important part of your total website marketing plan.  I recently spent some time consulting with our local SEO expert, Coryon Redd from Batteries4Less.com.  My head is spinning with all there is to know about SEO.  Here are the basics concepts as an introduction to SEO:

1) SEO is all about discovering the right keywords people use to search for your products and services on Google.com – Google being the top search engine on the internet.

2) If you want to maximize traffic to your website, your first task is to find the best keywords that relate most accurately to what you do or sell (assuming you are good and people need what you have).  Think about this from the perspective of the user.  Suppose you sell vintage jewelry.  Is your customer going to type in, “vintage jewelry” or “1960’s Victorian diamond wedding ring?” and how many people are interested in that particular product?

3) Once you have discovered the best keywords using certain tools, your next task is to use those keywords on your site in the most effective ways to draw visitors to your site using an SEO plugin and tags.

4) Then your next step is to convert your website visits into sales (which is another important marketing topic).

Why spend time on SEO?  If you can get in the top 5 search results in Google, your chances of making a sale go up dramatically.  However, keep in mind that SEO takes time and effort.  According to Coryon, doing SEO right takes a minimum of 5 dedicated hours per week.

How does all of this apply to WordPress?  Well, WordPress is naturally SEO-friendly due simply to its permalink structure and the fact that blogs tend to have fresh content, and Google loves fresh content.  And once you’ve done your keyword research and chosen your target keywords, there are certain plugins and themes for WordPress that help with SEO.  Then there are additional SEO techniques for how you use your keywords when you title your pages, write your content, create internal links & external links, who you link to and who links to you.  You can also increase your “link juice” with link brokers and by using trackbacks and pingbacks.  It’s a form of art and science unto itself.  Even the number of characters you use matters.

Those are the basic concepts of SEO.  There is a lot to learn, but if you are serious about optimizing your business with the internet, it would be wise to invest in learning more about SEO.

Update to the latest version of WordPress

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This post is for those who maintain their own WordPress site/s (or are employing someone other than myself do it for them).

Recently, I wrote an article about how to backup your WordPress site properly.  If you are not in the habit of backing up regularly, reference that post for more information about backing up and then…

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Mobilize your WordPress site

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The dotMobi “Mobile Pack” is an essential plugin for WordPress sites geared for mobile users.  Once installed and activated, this plugin will automatically detect if your site visitor is viewing your site with a mobile device or on a desktop and convert the site view accordingly.

Even if the demographic of those you serve with your business is not technology-savvy, it is still a good idea to make your site as user-friendly as possible.  More and more people are using mobile devices to surf the web every day.  Making your site “mobile-friendly” increases the range of people you can reach with your WordPress site.

Go here to get the plugin: MobilePack

If you would like assistance with installing and configuring this plugin, I can help.

Here to help you make your finest dreams come true,

-Catherine

Back yourself up: The 3 top reasons to back up your WordPress site

Why backup?

1) hosting companies disappear

2) servers crash

3) code gets corrupted

Ok, so I convinced you.  Now if you’re like most people, you’ve got 2 tasks ahead:

backup

To backup your database, use the WP-Database-Backup plugin.  Before I discovered this simple backup plugin, I manually backed up my clients’ databases for them before I upgraded their version of WordPress.  Those of you who have used MySql to backup can imagine how grateful I was to discover a plugin that would do this automatically.  With WP-database-backup, you can schedule an automatic backup with email delivery to yourself or your WordPress manager.

To backup your wp-content folder, use an ftp program like fetch or use your web hosting control panel’s file manager.  Once you’ve copied the wp-content folder to your computer or hard drive, burn your database and your wp-content folder onto a CD-R or DVD disk for storage (remember – hard drives can fail).  Then sleep well at night – you’ve backed yourself up!

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Stats for WordPress: Analytics or WP stats?

One of my clients just asked me if there was a way to see how many people were visiting his WordPress blog each day and my answer is yes!  There are 2 ways I recommend:

1) Google Analytics and 2) WordPress.com stats

Google Analytics is by far the most in-depth, comprehensive stats provider.  It is very useful for when you want to employ search engine optimization techniques.  However, sometimes it’s just TMI (too much information!).

WordPress.com stats is a wordpress plugin that gives you the basics in your dashboard – how many visits, keywords people used to find you, the links they clicked on while they were there, etc. Here is a screenshot of my wp.com stats since I started my e-newsletter:

stats

Which to use? Both.

Generate and schedule a weekly Google Analytics report to be delivered to your email inbox for the more detailed information – what country visitors are from, how long they were looking at your site, bounce rate, what browser they used, etc.  And add WordPress.com stats to your dashboard to get the basic facts.

If you have found this information helpful, please let me know by leaving a comment on this blog post!

Here to help you make your finest dreams come true,

– Catherine

The problem with using Feedburner for email marketing

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Your WordPress site (or blog) comes with an RSS Feed.  Google’s free Feedburner service takes that feed and converts it to a universal format.  With Feedburner, you can also activate useful tools including a free email subscription form which allows visitors to subscribe to your feed.

The one major drawback with using Feedburner for email marketing is that you cannot edit the email template (which means you can’t add any custom branding besides your photo).  Here is a screenshot of what my most recent Feedburner email looks like:

feedburner_news

Don’t yet have a budget for a premium email marketing service?  I can help you create a custom branded e-newsletter using your WordPress blog (this is what I do with my e-newsletter). Here is what my e-newsletter currently looks like:

e-news

See the difference?  Once the process is set up, you can focus on writing your blog post and then your content will go out by email to your list.  You can save some serious money by going this route instead of hiring someone to custom design your e-newsletter every time you want to publish! Want to get started?

Here to help you make your finest dreams come true,

Catherine

P.S. I can also set up your blog to publish excerpts to Facebook, Twitter, and other social websites with my social media package.  Another great way to maximize your online presence!

Measure your site’s effectiveness with Google Analyticator

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This free WordPress plugin makes it super easy to install the necessary Google code so you can access the valuable information provided by Google Analytics.  First, install the plugin through your WordPress plugin installer.  Next, create a Google Analytics account.  Then, go into the Google Analytics settings:

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Enable the plugin and copy and paste your Google Analytics ID (looks like UA-XXXXXX-X) into the plugin settings.

Now you are good to go!  You can access your stats by logging into Analytics and/or by generating a report.

For more free WordPress tips by email, subscribe to my e-newsletter:

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