How to Quickly Set Up Google Search Console on WordPress

By | Search Engine Optimization, Web Development, Wordpress | No Comments

How to Set Up Google Search Console on Your WordPress Website | Liza Wilde Co. - Monitor and grow your website and blog traffic using Google Search ConsoleWhenever I launch a new website, I have a very specific launch checklist I work through to make sure the website is optimized for search engines and social media. The biggest item on that list: making sure Google has the site indexed.

What is “indexing”?

The term “indexing” refers to when Google’s search bots scan every single page and blog post on your site (everything that’s public anyway) and grab the meta data to make sure it shows up properly in search results.

This process eventually happens on its own, but you can put your site on Google’s radar a bit faster by connecting your sitemap to Google Search Console.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free service provided through Google’s Webmaster Tools that allows you to monitor how people are finding your site, track performance, see clicks and terms people are using to find your site.

On its own, Google Search Console is an extremely powerful tool. If you connect Google Analytics to your website and pair it with Search Console, you’re setting yourself up for some serious insight into how visitors are finding you and how to better optimize your site to keep them there.

Connecting Your Site to Google Search Console

Head over to Google Search Console and Webmaster Tools to sign in. You’ll need a @gmail.com email address or Google Business Apps to get started.

Once signed in, find the red “Add a Property” button.

Adding a property to Google Search ConsoleEnter your website address in the field provided.

You’ll have to verify that you own the website. You can do this using a few different methods. Google recommends uploading an HTML file to your web hosting account, but I recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin.

Click on the “Alternative Methods” tab and copy the HTML tag in the first option.

Verifying your website in Google Search ConsoleJump over to your WordPress website and go down to SEO > Dashboard on your sidebar, and then head to the Webmaster Tools section.

Paste the meta tag you copied into the Google Search Console box and click “Save Changes”.

Verify your website for Google Search Console in the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin.

Now hop back to Google Search Engine and click the red “Verify” button.

If you pasted the meta tag properly, you should see a success message. You can click “continue” and jump down to submitting your sitemap below.

If you don’t see the successful message, double check the meta tag, or try one of the other methods of verification. If you’re still having trouble, hop over to my Virtual Office Hours and let’s sort it out together!

Submit Your Sitemap for Indexing

Now we’re going to tell Google to start indexing your site. We want to make sure it catches all of the pages and not just the ones it happens to find.

In Search Console, click on “Crawl” and then “Sitemaps”.

Click the red “Add/Test Sitemap” button in the upper right-handcorner.

Add a new sitemap to your website in Google Search Console

Jump back to your website and down to the Yoast SEO plugin settings again. Go to SEO > XML Sitemaps. If you don’t see this, you may need to turn on the Advanced Features setting within SEO > Dashboard > Features tab.

Copy your XML Sitemap link in Yoast SEO plugin.

Copy the link to your XML sitemap and paste it into the field that popped up on Google Search Console. You’ll probably need to take out the beginning of your domain name, since Search Console already has that. It only needs whatever comes after the .com/ in your domain.

Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console

Save and click “Refresh the page”.

You should now see your sitemap pending for Google’s crawlers. This can take a few days, so come back later and you’ll see it has started to collect data about your website!

Now bring the pieces together by connecting your Google Search Console with your Google Analytics Account.

If you haven’t set up Google Analytics, you can see how to do that in this video tutorial: How to Install Google Analytics on Your WordPress Website.

Connecting Google Search Console to Google Analytics

Sign into Google Analytics.

Go to the “Acquisition” tab then click on Search Console > Landing Pages.

You’ll be prompted to connect to Search Console. Click the grey button near the top.

Connect Google Search Console with your Google Analytics Account

It will redirect you to your property setting. Scroll down to Search Console and click “Adjust Search Console”.

Add Google Search Console to your Google Analytics account

Within this new view, click “Add”.

Add your site's Google Search Console to Google Analytics

This will redirect you back to Search Console where you can select your website’s connection. Select your site and click “Save”.

It’ll prompt you that you’re saving a new association, so click “Ok”.

You’re all set! Now you’ll be able to see detailed reports of your search information within Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

I recommend coming back weekly or monthly to check on the information. You can see three of the Google Analytics reports I run most frequently for myself and my clients. These reports and insights can help you better plan content and improve your search engine optimization in the future.

Having trouble connecting to Search Console or Google Analytics? Let’s chat about it during my Virtual Office Hours.

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Conquer Your Blog Design with These 3 Foundational Rules by Liza Wilde Co.

Conquer Your Blog Design with These 3 Foundational Rules

By | Branding, Design, Wordpress | No Comments

Conquer Your Blog Design with These 3 Foundational Rules by Liza Wilde Co.In last week’s post, I talked to you about the importance of having a blog style guide  and how to make one. Style guides are important for consistency and making your blog memorable.

This week, I’d like to go over my three ground rules for any website or blog design. These are the big three because they will help prevent your visitors from feeling overwhelmed by clutter and content. If you keep these in mind when building your website and later, when you’re maintaining it, you’ll find yourself less overwhelmed as well.

1. Simple, Intuitive Navigation

Having a simple and intuitive navigation system might seem like a no-brainer, but this is where most people get tripped up when they’re building or expanding their website.

If you’re just starting out, writing content can be daunting. We always seem to think we need more than we do. Realistically, most visitors only read 1-2 pages per visit anyway.

Research shows that the most frequently visited pages are your homepage, about page, blog, and contact page.

These pages, right there, are the most simple, intuitive navigation a visitor could ask for. Nothing fancy or crazy, just 3-4 destinations with the promise of value on the other end.

If you’ve had your blog or website for a while and you’re looking at your navigation from an expanded view, there’s probably more to it. You might have a services page or a portfolio of your past work like I do. The longer you’re online, the easier it is to want to start adding things to your navigation. Try to resist that temptation.

When it comes to design, less is always more, and this includes your navigation.

Let’s take a quick look at some websites that have different levels of navigation and see how they manage.

A Beautiful Mess

Simple and intuitive navigation on A Beautiful mess

 

This is a lifestyle and DIY blog that I’ve been following for years, and they’d been around for several years before I started following them. They have a lot of content.

Since they’re primarily a blog, their visitors are mainly coming to read articles, and since they’ve expanded their categories over the years, a simple chronological list of articles isn’t enough. Instead, what they’ve done, is provided two menus.

Their main navigation, to the right of their logo, are links to various archive pages around their site. It’s their top-level post categories, and then each has a dropdown of subcategories. This is a lot, but they’ve broken it up into the most manageable chunks they can to help their users navigate their content as quickly as possible.

For the subset of visitors who are there to talk about sponsorships or check out their products, they’ve included a secondary navigation that’s tied to the top of their site. It’s more subtle so as not to distract, but provides several landing pages that visitors might need to learn more about their products and services.

Two menus might sound like the opposite of simple, but it actually helps break up their large site to help their two demographics find what they’re looking for.

Bonus: it’s styled in a way that is clutter free, with a drop-down menu and short top-level links.

Rock N Roll Bride

Simple website navigation on Rock N Roll Bride

Rock N Roll Bride is the website home of an alternative bridal magazine run by Kat Williams. (It’s awesome!) They approach their navigation a little differently.

Since the website itself is just a blog, when you land on the homepage, you only get their blogroll. This means they don’t have a “blog” option in their menu. Instead, they focus on their shop and ways to interact with the magazine.

Where A Beautiful Mess broke up their menu into two forms with separate focuses, Rock N Roll Bride keeps their visitors reading chronologically. They only break off their sponsorship interests but keep everyone else reading their blog.

Between the A Beautiful Mess and Rock N Roll Bride menus, neither is a bad method and will come down to personal preference and reader feedback.

My opinion is, while technically including more links, A Beautiful Mess has to the more intuitive navigation. I can quickly find the exact dessert recipe I was looking for. On Rock N Roll Bride, I had to remember the title or name of a wedding venue in the article to search by. Even then I have to hope the post I’m looking for pops up in the search results.

This type of navigation comes down to how these websites are categorizing their posts, which is a beast for another day. So let’s look at one more website that has a simple and intuitive navigation.

The Real Female Entrepreneur

Simple website navigation from The Real Female Entrepreneur website

The Real Female Entrepreneur is a podcast run by Lauren Frontiera, and I love how Lauren does a great job of using action words in her menu.

When I arrive at her site, and I’m prompted to “Learn More,” “Join” or “Watch.” Her navigation is short, never being longer than a few characters. She provides depth to her menu through dropdowns, as ABM did with their subcategories.

The Home Link Debate

One other thing I want to touch on is the debate between including “Home” as a navigation item and using your logo as your “Home” link.

There is a valid argument that some users need the word “Home” spelled out to navigate back to your homepage. However, the convention is that using your logo is perfectly acceptable. This choice will ultimately come down to your target audience.

In my experience, websites which are targeting an older demographic find more users asking for a “home” link. Sites aimed at millennials and younger generations have been totally fine with excluding it, and therefore simplifying their menu further.

2. Whitespace

If asked, any print and web designer will tell you that whitespace (or negative space) is critical to a good design.

In the same way having a simple navigation helps your users find their content, having ample amounts of whitespace in your design helps them consume your content with ease.

Now, that’s not saying you can’t include color in your designs. In fact, whitespace can help your color and graphics stand out more, by giving them room to “breathe” and making things less cluttered.

Fortunately, most websites these days are trending heavily towards more whitespace. But let’s look back at the three examples I used when talking about navigation.

A Beautiful Mess

ABM uses a lot of white space on the outside of their design (page margins) and in between the various articles. This helps bring the focus on their bright brand colors and beautiful photography.

However, when I first opened their site, I have to admit I feel a bit of overwhelm. They have several colors that they’re using throughout their site (see the social icons for their palette), and the slider at the top feels like a lot.

The further you scroll down the page, the more they try and break content up, but there are several different styles of blog views, and my eye doesn’t know where to go. They also pull in their Instagram feed and store inventory, for more visual stimulation.

Whitespace on A Beautiful Mess

While it’s obvious that they’re all about bright colors, they could be using more whitespace to make their homepage feel less cluttered. By increasing margins and padding between blog post previews, and their grid items, they allow their visitors to focus on one thing at a time.

Blog styles on A Beautiful MessMore blog styles on A Beautiful mess

Rock N Roll Bride

Rock N Roll Bride makes a valiant attempt at including a lot of whitespace in their design. Kat is also all about colors (check out her Insta feed for all kinds of rainbow goodness!) so the site is built on a white background for a clean slate.

Like A Beautiful Mess, I think they could’ve taken advantage of some more padding between their blog post and sidebar. And the number of advertisements throughout the site, specifically under the logo, make things seem just a bit more cluttered then it should be.

The Real Female Entrepreneur

Out of all of my examples, I think Lauren at TRFE pulls off whitespace the best.

While she includes the grid boxes on their homepage, she has a ton of whitespace everywhere else to make up for it. She’s given her text and images room to breathe, and it makes you want to keep reading!

Whitespace use on The Real Female Entrepreneur website

3. Content is king

For my third guideline, I have to tip my hat to the old adage that content is king because it is. Regardless of what the rest of your website looks like, if your content isn’t written and presented in a way that visitors will find easy to read, then no amount of whitespace will keep them on your website.

When it comes to designing a blog’s content, there are a few items you need to keep in mind.

Headings and subheadings

The proper use of headings and subheadings is the best way to break up your content for your reader. Within HTML (the language behind text and blogs) there are six levels of headings, h1-h6.

Your browser renders these with h1 being the largest, like your page title, and h6 being the smallest.

When it comes to using headings within your content, there is a right and wrong way to do so. And while your website won’t break if you use them out of order, you are setting yourself up to damage your SEO and breaking some accessibility standards while you’re at it. I wrote more about this in my post 5 Crazy Easy Things You Can Tweak Now For Better SEO.

My advice on how to use headings properly is to think of them as a book.

  • H1 – The Book Title / Blog post or page title
    • H2 – The Table of Contents / Top 2-3 takeaways you’re talking about in said post
      • H3 – Chapter Titles / 2-3 key points from each takeaway
        • H4-H6 – appendices, glossaries, etc. / Specific examples or case studies in your blog post.

The heading hierarchy for this post, for example, is as follows:

  • H1: POST TITLE
    • H2: 1. Simple, Intuitive Navigation
      • H3: A Beautiful Mess
      • H3: Rock N Roll Bridge
      • H3: The Real Female Entrepreneur
    • H2: Whitespace
      • H3: A Beautiful Mess
      • H3: Rock N Roll Bridge
      • H3: The Real Female Entrepreneur
    • H2: Content is King
      • H3: Headings and subheadings
      • H3: Blockquotes
      • H3: Clear links and buttons

You’ll see I never get so far down as needing h4-h6, but my content follows a distinct outline. This is super important to search engine bots, but also to your readers. It guides them through your post and helps break up what they’re reading into more memorable pieces.

The most significant mistake I see people making with headings is using them for how they look versus how they’re supposed to function.

If you have a blog post and your structure looks more like this, then you’re doing it wrong:

  • H1
  • H1
  • H3
  • H2

Headings should always follow a clear hierarchy. As for the aesthetics, it’s better to use CSS to create class selectors so you can style anything to look that way, regardless of its heading level.

For example, on my site, I have h1’s that look two different ways depending on the page.

Big, bold, and script

Heading 1 styles on Liza Wilde Co.

Clear, light, and sans-serif

Heading styles on Liza Wilde Co.

If you’re struggling with how to style your headers or you’re not sure how to set up a CSS class, let’s chat about it during one of my Virtual Office Hours.

Blockquotes

Another method of breaking up your content for readers is using blockquotes to bring focus to important parts of your material.

Blockquotes can look however you want them to, but usually, they’re a way of pulling out an actual quote from someone or a key point you’re trying to make. When I’m styling these, I like to make sure they still fit well into the flow of content. Try to avoid designing them in a way that takes them out of the natural reading flow, or else repeat them in a blockquote.

Smashing Magazine has a great article on all the different kinds of quotes that can be used and some good and bad ways of displaying them.

Clear links/buttons

Finally, when it comes to your content and helping your readers make the most out of it, it’s very important that you have a clear style of how links and buttons look.

Nothing is more frustrating than when I’m reading a post and go to click on something, but it’s not a link. This usually happens when something is styled to look button-like (background color or borders), but it’s not actually a button.

My suggestion when styling your links is to make sure that if a link is in-line and in a paragraph, that it be underlined and a different color than your regular body copy.

If you’re using call-to-actions and other callouts (and you should be) make sure that wherever you want the user to click is clearly defined.

I’m using two styles of buttons throughout my site, depending on where. Buttons drawing visitors to my case studies and previous work are underlined pink and turn solid on hover. All other buttons are a solid color that transitions to a complementary color on hover.

Button styles on Liza Wilde Co.

And with these, I try to use my pink buttons the most because all of my other links are pink (consistency!) I only rely on another color button if the pink button is hard to read against a background color.

More button styles on Liza Wilde Co.

Good Design Keeps You Focused

These guidelines aren’t meant to limit your creativity, but to help you focus on the task at hand – delivering amazing content to your readers. By having a set style guide that focuses on simplicity and helping your reader consume content quickly, you’re making your life easier in the publishing process.

No more second guessing what color to make something, or how to format it. You’ll ask yourself the one question that every small business owner needs to ask themselves constantly: “Does this help my visitor do what they need to do?”

If you answered anything except yes, then trash it or change it or do whatever you need to do to turn it into a “yes.”

What Next?

If you’re struggling with the best way to put your style guide together, you can grab this Canva template I put together to get you started. (Make sure to go to File > Make a Copy, so you’re not overwriting my or anyone else’s template!)

I also have an awesome FREE guide to help you plan your website from start to finish. Download my Ultimate Website Planning Guide if you’re struggling with where to start.

And if you already have a website going, and you’re not sure how to make it better, or you’re fighting with yourself about where to start, grab my Website Intensive Review + Personalized Action Plan. I’ll go through your site from front to back and tell you how to make it better and give you the tools so that you can do it yourself.

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Learn how to plan your website from the ground up.

Download my Ultimate Website Planning Guide and get started revamping your website so you can build a consistent and memorable brand.

5 Crazy Easy Things You Can Tweak Now for Better SEO

By | Search Engine Optimization, Web Development, Wordpress | No Comments

There’s a lot of components to search engine optimization, frequently referred to as SEO. It’s understandable why SEO consultants get paid the big bucks because they have to be aware of so many variables. And it’s easy for us, as creative entrepreneurs, to get overwhelmed by all of the tedious tasks that go along with correct SEO.

However, there are a few things you can do as a blogger or business owner, that will set yourself up for success with search engines that require little to no maintenance in the future if you make sure they’re done correctly from the beginning.

So here it is, my list of five things you can tweak right now for better SEO.

1. Proper usage of heading levels

When writing content for a page or a blog post, most people use the Heading 1 and Heading 2 options to break their content up into chunks. This is good practice! It improves readability and guides search engines and visitors on what information is on the page. However, there is a right way to do this and a wrong way.

There should only ever be one Heading 1 per page or post. Using multiple h1 tags confuses the robots (aka search engines) about what your site is actually about.

The best way to use heading tags is to think of them as a book with a table of contents.

An h1 is your book title, h2’s are the chapter titles, and then h3’s, h4’s, and h5’s are further subheadings you can use to break content up further.

Yoast SEO has a great post on the importance of headings for your blog SEO; they also give some excellent examples of to how your blog posts and pages could look.

Don’t use headings for aesthetic reasons

If you’re using an h1 for aesthetic reasons, such as size or color, then you need to take a look at your design and adjust the way your headings look. For example, create a CSS class selector and apply that to the heading so that regardless of the level, it can look however the class rules are applied. (More on CSS classes in another post.)

For the most part, your WordPress page/post template includes h1’s, which means you should only really be using h2’s and smaller throughout your content. There are exceptions, but this is a good rule of thumb.

2. Meta tags

What the hell are meta tags? Glad you asked. They are the behind-the-scenes magic that feeds search engines and social media networks information about your website.

Out-of-the-box WordPress and Squarespace sites try to do a good job of this, by using the title of the page/post and the excerpt of the page for the search result. However, these are not optimized, and it’s a damn shame because it’s so easy to do!

My favorite is the free Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. Just install this bad boy, and you’ll have a new meta box at the bottom of each post/page where you can adjust the meta information. You should always modify the page title and meta description in my opinion, because you don’t just want your search result to say “Home” you want it to say something like “Unique websites for creative entrepreneurs” or something that draws visitors into your site.

3. ALT text

Again, what?!

ALT text or alternative text is another piece of hidden magic that is important for SEO. It’s the hidden caption behind your photo that search engines index as more content. Kind of amazing right?

ALT text is primarily used by visitors with screen-readers or who have image loading turned off. It’s descriptive text that displays in place of the photo if it doesn’t load, or in the case of a screen-reader, it will read it to the listener.

You can edit the ALT text of each photo in WordPress from within the media library, and while this might seem tedious, I promise this will help tremendously by basically doubling the amount of content on your site that search engines see.

Since this is something that might be read aloud to a visitor, it’s super important that you write these as if they were a typical sentence. ALT text should be brief but informative. And bonus, the more you write for humans with your ALT text, the more search engines approve of it. Robots just want to be human after all.

4. Page Load Time

Have you ever been on a website that took more than a few seconds to load and you were already bored and clicked the back button? Well, search engines do the same thing. The longer your site takes to load, the more they will penalize you in search results.

For this reason, it’s super important to keep an eye on how quickly your page loads. You can use tools like Pingdom’s Website Speed Test to see how fast various pages load. The goal is to keep things at 2-3 seconds and definitely below 7 seconds. Anything higher than that and marketers can tell you about the exponential drop off in people visiting your site.

How do you fix a site that loads slowly?

The easiest way is to start with images. You can use an image editing program like Photoshop to export and compress them down, or an online tool like Compressor.io, to make sure that your images are already in a good place when you upload them.

I also recommend installing WP Smush or another image compression plugin on WordPress to help further save on space and load times.

Another aspect of page speed is going to be the number of plugins you have running on your site.

I’ve already mentioned two or three that I think you should have, but if you have a plugin for share tools and a slider and an Instagram feed and Leadpages and MailChimp, and all of this other stuff, you’re slowing your site down really badly.

The better way to handle this is to use only the plugins you need and then find other means of achieving the other stuff, like embedding an HTML Mailchimp form instead of using a plugin.

Finally, use a caching tool like W3 Cache and a CDN like Cloudflare to speed things up further. These resources keep a copy of the site loaded at all times so that visitors don’t have to reload items every time they come to your site.

5. All the links!

Inbound, outbound, internal… these are all different kinds of links that you need to utilize throughout your site.

Outbound links are when you link to external sites, like Amazon or someone else’s blog post. These links help Google legitimize your content, like citing sources in a term paper. If you’re linking to correct, credible sources, Google and visitors on your site are going to think you know what you’re talking about, so you move up in search results.

The same goes for internal links, which is linking to your content, like an old blog post that talks about something similar. Internal links draw the search robots deeper into your site and make searches more relevant.

Inbound links are the hardest to cultivate, but also the most important. These are when other people link to you. Inbound links are a huge indicator to Google that you’re a good result to show people and not a spam site that they want to push down.

You can force inbound links by commenting on other people’s blog posts and including your website URL (called back-linking) or doing this in a service directory. But this treads a dangerous line of lousy SEO habits that search engines frown upon.

My suggestion for cultivating inbound links is two-fold:

1. Use Pinterest to share your blog posts and content. Pinterest might advertise as a social media network, but it’s really a search engine, a visual one. Although their links are technically “no follow,” meaning it shouldn’t influence search rankings, Google and other search engines do index pins which can show up in search results. Ergo, Pinterest pins to your site can show up and lead traffic to your site.

2. Pitch yourself as a guest author on other blogs. Ask your business besties to collaborate on a blog post series with you and take turns writing for each other’s sites. Or pitch yourself to people who resonate with you. You don’t have to have anything special to do this; a few well-written articles are usually enough to do the trick. Or cross-post your content to sites like Medium, and link back to the original article on your website.

If video/audio is your thing, pitch yourself as a guest on a podcast. Usually, they’ll include a link to your site and social networks in the description or show notes, and that counts as an inbound link!

SEO can be overwhelming, and it’s a constantly evolving beast, so we’ve just scraped the surface here. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur, it’s that you have to start somewhere. And with these tips, you don’t even have to hire a marketing team or copywriter to do it!

And if you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry, I’ve got your back. You can download my free website planning guide, which can walk you through each of these steps to optimize your new or existing website for improved search engine optimization.

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How to Optimize Your WordPress Website for Social Media

By | Wordpress | No Comments

How to Optimize Your WordPress Website for Social Media | Liza Wilde Co.Have you ever been scrolling through social media and get super annoyed when a friend or colleague posts a link and it looks terrible?

The photo is awkwardly cropped, the page description is gibberish, and the title seems generic and lacking any sort of intention.

What about the links you see that are doing well, or even going viral?

They offer a genuine preview of the article. The image is relevant and fits within your news feed like it’s supposed to. It’s magic.

Many of my clients don’t realize that you have control over what this preview looks like. You can manipulate the content in order to make it perform better. When I set up a new website, I work with my clients to optimize their existing content and guide them on how to optimize their future content.

Since this is something they’ve found helpful, I thought I’d show you how to optimize your WordPress site for social media sharing.

Installing Yoast SEO

To begin, you’ll want to install the Yoast SEO plugin. It’s free and offers some great tools for search engine optimization as well as social media sharing.

Yoast SEO for optimizing links on social media

Once installed, Yoast SEO adds a meta box at the bottom of each of your posts and pages, allowing you to edit the page title, description, and keyword for that piece of content. This is also where we’ll be working to optimize the content’s appearance on social media.

Yoast SEO meta box

Optimizing for Facebook

Click on the Facebook icon to see the setting we’ll be adjusting.

Social sharing setting with Yoast SEOWhere it says “Facebook Title” enter a captivating and engaging headline.

Writing good headlines is an art form and requires practice. Fortunately, there are tools and resources like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer which can help guide you to writing headlines that engage and convert well.

In the “Facebook description” field, write an interesting preview of what visitors can expect to read on this post or page. It doesn’t have to go into extreme detail, but you want it to be captivating enough to persuade the reader to click.

Once you have a solid headline and description written, you can work on optimizing an image for Facebook.

WordPress already includes a featured image for each piece of content. I recommend using this on both posts and pages, so you at least have a fallback image for social media to use. But in order to receive the most engagement on your posts, this image should be custom to your content.

Sprout Social has a great article on the ideal image sizes for various platforms. For this particular image field, we’ll want an image that is at least 470 x 246 pixels, but preferably 1,200 x 627 pixels in size. I recommend creating a template in Canva or Photoshop that you can come back for each new post. (This will also keep your graphics consistent and on-brand.)

Once you have all of these fields filled out, it’s time to test our tweaks. (Don’t forget to save your changes by clicking the blue “Update” or “Publish” button in the upper right-hand corner of the WordPress page.

Copy the URL for this blog post by either highlight and copying the permalink setting from the dashboard or by viewing your post, and highlighting the URL in your browser window.

Next, go to the Facebook Debugger Tool, and paste your URL into the field under Sharing Debugger.

Facebook will do a quick little check and scrape your site, looking to see if the fields we filled out are supplied. If not, it will try to be intelligent and grab your SEO title and description, or the original blog post title and default WordPress excerpt. It wants things to look nice, but we’re just giving ourselves more control here.

If the information the debugger provides isn’t what you entered. Try clicking the “Scrape Again” button. This will tell Facebook to get rid of what it’s seen in the past and pull any new information that has been added.

Facebook debugger tool

Take a look at the updated preview. Does it look appealing to you? Has the photo been cut off in a strange way? Does the headline read correctly and invites the reader to click through? If so, time to move on to Twitter optimizations. If not, go back to your WordPress site, and continue tweaking until you’re happy with the preview.

Optimizing for Twitter

We’re going to follow the same process for optimizing our post for Twitter now, with a few small changes.

Click the Twitter icon within the Yoast SEO meta box. You’ll be presented with the same fields for the Facebook settings. These can hold the same info, or you can try experimenting with a different headline or tweaked post description.

The biggest change is going to be the image size. Optimizing for Twitter, you have two options – a Summary card or a Summary card with a large image. I prefer the large image because research shows images have more engagement. You can choose which option to use within your sitewide Yoast settings.

For summary cards with a large image, Agora Pulse recommends images of at least 280 x 150 pixels or an aspect ratio of 1.867:1. They have a maximum photo size of 1MB, so don’t go too big.

Normal summary cards have a recommendation of 120 x 120 pixels or a 1:1 ratio.

Once you have these settings how you’d like, it’s time to test it in Twitter’s Card Validator.

In the same way that you tweaked your Facebook info, continue tweaking until you’re happy with your Twitter settings.

Twitter card validator

Optimizing for Pinterest

Yoast SEO is great for handling Facebook and Twitter, but what about Pinterest?

To optimize your site for sharing on Pinterest, I recommend installing the jQuery Pin It Button for Images plugin.

jQuery Pin It Button for Pinterest plugin

This plugin adds a graphic to your website images that allow visitors to easily pin an image without needing the browser extension installed.

Once installed, you’ll find the settings for this plugin under “Settings” in your dashboard sidebar. This is where you can set a custom graphic to display on your images, encouraging people to pin your content. I personally like images that look like buttons, but come up with something that fits your brand!

jQuery pin it button settings

Next, we want to tweak the text that will appear with your photo when someone pins it. This is important because it’s how you’ll help drive traffic back to your website. What the image pulls will be based on your individual settings, pictured above. I usually set it to the image title and description, as these are fields I can edit as I’m uploading the images.

Now that the plugin knows where to look for the information, we need to edit it. Head to your Media Library, and start going through your images, optimizing the images used throughout your site for Pinterest.

Entering alt text is WordPress

Once you have a few entered, test it out by looking at one of your blog posts and clicking the “pin it” button on an image. Does it pull in the information you’ve added? If so, you’re all done! If not, keep tweaking until you have it how you’d like it to look.

Pin it preview for WordPress

Next Steps

The next part might be the hardest – remembering to do this for each piece of content you create in the future. It’s a lot of work when you’re doing all your content at once. I find that by including these steps within my blog post workflow, that I can optimize things quickly and it’s not overwhelming. And like I mentioned before, use templates where you can. They’ll make life a hell of a lot easier.

If you get stuck at any point in this process or need help installing one of the plugins, don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know.

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5 Useful Plugins I Use on Every Wordpress Website | Liza Wilde Co.

5 Useful Plugins I Use On Absolutely Every WordPress Site

By | Web Development, Wordpress | 2 Comments

5 Useful Plugins I Use on Every WordPress Website | Liza Wilde Co.

When I’m setting up a new website for a client, there are a handful of plugins I use every time. They do a variety of things, but all of them make it easier for the client to maintain their site.

Here’s the short list of the plugins I use on every single site I make.

1. Duplicate Post

This plugin is one of the first I install after setting up WordPress. It allows you to easily clone a page, post, or another content type with the click of a button.

But why would you want to clone an existing piece of content? I’m glad you asked.

When I build out websites, I use a page builder plugin (see #4 for the ones I use). Rather than recreating the layout every time, it’s easier to clone an existing page/post and edit the content.

Duplicate Post is also super useful if you like doing A/B testing of content. Using this plugin, you can quickly copy a page, make a small change, and publish it to a new permalink and test it out!

2. Yoast SEO

I’m not an SEO expert, but I do know some of the basics about getting your WordPress website optimized for search engines. And there isn’t a better plugin than Yoast SEO.

This plugin creates a meta box that will allow you to edit the page title and blurb that shows up on Google. It also lets you set a convention so that it automatically pulls from certain fields, which is great to help automate your content.

Yoast SEO also has settings for creating a sitemap, which is important to submit to Google Search Console, and features that make sure your site is optimized for sharing on social media networks.

3. Gravity Forms

This is a premium plugin that I adore for setting up contact forms, content submissions, etc. It’s a bit steep in price, but 100% worth the investment if you create forms that need price fields, file uploads, etc. It also has great integrations with other tools like reCAPTCHA, Salesforce, Google Sheets, and more.

I’m using Gravity Forms for all of the contact forms on my site!

4. Visual Composer or Divi Builder

No matter which theme you’re using on your website, I recommend you invest in a page builder. As a DIY entrepreneur, you’re looking for ways to optimize your budget, and I think this is one of the best investments that can be made.

If you’re using the Divi theme, it already comes prepackaged with Divi Builder, which is great! But if you’re using a different theme, I recommend looking into the premium plugin Visual Composer.

Using a page-building plugin will let you start building landing pages in a matter of minutes. If you’ve ever watched someone else’s webinar and noticed their fancy landing page, but you can’t afford the monthly fee that Leadpages charges, then a page building plugin is what you want. You can find examples of good converting landing pages, and then build something on your website that easily looks on brand with your business. And bonus, it’s much more affordable!

If you’re still questioning whether Visual Composer is worth the investment, there are other free page builders you can give a go first (Elementor and Page Builder). I’m not as familiar with either of them, but I’m sure they’re great alternatives.

5. Sucuri Security Plugin

This is one that is often overlooked by people when they set up their WordPress website. But, in my experience, it’s one of the most important.

Setting up a security plugin will let you tighten up your login pages, your editable theme and plugin files (where your site is most vulnerable), and can even alert you to attempts of hackers and bots trying to get into your website.

Since WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world (59.4% of CMS market share, and 26.4% of the whole web, according to ManageWP’s post from April 2016) it’s also the target of a large number of hackers around the world. Usually, they’re harmless, but still not the kind of thing you want to worry about. Best to just start off with a good defense.

Bonus Plugin (Because it’s too good not to share!)

6. Google Analytics

This isn’t a plugin per se, but a script that needs to be installed in order to connect your website to your Google Analytics account.

Now, I’m not going to go into all the reasons why you should set up Google Analytics here, but it’s is immeasurably useful down the line, and gives you all sorts of data on how users are using your website.

To add the script to your website, you can use a plugin like Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights. Just add in your Google UA ID and the plugin will take care of the rest.

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Pinterest graphic for How to Vet Plugins for Your Wordpress Website on Liza Wilde Co.

How to Vet Plugins for Your WordPress Website

By | Web Development, Wordpress | No Comments

Pinterest graphic for How to Vet Plugins for Your WordPress Website on Liza Wilde Co.The beauty of WordPress websites is that they’re easy to extend but, the double-edge to that sword is they require more maintenance. Since WordPress is an open-sourced software, meaning the WordPress community is responsible for updating and maintaining the code base, there are a lot of plugins or extensions. But many go unmonitored or even forgotten by their original creators.

This can be stressful and annoying to developers like myself and people who maintain websites, like you.

How do we know if a plugin will be updated and maintained? How do we know if it’s actually going to do what we want it to do?

Well, there’s no way to ever be 100% certain, but there’s certainly steps we can take to try and be as sure as possible before adding it to our websites.

First, let’s dive into what a plugin is and where to find them.

A plugin is a small package of code that extends the original functionality of WordPress. Plugins are usually written in PHP, Javascript, with some HTML/CSS for styling. Often times, they’re created in order to integrate some other service with your WordPress website. For example, there are plugins for displaying your social feeds in a sidebar, for connecting your Mailchimp subscription form, for creating contact forms, and so much more.

Plugins are great, and there’s a huge repository of free plugins, on the official WordPress site. There are also third-party websites that offer premium plugins which can provided added functionality or a little more pizazz than the free plugins. I suggest starting in the WordPress plugin directory first, and following the steps below to find what you’re looking for, before you worry about paying for anything. Like I said, often times you’ll find something for free that does exactly what a paid option might.

Now, let’s try and find a new plugin.

For this blog post, I’m going to be finding a plugin to display an Instagram feed on my website.

When you pull up the WordPress Plugin Directory, the first thing you’ll see is a search bar. The key to this repository, like any search engine, is to be as specific as possible. If you just search “social media feed”, you’re going to get anything that could possibly have to do with social media. So try something specific and then get more general if you need to.

A screenshot of the WordPress Plugin Directory

Type in “Instagram Feed”.

Once you hit enter, it’s going to give you a grid view of the results, generally 2×2 unless you’re on a bigger/smaller screen than I’m using (that’s called a responsive layouts, by the way! More on that in another post.)

Screenshot of the WordPress Plugin Directory search results

Take a look at the first example. For me it’s a plugin called “Instagram Feed”. You’ll see its got a series of stars, 1-5, as well as the number of ratings/reviews it’s collected; a short description; the user/group that developed it; the number of active installations of the plugin, or how many people are using it on their site right now; and then the version of WordPress that it’s been tested with.

Screenshot of a WordPress plugin details

This is where we’re going to be starting our vetting process.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How many stars does the plugin have?
  • What version has it been tested with?
  • What are its advanced details?

How many stars does the plugin have?

First, take a look at how many stars the plugin has. Like movie ratings or Yelp reviews, this is going to be a key indicator as to how successful this plugin is at preforming as advertised. I generally aim to us plugins that only have 4+ stars. There’s so many out there that if you do come across one with 3 or less, you can probably find a better alternative (or look for a premium one.)

Along with the number of stars, take a look at how many ratings/reviews have been left. The more the better. This means that a large number of people are using it and have had success. Compare this number with the number next to “active installations”. This is a good indicator of how popular the plugin is. The more popular the plugin, the more likely it is to be updated and maintained for future use.

What version has it been tested with?

It’s important to make sure that plugins are compatible with the version of WordPress that you’re using. Which is hopefully the most recent one, but more on the security reasons behind that in another post. If you don’t know which version you’re using, jump into your WordPress Dashboard and take a look at the “At A Glance” meta box that greets you. It should say the version you’re using. If they’re the same, or very close, you should be ok to move forward with this plugin.

Screenshot of a WordPress Dashboard At A Glance Widget

But wait, we’re not done! Click on “Instagram Feed” and you’ll be directed to the plugin’s individual information page. This is where we can really make sure it’s going to do what you want it to do.

Advanced Plugin Details

This individual page view will give you an even deeper overview of the plugin. You’ll be able to read the full description (often in an easy to read list) about the plugin and what it does, you’ll see screenshots of the interface and options you’ll have once installed. Read through that and make sure you understand what the plugin does, or at the very least make sure that it’s going to do what you need it to do.

Screenshot of an individual WordPress plugin page

Next, glance at the sidebar and take a look at the advanced details. For most plugins, you’ll be able to see the following information:

  • Plugin version – not to be confused with the WordPress version
  • Last update – this is when the plugin was last updated
  • Active installations – this is the same number that we saw on the results page
  • Require WordPress version – this is the absolute minimum version of WordPress you need in order to make this work. 99% of the time, you should already be at this point, so don’t worry.(If you’re not, best to look into upgrading your site for security reasons at the very least.)
  • Tested up to – this is the version of WordPress that the plugin as been tested with. If you have a newer version of WordPress, you can still use the plugin. Just be aware there might be some bugs they’re still working out
  • Languages – some plugins offer translations
  • Tags – these are just keywords that the developer has tagged it with to make it easy to find and compare later
  • Ratings – you can deep dive into the specific reviews and breakdown of the stars here
  • Support status – you can see how many support questions have been asked, and the rate at which they’ve been resolved. The more green this bar is, the better!

Screenshot of advanced details of a WordPress plugin

So what now?

For the most part, the portion of the directory I’ve covered will give you all the insights you need to decide if a plugin will be successful and as bug-free as possible.

If you’re still not satisfied, there are some more tabs for you to dive into, including installation instructions, FAQs, the development changelog (where developers keep a list of all the bugs/features of each version), and a support forum where you can ask the developer a specific question.

It’s important to remember that code, like a living thing, is always evolving. With every new version of WordPress, developers need to reevaluate their plugins and get them up to snuff. There are also new jQuery and javascript libraries and standards being adjusted every day. It’s a lot for them to keep up with, but most of them do a damn good job at it.

At this point, you’re as equipped as I am to know if a plugin is worth downloading or not. If I’m still not 100% certain, I’ll give it a chance, and install it onto my site, spend a few minutes playing with it, and see if I’m happy with it. 9 times out of 10, I am, and on the off chance that I’m not, it’s usually the next plugin in the results that does what I need it to.

Still having trouble?

If you have any questions about plugins or your WordPress site, don’t hesitate to email me.

Did you find this helpful?

Let me know! I’d love to hear what sort of plugins you’re installing on your site, and if you have any you swear by.

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