Archive For: February, 2013

SEO Tips for The WordPress Newbie

SEO Tips for The WordPress Newbie
WordPress is the way to go. Whether you are a blogger or business owner, WordPress is a blogging platform that will help you reel in the traffic like a fisherman. Of course, you can’t set up a blog and have the whole world wide web knocking on your door with a simple post. If it was that easy Google would come knocking with a Frankenstein creation made of penguin and panda parts (but that’s a discussion for another time.)

Today the topic is how you can actually get traffic to your WordPress blog. Search engine optimization may not be your strong point, but if your goals involve online success – get used to it. SEO has to be factored into every post and page on your website. Social media and offline marketing are great assets in your quest for blog domination, but search traffic is highly targeted, has higher conversions, and lower bounce rates.

Here are a few quick SEO tricks you should implement on your WordPress blog:

Newbie WordPress Tip #1

First things first – change your permalink structure. By default, self-hosted WordPress blogs use a permalink structure that is crap-ola for SEO. And it’s ugly.

  • Standard issue: www.domain.com/?p=123
  • Optimized: www.domain.com/my-new-blog-post

See the difference? If you are using your keyword when naming your posts (which you should) it shows up in the url structure as well. This helps search engines display results based on relevance. This brings me to my next tip:

Newbie WordPress Tip #2

Install an SEO plugin. A good WordPress SEO plugin can pay off enormously for ranking in the search results. I’m sure there are countless ones available, but in my opinion there are only two that bear mentioning.

Basically, the WordPress SEO community is divided between these two. Personally, I prefer the Yoast plugin because of it’s features and simplicity. The major benefits of using this plugin for SEO noobs is the fact that once you enter the keyword you wish to target (“Focus Keyword”) it will give you tips on how you can improve the page based on accepted SEO best practices. Get it, use it.

Newbie WordPress Tip #3

When you structure your posts you should make ample use of your chosen keyword by including it throughout your post. Make sure your keyword appears in the following:

  • Post title
  • Meta description
  • In the first paragraph
  • Within the body copy
  • Image tags

Don’t take this to mean you should cram as many keywords as you can into every post you make. Write for people first. Optimization is only one part of getting more traffic to your WordPress blog. SEO will help visitors find your site, but good content is what keeps them coming back.

Newbie WordPress Tip #4

One often overlooked SEO trick is to optimize your images. Random strings of numbers add nothing for the search engines to pick up, so stop uploading images like this: 87u21oydkj9010.jpg. What you should do when uploading images for the page or post you are working on is rename your image using your focus keyword. Don’t forget to add this keyword in your image alt and title tags as well.

Newbie WordPress Tip #5

Don’t be stingy with old posts. Link to other pages and posts within your WordPress blog. This will help search engines crawl your site deeper and it will also keep visitors on your site longer.

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Forum Hosting Requirements

Forum Hosting Requirements
Hosting a message board or forum may not be prohibitively expensive, but the tasks of setting it up and appointing competent webmasters and moderators to maintain it could be moderately costly if you don’t shop around for the best deals on the types of services and features you need. There is also a need to allow sufficient time to build up a strong and loyal value-driven community for your site in order to reap the long-term benefits in the future. Every forum and message board community will also have issues with negative posters and negative feedback from time to time. When dealing with these negative elements it is important to realize that while the feedback posted by some of your existing clients may turn off some potential customers and put a damper on your sales abilities in the beginning, instead of getting discouraged, every challenge is a new opportunity to learn from your mistakes and do things better in the future.

Aside from setting up your site, appointing webmasters and selecting the appropriate web host to run it, there are certain other requirements of forum hosting too. A good message board with a strong community of like-minded users will also be a place where the rules are always enforced evenly and predictably. Without a good set of strong rules to ensure the whole operation runs smoothly and a clear set of steps and penalties to handle any violations that everyone can understand, there’s really no need to set up any rules at all.

Board moderation is another area of hosting requirements that can make or break a site. As a site owner, you’ll need to make sure that your moderators are handling their roles clearly and judiciously. All disputes need to be supervised and handled in the same manner for all users and the moderators should not exhibit partiality to any of the members.
When some members feel that they are less important than other users on a board, it can be a constant source of problems that need special handling. It is far better when everyone plays by, and is subject to, the same rules.

It is important to remember that the main point of hosting a forum or message board is to form a healthy community of genuinely interested and committed users that can all be considered as existing customers and of course, potential customers. A good forum with genuine users who are authorities and experts in their fields are the real strength of your endeavor. Other users will recognize this and come back to read and learn more when they trust and value the information provided by your most committed users. This requires maintaining even-handed discipline and
clearly understood rules. Even though a poster may appear to be helping to promote your products or services, when their real intention is posting messages only for the sake of link building or for other financially motivated intentions that are not genuine interaction, it can seriously impair and reduce both the vale and impact of your efforts. If you handle violations in a clear and even-handed manner according to rules that apply the same way to all users, the chances are quite good that you will have mastered the basic requirements of
successful forum hosting.

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Premium Forum Hosting Benefits

Premium Forum Hosting Benefits
Although you can easily find open source scripted discussion boards and HTML set-ups as well as advertising supported free forum hosting services, larger forums with many users really require a paid forum hosting service. If your forum is amateur in appearance and function, it can really put a dent in the commercial viability of a project, and end up costing you both potential customers and dollars too.

A premium forum hosting service provider will take care of all of the details of setting up any type of web message board without you having to install any new software on your own. A good host will know how to address all of the set-up details and provide you with around the clock support too. As with many things in life, when you buy a premium web board hosting package from a reputable supplier, you’ll get what you paid for with more web space and completely hassle-free maintenance for all of your hosting processes, and you’ll usually get a bunch of other built-in features for free too. Just because you’re getting first rate service doesn’t mean you’ll have to pay a fortune for it either, as competition has improved the breed and there are many good board-platform hosting choices available these days. A good provider will provide the installation of any software needed at their end and handle the complete forum/board set-up process while still offering the customer the ability to make sure their new board platform matches the theme of any new or current website they want it associated with. Customization tweaks and other requests should be offered at reasonable costs too.

The more user/visitors a message board or forum has, whether actual or potential, the more it underscores the need for a paid professional hosting service that can help make the most out of it. Both the site owners and the people who rely on their favorite Internet message groups and boards as trusted community resources in the subject area of their particular choice will benefit from a fully functional and professional platform. Web forums provide the worldwide Internet community with the ability to share information and conduct commerce in ways never before possible and they can be profitable too when they are set-up and managed correctly.

A fully functional forum platform will:

  • Encourage users to develop a sense of community.
  • Allow the staff to instantly post announcements.
  • Encourage users to help each other.
  • Active content appears higher in search results.
  • Allow all users to interact in a fun forum atmosphere.

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How To Turn Your Forum Into A Profit Center

How To Turn Your Forum Into A Profit Center
We all want a profitable forum. Reeling in the dough is definitely a good thing, but a forum has to be a community. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but it’s not “all about the Benjamins”. If you think starting a forum will be the easy road to riches – think again. It takes a bit of elbow grease. By “a bit” I mean a lot and by “a lot” I mean it’s time to roll up those sleeves.

Monetizing a forum is no easy task, but if you have read our tips on starting a forum you should be well on your way to accomplishing your goals. Here’s a breakdown on turning that forum into a profit center:

#1 Kick It Off With Adsense

Honestly, Google Adsense will not make you much at first. It all depends on the amount of visitors that are hitting your site. If you have traffic, it can pay off. Look at Google Adsense as getting your feet wet in the marketing game and learning about ad networks and generating ad revenue from your forum. If you have less than a thousand visitors stopping by your site don’t get too caught up with ad placement. Instead, concentrate on adding valuable content and building a strong community. Focusing on ways to encourage and grow your userbase will be what pays off in the end.

#2 Banner Ads, Direct Advertisers, and CPM Advertising

If you’ve experimented with adding Adsense to your site, you now have an idea of ad placement for your forum. You now have some more options, too. Banner ads can be a great source of monthly revenue to your site. The key is attracting those advertisers. There are many ways to do it – you can display links on your forum advertising banner ad placement, you can approach other webmasters as well. You can also leverage social media to connect with influencers and drive traffic to your forum.

When it comes to CPM advertising as a revenue model for your forum, don’t waste your time if you are not receiving at least 75,000 – 100,000 visitors per month. Most CPM advertisers require you to meet certain criteria before you can even enter the program. If your traffic isn’t quite there, stop focusing on how to make the money and keep building a great forum. The money will come.

#3 Find A Sponsor For Your Forum

One way to make more money is to keep more of the money you already make. If your forum is popular and has a great community consider approaching other businesses to sponsor your forum. In turn, give them prominent ad placement. You can find key players in your industry, local businesses, or a web hosting company to foot the bill for your forum. Saving some out of pocket expenses can give you more money to promote your forum and attract new members. If your forum is popular you can approach a forum hosting company to sponsor you. In return, show them a return on their investment by becoming a good source of leads.

#4 Email Can Be Your Friend

See how everything centers around content? People go online for one of two things: they are looking for answers, or they want entertainment. Either way, it’s great content that drives business. If you own a mailing list you can use this to offer insider deals to your members and promote affiliate offers. There are two ways you can approach this:

  • Find a company that wants to sponsor an email campaign to your forum members.
  • Offer related affiliate products in your newsletter.

Either one of these will work. Remember that content is still king. A flimsy newsletter will not generate income. It will end up in the deleted folder, ignored, or spammed. You need to find a clever way to reach out to your forum members. The content part shouldn’t be too difficult – you have an entire forum full of content to draw on.

#5 Offer Premium Memberships

There are a number of forums that offer “premium” memberships. Upgraded forum memberships often get added benefits regular forum members don’t receive. You can give out extra PM allowances, access to special forum features, or allow them to create their own blog or special thread.

Some Other Ideas To Consider

There are always other ways to monetize a forum. Have you ever heard of Flippa? It’s an online marketplace that allows people to buy and sell websites. Selling your forum is always an option. In fact, if you are particularly well adapted at launching successful forums you can always follow the blueprint outlined above, with the aim of selling your forum for a sizeable return in the future. Whatever you decide, the goal is to build a strong community that will attract forum members and build forum loyalty.

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Securing Your WordPress Blog

Securing Your WordPress Blog
WordPress has taken the world by storm. Since its inception, WordPress has had a phenomenal growth rate, with over 65 million downloads. It even powers over 16% of Alexa’s “Top 1 Million” websites. If you are not familiar with WordPress, you should be. It’s an open-source blogging software that allows easy customization through its template and plugin system.

Small business owners and bloggers have almost a love affair with WordPress. Its easy-to-use CMS, or content management system, makes updating changes on the fly a cake walk. The simplicity of its functions allows even noobs a fair chance at launching a great looking site, with a lot of unique features.

Of course, securing your WordPress install has to be on your radar. In fact, anyone with a website has to have these concerns, but WordPress in particular has its own set of rules to follow. Most “hacked” blogs end up this way because the site owner got lazy. Updates happen for a reason and if you’re not keeping your site up-to-date you’re waving the “come get me” flag. Seriously. There are a whole host of tools that are developed exclusively for sniffing out site vulnerabilities online.

Follow these simple WordPress security tips and you should stay out of trouble:

Update! Update! Update! I just mentioned this, but it deserves to be first in line as it tends to be the main reason a WordPress blog gets compromised. In the dashboard of your WordPress install you will receive a notification when either the WordPress software, plugins, or your theme version needs updated. When you get these notifications you need to act on it. For the most part, it’s just a matter of pressing a button. However, you’ll want to backup your files before updating WordPress itself. You should also backup your theme before updating as well (if you’ve done customizations).

Change up your password. Are you really using your birthday? Or a zip code? A simple password is a risky situation. A strong password should be over 8 characters and use a combination of letters, numbers, special characters, and caps. Choose wisely: avoid a password that can be easily guessed. Keep it random and change it every few months.

Backup! Backup! Backup! It’s easy to put off backing up your WordPress install when you have other “more important” things to do. We tend to all have the “it won’t happen to me” mentality. Those are actions that hackers know and understand – and capitalize on. Establishing a backup routine, and sticking to it religiously, have to part of your tasks as a site owner. Think of the hard work and time that goes into crafting your content and creating that perfect post.

Tip – Keep multiple copies of your backup in case of file corruption or loss. Keep a copy on your server, on a physical hard drive (or your computer), and backup your files to Google Drive. Redundancy is a key component to keeping your data safe.

Get reliable WordPress hosting. This is one of the most important (and difficult) choices for a new site owner. WordPress requires PHP and MySQL, so most free web hosting solutions won’t cut it. Besides, if a problem arises you’ll want a human to talk to, and someone that can get it fixed quickly. Reliable WordPress hosting doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. You can view our web hosting solutions for WordPress and forums here.

Be careful with plugins. WordPress is so much cooler with plugins. You don’t have to be a code monkey to add a new feature to your website. That’s part of what makes WordPress rock! It’s also how nefarious evil-doers package their warez to infect your website. Be careful what WordPress plugins you install and stick to known developers. Check reviews and ratings and do a quick Google search before installing. The WordPress Directory (free)  and CodeCanyon (not free) has everything you can think of – and probably a few more.

Pay attention. If you run a WordPress blog or website you need to pay attention to industry news. This way you’ll know the latest threat before become a victim. Yahoo recently learned the hard way. If you want some more expert tips on how to protect your blog this will help you.

Do you have any tips? Have you ever been hacked? Let us know in the comments!

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