Ultimate Guide to Skyrocket Your Retail Sales Using WordPress

Will there ever come a time when we don’t want to increase our online sales?

Probably not. 

Breaking new sales records is always challenging and let’s face it, you’re always on the lookout for ways to do so. 

Thanks to WordPress, creating an eCommerce site is easier than ever. It’s helping retailers add more functionality and build rich, engaging eCommerce sites. 

But a high convenience also means high competition. Data shows that there are an estimated 12 – 24 million eCommerce sites across the world and the number is growing with each passing day. 

And while not every online retailer is a direct competitor, you still need to stand out. Doing the bare minimum won’t work.

You’ll need to take extra measures to elevate your sales. Fortunately, you can do that if you’ve built your stores on WordPress and WooCommerce. All you need is a strategy and some tips to get started.

Listed below are ways you can leverage WordPress to break your sales records and increase your revenue. 

Let’s go. 

Leverage PlugIns to Boost Sales

WordPress PlugIns are a blessing to retailers aiming to add eCommerce-friendly functionalities to their sites. WooCommerce is the most popular plugin for eCommerce sites built on WordPress. In fact, 22% of the top 1 million eCommerce sites use WooCommerce to power their online store on WordPress. 

If you’re thinking about how this may help your store, understand that these plugins successfully integrate commerce with content. They provide you with greater flexibility in creating the site the way you want it, based on the products you’re selling. 

These functionalities include tax tables, payments, product descriptions, eCommerce order fulfillment processes, etc. — basically everything you’d need to smoothly run your online store. WooCommerce is also affordable, allowing small businesses to leverage its features without paying a hefty price too. 

Optimize your Site Performance

Did you know that the first five seconds of page load time have the highest impact on conversion rate? 

5 seconds. That’s all you got. 

Slow site speed is a problem many sites face but as an eCommerce store owner, poor performance can have a daunting effect on your conversion rate. So naturally, if your page loads any slower than that, you’re losing out on prospects, sales, and profit. 

To understand how your WordPress site performance is impacting your sales, first check your bounce rate. You can do so on Google Analytics. If it’s higher than average, test your page speed on Google PageSpeed Insights. You’ll get a complete picture of your page performance. 

To improve your loading time, some measures you can take are:

  • Build responsive themes on WordPress that avoids complex flash elements
  • Optimize your images
  • Minify your site’s JavaScript and CSS
  • Enable browser caching

Implement Upselling and Cross-selling

Allowing customers to discover new products or to check out services that complement the main product isn’t just limited to offline sales. Data shows that cross-selling in eCommerce can increase sales by 20% and profits by 30%

WordPress sites have allowed Upselling and Cross-selling to strategically make their way into online retail. One of the most common and effective ways eCommerce sites do this is by including “Related Products” or a “Frequently Bought Together” section. 

Upselling and Cross-selling are included in WooCommerce’s native functionality. You can enable them by simply going to one of your product pages, scrolling down to the Product data section, and then clicking on the Linked Products tab. 

Hence, you can easily put this technique into action, allowing customers to check out other products they might be interested in purchasing.

Incorporate Pop-ups to Prevent Lost Sales

How many times have you decided to leave a website and you’re instead immediately greeted with a pop-up that encourages you to stay? 

Exit-intent popups are the most common way to encourage action amongst prospects who decide to leave. It makes them think twice if you highlight your product value and pitch any discounts or special deals that encourage sales. 

OptinMonster is one of the most popular popup plugins for eCommerce sites on WordPress. Once you sign in, you will get access to a drag and drop builder for creating an exit-intent pop-up. You will also get options to segment your customers to personalize the messaging. 

Send Abandon Cart Emails

Cart abandonment has been a prominent issue in eCommerce as many customers end up adding items they want to buy but don’t want to purchase right away. 

Cart abandonment prospects may be the hardest to lose but they may be the easiest to convert. All they need is a nudge to complete their purchase. As a result, abandoned cart reminders have become a popular form of email marketing. 

You can use tools like MailChimp to craft personalized messages and automate these reminders. You just simply need to connect your WooCommerce shop to MailChimp via MailChimp for WordPress Premium.

Furthermore, plugins like Abandoned Cart for WooCommerce help you identify the reason and give your reports on abandoned carts. With the help of these notifications, you can identify common reasons for cart abandonment and create a well-customized workflow of emails to pitch to customers to complete their sales. 

Create Unique Title Tags for Products

To have a good conversion rate, you first need to have good traffic. And to have good traffic, you need to follow the SEO fundamentals. Your product directory may be massive but if you use generic titles for similar products, they won’t stand out in the search results. 

To capture the attention of search engines, you need to create unique title tags for each of your product pages. Title tags are an HTML element of a webpage that defines the title of the webpage. It can range from an article name to the name of the product but you need to consider the keywords you use in the title tags and ensure their readability. 

You can use Yoast WooCommerce SEO Plugin to add extra SEO features and optimize your title, meta description, and URL.

Finishing Thoughts

Building an eCommerce website on WordPress is easy, but you cannot just sit back and relax once it’s done. WooCommerce retailers face many challenges in the current eCommerce landscape due to the intense competition. The last thing you want is to fall into the trap of stagnant sales and minimal growth. 

But you need to create your space to shine and leverage the opportunities at hand to the fullest. At some point, you have to take a step back and evaluate your current site and tactics to ensure you’re on the right track. You’ll need to constantly strive toward optimizing your site performance and strategically use WordPress plugins to grow your sales and increase your conversions. 

How to Make Your WordPress Website More Environmentally Friendly

Technology has given many opportunities to grow. However, it does have downsides—one of them is that it contributes to climate change.

Every business wants to make its website accessible to the users at all times. To make this happen, it has to use energy—24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When the visitors land on the page, the web server uses energy to deliver elements like images, videos, and text to them. Plus, web servers also require power to operate and air conditions to keep them cool.

Now imagine millions of websites on the web using this amount of energy. Some websites are small and may use less energy. However, big websites have more tools and applications and get more visitors. This means they need more power to run and, thus, impact the environment.

In fact, a study reveals that internet operations account for 10% of annual energy consumption, which is likely to increase to over 20% by 2030.

This is where an eco-friendly WordPress website comes into the picture.

This blog post will walk you through five tips to improve sustainability and make your WordPress website a greener place.

5 tips to make your WordPress website more eco-friendly

Choose a green hosting company

Your web hosting provider takes a tremendous amount of energy to transmit data. In fact, research reveals that web hosting data centers will be responsible for up to 20% of the world’s power consumption by 2025. Therefore, switching to a green web host is the best decision to build an eco-friendly website.

Green web hosting, or eco-friendly hosting, seeks to eliminate the global environmental impact of the services it provides. In short, it is a more environmentally friendly way to host websites. They aim to provide high-quality hosting services while decreasing their carbon footprint.

Finding a green web host can be overwhelming. Here are four factors you should consider when choosing a host:

Transmission of data through networks contributes to maximum energy usage. In order to lower your website’s carbon footprint, the need is to select a data center close to your users. This will speed up the delivery and loading time and reduce the amount of energy required by your website.

Carefully read the policy documents of each host and read reviews about them online. Understand what they’re doing to be green. Are they buying credits for renewable energy from sources like sun and wind? Or, how are they cooling their centers?

Make sure the host you choose has a high Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating. The PUE measures how efficiently the data centers use the energy. As a thumb rule, the perfect score is 1. So, your green host must have a PUE rating as close to 1 as possible. For example, Google data centers have a PUE rating of 1.11, which means no wasted energy.

Choosing a green host that ticks all your boxes might seem a lot of work. Initiatives like The Green Web Foundation provide a list of numerous hosting providers to make your search easier.

Switch to an eco-friendly theme

Adopting an eco-friendly WordPress theme is another crucial factor in building an ecologically friendly website. So, select a theme that looks fresh and clean as you want the environment to be.

Further, the lesser resources they pull, the better it is for the environment. Many ready-made WordPress themes provide tons of features that you might not require. So, run your theme through the Query Monitor plugin to check how many database queries it has, which can decrease the speed of your website.

Here are a few WordPress themes for website planning to go green:

Total theme

The Total theme is a flexible, multipurpose theme that suits any type of business. It comes with 40+ demo sites that serve as a starting point for building your website. You can install any site with just a single click and tweak layout, colors, and fonts to match your business. These demo sites are coded clean, which means you use a few resources with this theme.

Further, the total includes over 80 builder modules, which can help you create attractive layouts. The best part? You can get all these features for just $59.

EcoCoded

If you’re looking for a theme that can minimize the environmental impact of your business, EcoCoded is one of the best options for you. EcoCoded offers few features and uses only a few colors and only one font, lowering load time and power usage. This minimalist theme comes with few images and zero fancy animations.

EcoCoded is available in both free and paid versions, starting at $29.

Eco Nature

Eco Nature is a beautiful theme that works on all browsers and screen sizes. It comes with three unique demos, which help you create an eco-friendly website. The clear and flexible shortcodes make customization easy. The theme also includes an intuitive drag-and-drop compose, Layer Slider plugin, parallax scrolling, and many Google Fonts. You can get this theme for just $59.

Limit plugins

WordPress plugins can help you add additional features to your website. They are one of the main reasons people enjoy using WordPress. However, that doesn’t mean you will install as many plugins as you want.

Plugins are programmed in the PHP language. Visitors browse your site and use the features it has to offer. If they trigger a part of the PHP code processed by the PHP module on your web server, more data and energy will be used.

So, if you have hundreds of plugins installed on your website, clean them out. This not only makes your WordPress website eco-friendly and more secure, but it can also give it a performance boost. This is because the cleaner your website backend is, the less amount of energy and power it will use.

Here’s how you can limit the use of plugins:

Before you install a plugin, think if it’s really required. Can you get the feature it offers in another way? For example, you can move as much of the plugin functionality as possible to functions.php. This way, you will use fewer plugins and utilize more efficient code.

You can use the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) to check which plugin uses the most resources and to measure its performance.

Another way is to make sure all your plugins are up-to-date. To check this, go to the “Update” tab in your WordPress dashboard. Further, while installing the plugin, check how often the plugin is updated and how many websites have installed it. If some plugins are inactive, get rid of them.

Other factors you should consider while choosing what plugins to keep include the security provided by the plugin and how the security issues are resolved, what kind of support they offer, its reviews and testimonials, and the number of databases it has.

Prefer digital document sharing and signing

No matter your title or industry, paperwork is one of the significant barriers to productivity. It reduces efficiency and can even pose a security risk—not to mention that 40% of the time is spent by employees filing papers. Plus, carrying out paper processes also requires various tools such as printers, fax machines, and more. And don’t forget the cost of paper can add up quickly in a workplace.

Sustainability is another reason to evaluate paper usage. A study shows that paper products make up the largest percentage of all materials (including metals and plastics) in landfills.

Hence, for an eco-friendly website, going paperless is crucial. It can not only reduce the website’s carbon footprint but also have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

By embracing online document management systems and digital signatures, you can lower paper use in your day-to-day operations. From signing contracts to sharing documents, anything you can do on paper can be done electronically, eliminating paper and making your website eco-friendly.

Electronic signatures are collected at once and can be used on as many documents as you want. If done correctly, they provide the same benefits as handwritten signatures. And don’t forget the security, convenience, and cost-effectiveness that comes along.

You can sign the documents via your phone or computer. Plus, numerous apps can make the process easier. However, before selecting any digital signing app, ensure it is secure and integrates with your existing software.

Furthermore, electronic document sharing can also help you share documents with your customers or clients from anywhere across the world with an internet connection. Some notable file-sharing software includes Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, FileCloud, and more.

Optimize all images

Images are one of the core elements of a WordPress website. Using them correctly can enhance your website content. However, using a large number of them can slow down your site. In fact, images take up 50% of your page weight.

That’s why optimizing your WordPress images is crucial to speed up your website, and ultimately reduce its carbon footprint. This is because each optimized image reduces the amount of energy required for data transmission to your visitors.

Here’s how you can optimize your images:

Before optimizing each image, ask yourself questions like, is this image valuable for your site, does it contain useful information, can you reduce its file size, and can you use it in SVG format? Then, use an image optimization plugin to reduce its size without compromising its quality, change the format, and so on.

The geographical distance between the website’s servers can have a massive impact on the loading time—the larger the distance, the slower the speed. To avoid this, install a content delivery network (CDN) that stores your site on multiple servers worldwide and connects your visitors to the server nearest to them.

Lazy loading is another effective technique that loads images only when the visitors want to see them. This means your pages will show the photos on the top, whereas images below the fold are loaded only when the user scrolls down the page.

This method is useful especially for images on long pages that take longer to load—the page won’t load completely until all the elements are fully downloaded. It also reduces the HTTP request and the energy used in data transfer, resulting in an ecologically conscious website.

Implement caching

Caching is another effective technique to reduce the carbon footprint of your WordPress website. Caching refers to the process of making copies of website pages after the first load and serving those to every subsequent user.

Since WordPress doesn’t have to fetch information from the database before the web page is sent to the visitor, it reduces the load on the web hosting servers and makes your website load faster.

There are mainly two types of caching for WordPress sites:

  • Page caching
  • Browser caching

Page caching allows you to store static versions of the pages in the cache and render them to the website visitors. You don’t have to process PHP for every single visit, saving a lot of server processing time and resources.

Browser caching is a process in which a website’s static resources, such as images, stylesheets, logo, etc., are stored locally in the visitor’s browser cache. This allows browsers to load these files faster when the user visits the website the second time.

This lowers the overall server load time because fewer requests are created to the actual server, and your website performance will also improve.

In a nutshell, both these types are less energy-intensive and will make your website faster and more ecologically conscious.

Wrapping up

WordPress is the major blogging platform on the web. But gradually, it is becoming one of the big environmental polluters too. With these five techniques, you can reduce the amount of energy your website needs to be available to your users at all times.

The best part? These tips don’t require any technical skills, and you can implement these changes without affecting the functionality and design of your website.

Remember: Building an eco-friendly website can not only reduce your carbon footprint but also speed up its load time and boost the performance of your website.

4 Advanced Tactics to Take Your WordPress Performance to the Next Level

Google’s Core Web Vitals update in 2020 has made website performance more important than ever.

It includes three metrics (Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, Cumulative Layout Shift) that measure qualitative user experiences on a web page. These page experience signals are now an organic ranking signal.

In addition, high-performance websites lead to lower bounce rates, greater engagement, more conversions, and overall, a superior user experience.

Website success is mainly determined by three factors: conversions, visibility, and usability.

  • Faster page loads lead to a better experience and consequently, more conversions.
  • Google views high-performing, responsive websites positively and ranks them higher in organic searches. Thus, these sites get more traffic and visibility.
  • A website that’s easy-to-use compels visitors to return to the site, thus building customer loyalty and brand value.

Hence, if you optimize your site performance in various aspects, you have a significant advantage over your competitors.

Let’s look at four advanced tips to improve your WP site performance:

1. Use feature-rich, fast website builders

Website builders ease the complex task of creating a website. Just because you’re a developer doesn’t mean you have to build each new site from the beginning.

With website builders, you don’t need extensive coding skills or design skills. You don’t need to hire an expensive designer. And you can create a website quickly, sometimes in less than 30 minutes.

Many website builders allow you to export your site to other platforms. The top website builders in the market are also optimized to load quickly, have a host of useful features, and are built with SEO in mind.

Website builders like Elementor help you create professional sites for your brand faster. Its import/export feature allows you to create a website, export its elements, and attributes as a kit, and apply them to fresh projects or ongoing ones.

Full Website Kits is a new feature that builds on these capabilities to allow you to export entire websites, including templates, layout, site settings, WP pages and posts, custom post types, and WooCommerce product pages.

Thus, instead of having to save each page as a JSON file with only content, you can simply export the website blueprint as a zip file and import it to your next site. Your workflow is accelerated because you don’t have to build each new site from scratch and devote time and energy to ensure brand consistency.

You also have access to the Website Kits Library that contains a collection of pre-built websites complete with 404 pages, pop-ups, headers, and footers.

You can create a site blueprint for a specific industry, a marketing package with your branding, or WooCommerce websites right away—and you have the support of professionally designed kits.

2. Ensure custom breakpoints for responsive design

A responsive web design automatically adjusts for different viewports and screen sizes. CSS breakpoints are used to create a responsive web design by splitting the design into smaller versions of the website based on the screen size of the device.

CSS breakpoints are pixel values that a developer can specify in the code. Website content responds to these points to display the ideal layout to the user.

Elementor now has six custom breakpoints that allow developers to create responsive designs for mobile screens, tablet screens, laptops, and wide-screen devices. You have the flexibility to choose which breakpoints will be active and what the value of each breakpoint will be. You can also scale the preview up or down to suit various device sizes.

Elementor has also altered the UI such that you can see inherited values from each breakpoint as placeholders, allowing you to choose your styles.

To prevent the custom breakpoints from tanking site performance, Elementor’s developers have rebuilt the responsive control loading mechanism to improve server response time by ~23%, reduce memory usage by ~5%, and reduce ~30% data traffic to the Editor load.

They also saved up to 110 KB on each page load by removing support for Internet Explorer.

Font Awesome loading has also been optimized to improve performance.

3. Improve page loading speed

a. Optimize CSS

With time, CSS code files can build up and cause your WP site to slow down. Some ways in which you can optimize CSS are:

  • Minify CSS code by reducing file size and removing unnecessary characters like line breaks, extra spaces, comments, and whitespace.
  • Combine CSS files into one, reducing HTTP requests. However, it won’t help much if your site uses HTTP/2.
  • Eliminate render-blocking resources by delivering critical CSS inline and deferring all non-critical CSS resources
  • Remove unused CSS either manually or reduce unused CSS with a plugin like Asset CleanUp or PurifyCSS

Elementor’s asset loading experiment improves a website’s front-end performance by applying dynamic assets loading, reducing duplicate code, and removing unused CSS.

Certain widgets also have lazy loading options enabling you to reduce the number of HTTP requests during the initial page load.

Also, to improve the Largest Contentful Paint metric, if a file is less than 8K, the CSS is printed inline inside the HTML document. Else, it is loaded as an external file.

Elementor loads CSS library files only when you press Save on the Elementor Editor instead of when the page is loading.

You can use a free (and popular) plugin called Autoptimize to perform CSS optimizations.

b. Optimize JavaScript

You should also minify and combine JavaScript files, inline critical JS resources, defer non-critical JS resources, and remove unused JavaScript.

Plugins like WP Meteor, Flying Scripts, Async JavaScript Plugin, WP Rocket, and Plugin Organizer can help.

Elementor achieves JS optimization by splitting the front-end JS files into smaller files and loading only the JS files for the widget being used on the page.

It also employs conditional JS library loading wherein widgets consume external libraries like Swiper.js efficiently, loading the library only if at least one element on the page uses it.

Conditional loading also applies to JS libraries like the Lightbox, Screenful, Share links, and Dialog libraries.

c. Reduce initial server response time

The optimal server response time is less than 200 ms.

Some ways in which you can optimize server response time are:

  • Use a fast theme

A beautiful theme with an excellent UI is useless if it won’t load quickly because users won’t be waiting around to see it.

Since feature-rich themes require a lot of code that takes more time to load, choose a lightweight theme with only the necessary functions.

You can use the free Hello theme available on the Elementor Theme Builder to create a fast and flexible WP site.

Other examples of fast WP themes are Astra, Neve, and GeneratePress. All three have deep Elementor integrations and starter sites.

  • Use optimized plugins

The more plugins you install, the slower your site becomes. Each plugin has its own file size, HTTP requests, and database queries.

Restrict the number of plugins to include only the features that are necessary to your site. This will also prevent compatibility issues.

Delete unused plugins because not only do they decrease performance, but they also present security vulnerabilities.

Elementor removes the need to use multiple plugins because it has built-in widgets for most important functions like galleries, contact forms, social share icons, and sliders.

d. Optimize images

You can optimize your images in several ways:

  • Resize images to their display width.
  • Compress resized images to reduce the file size by removing information like metadata and camera details (but without affecting image quality).
  • Use optimum image formats like PNG for transparent backgrounds, logos, icons, and opacity.
  • Use image CDN to load images faster.

Plugins like Smush, Imagify, and ShortPixel can be used to optimize images.

You can also use the Elementor video widget to optimize heavy GIFs.

e. Use browser caching

A browser caching plugin like W3 Total Cache can reduce the number of requests per page. Images, JavaScript, CSS, and other cacheable resources don’t have to be downloaded each time.

f. Use Preload for critical assets

Preload is a resource hint to request critical resources ahead of time and improve page loading speeds. The browser caches preloaded resources so that they are available as soon as needed, but does not execute the scripts or apply the stylesheets.

You can preload resources by adding a <link> tag to the attribute rel = “preload” in the header of your HTML document.

E.g.  <link rel=”preload” as=”script” href=”critical.js”>

You can use plugins like Pre* Party Resource Hints to preload critical assets.

g. Use a CDN service

CDNs like Cloudflare, KeyCDN, BunnyCDN, and Stackpath help increase page load times because they use an optimized server that’s closest to your visitor. Static content is saved on “edge” servers around the world and served to visitors from the nearest edge location.

4. Expand your knowledge about web design

Web design is a vast field with many sub-disciplines. To be a good web designer, you should know a bit about each aspect such as the concepts of visual design, HTML, UX, UI, CSS, typography, layout creation, and so on.

Knowledge of how the front end and back end work will make you a well-rounded designer.

Elementor Academy is an educational platform that you can use to get comprehensive knowledge of web creation, including WordPress and Elementor-related topics.

The courses have been created by people who developed Elementor so you can be sure you have the right instructors. You can choose from how-to tutorials, full-length courses, videos, or webinars based on your learning preferences.

WordPress-related topics like Design and Layout, Dynamic Design, Theme Builder, Responsive, Integrations, Forms, and WooCommerce are available. You can also find resources on business-related subjects like SEO, content marketing, conversion optimization, and getting clients.

The best part is that the resources are free to use so you shouldn’t miss them!

Over to you

As a developer or designer, you have endless possibilities to create branded and performance-optimized professional WordPress websites. And with Elementor Full Website Kits, you don’t have to create each one from scratch.

Advanced features like custom CSS breakpoints ensure that you deliver well-designed, responsive, and fast websites without wasting time on repetitive tasks.

Streamline your workflow and optimize your processes for each client by investing in a website builder that doesn’t restrict your design capabilities.

4 Battle-Tested WordPress Migration Practices for 2021

If you think WordPress is merely a blogging platform, you’ll be disregarding all the awesome plugins and features the CMS possesses to power your business. Take WooCommerce for instance. The powerful eCommerce plugin is used by a majority of online stores globally.

Also, if we count only the websites using a CMS, WordPress stands out as the undisputed leader with a market share of 64.4%.

The reason?

WordPress offers an incredible level of customization and supersedes other CMS in areas, such as UX, mobile usability, speed, and security. Moreover, it has over 55,000 plugins and 8,000 themes that make it the most popular CMS globally.

As a result, most developers and website owners prefer to migrate to WordPress from Sitecore, Joomla, and other CMS options. In fact, WordPress users enjoy its large developer community and scalability in terms of SEO and other features.

But moving your WordPress site to a new host can be quite challenging. If not done properly, one could lose files and experience crazy downtime, errors, and SSL certificate issues. Whether you are a pro at using WordPress or new to this world, we have a few best practices that’ll help you move WordPress to a new hosting server.

Choose Your New Host Carefully

Most website owners consider a site migration because of benefits like an affordable plan, better performance and customer support, and security among others. However, not all hosts are the same. Depending on the type of hosting you prefer, consider these quick pointers.

  • If you are looking for shared hosting, Bluehost consistently tops the list. The hosting scores high when it comes to quality, performance, and customer service. In fact, hosting providers
  • BlueHost and SiteGround are officially registered on WordPress.org.
  • For cloud hosting or location-specific hosting, we recommend SiteGround.
  • If you prefer managed WordPress hosting, opt for WP Engine, SiteGround, or Liquid Web.

Depending on the nature of your business, consider factors like security, data storage, speed, and customer support when choosing your hosting. For instance, an eCommerce website would prioritize security and speed over the other items mentioned here.

NOTE: Once you have bought a hosting plan, do not install WordPress. Your account should be devoid of any files at this stage.

Choose the Type of Migration You Are Comfortable with

WordPress migration can be done manually or using a plugin (automatically). If you choose the latter, then I assume you are comfortable using FTP or File Transfer Protocol, accessing databases, and modifying files at the backend.

Alternatively, you can use some fantastic backup plugins that can create complete site backups and help you move the site without much hassle. We’ll see more on these plugins in the subsequent section.

Large sites have multiple files and folders and are prone to errors when plugins are used. In such a case, the manual approach works better.

Further, most hosting providers offer free migration services as a part of their package. Make sure you research well on this aspect before choosing a host.

Move Your Site Manually

Though migrating a WP website manually may sound like a complex task, we’ve tried to simplify the process by breaking it down into steps.

Step 1: Take a Backup

Once you have chosen the new hosting, take a backup of your site’s files and folders using the FTP tool. Tools like FileZilla, Core FTP Pro, and Cyberduck (for Mac) can help you with this step.

Navigate to the WordPress root folder (named public_html or www in most cases). Right-click on this and choose Download. This will save a copy of your root directory to the
computer.

Step 2: Backup the WordPress Database

After copying the files, it’s time to take a backup of your database the holds information related to the site’s content, users, and much more. In most cases, you can access your database through the control panel.

If you use cPanel, look for a section called Databases and click on the phpMyAdmin option.

Step 3: Export the Database

Choose the site’s database from the list, select the Quick option under Export Method, and hit Go. So, now you have a copy of your website’s database in .sql format.

Export the Database

Step 4: Create a New Database on the New Host

If your new host uses cPanel, simply follow these steps.

  • In the Databases section of cPanel choose the MySQL Databases option.
  • Create a new database and add a user. Make sure you note the name you use.
  • Access the new database through phpMyAdmin.
  • Use the Import tab in the new database to upload the .sql file you created in the previous step.
Step 5: Upload the Files to the New Host

Log in to your new server through the FTP and navigate to the root folder. Right-click anywhere and select Upload. Locate your folders and select the files you need to upload.

Step 6: Update wp-config.php File to Point to Your New Database

At this stage, if you visit your website, it won’t work as you still have to update your wp-config.php file to point to your new database. Locate this file in your root folder, right-click, and select View/Edit.

Next, update these three lines in the file with values that point towards your new database. For instance, replace the lowercase variables with the credentials for your new database.

define(‘DB_NAME, ‘db_name’);
define(‘DB_USER, ‘db_user’);
define(‘DB_PASSWORD, ‘db_pass’);

Save and close the file.

Step 7: Make Sure the Domain Name Server (DNS) Points to the Correct Host

For this step, you need to enter the following details into your domain name account.
Information from your new host

Access to the registrar where you purchased the domain name

Count on WordPress Migration Plugins

It’s natural to experience anxiety when migrating to a new host. After all, you don’t want to ruin the efforts you put in to create the awesome website you own today. Fortunately, you can count on some awesome WordPress migration plugins that can simplify the process and help you fully clone your site to perfection.

When choosing a WordPress migration plugin, consider the following questions.

  • Does the plugin offer support for serialized data?
  • Is it well-coded and highly performing? Is it likely to create performance issues for your new hosting service?
  • Does it have a backed-up database as SQL files?
  • Does it allow the migration of the entire database or small components?
  • Does it have automatic fixes for all the problems encountered?
  • How compatible is it with various operating systems?

The answers to these questions will help you select a plugin that suits your needs.

WordPress migration plugins like Duplicator, JetPack, Migrate Guru, Migrate DB Pro, and
BackupBuddy among others can help you get you up and running quickly. Most of these plugins create complete website backups and offer recovery services.

Summing Up

WordPress is the core of several modern businesses because it allows easy user management and offers SEO benefits and robust security features. Further, the CMS comes with thoroughly-tested API integrations that suit specific business needs.

However, migrating WordPress sites can be a stressful experience as there are too many minute details to pay attention to. Failing to pay heed to them is risky as it may damage the whole website.

Use the best practices shared above to easily move your WordPress website to a new host.

Top 8 WordPress Directory Plugins For Every Function

User-friendly databases in the form of directories can be a helpful feature to integrate into your WordPress site and there are loads of plugins out there that enable you to do this. It can be tricky figuring out which plugin to choose when they all feature different options from maps to integrated email marketing options, and at a wide range of prices.

We’re here to help, and we’ve narrowed it down to the top 8 directory plugins for WordPress. Whether you’re looking to build a basic text-based directory or a professional directory with integrated maps, there’s something here for you.

Everest Business Directory

At the top of the list we have this highly functional WordPress plugin. There are so many features in this plugin that we found it can do just about anything from directory listing to editing and more. There are elegant templates to choose from and it can be seamlessly integrated into the style of your WordPress website. Six-month support comes in at $28, so although it’s not the cheapest on the list it’s still affordable and you get so much.

Connections Business Directory

The basic features of this WordPress plugin are free but there are many additional features such as new templates that are available at a price. Conveniently, however, add-ons are individually priced so you can choose only the features you need, such as additional templates or contact-form widgets. This way you can build the perfect directory. If you’re looking for a basic directory, the free version is eminently functional, supporting many languages and enabling you to upload your brand’s logo into the directory.

Connections Business Directory

Business Directory Plugin

German, French, Russian and English are all supported languages in this functional and easy-to-use WordPress plugin. Like many plugins out there, Business Directory Plugin offers a basic free plan with optional paid extras, so thinking carefully about what you need from your plugin can get you a good deal with these plugins. Paid features include Maps integration, payment gateways and more.

Business Directory Plugin – Easy Listing Directories for WordPress

GeoDirectory

GeoDirectory is another WordPress directory plugin with both free and paid features. GeoDirectory’s free plugin is fairly basic, although it’s functional enough if your needs are simple. However, most likely you’ll need some version of a paid plan. This gives you access to a pricing manager which helps maximize revenue, as well as geolocation settings so you can group users into different locales. To unlock all GeoDirectory’s features you can choose to pay either once annually for $199 or in six or four-monthly instalments.

Advanced Classifieds And Directory Pro

Allison Chan, tech writer at Paperfellows and Custom Essay describes this WordPress business directory plugin as “offering one of the most functional and advanced free plugins on the market so it’s an exceptional option if you don’t want to pay for premium features. With Advanced Classifieds, usually premium features are available for free.” This includes advanced search options in the search bar and the ability to create a “featured” list that users need to pay you to access. For custom pricing plans you still need an add-on, but these start from an affordable $4.99 a month.

Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro

Sabai Directory

Sabai Directory offers a professional-looking directory plugin for a low price making it an attractive prospect. By crowdsourcing data in a similar way to Yelp and Google Maps, utilizing user reviews and comments, you can build a functional directory on a tight budget with this plugin. It’s also highly customizable and you’ll find many styles and templates to choose from. There’s no free version but at $29 with six months of free support it’s a great investment for what you get.

Name Directory

For simple directory needs, Isabel Aquino, WP expert at Australianhelp and Stateofwriting recommends Name Directory. “This is a good option as it’s completely free – there are no hidden costs to encounter for add-ons or additional functionality,” she advises. “This means you’re going to end up with a basic directory as there’s no option for including images or maps, but if you need a text-based directory then this is an accessible option.” You can still create multiple directories and they’ll all be searchable with this cheap and cheerful option.

Name Directory

LDD Directory Lite

Our last plugin stands out as it’s one of the few WordPress directory plugins that allows sending email marketing within its free version. You can make customized emails to follow up leads with this plugin, so if email marketing is important to you this is an excellent choice. Besides this handy function, it also features many customizable style options for your directory.

LDD Directory Lite

The Last Word

Whether you’re a WordPress veteran or a new user looking to add a basic directory to your site you’ll find something on this list. A directory is a valuable component of any website, adding value for your visitors and ultimately helping you profit.

Wordfence vs. Sucuri; Which is the Best Security Plugin?

You don’t need to be told how important security is for your WordPress website, but how you make your site secure is another matter. Using a plugin like Wordfence or Sucuri can be an easy and secure approach, but which one is best? Let’s find out.

Trying to find a reliable security plugin for your WordPress website that you can not only trust, but also helps to actually protect your website is hard work. Two of the top contenders out there, Wordfence and Sucuri, are both fighting for the top spot, but still, the question remains;

Which one is right for you?

This is what we’re going to focus on in today’s guide, so, without further ado, let’s jump straight into it.

Is Security Important?

The short answer; yes, it is. A GoDaddy survey found that 90% of all CMS websites that were hacked back in 2018 were WordPress websites and that 10,000 websites are blacklisted by Google every single day, meaning these sites will be lucky if they lose 95% of their traffic.

Making sure your website is protected from being hacked and doesn’t lose traffic is essential, which is why it’s so important to ensure you’re using a protective plugin that keeps people and malicious software out.

How are Websites Hacked?

Where there are dozens of ways a hacker could get into your website, the most common, discovered by a Kinsta WordPress Security article, found that plugins were by far the biggest risk.

“This means people are downloading and installing plugins onto their websites that are either designed to be malicious or contain security weaknesses that people can exploit. WordFence found that 55.9% of every backdoor hack happened through plugins and that 61% of website owners didn’t even know the hack had taken place,” shares Emma Austin, a project manager at Britstudent and Phdkingdom.

Other types of popular hack include

  • Brute-force password attacks
  • Core WordPress hacks
  • Hosting scams
  • Theme hacks
  • Phishing
  • Password theft
  • Workstation hacking
  • Server hacks
  • FTP hacks

So, with these stats in mind, we can easily see why we need a plugin like WordFence or Sucuri, but now we need to know which is best at protecting you from all these potential issues.

How WordFence and Sucuri Works

Both WordFence and Sucuri work in the same way. They first aim to prevent hacks from taking place in the first place, whether by setting up firewalls and fixing and protecting problem files.

“Then, they aim to secure your website through detection, which means making sure any malicious or unwanted activity is detected and stopped as soon as it’s noticed, which aims to be as soon as possible. If something does happen, both apps will then notify you as soon as possible and aim to fix any problems causes ASAP,” explains Nicki Harper, a tech blogger at NextCoursework and Write My X.

Both apps offer many security features you’ll be looking, including;

  • Website integrity scans
  • Free versions
  • Firewall
  • Malware removal

But they do offer differences as well.

The Differences between WordFence and Sucuri

Service WordFence Sucuri
Malware removal price

 

$179 per cleanup $199 per year (unlimited)
SSL Certificarte Support None YES
DDos Protection None YES
Zero-Day Exploit Protection None YES
CDN Optimisation None YES
Cloud-Based None YES
Remote Scanning None YES

 

As you can see, there are some big differences between the services that you’ll want to consider, clearly leaning in favor of Sucuri. However, while far richer in features, we need to make sure the plugin is trustworthy and easy to use.

In-Depth Look into the Plugins

Starting with Sucuri, the plugin holds a 4.5/5-star rating, which is exceptional across 320+ views and is installed on over 600,000 websites. There are three versions available; Free, Firewall, and Platform, the latter being the most expensive, but it does give you access to everything.

You can easily change your settings and preferences using the built-in dashboard, and everything is pretty easy to wrap your head around, even if you’re using something like this for the first time.

Moving onto WordFence, it has a higher 4.8/5-star rating with over 3,400+ reviews and is active on over three million WordPress websites, which is far higher than Sucuri. There’s no denying that WordFence is optimized far better, meaning you’ll get more from your website, but this does come at a cost.

The dashboard is incredibly innovative and easy to use, and you can tell there’s so much investment gone into the experience, but the lack of features is hard to ignore.

The Lowdown

All in all, if you’re looking for a feature-rich and affordable security option, Sucuri is definitely the way to go, but if you’re looking for the popular option you can trust, then definitely opt for WordFence, it won’t let you down. Unless you get DDos’d.

how to completely stop wordpress comment spam

How to Completely Stop WordPress Comment Spam

If you own a WordPress site you’ve had to deal with comment spam at some point; it’s constant, and it’s annoying.

As head Software Engineer at Themely I work with WordPress on a daily basis. We have over a dozen WordPress sites running on our servers for theme development, live demos and testing purposes. As you can imagine, dealing with comment spam is a major issue.

Several weeks ago, I decided to focus on completely stopping or at least significant reducing spam and hardening each of our WordPress sites. Since then I’ve been able to stop literally hundreds of daily spam comments to ZERO with just a few changes; here’s how I did it.

Configure Your Discussion Settings

One of the most underrated strengths of WordPress is its built-in anti-spam functionality. You can configure your WordPress Discussion settings to act as a powerful and effective defense against the evil forces of spam. No plugins required!

In your Admin Dashboard navigate to Settings > Discussion and make sure the following settings are checked and configured:

  • Allow people to submit comments on new posts
  • Comment author must fill out name and email
  • Automatically close comments on posts older than X days
  • Enable threaded (nested) comments X levels deep
  • Email me whenever – Anyone posts a comment
  • Email me whenever – A comment is held for moderation
  • Hold a comment in the queue if it contains 1 or more links
  • Add the following words href= https:// and http:// to the Comment Blocklist field
Comment Blocklist

Comment Blocklist

The Comment Blocklist will send to trash any comment which contains links. Your Trash folder will slowly grow in number and you’ll want to log in and empty the trash on  a regular basis (weekly, monthly or whatever you’re comfortable with).

You’ll also want to check your Trash folder for any legitimate comments, but in general, people who are genuinely commenting on your posts aren’t posting links in the comment field. So far from my experience I haven’t seen it trash any legitimate comments.

You can also choose to manually approve all comments before they’re displayed on your site. If that’s the case check the following setting: Before a comment appears – Comment must be manually approved. This is a little more labor intensive as you must log in and manually approve each comment. But it will ensure that if any spam comments slip thought the cracks, they won’t get displayed on your site.

From my experience so far, these settings have essentially eliminated all comment spam on our site.

Here’s a screenshot of our sites discussion settings:

Configuring your Discussion Settings will deal with the comment spam once it’s posted to your site, however, you also want to prevent spam comments being posted to your site in the first place. That’s why the following 2 steps are important.

Remove Website Field From Comment Form

Removing the Website (URL) field from your comment form may not have a significant impact but it will help to trip up certain spam bots and prevent them from posting a comment. I have no evidence to back up this claim but it just seems logical and it’s been working for me so far.

There are 2 ways to remove the Website field from your comment form.

Manually

Copy and paste the following code to your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific plugin:

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add_filter('comment_form_default_fields', 'unset_url_field');
function unset_url_field($fields){
    if(isset($fields['url']))
       unset($fields['url']);
       return $fields;
}

This code simply removes the website field from your WordPress comment form. You can visit a blog post on your website in a new incognito tab to see it in action.

Plugin

In order to harden and secure all our WordPress sites I built a super simple and light-weight plugin which automatically removes the website field from your comment forms. To install the plugin, in your Admin Dashboard, navigate to Plugins > Add New and search for Themely Security.

Install and activate the plugin, and that’s it, you’re done. There’s no settings to configure.

Themely Security does a lot of other things to harden and secure your site, here’s a list:

  • Limits login attempts
  • Disables pingbacks
  • Disables access to xmlrpc.php
  • Protects wp-config.php
  • Disables directory browsing
  • Blocks XSS attacks
  • Blocks wp-includes files & folders
  • Hides version strings
  • Deploys 6G firewall and blacklist
  • Removes readme.html file
  • Adds Math Captcha for login, registration and comment forms
  • Automatic updates for WordPress core and plugins
  • Removes Website(URL) field from comments form

Themely Security – Malware Prevention, Anti-Spam & Firewall

If you’d rather a plugin which simply removes the website field and nothing else, then consider the following plugin.

Comment Link Remove and Other Comment Tools

Add Math Captcha to Forms

Finally, to protect our forms from spam bots we need to add a CAPTCHA field. CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. In other words, CAPTCHA determines whether the user is real or a spam robot. One of the simplest and most effective forms is a Math CAPTCHA which asks users to solve a simple math equation.

Math Captcha

Math Captcha

Math CAPTCHA’s are highly effective in preventing spam bots, but they’re not perfect. Some spam does get through, which is where your Discussion Settings come into play to manage the spam comments which do get posted to your site.

This has worked quite well for our site for the last several weeks and think it could help you too.

I would love to hear from you if have any questions, please post them in the form below.

How To Easily Embed Your Instagram Feed On WordPress (2 Ways)

Instagram is a popular social media channel today. People use it to share content, but brands are using it more to get their products seen by a wider audience and make more sales. If you want to encourage people to discover your Instagram content through your WordPress website and grow your social media following, consider adding your Instagram feed to your website. 

You can display your Instagram feed easily using a WordPress plugin or without one if you want to do it manually. 

Let’s go through the two ways to embed your Instagram feed on WordPress. But first, let’s dive deeper into why you’d want to embed your Instagram feed on your website. 

Why Embed Instagram on Your Site?

Instagram has a huge user base and people today spend an average of 53 minutes per day on Instagram. Since the time spent on a social channel is a strong indicator of engagement, you’ll want to encourage users to interact with your Instagram page.

Source https://www.oberlo.com/blog/instagram-stats-every-marketer-should-know

By embedding your feed on your WordPress site, you give site visitors a chance to see your latest posts and offer them fresh content every time they visit. 

Here are a few ways you can engage your audience through an embedded Instagram feed:

  • Add a hashtag feed of relevant content to keep visitors on your site longer and reduce your bounce rate.
  • Show a feed of product reviews from customers as a sort of mini success story to increase product sales. 
  • Display a feed from the authors on your website or blog to help them find new content on related topics they might not have seen before. This is especially useful if your blog accepts contributions from your community. 

Displaying your Instagram feed is about more than just showing off your visual content. Once you learn how to embed your feed on your site, you can improve engagement with your website visitors, introduce them to more of your content, grow your Instagram following, and even boost conversions. 

You can embed an Instagram feed on your WordPress site in two ways: By copying your content onto your site and with a WordPress plugin.

Let’s take a look at each method. 

Method 1: How to Embed Instagram Feeds Without a Plugin

To embed your Instagram feed without a plugin, you’ll need to know a little JavaScript code. It’s not hard to do, but only consider this method if you’re an advanced WordPress admin or coder. For beginners, it’s a little tricky, which is why we recommend the plugin method instead. 

But, if you’d like to embed your Instagram content directly onto your WordPress site, follow these steps: 

  1. Go to your Instagram profile and find the post you’d like to embed in WordPress. It’s easiest to do this through a web browser on your computer and not use the mobile app.
  2. Click the three dots in the upper right corner of the Instagram post you want to embed on your site.

    Source https://www.instagram.com/lushcosmetics

  3. Next, select Copy Link from the menu that appears.

    Source https://www.instagram.com/lushcosmetics/

     

  4. Back in WordPress, create a new post or page.
  5. Paste the Instagram link you copied. WordPress will automatically embed the post into the editor, so you can preview how it’ll look. 
  6. Publish your content as usual.

To learn how to embed your Instagram feed with a plugin, keep reading.

Method 2: How to Embed Instagram Feeds With a Plugin

WordPress plugins make it easy to extend your website’s functionality without much technical knowledge or extra work. With a few clicks, you can showcase your Instagram feeds on your site, and all you had to do was install and activate the plugin. 

For this method, we’ll explain how to embed Instagram using the Instagram Feed Pro plugin from Smash Balloon. It’s the highest-rated Instagram feed plugin for WordPress, works with any WordPress theme, and lets you set up and display completely customizable feeds on your site. 

Plus, it comes with a number of other cool features that you can’t get when you embed your Instagram feed manually.  

Let’s get started.

1. Connect Your Instagram Account

Once you’ve downloaded and activated the Instagram Feed Pro plugin, the first step is to connect your Instagram account to the plugin. To do that, open your WordPress Admin Dashboard and go to Instagram Feed > Settings.

Then, click Connect an Instagram Account to start the connection process.

You’ll be asked whether this is a personal or business account. Personal accounts let you display only your account feed, while Business ones let you show a wider variety of feeds. Show feeds filtered by hashtags, comments, photo tags, and more. The option you choose will depend on what kind of Instagram account you have. 

When you’ve picked the account type, click Connect, and confirm your selection by clicking Connect Accounts. It’ll take a few moments to complete the connection. 

Note: The other options on the page are to be used only if you’re connecting your account manually through the Instagram API (application programming interface.) If you’ve connected it as described above, you can ignore these options. 

Once your connection is complete and confirmed, you can move on to the next step.

2. Customize Your Instagram Feed Settings

From the main plugin settings page, click the Customize tab to display the options. 

You can change the settings for your feed’s:

  • Display: Width, height, and background color
  • Layout: Grid, carousel, masonry, and highlight layout options
  • The number of photos: Choose how many photos you’d like to display on each “page” of your feed.
  • The number of columns: Choose the number of columns to display the photos in.
  • Padding around images: This is the invisible border that separates the pictures. The larger the number entered here, the wider the gap will be.

The last three customization options, “Header,” “‘Load More’ Button,” and “‘Follow’ Button” enable you to display or hide these options in the feed. Depending on how big your feed display is, you may choose to hide these, but we recommend leaving at least the Follow button enabled so your audience can follow you directly on Instagram.

If you’d like to dive deeper into the plugin settings, click any of the other settings tabs at the top of the page, but they can be left as-is for now. Continue to the next step to learn how to embed the feed on your WordPress site.

3. Display Your Instagram Feed on Your Site

Now that you’ve set up your Instagram feed, it’s time to learn how to embed it on your site.  

Create a new page in WordPress (Pages > Add New) or edit an existing one. 

In the block editor, click the Plus (+) icon to add a new content block.

In the search box, type “Instagram” to bring up the Instagram Feed block and click it to add it to your page.

Your Instagram feed will then appear on the page automatically.

If you’re happy with the way it looks, click Publish or Update to make it live on your website, and you’re all set. 

The Smash Balloon plugin also comes with an Instagram Feeds widget that you can use in any widget-ready area of your WordPress site. To add the Instagram Feeds widget to your site, navigate to Appearance > Widgets from the WordPress admin area. 

Drag the Instagram Feed widget from the left panel to your chosen widget area (sidebar, footer, etc.) Here, we’re adding it to the footer widget area.

Click Save to publish it in that spot, and you’re done! Open your website and navigate to the area where you put the widget to find your Instagram feed.

You’ve now embedded your Instagram feed on your website with a WordPress plugin. Congratulations! 

There you are, an easy way to embed Instagram on your WordPress website, either with a plugin that’ll display a feed or by copying individual content directly.

Wrapping Up

We hope you enjoyed this article and learned how to embed your Instagram feed on WordPress. Now you’ll be able to engage your visitors with highly relevant content, increase your Instagram follower count, and grow your business.

Why You Should Switch Your WordPress Site to HTTPS With An SSL Certificate

According to the Google Transparency Report, Google Chrome users spend over 90% of their browsing time on HTTPS pages. This means that users are more likely to leave a website if they find it to be insecure.  While this in itself is a great reason to get an SSL certificate for your site, there are other reasons too.  In fact, in 2018, Google announced that websites switching from HTTP to HTTPS (or Secure HTTP) shall enjoy a higher ranking on their search results. Apart from higher SEO ranking, SSL-certified websites also provide a more secure browsing experience and can boost customer experience.

If your website is still marked as “Not Secure” or denoted by “HTTP”, then it’s the right time to make the switch. In this article, we shall discuss the benefits of moving your website from HTTP to HTTPS, and show you can do this. But first, let’s start with the basics.

What is HTTPS?

Take a look at any website URL in your browser. It is preceded by the “HTTP” or “HTTPS” denotation. HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the standard system of transmitting data across the Internet. HTTPS or “Secure HTTP” is a protocol used to secure any transaction happening between the browser and the webserver. In simple terms, consider HTTPS as additional protection for your website against hackers. 

Why Do You Need HTTPS? 

As you know, many users submit their details or even financial data when interacting with websites – in the form of payment information or personal data. When a user enters any information on a browser, it is then transmitted to the website server. Hackers try to intercept this information during transmission using a hacking method called “Man in the Middle” (or MinM) attack.

This is where HTTPS plays a crucial role. It secures this transmitted information by:

  • Encrypting the data being exchanged.
  • Preventing any modification or corruption of the data during the transfer.
  • Authenticating the user’s communication with the webserver.

HTTPS ensures that even if hackers manage to intercept the transmitted data, they won’t be able to read and exploit the information.

Next, what are the benefits of switching your website from HTTP to HTTPS? 

3 Benefits of Switching to HTTPS

Here are three ways by which websites can benefit by switching to HTTPS:

1. Enhanced Security

As mentioned earlier, HTTPS can secure your website and prevent cyberattacks like MitM that exploit insecure transactions. By preventing any external tampering, HTTPS ensures safe transactions for your site visitors. 

In particular, this is important for online payments in eCommerce stores where shoppers have to submit their personal and financial information. Secure online transactions are vital to ensure data protection and to comply with GDPR legislation for your website.

2. Customer Trust and Loyalty

According to Customer Think, 21% of online eCommerce customers do not make a transaction due to security concerns. Since 2018, every non-HTTPS website is marked as “Not Secure” by Google. This can affect customers who may be reluctant to engage with the website.

Safety indicators such as the security padlock symbol in HTTPS sites improve customer trust and brand loyalty. This can, in turn, improve customer conversion and online revenues.

3. Improved SEO Ranking

As mentioned before, Google gives a higher ranking to HTTPS sites on their search results. According to MozCast, 50.3% of Google search results now feature websites that use HTTPS. This can, in turn, trigger an increase in incoming traffic to your website.

Why You Should Switch Your Website to HTTPS With SSL Certification

What’s more? Google preserves any referral information when directing traffic to your secure website. Thanks to its assured security, customers engage more with HTTPS sites as compared to websites marked as “Not Secure.” Higher engagement can reduce bounce rates, which in turn, further improves your site’s SEO ranking.

How can you switch your website from HTTP to HTTPS? Let’s find out. 

How to Switch to HTTPS?

To switch your WordPress website from HTTP to HTTPS all you have to do is install an SSL certificate. Short for Secure Socket Layer, SSL certification is what moves your site to HTTPS.

Why You Should Switch Your Website to HTTPS With SSL Certification

How do you obtain your SSL certificate? 

Most of the popular web hosts like Bluehost, Hostinger, and InterServer can provide you with this certificate. Alternatively, you can obtain free or paid SSL certificates from other vendors.

Which is better – free or paid SSL certificates? Let’s first understand the differences and then learn how to install either of them.

Free or Paid SSL Certificates

Free SSL certificates

You can obtain a free SSL certificate by installing tools like Let’s Encrypt or StartSSL. They are fast, user-friendly, and are ideal for websites that do not conduct many online payments and other transactions.

Free SSL offers a single domain validation (or DV), which means that it secures only a single web domain or address. Let’s Encrypt offers wildcard SSL certificates that cover the primary domain along with affiliated domains with a single certificate.

Free SSL providers also offer their certificates for a limited period – typically, 90 days – before they need to be renewed. While Let’s Encrypt certificate is valid for 90 days, SmartSSL offers its certificate for three years.

One of the flip sides of having a free tool is the absence of any customer support.  In short, there is no customer servicing agent or chatbot to speak to – if you have any queries. 

Paid SSL Certificates

On the other hand, you can obtain a paid SSL certificate from companies like Comodo or DigiCert. When compared to free certificates, paid SSL certificates offer better security and protection. Paid certificates are recommended for websites like eCommerce sites that have a high number of online transactions.

In addition to the standard domain validation, paid certificates also offer organizational validation – to validate the entire organization. This displays a site seal with the name of the organization. This works as a trust indicator that shows the business is legitimate and assures that the information shared remains confidential. Additionally, these certificates can cover multiple domains and even subdomains. 

Paid SSL certificates are also valid up to two years before they need to be renewed. When it comes to the downside, paid SSL certificates are not very user-friendly and may require customer support to help install and configure them for your website. The good part is that paid SSL providers offer 24/7 customer support around the year. 

Paid SSL certificates can also be expensive, depending on the type of security that your website requires. Additionally, they are harder to obtain as the vendor has to validate your business before issuing the certificate.

Now that you know the pros and cons of both free and paid versions, let’s look at how to install them on your website.

How to Install a Free SSL Certificate

You can install a free SSL certificate on your WordPress site either through your web hosting company or by using the Cloudflare tool. 

Popular web hosts like Bluehost, Siteground, and Kinsta include the free Let’s Encrypt tool in all their plans. Let’s first see how to install free SSL on each of these platforms:

Siteground

  1. Log in to your Siteground hosting account with your user credentials.
  2. Navigate to your account’s control panel and then open security> Let’s Encrypt (as illustrated below).
    Why You Should Switch Your Website to HTTPS With SSL Certification
  3. Follow the tool instructions to install the SSL certificate on your website.

Bluehost

  1. Login to your Bluehost hosting account with your user credentials.
  2. Navigate to your account’s control panel and then open the Addons page.
  3. From the Addons page, navigate to SSL Certificates and then click “Learn More.”
  4. From the next page that appears, navigate to “WordPress Free SSL” and click the “Get Started” button.
  5. Install the SSL certificate for your site.

Kinsta

  1. Login to your Kinsta dashboard and select the website for which you want to install the SSL certificate.
  2. Click Manage, followed by Tools > Let’s Encrypt option.
  3. From the drop-down menu that appears, select the “Add Let’s Encrypt Certificate” option followed by “Generate Certificate.”

What do you do if your web hosting company does not provide a free SSL certificate? In that case, you can use the Cloudflare tool to install the certificate as follows:

  1. Register as a Cloudflare user on their website.
  2. After successful registration, log into your Cloudflare account and select the Cloudflare free plan.
  3. Add the website for which you need the SSL certificate to your Cloudflare account.
  4. Next, you need to update your NameServers and direct it to Cloudflare. To do this, login to your registered domain account and change your NameServer from the current settings to the DNS location provided by Cloudflare.
  5. Log into your Cloudflare account and click Continue. The SSL certificate will be issued for your website in a short time.

How to Install a Paid SSL Certificate

Similar to free SSL certificates, you can install a paid SSL certificate from your web hosting company or external SSL vendors.

Popular web hosts like Bluehost, Siteground, and Kinsta offer both free and paid SSL certificates. Both Bluehost and Siteground provide you with a free certificate – that you can later upgrade to a paid certificate. If you are using any other web hosts, it’s advisable to get in touch with their customer support to know how to install the paid certificate.

After Installing the SSL Certificate

Once you have installed the SSL certificate, the next step is to activate the SSL plugin and move your entire website, including your web pages to HTTPS. 

Final Thoughts

HTTPS or SSL certification secures your website and is also useful in attracting more visitors to your site. Apart from SSL certification, you can further improve your website security by installing a security plugin like MalCare. The tool provides malware scanning and removal through an easy one-click process. Other features like an in-built firewall and hardening measures can further safeguard your website. We highly recommend that you make these two measures a part of your WordPress maintenance strategy.

Have you moved your website to HTTPS? If yes, then how has it made a difference? Do share your thoughts and comments below.

cPanel vs Plesk Best for WordPress: Never-Ending Debate

Every web host provider lets its users manage and access their web services through a Control Panel. A great Control Panel lets the users accomplish the action in the minimum number of steps and with seamlessness. Users get to know, manage, and monitor their hosted service by the use of a control panel with a GUI. They are able to manage their server services via CLI, take care of the DNS setup, mailboxes, databases, CPU, memory and bandwidth use, etc.

If you are looking to set up a blog or start a website, you must know that two of the top players in the Control Panel market are cPanel and Plesk. They are superior in their interface and the functionality they offer. However, your choice should be based on how comfortable you are with the interface and the GUI and what are the several security features that the control panel offers. So, here’s everything that you need to know about cPanel and Plesk if you are willing to determine which is the best one.

cPanel

cPanel is a very popular web-based hosting control panel used by many reputed hosting provider companies. The user interface of this control panel is quite simplistic and gets the job done. Used by a lot of shared web hosting service providers, cPanel is a great control panel that can be easily managed by even non-technical users as well. With cPanel, users are able to control their portion of the Unix server. The best thing about this control panel is that it allows different levels of access for users i.e. administrators and end-users. cPanel can be easily accessed right through the browser.

Plesk

If you are a fan of a centralized Control Panel, Plesk is your winner in the debate. Users and server administrators can use a single login to manage and monitor their servers. Plesk is a great Control Panel for web professionals that are either Infrastructure Providers, IT Admins, Developers, Digital Agencies, or Content Managers. With Plesk, users are able to use a single dashboard to build and manage their multiple websites. Users are able to run updates and manage and monitor the performance of their web host from this dashboard. As for the latest update, the UX/UI for Plesk has been completely redesigned with modern JavaScript technology usage.

If you are a WordPress user, you get the Plesk WordPress toolkit which is a complete and secure solution to manage the web host for your WordPress site. With Plesk, users always get to see upgraded functionalities.

Essentials of a good Control Panel

An efficient Control Panel has the following features to help its users seamlessly take care of their server and hosting management and monitoring. So, here are the most important elements of an effective Control Panel.

  • Enables seamless domain and DNS management
  • Lets the users add a number of domains to the hosting environment
  • Lets its users create as many domains that they want
  • For every add-on domain , an efficient Control Panel lets its users fully customize DNS
  • Effective file and mailbox management
  • Lets its users easily log in and effectively and seamlessly manage and monitor through the dashboard
  • Advanced security features
  • Great support for troubleshooting

Plesk vs cPanel

To get the debate sorted out on the superiority of one of these panels, here is a crisp comparison between the platforms of cPanel and Plesk.

User Interface

cPanel: It has a rather simplistic and graphical interface. Users are allowed to customize their dashboard and family features are grouped together. cPanel allows you to customize your dashboard.

Plesk: As for the latest update, the UX/UI for Plesk has been completely redesigned with modern JavaScript technology usage. It is beginner-friendly and users are able to easily locate the features.

Support

cPanel: Support is available through tickets. You can raise a ticket and wait for them to sort the issue for you. However, if you want to get the troubleshooting done quickly, you can get priority phone support for $65.

Plesk: Their support is available through a call or chat, 24*7 for free.

Security

cPanel: With cPanel, users can easily encrypt their outgoing messages, implement form multi-factor authentication to customers, blacklist IPs that they want, and deploy SSL certifications.

Plesk: Users get to have one-click SSL Security for their servers. They can easily get security patched installed and bugs fixed. You can also monitor the updates that are going on with the plugins.

Operating System

cPanel: Linux only control panel. Provides support for CentOS, Cloud Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. No support for Windows by default.

Plesk: Plesk supports both Linux and Windows OS. It has support for Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, RHEL, Cloud Linux, Amazon Linux, Virtuozzo Linux, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP.

Mobile access

cPanel: Has no mobile app.

Plesk: App for Plesk is available for iOS as well as Android.

Backup

cPanel: You get to have Backups by performing them manually. This backup is stored in the local backup directory of your server and can be accessed from there. It provides 3 types of backups; Compressed, Uncompressed, and  Incremental backups. So, if you are looking to set up a blog or a website, carefully weigh in your backup preferences.

Plesk: The control panel provides backup tools such as DropBox, AWS S3, Google Drive, and Acronis. Password protection is also made available where you can secure sensitive data with the help of password protection. Users get to take two types of backups; Complete backup and Incremental backup. Users can schedule backups and save these backups through external FTP storage as well as on their internal Plesk storage.

Conclusion

The hosting service of a website and its interaction with the server plays a crucial role in the smooth running of a website’s function. While cPanel is the popular kid on the block, Plesk lets its users manage multiple servers from the same panel. Based on the usage, it is fair to say that if you have quite many websites to manage, cPanel is going to be a pocket-friendly choice. However, if you have just a few websites to manage and are a beginner, Plesk is going to work for you. If you have any further consideration,s our crisp comparison above will help you decide the better choice for you.

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