There are thousands of searches on WordPress every day. In fact there are over 2.8 million on Google for the keyword ‘Wordpress’ every month.
What are the 5 best plugins for 2018?
Can my cat have a blog on WordPress?
What is a WordPress permalink?
It is easy to become weighed down by indigestible attempts to explain these common queries, particularly the ones about cats. In this weeks blog we are hoping to redress the balance and answer a selection of the most common questions about WordPress from all corners of the digital expanse.
Let me make it clear, we are not trumpet blowers here, this will be an honest view of some of the positives as well as – and arguably more importantly – the negatives associated with using WordPress as your springboard to a successful future online.
So, let’s kick off with an easy one….
1) What are Diffusion Digital’s top 5 plugins for 2018?
Tricky to narrow down but here are some that we use across most of our website builds.
Any business owner, on or offline, needs to have exceptional organisational skills if they want to scale up their business, and they are going to need even greater skills to stay there.
WP ERP is a powerful plugin that aids hman resource management, customer relations management and accounting. These three pillars are key to supporting a scaling business and dramatically brighten up what is normally an incredibly mundane and time-consuming job.
For those of you looking to cross borders and go global, having a Multilanguage option on your site is crucial to attracting and retaining new customers. Now, no translation software is perfect and even the best leave a little to be desired, but the Multilanguage plugin is up there with the best. The plugin works across pages, posts, widgets, menus, custom post types and taxonomies, allowing the user to easily switch to one of the 80+ languages the plugin offers.
Price: $32/mo or $320/lifetime
It’s all very well have a beautiful site with unrivalled content, but if you don’t reach your target audience what’s the point? From shyest blogger to the multi national businesses, there will agree there’s very little point in having a website that doesn’t try to reach out to people.
Yoast SEO walks you through all of the steps you need to boost your search engine ranking. From keyword suggestions to content insights to internal linking suggestions to many many more; this powerful tool will dramatically increase your reach and in turn, will bring more quality leads to the site which ultimately will increase conversion.
As an eCommerce specialist it would be remiss of me not to one of the most powerful plugin that will transform your WordPress site into a fully functioning transactional platform.
The WooCommerce WordPress plugin is responsible for driving around 30% of online stores. Like in most things, when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys and whilst the free version of the plugin gives you basic functionality, the premium version comes with the really useful stuff including one-page checkout, cart abandonment emails amongst hundreds of others.
Price: $79/month, 5 sites – $129/month, 25 – $179/month
Anything with ‘advanced’ and ‘pro’ in the title is either overcompensating or genuinely worth its weight in gold. In this case, the latter springs true.
Advanced Custom Fields Pro enables developers to build extra fields into the backend of your WordPress site that enhances repeatable blocks, page building layouts, intuitive galleries, custom settings and reusable fields. This will allow you to optimise the way your content can be consumed, as opposed to being constrained by an off the shelf template.
Price: $25AUD Personal, $100AUD Developer
With 55,000 other plugins out there, this list could ramble on longer than one of the Mad Hatter’s riddles, but it does bring me neatly onto my next point.
There are substantial differences between the two and it is important that you kick off your online presence on the right foot. Fundamentally the main and most obvious difference is that WordPress.org is free. Whilst this might be useful for the hobby blogger, it leaves a lot to be desired if you are looking at taking a more professional approach.
On the one hand wordpress.org provides a free, open source, downloadable version of the software, which you must install yourself, choose a suitable hosting provider and between the two of you, you are responsible for your WordPress installation and management, including backups; upgrades and site security. If you are the person blogging about your cat (or one of the people – I hear this is quite a popular topic?) this might not be an issue as it is unlikely that anything too drastic will happen if for some reason the site goes down (I suspect I am in danger of treading on a few cat lovers’ toes here…. No offence intended!).
On the other hand, WordPress.com offers you a range of off-the-shelf, ready to use Software as a Service (SaaS), basic and premium plans. These versions are fully hosted, all backups are taken care of and security updates and upgrades are handled for you. Whilst it is free initially, premium services are obviously paid for and prices range from £36/year for a partially customised blogging platform, to £240/year for the business plan, which allows you to fully customise your site and install third-party plugins.
There are over 55,000 plugins available on WordPress and it can quickly feel like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole — I perhaps could have phrased that better, apologies Alice — into Wonderland when you start searching for the best plugins with which to optimise your site. But although it can be quite complicated, if you are really after a site that will reflect your brand or business online, these plugins are essential.
Sticking with the subject of plugins, here are some that would broaden the Cheshire cat’s already pretty broad grin…. (Tenuous link – I think Alice in Wonderland is this weeks theme – I couldn’t tell you why. How many references can you find?)
3) How do I secure my WordPress site from rogue plugins?
Fundamentally WordPress is a very secure platform. However, owing to the open source nature of the site, you take the risk of opening up your site to hackers who like to exploit poor coding or out of date software. However, the vorpal sword is always nearby to fight them off and there are many means by which you can mitigate risk. Here is a list of common issues with plugins.
- Website Security Breaches.
Beware the hackers my son! The jaws that bite the claws that snatch… (hmmmmm, not sure if Carroll will be too happy with this one – or any of them for that matter.)
Hackers will use plugins as a means of gaining entryto your website with potentially catastrophic consequences in terms of your business or data security. The reality is not as dark as I make out here and there are several security plugins that you can install to put yourself in the strongest position in staving off attacks.
Furthermore, simply by backing up your website regularly you can ensure that should an attack take place you can quickly restore your website to working condition.
Keeping your plugins updated, or by removing them if they are not being used, will slam the door on hackers looking to exploit weaknesses in your site.
- Site performance and page speed.
In terms of retaining and converting visitors to your site, page-loading times are critical. The more plugins you have installed could mean reduced website performance as each plugin requires more code to be read and understood by the browser. Installing a caching plugin like WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache can help prevent this problem by reducing the processing load on your server which can dramatically enhance performance by increasing your site speed.
A potential further issue is that some plugins are not compatible with one another which can cause problems with page loading times and as a worse case scenario entire website failure.
The reliability of plugins can also be called into question. Reliability can be effected by poor code quality, discontinued products, slow or rare updates, poor support infrastructure and at the most basic level; the complexity of the plugin.
Ensuring all of your plugins are up to date or those that you are no longer using, removed altogether, can reduce reliability issues.
The following is a selection of recommendations that will help prevent you becoming as foul-mouthed as Alice’s nemesis; the Queen of Hearts:
- ‘Too many plugins’ is not an issue; poorly coded ones are, so due-diligence is essential.
- Research the developer – does the WordPress community respect them?
- Look for plugins with 4/5 star reviews
- What is the new plugin going to add to your website? Will it help or hinder UX?
- Are there detailed tutorials/guidelines on how to use the plugin?
- How often is the plugin updated? How many times has it been downloaded? A trustworthy plugin will be regularly updated.
4) Can a WordPress blog make money?
The simple answer to this question is yes.
However, if you’re thinking of get rich quick then you should probably start looking elsewhere.
WordPress’s roots are deeply set in the blogging world, whilst it has developed into a different beast altogether, fundamentally it’s area where people can share ideas to an audience who cares.
As with many other digital platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — one of the biggest opportunities to make money is through marketing. But this is not as easy as it seems and requires a huge amount of skill. Essentially, generating an income through blogging largely revolves around building a large following who companies can target.
How can I generate a large following I hear you ask. Well, again, the answer is simple but the reality is a little trickier. Ultimately you have to be able to write regular, quality and sharable content that retains a strong readership over a long period of time. Once you have this readership in place you can look to ways of monetising it.
The following is a list of a few ways to monetise a blog:
- Linking to other websites using tracking links (PPC/CPM)
- Allow Google to present ads on your site. (PPC/CPM)
WordPress Ad plugin
- Allow people to directly place ads across your site.
- Be paid to write articles on behalf of a company or business
Restricted ‘Members Only’ content
- Restrict access to special features – video, podcasts etc
Create a directory/job board
- Find a niche and map it, making it a useful resource for companies/businesses.
Of course there are other ways like selling products through eCommerce, or becoming a WordPress developer – as WordPress developers ourselves we’d rather you chose something else though!
6) Can WordPress host my Domain?
When you sign up to WordPress you will be issued with a free address – for example; diffusiondigital.wordpress.com – however you can change this by signing up to a WordPress plan which will allow you to create a new address or import an existing one.
Essentially what you will be buying is a Domain Mapping Upgrade and whilst this sounds complicated, it isn’t. In layman’s terms, this upgrade means directing anyaddress.com to your anyaddress.wordpress.com site. Basically – your visitors will see your site hosted on wordpress.com although anyaddress.com continues to be the visible address.
Ultimately WordPress is like the Hatter’s tea party. It hosts all sorts of different businesses and brands and brings them together around a common platform. (Still tenuous?!)
7) How does a WordPress website work?
Many people look at a WordPress with fear as if it some kind of savage beast whiffling through the tulgey wood. They hear expressions like open-source or code or pluggin and terror strikes them down. But fear not. Boiled down to the bear essentials it is quite simple.
If you don’t like slightly technical stuff fear not because nor do I. I am going to attempt to translate this to the point that my grandmother will understand and she is still struggling with the electric telephone.
So, without further ado….
WordPress is what is known as an open source platform which means everyone has access to its code (essentially what any computer programme is written in) and can manipulate it in order to make new plugins or features.
Since its conception as a blogging platform in 2007, thanks to the army of developers who have been able to access and adapt the code, it has evolved into the world-leading platform that it is today.
Having access to the source code means that developers are able to make plugins (or…addins, add-ins, addons, add-ons or extensions), which are software components that add specific features to a webpage. For example if you want to have an image slider that enables the user to be able to slide through an image library across the screen, then there is a plugin for that. The same goes for drop down menus, accordion style FAQs, parallax scrolling. In fact there are over 55,000 plugins that will allow you to completely fit out your website so that it truly reflects your brand or business, as opposed to having to work to a template design.
Ultimately, WordPress is a beast worth taming and it will help organise and bring to life the brand or business that you care so deeply about.
8) Will WordPress Die and what happens if it does?
I admit this one surprised me a little bit as well but sure enough, ‘will WordPress die?’ is one of the most frequently asked questions in Google on WordPress. So it would be negligent of me no to give it a look in.
Well, put simply it would be a bit of a nightmare for the 19,500,00 or so websites that use it. But is it likely? well… no.
WordPress is a juggernaut and only some sort of herculean miracle will see it taken over and I suspect it will rule the digital CMS roost for decades to come.
9) How do WordPress permalinks work?
We’re in danger of slipping into the technical abyss with this one but I shall try and keep it simple.
Permalinks are the permanent URLs of your blog posts, service pages or product pages of your WordPress site. Essentially it is through these that the digital world can identify what is on the page in question, and allows them to share what ever it is you have been producing.
- People use your permalink to point to content on your website
- You’d use your permalink to share your content across social media
- Google uses permalinks to help index your content
- If you want to a webpage in an email you would drop in a permalink
So, as you can see they are quite important to the structure of your website and attention must be paid to them if you’re trying to increase your quality exposure.
The problem with WordPress is that the default permalinks are not very digestible for humans and Search Engine Spiders alike.
Fortunately you can change them (this needs to be done when you build your website as once you change these URLs, all pre-existing links will become defunct).
By going into the backend or ‘admin’ side of WordPress and going to ‘settings’ and then ‘permalinks’, you can select how to set your default permalinks using date/time, plain or the best as far as I’m concerned: ‘Post Name’.