Category: Plugins.

As the third installment of my “Blog Traffic Series” articles, I want to really touch upon how important it is to integrate social media marketing into your website or blog. If you missed the first two “Blog Traffic Series” tips, you can find them HERE.

Social-MediaAs a social media marketing professional, I know what social media marketing can do for small businesses. Simply put, it’s a very easy way to market your blog beyond just your website presence. It’s what every small business and large corporations are using to market their products and services. And if you are not implementing some type of social media marketing into your marketing plan right now, then you are missing many opportunities to increase your blog or website traffic, ultimately leaving money on the table.

If you are not implementing social media marketing in your business, you are leaving money on the table.… Click To Tweet

If you are not sure what social media platforms to implement into your business, then I would suggest you start with looking at what the trends are for social media marketing for this year and go from there. You can read what the latest trends are by checking out a recent article from Forbes called the “The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2015”.

Once you choose and create your business profiles on the social media platforms that you feel comfortable with, then your next step is to connect these platforms to your blog. One of the easiest ways to promote yourself on your blog is to strategically add a Facebook and Twitter icon on your site somewhere. Most people add social media icons to their website sidebar. The best placement would be to make sure they’re above the fold when someone is visiting your website (i.e., what’s immediately visible to the end user). I’ve got a great resource of where you can grab some really nice icon images on this site, Icons, etc.

And if you are comfortable adding plugins to your site, and if you use WordPress.org, here is a list of plugins that I use to connect social media to my website and my client websites:

  • Facebook for WordPress – allows you to have a Facebook comments box, a recommendations box, a “Like” button and a share button
  • DiggDigg – provides you with a floating and/or anchored share box that you can add to your blog posts or pages (it’s what I have positioned on ALL my blog posts)
  • Twitter Widget – allows you to list your tweets on your site sidebar
  • Better Click to Tweet – allows you to add a 140-character tweet within your blog posts or pages, making it easy for a visitor to tweet your statement or quote, leading back to your post or page
  • Revive Old Post (formerly known as ‘Tweet Old Post’ plugin) – allows you to tweet and re-tweet old posts in an automated cycle (great way to promote your old posts over and over again!)
  • Buffer App – Buffer allows you to strategically schedule your posts and tweets so they are posted whenever you want them to be released

And if you want to add a LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest pin button to your site, you can find those resources here:

Lastly, I want to share my favorite social media resource sites that provide great information on the latest trends and tools that you always want to be on top of. Here they are:

  • SocialMedia Examiner – my top pick for all things social media!
  • The HubSpot blog – they have three social media guides to help you get a jump-start on social media marketing
  • Mari Smith – she knows everything you need to know about Relationship Marketing

After reading this article, and you still have no clue how you want to integrate social media marketing into your website or blog, please feel free to contact me for a no obligation consultation to discuss how I can help you kick-start your social media marketing plan for 2015.

Until tomorrow…(Day 16 of The Ultimate Blog Challenge)

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Happy New Year! Welcome to 2014! I’m starting off January 1 with a full month of blog articles and it just so happens that it lands on my favorite themed day of the week called “WordPress Wednesday”. I am participating in the January Ultimate Blog Challenge once again so you will see blog posts coming from me for the next 30 days. As a fellow blogger (or blog reader), I encourage you to start off your blogging and blog marketing efforts by participating in some kind of challenge to jump-start your blog content generation. The more content you post and share, the better your chances of improving your SEO and the increase of traffic to your blog or website.

hangoutpluginimgcropSince it’s “WordPress Wednesday”, I want to share with you a dynamic and really cool WordPress plugin called the Hangout Plugin. If you have a WordPress site and you want to start hosting free or paid webinars for your business this year, then this is the must-have plugin you need installed on your site. (If you are not familiar with what a Google Hangout is, it’s a Google+ feature that allows you to host video calls for free.) Here’s why:

Five Reasons Why You Need the Google Hangout Plugin

  1. You can host webinars WITHOUT the expensive monthly fees – if you have previously subscribed to webinar platforms like GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar, then you pay way too much, especially if you do not host webinars on a regular basis. You can host an UNLIMITED number of webinars and invite as many participants as you want!
  2. You can host webinars directly on your own WordPress site and build your brand to give your business reputation a huge boost.
  3. Installation and configuration of the plugin is super-simple and you will be able to host a webinar in less than 10 minutes.
  4. You can easily collect registrations and opt-ins that can be integrated into your current email marketing platform. This will be a huge boost for your list-building efforts.
  5. You will have the convenience of sending reminders, follow-up emails and broadcast messages right from your dashboard.

I will be hosting a large amount of webinars this year, so I know I will be putting this plugin to good use. It’s well worth the $47.00 I spent. Later on this month, I will provide a quick training video and I will provide my own review of it in more detail.

If you have already purchased and you have been using this plugin, then feel free to share your experiences with it in the comments box at the bottom of this blog post.

Until tomorrow! (Day 2 of The Ultimate Blog Challenge)!

buddy-460For this edition of WordPress Wednesday, I want to share with you a great membership plugin called BuddyPress. Perhaps if you have been using WordPress for a number of years, you’ve heard of the term, BuddyPress, because it sounds so much like WordPress. I had heard about it back a couple of years ago, but I never took the time to research and use the plugin until recently. I don’t believe most novice WordPress users realize it exists. To me, it’s the best-kept secret when you want to build a membership community. Did I mention it’s a free plugin? Granted it does not have the multi-level privacy or drip-campaign that WP Wishlist or Digital Access Pass, but you can get a lot of functionality for free.

BuddyPress was built to bring people together in a social community. Just like WordPress, it a open source project. It works great for people wanting to connect and communicate that have similar interests. That is why I highly recommend it for creating a membership community, whether it be a free membership or a paid membership.

Here is an example of how I use the BuddyPress membership community for bringing together WordPress training students. You can click on the screenshot below and it will take you to my BP WordPress student member site.

buddypress-site-thumb

Here are just a few of the features that you can get from using the BuddyPress plugin:

  • Multiple activity streams with a single-stream view
  • Unlimited user groups with custom public or private access to these groups
  • Multi-site blogging capability
  • Friend connection functionality (much like Facebook)
  • Discussion forum module for each group set up
  • Extended profile module available
  • Private messaging to friends

And below are a few resource links to visit and do your homework on using BuddyPress if you choose to build or host a membership site. Note: There are some themes that are BuddyPress-compatible. The Builder themes by iThemes.com is one example of compatibility. Another theme set that is compatible with BuddyPress is Headway Themes.

BUDDYPRESS THEME RESOURCE SITES

http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/search.php/page/2?q=buddypress

http://buddypress.org/extend/themes/

http://wplift.com/free-commercial-buddypress-themes/

http://premium.wpmudev.org/buddypress-themes/

http://www.buddyboss.com/live-demo/

BUDDYPRESS PLUGINS & ADD-ON PLUGINS

BuddyPress Plugin

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/buddypress/ 

BuddyPress Group Documents

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/buddypress-group-documents/

BuddyPress Album

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/bp-album/

BuddyPress Group Email Subscription

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/buddypress-group-email-subscription/

Invite Anyone

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/invite-anyone/

Welcome Pack

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/welcome-pack/

If you have any questions or comments you want to add about using BuddyPress, please feel free to leave one in the Reply box below. I’m happy to answer back. Or if you are interested in having me build your BuddyPress membership site, you can check out my design build plan HERE.

Until tomorrow…

Warmly,

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For the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge (Day 31), I have the privilege of sharing with you a guest blog post from a wonderful VA colleague and friend that I met while being on this challenge.

Shawn SnyderRead on what Shawn Snyder of SRS Virtual Assistant had to share when “The Day My WordPress Site Was Hacked”. Then be sure you take her advice in protecting your own WordPress site.

hackedIt was Monday morning and I was on a call with a dozen others who are my peers. Each of us helps the small business owner with their businesses in one way or the other. It was at the end of the call and we were each sharing our websites and going over how to make little improvements here and there. Time was running out and there was just enough time for one more website review, I volunteered. As my site was coming up for all to see suddenly the screen turned a maroon red with an outline of a security officer with his hand stretched out and the words of “Don’t precede malware danger.” There was more, but I was too horrified to remember exactly what it said. I was concerned about my website that I had spent hours on being ruined plus humiliated that the people on the call had seen me so vulnerable.

Protect Yourself

My first step isn’t one you have to take, but it helped me. I had a good old fashion pity party. I cried and railed against the evil hackers (that where probably 13 and smarter then me.) And then I did what I should have done before I even started my website. And here is where I want you to start as well. Learn how to protect yourself before you get hacked. The beautiful thing about WordPress and why so many of us recommend it is because it is so easy to learn. Unfortunately, that can also be a detriment to the health of our sites. We have to learn how to add a security fence around our site.

Keep Updated

Here are some things I learned the week of coming back from being hacked. It can and will probably happen to you. I had gone five years on the internet without being hacked and got lazy. I had several domains being hosted together. I didn’t keep them all updated with the newest plug-ins and themes. There is such a thing called cross contamination of sites that share a hosting spot. And if your site has outdated items on it that becomes an opening for hackers and then it just spreads. I had a backup plug-in but when I went to check to see how to get the site back it didn’t cover all of the different areas of the website. It was worth the amount of money I paid for it. Zero.

Keep Informed

I was scared and didn’t know what I was going to do. I don’t know code how was I going to wade through lines upon lines of code finding the problems. I went looking for people who could clean my site and it was expensive. By this time I was frustrated and angry at myself. How could I let this happen to all the work I have done. And what was I going to do now. I remembered a year ago I went to a conference in Atlanta and meet a woman who worked helping other small business owners keep their WordPress sites safe. I contacted her on Facebook and was directed to a site called safewp.com. They give out weekly WordPress security reports, best WordPress security practices and best of all a weekly webinar which was going to run that night.

The webinar was on a plug-in called Wordfence Security. This WordPress plug-in is by Mark Maunder and to me it was nectar from the gods. This plug-in scans your site and looks for trojans, malware and viruses. It repairs themes and plug-ins. It shows the changes in the files that where infected, it scans for malware, it shows which traffic is human and which is crawlers.

There are two versions the free and paid members. I have the free version and that night after I loaded Wordfence onto my site I was blown away. It showed that I had 13 malware problems. But I am jumping ahead of the story.

After you have Wordfence activated, you will go down to the options setting. You put in your email and the API key you get. Scroll down to the alerts section, you can go with the default, Regina from safewp.com showed us some great alternatives as well.

There is a scan schedule, but that is only available for paid members. I can tell you I have ran the scan every night before I go to bed since I got all the issues fixed. It is such a comforting site to see a green prompt at the end of the scan. There is a country blocking area for paid members where you can block off whole countries from having access to your website.

There is a blocked IP address section as well. You can manually block IP’s, there is a section of IP’s that are locked out from the login and IP’s who were recently throttled for accessing the site to frequently. You also have the capability of clearing the IP’s.

The next setting is the live traffic setting. This is so interesting it lists all hits, and then it breaks it down into humans, registered users, crawlers, Google crawlers, pages not found, logins and logouts, top consumers and top 404s.

The next setting is the scan setting. This is where it goes over all the sections you checked in the options setting. It has a scan summary, a scan detailed activity and an issues section. The issues section is where I got my bad news of 13 malware problems. It tells you the issue and gives you several different things to do. My issues where many but thankfully it was an easy to fix problem that came from one outdated plug-in. I deactivated the plug in and the malware problem is gone.

So, that is my story of when my WordPress site got hacked. I hope you are able to learn from me and never get your site attacked or hacked. Each night, I run the scan on Wordfence and go to sleep with the green message telling me I have no security issues on my site.

Please feel free to leave a comment or question below for Shawn and I’ll be sure she receives your reply.

Until tomorrow… 🙂

Warmly,

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I know this is a question that doesn’t get asked much about your blog or website, but when you are alerted of someone who has hacked your website or you come across an online story about a rash of WordPress sites being hacked, I bet you sit up and pay attention then. I don’t want to sound like I’m coming across mean in today’s article, but it’s a reality that we have to face as more and more hackers are able to access our personal information without much effort anymore. We have to be vigilant in the way we protect our online activity, including your website or blog. Below are some tips on how to identify

First, let’s explore some warning signs that your website may have been hacked:

Changes to Your Website

Some hackers will change or delete parts of your website. If you find parts of your website missing or it has been moved around without your knowledge, it’s possible your site has been hacked.

Warning Messages

If your site has been hacked to spread malware or some kind of virus, this will trigger warning messages from your anti-virus software, search engines and browsers. If this happens to you or someone else that accesses your site lets you know of the message(s), then there’s a good chance your site has been hacked.

Website Redirects

If your website or blog visitors are redirected to another website when they are trying to visit your site, there is a good chance your site has been hacked. Be sure to check your website traffic stats to see if there has been a drastic drop in traffic numbers. This is a good indicator something is going wrong.

Suspicious Code or Files Added

Strange code or files that have been added to your source code or your file server directory can be a good indicator that your site has been hacked. This is something you won’t detect right away because it’s running “behind-the-scenes”. It may be a good idea that you manually scan your source code or find a software program that does it for you.  You can create a search on Google for such tools. Here’s one to get you started: http://www.openlogic.com/products/scanners/

Some other indicators that your site has been hacked:

  • Your site loads slower than usual
  • Your password(s) to your site or blog admin panel no longer work
  • A big change in your site traffic stats
  • A deluge of spam emails coming into your inbox

What’s next???

If you know that your site has been hacked, here are a few steps to take to relieve your worries:

Contact your website host. There’s a good chance the hackers attacked the hosting company and not your site directly. Your host provider should have security policies in place and they should have a backup of your site where they can restore an earlier version of your site. They can also run a diagnostic test to determine suspicious activity and alleviate the issue with you within the same day you contact them.

  • Review your system logs.  
  • Restore your website. Your host provider should be able to restore your site to an earlier version before the hacker attack took place.
  • Update site security. If you are using a WordPress site, I provide below a list of popular security plugins you can install and configure for your site.
  • Keep your site software up to date. Always update your WordPress site to its latest version. Each new version provides tighter security updates that you don’t want to ignore.

My recommendation for good security plugins for your WordPress site or blog are the following:

  • Better WP Security – This plugin takes the best WordPress security features and techniques and combines them in a single plugin thereby ensuring that as many security holes as possible are patched without having to worry about conflicting features or the possibility of missing anything on your site.
  • 6Scan Security – It provides automatic protection for your WordPress site against threats. The scanner goes beyond the rule-based protection of other WordPress security plugins, employing active penetration testing algorithms to find security vulnerabilities. These are then automatically fixed before hackers can exploit them.
  • Login Lock – Simple login lock down is a way to protect your WordPress blog from brute force login attacks.

You know have the knowledge and tools to make sure your website or blog is secure. Make it a business practice to check your site(s) regularly to prevent a potential security breach.

Until tomorrow…