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How to Build a WordPress Hotel Website with a Room Booking Engine


Focusing on growing your direct hotel bookings or just need to create a WordPress hotel website for a client? Good. We’ve created a detailed tutorial for you! It should come in handy if you want to build a hotel, hostel, apartment, inn or bed & breakfast website and turn on automatic booking submissions – the ones that are paid and processed while you are sipping coffee.

With WordPress, there are 2 main approaches to create a fully functional hotel website powered by a reservation engine:

  1. A ready-made WordPress hotel booking theme
  2. Any WordPress theme (including hotel ones) + a third-party property booking plugin

Of course, there is one more approach to be mentioned. The booking system can also be powered by any reservation proprietary software. I have to admit that some of them come with dozens of useful options WordPress plugins may lack. But unless you’re planning on starting a massive hotel chain you probably won’t need all the extra bells and whistles, so you’re better off choosing a user-friendly theme or plugin.

Generally, taking your hotel operations into the cloud with the proprietary software will also cost you an arm and a leg (on a regular basis!). Using WordPress plugins/themes you significantly decrease expenses and get a powerful secure functionality.

Just Google it and compare: the average monthly price of the proprietary booking engine is around $100 (with the price increasing depending on room types, number of rooms, etc in your hotel establishment), while the WordPress theme+plugin will cost you around $100 per year.

So, since reservation software is probably not right for most people reading this article let’s get back to the first 2 approaches and save some money for utility bills.

Choosing a Ready-Made Hotel Booking WordPress Theme

If it’s easier for you to start with the first approach, remember that many WordPress themes advertised as “hotel booking” come with a reservation form where booking submissions are sent via email. They can be pretty advanced (with check-in and check-out date forms, room types, etc.).

WordPress Themes with Reservation Forms

Paradise Cove is a great example of such a theme. The guests can search for accommodation:

Paradise Cove Room Search

Then choose one from a pretty handy listing:

Paradise Cove Listing

And place a booking request by submitting the following form via email. Its main disadvantage is that guests cannot be sure the room is really booked, because the process should involve manual confirmation.

Paradise Cove Reservation Form

You should take into account that it’s a more convenient way of reservations for hotel but not for the guests. If you don’t provide automatic bookings (with payment, for example) guests might prefer to call your hotel to make a reservation.

On the other hand, modern people who are used to OTAs (online travel agencies – like TripAdvisor) want the process to be handled almost completely with tech, with minimum phone calls. Or, what if they are just introverts?

That is, hotel room reservation by email or phone is not the level of “automation” you (and travelers) are looking for. Right?

Getting back to the beautiful Paradise Cove WordPress theme: a simple property booking WordPress plugin can drive it to accept online reservations.

This reservation-via-email sort of functionality can still work just fine for travel websites, where booking a tour by email is still very popular (people love to discuss details of tours before purchasing them).

WordPress Themes with a Reservation Engine

Let’s now talk about a type of a hotel WordPress theme with a property reservation engine built in. Typically these themes are primarily based on third-party property booking plugins.

For example, the Bellevue hotel booking WordPress theme that comes with different demos (a hotel, urban countryside, a beach house) and is powered by the booking plugin with WooCommerce payments:

Bellevue WordPress Theme

It means this theme will let your guests add a needed accommodation to their cart and pay for it online (through PayPal, for example):

Bellevue Booking Submission

It’s a pretty straightforward automated process of accepting online bookings.

To sum up, here are the pros of the hotel WordPress themes with the booking engine implemented:

  • A one-stop solution with a theme and plugin seamlessly integrated: all icons and styles of the plugin look natural in a theme design
  • A money saving: in case a booking engine is a paid plugin, the theme vendors generally include it for free, so you pay for a theme only

The only limitation of this solution is that you’ll have to rely on the booking system offered by the theme. Namely, you won’t have a choice of the reservation system (of course, you can delete the initial one and install another room reservation plugin, but what’s the point of buying such a theme then?). So, you’ll need to find out additionally whether you are able to tweak the plugin’s behavior to fully meet your needs.

But if you’ve already found a good WordPress theme and just need to implement a hotel booking engine into it, read further.

Building a Hotel Site with a WordPress Room Booking Plugin

You can grab any WordPress theme and turn it into a fully functional hotel website with the automated booking process. It can be either a hospitality business dedicated WordPress theme or just the one you already use and love.

For example, Villa Fortuna is a great lightweight hotel design that is easy to power with a reservation plugin (as the theme is not reservations ready):

Villa Fortuna WordPress Theme

Let’s dig deeper and see how to do that step by step with one of the most advanced WordPress reservation plugins for hotels – MotoPress Hotel booking plugin. It lets you add properties listing with all details and enable online booking (for hotels, apartments, vacation rental, hostel, etc.)

Here is the frontend piece of the apartments agency website built with this reservation plugin:

Frontend Example of Apartments - MotoPress Plugin

You can, by the way, test the dashboard of the plugin yourself with any preferable type of the hotel establishment: hotels, apartments, hostels or villas.

And now let’s take a look at the backend. Once the plugin is installed and activated, 2 menus should appear: Accommodation and Bookings. Then follow these easy steps:

1. Add different types of seasonal pricing: these can be different dates or days (Christmas, summer 2018, etc.). These are the dates you are sure the pricing for them should differ.

Add Season

2. Add extra hotel services or packages: free or paid (baby sitting, parking, etc.). You need to do it beforehand to be able to further include the available services to different accommodation types. You may add a service description, a featured image, price and periodicity. Guests can book them when placing a booking request. This is optionally, of course.

Add Services

3. Add accommodation types: each of them can be supplied with a description, categories, amenities, photo gallery:

Facilities and Gallery

Accommodation’s capacity (adults, children, size), view, bed types, and services can be also featured:

Add Accommodation Types

4. Add rates: different prices for the same accommodation type depending on a number of benefits (e.g. refundable and non-refundable):

Add Rates

5. Create all system pages with shortcodes available in the admin panel: Search Results, Search Availability, Complete Booking, Booking Confirmation, Booking Cancellation pages:

Shortcodes - Booking confirmation page

6. Configure major settings:

Booking Plugin Settings

  • Set parameters for displaying accommodation types (currency, currency position, date format, check-in and check-out time, etc.)
  • Add bed types available in your hotel establishment
  • Set the period of time to show the lowest price for – if guests don’t set check-in and check-out dates, the’ll see the cheapest accommodation for the period of time you set
  • Enable/disable the search form to recommend the best set of accommodations according to a number of guests (this is a great option to allow one guest to add multiple accommodations into one reservation)
  • Enable/disable online booking
  • Set confirmation mode: by customer via email, by admin manually or automatic confirmation on payment
  • Set maximum accommodation occupancy in the search form (it’s not limited because the plugin supports multiple accommodations booking at a time)
  • Check/uncheck an images gallery lightbox
  • Choose a theme for the Search availability calendar (e.g. Light coral, Dark red) – it should dovetail nicely into any WordPress theme

7. Customize admin and customer email templates (using macros):

Email Templates

8. Set global and custom booking rules (minimum and maximum days to stay; check-in and check-out dates; or block the dates):

Booking Rules

9. Turn on/off payment gateways and configure payment settings (test payments, PayPal, 2Checkout, Stripe, Braintree, Beanstream/Bambora): full or deposit price to pay, deposit type (fixed or percent), choose system pages and default payment gateway to display on the checkout page.

10. Change language settings (if needed): as the plugin is available in 14 languages, you may set the needed one or customize texts of the plugin with any WordPress translation program.

The plugin also lets you generate coupons if you want to provide your travelers with discounts:

Add Coupon Codes

The booking process is pretty easy – guests provide personal details, choose rates, services and the payment method (if you turn it on):

Complete Booking - frontend

All the bookings are stored in the admin dashboard:

Bookings Calendar

If the customers pay after arrival, a hotel manager can add the payment manually:

Add payment manually

As you might see, it’s pretty easy to create a complete hotel website with online reservations even without technical skills. Just grab your favourite WordPress theme and follow the described steps.

Conclusions

Guests are different – some want to book online quickly and have automatic control over everything. Others want to have a partner in the process to make sure their complex needs are met, or prefer a human touch like a phone conversation. With a hotel website that accepts immediate online reservations you serve both types of modern travelers. And maximize your hotel occupancy rate by the way!

It’s an especially simplified process with WordPress, where you have great alternatives of building a hotel website with a ready-made hotel theme or the property reservation plugin like the MotoPress Hotel booking plugin.

Do you have any experience of building a website for hospitality business? Got a question? Don’t wait and speak your mind in comments!



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Simple Tools to Build Your Newsletter Subscriber List with WordPress


If you’re looking to build a successful website, it’s a smart idea to first create a subscriber list. The larger your recurring visitor base is, the faster your site will grow – and the more money you’ll potentially make.

Considering how important this task is, it’s no surprise that there are a vast number of solutions available. With a little research, it isn’t hard to select the right mailing list builder, one that not only adheres to your requirements but also plays nicely with WordPress.

In this article, you’ll learn what a subscriber list is and why it’s important. Then we’ll show you five simple tools you can use to build your own list. Let’s get started!

Why Building a Subscriber List Is Crucial

WPExplorer Newsletter Signup Form

We like to keep it simple here at WPExplorer, choosing to use a sidebar signup form to generate subscribers.

A subscription list is exactly what it sounds like – a list of customers or clients who have chosen to receive marketing emails from you. Have you ever received newsletters or special offers from your favourite store via email? If you have, that’s probably because you’re part of their subscription list.

While these emails can seem like a nuisance when you receive too many of them, from a business perspective they are a handy tool. With a subscriber list, you’ll be able to:

  • Generate more conversions and sales. The more people who see your offers and calls to action, the more purchases and signups you should attract. Take Amazon for example: one way they get you to keep buying products is by emailing offers on a regular basis.
  • Increase traffic. Whenever you publish a new post or update your site with important information, you can immediately notify your subscribers. This should help increase repeat traffic and keep your audience engaged with your content.

The nice thing about a subscriber list is that it puts you in direct contact with your audience. There’s no middleman involved, and you don’t have to make sure you’re sticking to the various rules and guidelines of social media platforms. You’re in control of your list, and you can use it in whatever way is best for you and your subscribers. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some tools you may need to create your email list.

5 Simple Tools for Building a Subscriber List in WordPress

If you want to build a subscription list, you’ll first need to provide a form where people can sign up for it. Fortunately, WordPress makes this an easy task. The following are five plugins that can help you easily create subscription forms.

1. Jetpack (Freemium)

Jetpack WordPress Plugin

Jetpack was developed by Automattic, the same company behind WordPress. Its Subscriptions module enables visitors to sign up to email updates right from your blog. Your subscribers will be updated when there are new blog posts, and when new comments are added to a post they’re following.

There’s no way to export your entire subscriber list using Jetpack, but you can export the information of those who signed up using their email addresses rather than their WordPress account. If you like the prospect of your subscriptions being handled for you, Jetpack could be ideal. Plus, its ease of use and breadth of subscription options alone make it a valuable plugin, and there’s a premium version with even more features.

2. MailChimp for WordPress (Freemium)

Screenshot of Mailchimp for WordPress plugin.

MailChimp for WordPress is among the most popular free plugins on the WordPress marketplace, and for good reason. With this plugin, you’ll be able to create simple opt-in forms with ease. What’s more, the premium version comes with additional tools, such as:

  • Complete e-commerce integration for WooCommerce. This feature allows you to track visitors and other demographics from your email campaigns and send it all to MailChimp, enabling you to create powerful list segments.
  • Methods to counter fake subscriptions. The double opt-in feature requires subscribers to confirm their subscriptions via email. To further secure the integrity of your list, MailChimp sends out a reCAPTCHA checkbox to fend off spambots.

With MailChimp for WordPress, you know exactly what you’re getting – a tool for building intriguing forms to entice potential subscribers, coupled with the functionality to maintain your current list.

3. Ninja Forms (Freemium)

Screenshot of Ninja Forms plugin.

Ninja Forms Lite is strictly a form builder, but it does include its own subscriber list integration in the form of MailChimp, an add-on that starts at $29. However, this is not the same as MailChimp For WordPress. This extension allows you to create forms for your MailChimp account, using the power and flexibility provided by Ninja Forms.

Once you’ve set up MailChimp with Ninja forms, you’ll have access to a host of features, including:

  • The ability to group subscribers
  • Multiple MailChimp subscriptions per form
  • An option to export your entire subscriber list

You need the add-on to set up a subscriber list using this plugin, but the features it provides are worth the reasonable cost. Plus, Ninja Forms’ own functionality enables you to create eye-catching subscription forms, via its powerful drag-and-drop form creator.

4. Email Subscribers & Newsletters (Free)

Screenshot of Email Subscribers and Newsletters plugin.

Email Subscribers & Newsletters is a completely free plugin that enables you to send emails, create newsletters, and collect leads – all from a single hub. This plugin creates a simple subscription form that isn’t quite as customizable as some of the other options on this list. However, it offers nearly all the features you’ll need, making it possible to:

  • Send notification emails to subscribers when new posts are published.
  • Collect customer emails by adding a subscription box (via widget, shortcode, or PHP).
  • Allow double opt-in and single opt-in methods for subscribers.
  • Provide an unsubscribe link for each email.

Keeping subscribers regularly updated is a perfect way to enhance your reputation. While this plugin may not be the most flexible option, its ability to help you attract potential subscribers and maintain current ones is undeniable.

5. Thrive Leads (From $19/month)

Screenshot of Thrive Leads plugin.

If you’re looking for a state-of-the-art email list builder and don’t mind paying for a premium option, check out Thrive Leads. This plugin is ideal if you’re looking to achieve higher conversion rates, and it’s very user-friendly. It also offers a variety of ways to display your forms, including as a pop-up lightbox, ribbon, widget, footer, and more.

If the many templates Thrive Leads provides aren’t enough for you, the drag-and-drop page builder makes designing your own custom forms simple. It also includes handy features such as:

  • An A/B testing engine
  • Two-step opt-in forms
  • Advanced targeting based on your readers’ on-site behavior

Particularly if you’re looking to increase conversions and sales, Thrive Leads is a solid option for creating your subscriber list.

Conclusion

Maintaining an email list is important, since it enables you to communicate with your audience and can also provide a needed traffic boost. Fortunately, many developers understand the importance of subscriber lists. This has resulted in an abundance of free and premium plugins that can get you started.

In this post, we’ve looked at five plugins that can help you create your subscriber list:

Which subscriber list builder caught your attention, and why? Let us know in the comments section below!



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The Best E-Commerce WordPress Themes for Creative Entrepreneurs


The availability of flexible and free CMS systems like WordPress means it’s never been easier to set your stall out as a creative entrepreneur and drive both product sales and new business via your website.

As a creative entrepreneur, you need an e-commerce theme that’s optimized for mobile out of the box, makes for a remarkable customer experience, and helps you drive customer acquisition and highlight content at will.

The range of specific businesses creative entrepreneurs can be involved in is vast, but we’ve put together a solid list of the best e-commerce WordPress themes that should be able to handle any use case. Let’s get cracking!

The Best eCommerce WordPress Themes

If you check WordPress.org you’re sure to find some handy free theme options are an excellent starting point for many site owners. But there is an incredible number of premium themes that are available for even those on the tightest of budgets.

Why should you choose a premium WooCommerce theme? Easy. First off you can expect to find a higher overall level of quality, stylishness and flexibility along with a wide range of functionality not found in most free themes. Most premium themes also offer superb support so if you have a question you can ask the theme developer instead of relying on free forums.

With that said, let’s move on to the best e-commerce WordPress themes premium options that are particularly well suited to sites for creative entrepreneurs.

Total Drag & Drop WordPress Theme

Total eCommerce WordPress Theme

Our top choice for a premium theme is one of the best known WordPress premium themes on the market (or at least here on WPExplorer), and packs in more than enough killer features to keep even the most demanding of creative entrepreneurs happy. Our very own Total WordPress theme is a powerhouse solution built with great features than make creating an e-commerce site easy!

Total is fully WooCommerce compatible, and a quick look at the theme’s demos should give you a good grasp of the level of power and flexibility the theme puts at your disposal. A drag-and-drop page builder puts you in control of all aspects of page design, with a front-end builder to turbocharge implementation. Over 100+ content modules are also at your fingertips (when you activate WooCommerce), including slick options for sliders, testimonials, events and more.

As you’d expect, the theme is fully responsive by default and also gives you direct control over matching your existing branding via an enormous range of well integrated customization options that don’t require you to dive into CSS directly. Most options can be conveniently live previewed enabling you to experiment with confidence.

ShopKeeper Responsive WordPress Theme

Shopkeeper eCommerce WordPress Theme

Shopkeeper is an affordable and stylish option is specifically designed to work with WooCommerce. Its demo version highlights the range of page and menu combinations available to play with. The theme makers have put extra effort into providing a full set of options for header customization and portfolio grid layouts to help you really seal the deal in terms of selling your wares.

Shopkeeper ships with a free version of the Revolution Slider plugin included, and also boasts extensive documentation including a complete shop setup guide.

WooPress E-Commerce WordPress Theme

WooPress eCommerce WordPress Theme

With close to two dozen layouts to choose from, WooPress is a stylish WooCommerce-enabled theme designed to help you shift serious amounts of product with ease.

The theme is compatible with WPML, bbPress and Visual Composer (included with the theme), so you’re covered with some common integration options. EightTheme are also currently offering a free installation service that you can take advantage of as a less experienced site owner.

WooPress is fully responsive, retina ready and ships with fully editable Photoshop templates if you want to really get your hands dirty in terms of design. It also bundles $119 worth of add-ons in the form of complementary plugins such as Master Slider, Slider Revolution, and Essential Grid.

New York Blog & Shop WordPress Theme

New York eCommerce WordPress Theme

New York is a stunning blogging and e-commerce WordPress theme designed specifically with fashion and beauty bloggers in mind. With the New York WordPress Theme you can easily monetize your blog with the included WooCommerce support.

The theme offers tons of great features for a homepage featured posts slider, social integrations, various homepage layouts, Instagram footer feed and more. But most importantly, the theme offers a stunning integration of WooCommerce. Want to get started with your WOrdPress blog and shop in no time at all? The theme also comes with easy to use sample data that you can import to have your website looking just like the demo!

Setwood Blog & eCommerce Shop WordPress Theme

Setwood eCommerce WordPress Theme

Setwood is a modern and clean blog theme for WordPress that is fully compatible with the WooCommerce e-commerce plugin. The theme offers a clean design that is responsive, performance optimized, SEO friendly and (of course) WooCommerce compatible. This plus options for responsive sliders, page layouts, post formats and blog layouts make it easy to create a beautiful blog and shop website.

Want to make the theme match your brand? Use the built-in Setwood options for colors, fonts and more in the theme customizer to tweak features. Or add a third party plugin like Yellow Pencil to make your customizations even easier.

Neto WooCommerce Store WordPress Theme

Neto eCommerce WordPress Theme

Want to build an awesome e-commerce website and have access to TONS of other top notch themes? Checkout Neto by CSSIgniter. This beautiful WooCommerce theme is pixel perfect for any shop website.

The theme includes hundreds of options for colors, fonts, backgrounds, page elements and more so you truly can create the store you want. Plus there are super easy shortcodes included to insert products, lists and carousels into any page.

Love more than one theme by CSSIgniter? Choose the theme club at checkout! With the CSSIgniter theme club you’ll have access to all of their amazing WordPress themes, and if you go for the Lifetime membership you’ll get every WordPress theme, HTML template, PSD file and every update forever (plus ongoing support). It’s a deal you really shouldn’t pass up.

Chic Blog & WooCommerce Store WordPress Theme

Chic eCommerce WordPress Theme

The Chic WordPress theme is a lovely option for creating your WordPress blog and monetizing it. Use the theme’s built-in blog options for a homepage slider, custom columns and site widths, three different header styles, hundreds of Google fonts, unlimited color options (with color pickers), custom widgets, recent products footer section and more to create your perfect blog. Then monetize your website with WooCommerce.

The theme features tons of options for adding your WooCommerce single, variable, downloadable and affiliate products. Then use the custom WooCommerce footer section for featured items, add your products to sidebars using the WooCommerce widgets and even insert product collections into posts or pages with the included WooCommerce shortcodes.

WP Beauty, Day Spa & Salon WordPress Theme

WP Beauty eCommerce WordPress Theme

If you’re looking to build an e-commerce store for your beauty business than look no further than Beauty WP. This lovely theme had tons of great options for building a website for your business and selling products and services with WooCommerce.

Beauty WP is perfect for spas, cosmetics businesses, fitness studios, salons and even bloggers who are affiliates of other companies. The theme includes an easy to use page builder, premium slider plugin, a useful appointments booking plugin, custom widgets, WPML translation compatibility, custom Google fonts, color options, retina image support and more. And of course, Beauty WP is fully compatible with the WooCommerce e-commerce plugin so you can quickly build your store online.

Shoppe WooCommerce Ready WordPress Theme

Shoppe eCommerce WordPress Theme

The Shoppe theme by Themify is a great choice for professionals to build their online store. The theme includes the popular Themify page builder so you can create one of a kind posts and pages from scratch, plus awesome options like an ajax cart, lightboxes, quick search, product wishlist and a creative gallery image zoom that will certainly impress your customers.

But the features don’t stop there. The Shoppe theme includes 14 pre-built header layouts, 9 archive page designs, 6 footer styles, product social share links, ajax quick search, mega menu support and over $100 in bonus add-ons! Best of all, if you purchase a Themify Club membership you’ll have access to Shoppe as well as every other theme and plugin created by Themify. What’s not to love?

WooCommerce Storefront Child Themes

Storefront eCommerce WordPress Theme

Storefront is the FREE flagship theme of WooCommerce, and it’s pretty okay to start with for a free option. But if you really want to take your e-commerce theme to the next level consider upgrading to a premium Storefront Child Theme. WooCommerce offers 14 beautiful child themes that add styling, layouts, options and more that are all coded using the same standards as the core WooCommerce plugin itself.

Conclusion

Making your way in the world online as a creative entrepreneur has never been easier, and the range of options available these days for handling that in WordPress has never been stronger.

If you’re just starting out, either of our first two options will help you get off to a flying start for free. When you want to take things to the next level, the combination of WooCommerce and incredibly customizable premium themes such as Divi should be more than enough to match your needs for years to come.

We’d love to hear what you’re currently using to make an impression online as a creative entrepreneur and whether we’ve missed any obviously strong candidates in our brief roundup. Get in touch via the comments and let us know!



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How to Add Push Notifications to Your WordPress Site


You spend hours or even days to write a valuable piece of content so that the audience can read it and learn from you. Every piece of content that we share on the pages of our blogs or business site we create with the intention to be found by the target audience. However, that doesn’t always happen so. What’s the most optimal solutions to fix that? Of course, you can always opt for newsletter subscription forms in order to keep the web audience engaged. Still, there is a better alternative that can bring you more impressive results. You guessed it right. We are going to talk about push notifications on WordPress sites.

What Are Push Notifications?

Initially, push notifications gained their popularity as indispensable components of mobile apps. However, the technological progress doesn’t stand still, as well as marketing innovations. Recently, the technology started to spread all over the desktop versions of websites, engaging the web community way more effectively.

By means of push notifications, you can literally notify your subscribers about new pieces of content that appear on your website via a custom message that comes directly from your site. Whenever a person agrees to receive push notifications from you, he will see custom pop-ups at the lower right corner of the browser window, no matter if your website is currently opened or not. For example, whenever a new post is published, you can send a push notification to your readers so that not a single event occurring on your web resource will be missed.

Simply put, push notifications are a great way to stay in contact with the target audience without making them browse your site all the time.

Benefits of Using Push Notifications

Benefits of Using Push Notifications

Push notifications are popular with online projects of various topics. These are not limited to be used on eCommerce sites exclusively that need to keep the web community alerted on new releases. Push notifications get more popular among various business projects, blogs, and other online projects that need to notify the users about new pieces of content once those go live.

So, what are the key advantages of using push notifications?

  • There is no need to launch a mobile app in order to benefit from push notifications on your web resource. Most of the contemporary web browsers support push notifications. Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and other browsers display push notifications similar to the mobile apps.
  • By means of push notifications, you can reach even those users who are not currently on your site. As mentioned earlier, a person may simply work in a web browser and see push notifications appear at the lower right corner of the screen.
  • Push notifications also give you the ability to re-engage with the users who are not on your website without knowing their contact details or email address. If a web user once gave a permission to send notifications to him, he will receive your updates without needing his email.
  • Push notifications guarantee a prompt delivery of your message to the audience in real-time. Just click the ‘send’ button, and the notification will be sent immediately.
  • Push notifications bring 30 times higher conversion rates to websites compared to the common email newsletter.
  • These can also increase traffic to your website manifolds. You may have written an impressive post, however if your audience doesn’t know about it, they won’t come to your site. By means of immediate promotion of your content via push notifications, you can manage this issue while sending prompt alerts to the target audience, growing the chances that people do not forget about you.
  • You can also boost sales on your website. This is especially useful to eCommerce projects. Whenever you launch a new promo campaign or add a new product to your inventory, send push notifications to your audience so that more people will be aware of that.

How to Add Push Notifications to Your Website

First, you need to launch a website on the basis of WordPress. In order to gain the desired results in the shortest period of time, most of the contemporary webmasters opt for ready-made WordPress themes. For example, you can benefit from the pre-designed solutions from TemplateMonster, or by using a drag & drop builder theme like the Total WordPress Theme.

It’s really easy to setup push notifications for WordPress sites. Just like many other things, this can be achieved by using a plugin. There are lots of functional extensions to choose from. Free and premium push notification WordPress plugins may vary in features but all of them work in a similar way.

Thus, by means of push notifications, you can:

  • Notify your visitors on new posts
  • Present new products/updates/services
  • Send promo codes and coupons
  • Inform your visitors about important events

As soon as you install and setup a plugin, the first time a person reaches your website he will receive a prompt inviting him to opt into push notifications. If he agrees, he will receive a message each time you add him to the recipients’ list. Push notifications will then arrive on a user’s device. Once he clicks on the message, he will be taken to the page of your site where the promoted content appears. Whenever a users decides to opt out the push notifications, he can achieve that at any time.

How to Choose a Push Notifications Plugin

There is a really wide choice of push notification plugins in the WordPress community. Even though most of them work in a similar way, there are still a few key ways that make push notifications plugins differ. Take a look at the following quick checklist. It will help you make the right choice of the push notifications plugin for your website.

  • What devices is it compatible with?
  • Does it require you to install extra software to send/receive notifications?
  • It is easy to setup and manage?
  • Does it include extra customization options?
  • Is there any analytics included?
  • What’s the price?

With all that being mentioned, lets late a look at the most popular WordPress plugins to send push notifications from your website.

The Best WordPress Plugins to Add Push Notifications

OneSignal WordPress Plugin

OneSignal is one of the most widely-used push notifications WordPress plugins. Offering a versatile push notification service, it provides a number of smart solutions to send push notifications directly to Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. It is available for free use and doesn’t include any hidden fees.

With the help of the plugin, you will be able to set up a number of custom push notifications like automatic updates whenever a new product/piece of content appears on your site. There is also an option to send automatic reminders to those users who haven’t reached your site during the last couple of days in order to engage them and drive more traffic to your web resource.

The main features of the plugin include:

  • Supports: Chrome (Desktop & Android), Safari (Mac OS X), and Firefox (Desktop) on HTTP and HTTPS sites
  • Targeting Segments to send notifications to specific visitors based on language, number of times they’ve visited your blog, etc
  • Opt-In Customization to choose when and how to ask your visitors to opt-in to browser notifications
  • Real Time Analytics
  • A/B Testing
  • Scheduled Notifications

Chrome Push WordPress Plugin

Chrome Push Notifications is another powerful free WordPress plugin that is intended to send push notifications from your site to Google Chrome (desktop and Android). It may lack some features that other push notification WordPress plugins feature, however its simplistic approach to sending prompt messages lures crowds of the site owners.

The main features of the plugin include:

  • Quick and simple setup
  • Automatic push notifications for the freshly published content
  • Custom logo for notifications
  • The ability to choose post types for while push notifications should be sent
  • Custom notifications

PushAssist WordPress Plugin

Push Notifications for WordPress by PushAssist is a feature-rich free solution that will help you keep the audience of your WordPress blog, business or eCommerce site always engaged with your content. It supports targeted push notifications making it possible to re-engage the most loyal customers.

Upon installation, the plugins will automatically add all the required library into the website post account verification. All of the key features, dashboards and metrics are displayed in the WordPress Admin Panel.

With the help of this plugin, you can notify the visitors when a new post is published on your site. You can also send them offers, tips, and other pieces of data that can convert any visitor to your site into a loyal customer.

The main features of the plugin include:

  • Instant notifications that appear as message alerts and even sound alerts
  • Easy to use REST APIs, available via secure HTTPS to send and receive data
  • Smart segmentation divides users in groups with segmentation
  • Works for both HTTP or HTTPS WordPress websites
  • You to use your own GCM keys for push notifications
  • Add Site Logo when sending push notifications automatically

Wrapping Up

There are lots of benefits to use push notifications on your WordPress site. Working as a means to interact with the web audience directly, push notifications also grow the chances of traffic and revenue boost. Thanks to the cleverly customized push notifications, you can turn any ordinary visitor to your website into a returning loyal client. Just launch your site on the basis of WordPress (if you still haven’t done this), use a cost-effective design for it, choose push notifications plugins, and watch an impressive audience engagement boost.



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How to Monitor Social Media Analytics with WordPress


The reason for monitoring social media is very simple. We want to learn what is working and what isn’t. It is crucial to understand which social media channels, campaigns, and content are successful and making an impact on your business. And which ones aren’t. With this information, you can tailor your social media strategy accordingly.

That said, tracking social media metrics, interpreting the results, and then applying what you have learned to your social media channels can be challenging. In this article, we will be looking at how you can use Google Analytics to monitor your social media performance to help your site convert against its goals.

Basic Social Media Analytics

Twitter Analyitcs

Many social analytics tools show basic social media metrics. These may include how many new follows you have had this month, what content has had the most likes and shares, and how many people have viewed your profile. This is all helpful information, and if this is what you are after then I would recommend using the metrics reports provided by each individual social media channel.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram Business, Pinterest Business, and many other big social media channels provide great breakdowns of your account’s performance. This will give you a good understanding of how your followers are interacting with your profiles. And what content they are responding well to.

However, if you want more in-depth reports, focusing on social media analytics in relation to website conversions, then you should consider using Google Analytics.

Why Should You Use Google Analytics?

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is widely used to monitor on-site metrics. However, this comprehensive tool is often overlooked for social media reporting, which is a big mistake.

Google Analytics is an extremely valuable solution, as it allows you to measure the impact your social media channels are having on your WordPress website. It can identify which social media channels and social content are sending traffic to your site, and in what quantities. You can then set goals to measure how your social media performance is affecting your site conversions.

For example, you can set goals to monitor exactly how many leads you’ve generated from social media traffic, how many people coming from social media have purchased products on your site, and the monetary value of your social followers. So let’s now have a look in more detail at how to set up, use and analyze Google Analytics…

Getting Started With Google Analytics

Google Analytics is very easy to set up and get started with. Simply signup and register your WordPress website. Once Google Analytics is up and running you can begin to track your site’s analytics.

Acquisition Overview

At the most basic level, you can track where traffic to your WordPress website is arriving from. Under ‘Acquisition > Overview’ you will see just how many people have visited your site from social media channels in comparison with other sources. You can also gain an understanding of visitors’ behavior on your site.

Acquisition Overview 2

Clicking directly on ‘Social’ will take you to a detailed breakdown of how much traffic has come from each social media channel. Here you can see the number of people who have arrived at your website, how long they stayed on your site, and the conversion rate for each social media channel.

However, to get the most out of Google Analytics you need to track individual objectives linked to your WordPress website. This will enable you to see if your website is converting against its goals. And how social media specifically is helping it to achieve these conversions.

How to Set Up Goal Monitoring on Google Analytics

To enable goal tracking on your website you will need to firstly add Google Tag Manager to your WordPress website. This involves adding some code to each page of your website so Google Analytics can track user behavior and conversions on your site.

There are clear instructions on how to do this on Google Support. However, if you have no experience of adding code to your WordPress website this may be something you will need help with.

Once Google Tag Manager is set up you need to create your own personalized site goals within Google Analytics. These will enable you to monitor how your social media channels are contributing to your site’s success.

Creating Goals for Your WordPress Website

Setting up goal monitoring in Google Analytics is a very straightforward process, and again Google Support provides detailed information on how to do so.

To get started click on the ‘Admin’ icon in the bottom left-hand corner. Choose ‘Goals > Add New’, and then simply follow the steps to create your goals.

Goal Setting

There are numerous goal types to choose from, but the ones you create should be directly linked to your WordPress website’s objectives. For example, if you are selling products then you will need a goal monitoring your site’s online payments. You can also add a monetary value to this goal, which will enable you to monitor exactly how much revenue your social media traffic is creating for your business.

Other goals you can track include engagement on your site, enquires into your services, the number of reservations or appointment bookings made, and much more. Business sites should always be working towards numerous objectives simultaneously, so create your goals accordingly.

What Social Analytics Can You Monitor with Google Analytics?

Once your goals have been setup, you will be able to access detailed accounts of how your social media channels are helping your WordPress website convert against its goals. Let’s have a look some of the most important reports on social media analytics that Google Analytics can generate…

Social Overview

Social Overview

To view an overview of your social media analytics, select ‘Acquisition > Social > Overview’. Here you can see the number of conversions your site has achieved against the goals you set up. Importantly, the overview breaks down how many of the conversions have come from social media, and specifically which channels.

Network Referrals

Network Referrals

Under ‘Social > Network Referrals’ you will find a breakdown of how much traffic each social media channel is sending to your website. You will also get details on users’ behavior. This includes data on the number of page views, the average session duration, and more. This will help you understand which networks are engaging well with your content, and which ones are lagging behind.

Conversions

Conversions

The report from ‘Social > Conversions’ will help you measure the exact success and value of your social media channels in regards to your website goals. You will be able to identify which social networks drive the most conversions, which conversions they contribute to, and the monetary value they add to your business.

Users Flow

Users Flow

The ‘Users Flow’ report is really interesting as it displays the paths visitors from social media have taken on your site. You can see where people entered your site, which pages they engaged with, and where they left. This is great for understanding the journey your social media audience take on your WordPress website. It also gives you insight into what content your visitors are particularly interested in.

How to Add Your Goggle Analytics Dashboard to WordPress

Google Analytics for WordPress

Now that you know all about Google Analytics there are easy ways to integrate your analytics reports into your WordPress installation. Here are just a few of our favorite plugins to add Google analytics to WordPress.

Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress (Free): One of our favorite plugins us the Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress. This easy to use plugin adds reports for your traffic, page views, bounces and more right to WordPress. And if you need help getting the plugin setup just take a look at our guide on how to integrate Google Analytics with WordPress.

MonsterInsights (Freemium): Another great option is MonsterInsights which uses a freemium model. Download the free version of the plugin to add your Google Analytics dashboard and real time stats to WordPress. Want more? Upgrade to premium for more advanced reporting.

Google Analytics for JetPack (Premium): If you’re looking for a premium option, JetPack Premium includes integration for Google Analytics. There are many reasons to love the Jetpack all-in-one and having advanced Google site stats at your finger tips is just the icing on the cake.

Final Thoughts on Social Media Analytics

As always with monitoring analytics, the key is to interpret the data. Then make changes to your social media strategy accordingly. Look at which social media channels are most effective at converting against your website goals. And which types of content are helping with this success. Equally, it is just as important to know which social platforms are not performing, so you can make the necessary improvements.

How do you monitor your social media analytics? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…



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The Best Contact Form Plugins for Your WordPress Website


Whether you’re a blogger, freelancer, or a small business owner, there’s a good chance that making connections with potential clients or customers is a high priority. Imagine that a potential customer enters your contact page, and all you have to show them is an email address. This is neither professional, nor is it likely to be convenient for the customer.

A contact form is the perfect way to prevent this scenario. This solution will let your customers get in touch with you easily, and creating such a form doesn’t have to be hard. With WordPress, all you require is a plugin. Forging relationships with customers isn’t always easy, but a neat, professional contact form can help you make the right first impression.

In this article, you’ll learn why contact forms are important for your WordPress site. Then we’ll introduce you to four of the best contact form plugins for your website, and explain how each one’s features can be beneficial. Let’s get started!

Why Contact Forms Are Crucial for Your WordPress Website

Example of a good contact form.

Contact forms make it simple for customers to communicate key information to you.

A contact form is displayed on your website, and enables people to get in touch with you about your products and services. You may at first wonder why you should go through through the hassle of adding a contact form, when you could simply display your email address instead.

However, including your email address on your website can bring unanticipated problems. For one, it encourages spam emails, which is a popular way to spread viruses and malware that can infect your company’s computers. Plus, it’s not as convenient for customers, who now have to leave your site and sign into their email account just to inquire about a product.

On the other hand, contact forms are beneficial because they:

  • Force customers to input data: You can tell the user exactly what information you’re looking for (such as their phone number, address, etc).
  • Can help business operations: If you include a drop-down menu on your contact form, the query can easily be sent to the department best equipped to deal with it.
  • Enhance aesthetics: A contact form simply looks more professional and engaging than the alternative.

Overall, contact forms can help reinforce the professionalism you’ve hopefully displayed throughout the rest of your website. Also, they’re almost as easy to set up as adding your email address!

4 of the Best Contact Form Plugins for Your WordPress Website

Your Contact Us page is an integral part of your website, but merely having this page is not enough to get potential clients, customers, or investors on board. In order to do that, you must make the page eye-catching, responsive, and clear. Let’s take a look at some contact form plugins that can help you achieve this.

1. Contact Form 7 (Free)

Screenshot of Contact Form 7 plugin.

With over three million active installs, there’s no arguing that Contact Form 7 is the most popular plugin on this list. Its ubiquity is partly thanks to how quickly it can get a new contact form up and running. Plus, it’s especially useful for beginners since it comes equipped with a ready-made form.

If that’s not enough, the plugin is also loaded with a variety of form field options. These include drop-down menus, checkboxes, radio buttons, reCAPTCHA, and more. If you’re looking to add additional fields to Contact Form 7, you may require a basic understanding of HTML.

However, the base plugin offers just about everything you’ll need, and has the added bonus of being free. If you’re looking for a basic contact form that has plenty of field options, Contact Form 7 could be the plugin for you.

2. Ninja Forms (Free/Premium)

Screenshot of Ninja Forms plugin.

Ninja Forms is one of the more feature-rich WordPress plugins on the market. It can be used to create a wide array of different forms, including contact forms, subscription forms, surveys, and more.

Creating a contact form with this plugin is relatively easy, thanks to the built-in drag-and-drop builder. There are a ton of options, although the user interface can be a little confusing to beginners due to it’s highly customizable nature. For example, you could easily create a form without a Submit button on accident. So you need to be careful to test your form thoroughly.

Fortunately, the base plugin is free to download. Plus, there’s a premium version you can purchase that offers additional customization options, such as the ability to send out specific email notifications once forms are submitted. If you like the prospect of creating highly interactive forms with very little effort, you should consider Ninja Forms.

3. WPForms (Free/Premium)

Screenshot of WPForms plugin.

Unlike Contact Form 7, WPForms places a huge emphasis on usability, and requires no coding on your part to make any additions to your form. WPForms Lite is free to download from the plugin directory, but offers limited functionality. The premium version, however, comes equipped with useful features such as smart conditional logic, the ability to collect payments, better spam protection, and more.

All these features work with the bundled drag-and-drop page builder, which makes creating a contact form much easier. If that’s not enough, there are also dozens of pre-built templates which can speed things up even more. If you want a plugin that’s easy to use and works out of the box with no coding skills required, and you’re willing to pay for the premium version, then WPForms is the way to go.

4. Formidable Forms (Free/Premium)

Screenshot of Formidable Forms.

Formidable Forms is rapidly increasing in popularity among WordPress users. This plugin allows you to quickly create contact forms, and comes with just about all the features you’ll need. With this plugin, you can easily customize the forms you create, including their design and the options for each field.

The free version is quite powerful on its own, although its features are somewhat limited. Still, it offers a range of pre-built templates, and provides you with a powerful drag-and-drop builder to help you create a form from scratch. Plus, you’ll be able to save your forms for later use. If you need additional functionality, you can always check out the premium version as well.

Conclusion

A contact form is an essential element of most contact pages. Unfortunately, many people fail to realize the importance of forms, or avoid them altogether because they believe they’re too complex to implement. However, forms not only look professional, they also improve productivity and make it easier for people to get in touch with you.

In this piece, we’ve looked at four of the best contact form plugins you can find:

  1. Contact Form 7: Arguably the best free solution that’s currently available.
  2. Ninja Forms: A solution that should appeal those who seek flexibility in their contact form’s design.
  3. WPForms: This user-friendly plugin is great for those looking for a simplistic layout.
  4. Formidable Forms: A plugin with an excellent premium option, capable of creating a variety of contact forms.

What’s your favorite contact form plugin from the list above, and why? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!



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Video Trends in 2017 to Boost WordPress Video Marketing


If you’re looking for the latest video trends to boost your marketing efforts, take a breather mate because you are in the right place. We know video marketing scares the living daylights out of you – heck, it scares us too.

What to do? Where to start? How do you find the best tools to create and promote videos for maximum return on investment (ROI)? Which video trends can boost the impact of your video marketing? These indeed are great questions to ask yourself.

Turns out video marketing is quite easy to hack nowadays. While business owners of yore had to invest a lot of time and money, realizing tangible results with your video marketing is relatively cheap and easy these days.

And in this post, we shine light on video trends you can use to grow your business site in 2017 and beyond. These video trends are cheap and easy to hack but produce great results as far as video marketing goes. Towards the end, we drop a couple of stats to drive the point home, so you better stick around 🙂

Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Video Trends to Grow Your Video Marketing in 2017 & Beyond

Something to consider: If you want to get more out of your video marketing campaign, read our detailed video SEO guide and drive more search traffic to your website (using videos) without spending a dime.

Lastly, if you’re stuck or need more information on these video trends or anything else related to video marketing, just hit the comment section or our inbox and we will get back to you immediately.

Live Streaming

Live Streaming

Of all video trends we cover here today, live video shows a lot of promise as far as building brand awareness, favorability and trust go. Live video works wonders for product demonstrations and promotions as well. These reasons are exactly why live streaming is picking steam more than any other video trend out there.

Did you know people spend 3x more time watching Facebook live videos compared to videos that are no longer live? That’s a hard figure to argue with, and with the entrance of many other live streaming services and apps, nothing should hold you back from winning big with live video.

Live streaming includes hosting webinars as well, and we all agree webinars are pure magic as far as engagement goes. Many online entrepreneurs know this already, which is why you get invited to webinars now and then. Chances are you usually attend and – more importantly – have a great time.

Live video is relatively cheap, and in most cases free. Periscope and Facebook live videos are free and so is YouTube live streaming. All you need is internet connection and you’re good to go. Facebook will even send out notifications to your followers meaning you can hit the ground running in the next five minutes.

You can get creative and use them for product sneak peeks, demonstrations, Q&A sessions or simply let people watch your process as a creative agency, a freelancer, or a manufacturer. – Brenda Stokes Barron, Envato

How to Add Live Streaming to WordPress

Add Live Streaming to WordPress

Want to add a live stream to your WordPress site? Try a plugin! For example, with the free YouTube Embed plugin you can easily generate an embed code automatically every time you’re active on YouTube live. Or you can give the Live Streaming/Broadcast plugin a try and host your own live stream!

Videos on Landing Pages

Videos on Landing Pages

Nowadays, it’s common to find complimentary videos on sales pages, homepages and other landing pages. If you try out video trends in your next marketing stint, please consider adding videos to your landing pages.

Your visitors are more likely to stick around for longer if you have a nice video on your homepage or sales page. They are also more likely to engage with your brand which translates to better conversions for your business.

As a matter of fact, including a video on your pages boosts your conversion rates by a whopping 34% according to the Blue Corona Blog. Best is to combine video and text, has opposed to focusing on one at the expense of the other.

Videos on sales pages are quite effective simply because this medium engages more of our senses. Explainer videos on your homepage make for great introduction pieces since customers can have a feel of your personality. This quickly establishes a relationship and builds trust with your customers.

And with services like Wistia, it’s becoming easier and easier to include videos on your sales pages and get detailed analytics on how your prospective customers actually interact with those videos. That combination is what’s essential. – Collin Newcomer, Elegant Themes

How to Add Videos to WordPress

Want to embed a video on one of your WordPress posts or pages? It’s surprisingly easy! WordPress features an embed support for over 30+ video sources. All you have to do is copy and paste the video link and WordPress will automatically format/display the video.

You may have additional video options depending on your theme settings. For example, the Total WordPress theme includes easy options in the page/post meta settings to add a video in place of a featured image, an easy to use drag & drop video page builder module, options for video backgrounds and a premium slider that includes support for videos!

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality Video

Welcome to the future guys, where you can have immersive 3D video experiences thanks to virtual reality technology. Not long ago, virtual reality was synonymous with IMVU and The Sims where you could build some sort of virtual life. In reality though, that was far from the virtual reality we have today.

Today, you can dive into video games and actually feel like you’re in the game. This trend has crossed over to video marketing and from the looks of things, we can only expect it to grow and perhaps surpass many other video trends. Yep, it’s in cinema too, and it’s great.

You’re probably privy of VR gear such as Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard among others. As a video marketer, you can take advantage of this technology to push your products further into the minds of your customers. You can offer immersive product demonstrations that make the customer feel like they are actually inside your shop.

Virtual reality is becoming more accessible to consumers, meaning there’s a new and exciting advertising kid on the block. The big question shifts from “Is virtual reality even possible?” to “Are you willing to jump in and capitalize on this trend?” Your answer better be a big effing “HELL YEAH!”

360-Degree Video

360-Degree Video

I absolutely love 360-degree videos but that’s just me. Nonetheless, did you know 360-degree videos receive about 30% more views than ordinary videos? That’s not the end of it though. The same report by Magnifyre shows that twice as many people watch 360-degree videos to the very end.

If you ask me, that’s a lot of video real estate to advertise your offers. What’s better than a video that viewers don’t drop midstream? That’s right, a 360-degree video that’s cheap and easy to make. Truly, all you need is a 360-degree camera, which is relatively cheap to acquire.

While many other video trends will come and go, we have a feeling 360-degree videos are here to stay. Can you guess why? To save you the trouble, 360-videos are growing in popularity because they get real results. And if it’s useful, it prolly isn’t going away anytime soon, at least not in 2017.

360-degree video is a great alternative to virtual reality in the sense that you can provide a similar 3D experience to viewers without costly VR gear. On top of that, viewers can watch 360-degree videos on mobile devices simply by swiping or turning their devices. What a great time to be alive.

How to Add 360 Videos to WordPress

How to Add 360 Videos to WordPress

You can add your own 360-degree videos and photo sphere images with the WP VR View plugin. Just install the plugin and use the included shortcodes to customize how your 360 video is inserted. The plugin is even compatible with Google’s cardboard adaptation for a virtual reality-like experience on mobile devices!

Mobile Optimized Videos

Mobile Optimized Videos

Seeing as we just touched on mobile video experiences, it’s important to add a couple of words to this emerging video trend. Much of web browsing has shifted to mobile devices. Just look around wherever you are and let this point sink in.

You’ve probably noted mobile devices will be the death of humanity. Nearly everyone within your vicinity is looking down at a mobile device of some sort. Like many others, you’re probably reading this post on a mobile device.

Where are we going with this? It’s so simple. Just like we rushed to optimize our websites for mobile users, you cannot leave your videos behind. Time is ripe to optimize your videos for mobile devices. What does that even mean?

Simply create shorter videos (more than 5 minutes long is overdoing it) that are readily shareable on social media. Just look around on various social media sites and you will note the most popular videos are less than 3 minutes long. 30-second videos go viral almost instantaneously.

Keep your videos short and light for mobile users and tap into the ever-growing mobile traffic. Need a stat to go with that? Google reports mobile search volume surpassed desktop searches in 2015. More than 55% of searches come from mobile devices now, so optimize already or bounce.

Unless I’m using unlimited Wi-Fi and have the time, I probably won’t watch a 15-minute long video using the data plan from my mobile carrier. Nope I won’t. A 5-minute long video? Probably. A 30-second long video? Count me in anytime. Are you following?

Furthermore, this mobile video trend is the fodder powering popular video apps such as Snapchat and Instagram. And these apps thrive, and thrive well on mobile videos. Yes, Snapchat drove 10 billion video views per day in the 3rd quarter of 2016 and guess who their biggest rival is? Instagram Stories.

Branded Videos

Branded Videos

You probably subscribe to a couple of YouTube channels from your favorite brands and personalities. Whenever they post a new video, you receive a notification and probably end up watching said video. A majority of millennials (finally, I use this term) will drop everything whenever their favorite YouTube personality posts a video.

The videos are not necessarily all that, but the strategy works like magic. It’s the power of branded video at work and you cannot argue with numbers. My wife Chelsea (yay! I’m married haha) follows quite a couple of YouTube peeps, and she will drop everything to watch every video they post – on her smartphone!

Man, she never puts that thing down, which goes to prove our previous trend about mobile videos. She uploads a ton of videos (via the smartphone) to her channel as well and has started growing quite a following herself. She’s working on her brand, just like you can do.

You can put this video trend to work for you. How can you use videos to promote your brand? Only you can answer this question. For something to work on, perhaps you can demo your products or showcase your process like Brenda suggested earlier on. The Dollar Shave Club is a good example of branded videos at work.

Need another example? We publish tutorial videos on our WPExplorer YouTube channel. “Tutorial” being the operative word here. You can even repurpose your existing content into video, which means you’re sorted as far content goes. What else? A great video will always work in your favor so invest time or money if you want. Aim for catchy and unique.

Video in Email Marketing

Video in Email Marketing

Email marketing has its share of pros and cons – everything has. It’s daunting for the beginner or somebody pressed for time. Yet the average click-through rate (CTR) is way better than many forms of marketing. Still, your campaign could flop, as many do.

How do you better your chances? You think big; you think multimedia. We have already established that placing videos on pages boosts conversion rates as well as CTR. Couple that will email marketing and you have a powerful weapon on your hands. Getting subscribers is easy I kid you not. What a brazen proclamation?!

Use a video on your sign up pages if you wish, just know you’ll have amazing results. Also, offer something (an eBook, a video series (light bulb goes on), or something else) as a reward for signing up. Include the term “Video” in your email subject line and more people will open your newsletters, that’s a guarantee.

Isn’t that great?

If you can, include a video in your newsletters for the adrenaline rush. If you’re thinking testimonials, training videos, product demos and so on, you’re on the right path. Basically, add relevant videos within your newsletters. Host the videos on YouTube (for shareability & visibility baby) and link, embed or do whatever. It’s easy stuff.

What do you think about including video in your email marketing? Let me know in the comment section below. Oh yeah, use short videos for your email marketing. 30-second long videos or animated GIFs are perfect for email marketing. Moving on swiftly.

Bonus: Animated GIFs

You must live under a rock if you don’t know what GIFs are or haven’t seen just how popular they are. Your Facebook timeline is probably flooded with GIFs about this and that and they are widely shared. Surely, of all video trends we touch on today, you can clearly see GIFs at work even without trying.

The results are right there for all to see; wazi kabisa kaa meno ya ngiri. (Translation: out in the open like a warthog’s tusks). Take advantage of GIFs to create activity on your social media pages. Redirect the traffic however you want and smile for me. Plus, they can be GIFs about anything, so yeah.

At the moment, animated GIFs find a place among video trends to follow since they are ultra-lightweight, brief and easy to make. They are the perfect medium for virility on social media sites and they spread far and wide. Okay, I will stop there. See you around? Yep, no conclusion. Just like a boss.

Just kidding. We did promise you a couple of video marketing stats to keep you going when the going gets tough. You know, that kind of thing.

Staggering Video Marketing Statistics

There are some interesting facts here. I bet you had no idea that:

  1. Last month alone, users uploaded more video than content made for TV since the ‘70s.
  2. More than 50% of people online watch videos every day without failure.
  3. Adding the term “video” to your email subject line boosts your open rates by 19%.
  4. YouTube has over 1 billion users and yes, that’s billion with a B.
  5. ‘See You Again’ surpassed Gangnam Style as the most watched YouTube video with over 2.9 billion views at the time of writing (well, perhaps you knew this).
  6. Facebook surpassed 8 billion video views per day in November, 2015. That’s more than 11,415 years of video per day!
  7. 60% of YouTube users would follow buying advice from their favorite channel.
  8. Video around a live event increases your brand favorability by 63%.
  9. 80% of consumers believe demo videos are useful.
  10. You can use GIFs in Facebook Ads to supercharge user engagement.

Final Words

We have come to a close. Which video trends are you using to boost your WordPress video marketing? Let us know in the comments. Cheers and happy video marketing 🙂



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Free Tools to Scan Your WordPress Website for Vulnerabilities


It’s a stroke of luck for mischief makers on the internet if they can find a way to harm WordPress websites. With just one trick up their sleeves, they can take a shot at almost 30% of the websites on the internet. That’s the downside of WordPress being the most popular CMS. As website owners, on our part, we need to be proactive and review/ update security measures regularly to be safe from hackers. One important and easy-to-implement step in your security checklist is to scan WordPress for vulnerabilities.

Why You Should Scan WordPress For Vulnerabilities

  • Your WordPress website may be the repository of sensitive personal information submitted by users. They trust you to prevent this information from falling into unwanted hands.
  • Others can place backlinks, redirects, advertisements or banners of websites that they want to promote on your site.
  • Users with unauthorized access to your website may be eating into your bandwidth, even without you knowing it.
  • So long as it’s not detected, malware can lurk within your website and gather information. It can send out spam emails to others infecting them too in the process. This can lead to Google and other security services like AVG or Norton blacklisting your site. Again, you may not even know about it.
  • Regular scans can catch some security threats early and prevent your site from being hacked.

Free Tools to Scan WordPress

Carrying out a basic scan for vulnerabilities in your WordPress website is neither difficult nor expensive. There are many free remote scanners and free plugins available that can screen your website for rogue software.

The important difference between the two – remote scanners and plugins – is that a remote scanner only looks at the final rendered version of your website, as it appears on your browser. It visits your website somewhat in the same manner of a search engine bot. It does not look into the server, and so any malicious element on your server remains undetected. On the contrary, when you install a plugin, it accesses the server in the hosting environment that it resides and does a much deeper scan.

REMOTE SCANNERS

Remote scanners are tools that can do a preliminary scan and reveal a number of security flaws. They are a kind of quick check in your security regimen. Most scanners generally function in much the same way – simply enter the URL of your website on their webpage. Your site, as visible in the browser, will be scanned in a few moments and a report generated. Many vulnerabilities can show up in the report. Some tools will also suggest remedial action that you can carry out.

Some remote scanners are designed specifically to scan WordPress sites, while others include a WordPress scan in their list of features.

WPScans

If you’re looking for a WordPress specific scanner, WPScans will fit the bill. On their webpage, you have a choice – submit your website URL for a scan or sign up for their free / premium account.

WPScans

A free account entitles you an automatic weekly scan. If you’re managing multiple WordPress websites, you can keep track of the security of all the sites from a single dashboard. You’ll also receive alerts by email if any bug is found or if your WordPress installation is due for an update.

A basic report can list some security flaws as well as tell you how to go about setting it right. You can also access a record of your scan reports for future reference. WPScans maintains a vast database of the latest bugs and security threats, which means the more common threats can be detected with this scanner.

WordPress Security Scan

WordPress Security Scan also offers two options – a free basic version and a premium advanced version. It carries out checks by calling up a number of pages via regular web requests and analyses the corresponding HTML source. A scan will reveal obvious WordPress security flaws and recommend security-related improvements in configuration that can step-up protection from future attacks.

WordPress Security Scan

The free scan checks for WordPress version, host reputation, geolocation, and site reputation from Google. It also checks external links, list of plugins and directory indexing on plugins. It lists the iframes present and the linked Javascript, both of which can be used to deliver malicious code. You can then look into any script that does not appear familiar to you.

Gravityscan

A new entrant in the arena is Gravityscan, from the team that’s behind Wordfence security. The recently launched malware and vulnerability scanner does a rather thorough job of scanning all websites, including WordPress websites. It carries out an extensive scan of the website to identify security problems and vulnerabilities. It not only checks your blacklist status, it also examines the links on your site to check if you’re linking to a blacklisted site.

Gravityscans

There’s an optional Accelerator on offer that performs an in-depth scan on your server as well as speeds up the scanning process. The Accelerator is a simple downloadable PHP file that uses a strong public encryption key while communicating with Gravityscan servers. For $10 per month, you can upgrade to their premium plans.

WP Loop

WP Loop works in much the same way as other scanners – enter your site URL and hit the Scan button. It tests whether information about WordPress version, usernames or failed login attempts are detectable.

WPLoop

It also checks if the readme.html file, the install.php and the upgrade.php files are accessible via HTTP and if the uploads folder is browsable. But for a really meaningful scan that covers over 40 tests, they advise you to install Security Ninja.

Sucuri SiteCheck

Sucuri is a well known name in website security and compiles regular and comprehensive vulnerability reports. The SiteCheck will scan all websites, including WordPress websites and reveal known malware, out-of-date software and website errors. You’ll also know your blacklist status with services like Google, AVG Antivirus, McAfee and Norton.

Sucuri SiteCheck

The scanner compares all your pages with the Sucuri database and reports any anomaly. The report also recommends how you should handle these anomalies.

Virus Total

Instead of running your site URL through multiple scanners, you can submit it on Virus Total, a subsidiary of Google. It does the work of aggregating the results of a scan from multiple scanners like Avira, Comodo, Sucuri and Qettera.

Virus Total

The advantage in such a method is that you can detect false positives from scanners more easily. You’ll know if any harmless resource is being wrongly classified as malware when the URL is run through multiple scanners. This tool is not WordPress specific, and all kinds of websites can use the scanner. Virus Total is not a comprehensive virus testing tool, but an aggregator of scan results from different scanners.

Files and URLs submitted at Virus Total will be shared with security companies for their use in improving overall web security.

PLUGINS

As mentioned before, for a deeper scan of your website, you’ll have to take help from plugins. Most security plugins – like Wordfence, Sucuri or Exploit Scanner, include malware scanning as a function.

Quttera

While Quttera does offer a one click online scan, it also packs in a WordPress specific scanner, that requires you to download their plugin onto your WordPress website.

Quttera WordPress Scanner

The plugin scours your site for suspicious scripts, malicious media and hidden threats and lets you know if you’re on any blacklist. The remote servers of Quttera scan the data. On completion of a scan, you’ll receive a detailed investigation report, which will recommend corrective action. These reports are classified as Clean, Potentially Suspicious, Suspicious and Malicious and are available to the public for viewing.

Wordfence

Wordfence is a comprehensive security plugin that scans anything WordPress-related on your website, including source code and image files. If you enable the option, it’ll also scan non-WordPress related files. Their Threat Defense Feed is constantly updated and the feed is used by scanners to identify suspicious software.

Wordfence

A scan looks for 44,000+ known malware and backdoors, as well as for phishing URLs in all your comments, posts and files. Not only that, it scans the core files, themes and plugins and compares it with the files in the WordPress repository.

In Conclusion

These free online scanners and plugins do a basic job of revealing malware and vulnerabilities. For a more thorough analysis and spot-on recommendations to reduce vulnerabilities you’ll need to look into their premium plans. These plans bundle services like monitoring, cleanup and hands-on support when faced with threats.

And, as I mentioned at the start, scanning your website is only the first step in WordPress security. For more tips on securing your website, check out the tips John has to offer.



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Top WordPress SEO Tips for New Businesses


Search engine optimization (SEO) is a broad subject and can seem a little overwhelming when you are starting out as a new business or website owner. But don’t worry! In this article, we have broken down SEO into a few key areas to help make it more manageable. Let’s take a look…

Install an SEO Plugin

Using an SEO plugin to optimize the content on your WordPress website is a must. There are numerous SEO plugins available that will help to improve the position of your pages and posts in the search engines.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is the most popular and well known WordPress plugin available. This free solution gives you control over your titles and metadata, XML Sitemaps, breadcrumbs, permalinks, social links, and lots more.

Yoast SEO also lets you type in the keywords you are wanting a particular piece of content to rank for. It then tells you if you have used the keywords enough times, and in the right places. It will also give advice on what to improve to help ensure that your site will rank for your particular keywords.

Local SEO

Yoast Local

If you have a local business, with physical premises, then you should consider installing to Yoast’s Local SEO for WordPress premium plugin. Or equally, opt for Yoast’s Local SEO for WooCommerce if you are running an eCommerce store alongside your brick and mortar shop. This will help you rank in the search engines for local searches, as well as enable you to easily insert Google Maps, contact info, a store locator and opening times into your WordPress website.

Do Your Keyword Research

Keyword research

Keyword research is a must for new businesses. You need to find out what your potential clients or customers are searching for. You can then write content including these keywords, so your site ranks for these terms. Consequently, when someone searches using these keywords, they will come across your site in the search engines.

Google Keyword Planner is a popular tool that allows you to type in key words that are associated with your business. It will then inform you of the numbers of people searching for these particular words.

Importantly Google Keyword Planner will let you know of other words and phrases that are being searched for and are relevant to your original key word. You should then try and use these in your content to help your site rank for a variety of popular keywords that are compatible with your niche.

Take Link Building Seriously

Link building is an important factor in the Google algorithm for ranking websites. So make sure that that you add links to your site, both internally and externally. Over time links will organically happen, but as a new business you should also plan for how to initially gain links for your WordPress site.

Internal Links

Internal Links

Adding internal links to your site is an easy way to help improve your position in the search engines. Internal links make it easy for Google to search your site, and find and rank content. Internal links also make it easy for your visitors to find content and help increase the time that they spend on your site.

Within articles, link to other relevant blog posts. From your homepage, link to pages where you want your visitors to go next. Wherever makes sense to link pages and posts, take advantage of this opportunity to add internal links to your WordPress website.

External Links

External Links

External links are more difficult to create. It is important to get links back to your website from large, reputable sites. By link association, Google will recognize that your site is important and this will help it rank in the search engines.

A great way to generate links to your site is to guest post on other sites. Contact other sites in your niche, similar businesses, industry online magazine and news sites, and any other relevant websites you can find. By writing guest posts for these sites you can leave a link back to your own site.

Add a Blog

Blog

Adding a blog can have numerous advantages. Search engines like to see that a website is being constantly added to and updated. Posting daily or weekly blog articles help you tick this box.

A blog also allows your site to grow. Add interesting and valuable content that will attract new visitors and encourage recurring users. Consider using different types of media, like video, podcasts, and webinars to appeal to different audiences. Traffic to the blog will not only be good for your business, but the increasing visitor numbers will help with your rankings.

Lastly, you can write each blog post around a different keyword. This will enable your site to rank for a selection of varied keywords, and consequently reach a wider audience. The more interesting and diverse content you posts, the more likely you are to connect with new users.

Optimize Your Site Performance

Making sure your WordPress website is performing to the highest level possible is another way you can optimize your site for the search engines.

Monitor Your Site’s Speed

Pingdom

Google smiles on sites that load quickly and provide a seamless user experience. So if your site doesn’t have fast load times then this could greatly affect your position in the search engines.

If you are unsure how well your site is performing, you may want to use Pingdom. The free version of this premium website performance management service will, amongst other uses, allow you to quickly test how fast your site is loading. It will also produce detailed reports to help you understand what type of content is slowing your site down and what you can do to improve load times. Premium users can monitor your page speed on an ongoing basis.

Improve Your Site’s Speed

hosting

There are a couple of easy ways to improve your site’s speed. Firstly, look carefully at the theme and hosting service you are using. A modern, fast loading theme, like our own theme WP Total, will immediately impress the search engines and help your site rank.

Using a high-quality web host is equally important. With hosting the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’, definitely rings true. If you can afford it, always opt for a high end hosting company like WP Engine. This WordPress specific hosting service has an impressive track record, providing fast loading times for the numerous websites they host.

Other top tips for improving your site’s speed include installing a few different plugins to your WordPress website. Consider using a caching plugin, an image optimization plugin, and a lazy load plugin. These will all improve your site’s performance and help you gain favor with the search engines.

Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

WPtouch

Having a mobile responsive theme is another crucial factor if you want your WordPress website to rank well in the search engines. It is near impossible nowadays to buy a theme that isn’t mobile ready. However, for those using an older theme, and are not yet ready to upgrade, then you should install a plugin to help you optimize your site for mobile use.

WPtouch is a free and extremely popular WordPress plugin. It will automatically and instantly enable a mobile-friendly version of your website when it is accessed by smartphone or tablet users. A Pro version of this plugin is also available offering a variety of enhanced themes and giving you further control over the features and functionalities used and displayed.

Google Insights

To check how well your site is performing on mobiles, check out Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. Simply type in your website and Google will give you a score out of 10 for your site’s mobile performance, and recommendations on what to improve.

Final Thoughts

Many businesses, especially when just starting out, don’t have the time needed to dedicate to SEO. If this is the case, and you have the budget for it, then it makes sense to bring in an SEO professional to help optimize your website.

When trying to find a suitable SEO businesses or individual, ask around for recommendations. Always try to speak to previous clients that they have worked with, don’t just read the testimonials. And avoid any over the top claims. If they are promising something that is too good to be true then it probably is!

Hiring an SEO expert can be a great way for a new business to jumpstart their way into the search engines. Just make sure you do your research carefully before hiring.

What area of SEO does your WordPress website need to improve or focus on? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…



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How to Use Yoast SEO to Bolster Your Search Engine Rankings


WordPress is easily the go-to solution for creating a website with powerful functionality. However, there’s much more to succeeding with the platform than simply launching your site and sitting back. You’ll also need to publicize it – and one of the best ways to do so is through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is a notoriously tricky area to navigate, especially for the inexperienced.

Fortunately, WordPress offers a number of plugins to help you traverse this slippery slope, such as Yoast SEO. Its comprehensive settings can assist you with optimizing your content, and rank your site more highly in search engine results. This can help bring you exposure, and also improve your business’ competitive position.

In this article, you’ll learn what SEO is and how it can help you. Then we’ll introduce you to the Yoast SEO plugin, and explain how it can be used to improve your search engine rankings by optimizing keywords, meta descriptions, and readability. Let’s take a look!

What SEO Is (And How It Can Help You)

Screenshot of SEO results.

When your pages rank high in search results, users are more likely to see and click on them.

Search Engine Optimization is a technique that focuses on improving your website’s visibility in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Search engines serve millions of users per day who seek answers to their questions. If you want your site to provide those answers, it helps to use SEO effectively.

Since search engine crawlers don’t understand what’s written on your website, they need as much help as possible to ascertain what it’s about and how to display it in SERPs. This can be done in the following ways:

  • Adding a suitable focus keyword, and using it throughout your content.
  • Making your content readable by humans, and consequently crawlers.
  • Offering a solid hierarchy within your content, so crawlers can map your content efficiently.

There are plenty more ways to optimize your content to rank highly. WordPress offers many tools that can help, but we recommended giving Yoast SEO a try first.

Introducing the Yoast SEO Plugin

Screenshot of Yoast SEO plugin.

Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that enables you to optimize your content to be more search engine-friendly, all from your WordPress dashboard. The plugin scores your content in two areas: Readability and SEO:

  • Readability: This judges how easy your content is for humans to read.
  • SEO: This looks at how well your site is optimized for search engine crawlers.

Yoast SEO works on a traffic light system: Green (Good), Orange (Ok), and Red (Needs Improvement). Each specific metric within the two categories is also scored in this way, meaning you’re able to see at a glance where your optimization efforts are needed. What’s more, many of the metrics include advice for improving your score, and in-post highlighting of any problem areas.

How to Use Yoast SEO to Bolster Your Search Engine Rankings (3 Simple Tips)

Before you can bolster your search engine rankings, you’ll need to install and activate Yoast SEO and checkout our comprehensive Yoast SEO setup guide for getting started with the plugin. After that, read on for three tips that can help you get the most out of this tool.

1. Add a Focus Keyword to Attract the Right Traffic

A focus keyword is the collection of words you want your page to rank for in search engines. It should be researched rather than guessed, and it’s important to get right since it directly affects how people will find you. What’s more, all your SEO efforts will be built around your focus keyword – without one, you won’t be able to accurately gauge your optimization.

To make the most of this strategy, you can also use ‘long tail’ keywords. These are specific phrases that offer low competition in search engines – meaning that the right choice could net you serious amounts of traffic. For example, “backup WordPress” is not very specific, and you’ll find dozens of sites using that same keyword. In contrast, “backup WordPress with UpdraftPlus” has less competition, meaning you’ll see more traffic from your target audience.

To set a focus keyword in Yoast SEO, you’ll need to first navigate to your desired post, then scroll down to the Yoast SEO meta box:

The Focus Keyword box in Yoast SEO.

From here, simply enter your keyword into the Focus Keyword field. You’ll see a number of lights activate, indicating you can now optimize your content further. Also, don’t forget to add your keyword to the post’s permalink.

2. Include a Meta Description to Describe Your Post

Screenshot of WPExplorer meta description.

A keyword-rich meta description can help you rank even higher in search engines.

A meta description is the text that appears below the blue link in a Google search. Its function is to compel visitors to click through to your content, so it’s yet another crucial SEO aspect to get right.

The are many characteristics that can help you create a good meta description. To summarize, your meta description should:

  • Be around 135–160 characters in length. This offers a decent balance between concisely explaining what your content is about, and not having it cut off by search engines.
  • Match your content. Misleading descriptions can lead to an increase in your bounce rate.

To add your own meta description, once again navigate to the Yoast SEO meta box in your chosen post, and click on the Edit Snippet button. Once you begin to type in your meta description, you’ll see a bar start to fill up. This bar will turn red if your description is too long, orange if it is too short, and green when it is at a good length:

Screenshot of Yoast SEO meta description feature.

You’ll also notice a number of additional traffic lights appear within the SEO tab, enabling you to optimize your description even further.

3. Improve Your Content’s Readability

Screenshot of Yoast SEO's readability screen.

Yoast SEO analyzes your content and finds areas where you can improve its readability.

Quality content is important for SEO, so its readability is paramount. In Yoast SEO, your content’s readability is judged on a number of metrics, and scored based on the traffic light system.

The analysis may seem overwhelming at first, but not everything has to be addressed in order to get a green score. The most important aspects include:

  • Section length: The use of headings and subheadings are key here, to make sure sections come in at under 300 words apiece.
  • Sentence length and structure: Sentences longer than 20 words reduce readability, as do those that are in passive voice or don’t contain a transition word.

You may also notice the Flesch Reading Ease score in this section. While the ins and outs of this criteria are beyond the scope of this article, ultimately it’s not a metric to worry much about. Our advice is to optimize for everything else, and write for your reader first and foremost.

Conclusion

In today’s competitive market, SEO is more important than ever. Done right, it can help you increase your site traffic. However, it can be a little confusing at first, so you may want some help to ensure your optimization efforts will be effective. With an SEO plugin – such as Yoast SEO – you can optimize your content for search engines without worry.

In this article, we’ve introduced you to Yoast SEO and explained how you can use it to bolster your site’s search engine rankings. To quickly recap, you’ll want to:

  1. Add a focus keyword to attract the right traffic.
  2. Include a meta description to describe your post.
  3. Improve your content’s readability.

Do you have any questions about Yoast SEO and how it can help you? Please share them with us in the comments section below!



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