Why WordPress Websites Need Maintenance

If you have a WordPress website it needs regular maintenance. Why? Think of a WordPress website like a house:

Someone who loves their home looks after it. You know… keeps it clean, fixes things in it that break, throws out old food so it doesn’t stink… etc. In the same way WordPress, being built using dynamic PHP script has many moving parts. It’s code needs security updates, performance updates and it’s database could do with a clean every now and then. This keeps your website running fast, staying secure and doing what it was built for.

derelict house
Derelict houses and websites – both not good for visitors.

When a WordPress website hasn’t been updated for a while it’s kind of like a derelict house. You’re inviting the unwanted attention of malicious scripts, bots and hackers looking to exploit the out dated code on the site. That’s not the type of attention you want.

But My WordPress Website Was Professionally Built So its All Good!

Even if you got your website professionally built with premium plugins and themes it is still vulnerable if you don’t update it. WordPress web developers cannot tell the future. They don’t know what developments in technology and code infrastructure could make your site vulnerable.

Even with security measures in place, no one can guarantee your site wont get hacked. A hacked, slow or broken site is likely to cost you visitors, conversions and affect your bottom line.

malware warning
Not a great look. – What visitors to your site will see if your site is hacked. It happens!

The internet is a fast changing landscape. The good guys are coming up with code improvements. The bad guys are constantly looking for weaknesses in the code to exploit. The best way to stay ahead of the game is to keep your site up to date.

How Does WordPress Maintenance Help My Website?

Good question.

When one of the 75 million WordPress websites out there get hacked, or break or start loading slow developers are usually very quick to find a solution. Why? Because their livelihoods depend on it. They fix the code, release an update, and its up to the website owners to receive this update and replace the old code. This process has to happen manually because every site has a different set of plugins, themes and customisations.

As a result when you keep your site updated you are helping to ensure:

  1. Your website stays on line
  2. Your website loads quickly
  3. Your website functions quickly
  4. Your website is secure from malware and hacking

Help is On The Way!

At Business Web Marketing we provide care plans which keep your site up to date each month. After updating, we check and test your site to ensure the update has worked correctly. We take regular backup snapshots of your website and can revert to a recent backup should a plugin update fail. We also include monthly security scans. If we detect an issue in your website code, we raise a support ticket and fix the problem.

Can’t I Just Update it Myself?

While you can update and maintain your WordPress website yourself, it is not recommended. Running an update from the WordPress admin may trigger a failure in the code which could go undetected. When the error is detected it may be weeks later and you will need to revert to an old backup (if you are running backups). An old backup means you may loose all recent changes such as posts, enquiries, sales orders etc.

I’ll Just Pay for a Professional When it Breaks…

For many things in life, prevention is better than cure. In the case of WordPress Websites, maintenance is cheaper than repairing it. You see, with our Care plans we regularly back up your website. If we update your site and detect a problem we immediately fix it or revert to a backup should the problem be in the plugin code. We can hold off the update until the plugin author updates the code. To fix a broken site that is not backed up is time consuming and will cost more than the maintenance of a regular care plans.

DIY Meme

We Deal with WordPress Every Day

As a WordPress web design agency, we deal with WordPress everyday. It’s what we do. We can focus on looking after your site so you can focus on what you do best. It makes good business sense and can save you hours of unproductive time trying to figure it all out. Just like trying to win a court case without a lawyer, don’t try to maintain your business website if you are not a web professional.

Our Care plans start from $100 / month. To find out exactly what is included as part of our monthly maintenance visit our Care plans page

Avoid the Penguin Slap! – How Google’s Penguin Algorithm Could Affect Your Business

penguin

2016 will be remembered by many web marketers as the year google updated it’s penguin algorithm. What does that even mean? I hear you ask. It has to do with how google ranks your website. In particular the backlinks that point to your website – which is a huge factor in determining where your website ranks in the search results. The Penguin changes don’t have to alarm you. In fact understanding how the penguin algorithm works presents a great opportunity that business owners can take advantage of. But first, a bit of a Penguin backstory:

What’s With the Penguin?

Google frequently updates its search engine algorithm to provide its searchers with information they require, keeping the results as relevant as possible. Since 2010, in fact, it makes approximately 600 changes each year. The minor updates usually do not get any names or press attention; the major ones do. Google names its algorithm update after animals or other common things. The Google Penguin Update is one such major algorithm alteration that happened in April 2012.

Before Penguin

Back in the day (before 2012) it was quite easy to rank your website.

  1. Step 1: insert keyword into webpage as much as possible.
  2. Step 2: Spam every website on the planet with a link to your site using the keyword you want to rank for as anchor text (the word that people click on to link to your site).

Then Google introduced Penguin. Penguin is about your website’s backlink profile – that’s all the links out there on the web that point to your site. If your website had too many backlinks from poor, low quality sites and / or with the same phrase pointing to your site, then your backlink profile would be deemed unnatural by the penguin algorithm and you would get a penguin smack. Many websites suffered an overnight rankings plummet when penguin was first introduced.

How Does Penguin Affect Websites?

Penguin targeted web spam. The intention behind this was to penalise sites that didn’t adhere to expected quality standards, in the eyes of Google. In the real-world scenario, this means the affected site dropped down in search results. If your site was ranking on the first page of Google for a particular set of keywords, thanks to the spammy links, it would lose that positioning after the Penguin hit. Some sites may be pushed back by a few pages and a few other sites may be kicked into oblivion.

Recovering from a Penguin Penalty

To recover from Google Penguin, you should detect the unnatural backlinks heading to your website. Post that, you can either get rid of them or request Google to not count them as valid links. You can do so using Google’s disavow tool. Penguin constantly refreshes or updates itself. If you’ve done the housecleaning well, your site won’t get negatively impacted and Google would once again start trusting your site. At times, a couple or more Penguin refreshes could be required for a website to recover from Penguin completely, since the disavow file of a site could take six months (in some cases) to be processed completely.

Locating unnatural links isn’t straightforward and not all can manage to differentiate the natural links from the unnatural links. Moreover, the disavow tool must be used only if you know how it works, as disavowing the wrong links could turn out counter-productive. Also, a clean chit from Penguin doesn’t mean your site would successfully restore its original rankings or search engine positioning, since the backlinks that were responsible for your site’s erstwhile supremacy with the search engines don’t exist anymore.

2016 Penguin Algorithm – Main Changes

Penguin is currently a real-time Google algorithm component. Till recently, it ran separately outside of Google’s core algorithm. This recent development means both negative and positive changes to a site would occur quickly. Also, the 2016 update now counters spam by affecting individual page rankings and not taking down the whole website’s ranking.

Best Penguin Safe Practices

  1. Don’t build a high volume, low quality backlinks to your website, especially from paid networks
  2. Find industry relevant websites with a lot of organic traffic (use the SEM Rush analysis tool to see how much traffic a website is getting) to get backlinks from
  3. Use mainly domain or branded anchor texts in your backlink anchor text rather than keyword phrases
  4. Get a variety of Follow and no Follow links to your website as this appears most natural
  5. Use a tool like ahrefs to analyse your backlink profile and keep it natural.

Conclusion

Part of our ongoing monthly SEO packages is ensuring your backlink profile remains natural and penguin friendly. We know the optimal blend of keyword vs branded anchor text ratios and follow vs no follow backlinks to ensure your backlinks appear natural.

We seek to build backlinks through natural outreach and promotion. We have come across sites with an ugly backlink profile as a result of poor SEO practices in the past. Don’t buy cheap backlinks because they will do more harm than good. If you want help or analysis of your websites backlink profile talk to Business Web Marketing Australia today. We have a backlink analysis tool which will determine how healthy your backlink profile is.

Why Keywords are the Key to Your Online Business Success

mission control

The best way to get found is to know how people are searching for you. It seems simple but cannot be emphasised enough. All good online marketing practices should begin with thorough keyword research.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process to determine which keywords or phrases people are using in the search engines (mainly google) to find your products and services. There are a number of free and paid tools you can use to determine this.

What Keyword Research Tools Are Used?

One of the main free tools used is the google keywords planner. Using this tool you can quickly see approximate search volumes for each keyword as well as the competition for that keyword (how many other sites are targeting that keyword).

It shouldn’t be assumed that the keyword planner tool is entirely accurate. Like any keyword tool it is impossible to fully track every search term from every location – even if it’s a google made tool. Web Marketing experts state that the keyword planner tool gives approximations and rounds up data.

Amongst paid keyword tools, SEM rush provides a wealth of data on a keyword. With this tool you can very quickly see the search volume, competition, similar keywords and the Adwords value of a keyword (how much it will cost per click for paid advertising for the keyword). This data is valuable when determining a set of keywords to target in your website.

Why is it Important?

Search engines still need a lot of help and guidance as to which search terms they should rank your website for. They will crawl your pages and look to the meta title, headings and content of your pages to determine which search terms you will rank for.

Despite advances in semantic intelligence, the search engines still need a lot of help knowing exactly what your page is about. If you are not deliberately placing exact or very similar keywords and phrases in the important parts of your pages, you are unlikely to rank (appear on the first page) of the search results for that term.

What to look for in a Keyword

When researching which keywords to target in the websites we build for our clients, we look for the following points:

1. High Volume

It goes without saying that the keyword should be one that is regularly searched for (high volume). Volume refers to the number of searches that keyword will get in a month.

2. Low Competition

Generally keywords with very high volume will also have very high competition. Competition refers to the number of sites competing for that keyword.

If there are many sites who have that keyword within their meta content, it is a high competition keyword that makes it harder to rank for. Find keywords with the lowest possible competition.

3. Relevant to your Products / Services

Once you have found some good high volume, low competition keywords you need to determine how relevant these words are to the products or services you deliver. Ask yourself from the searchers perspective: If I type in this keyword, what sites would I be intending to find.

4. Buying Potential

Keywords with high buying potential or “buying keywords” are keywords that have a proven track record of generating revenue for those who rank well for them. They indicate that often people who use this search term have made their mind up that they want to use a product or service.

We use some cutting edge tools to determine “buying keywords” for your industry and target these within your site. Interestingly, buying keywords aren’t always the keywords with the highest volume. There is just certain search phrases which correlate to excellent customer intent. If you find a low competition buying keyword, guard it with your life!

5. Keyword Groups

Once you’ve identified keywords using the criteria above come up with similar keywords that you can group together and target on one page in your website. How similar should these keywords be? Use the Google Adwords planner to determine keyword groups. These are a good indication of how closely keywords can be related.

Conclusion

Performing keyword research is essential to making the most of online marketing efforts. If you need some help with your own keyword research contact us today.

Being SEO Friendly – 7 Simple Tips for Your Website

SEO friendly depicted by two children walking together

SEO friendly is a term that gets thrown around a fair bit on the web. If you want your website to be friends with the search engines, its best you get to know the search engines and the massive challenges they face.

Why Websites Need to Be SEO Friendly to Rank in Google

Right at this moment, there are 1,036,257,282 websites on the internet. (That’s one billion, 36 million and then a few hundred thousand more…) There are about 5-10 new websites every second. That’s a lot of websites.

Imagine you had to go through every website, categorise and rank each of them. Sounds like some form of torture. But that’s exactly what google and other search engines do every day.

How do they do it? How do they read, analyse, categorise and rank a billion websites in a fair way? It’s scary to think that countless lives and livelihoods all over the planet depend on this system for their business. But that’s exactly what is happening right now as you read this.

The answer to this massive challenge is 900,000 servers which gather and store data about all the websites for the Google Data Center. Google has grown with the internet. Beginning in a garage in 1998, today it has 70 offices in 40 countries. The big HQ is in Mountain View, California known as the “Googolplex”.

australian-hosting-stack
To be SEO friendly you got to keep these guys happy.

So what do these 900,000 servers do? No one outside Google is 100% sure. But we have a fairly good idea.

What we do know is that there are countless “Google bots” that are powered by these servers to crawl the web and gather information about your website. When you consider there are 5-10 new websites every second you can’t help but think these bots have a tough job.

By virtue of the sheer volume of information these bots must sift through they are not as intelligent as you may think. Like me, you may have assumed these bots are very sophisticated with their 900,000 servers owned by a $527 Million company.

But the simple fact is they are too busy to be very smart.

Google bots have too much work to do to stop and really think about a website. If a webpage doesn’t give them the information they need in a clear, concise manner, they won’t understand what to do with your website. Quite simply your website won’t rank. Your website must be Bot Friendly or SEO friendly.

Simplicity and Natural Repetition is the Key

I love this article by Internet Marketer AJ Kohn. He says that you must treat search engines like blind five year olds. He makes a good point: Search engines don’t care how great a site looks. They are interested only in words.

And like a blind five year old learning to understand a book being read to them, simplicity and repetition is key.

So how does this translate to your webpage? Here’s a few tips:

7 Simple SEO Friendly Tips

1. A clear, concise title is a good start. Place the keyword you want to rank for in the title of your page. Place it near the start of the title, and don’t place too much else in there.

2. Appropriately place your keyword throughout the content on the site. Don’t over do it. Just naturally include it in your text. Most importantly in the first and last paragraph of the article.

3. In some places make your keyword bold or underline it so that those busy bots can quickly see what your page is all about

4. Place the keyword in the meta title.

5. Don’t place the keyword too much on other pages of the site. Those bots will understand your site better if one page is only about one group of similar keywords and one group of similar keywords is only covered by one page. They don’t really have time to decide which one is more important to rank so you do it for them.

6. Index each page that targets a keyword group and has a good amount of content (500+ words). Don’t index any pages that have repeat content or not much content.

7. If you use images tell the bots what those images are using the Google Alt text (remember – blind 5 year old).

Google wants us to work with their bots. They have provided a number of helpful tools in their “Google Search Console.” You can use it to see if the Google bots or robots are correctly crawling your site. You can submit your new page to it so that it gets crawled and indexed faster. You can also test and submit your sitemap to it to make sure it is readable by their system.

Our affordable SEO Packages are built on this philosophy as we strive to make your website as clear and easy to index as possible. Contact us today for a free consulation.

5 Amazing Free Photo Websites You Wont Believe Are Free

Classic-Architecture

Buying stock photos for your design work is becoming expensive. I used to use dollarphotoclub.com a lot. But recently Adobe bought dollar photo club and absorbed the library into it’s expensive photo club. I don’t mind paying a lot for an image I know I will use – but often when designing i tend to go through a lot of images. I like to have a number of high quality (not comps) images that I tweak and experiment with until I settle on my final design. The Answer? Free photo websites.

I discovered that there are in fact plenty of quality, free photo websites out there. What’s the catch? Well nothing really. They don’t make you sign up. You’re allowed to use the images in your work and the images are actually good. In fact in some cases they’re even better than stock photos – produced by photographers looking to celebrate the artistry of their work rather than  a generic stock photo.

Here is 5 Amazing free photo websites. There are plenty more out there (If you know of one share it in the comments below). I have found these sites to be very helpful in my quest for great design which I integrate into my web marketing projects. Credit goes to Sam from Everlest design who told me about most of these sites:

stars-sky
Another cool, un-stock-looking picture from unsplash.com

1) www.unsplash.com

I love this site. It is a growing site of dedicated photographers who share their amazing work. The landscape, cultural and cityscape photos here are amazing. These photos will bring a professional, artistic vibe to your design.

They have recently added a “collections” feature so you can see the photos grouped in categories. It has a growing community of amazing photographers who contribute to the site with their amazing work. You can download full resolution images and do whatever you want with them. In fact the license on the site is “free, do whatever you want high resolution photos”

 

2) www.gratisography.com

For quality images that are a little quirky, check out gratisography.com. These images are ideal for high impact eye catching design. A lot of the images here focus on modern western culture and personality.

Their images are divided into 6 categories. Animals, nature, objects, people urban and whimsical. For something really different check out their whimsical category. You’re likely to find something completely original here so get digging and see what you find.

3) www.imcreator.com/free

Another solid library of free images. The site is well organised into categories and sub categories. Images here are free for commercial use but attribution to the photographer must be made (creative commons license)

For something a bit different check out the “Faces” category. http://www.imcreator.com/free/people/faces

4) nos.twnsnd.co

Here you will find a public archive library of vintage photos. As the site says all photos are free of “known copyright restrictions”. Most of the photos have some age, authenticity and history to them.

If you’re working on a project that requires that vintage feel, these images will definately do the trick. No need for noisy, dust and scratches plugins, these images already have them. As an added bonus all images contain some background information like location, age of image so you’re not left wondering where they came from.

5) http://www.splitshire.com/

Another site full of quality images. These images have great colour and very usable for web design as backgrounds. You won’t find copious amounts of photos here, but you will find a boutique selection of pics ready to be used in your projects.

I particularly appreciated the easy to find “Top best photos” (http://www.splitshire.com/topbestphotos/). All the photos here looked great and are presented to you complete with a parallax text overlay so you see how it will look in your web design. In fact it can’t be overstated how important it is to see how text interacts with an image before you go to the effort and time of downloading it and trying to make it work. Its nice to see how usable these pics are for backgrounds.

Free Photo Websites Provide Inspiration

So there you go a selection of great pictures. I appreciate the fact that people are willing to share their amazing work on sites like these. The non commercial (non stock) nature of the photos on these sites frees you up to truly get into design mode and create something inspirational and amazing. Thats why we love designing websites!

Have you got any free photo websites you would like to share? share them in the comments below.

5 Reasons to Launch Your Website Sooner than Later

balloons

When launching a new website it can be tempting to try and get everything perfect before you go ahead and make it live. That’s understandable because you want your new website to be perfect. In the pursuit of perfection your new website can be delayed by weeks and even months as you try to get every piece of content right. You may eventually get your content just right, but the time you lose in that process can cost you success in more ways than you think. Here are some reasons sooner is better than later:

1. Google Crawl and Index

When you launch a new website on a new domain, it can take some time for Google to crawls and index your site. For this reason its better to have something online sooner than later. In the first 4-6 weeks, it is unlikely that your content will be discovered by online search. This can give you time to perfect your content while Google crawls and works out your site.

As part of our website build process we build an xml sitemap which helps search engines crawl your site. At the time of launch we submit the sitemap to Google to help speed up the crawl and index process.

2. Google Sandbox

There is also an alleged “google sandbox” at work which affects the rankings on your new website. While there is debate surrounding exactly how this works, the general consensus is that Google has an algorithm in place which limits the success of a new website. The reason for this is to prevent spam style websites quickly ranking on google.

As users start interacting with your website, google learns that your website does deliver quality content. Once the trust is established your website will show up in the search results. In our experience this can take up to 6 months before your website fully shakes off the effects of being new.

Google analytics data
Proof of the Google Sandbox? – Site Jumps up a few months after launch

3. Domain Age

Another time related ranking factor is the age of your domain. Older domains carry more authority which can give them an advantage over relatively newer domains. This is why some people seek to buy old domains to build their new website on. This gives them some immediate authority and better rankings in the search results.

Finding an appropriate existing domain is not really an option for most businesses owners. Instead, most will register a domain that is more in line with their business name. The best practice is to build a website as soon as possible once a domain is purchased. This will ensure that the data accumulation process begins by Google sooner and some authority starts to get built into the website.

If you have purchased a domain but not yet in a position to build a full website, consider building a small website first. This will make your domain live and start the authority accumulation process. We have a number of small website packages available.

4. Learn From Your Visitors

By launching your site sooner, you gain valuable insight into how visitors engage with your website. For example, when your site is live you can see which pages have a high bounce rate. Bounce rate is when visitors leave your site immediately after arriving by hitting the “back” button. You can then trouble shoot why the bounce rate is high: slow page speed, not enough internal links, content that is inadequate etc. By fixing the causes of bounce rate, you can improve overall user experience which leads to higher rankings.

Google analytics provides you with a wealth of data which you can use to improve your website. This will ultimately lead to a better website than trying to build a website independently of user feedback data. Part of most of our monthly SEO services include gauging user data as a means to improving the website. This is an essential practice for improving user experience and data.

Analytics Data
Google Analytics Data – Essential for Creating a Great Website

5. A Successful Website is a Changing Website

Google loves to see a website that is constantly changing and evolving. That’s because the internet is constantly changing with new search trends and new technology. Google is constantly tweaking it’s algorithm in an effort to provide better results to end users. If your website doesn’t grow and change with these changes it will get left behind. For this reason it is far better to see your website as a constantly changing, growing organism rather than a static masterpiece.

We build websites using the WordPress platform. WordPress is great because it allows non techs to add change and add new content to their website. By placing a blog feed on the home page that is periodically updated with fresh content, you are giving your website every chance to grow and rank.

Conclusion

When it comes to the success of your online presence it is far better to launch sooner than later. Once your website looks professional and has quality content it is time to go live. You can always add more content later or take time to tweak that article. By going live you begin the indexing process and start to build authority. You can collect user data which you can use to optimise your user experience and convert more visitors into leads.

If you have a domain for your business but no website yet then get started today. Even a simple one page website will help establish your online presence. We have solutions for any budget.