Maintaining your WordPress website is not as hard as it seems — just follow this simple maintenance checklist we’ve prepared for you. We’ve outlined six essential tasks that you should perform regularly to keep your WordPress site running smoothly.

Create complete backups of your website

One of the most important things you can do to protect your website is to back it up periodically. This will allow you to restore your site if something goes wrong, such as a hacker attack or server crash. There are several ways to create backups, including using plugins or manually copying your files and database. But while plugins like BackUpWordPress and hosting servers like SiteGround automate the backup process, performing manual backups may still be necessary to cover all your bases.

Verify your backups

Just because you have backups doesn’t mean they’re doing their job. You should test your backups regularly to make sure they are working properly. This can be done by restoring a backup to a test site or simply downloading the files and checking them to make sure they are complete. The last thing you need is for your backups to fail on the day you need them most.

Perform daily security scans

One of the best ways to stay ahead of potential security threats is to monitor your website closely for any signs of compromise. A good way to do this is to perform daily security scans, which will help you track any changes or suspicious activity. There are a number of different tools and services that can help you with this, and one of the most popular ones is Sucuri. Not only does this plugin carry out inspections, but it also sends an SMS to notify you of any suspicious activity and emails you a daily status report of your website’s security.

Scan for malware

Cyberthreats are growing in both number and sophistication. With every passing day, new strains of malware are developed and released onto business networks and systems. Unless you are a bonafide hacker yourself, detecting malware might be a little tricky. WordPress plugins like Wordfence keep your website safe using the latest firewall rules and flagging the latest malware signatures and malicious IP addresses.

Conduct page speed audits

Slow and steady may be qualities valued by some, but not when it comes to your website. Plugins like Google Pagespeed Insights test how fast your site loads. If it takes more than five seconds, you should consider implementing caching and other measures to speed up your site. Slow sites put off visitors, and that further lowers those sites’ search rankings.

Review your site’s structure and content

Just as you should periodically review your website’s security, you should also take a look at its overall structure and content. Are the pages well organized and easy to navigate? Is the content relevant and up to date? If not, you may want to consider making some changes.

Forbes, National Geographic, and The New York Times are all powered by WordPress, which means you are in good company. By sticking to the checklist, you too can harness the power of this online, open-source website creation tool. Or, instead of signing up for half a dozen services that need daily check-ins, why not have us take care of all of it for you? If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call!

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

Every business, regardless of size and industry, needs to have an online presence these days. One of the best ways to achieve this is to create your own website, and for that, you’ll need a web host. Here’s a quick overview of what a web host is and the two most common types of hosting.

What is a web host?

A web host sells or leases memory space on its servers so your website can have a virtual location on the internet. Their services include online storage for all of your site’s files and web pages.

Many web hosts also offer domain name hosting, which creates a web address that users can type into a web browser to access your website (e.g., google.com, inc.com, etc.). Combine these two hosting services and you have the main foundations for your website.

You can also get domain-based email addresses (e.g., robert@acmeenterprise.com) and website databases from web hosts. Essentially, your web host can store everything your website needs.

When you sign up with a web host, you will usually pay a monthly fee, which the company uses to maintain and invest in new servers for hosting, increase access speeds, and provide better services.

What are the two most common types of web hosting?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of web hosts around the world, but they usually fall into one of two categories:

  • Shared hosting – Multiple, different websites are stored on one physical hosting server. Sites have their own partition (section of storage) that is kept separate from other sites on the same server.
  • Dedicated hosting – One website is hosted per server. This means you have all of the server’s capacity to yourself.

Which hosting type is best for my business website?

Most websites use shared hosting because it’s more affordable while still offering generally stable access and access speeds. This is the ideal hosting type for most small- and medium-sized businesses with fairly simple websites.

If your website is going to be large (e.g., thousands of pages) and you are going to host complex features like advanced eCommerce, streaming, communication portals, and other web applications, then it would be best to opt for a dedicated hosting service. Examples of large sites include Google, Amazon, and government sites, among others.

With numerous web hosts out there, selecting the right fit can be quite challenging. But with our IT expertise and solutions, we can help you find the web host that will work best for your business needs. Contact us today to get started with your online presence.

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

Do you need a website that’ll convince people to sign up for your services or buy your product? The solution to conversion is simpler than you think. Here are five easy website essentials that will surely encourage conversion.

1. Optimize your website for mobile devices

More people are now surfing the web via smartphones and tablets. If you want a piece of this traffic, you need to make your website’s design responsive to all mobile devices.

To give your visitors a seamless mobile experience, make sure your website design fits the screen of any device. Additionally, all elements of your website, including inner pages, resources, and call-to-action buttons should be easily accessible. If not, visitors will get frustrated and move to another site.

2. Make it easy for customers to contact you

Displaying your phone number in the upper-right corner of every page and providing a simple contact form is crucial for conversions. While some people prefer not to give up their email address for fear it will be picked off by spambots, it can serve as another contact option for those who hate web forms. At the very least, your customers will have more than one way to contact you.

3. Keep it simple

People don’t always have time to navigate a complicated website, dig through dozens of pages to find a contact number, or figure out what it is that you’re selling. So when it comes to design, simplicity makes sense. When producing a simple website, every page, word, and image you create must have a singular purpose: to get visitors to contact you. Don’t distract them with excessive information, silly games, or flashy animations. Instead, have a nice clean layout so they can quickly understand what you’re offering and can contact you in just a click.

4. Include original photos whenever possible

Imagine having to choose between two different websites that sell the same thing and look virtually the same. The key difference is that one uses real photos of the owner and his or her staff, while the other uses stock images of business people.

By using original and authentic photos, visitors can get a better sense of your company as well as its products and services. It also gives you better control over how you can compose your photos and determine how you want your company to be perceived. So the next time you need images for your website, invest some time and money in having quality pictures taken by a professional photographer.

5. Move social media icons to the bottom of the page

Everyone loves throwing social media icons on their websites. And while it’s not a bad idea to show your credibility, putting social media icons at the top of the page makes your visitors more likely to click on them immediately. When this happens, you just gave them a reason to leave your site and never return, and we all know how easy it is to get distracted on social media.

Instead, place your social media icons at the bottom of the page or in the footer area. Remember, the goal of your website is to convert. If your visitors leave before they get a chance to explore your services, content, and offerings, you’ve lost them before you even had them.

For more tips on enhancing your digital presence, give us a call and leverage our IT expertise for your business today.

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

A decade ago, five seconds was a completely acceptable page load time. But today, most users expect a web page to load as soon as they open it. Otherwise, they will simply close it. To prevent users from bouncing off, try these tips that will surely speed up your WordPress site.

Keep WordPress and plugins up to date

Updating your WordPress version and plugins will not only keep your website secure but also speed it up. Therefore, you should install those updates as soon as they become available.

Choose a website host wisely

Your website’s host can make or break your website, so before you select one, carefully compare the details of their service plans — especially the website speed and uptime — against those of other vendors.

While it may be tempting to opt for shared hosting because of its low cost, know that it’s also going to offer the slowest speeds because many websites are simultaneously relying on the same server for bandwidth. In contrast, a dedicated server will provide the best speed, but it may be too costly for many small- and medium-sized businesses.

A great mid-performance, mid-price alternative is a virtual private server (VPS). A VPS acts like a dedicated server in terms of functionality but still technically uses a shared server. It will speed up your site better than the typical shared hosting without breaking the bank.

Keep your site lean

The leaner your site is, the faster it will be. To create a lean site, be mindful of these four aspects:

  1. Theme – While the promise of a versatile theme can spark the imagination, implementing one can set you back in terms of speed. When a theme has a ton of features, the huge amount of code that powers those features can bog down your site. Avoid this by testing the theme demos to see how long they take to load. If the loading time is more than three seconds, look for another theme that loads faster.
  2. Design – Design elements can also dramatically slow down your site. Simple sites are faster, so carefully consider the ads, images, and extras that you’re thinking of adding.
  3. Plugins – Not all plugins are created equal; some run fast and others slow. To tell one from the other, use special plugins that show the impact a plugin has on your site’s load time. What’s more, think twice before installing a plugin because having fewer plugins translates to a faster site load time.
  4. Images – While many raw images are around 3,000 to 4,000 pixels wide, most featured images are only 600 to 800 pixels wide. To reduce image weight and thus gain a faster site, resize your site’s images to the exact size they’ll appear on screen.

Leverage speed-boosting plugins

Use plugins that speed up your site. Cache plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache can provide more speed by caching every aspect of your site, thereby reducing its download times.

Another helpful plugin is Lazy Load. It boosts your site’s speed by loading the elements at the top of the website first, then loading subsequent elements as one scrolls down. But before installing the Lazy Load plugin, make sure to check your Theme Options to see if it’s already included.

Use redirects sparingly

Web pages that point to your old URLs can really slow down your site, so make sure to avoid or limit them. Also use the Redirect mapper tool or similar alternatives to uncover redirects that you don’t need.

Implementing some or all of the tips above will surely speed up your WordPress site’s speed. But if you need more help optimizing your website or in other IT matters, just give us a call.

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

Images and SEO

When working with web platforms like WordPress, there are three letters that induce anxiety in any business owner: SEO (search engine optimization). It’s one of the most confusing aspects of running a business, and web apps that rate your SEO with no more than a red or green light don’t make it any easier. Read on to find out whether the images on your site are the cause of that annoying red light.

Do images really affect SEO?

One of the reasons images tend to be overlooked when auditing SEO is because it’s easy to forget just how many images your website has. Maybe you only had a few photos on your homepage when you first built your site. Over time, however, you probably added more visual elements to blog posts, landing pages, and About Us page — drastically increasing the impact of your images on your SEO.

Image resolution and load speed

The first thing to check is how your images affect your site’s load speed. If you’re using ultra high-resolution photos, those accessing your site on mobile devices or using satellite data connections will have trouble loading your site. Site load times affect your site’s ranking on Google, so make sure to pair your images down to a more reasonable resolution and save them as web-friendly file types.

  • Choose the JPEG format for illustrations or large photos since it provides clarity and good colors in a smaller file size.
  • Select the PNG format if you want to preserve background transparency.
  • Use the SVG format for icons and logos. Combine this with Javascript or CSS to resize SVG images without losing quality.

Keywords and image title

The days of keyword-stuffing are long gone, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with uploading images with filenames like “DSC2558.jpg”. When adding images to your website, make sure their names are relevant to their content, such as “gym-trainer-helping-lift.jpg” or “call-center-customer-service.jpg”. This makes it easier for search engines to derive information from the images on a page.

Alt text and title text

Even though Google is getting better at recognizing image content without any help from text identifiers, describing your images in your website’s back end is still important for SEO. Every image on your site should have enough text-based information without disrupting the user experience.

To see how this works in WordPress, open your site dashboard and click on Media. This will display all the uploaded images, videos, and audio. Click on any photo to access the text editing tools. Whatever you include in the Caption field will be shown below the image, so check that it corresponds with your content. If not, skip it. In this case, user experience takes priority over SEO.

The Alternative Text and Description fields will be visible to visitors only if the image doesn’t load or if they select it manually. They may not seem that important, but these should be considered nonnegotiable for SEO purposes.

Check that your site’s images are properly optimized before requesting another SEO report. If your score changes, audit your image optimizations regularly. If you’re still seeing red, there are a number of web- and cloud-based platforms that can help improve your content. Give us a call today to find out more!

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

Grabbing people’s attention and converting them to prospective customers is the goal of any professional website. To do that, you need to create a terrific-looking and user-friendly site that encourages visitors to sign up for eBooks, consultations, and other services. Be sure your website follows these five rules that make it easier to convert visitors.

1. Optimize your website for mobile devices

More people are now surfing the web on the go via smartphones, tablets, and laptops. If you want a piece of this traffic, you need to make your website’s design responsive to all mobile devices.

To give your visitors an enjoyable mobile experience, make sure your website design fits the screen of any device. Additionally, all elements of your website, including inner pages, resources, and call-to-action buttons should be easily accessible. If not, visitors will get frustrated and click away to a competitor.

2. Make it easy for customers to contact you

This means displaying your phone number in the upper-right corner of every page and providing a simple, easy-to-find contact form. While some people prefer not to give up their email address for fear it will be picked off by spambots, it can serve as another contact option for those who hate web forms. Ideally, your customers will have more than one way to contact you.

3. Keep it simple

People are always busy. They don’t have time to navigate a complicated website, dig through dozens of pages to find a contact number, or try and figure out what it is that you’re selling because your mobile site doesn’t display content properly.

So when it comes to design, simplicity makes sense. When producing a simple website, every page, word, and image you create must have a singular purpose: to get visitors to contact you. Don’t distract them with excessive information, silly games, or flashy animations. Instead, have a nice clean layout so they can quickly understand what you’re offering and can contact you with a click.

4. Include custom photos whenever possible

Say you have to choose between two different websites that sell the same thing and look virtually the same. The key difference is that one uses real photos of the owner and his or her staff, while the other uses generic stock images of business people. Assuming images from both sites are of the same quality, which one will you more likely choose? Undoubtedly, the one that looks more authentic.

So the next time you need images for your website, invest some time and money in quality pictures taken by a professional photographer.

5. Move social media icons to the bottom of the page

Everyone loves throwing social media icons on their websites. And while it’s not a bad idea to show your credibility, putting social media icons at the top of the page makes your visitors more likely to click on them immediately. When this happens, you just created an exit for them to leave your site and never return, and we all know how easy it is to get distracted on social media.

Instead, place your social media icons at the bottom of the page or in the footer area. Remember, the goal of your website is to convert. If your visitors leave before they get a chance to explore your services, content, and offerings, you’ve lost them before you even had them.

Need a website or another solution to enhance your digital presence? Give us a call and leverage our IT expertise for your business.

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

In a recent survey of 1,800 customers, 42% said they’re “very unlikely” to purchase from ugly websites. That’s not so surprising. After all, there are plenty of competitors’ websites that are more visually appealing and user-friendly that they can visit. If your business website fails to make a critical good first impression, it could lose money. You can avoid that by improving these elements on your website.

A variety of professional photos

From pictures of your products to team photos, high-quality images are arguably the most important thing on your website. Blurry, outdated, or irrelevant pictures tell your site visitors that you don’t care about their browsing experience. In-house photos are the best option, but stock images shouldn’t cause any problems as long as they are optimized for mobile viewing and relevant to your content.

Navigation

Aside from subpar images, linking to nonexistent pages is one of the best ways to turn site visitors away. Make sure it’s easy to navigate your site and remove outdated or irrelevant pages. You can’t sell 404 pages to customers, and if that’s all visitors can find, it’s game over.

Clear copywriting

The last thing you want to do is to confuse your customers, so it’s important to keep all of your product or service descriptions as straightforward and simple as possible. If what you’re selling has detailed information such as dimensions or technical requirements, make sure the description is easy to find but not obtrusive.

Promises to site visitors

Any website that ships products should make its returns policy as visible as possible. This establishes trust early. Explicitly stating terms of return is also important because some online shoppers make purchase decisions based solely on the clarity of a return policy.

Even if you don’t run an eCommerce site, you also need to prominently display privacy commitments, such as those mandated by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

About page

Your brand needs a story behind it that customers can relate to. Every company website should have an About Us page that describes your team, its culture, and what sets you apart from the competition. Whatever your story is, make sure it’s accessible from any page on your site.

Design

Not everyone is a web design expert, but in today’s gig economy, one is never too far away from such a career. If your budget is tight, there are DIY site builders specifically geared toward small businesses. Or with a relatively low monthly expenditure, you can hire a managed website provider.

With more revenue originating online, small- and medium-sized business owners can’t afford to overlook the importance of creating a fully functional website.

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

Like people, websites also need to be dressed for success. Here’s how you can make yours look impressive and have visitors eager to do business with you.

Make a statement with professional photographs

Before site visitors read what’s on your website, they assess it by checking out your images. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words, but are those words truly what you want to convey to your audience?

Blurry, outdated, or irrelevant pictures tell your site visitors that you don’t care about their browsing experience. In-house photos are the best option, but stock images shouldn’t cause any problems as long as they are optimized for mobile viewing and relevant to your content.

Help visitors find what they want with search tools

If your set of offerings is not expansive, a simple navigation menu ought to help visitors find what they need. However, the deeper your catalog gets, the more you’ll need additional tools. One way is to affix a search bar in your header so that people can use keywords to scour your site. Another way is to engage visitors via chat. You can preprogram a chatbot to ask questions that narrow down a visitor’s intention, or you can have a live agent address a visitor’s concerns in real time.

The more helpful your website is, the more it will foster trust in your brand and make visitors more likely to do business with you.

Extra tip:
Reduce the number of clicks a visitor has to make to achieve their objectives. For instance, eschew using the “Read more” link on product descriptions on product details pages. Visitors dive into a product page because they’re interested in fully learning more about the product, and the “Read more” link just hinders them from doing so.

Present your case clearly with good copywriting

The last thing you want to do is to confuse and frustrate your customers, so it’s important to keep all of your product or service descriptions as straightforward and simple as possible. If what you’re selling has detailed information, such as dimensions or technical requirements, make sure that they’re easy to read and are typed out.

Don’t use screenshots of information tables because web visitors compare offerings by collating information from different sellers. If your information is displayed in the form of an image, you’ll force users to type the info themselves. You’ll immediately lose the ones who don’t want that sort of hassle.

Let visitors get to know your company better in the About Us page

Your brand needs a story behind it that customers can relate to. Every company website should have an About Us page that describes your team, your company culture, and what sets you apart from the competition. Whatever your story is, make sure it’s accessible from any page on your site.

Hire a professional web designer

If your budget is tight, there are DIY site builders specifically geared toward small businesses. Or for a relatively low monthly fee, you can hire a managed website provider. A website provider will take care of:

  • Form – They’ll make your site look impressive on any screen size.
  • Function – The provider will ensure that your site is easy to use and works as expected, whether you’re using a keypad and mouse or just your finger or stylus.
  • Fixes – If something in your site is broken or you want to make changes to it (such as integrating an appointment scheduling app), they will handle it for you.

With more revenue originating online, small- and medium-sized business owners can’t afford to overlook the importance of creating a fully functional website.

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

Small- and medium-sized businesses are often tempted to relegate their search engine optimization (SEO) analyses to the free reports offered by online platforms like WordPress and Google Analytics. Unfortunately, those reports rarely provide the details you need to make improvements. One of the things they tend to glaze over is image optimization.

Do images really affect my SEO?

One of the reasons images tend to be overlooked when auditing SEO is because it’s easy to forget just how many images your website has. Maybe you only had a few photos on your homepage when you first built your site. Over time however, you probably added countless visual elements to blog posts, landing pages, and team photos — drastically increasing the influence of your images on your SEO.

Image resolution and load speed

The first thing to check is how your images affect your site’s speed. If you’re using ultra high-resolution photos, those with mobile devices or satellite data connections will have trouble loading your site. Site load times affect your site’s ranking on Google, so make sure to pair your images down to a more reasonable resolution and save them as web-friendly file types.

  • Choose the JPEG format for illustrations or big photos since it provides clarity and good colors in a smaller file size.
  • Select the PNG format to preserve background transparency.
  • Use the SVG format for icons and logos. Combine this with Javascript or CSS to resize SVG images without losing quality.

Keywords and image title

The days of keyword-stuffing are long gone, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with uploading images with filenames like “DSC2558.jpg”. Before doing so, make sure the names of your images are relevant to their content, such as “gym-trainer-helping-lift.jpg” or “call-center-customer-service.jpg”. This makes it easier for search engines to derive information from the images on a page.

“Alt text” and title text

Even though Google is getting better at recognizing image content without any help from text identifiers, describing your images in your website’s back-end is still important for SEO. Every image on your site should have enough text-based information without disrupting the user experience.
To see how this works in WordPress, open your site dashboard and click on Media. This will display all the images, videos, and audio there. Click on any photo and you’ll have access to text editing tools. Whatever you include in the Caption field will be shown below the image, so check that it corresponds with your content. If not, skip it. In this case, user experience takes priority over SEO.

The Alternative Text and Description fields will be visible to visitors only if the image doesn’t load or if they select it manually. They may not seem that important, but these should be considered non-negotiable for SEO purposes.

Check that your site is doing all these things before requesting another SEO report. If your score changes, audit your image optimizations regularly. If you’re still seeing red, there are a number of web- and cloud-based platforms that can help improve your content. Give us a call today to find out more!

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

It’s not enough for small businesses to have a beautiful-looking website these days. Small business owners must also adopt web design trends that not only attract more visitors but ultimately increase sales. Consider the following web design ideas to achieve just that.

Scrolling

Scrolling is a convenient method to navigate a website. Instead of clicking on confusing menus and drop-down tabs, you can just scroll through a one-page site that has a cleaner look and is usually more intuitive to users. This web design style is definitely more important now that people have grown more accustomed to mobile web browsing.

You also have to decide how far visitors will have to scroll to get to know your company. While a long scrolling page gives you more white space and content to work with, a short scrolling page can quickly convey your company’s message and encourages action.

Animations

One way businesses have been setting themselves apart from others is by adding customized animations to their pages. This doesn’t mean you should overload your site with flashy effects that take forever to load. If you want to use animations on your site, give it a subtle twist. For instance, Slack’s loading animation features their logo.

Additionally, animations can be used to increase user interaction and engagement. Hover animations will allow your users to position the mouse over your content and get an immediate response without having to move between pages. Slideshows on your homepage can also showcase what your company is about without throwing too much information at the audience. When deciding to add animation to your page, figure out how a specific effect can enhance the user experience while showcasing your business.

Flat design

To achieve an optimal viewing experience for users, many companies have adopted a flat design for their websites. The flat design style replaces the elements that give an illusion of depth, like shadows and textures, with minimalist typography and colors. For example, Google employed this style to get content to viewers more effectively. The company added flat-design colors and used a sans-serif font. This allows the logo to load faster and makes it easier to read, as well.

Full-screen forms

More websites and apps are using full-screen forms to increase user interaction. Rather than being redirected to another page where your visitors decide to register or login to a website, they are welcomed by a full-screen form right on the home page. This is also especially useful for mobile users since they are less likely to misclick sections of the form.

Customized photos

The next time you want to use photographs to highlight your company, forget about using stock photos. Business websites that exhibit the company’s own photographs on their homepages look more personal and stand out from the competition.

While these trends are popular at the moment, don’t blindly adopt them all because it might end up looking messy. Instead, use the trends that are best suited to your company.

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

 

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE