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  • Stay Away From WordPress Security Plugins

    When searching through all of the potential plugins to install on your wordpress site, you may notice that many of the popular plugins have to do with security.  This may seem very tempting to let a plugin handle all of your security needs for your site but, security plugins forget one important fact about the web:  if your site is too slow for people to navigate it, people won’t visit your site.  


    Most Security plugins add lots and lots of rules into your .htaccess file which the web server has to parse for every page load (even for static .html files). The longer .htaccess gets, the slower the site will get.  I’ve seen as many as 900 rules in a single .htaccess file from wordpress security plugins: needless to say, this site was one of the slowest that I have ever seen.  There are better ways to secure a wordpress site.  When security plugins are not writing hundreds of .htaccess rules, many of them use large amounts of CPU power to search through lists of bots and IP addresses of potential hackers.  They also write to log files constantly, which clogs up the performance of your server.  If it has Security in the name, chances are that it will slow down your site.


    How do you secure our site without security plugins?


    The simplest and most affective way to secure your site is to use a strong admin username and password.  Most of the time, the username for the site admin is drumroll please…. “admin”.  Using the same admin username as everybody else makes it easy for botnets to hack your site, since all they need to do is figure out your password (which is probably “pass” or “password” J.K... right? ) and they’re in.  


    Moving your login page is the simplest way to prevent bots from attempting to log into your site.  You can use “Rename wp-login.php” to change the URL of your login page, then bots will have no idea where to go to even attempt logging in.  You can also name the login page anything you want by a setting in wp-admin (Settings > Permalinks > Login url) .  So if you really want, your login page can be http://example.com/BotsCanNeverFindMyLoginPage/.


    Try to stay away from plugins and themes that allow for arbitrary uploading of files.  Some themes allow PHP files to be uploaded and executed.  In general, be careful when choosing plugins and themes.  Also, visit our Knowledge Base to learn more about how to secure your WordPress Site, and check out how to optimize your WordPress site with A2 Optimized.  And if you really need to use a security plugin: check out our helpful Knowledge Base articles on configuring WordPress plugins.


    For more advanced options for securing your site visit http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Housekeeping. And for more information about moving your WordPress page to A2 Hosting, please visit our WordPress Hosting page.  

  • Bid Your First Page Estimate On Best Converting Keywords

    When it comes to your marketing efforts, it's impressive how often the 80/20 rule....rules. That is 80% of production comes from just 20% of the total source. This could mean 80% of your affiliate sales come from 20% of your affiliates or 80% of content views on your site are from only 20% of your pages.


    In my experience, the rule is often closer to a 95/5 rule. This is especially true from the AdWords campaigns I have run. You can have 1000's of optimized ad groups, but the reality is only a select few of your keywords are actually the ones converting. If this is the case for your AdWords campaign, and I bet it is, doesn't it make sense to spend the majority of your budget on those keywords? More importantly, doesn't it make sense to do everything you can to make sure that your ads are being triggered when your top converting keywords are searched?


    AdWords makes it simple to keep your most successful keywords above your competitors. Just go to your keyword tab and sort by Status. The keywords below the first page estimate will be sorted at the top. I highly recommend that you go through your keywords, especially your top converting keywords, and making sure that you are bidding them up to the first page estimate. In fact, if the cost per click and cost per conversion makes sense on a CPA basis, I would bid the amount AdWords recommends in their above the search results estimate.


    If you're running a campaign with numerous keywords, I also recommend placing your top converting ad groups into a separate campaign. That way it's even easier to keep track of your most successful keywords and to keep those bids at a level where your ads are showing up. Otherwise you're missing out on a number of conversion opportunities.

  • How To Make Your WordPress Site Slower

    WordPress is a pretty straightforward content management system (CMS) for blogging. It’s fairly quick out of the box, but WordPress has a community of developers that have made plugins to allow WordPress to do pretty much anything you want.  The downside of having so many options for plugins is that we, as webmasters, tend to want to install every plugin we can get our hands on.


    When we overload our site with plugins that do everything we think we need, each time a page loads, the site is doing everything. This causes slower and slower page load times each and every time we add a new plugin.  Each and every time a page loads on your site, each installed plugin executes the code and database calls necessary to perform its task. Unfortunately, most plugins are not coordinated to work with each other and many of the same database and function calls will be repeated over and over again by different plugins.  This definitely slows down your site.  Adding a few plugins to your site can increase your page load time by double, triple or even more.  Having one plugin that does everything is not always the solution either, since the plugin may do more than you need and can be slower.


    There are several plugins that can help speed things up though and some that can even help you identify what is slowing down your site.  At A2 Hosting, we recommend the W3 Total Cache plugin as a way to speed up delivery of pages on your site. By saving a copy of each page's HTML on the hard drive, W3 Total Cache allows your site to skip a few steps in processing a request from a user.  The site stores this cached version of the page until either new content has been added to the site or the page has reached a maximum age. At this point the next time the page is viewed, a new cached page is created. W3 Total Cache can also enable tools that reduce the file size of pages sent to your users making your site faster especially for users with slow internet connections.


    The Plugin Performance Profiler (P3) plugin is a great tool for identifying which plugins you have installed that may be slowing down your site.  This simple tool measures the time it takes for each page on your site to load and which portion of that time each of your installed plugins has used.  You can quickly identify any plugin that is a CPU hog.  GT Metrix is another performance monitoring plugin which allows you to see where your site is using the most resources.  Check our our Knowledge Base article on “How to optimize WordPress with W3 Total Cache and GTmetrix”.


    The next time you log into your WP admin, take a look at the list of plugins that you have installed and make sure that you need all of them.  If you no longer use a plugin, make sure you both deactivate and delete it. You may notice a nice little performance boost on your site.

  • Using Analytics To Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

    One of the most valuable, yet under used features of Google Analytics is the Funnel Visualization report. I'll admit that I've always been a bit confused on how to get this report up and running, but after spending a few moments testing it out, it's not as hard as it once seemed.


    I can't stress the importance of looking at a Funnel Visualization report to learn more about your site's shopping cart abandonment and determining where you're losing users along the way. You've done the hard work to get the visitor to come to your site. You've sold them on your service or product. Don't make the mistake of losing them in your cart! Funnel Visualization will help you determine what steps in the checkout process may be causing customer confusion or trouble and help you focus on which steps need to be tweaked.


    There are other solutions that will help you track movement through your conversion funnel aside from Analytics. However most estimates show that roughly half of all sites use Analytics, so I thought I'd share step-by-step instructions to show you how to set up Funnel Visualization. Best of all, it's a free solution and you can't beat that!


    First you will need to create a goal:

    1. Click Admin at the top of Analytics
    2. Select Goals under the View column
    3. Click +New Goal
    4. Name your Goal, select Destination from the Type options and click Next step
    5. Enter your shopping cart's confirmation page URL in the Destination box.
    6. Click to turn the Funnel button on
    7. Name and add the URL for each of the shopping cart pages leading up to the confirmation page. Click Create goal.


    Now that you've created your goal, it will take Analytics some time to record conversions. To view the Funnel Visualization report:

    1. Click Reporting at the top of Analytics
    2. Click Conversions, Goals and Funnel Visualization in the navigation menu
    3. Choose the goal that you just created if it isn't already selected in the Goal Option drop down. After a few quick steps, you'll be able to see the Shopping Cart Flow at the bottom of this page.
  • Developing Single Page Web Applications with AngularJS

    Anyone who has experience developing a Single Page Application (SPA) with naked jQuery or raw JavaScript knows that doing so involves a lot of work for basic UI functions like keeping your Model and View in sync. You end up with hundreds or even thousands of lines of JavaScript devoted to basic functionality, before you can even begin writing your application logic. This is why teams of developers have put tremendous effort into making a variety of JavaScript application frameworks. You can take your pick from BackboneJS, EmberJS, AngularJS and others. Each has its own advantages, but for this post I'll just be talking about what AngularJS brings to the table.

    There's a few key features that make AngularJS distinct from the alternatives. A big one is that Angular templates are written in HTML using directives (HTML5 data elements or custom attributes) for its template functionality. For example, if you have a list element that you'd like to repeat for each entry in an array, you use an ng-repeat directive on that list element like so:

    <li ng-repeat="cookie in cookies">{{ cookie.name }} : {{ cookie.description }}</li>

    Assuming you have an array called cookies with elements that contain both a name and description, you will get a list as you might imagine from the above in AngularJS

    Angular will do automatic data binding as well, if the cookies array gets updated in your model, the view will automatically update. That means adding, removing or changing any of the elements in your model is automatically reflected to the user.

    This is just a very basic introduction to some of the functionality AngularJS has on offer. For a more comprehensive overview I recommend checking out the official AngularJS site which contains detaield documentation as well as a number of videos.


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