Archive for Wordflirt Blogs

January 2017 Maintenance and Security updates you need to know

As expected, WordPress 4.7.1 was released in January. Specifically on January 11. It fixed eight security issues that affected WordPress 4.7 and below. Then on January 26, version 4.7.2 was released to fix three additional security issues. All of those fixes were applied as appropriate to 4.6.1.

Normally we wait a month to update our WordPress sites to major versions (like 4.6 to 4.7) because of potential incompatibilities between the WordPress version and plugins and themes, as well as for bugs to be fixed. WordPress is at such a stable point in terms of features that most things are just nice enhancements, and waiting is fine.

However, for security updates for WordPress, as well as the themes and plugins we use, we update those on all our client sites as fast as is possible; in fact, for the security updates for WordPress, like going from 4.7.0 to 4.7.1, we allow those to be updated automatically since there are ALWAYS security updates.

W3Techs has ranked WordPress as the fastest growing CMS. More people using it leads to two things:

  1. More plugins, themes, and options when you choose to upgrade your site
  2. More people trying to hack into your site

A great tool that we use for some things, which we recommend to our clients to use, is Trello. It allows you to create a “flow” to any major activity, such as keeping track of tasks, a sales pipeline, a bug list, etc. It’s free for most things you’d want to do.

A highly effective Gmail Phishing technique has been going on. They basically trick you into signing into a google look-alike page, and the URL in the address bar looks authentic! A lot of technically savvy people have gotten stung by this. Please be careful and keep your antenna up for these types of things.

Passwords remain terrible in the world wide web. Keeper Security analyzed 10 million passwords that became public via data breaches in 2016 and found that nearly 17 percent of users are protecting their accounts with “123456,” which Keeper ranked as the most common password of 2016! Can you believe that??? We can’t over-emphasize that you don’t have repeated and simple passwords.

How to monitor your SEO results

Results reflect the quality of SEO work that has been done. The most obvious result is organic ranking on page one of Google without having to use paid ads. However, there are some tools available on the internet that you can use for free to check the ranking performance of your site in search engines throughout the process.

1. Rankchecker
Rankchecker is a freemium service that allows you to check the standing of your site for specific keywords. All you need to do is register for a free account and you will then be able to check up to 5 keywords. It also gives you suggestions and warnings about things that you need to improve on in your site.

2. Google Analytics
If you have good SEO, your website will appear in the top pages of search engines. When that happens, traffic or the volume of users visiting your website will also increase. Google Analytics gives you the ability to track the traffic and also enables you to filter the data to see where the traffic came from, what device was used, how long the user stayed in your page and if the user came from a search engine or just typed your website’s URL directly. (Note: when you participate in Wordflirt’s maintenance program, you will receive monthly website traffic reports).

3. Google Webmaster tools
You can use this tool to test if your website can be crawled or is visible to bots used by search engines. It also checks if you have a sitemap available and flags any errors in your website like missing titles, invalid links and even spammy content.

It is important that you track the progress or any improvements in your site’s ranking. Numbers do not lie. Using the tools that we mentioned above gives you an overview and provides the data necessary to formulate a good judgment as to whether you or the company that you are working with has built an effective SEO campaign.

Read more about Wordflirt’s San Jose SEO.

December 2016 Maintenance and Security update

WordPress 4.7 was released on December 6. We haven’t seen any compatibility issues yet, but we are still planning on waiting to update until sometime in January, as per our policy to wait at least a month before moving to a major WordPress update.

We anticipate 4.7.1 being released sometime in January, so we will likely wait for that, as there are no security issues, but some bugs we want to be resolved.

If you’ve not heard of “ransomware” before, this article discusses it, but it also talks about something even more insidious. Basically the ransomware locks a PC demanding payment to unlock it; however, a 2nd option is presented to the user: instead of paying the ransom, a user can attempt to infect other PCs! And the ransom amount from this case amounted to over $700, so some people will be tempted.

As we’ve written about before, here are the best ways to stay free of problems:

  1. Have strong passwords
  2. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts
  3. Have antivirus running, especially on your PC
  4. Keep your software on the PC and phone up-to-date
  5. Backup regularly just-in-case
  6. Avoid clicking on links in your emails – use your common sense.

This is REALLY important as even big companies get breached, such as Yahoo’s recent disclosure of more than one BILLION accounts getting hacked!

Another example is Sony Music’s twitter account was hacked and tweeted out “Britney Spears is dead”. If this type of hack happens to you, and you have shared passwords, then they have the password to other accounts. Please don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.

For your website, we are strongly considering two additional measures for protection. While they are inconvenient for you, they have proven to be very effective in preventing unauthorized logins:

  • Force you to change your password every 90 days (very likely to implement)
  • Force you to implement two-factor authentication

Sometimes we see large hosting sites have major network outages with major downtime. Bluehost has had this happen a couple of times, and most recently it was down for 12 hours in December. That’s one hosting company we avoid using. However, it can happen. Just in case it does, we have offline backups we can use to restore a site.

Any questions or needs you might have, just send us an email or give us a call!

Skill sets of a good SEO professional or company

There are a couple of technical SEO skill sets that you need to look for when choosing the company that you will be working with or you will be trusting to do the SEO of your website. These SEO skill sets are:

1. Content writing

Everyone who knows SEO knows that quality content is very important. Search engines, like Google, are very strict when it comes to the quality of content that a website has. If Google sees that your content is spammy, duplicated or over stuffed with the keywords that you are targeting, your website will rank lower in its SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Creating SEO friendly content requires creativity, grammar, vocabulary and a high understanding of how search engines read a website’s content.

2.  Creativity

Not everyone has the talent for creativity. One of the things that makes content writing tricky is the ability to write content in such a way that it’s natural or conversational but still has the targeted keywords. The content also has to be long enough without repeating key phrases over and over.

3.  Understanding of Website Analytics

Some search engines provide tools for you to see how your website is doing in terms of traffic and the specifics of where the traffic is coming from. The ability to understand the data from these tools is important to SEO because it is one of the indicators that will show if the SEO strategies that have been implemented is effective or not. Good SEO work means that your website should rank higher in search pages which then translates to better traffic coming to your site.

4.  Search Engine Algorithm knowledge

Knowing how search engines run things is crucial, because this could make or break all the work that has been done to your website. If a company or person that you are working with has no idea regarding how search engines operate or what its algorithm does, it might do more harm than good to your website. A good example: Google has put many systems in place to generate search results. It has a system that checks for content that has been over saturated with keywords and another system that checks the code of your web page follows proper HTML markup. In the event that you get flagged by one of these systems, you may get penalized by making your website rank lower.

5. Communication

Good communication is important in any project, business or partnership. Most, if not all, business owners want to get updated on the progress of projects that they are doing especially if it costs money. Some digital marketing firms out there will keep you in the dark about what they are doing to your website and will only communicate if you send them an email first. Sometimes, it may come to a point that contacting them will be a nightmare once you have already paid for the project. With Wordflirt’s SEO team, you can be sure that we will proactively send you updates.

We believe that skills are measured by output. Anyone can just say that they are the best at what they do but when you ask them the hard questions or the specifics of the field that they will either avoid your question or just make up “facts” to make you believe that they know what they are talking about.

Finding the right partner to do SEO can be difficult. There are many companies out there that offer the business and will promise you unrealistic results when it comes to SEO. Some companies may promise to get you to rank on page 1. Search results vary depending on many factors like location, search history and many more so if someone tells you that they can get you to rank 1 no matter what, that’s a red flag!

Wordflirt provides service in many different areas so whether you need Los Angeles or San Jose SEO services you can be assured that you get the best results with realistic targets and up to date strategies.

Characteristics of a good SEO company

How do you go about finding a trustworthy SEO expert for your site?

As a business owner, you know very well that trust is very important in any partnerships or business relationships. There are many SEO firms out there and you need to be very careful in choosing the right one to do business with.

We will talk about the technical skillsets below, but they really need to have some soft skills, because SEO, done properly, is not an overnight solution which then lasts forever – there is monitoring, reporting, and tweaking as things change.

Important attributes include:

  • Are realistic as to what’s really possible for your rankings? For example, if you are trying to rank #1 for the keyword “online MBA” in two months, it’s just not possible, as companies and universities have been working on this for years with a ton of money and resources behind them. They should be able to evaluate and analyze the competitive nature of your keywords and recommend a realistic timeframe and budget to get you ranked.
  • Communicate to you regularly on the status. This can be either weekly or monthly depending upon how often you want to monitor your rankings. Start of with at least once per month. See below for what you should be monitoring.
  • Speaking of communications, they should have at least a couple of blogs on their site about SEO, what it takes, etc., to educate you on not only what they do, but on what SEO really means. If they can coherently write about it, chances are they’ll be able to coherently communicate with you.
  • Understand what your needs are. It may take only a slight increase in traffic to sell a few more of your items to make a big difference in the revenue of your business. Here is one place where you must understand the Lifetime Value of your clients so you know how much to spend and how often. We’ll have more on that in another SEO post.
  • Have a grasp on the difference between strategy and tactics, and communicate with you on that difference. Basically, the strategy is a long-term goal and should not change much, but the tactics are short-term and can change depending upon what works to accomplish the strategy.

Why do you need SEO

The Power of SEO

First, it’s important to understand what SEO is. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s part methodology and part art that allows Google’s algorithms, or any other search engine, to find you and classify your website on the internet. Where you show up on a search based on your keywords (page one or page 1000), is called your “rank”.

Second, understand that Google is interested in delivering search results that are accurate and provide the best user experience. They want you to always use their search engine, which means going to Google.com whenever you run a search. This allows them to show you ads for which they get paid.

Getting your website ranked high organically (which means free to you without paying for ads) is very important for your business IF you want to get more leads and traffic without spending your time prospecting.

The easier you make it for Google to find your site and categorize it properly, the more accurate their results will be. The idea is that accurate search results mean the people that find you will be closer to your ideal client.

Also, as you’re out-and-about building relationships with people, some will forget your name but remember your business, or vice-versa, or may only remember parts of each. They will then “Google” you, and hopefully you’ll come up in their results. Proper SEO can help maximize your off-line networking, as well as your on-line network presence.

The highest ranked websites have additional opportunities for business growth. Advertisers, affiliates, and other partners will view your site as a high value, and may request to pay you for advertising or selling their products to your viewers (banner ads and affiliate programs). This creates a mutually beneficial relationship for your industry partners, with very little effort on your part (once your site is ranked, of course!).

Therefore, it’s really important to rank your website high. But how high?

According to this study from a few years ago (https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/study/2276184/no-1-position-in-google-gets-33-of-search-traffic-study) , there’s a dramatic drop-off as you move down the list. And that 92% of all traffic from the average search is confined to page 1.

The Reality of SEO

Over the years, there have been many theories and solutions, both ethical (whitehat) and unethical (blackhat) which have come and gone. Some methods have remained solid and reliable. Others have garnered the dreaded “Google Slap” for poor practice or unsupported tactics. Google’s utmost concern is the quality of their search results, so SEO companies that rely on spammy links and crummy content, are no longer ranking.

A truly ethical, long-lasting SEO campaign will achieve high ranking on the search engines within a specific period of time, then only require tweaking when Google changes their algorithm. Many SEO companies will have you believe that you need to be with them forever in order to keep your ranking, however that is just not true or fair to you, the business owner. Yes, it can take a long time to rank your site, depending upon how competitive your keywords are. No, you don’t need to employ an SEO team forever.

Interested to learn more about SEO? Read our San Jose SEO post to know more.

When to Throw in the Facebook Towel

Are you Frustrated with Facebook?

A couple of years ago, having an active Facebook business page was a “must have”. Clients came to me asking for one, stating they “knew they had to do it”, despite their lack of desire to post regularly or to nurture and engage a social audience. The general thought was that if you posted regularly on social media, you would get leads that would get you new business.

Fast forward 6 months to a year, and after spending money to have great content created and shared, there were few or no leads to report. Why is that?

The reality is that Facebook doesn’t show your stuff to anyone unless they show interest. I’m not talking about someone liking your page. Here are two scenarios for how I think it happens:

Scenario One: Someone likes your page. Facebook says “oh good, a new follower!” It shows that person a few of your posts in their newsfeed over the coming days. That follower lets the posts go by without liking, clicking, commenting, or sharing it. FB then says “oh bummer, they aren’t really interested in this page, so I’ll show them something else”. And never again does that person see what you’ve posted.

Scenario Two: Someone likes your page. Facebook says “oh good, a new follower!” It shows that person a few of your posts in their newsfeed over the coming days. This follower DOES click on your posts, likes them, shares them and comments now and then. FB says “hurray! This follower IS really interested in this page – so I’ll show them more.”

So if no one is seeing your posts as in scenario one, you can’t possibly get any new leads for business by posting on Facebook. The results: a disappointing ROI.

Facebook AdvertisingWhat do you do?

In order for you to get anything from Facebook, it is now “pay to play”. That means you will have to factor in some paid advertising budget to get your posts seen. Which is why, starting on July 1, our social media content packages now include a budget for paid Facebook ads, plus our creative team to design and run your ad campaigns.

If you’re not happy about your results and want to change your Facebook strategy, you have several options. You could:

  1. Throw in the towel and stop posting on Facebook.
  2. Continue posting to Facebook without seeing any results (maybe because you like doing it or you enjoy the posts you pay to have created – that’s all fine!)
  3. You can continue to post, but decide on a monthly paid advertising budget.

It can be frustrating when you invest in creating and posting Facebook content, whether it’s your time or your money to pay someone to do it. Try our new strategy out and see what results you get. Perhaps the ROI will have you smiling, instead of feeling frustrated.

Check out our new social media packages which now include paid FB ads!

WordPress Website Makeover Customer Highlight: FEWL

Wordflirt Client

FEWL – Fast Easy Weight Loss

This week we re-launched the WordPress website for FEWL, an online weight loss program. FEWL is a unique program, because it focuses on the root cause of weight gain, as well as, gut health and other contributing factors.

FEWL, like many of our clients, hired a web design team that left them dissatisfied. There were some good things about the site, but overall, it did not have the professional, modern and fluid look that they wanted.

Site makeovers can be tricky. We never know what kind of funky code we will find until we open up the hood. Often, the original web designer uses an unfriendly WordPress theme, which sets the stage for every aspect of the site, such as, plugin compatibility, ease of custom coding, as well as, speed and functionality.

As with these makeover situations, we found buggy issues that were not anticipated. In the hands of our awesome web development team (David and Bryan) they cleaned up the code to make it function properly, and look better.

We also added new content, such as a testimonial page, a stylized blog, live chat, social media share, follow and streams, plus a forum for weight loss clients to reach the coaches and eachother for support.

The team at FEWL is a dream to work with. They are cooperative, appreciative, and understand how a project like this can be challenging. We also want to say that we think their program is unique and cool! In fact, some of us have tried and LOVED the 8 day detox!

We will continue to fine-tune the site, making it more robust with content, as well as, increase the functionality of the live chat and forum features that we added. Also on the wishlist, is a new ecommerce solution that would integrate with a CRM…we look forward to figuring out that challenge in the coming days!

Where to Spend Your Digital Dollars

Digital Advertising – Where to Spend Your Ad Budget

If your digital advertising budget is limited, then you want the highest ROI on every dollar you spend. It’s difficult to decide where to put those dollars, because there are so many platforms to choose from! Here are just a few:

  • Google Adwords
  • Facebook Advertising
  • Yelp Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Banner ads on partnership sites

How do you decide where to spend your ad dollars?

My Choice: Facebook Advertising

Facebook AdvertisingAt this time, I believe that paid ads on Facebook are the best place to spend your advertising dollars online.

Why? Because Facebook knows everything about it’s users – over 10,000 data points on each user! They know what they like and what they don’t like. They know where they live, how old they are, if they are married or single, their education level, and more. They know all this based upon what they post, as well as, their behavior.

For example, if you like sewing and you post Pinterest links to sewing topics, like other’s posts about sewing, and share articles or information about sewing, guess what? Facebook knows you like sewing and will start showing you ads for new sewing machines, sewing classes, fabric stores and more. You, as the sewing enthusiast, are more likely to click on one of these ads, because it’s your INTEREST.

Google, although it’s still the number one search engine, is too expensive and competitive to give you the ROI that you can get from Facebook, plus it doesn’t have the same amount of user behavior data that Facebook has.

Additionally, the types and objectives of your ads on Facebook are wide and varied. Here are just some examples of what you can do with a Facebook advertising campaign:

  • Get more people to like your FB page
  • Boost your post so that more people see it
  • Get people to go to your website
  • Get people to sign up for your email list
  • Get people to your physical location based upon where they are

There are other things you can do, but these are likely the most desired objectives.

A nice data point when you’re creating your ad, is you can see how many people will see it and you can tweak your target audience accordingly by changing the demographics, behaviors, or interest settings in your ad.

Another highly powerful tactic with Facebook advertising, is the ability to target your ads to specific lists. You can upload your email list and Facebook will find those users, to whom you can now direct your ad by creating a “custom audience”. Once you’re happy that this audience is the right one, you can tell Facebook to “create a similar audience” and it will create a whole new list of similar people with similar demographics and interests. Pretty cool, right?

If you’re not sure how to get started, contact us to help you. We can help you hash out a strategy, design cool creative graphics, and set up your targeted audiences for you.