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Understanding WordPress

WordPress has fast become the most popular website building and blog platform for small businesses and individuals. What started out just as a blogging application has grown with extensive plugin extensions and themes to a powerful tool for building dynamic websites. The keyword here is “dynamic” and there is a price to be paid for that feature. That price is a learning curve and a commitment by the site owner to learn and do the work.

If you are excited about being directly involved in the building your website then this is the tool for you!

 

WebStandards

Imagine what your car would cost if every part had to be custom made. Imagine going to Home Depot for a faucet and discovering that every faucet was made with different hole sizes and spacing. Imagine going to a clothing store and every brand had wildly different sizing schemes. Imagine that the 2x4 studs used to build houses came in different lengths depending on where you bought them. Imagine complete chaos!

Now, take those images and imagine the building of your website with every web developer having a custom and unique way of putting that together. We are talking about a very messy chaos. A mess that your business is investing in and paying for over and over. Sounds pretty bad, does it not? Fortunately, things have improved over the last 8 years, but progress has been slow and spotty at times and the greatest danger to further progress is our ignorance of the benefits of that progress and what has yet to be done.

Understanding SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be defined as the activity of optimizing web pages or whole sites in order to make them more search engine-friendly, thus getting higher positions in search results. At the core it was originally directed to the “natural” or unpaid search results. This is often referred to as “Organic SEO” The term has been very loosely abused to mean Internet marketing in general and often includes “paid” services to search engines for higher rankings. Our discussion in this eBook will focus primarily on the “organic” or unpaid original meaning.

Optimization can mean a number of things but it originally referred to the “things you do to your web pages that help the search engine index your web page”. The purpose of these “things you do” is to insure that the construction of your web pages and your site in general are “friendly” (i.e. content is easy to find and understand) to the search engine indexers. See our eBook Web Standards Ensuring Business Value for additional details about proper site construction and how it can benefit you.

Ecommerce Basics

The lure of ecommerce on the Internet centers around how quickly and inexpensively one can get a product or service up for sale. A number of sites exist that make it nearly instantaneous to get started - the most notable example is eBay. There are many others like Yahoo Shopping, Google Checkout, Etsy, and ClickBank, to name a few. Eventually some entrepreneurs that use these services will want to move to their own sites where they can customize the entire process and provide a more unique selling experience as well as expand the uniqueness of their products or services. Unfortunately this is where the ease and simplicity of the eBay type sites do not prepare one for the real world of serious online ecommerce. This ebook is meant to provide the background necessary to go beyond the sheltered world of these “instant sales” sites and provide perspective between where you might be now versus where you want to go. It can get a bit technical at times, but that is something you need to take seriously if you are going to avoid problems later. Ignorance is NOT bliss in this department.

Introduction to Facebook

Facebook has grown from a college campus social registry to a major social media and marketing platform. Facebook would like to overtake Google in many ways, one of which is marketing and the other is searching. There are many discussions on whether this will make sense but there is potential and because of that, Google is getting more involved in Social Media themselves.

So what is a small business to do with Facebook? Before you can begin developing a meaningful strategy you must understand the medium. Because Facebook started out as a “computer” social registry for college, it approaches the social networking theme from an angle that may be unfamiliar to many business people. But despite that, there is still a lot in common with old fashioned social networking that many businesses have done at networking events over the years. We will explore those differences and similarities to help you better leverage the medium to your business's advantage.

Understanding GooglePlus

Doing business in today's world, whether online or off, no one can ignore the massive changes occurring in our society as a result of technology. Social media has taken over the mindshare of business marketing at every level. There may still be some businesses that can afford to ignore this wave, but it won't be that far off when you ignore it at your business's peril. Google, like any tech business, cannot stand still and let others innovate in the social media space, so Google+ is Google's initiative for transforming and enhancing their search business model to social media. This eBook is based on the current state of Google+ as it might apply to small business needs. Google is changing constantly so keeping up on a regular basis is vital.

 

Understanding GooglePlus

Many small businesses view social media with a certain amount of apprehension. They see that a lot of time needs to be spent, but ask “Where's the beef?” Depending on your business, the “beef” may be in establishing authority for what you do. Google LOVES authority and finding ways to establish that in Google's eyes can't help but boost you in the search engine result pages (Often referred to as SERPs for those that love acronyms). One place to build authority is in Google+ Communities. Locating communities that relate to your business is the key, and if one does not exist, well, create one!

This ebook is going to focus on how to make the most of engaging in communities as a daily process... when to post, how to post, when to share, ways to share. Also, you will get a leg up on the norms for all of this so you don't inadvertently offend and are seen as a good community member.

Leveraging Content Management

At a gathering of geeks sometime around 2009, an attendee made a statement that struck me as curious. Basically he said (not an exact quote) “I put all of my web clients on a content management system (Drupal in his case) whether they ask for it or not”. Several others agreed, excepting that their favorite content management system (CMS) was something else, (Joomla, Wordpress, etc...). It just so happens, at that very time, my company, SonicSpider, had a new client that came to us with a Joomla site. What was interesting was that this new client did not want, need, care or know anything about content management systems and apparently had been the “victim” of just such an attitude as expressed by the above person. They felt “stuck” with a system that was way beyond their needs and now depended on “others” to keep their website current, and at a cost.

This story embodies the following conundrum: As new technologies become available that empower the website/business owner to, in theory, manage their websites more effectively and affordably, is this really what is happening? Is it really the right solution for “everyone”?

This is what we are going to explore in this eBook. If you are a business owner or even a provider of web solutions, these are issues and questions that need to be asked and explored to ensure that the CMS technology is really meeting your needs and that you don't become a victim of the latest fad that ends up being a burden in your situation.

Understanding PayPal

PayPal solutions range from the very simple to the very complex. Most users first encounter PayPal through the classic “button”. The classic “Buy Now” button is easy to create by following the instructions on the PayPal site. Also available in the button generator are “Add to Cart” and “View Cart” buttons. A simple cut and paste and you are ready to sell. Unfortunately that is where “easy” ends for most people. The Website Payments Standard user guide takes 466 pages to document “all the other stuff”, that makes customizing the buttons beyond easy for most people. If that were not geeky enough, Website Payments Pro is an entirely different beast where there are NO buttons, with such acronyms as API, NVP, and SOAP that only a techie could love.

 

Learning Social Media

Like any “latest and greatest” technology coming out, when the dust settles, businesses need to evaluate how that technology might be used or leveraged for the benefit of their business. Often that first impulse can fall into two definitive camps: 1) This is the greatest thing since sliced bread, to 2) You have got to be kidding me! Generally, we find the “latest thing” falls somewhere in between.

All the new Social Media technologies that often bombard us with information make it sometimes hard to figure out how it can be applied to your business. We hope that we can shed some light on what Social Media outlets are available and how they can be turned into business and marketing opportunities.

 

Videos are a powerful marketing and educational tool for your online business. Never before has there been the availability of the combination of affordable high speed Internet along with very cost effective tools for the small business owner. Depending on your needs you can possibly be up and running almost for FREE. Can't beat that price! All search engines are putting a lot of weight on video content and therefore adding videos to your website and as a marketing tool on places like YouTube (there are now many opportunities) make this a MUST for most online businesses. The problem for newbies in this area is that there are so many choices and options. We can't cover them all here so we will focus on the basics and help you get going in the RIGHT direction.

 

Mobile Friendly Websites

Most business need an Internet presence, this has become a fundamental of business. The problem is that most websites are designed with the desktop as the primary target and the tend is moving away from the desktop to mobile devices. Many experts are predicting that by 2014 web traffic in the U.S. on mobile devices will overtake and pass desktop use. Most of that growth will be featuring location-based services, time-based offers, mobile coupons and push notifications. Viewing a typical website on a mobile device requiring pinching, zooming and scrolling just to see what is on that page. For most users this is clumsy at best and often will cause the user to just leave. Mobile users are an impatient lot, they have places to go, things to do, and pinching, zooming and scrolling is just not on that list. This means that if you want their attention you need to make your website work for them.

 

WordPress Security

WordPress has become one of the most popular website building and blogging platforms on the web. Because of that popularity it also has a very big red target painted on it. Hackers and spammers have WordPress in their sights and it is becoming increasingly common for sites to get hacked and spammed. Having your site hacked can be very disrupting and expensive, therefore prevention is the key strategy. This ebook focuses on educating you on the basic hacking vulnerabilities and the tools you need to keep up with this growing problem.

 

 

 

WordPress SEO Plugins

WordPress “out-of-the-box” provides a lot of onsite SEO structural fundamentals, but you don't have to stop there. There are over a thousand SEO plugins to choose from in the WordPress Plugin library. This wealth of opportunities quickly becomes a nightmare because so many of these plugins do many of the same things and some are very out-of-date relative to the latest changes in Google's algorithms (specifically Panda and Penguin) In this eBook we are going to review the features that you should be looking for which an up-to-date SEO plugin should support, then review a number of them, and finish up by drilling down with specifics on a select few that we think are worthy of consideration.

 

As of late 2012 there were 1,609 themes on the WordPress.org free themes directory. If you spent 30 seconds looking at each one, it would take you just over 13 hours non-stop to get through that list.

Not something you might have time for in your busy schedule? This eBook is intended to help you narrow that search and then once you find the theme of your choice, provide some tips and tricks for tweaking that theme for your website. So that you can be confident that you have the “Right Start”, there will also be a current list of recommended themes that we have vetted in advance based on a specific criteria.

 

 

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