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SiteGround Web Hosting Review – WPExplorer

We already seen what WordPress Managed Hosting services can do for people who need a helping hand in... read more

The Best Reviews & Testimonials WordPress Plugins for Your Website

A good word always counts, and in business it has the potential to translate into solid cash. A... read more

How to Find Your Blogging Niche with WordPress

As a new blogger, you may be a little uncertain about how to get started. Especially if you... read more

50+ Frequently Asked Questions About WordPress

Have a question? No problem – we get a ton of questions about WordPress everyday. To help we... read more

Where to Find Stock Photos for Your WordPress Website

Using beautiful and attention grabbing images can make a real difference to how your audience reacts to your... read more

A Simple Guide to Changing Your Permalinks Without Breaking Your WordPress Website

Changing the permalink structure on your website is a major undertaking. You should be absolutely sure you want to... read more

How to Personalize WooCommerce for Your Most Valued Customers

As a business owner every customer is special. Because at the end of the day, a customer =... read more

How to Build an Amazing Travel Blog With WordPress

Who doesn’t love to talk about where they’ve travelled to? If you are a frequent traveller, or just... read more


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October 2017

SiteGround Web Hosting Review – WPExplorer


We already seen what WordPress Managed Hosting services can do for people who need a helping hand in the process, either because they need to focus on their designs or projects or because they don’t have proper knowledge on the matter. Be it as it may, WordPress Managed Hosting services are not for everyone. There are some of us who want to meddle with code from time to time or just want to optimize our sites in a way that’s not possible on managed services. For that kind of users, general hosting services can be a good alternative. Today I’m going to review SiteGround, a general hosting service based on the popular cPanel software.

SiteGround Hosting Features

SiteGround offers plenty of options for hosting your WordPress site, or any website for that matter. Choose from shared, cloud, dedicated, reseller or even premium enterprise hosting – there’s a plan for every size website.

View SiteGround Plans

They also offer options found on other managed WordPress Hosting services. The beauty of SiteGround is that you can either choose to be helped or do everything by yourself.

Once you make up your mind on what is your profile you can go ahead and work with the main dashboard. For this article I’m going to do all by myself as this is one of the good things about SiteGround in that they won’t limit what you can do with your files and/or stuff you upload.

The Account Dashboard

The main dashboard will allow you to configure your primary domain, your account DNS and your cPanel credentials.

Unlike many services, SiteGround does allow you to change your primary domain as many times as you want. This is a big plus as you don’t have to host a specific domain. You’re basically creating an empty account that can be used for whatever project you want. The main dashboard takes care of the process of asigning your domain to cPanel.

For this review we swaped the test domain from wpexplorer.com to thetechieblog.com without any problems and the account was immediately changed and was accessible through cPanel afterwards.

Extra Hosting Services

SiteGround won’t stop there, it does offer quite a bit of extra services from Premium Support to Premium Backup Service and Wildcard Certificates thanks to the inclusion of Let’s Encrypt.

One of the many virtues of all this extra services that SiteGround offers is the inclusion of Dedicated IP’s that can be easily ordered from this panel along with the inclusion of Cloudflare paid services. This will allow you to have a very powerful hosting experience in a central management system. Cloudflare inclusion is a nice added bonus, this combined with a dedicated IP and Backup services is extremely good for customers. If you think that’s too much, SiteGround will surprise you with one more extra service and that’s SG Site Scanner and Malware monitoring. Since this is a general hosting service, adding this extra check is extremely helpful.

Let’s Encrypt Free SSL is Here

Adding your domain and installing a certificate is a piece of cake since SiteGround now allows Let’s Encrypt free SSL.

Changing Datacenter? No problem!

You think SiteGround will stop there but no, they even offer you with the ability to swap Datacenters. Of course, there is a price to that action but that will allow you to easily change location of your website to a more suitable place in case your customer or your project needs it.

The CloudFlare paid plan allows you to have the Web Application Firewall and advanced features but SiteGround does allow you to use the free CDN to speed up WordPress.

The Good old cPanel

SiteGround is based on the good old cPanel software to handle all the main tasks. Even when cPanel may not be the fastest experience there can be, since it’s still based on Apache it does provide a convenient way to handle all your hosting needs.

Siteground implements a custom theme that fits the style of their dashboard by calling cPanel from inside SiteGround Dashboard.

Although all the main functions are there and cPanel does seem updated, SiteGround could use some revamp of the interface and take advantage of the new cPanel style as the current one is quite old. Nevertheless, there were no performance issues detected during the analysis and I was able to do pretty much everything I wanted to my website. Manually creating my database, importing the contents, creating FTP accounts, handle e-mail, using the built-in cPanel explorer and uploading WordPress files. This is all a piece of cake having cPanel as the control panel.

SiteGround Hosting Performance

SiteGround is not a dedicated nor a Managed WordPress service but still, it managed to get a pretty good number out of the San Jose location.

If you take a look at the actual First Time to Byte you’ll see a pretty solid 300ms average time which is more than good considering this is Apache-based cPanel. What’s more interesting to note is that SiteGround is indeed using NGINX as a proxy mechanism behind Apache which does explain the more than acceptable result.

Doing a test under GTMetrix confirmed my expectations.

Since SiteGround is not a Managed WordPress Hosting service it does not include caching mechanisms inside WordPress and this is what makes the result even more interesting. It’s obvious that Pagespeed and Yslow scores are low because the site is running pretty much without any caching mechanism aside from the reverse NGINX proxy that SiteGround implements but check the fully loaded time, it’s superb! SiteGround managed to get under 2.5s in GTMetrix which is quite good considering this is a general hosting service.

Wrapping Up

SiteGround built it’s service with tons of extra features. Having cPanel as a backend is nice and including a Backup, free SSL and Cloudflare functionality is a big plus. But SiteGround does not stop there, it offers extra Malware Scanning, Premium Support and does so with a level of performance that is more than fine to even compete with other respectable WordPress Managed Services. If you want a good and affordable service that’s not restrictive in any way and has good performance, it’s hard not to recommend them. In other words, SiteGround rocks.

Learn More About SiteGround



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The Best Reviews & Testimonials WordPress Plugins for Your Website


A good word always counts, and in business it has the potential to translate into solid cash. A number of folks go by what previous users have to say about a product or service before they make a purchase. And if the previous users have only good things to say about you, it can influence potential customers in a positive way. Over 90% of people buying on Amazon wouldn’t purchase an item with less than three stars. What’s hard here is the difficulty in asking others to endorse your product. So, why don’t we just take the help of some plugins to display reviews and testimonials on your website?

Before you look for a plugin, you should know that you can add testimonials to a website manually. In fact, it’s a neater way to go about it, if you have only a few to display and you have the necessary coding skills to do so. Else, you’ll need a plugin to do the work for you. Most of these plugins will help you collect and add testimonials, reviews and ratings on the homepage, sidebars on product page, at checkout point, or on thank you/on-boarding emails. And if your business depends on testimonials and ratings, you should definitely opt for a plugin to handle the work for you.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can also use testimonials to improve conversion rates, leverage verified reviews to help your online store or even use WordPress to build a website devoted to reviews.

The Best WordPress Review Plugins

Let’s start with plugins that help add reviews to your website. We’ll check out the free and premium plugins that allow customers and visitors to leave a word on our site about our product or services. Or for plugins that help them to give a quick thumbs up or tick a star.

WP Product Review

WP Product Review comes in two versions – Lite and Premium. The plugin adds an attractive review box at the top of your post and allows user reviews via comments. It supports Google Rich Snippets, so the reviews can show up in a Google search. It’s also possible to increase conversions by adding affiliate buttons to the reviews.

WP Product Review Lite

While the Lite plugin is a little short on features, there’s a lot more you can do with the premium plugin. You can display the review box just about anywhere you want using shortcodes. Not only that, you can add as many reviews as you want in the same page. The review table itself can be customized for color, width and border, so that it fits in with your theme. Over ten different icons such as stars and hearts are available to record a vote. If you wish to include a comparison table for the products, that’s possible too. The plugin automatically generates comparison tables from existing reviews.

WP Product Review

If you’re selling on Amazon, you’ll be glad of the plugin’s integration with the platform. It automatically transfers the product name, image, affiliate link and price from Amazon. Moreover, if you’ve built up reviews elsewhere previously, you can import those reviews into your website. Latest products or top products can be featured in sidebar widgets for better visibility and click through rates. Not just the product in it’s entirety, individual specifications relating to the product can be reviewed separately by users. This can help a discerning buyer make up his mind about the suitability of a product and thereby increase conversions.

WP Review

WP Review is a customizable, lightweight plugin to add a review to your WordPress site. It can add a review in three ways,

  • Star review type.
  • Point review type.
  • Percentage review type.

WordPress Testimonial and Review Plugins: WP Review

At any point of time, you can shift from one to another by changing the settings in the plugin’s setting page. The ratings can display before or after the content, and with the help of a shortcode, right within the content. You can change colors site wide or on a post by post basis. As and when a user clicks to rate, the average is automatically computed and displays along with the number of votes. Users have an option to leave their own reviews, and you can opt whether or not to display those reviews below your own review.

Finally, the plugin is developer friendly with a number of filters to blend with the display with your theme. When it comes to support, it’s free for registered users of the plugin.

WP Review Pro

With the premium version of the plugin, you get an additional Circle method to show ratings, and display the ratings on the thumbnail images. The width of the review box can be adjusted and aligned to the left or right. It also allows beautiful loading effects.

WP Customer Reviews

With WP Customer Reviews active on your site, you can set up an entire page to receive customer testimonials or to write reviews about any product. The comments are not published right away, instead there’s an option for comment moderation. Readers get to see the reviews in a friendly format, while search engines can see them in Schema.org microformat. Shortcodes help you display reviews and review forms on any page or widget.

WP Customer Reviews

The plugin cuts down on spam with various anti spam measures, and includes an external stylesheet so you can modify the display to fit your theme. Site admins can edit the reviews for content and date. Admin can respond to the reviews and display the response under each review.

The Best WordPress Testimonial Plugins

People in professions such as law or medicine are unlikely to build up a huge clientele without a solid reputation attached to their names. And there’s a lot to be gained by displaying the testimonials that your clients are willing to give. The plugins below will help you gather and display these testimonies prominently.

Testimonials Widget

Testimonials Widget is a great choice for any person who wants to display a wide range of client testimonials on their website. What sets this plugin apart are the choice of display options like carousel, fade or slide transitions, responsive slideshows and the option to filter by category, tag or post ID. The plugin helps you include not just text, but images and video as well within the testimonials. These testimonials can then be displayed using functions within your theme, shortcodes or widgets.

WordPress Testimonial Plugins: Testimonials Widget

However, it may be necessary to know a little CSS if you want much more than the basic styling options. The Premium version offers a lot more features like numerous premium shortcodes, caching, Read More links and user submitted testimonials, as well as better support.

Easy Testimonials

Easy Testimonials allows you to use a number of shortcodes to add testimonials to any post or page. You can also display them in a widget and if you want to customize display, you can do so by generating shortcodes. The plugin supports images, so you can add a photo of the author right by the side of his testimonial.

Easy Testimonials

The plugin is good for adding a random testimonial anywhere in your sidebar or page, or in a list, or on a fading / sliding testimonials widget. You can add rating to a testimonial and link it to any page, such as a product page.

The premium plugin will also enable frontend testimonial submission and notifies you of any new testimonial. You also get a carousel for display, transition effects, spam protection and font options. It’s also possible to import and export testimonials in CSV format.

Thrive Ovation

Thrive Ovation is a premium plugin that helps you collect testimonials from users at the frontend. After going through a process of approval it displays them on your site. The plugin includes forms that make it easy for readers to submit testimonials. Once you receive a testimonial, you can add details about the author and insert it anywhere using shortcodes. To automatically draw a testimonial from social media, simply add the respective Facebook or Twitter URL.

Thrive Ovation

You can tag testimonials to filter them by topics or products. There are many statuses that can be assigned to the testimonials such as awaiting review, approved or rejected. Multiple templates are available for display and you can further customize them if you wish. You can set up the plugin to draw testimonials from a specific tag so that the testimonials are always fresh.

The Best WordPress Ratings Plugins

Asking visitors to leave a rating on your website is an easy and effective way to get them to give you top marks. A high rating displayed for any product or service can persuade a subsequent visitor to transact with you. Check out these top class plugins to add a ratings option to your website.

Rating Widget

Rating-Widget adds a Five Star Review System on site. Users simply have to click on the stars to let others know what they think about any post, page, custom post type, comment or review. You can embed thumb & star ratings into your posts, pages or comments, and customize and manage ratings from within your WordPress dashboard.

Rating Widget

The star ratings are fully customizable, support major browsers and many languages. You can create unlimited thumb & star ratings and collect unlimited votes. The plugin includes a widget that you can place in your sidebar to display top rated posts, pages and comments. Add-ons are available to display tweets and shares

YASR Yet Another Stars Rating

Yet Another Stars Rating (YASR) is a new system review based on jquery plugin RateIT. The plugin helps you add ratings in two different ways – you can add your own rating as well as enable your visitors to vote.

YASR

You can even create multiple sets if you want visitors to vote on different aspects of a product individually. Review scores or visitor ratings will be indexed by search engines through snippets.

WP-PostRatings

With WP-PostRatings, there are many ways to display votes such as stars, thumbs, ticks, hearts, numbers and more. Setting up the plugin can get a bit technical.

WP Post Ratings

With a bit of code you can display the ratings on all posts or on selected posts. The Manage Ratings option lets you view the ratings. The plugin can display the Highest Rated Posts, Most Rated Posts, Lowest Rating and Highest rating.

To Wrap Up

Testimonials, ratings and reviews are great marketing aids. They can persuade a potential customer to trust you with their money. You may know that there’s also an option to integrate reviews from third party review sites such as Google Places Reviews, Yelp Widget ProWP LinkedIn and Custom Facebook Feed. Taking help from these plugins and services can become an important part of your marketing efforts.



Source link


Grid

SiteGround Web Hosting Review – WPExplorer


We already seen what WordPress Managed Hosting services can do for people who need a helping hand in the process, either because they need to focus on their designs or projects or because they don’t have proper knowledge on the matter. Be it as it may, WordPress Managed Hosting services are not for everyone. There are some of us who want to meddle with code from time to time or just want to optimize our sites in a way that’s not possible on managed services. For that kind of users, general hosting services can be a good alternative. Today I’m going to review SiteGround, a general hosting service based on the popular cPanel software.

SiteGround Hosting Features

SiteGround offers plenty of options for hosting your WordPress site, or any website for that matter. Choose from shared, cloud, dedicated, reseller or even premium enterprise hosting – there’s a plan for every size website.

View SiteGround Plans

They also offer options found on other managed WordPress Hosting services. The beauty of SiteGround is that you can either choose to be helped or do everything by yourself.

Once you make up your mind on what is your profile you can go ahead and work with the main dashboard. For this article I’m going to do all by myself as this is one of the good things about SiteGround in that they won’t limit what you can do with your files and/or stuff you upload.

The Account Dashboard

The main dashboard will allow you to configure your primary domain, your account DNS and your cPanel credentials.

Unlike many services, SiteGround does allow you to change your primary domain as many times as you want. This is a big plus as you don’t have to host a specific domain. You’re basically creating an empty account that can be used for whatever project you want. The main dashboard takes care of the process of asigning your domain to cPanel.

For this review we swaped the test domain from wpexplorer.com to thetechieblog.com without any problems and the account was immediately changed and was accessible through cPanel afterwards.

Extra Hosting Services

SiteGround won’t stop there, it does offer quite a bit of extra services from Premium Support to Premium Backup Service and Wildcard Certificates thanks to the inclusion of Let’s Encrypt.

One of the many virtues of all this extra services that SiteGround offers is the inclusion of Dedicated IP’s that can be easily ordered from this panel along with the inclusion of Cloudflare paid services. This will allow you to have a very powerful hosting experience in a central management system. Cloudflare inclusion is a nice added bonus, this combined with a dedicated IP and Backup services is extremely good for customers. If you think that’s too much, SiteGround will surprise you with one more extra service and that’s SG Site Scanner and Malware monitoring. Since this is a general hosting service, adding this extra check is extremely helpful.

Let’s Encrypt Free SSL is Here

Adding your domain and installing a certificate is a piece of cake since SiteGround now allows Let’s Encrypt free SSL.

Changing Datacenter? No problem!

You think SiteGround will stop there but no, they even offer you with the ability to swap Datacenters. Of course, there is a price to that action but that will allow you to easily change location of your website to a more suitable place in case your customer or your project needs it.

The CloudFlare paid plan allows you to have the Web Application Firewall and advanced features but SiteGround does allow you to use the free CDN to speed up WordPress.

The Good old cPanel

SiteGround is based on the good old cPanel software to handle all the main tasks. Even when cPanel may not be the fastest experience there can be, since it’s still based on Apache it does provide a convenient way to handle all your hosting needs.

Siteground implements a custom theme that fits the style of their dashboard by calling cPanel from inside SiteGround Dashboard.

Although all the main functions are there and cPanel does seem updated, SiteGround could use some revamp of the interface and take advantage of the new cPanel style as the current one is quite old. Nevertheless, there were no performance issues detected during the analysis and I was able to do pretty much everything I wanted to my website. Manually creating my database, importing the contents, creating FTP accounts, handle e-mail, using the built-in cPanel explorer and uploading WordPress files. This is all a piece of cake having cPanel as the control panel.

SiteGround Hosting Performance

SiteGround is not a dedicated nor a Managed WordPress service but still, it managed to get a pretty good number out of the San Jose location.

If you take a look at the actual First Time to Byte you’ll see a pretty solid 300ms average time which is more than good considering this is Apache-based cPanel. What’s more interesting to note is that SiteGround is indeed using NGINX as a proxy mechanism behind Apache which does explain the more than acceptable result.

Doing a test under GTMetrix confirmed my expectations.

Since SiteGround is not a Managed WordPress Hosting service it does not include caching mechanisms inside WordPress and this is what makes the result even more interesting. It’s obvious that Pagespeed and Yslow scores are low because the site is running pretty much without any caching mechanism aside from the reverse NGINX proxy that SiteGround implements but check the fully loaded time, it’s superb! SiteGround managed to get under 2.5s in GTMetrix which is quite good considering this is a general hosting service.

Wrapping Up

SiteGround built it’s service with tons of extra features. Having cPanel as a backend is nice and including a Backup, free SSL and Cloudflare functionality is a big plus. But SiteGround does not stop there, it offers extra Malware Scanning, Premium Support and does so with a level of performance that is more than fine to even compete with other respectable WordPress Managed Services. If you want a good and affordable service that’s not restrictive in any way and has good performance, it’s hard not to recommend them. In other words, SiteGround rocks.

Learn More About SiteGround



Source link

The Best Reviews & Testimonials WordPress Plugins for Your Website


A good word always counts, and in business it has the potential to translate into solid cash. A number of folks go by what previous users have to say about a product or service before they make a purchase. And if the previous users have only good things to say about you, it can influence potential customers in a positive way. Over 90% of people buying on Amazon wouldn’t purchase an item with less than three stars. What’s hard here is the difficulty in asking others to endorse your product. So, why don’t we just take the help of some plugins to display reviews and testimonials on your website?

Before you look for a plugin, you should know that you can add testimonials to a website manually. In fact, it’s a neater way to go about it, if you have only a few to display and you have the necessary coding skills to do so. Else, you’ll need a plugin to do the work for you. Most of these plugins will help you collect and add testimonials, reviews and ratings on the homepage, sidebars on product page, at checkout point, or on thank you/on-boarding emails. And if your business depends on testimonials and ratings, you should definitely opt for a plugin to handle the work for you.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can also use testimonials to improve conversion rates, leverage verified reviews to help your online store or even use WordPress to build a website devoted to reviews.

The Best WordPress Review Plugins

Let’s start with plugins that help add reviews to your website. We’ll check out the free and premium plugins that allow customers and visitors to leave a word on our site about our product or services. Or for plugins that help them to give a quick thumbs up or tick a star.

WP Product Review

WP Product Review comes in two versions – Lite and Premium. The plugin adds an attractive review box at the top of your post and allows user reviews via comments. It supports Google Rich Snippets, so the reviews can show up in a Google search. It’s also possible to increase conversions by adding affiliate buttons to the reviews.

WP Product Review Lite

While the Lite plugin is a little short on features, there’s a lot more you can do with the premium plugin. You can display the review box just about anywhere you want using shortcodes. Not only that, you can add as many reviews as you want in the same page. The review table itself can be customized for color, width and border, so that it fits in with your theme. Over ten different icons such as stars and hearts are available to record a vote. If you wish to include a comparison table for the products, that’s possible too. The plugin automatically generates comparison tables from existing reviews.

WP Product Review

If you’re selling on Amazon, you’ll be glad of the plugin’s integration with the platform. It automatically transfers the product name, image, affiliate link and price from Amazon. Moreover, if you’ve built up reviews elsewhere previously, you can import those reviews into your website. Latest products or top products can be featured in sidebar widgets for better visibility and click through rates. Not just the product in it’s entirety, individual specifications relating to the product can be reviewed separately by users. This can help a discerning buyer make up his mind about the suitability of a product and thereby increase conversions.

WP Review

WP Review is a customizable, lightweight plugin to add a review to your WordPress site. It can add a review in three ways,

  • Star review type.
  • Point review type.
  • Percentage review type.

WordPress Testimonial and Review Plugins: WP Review

At any point of time, you can shift from one to another by changing the settings in the plugin’s setting page. The ratings can display before or after the content, and with the help of a shortcode, right within the content. You can change colors site wide or on a post by post basis. As and when a user clicks to rate, the average is automatically computed and displays along with the number of votes. Users have an option to leave their own reviews, and you can opt whether or not to display those reviews below your own review.

Finally, the plugin is developer friendly with a number of filters to blend with the display with your theme. When it comes to support, it’s free for registered users of the plugin.

WP Review Pro

With the premium version of the plugin, you get an additional Circle method to show ratings, and display the ratings on the thumbnail images. The width of the review box can be adjusted and aligned to the left or right. It also allows beautiful loading effects.

WP Customer Reviews

With WP Customer Reviews active on your site, you can set up an entire page to receive customer testimonials or to write reviews about any product. The comments are not published right away, instead there’s an option for comment moderation. Readers get to see the reviews in a friendly format, while search engines can see them in Schema.org microformat. Shortcodes help you display reviews and review forms on any page or widget.

WP Customer Reviews

The plugin cuts down on spam with various anti spam measures, and includes an external stylesheet so you can modify the display to fit your theme. Site admins can edit the reviews for content and date. Admin can respond to the reviews and display the response under each review.

The Best WordPress Testimonial Plugins

People in professions such as law or medicine are unlikely to build up a huge clientele without a solid reputation attached to their names. And there’s a lot to be gained by displaying the testimonials that your clients are willing to give. The plugins below will help you gather and display these testimonies prominently.

Testimonials Widget

Testimonials Widget is a great choice for any person who wants to display a wide range of client testimonials on their website. What sets this plugin apart are the choice of display options like carousel, fade or slide transitions, responsive slideshows and the option to filter by category, tag or post ID. The plugin helps you include not just text, but images and video as well within the testimonials. These testimonials can then be displayed using functions within your theme, shortcodes or widgets.

WordPress Testimonial Plugins: Testimonials Widget

However, it may be necessary to know a little CSS if you want much more than the basic styling options. The Premium version offers a lot more features like numerous premium shortcodes, caching, Read More links and user submitted testimonials, as well as better support.

Easy Testimonials

Easy Testimonials allows you to use a number of shortcodes to add testimonials to any post or page. You can also display them in a widget and if you want to customize display, you can do so by generating shortcodes. The plugin supports images, so you can add a photo of the author right by the side of his testimonial.

Easy Testimonials

The plugin is good for adding a random testimonial anywhere in your sidebar or page, or in a list, or on a fading / sliding testimonials widget. You can add rating to a testimonial and link it to any page, such as a product page.

The premium plugin will also enable frontend testimonial submission and notifies you of any new testimonial. You also get a carousel for display, transition effects, spam protection and font options. It’s also possible to import and export testimonials in CSV format.

Thrive Ovation

Thrive Ovation is a premium plugin that helps you collect testimonials from users at the frontend. After going through a process of approval it displays them on your site. The plugin includes forms that make it easy for readers to submit testimonials. Once you receive a testimonial, you can add details about the author and insert it anywhere using shortcodes. To automatically draw a testimonial from social media, simply add the respective Facebook or Twitter URL.

Thrive Ovation

You can tag testimonials to filter them by topics or products. There are many statuses that can be assigned to the testimonials such as awaiting review, approved or rejected. Multiple templates are available for display and you can further customize them if you wish. You can set up the plugin to draw testimonials from a specific tag so that the testimonials are always fresh.

The Best WordPress Ratings Plugins

Asking visitors to leave a rating on your website is an easy and effective way to get them to give you top marks. A high rating displayed for any product or service can persuade a subsequent visitor to transact with you. Check out these top class plugins to add a ratings option to your website.

Rating Widget

Rating-Widget adds a Five Star Review System on site. Users simply have to click on the stars to let others know what they think about any post, page, custom post type, comment or review. You can embed thumb & star ratings into your posts, pages or comments, and customize and manage ratings from within your WordPress dashboard.

Rating Widget

The star ratings are fully customizable, support major browsers and many languages. You can create unlimited thumb & star ratings and collect unlimited votes. The plugin includes a widget that you can place in your sidebar to display top rated posts, pages and comments. Add-ons are available to display tweets and shares

YASR Yet Another Stars Rating

Yet Another Stars Rating (YASR) is a new system review based on jquery plugin RateIT. The plugin helps you add ratings in two different ways – you can add your own rating as well as enable your visitors to vote.

YASR

You can even create multiple sets if you want visitors to vote on different aspects of a product individually. Review scores or visitor ratings will be indexed by search engines through snippets.

WP-PostRatings

With WP-PostRatings, there are many ways to display votes such as stars, thumbs, ticks, hearts, numbers and more. Setting up the plugin can get a bit technical.

WP Post Ratings

With a bit of code you can display the ratings on all posts or on selected posts. The Manage Ratings option lets you view the ratings. The plugin can display the Highest Rated Posts, Most Rated Posts, Lowest Rating and Highest rating.

To Wrap Up

Testimonials, ratings and reviews are great marketing aids. They can persuade a potential customer to trust you with their money. You may know that there’s also an option to integrate reviews from third party review sites such as Google Places Reviews, Yelp Widget ProWP LinkedIn and Custom Facebook Feed. Taking help from these plugins and services can become an important part of your marketing efforts.



Source link

How to Find Your Blogging Niche with WordPress


As a new blogger, you may be a little uncertain about how to get started. Especially if you want to gain a large audience or earn income from your blog, you can easily get overwhelmed by the number of decisions you have to make, such as what to write about.

Before creating their first piece of content, or choosing the perfect WordPress theme, every successful blogger starts by deciding on their blog’s purpose and niche. Having a defined topic gives your content a clear focus, and helps you target the correct audience.

In this post, we will discuss the importance of having a niche, and outline a few ways to find your blog’s focus. Finally, we’ll also introduce some tools that can help you create awesome content for your blog’s niche. Let’s jump in!

What Is Your Blog’s Niche (And Why Does It Matter)?

When it comes to blogging, your niche is the focus or primary topic of your blog. It describes what your content is about, and can be as broad or specific as you’d like. For example, Delish is a blog that covers general recipes, culinary reviews and news, entertaining tips, and more:

screenshot of delish.com

Easy Veggie Kitchen , on the other hand, is a blog specifically focused on cooking and eating a (primarily) plant based diet:

Easy Veggie Kitchen

Both websites fit firmly into the food niche. However, one is very broad (running the gamut from recipes to celebrity food choices) and the other focuses on a smaller aspect of the overall topic.

It’s possible to create a multi-niche blog, but this kind of site is difficult to run, and we recommend against it unless you have plenty of blogging experience. For most people, sticking to a single niche per blog is a much smarter strategy, since it will help you attract a consistent audience who cares about your topic. With that in mind, let’s talk about how to decide on your focus!

How to Find Your Niche as a New Blogger (In 3 Steps)

You may be wondering how to choose the right niche for your blog. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to get the ball rolling.

Step 1: Ask Yourself What You Are You Passionate About

Before you break into a blogging niche, consider what you’re passionate about. Since you will be responsible for creating consistent content about that topic, it should be something you’re interested in and have a lot to say about. What’s more, your blog posts will sound more authentic and less like a sales pitch when you are passionate about your topic.

Therefore, you can start by making a list of your passions, interests, and hobbies. Then focus on the ones you have something unique to say about, and that you think you can write about for years to come. You may also want to consider your goals at this point. If you plan to monetize your blog, for example, you need to be sure your niche is profitable (more about this in a moment). Alternately, you might be looking to increase awareness about an issue, or share educational information. Whatever you want from blogging, your niche should be able to provide it.

Step 2: Start Generating Content Ideas for Your Niche

Once you have a potential niche in mind, it’s time to find out if you can come up with quality content for it. This step will also help you start narrowing down your focus, especially if you’re looking at a complex topic. Use your own existing knowledge and online resources to generate some potential content ideas. Here are a few tips:

  • Read other blogs and sites about your potential topic. Seeing how others approach your passion can inspire you, and you may identify new approaches that existing bloggers haven’t considered.
  • Do keyword research to see what people are looking for in search engines. If people aren’t searching for information on your niche, it will be hard to attract an audience. Not sure where to start? Use this guide on how to think of great blog ideas to nail down great ideas using comments, social media, keywords, brainstorming and more.
  • Find a small niche within a larger field or subject. The food blog examples above demonstrate how a broad topic like food can lend itself to a smaller niche. If the topic you’re interested in seems too large, try and find a smaller subject to focus on.

Once you’re confident that you have a large base of content ideas to draw from, it’s time to determine how profitable your niche will be.

Step 3: Determine Your Niche’s Earning Potential

As we mentioned earlier, if you plan on monetizing your blog you’ll need to be sure upfront that your niche has earning potential. There are a number of ways to find this out. We recommend that you follow these step-by-step instructions to analyze each niche you’re considering:

  1. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to discover volume & trends for your keywords. After searching a batch of keywords use the “Get Search Volume” option to view stats including average monthly search. Similarly you can use Google Trends as well to see if your keywords are currently popular.
  2. Find out how popular your topic is, by looking for active blogs and sites. Think of the blogs you’ve consistently visit to read up on your favorite topics. Are they still up and running? Some blogs even publish monthly or quarterly statements so you can actually see if they’re turning a profit.
  3. Peruse forums and message boards related to your passion. Reddit is an especially great forum as they have boards for pretty much every topic imaginable. But if you’re passionate about something you probably already visit relevant forums (for example, many WordPress users regularly visit StackExchange and the Envato forum).
  4. Check social media hashtags and fan pages related to your topic. See if people are interested and actively talking about your niche and/or keywords.
  5. Most importantly – is there affiliate potential? One of the quickest ways to monetize your blog is by adding affiliate links to recommended products or services mentioned in your posts. Signup for programs like ShareASale,CJ Affiliate and even Amazon to find hundreds of product and service offerings related to your niche (just be sure to follow all of the FTC guidelines when using affiliate links).

The more of these avenues that turn up positive results, the more likely you are to earn money from creating a blog in that niche.

Combining this step with the previous two, you should be able to settle on a niche that you’re passionate about, offers plenty of room for unique content, and has some earning potential. Of course, this is only the beginning. Now that you have a niche in mind, let’s talk about how to create awesome content for it.

Key Tools for Optimizing Your Blog’s Niche Content

If you want to succeed in your chosen niche, your content must be both valuable to readers and optimized for search engines. The best way to optimize your content is to make sure it’s high-quality, and to use effective keywords. Luckily, there are a few tools that can help you with this.

Screenshot of google keyword planner

Google Keyword Planner, for example, is a free tool that enables you to search for related keywords based on your niche’s topic. It also displays search volume, to help you determine what topics are popular. All you have to do is enter in your niche topic, and generate a list of keywords.

Using these keywords, you can then start coming up with post ideas using Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator:

screenshot of hubspot's blog idea generator

This is another free tool that, when combined with your keywords, can help you create optimized post titles. Just enter your keywords, then click Give Me Blog Ideas! to generate potential headings.

Of course, there are also plenty of WordPress plugins that are designed to help you create awesome content. Tools like these can ensure that your niche content is relevant, useful, and optimized for search engines. Here are a few guides to help.

How to Build an Editorial Calendar in WordPress (And Actually Use It)

How to Build an Editorial Calendar in WordPress

An editorial calendar is a great way to stay on top of your topics and organize various authors. Luckily WordPress makes creating and scheduling posts easy with the help of these awesome edicortial calendar plugins.

How to Organize Content on Your WordPress Website

How to Organize Content to Your WordPress Site Keep Readers Glued to Your Blog

Writing great content is only part of what makes a blog popular. Increase readership and engagement with these tips and tool for organizing your blog content.

How to Source and Share Relevant Content on Your WordPress Website

How to Source and Share Relevant Content on Your WordPress Website

Wring content from scratch is just one way to add valuable information to your website for readers. Another option is to curate and share awesome content from around the web, and with these three plugins you can quickly and easily add feeds to your WordPress powered site today.

Conclusion

When you’re a new blogger, it’s important that you start out with the right foundation. Knowing exactly what your niche is goes a long way towards helping you build your blog, find your audience, generate relevant content, and monetize your site (if applicable).

In this post, we’ve discussed how to find the right niche for your blog. You’ll want to:

  1. Ask yourself what you are you passionate about.
  2. Start generating content ideas for your niche.
  3. Determine your niche’s earning potential.

Do you have any questions about finding a niche for your new blog? Let us know in the comments section below!



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SiteGround Web Hosting Review – WPExplorer


We already seen what WordPress Managed Hosting services can do for people who need a helping hand in the process, either because they need to focus on their designs or projects or because they don’t have proper knowledge on the matter. Be it as it may, WordPress Managed Hosting services are not for everyone. There are some of us who want to meddle with code from time to time or just want to optimize our sites in a way that’s not possible on managed services. For that kind of users, general hosting services can be a good alternative. Today I’m going to review SiteGround, a general hosting service based on the popular cPanel software.

SiteGround Hosting Features

SiteGround offers plenty of options for hosting your WordPress site, or any website for that matter. Choose from shared, cloud, dedicated, reseller or even premium enterprise hosting – there’s a plan for every size website.

View SiteGround Plans

They also offer options found on other managed WordPress Hosting services. The beauty of SiteGround is that you can either choose to be helped or do everything by yourself.

Once you make up your mind on what is your profile you can go ahead and work with the main dashboard. For this article I’m going to do all by myself as this is one of the good things about SiteGround in that they won’t limit what you can do with your files and/or stuff you upload.

The Account Dashboard

The main dashboard will allow you to configure your primary domain, your account DNS and your cPanel credentials.

Unlike many services, SiteGround does allow you to change your primary domain as many times as you want. This is a big plus as you don’t have to host a specific domain. You’re basically creating an empty account that can be used for whatever project you want. The main dashboard takes care of the process of asigning your domain to cPanel.

For this review we swaped the test domain from wpexplorer.com to thetechieblog.com without any problems and the account was immediately changed and was accessible through cPanel afterwards.

Extra Hosting Services

SiteGround won’t stop there, it does offer quite a bit of extra services from Premium Support to Premium Backup Service and Wildcard Certificates thanks to the inclusion of Let’s Encrypt.

One of the many virtues of all this extra services that SiteGround offers is the inclusion of Dedicated IP’s that can be easily ordered from this panel along with the inclusion of Cloudflare paid services. This will allow you to have a very powerful hosting experience in a central management system. Cloudflare inclusion is a nice added bonus, this combined with a dedicated IP and Backup services is extremely good for customers. If you think that’s too much, SiteGround will surprise you with one more extra service and that’s SG Site Scanner and Malware monitoring. Since this is a general hosting service, adding this extra check is extremely helpful.

Let’s Encrypt Free SSL is Here

Adding your domain and installing a certificate is a piece of cake since SiteGround now allows Let’s Encrypt free SSL.

Changing Datacenter? No problem!

You think SiteGround will stop there but no, they even offer you with the ability to swap Datacenters. Of course, there is a price to that action but that will allow you to easily change location of your website to a more suitable place in case your customer or your project needs it.

The CloudFlare paid plan allows you to have the Web Application Firewall and advanced features but SiteGround does allow you to use the free CDN to speed up WordPress.

The Good old cPanel

SiteGround is based on the good old cPanel software to handle all the main tasks. Even when cPanel may not be the fastest experience there can be, since it’s still based on Apache it does provide a convenient way to handle all your hosting needs.

Siteground implements a custom theme that fits the style of their dashboard by calling cPanel from inside SiteGround Dashboard.

Although all the main functions are there and cPanel does seem updated, SiteGround could use some revamp of the interface and take advantage of the new cPanel style as the current one is quite old. Nevertheless, there were no performance issues detected during the analysis and I was able to do pretty much everything I wanted to my website. Manually creating my database, importing the contents, creating FTP accounts, handle e-mail, using the built-in cPanel explorer and uploading WordPress files. This is all a piece of cake having cPanel as the control panel.

SiteGround Hosting Performance

SiteGround is not a dedicated nor a Managed WordPress service but still, it managed to get a pretty good number out of the San Jose location.

If you take a look at the actual First Time to Byte you’ll see a pretty solid 300ms average time which is more than good considering this is Apache-based cPanel. What’s more interesting to note is that SiteGround is indeed using NGINX as a proxy mechanism behind Apache which does explain the more than acceptable result.

Doing a test under GTMetrix confirmed my expectations.

Since SiteGround is not a Managed WordPress Hosting service it does not include caching mechanisms inside WordPress and this is what makes the result even more interesting. It’s obvious that Pagespeed and Yslow scores are low because the site is running pretty much without any caching mechanism aside from the reverse NGINX proxy that SiteGround implements but check the fully loaded time, it’s superb! SiteGround managed to get under 2.5s in GTMetrix which is quite good considering this is a general hosting service.

Wrapping Up

SiteGround built it’s service with tons of extra features. Having cPanel as a backend is nice and including a Backup, free SSL and Cloudflare functionality is a big plus. But SiteGround does not stop there, it offers extra Malware Scanning, Premium Support and does so with a level of performance that is more than fine to even compete with other respectable WordPress Managed Services. If you want a good and affordable service that’s not restrictive in any way and has good performance, it’s hard not to recommend them. In other words, SiteGround rocks.

Learn More About SiteGround



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The Best Reviews & Testimonials WordPress Plugins for Your Website


A good word always counts, and in business it has the potential to translate into solid cash. A number of folks go by what previous users have to say about a product or service before they make a purchase. And if the previous users have only good things to say about you, it can influence potential customers in a positive way. Over 90% of people buying on Amazon wouldn’t purchase an item with less than three stars. What’s hard here is the difficulty in asking others to endorse your product. So, why don’t we just take the help of some plugins to display reviews and testimonials on your website?

Before you look for a plugin, you should know that you can add testimonials to a website manually. In fact, it’s a neater way to go about it, if you have only a few to display and you have the necessary coding skills to do so. Else, you’ll need a plugin to do the work for you. Most of these plugins will help you collect and add testimonials, reviews and ratings on the homepage, sidebars on product page, at checkout point, or on thank you/on-boarding emails. And if your business depends on testimonials and ratings, you should definitely opt for a plugin to handle the work for you.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can also use testimonials to improve conversion rates, leverage verified reviews to help your online store or even use WordPress to build a website devoted to reviews.

The Best WordPress Review Plugins

Let’s start with plugins that help add reviews to your website. We’ll check out the free and premium plugins that allow customers and visitors to leave a word on our site about our product or services. Or for plugins that help them to give a quick thumbs up or tick a star.

WP Product Review

WP Product Review comes in two versions – Lite and Premium. The plugin adds an attractive review box at the top of your post and allows user reviews via comments. It supports Google Rich Snippets, so the reviews can show up in a Google search. It’s also possible to increase conversions by adding affiliate buttons to the reviews.

WP Product Review Lite

While the Lite plugin is a little short on features, there’s a lot more you can do with the premium plugin. You can display the review box just about anywhere you want using shortcodes. Not only that, you can add as many reviews as you want in the same page. The review table itself can be customized for color, width and border, so that it fits in with your theme. Over ten different icons such as stars and hearts are available to record a vote. If you wish to include a comparison table for the products, that’s possible too. The plugin automatically generates comparison tables from existing reviews.

WP Product Review

If you’re selling on Amazon, you’ll be glad of the plugin’s integration with the platform. It automatically transfers the product name, image, affiliate link and price from Amazon. Moreover, if you’ve built up reviews elsewhere previously, you can import those reviews into your website. Latest products or top products can be featured in sidebar widgets for better visibility and click through rates. Not just the product in it’s entirety, individual specifications relating to the product can be reviewed separately by users. This can help a discerning buyer make up his mind about the suitability of a product and thereby increase conversions.

WP Review

WP Review is a customizable, lightweight plugin to add a review to your WordPress site. It can add a review in three ways,

  • Star review type.
  • Point review type.
  • Percentage review type.

WordPress Testimonial and Review Plugins: WP Review

At any point of time, you can shift from one to another by changing the settings in the plugin’s setting page. The ratings can display before or after the content, and with the help of a shortcode, right within the content. You can change colors site wide or on a post by post basis. As and when a user clicks to rate, the average is automatically computed and displays along with the number of votes. Users have an option to leave their own reviews, and you can opt whether or not to display those reviews below your own review.

Finally, the plugin is developer friendly with a number of filters to blend with the display with your theme. When it comes to support, it’s free for registered users of the plugin.

WP Review Pro

With the premium version of the plugin, you get an additional Circle method to show ratings, and display the ratings on the thumbnail images. The width of the review box can be adjusted and aligned to the left or right. It also allows beautiful loading effects.

WP Customer Reviews

With WP Customer Reviews active on your site, you can set up an entire page to receive customer testimonials or to write reviews about any product. The comments are not published right away, instead there’s an option for comment moderation. Readers get to see the reviews in a friendly format, while search engines can see them in Schema.org microformat. Shortcodes help you display reviews and review forms on any page or widget.

WP Customer Reviews

The plugin cuts down on spam with various anti spam measures, and includes an external stylesheet so you can modify the display to fit your theme. Site admins can edit the reviews for content and date. Admin can respond to the reviews and display the response under each review.

The Best WordPress Testimonial Plugins

People in professions such as law or medicine are unlikely to build up a huge clientele without a solid reputation attached to their names. And there’s a lot to be gained by displaying the testimonials that your clients are willing to give. The plugins below will help you gather and display these testimonies prominently.

Testimonials Widget

Testimonials Widget is a great choice for any person who wants to display a wide range of client testimonials on their website. What sets this plugin apart are the choice of display options like carousel, fade or slide transitions, responsive slideshows and the option to filter by category, tag or post ID. The plugin helps you include not just text, but images and video as well within the testimonials. These testimonials can then be displayed using functions within your theme, shortcodes or widgets.

WordPress Testimonial Plugins: Testimonials Widget

However, it may be necessary to know a little CSS if you want much more than the basic styling options. The Premium version offers a lot more features like numerous premium shortcodes, caching, Read More links and user submitted testimonials, as well as better support.

Easy Testimonials

Easy Testimonials allows you to use a number of shortcodes to add testimonials to any post or page. You can also display them in a widget and if you want to customize display, you can do so by generating shortcodes. The plugin supports images, so you can add a photo of the author right by the side of his testimonial.

Easy Testimonials

The plugin is good for adding a random testimonial anywhere in your sidebar or page, or in a list, or on a fading / sliding testimonials widget. You can add rating to a testimonial and link it to any page, such as a product page.

The premium plugin will also enable frontend testimonial submission and notifies you of any new testimonial. You also get a carousel for display, transition effects, spam protection and font options. It’s also possible to import and export testimonials in CSV format.

Thrive Ovation

Thrive Ovation is a premium plugin that helps you collect testimonials from users at the frontend. After going through a process of approval it displays them on your site. The plugin includes forms that make it easy for readers to submit testimonials. Once you receive a testimonial, you can add details about the author and insert it anywhere using shortcodes. To automatically draw a testimonial from social media, simply add the respective Facebook or Twitter URL.

Thrive Ovation

You can tag testimonials to filter them by topics or products. There are many statuses that can be assigned to the testimonials such as awaiting review, approved or rejected. Multiple templates are available for display and you can further customize them if you wish. You can set up the plugin to draw testimonials from a specific tag so that the testimonials are always fresh.

The Best WordPress Ratings Plugins

Asking visitors to leave a rating on your website is an easy and effective way to get them to give you top marks. A high rating displayed for any product or service can persuade a subsequent visitor to transact with you. Check out these top class plugins to add a ratings option to your website.

Rating Widget

Rating-Widget adds a Five Star Review System on site. Users simply have to click on the stars to let others know what they think about any post, page, custom post type, comment or review. You can embed thumb & star ratings into your posts, pages or comments, and customize and manage ratings from within your WordPress dashboard.

Rating Widget

The star ratings are fully customizable, support major browsers and many languages. You can create unlimited thumb & star ratings and collect unlimited votes. The plugin includes a widget that you can place in your sidebar to display top rated posts, pages and comments. Add-ons are available to display tweets and shares

YASR Yet Another Stars Rating

Yet Another Stars Rating (YASR) is a new system review based on jquery plugin RateIT. The plugin helps you add ratings in two different ways – you can add your own rating as well as enable your visitors to vote.

YASR

You can even create multiple sets if you want visitors to vote on different aspects of a product individually. Review scores or visitor ratings will be indexed by search engines through snippets.

WP-PostRatings

With WP-PostRatings, there are many ways to display votes such as stars, thumbs, ticks, hearts, numbers and more. Setting up the plugin can get a bit technical.

WP Post Ratings

With a bit of code you can display the ratings on all posts or on selected posts. The Manage Ratings option lets you view the ratings. The plugin can display the Highest Rated Posts, Most Rated Posts, Lowest Rating and Highest rating.

To Wrap Up

Testimonials, ratings and reviews are great marketing aids. They can persuade a potential customer to trust you with their money. You may know that there’s also an option to integrate reviews from third party review sites such as Google Places Reviews, Yelp Widget ProWP LinkedIn and Custom Facebook Feed. Taking help from these plugins and services can become an important part of your marketing efforts.



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SiteGround Web Hosting Review – WPExplorer


We already seen what WordPress Managed Hosting services can do for people who need a helping hand in the process, either because they need to focus on their designs or projects or because they don’t have proper knowledge on the matter. Be it as it may, WordPress Managed Hosting services are not for everyone. There are some of us who want to meddle with code from time to time or just want to optimize our sites in a way that’s not possible on managed services. For that kind of users, general hosting services can be a good alternative. Today I’m going to review SiteGround, a general hosting service based on the popular cPanel software.

SiteGround Hosting Features

SiteGround offers plenty of options for hosting your WordPress site, or any website for that matter. Choose from shared, cloud, dedicated, reseller or even premium enterprise hosting – there’s a plan for every size website.

View SiteGround Plans

They also offer options found on other managed WordPress Hosting services. The beauty of SiteGround is that you can either choose to be helped or do everything by yourself.

Once you make up your mind on what is your profile you can go ahead and work with the main dashboard. For this article I’m going to do all by myself as this is one of the good things about SiteGround in that they won’t limit what you can do with your files and/or stuff you upload.

The Account Dashboard

The main dashboard will allow you to configure your primary domain, your account DNS and your cPanel credentials.

Unlike many services, SiteGround does allow you to change your primary domain as many times as you want. This is a big plus as you don’t have to host a specific domain. You’re basically creating an empty account that can be used for whatever project you want. The main dashboard takes care of the process of asigning your domain to cPanel.

For this review we swaped the test domain from wpexplorer.com to thetechieblog.com without any problems and the account was immediately changed and was accessible through cPanel afterwards.

Extra Hosting Services

SiteGround won’t stop there, it does offer quite a bit of extra services from Premium Support to Premium Backup Service and Wildcard Certificates thanks to the inclusion of Let’s Encrypt.

One of the many virtues of all this extra services that SiteGround offers is the inclusion of Dedicated IP’s that can be easily ordered from this panel along with the inclusion of Cloudflare paid services. This will allow you to have a very powerful hosting experience in a central management system. Cloudflare inclusion is a nice added bonus, this combined with a dedicated IP and Backup services is extremely good for customers. If you think that’s too much, SiteGround will surprise you with one more extra service and that’s SG Site Scanner and Malware monitoring. Since this is a general hosting service, adding this extra check is extremely helpful.

Let’s Encrypt Free SSL is Here

Adding your domain and installing a certificate is a piece of cake since SiteGround now allows Let’s Encrypt free SSL.

Changing Datacenter? No problem!

You think SiteGround will stop there but no, they even offer you with the ability to swap Datacenters. Of course, there is a price to that action but that will allow you to easily change location of your website to a more suitable place in case your customer or your project needs it.

The CloudFlare paid plan allows you to have the Web Application Firewall and advanced features but SiteGround does allow you to use the free CDN to speed up WordPress.

The Good old cPanel

SiteGround is based on the good old cPanel software to handle all the main tasks. Even when cPanel may not be the fastest experience there can be, since it’s still based on Apache it does provide a convenient way to handle all your hosting needs.

Siteground implements a custom theme that fits the style of their dashboard by calling cPanel from inside SiteGround Dashboard.

Although all the main functions are there and cPanel does seem updated, SiteGround could use some revamp of the interface and take advantage of the new cPanel style as the current one is quite old. Nevertheless, there were no performance issues detected during the analysis and I was able to do pretty much everything I wanted to my website. Manually creating my database, importing the contents, creating FTP accounts, handle e-mail, using the built-in cPanel explorer and uploading WordPress files. This is all a piece of cake having cPanel as the control panel.

SiteGround Hosting Performance

SiteGround is not a dedicated nor a Managed WordPress service but still, it managed to get a pretty good number out of the San Jose location.

If you take a look at the actual First Time to Byte you’ll see a pretty solid 300ms average time which is more than good considering this is Apache-based cPanel. What’s more interesting to note is that SiteGround is indeed using NGINX as a proxy mechanism behind Apache which does explain the more than acceptable result.

Doing a test under GTMetrix confirmed my expectations.

Since SiteGround is not a Managed WordPress Hosting service it does not include caching mechanisms inside WordPress and this is what makes the result even more interesting. It’s obvious that Pagespeed and Yslow scores are low because the site is running pretty much without any caching mechanism aside from the reverse NGINX proxy that SiteGround implements but check the fully loaded time, it’s superb! SiteGround managed to get under 2.5s in GTMetrix which is quite good considering this is a general hosting service.

Wrapping Up

SiteGround built it’s service with tons of extra features. Having cPanel as a backend is nice and including a Backup, free SSL and Cloudflare functionality is a big plus. But SiteGround does not stop there, it offers extra Malware Scanning, Premium Support and does so with a level of performance that is more than fine to even compete with other respectable WordPress Managed Services. If you want a good and affordable service that’s not restrictive in any way and has good performance, it’s hard not to recommend them. In other words, SiteGround rocks.

Learn More About SiteGround



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The Best Reviews & Testimonials WordPress Plugins for Your Website


A good word always counts, and in business it has the potential to translate into solid cash. A number of folks go by what previous users have to say about a product or service before they make a purchase. And if the previous users have only good things to say about you, it can influence potential customers in a positive way. Over 90% of people buying on Amazon wouldn’t purchase an item with less than three stars. What’s hard here is the difficulty in asking others to endorse your product. So, why don’t we just take the help of some plugins to display reviews and testimonials on your website?

Before you look for a plugin, you should know that you can add testimonials to a website manually. In fact, it’s a neater way to go about it, if you have only a few to display and you have the necessary coding skills to do so. Else, you’ll need a plugin to do the work for you. Most of these plugins will help you collect and add testimonials, reviews and ratings on the homepage, sidebars on product page, at checkout point, or on thank you/on-boarding emails. And if your business depends on testimonials and ratings, you should definitely opt for a plugin to handle the work for you.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can also use testimonials to improve conversion rates, leverage verified reviews to help your online store or even use WordPress to build a website devoted to reviews.

The Best WordPress Review Plugins

Let’s start with plugins that help add reviews to your website. We’ll check out the free and premium plugins that allow customers and visitors to leave a word on our site about our product or services. Or for plugins that help them to give a quick thumbs up or tick a star.

WP Product Review

WP Product Review comes in two versions – Lite and Premium. The plugin adds an attractive review box at the top of your post and allows user reviews via comments. It supports Google Rich Snippets, so the reviews can show up in a Google search. It’s also possible to increase conversions by adding affiliate buttons to the reviews.

WP Product Review Lite

While the Lite plugin is a little short on features, there’s a lot more you can do with the premium plugin. You can display the review box just about anywhere you want using shortcodes. Not only that, you can add as many reviews as you want in the same page. The review table itself can be customized for color, width and border, so that it fits in with your theme. Over ten different icons such as stars and hearts are available to record a vote. If you wish to include a comparison table for the products, that’s possible too. The plugin automatically generates comparison tables from existing reviews.

WP Product Review

If you’re selling on Amazon, you’ll be glad of the plugin’s integration with the platform. It automatically transfers the product name, image, affiliate link and price from Amazon. Moreover, if you’ve built up reviews elsewhere previously, you can import those reviews into your website. Latest products or top products can be featured in sidebar widgets for better visibility and click through rates. Not just the product in it’s entirety, individual specifications relating to the product can be reviewed separately by users. This can help a discerning buyer make up his mind about the suitability of a product and thereby increase conversions.

WP Review

WP Review is a customizable, lightweight plugin to add a review to your WordPress site. It can add a review in three ways,

  • Star review type.
  • Point review type.
  • Percentage review type.

WordPress Testimonial and Review Plugins: WP Review

At any point of time, you can shift from one to another by changing the settings in the plugin’s setting page. The ratings can display before or after the content, and with the help of a shortcode, right within the content. You can change colors site wide or on a post by post basis. As and when a user clicks to rate, the average is automatically computed and displays along with the number of votes. Users have an option to leave their own reviews, and you can opt whether or not to display those reviews below your own review.

Finally, the plugin is developer friendly with a number of filters to blend with the display with your theme. When it comes to support, it’s free for registered users of the plugin.

WP Review Pro

With the premium version of the plugin, you get an additional Circle method to show ratings, and display the ratings on the thumbnail images. The width of the review box can be adjusted and aligned to the left or right. It also allows beautiful loading effects.

WP Customer Reviews

With WP Customer Reviews active on your site, you can set up an entire page to receive customer testimonials or to write reviews about any product. The comments are not published right away, instead there’s an option for comment moderation. Readers get to see the reviews in a friendly format, while search engines can see them in Schema.org microformat. Shortcodes help you display reviews and review forms on any page or widget.

WP Customer Reviews

The plugin cuts down on spam with various anti spam measures, and includes an external stylesheet so you can modify the display to fit your theme. Site admins can edit the reviews for content and date. Admin can respond to the reviews and display the response under each review.

The Best WordPress Testimonial Plugins

People in professions such as law or medicine are unlikely to build up a huge clientele without a solid reputation attached to their names. And there’s a lot to be gained by displaying the testimonials that your clients are willing to give. The plugins below will help you gather and display these testimonies prominently.

Testimonials Widget

Testimonials Widget is a great choice for any person who wants to display a wide range of client testimonials on their website. What sets this plugin apart are the choice of display options like carousel, fade or slide transitions, responsive slideshows and the option to filter by category, tag or post ID. The plugin helps you include not just text, but images and video as well within the testimonials. These testimonials can then be displayed using functions within your theme, shortcodes or widgets.

WordPress Testimonial Plugins: Testimonials Widget

However, it may be necessary to know a little CSS if you want much more than the basic styling options. The Premium version offers a lot more features like numerous premium shortcodes, caching, Read More links and user submitted testimonials, as well as better support.

Easy Testimonials

Easy Testimonials allows you to use a number of shortcodes to add testimonials to any post or page. You can also display them in a widget and if you want to customize display, you can do so by generating shortcodes. The plugin supports images, so you can add a photo of the author right by the side of his testimonial.

Easy Testimonials

The plugin is good for adding a random testimonial anywhere in your sidebar or page, or in a list, or on a fading / sliding testimonials widget. You can add rating to a testimonial and link it to any page, such as a product page.

The premium plugin will also enable frontend testimonial submission and notifies you of any new testimonial. You also get a carousel for display, transition effects, spam protection and font options. It’s also possible to import and export testimonials in CSV format.

Thrive Ovation

Thrive Ovation is a premium plugin that helps you collect testimonials from users at the frontend. After going through a process of approval it displays them on your site. The plugin includes forms that make it easy for readers to submit testimonials. Once you receive a testimonial, you can add details about the author and insert it anywhere using shortcodes. To automatically draw a testimonial from social media, simply add the respective Facebook or Twitter URL.

Thrive Ovation

You can tag testimonials to filter them by topics or products. There are many statuses that can be assigned to the testimonials such as awaiting review, approved or rejected. Multiple templates are available for display and you can further customize them if you wish. You can set up the plugin to draw testimonials from a specific tag so that the testimonials are always fresh.

The Best WordPress Ratings Plugins

Asking visitors to leave a rating on your website is an easy and effective way to get them to give you top marks. A high rating displayed for any product or service can persuade a subsequent visitor to transact with you. Check out these top class plugins to add a ratings option to your website.

Rating Widget

Rating-Widget adds a Five Star Review System on site. Users simply have to click on the stars to let others know what they think about any post, page, custom post type, comment or review. You can embed thumb & star ratings into your posts, pages or comments, and customize and manage ratings from within your WordPress dashboard.

Rating Widget

The star ratings are fully customizable, support major browsers and many languages. You can create unlimited thumb & star ratings and collect unlimited votes. The plugin includes a widget that you can place in your sidebar to display top rated posts, pages and comments. Add-ons are available to display tweets and shares

YASR Yet Another Stars Rating

Yet Another Stars Rating (YASR) is a new system review based on jquery plugin RateIT. The plugin helps you add ratings in two different ways – you can add your own rating as well as enable your visitors to vote.

YASR

You can even create multiple sets if you want visitors to vote on different aspects of a product individually. Review scores or visitor ratings will be indexed by search engines through snippets.

WP-PostRatings

With WP-PostRatings, there are many ways to display votes such as stars, thumbs, ticks, hearts, numbers and more. Setting up the plugin can get a bit technical.

WP Post Ratings

With a bit of code you can display the ratings on all posts or on selected posts. The Manage Ratings option lets you view the ratings. The plugin can display the Highest Rated Posts, Most Rated Posts, Lowest Rating and Highest rating.

To Wrap Up

Testimonials, ratings and reviews are great marketing aids. They can persuade a potential customer to trust you with their money. You may know that there’s also an option to integrate reviews from third party review sites such as Google Places Reviews, Yelp Widget ProWP LinkedIn and Custom Facebook Feed. Taking help from these plugins and services can become an important part of your marketing efforts.



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SiteGround Web Hosting Review – WPExplorer


We already seen what WordPress Managed Hosting services can do for people who need a helping hand in the process, either because they need to focus on their designs or projects or because they don’t have proper knowledge on the matter. Be it as it may, WordPress Managed Hosting services are not for everyone. There are some of us who want to meddle with code from time to time or just want to optimize our sites in a way that’s not possible on managed services. For that kind of users, general hosting services can be a good alternative. Today I’m going to review SiteGround, a general hosting service based on the popular cPanel software.

SiteGround Hosting Features

SiteGround offers plenty of options for hosting your WordPress site, or any website for that matter. Choose from shared, cloud, dedicated, reseller or even premium enterprise hosting – there’s a plan for every size website.

View SiteGround Plans

They also offer options found on other managed WordPress Hosting services. The beauty of SiteGround is that you can either choose to be helped or do everything by yourself.

Once you make up your mind on what is your profile you can go ahead and work with the main dashboard. For this article I’m going to do all by myself as this is one of the good things about SiteGround in that they won’t limit what you can do with your files and/or stuff you upload.

The Account Dashboard

The main dashboard will allow you to configure your primary domain, your account DNS and your cPanel credentials.

Unlike many services, SiteGround does allow you to change your primary domain as many times as you want. This is a big plus as you don’t have to host a specific domain. You’re basically creating an empty account that can be used for whatever project you want. The main dashboard takes care of the process of asigning your domain to cPanel.

For this review we swaped the test domain from wpexplorer.com to thetechieblog.com without any problems and the account was immediately changed and was accessible through cPanel afterwards.

Extra Hosting Services

SiteGround won’t stop there, it does offer quite a bit of extra services from Premium Support to Premium Backup Service and Wildcard Certificates thanks to the inclusion of Let’s Encrypt.

One of the many virtues of all this extra services that SiteGround offers is the inclusion of Dedicated IP’s that can be easily ordered from this panel along with the inclusion of Cloudflare paid services. This will allow you to have a very powerful hosting experience in a central management system. Cloudflare inclusion is a nice added bonus, this combined with a dedicated IP and Backup services is extremely good for customers. If you think that’s too much, SiteGround will surprise you with one more extra service and that’s SG Site Scanner and Malware monitoring. Since this is a general hosting service, adding this extra check is extremely helpful.

Let’s Encrypt Free SSL is Here

Adding your domain and installing a certificate is a piece of cake since SiteGround now allows Let’s Encrypt free SSL.

Changing Datacenter? No problem!

You think SiteGround will stop there but no, they even offer you with the ability to swap Datacenters. Of course, there is a price to that action but that will allow you to easily change location of your website to a more suitable place in case your customer or your project needs it.

The CloudFlare paid plan allows you to have the Web Application Firewall and advanced features but SiteGround does allow you to use the free CDN to speed up WordPress.

The Good old cPanel

SiteGround is based on the good old cPanel software to handle all the main tasks. Even when cPanel may not be the fastest experience there can be, since it’s still based on Apache it does provide a convenient way to handle all your hosting needs.

Siteground implements a custom theme that fits the style of their dashboard by calling cPanel from inside SiteGround Dashboard.

Although all the main functions are there and cPanel does seem updated, SiteGround could use some revamp of the interface and take advantage of the new cPanel style as the current one is quite old. Nevertheless, there were no performance issues detected during the analysis and I was able to do pretty much everything I wanted to my website. Manually creating my database, importing the contents, creating FTP accounts, handle e-mail, using the built-in cPanel explorer and uploading WordPress files. This is all a piece of cake having cPanel as the control panel.

SiteGround Hosting Performance

SiteGround is not a dedicated nor a Managed WordPress service but still, it managed to get a pretty good number out of the San Jose location.

If you take a look at the actual First Time to Byte you’ll see a pretty solid 300ms average time which is more than good considering this is Apache-based cPanel. What’s more interesting to note is that SiteGround is indeed using NGINX as a proxy mechanism behind Apache which does explain the more than acceptable result.

Doing a test under GTMetrix confirmed my expectations.

Since SiteGround is not a Managed WordPress Hosting service it does not include caching mechanisms inside WordPress and this is what makes the result even more interesting. It’s obvious that Pagespeed and Yslow scores are low because the site is running pretty much without any caching mechanism aside from the reverse NGINX proxy that SiteGround implements but check the fully loaded time, it’s superb! SiteGround managed to get under 2.5s in GTMetrix which is quite good considering this is a general hosting service.

Wrapping Up

SiteGround built it’s service with tons of extra features. Having cPanel as a backend is nice and including a Backup, free SSL and Cloudflare functionality is a big plus. But SiteGround does not stop there, it offers extra Malware Scanning, Premium Support and does so with a level of performance that is more than fine to even compete with other respectable WordPress Managed Services. If you want a good and affordable service that’s not restrictive in any way and has good performance, it’s hard not to recommend them. In other words, SiteGround rocks.

Learn More About SiteGround



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The Best Reviews & Testimonials WordPress Plugins for Your Website


A good word always counts, and in business it has the potential to translate into solid cash. A number of folks go by what previous users have to say about a product or service before they make a purchase. And if the previous users have only good things to say about you, it can influence potential customers in a positive way. Over 90% of people buying on Amazon wouldn’t purchase an item with less than three stars. What’s hard here is the difficulty in asking others to endorse your product. So, why don’t we just take the help of some plugins to display reviews and testimonials on your website?

Before you look for a plugin, you should know that you can add testimonials to a website manually. In fact, it’s a neater way to go about it, if you have only a few to display and you have the necessary coding skills to do so. Else, you’ll need a plugin to do the work for you. Most of these plugins will help you collect and add testimonials, reviews and ratings on the homepage, sidebars on product page, at checkout point, or on thank you/on-boarding emails. And if your business depends on testimonials and ratings, you should definitely opt for a plugin to handle the work for you.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can also use testimonials to improve conversion rates, leverage verified reviews to help your online store or even use WordPress to build a website devoted to reviews.

The Best WordPress Review Plugins

Let’s start with plugins that help add reviews to your website. We’ll check out the free and premium plugins that allow customers and visitors to leave a word on our site about our product or services. Or for plugins that help them to give a quick thumbs up or tick a star.

WP Product Review

WP Product Review comes in two versions – Lite and Premium. The plugin adds an attractive review box at the top of your post and allows user reviews via comments. It supports Google Rich Snippets, so the reviews can show up in a Google search. It’s also possible to increase conversions by adding affiliate buttons to the reviews.

WP Product Review Lite

While the Lite plugin is a little short on features, there’s a lot more you can do with the premium plugin. You can display the review box just about anywhere you want using shortcodes. Not only that, you can add as many reviews as you want in the same page. The review table itself can be customized for color, width and border, so that it fits in with your theme. Over ten different icons such as stars and hearts are available to record a vote. If you wish to include a comparison table for the products, that’s possible too. The plugin automatically generates comparison tables from existing reviews.

WP Product Review

If you’re selling on Amazon, you’ll be glad of the plugin’s integration with the platform. It automatically transfers the product name, image, affiliate link and price from Amazon. Moreover, if you’ve built up reviews elsewhere previously, you can import those reviews into your website. Latest products or top products can be featured in sidebar widgets for better visibility and click through rates. Not just the product in it’s entirety, individual specifications relating to the product can be reviewed separately by users. This can help a discerning buyer make up his mind about the suitability of a product and thereby increase conversions.

WP Review

WP Review is a customizable, lightweight plugin to add a review to your WordPress site. It can add a review in three ways,

  • Star review type.
  • Point review type.
  • Percentage review type.

WordPress Testimonial and Review Plugins: WP Review

At any point of time, you can shift from one to another by changing the settings in the plugin’s setting page. The ratings can display before or after the content, and with the help of a shortcode, right within the content. You can change colors site wide or on a post by post basis. As and when a user clicks to rate, the average is automatically computed and displays along with the number of votes. Users have an option to leave their own reviews, and you can opt whether or not to display those reviews below your own review.

Finally, the plugin is developer friendly with a number of filters to blend with the display with your theme. When it comes to support, it’s free for registered users of the plugin.

WP Review Pro

With the premium version of the plugin, you get an additional Circle method to show ratings, and display the ratings on the thumbnail images. The width of the review box can be adjusted and aligned to the left or right. It also allows beautiful loading effects.

WP Customer Reviews

With WP Customer Reviews active on your site, you can set up an entire page to receive customer testimonials or to write reviews about any product. The comments are not published right away, instead there’s an option for comment moderation. Readers get to see the reviews in a friendly format, while search engines can see them in Schema.org microformat. Shortcodes help you display reviews and review forms on any page or widget.

WP Customer Reviews

The plugin cuts down on spam with various anti spam measures, and includes an external stylesheet so you can modify the display to fit your theme. Site admins can edit the reviews for content and date. Admin can respond to the reviews and display the response under each review.

The Best WordPress Testimonial Plugins

People in professions such as law or medicine are unlikely to build up a huge clientele without a solid reputation attached to their names. And there’s a lot to be gained by displaying the testimonials that your clients are willing to give. The plugins below will help you gather and display these testimonies prominently.

Testimonials Widget

Testimonials Widget is a great choice for any person who wants to display a wide range of client testimonials on their website. What sets this plugin apart are the choice of display options like carousel, fade or slide transitions, responsive slideshows and the option to filter by category, tag or post ID. The plugin helps you include not just text, but images and video as well within the testimonials. These testimonials can then be displayed using functions within your theme, shortcodes or widgets.

WordPress Testimonial Plugins: Testimonials Widget

However, it may be necessary to know a little CSS if you want much more than the basic styling options. The Premium version offers a lot more features like numerous premium shortcodes, caching, Read More links and user submitted testimonials, as well as better support.

Easy Testimonials

Easy Testimonials allows you to use a number of shortcodes to add testimonials to any post or page. You can also display them in a widget and if you want to customize display, you can do so by generating shortcodes. The plugin supports images, so you can add a photo of the author right by the side of his testimonial.

Easy Testimonials

The plugin is good for adding a random testimonial anywhere in your sidebar or page, or in a list, or on a fading / sliding testimonials widget. You can add rating to a testimonial and link it to any page, such as a product page.

The premium plugin will also enable frontend testimonial submission and notifies you of any new testimonial. You also get a carousel for display, transition effects, spam protection and font options. It’s also possible to import and export testimonials in CSV format.

Thrive Ovation

Thrive Ovation is a premium plugin that helps you collect testimonials from users at the frontend. After going through a process of approval it displays them on your site. The plugin includes forms that make it easy for readers to submit testimonials. Once you receive a testimonial, you can add details about the author and insert it anywhere using shortcodes. To automatically draw a testimonial from social media, simply add the respective Facebook or Twitter URL.

Thrive Ovation

You can tag testimonials to filter them by topics or products. There are many statuses that can be assigned to the testimonials such as awaiting review, approved or rejected. Multiple templates are available for display and you can further customize them if you wish. You can set up the plugin to draw testimonials from a specific tag so that the testimonials are always fresh.

The Best WordPress Ratings Plugins

Asking visitors to leave a rating on your website is an easy and effective way to get them to give you top marks. A high rating displayed for any product or service can persuade a subsequent visitor to transact with you. Check out these top class plugins to add a ratings option to your website.

Rating Widget

Rating-Widget adds a Five Star Review System on site. Users simply have to click on the stars to let others know what they think about any post, page, custom post type, comment or review. You can embed thumb & star ratings into your posts, pages or comments, and customize and manage ratings from within your WordPress dashboard.

Rating Widget

The star ratings are fully customizable, support major browsers and many languages. You can create unlimited thumb & star ratings and collect unlimited votes. The plugin includes a widget that you can place in your sidebar to display top rated posts, pages and comments. Add-ons are available to display tweets and shares

YASR Yet Another Stars Rating

Yet Another Stars Rating (YASR) is a new system review based on jquery plugin RateIT. The plugin helps you add ratings in two different ways – you can add your own rating as well as enable your visitors to vote.

YASR

You can even create multiple sets if you want visitors to vote on different aspects of a product individually. Review scores or visitor ratings will be indexed by search engines through snippets.

WP-PostRatings

With WP-PostRatings, there are many ways to display votes such as stars, thumbs, ticks, hearts, numbers and more. Setting up the plugin can get a bit technical.

WP Post Ratings

With a bit of code you can display the ratings on all posts or on selected posts. The Manage Ratings option lets you view the ratings. The plugin can display the Highest Rated Posts, Most Rated Posts, Lowest Rating and Highest rating.

To Wrap Up

Testimonials, ratings and reviews are great marketing aids. They can persuade a potential customer to trust you with their money. You may know that there’s also an option to integrate reviews from third party review sites such as Google Places Reviews, Yelp Widget ProWP LinkedIn and Custom Facebook Feed. Taking help from these plugins and services can become an important part of your marketing efforts.



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Full

SiteGround Web Hosting Review – WPExplorer


We already seen what WordPress Managed Hosting services can do for people who need a helping hand in the process, either because they need to focus on their designs or projects or because they don’t have proper knowledge on the matter. Be it as it may, WordPress Managed Hosting services are not for everyone. There are some of us who want to meddle with code from time to time or just want to optimize our sites in a way that’s not possible on managed services. For that kind of users, general hosting services can be a good alternative. Today I’m going to review SiteGround, a general hosting service based on the popular cPanel software.

SiteGround Hosting Features

SiteGround offers plenty of options for hosting your WordPress site, or any website for that matter. Choose from shared, cloud, dedicated, reseller or even premium enterprise hosting – there’s a plan for every size website.

View SiteGround Plans

They also offer options found on other managed WordPress Hosting services. The beauty of SiteGround is that you can either choose to be helped or do everything by yourself.

Once you make up your mind on what is your profile you can go ahead and work with the main dashboard. For this article I’m going to do all by myself as this is one of the good things about SiteGround in that they won’t limit what you can do with your files and/or stuff you upload.

The Account Dashboard

The main dashboard will allow you to configure your primary domain, your account DNS and your cPanel credentials.

Unlike many services, SiteGround does allow you to change your primary domain as many times as you want. This is a big plus as you don’t have to host a specific domain. You’re basically creating an empty account that can be used for whatever project you want. The main dashboard takes care of the process of asigning your domain to cPanel.

For this review we swaped the test domain from wpexplorer.com to thetechieblog.com without any problems and the account was immediately changed and was accessible through cPanel afterwards.

Extra Hosting Services

SiteGround won’t stop there, it does offer quite a bit of extra services from Premium Support to Premium Backup Service and Wildcard Certificates thanks to the inclusion of Let’s Encrypt.

One of the many virtues of all this extra services that SiteGround offers is the inclusion of Dedicated IP’s that can be easily ordered from this panel along with the inclusion of Cloudflare paid services. This will allow you to have a very powerful hosting experience in a central management system. Cloudflare inclusion is a nice added bonus, this combined with a dedicated IP and Backup services is extremely good for customers. If you think that’s too much, SiteGround will surprise you with one more extra service and that’s SG Site Scanner and Malware monitoring. Since this is a general hosting service, adding this extra check is extremely helpful.

Let’s Encrypt Free SSL is Here

Adding your domain and installing a certificate is a piece of cake since SiteGround now allows Let’s Encrypt free SSL.

Changing Datacenter? No problem!

You think SiteGround will stop there but no, they even offer you with the ability to swap Datacenters. Of course, there is a price to that action but that will allow you to easily change location of your website to a more suitable place in case your customer or your project needs it.

The CloudFlare paid plan allows you to have the Web Application Firewall and advanced features but SiteGround does allow you to use the free CDN to speed up WordPress.

The Good old cPanel

SiteGround is based on the good old cPanel software to handle all the main tasks. Even when cPanel may not be the fastest experience there can be, since it’s still based on Apache it does provide a convenient way to handle all your hosting needs.

Siteground implements a custom theme that fits the style of their dashboard by calling cPanel from inside SiteGround Dashboard.

Although all the main functions are there and cPanel does seem updated, SiteGround could use some revamp of the interface and take advantage of the new cPanel style as the current one is quite old. Nevertheless, there were no performance issues detected during the analysis and I was able to do pretty much everything I wanted to my website. Manually creating my database, importing the contents, creating FTP accounts, handle e-mail, using the built-in cPanel explorer and uploading WordPress files. This is all a piece of cake having cPanel as the control panel.

SiteGround Hosting Performance

SiteGround is not a dedicated nor a Managed WordPress service but still, it managed to get a pretty good number out of the San Jose location.

If you take a look at the actual First Time to Byte you’ll see a pretty solid 300ms average time which is more than good considering this is Apache-based cPanel. What’s more interesting to note is that SiteGround is indeed using NGINX as a proxy mechanism behind Apache which does explain the more than acceptable result.

Doing a test under GTMetrix confirmed my expectations.

Since SiteGround is not a Managed WordPress Hosting service it does not include caching mechanisms inside WordPress and this is what makes the result even more interesting. It’s obvious that Pagespeed and Yslow scores are low because the site is running pretty much without any caching mechanism aside from the reverse NGINX proxy that SiteGround implements but check the fully loaded time, it’s superb! SiteGround managed to get under 2.5s in GTMetrix which is quite good considering this is a general hosting service.

Wrapping Up

SiteGround built it’s service with tons of extra features. Having cPanel as a backend is nice and including a Backup, free SSL and Cloudflare functionality is a big plus. But SiteGround does not stop there, it offers extra Malware Scanning, Premium Support and does so with a level of performance that is more than fine to even compete with other respectable WordPress Managed Services. If you want a good and affordable service that’s not restrictive in any way and has good performance, it’s hard not to recommend them. In other words, SiteGround rocks.

Learn More About SiteGround



Source link

Read more...

The Best Reviews & Testimonials WordPress Plugins for Your Website


A good word always counts, and in business it has the potential to translate into solid cash. A number of folks go by what previous users have to say about a product or service before they make a purchase. And if the previous users have only good things to say about you, it can influence potential customers in a positive way. Over 90% of people buying on Amazon wouldn’t purchase an item with less than three stars. What’s hard here is the difficulty in asking others to endorse your product. So, why don’t we just take the help of some plugins to display reviews and testimonials on your website?

Before you look for a plugin, you should know that you can add testimonials to a website manually. In fact, it’s a neater way to go about it, if you have only a few to display and you have the necessary coding skills to do so. Else, you’ll need a plugin to do the work for you. Most of these plugins will help you collect and add testimonials, reviews and ratings on the homepage, sidebars on product page, at checkout point, or on thank you/on-boarding emails. And if your business depends on testimonials and ratings, you should definitely opt for a plugin to handle the work for you.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can also use testimonials to improve conversion rates, leverage verified reviews to help your online store or even use WordPress to build a website devoted to reviews.

The Best WordPress Review Plugins

Let’s start with plugins that help add reviews to your website. We’ll check out the free and premium plugins that allow customers and visitors to leave a word on our site about our product or services. Or for plugins that help them to give a quick thumbs up or tick a star.

WP Product Review

WP Product Review comes in two versions – Lite and Premium. The plugin adds an attractive review box at the top of your post and allows user reviews via comments. It supports Google Rich Snippets, so the reviews can show up in a Google search. It’s also possible to increase conversions by adding affiliate buttons to the reviews.

WP Product Review Lite

While the Lite plugin is a little short on features, there’s a lot more you can do with the premium plugin. You can display the review box just about anywhere you want using shortcodes. Not only that, you can add as many reviews as you want in the same page. The review table itself can be customized for color, width and border, so that it fits in with your theme. Over ten different icons such as stars and hearts are available to record a vote. If you wish to include a comparison table for the products, that’s possible too. The plugin automatically generates comparison tables from existing reviews.

WP Product Review

If you’re selling on Amazon, you’ll be glad of the plugin’s integration with the platform. It automatically transfers the product name, image, affiliate link and price from Amazon. Moreover, if you’ve built up reviews elsewhere previously, you can import those reviews into your website. Latest products or top products can be featured in sidebar widgets for better visibility and click through rates. Not just the product in it’s entirety, individual specifications relating to the product can be reviewed separately by users. This can help a discerning buyer make up his mind about the suitability of a product and thereby increase conversions.

WP Review

WP Review is a customizable, lightweight plugin to add a review to your WordPress site. It can add a review in three ways,

  • Star review type.
  • Point review type.
  • Percentage review type.

WordPress Testimonial and Review Plugins: WP Review

At any point of time, you can shift from one to another by changing the settings in the plugin’s setting page. The ratings can display before or after the content, and with the help of a shortcode, right within the content. You can change colors site wide or on a post by post basis. As and when a user clicks to rate, the average is automatically computed and displays along with the number of votes. Users have an option to leave their own reviews, and you can opt whether or not to display those reviews below your own review.

Finally, the plugin is developer friendly with a number of filters to blend with the display with your theme. When it comes to support, it’s free for registered users of the plugin.

WP Review Pro

With the premium version of the plugin, you get an additional Circle method to show ratings, and display the ratings on the thumbnail images. The width of the review box can be adjusted and aligned to the left or right. It also allows beautiful loading effects.

WP Customer Reviews

With WP Customer Reviews active on your site, you can set up an entire page to receive customer testimonials or to write reviews about any product. The comments are not published right away, instead there’s an option for comment moderation. Readers get to see the reviews in a friendly format, while search engines can see them in Schema.org microformat. Shortcodes help you display reviews and review forms on any page or widget.

WP Customer Reviews

The plugin cuts down on spam with various anti spam measures, and includes an external stylesheet so you can modify the display to fit your theme. Site admins can edit the reviews for content and date. Admin can respond to the reviews and display the response under each review.

The Best WordPress Testimonial Plugins

People in professions such as law or medicine are unlikely to build up a huge clientele without a solid reputation attached to their names. And there’s a lot to be gained by displaying the testimonials that your clients are willing to give. The plugins below will help you gather and display these testimonies prominently.

Testimonials Widget

Testimonials Widget is a great choice for any person who wants to display a wide range of client testimonials on their website. What sets this plugin apart are the choice of display options like carousel, fade or slide transitions, responsive slideshows and the option to filter by category, tag or post ID. The plugin helps you include not just text, but images and video as well within the testimonials. These testimonials can then be displayed using functions within your theme, shortcodes or widgets.

WordPress Testimonial Plugins: Testimonials Widget

However, it may be necessary to know a little CSS if you want much more than the basic styling options. The Premium version offers a lot more features like numerous premium shortcodes, caching, Read More links and user submitted testimonials, as well as better support.

Easy Testimonials

Easy Testimonials allows you to use a number of shortcodes to add testimonials to any post or page. You can also display them in a widget and if you want to customize display, you can do so by generating shortcodes. The plugin supports images, so you can add a photo of the author right by the side of his testimonial.

Easy Testimonials

The plugin is good for adding a random testimonial anywhere in your sidebar or page, or in a list, or on a fading / sliding testimonials widget. You can add rating to a testimonial and link it to any page, such as a product page.

The premium plugin will also enable frontend testimonial submission and notifies you of any new testimonial. You also get a carousel for display, transition effects, spam protection and font options. It’s also possible to import and export testimonials in CSV format.

Thrive Ovation

Thrive Ovation is a premium plugin that helps you collect testimonials from users at the frontend. After going through a process of approval it displays them on your site. The plugin includes forms that make it easy for readers to submit testimonials. Once you receive a testimonial, you can add details about the author and insert it anywhere using shortcodes. To automatically draw a testimonial from social media, simply add the respective Facebook or Twitter URL.

Thrive Ovation

You can tag testimonials to filter them by topics or products. There are many statuses that can be assigned to the testimonials such as awaiting review, approved or rejected. Multiple templates are available for display and you can further customize them if you wish. You can set up the plugin to draw testimonials from a specific tag so that the testimonials are always fresh.

The Best WordPress Ratings Plugins

Asking visitors to leave a rating on your website is an easy and effective way to get them to give you top marks. A high rating displayed for any product or service can persuade a subsequent visitor to transact with you. Check out these top class plugins to add a ratings option to your website.

Rating Widget

Rating-Widget adds a Five Star Review System on site. Users simply have to click on the stars to let others know what they think about any post, page, custom post type, comment or review. You can embed thumb & star ratings into your posts, pages or comments, and customize and manage ratings from within your WordPress dashboard.

Rating Widget

The star ratings are fully customizable, support major browsers and many languages. You can create unlimited thumb & star ratings and collect unlimited votes. The plugin includes a widget that you can place in your sidebar to display top rated posts, pages and comments. Add-ons are available to display tweets and shares

YASR Yet Another Stars Rating

Yet Another Stars Rating (YASR) is a new system review based on jquery plugin RateIT. The plugin helps you add ratings in two different ways – you can add your own rating as well as enable your visitors to vote.

YASR

You can even create multiple sets if you want visitors to vote on different aspects of a product individually. Review scores or visitor ratings will be indexed by search engines through snippets.

WP-PostRatings

With WP-PostRatings, there are many ways to display votes such as stars, thumbs, ticks, hearts, numbers and more. Setting up the plugin can get a bit technical.

WP Post Ratings

With a bit of code you can display the ratings on all posts or on selected posts. The Manage Ratings option lets you view the ratings. The plugin can display the Highest Rated Posts, Most Rated Posts, Lowest Rating and Highest rating.

To Wrap Up

Testimonials, ratings and reviews are great marketing aids. They can persuade a potential customer to trust you with their money. You may know that there’s also an option to integrate reviews from third party review sites such as Google Places Reviews, Yelp Widget ProWP LinkedIn and Custom Facebook Feed. Taking help from these plugins and services can become an important part of your marketing efforts.



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