Tag - Beginners

Beginner’s Guide to Image SEO – Optimize Images for Search Engines


Are you looking to improve image SEO on your website? When optimized properly, image search can bring many new visitors to your website.

To benefit from image SEO, you need to help search engines find your images and index them for the right keywords.

In this beginner’s guide, we will show you how to optimize image SEO by following top best practices.

Image SEO guide for beginners

Here is a brief overview of what you’ll learn in this article.

  • Optimizing your images for SEO and Speed
  • What is Alt text?
  • Difference between Alt text vs title
  • Difference between alt text and caption
  • How to add alt text, title, and caption to images in WordPress
  • When to use captions for images
  • Disable attachment pages in WordPress
  • Additional tips to improve image SEO

Optimizing Your Images for SEO and Speed

Speed plays an important role in SEO and user experience. Search engines consistently rank fast websites higher. This is also true for the image search.

Images increase your overall page load time. They take longer to download than text, which means your page loads slower if there are several large image files to download.

You need to make sure that images on your site are optimized for web. This can be a little tricky to get used to since many beginners are not experts in graphics and image editing.

We have a handy guide on how to properly optimize images before uploading them to your website.

The best way to optimize images is by editing them on your computer using a photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop. This allows you to choose the right file format to create a small file size.

You can also use an image compression plugin for WordPress. These image optimizer plugins allow you to automatically reduce file size while uploading an image to WordPress.

What is Alt Text?

Alt text or alternative text is an HTML attribute added to the img tag which is used to display images on a web page. It looks like this in plain HTML code:

<img src="http://www.wpbeginner.com/fruitbasket.jpeg" alt="A fruit basket" />

It allows website owners to describe the image in plain text. The main purpose of the alternate text is to improve accessibility by enabling screen readers to read out the alt text for visually impaired users.

Alt text is also crucial for image SEO. It helps search engines understand the context of the image.

Modern search engines can recognize an image and it’s content by using artificial intelligence. However, they still rely on website owners to describe the image in their own words.

Alt text also accompanies images in Google image search, which helps users understand the image and improves your chances of getting more visitors.

Alt text used in search results

Usually, alt text is not visible on your website. However if an image is broken or cannot be found, then your users will be able to see the alternate text with a broken image icon next to it.

Alternate text displayed next to a broken image

What is the Difference Between Alt Text vs Title

Alt text is used for accessibility and image SEO, while title field is used internally by WordPress for media search.

Search image by title

WordPress inserts the alt tag in the actual code used to display the image. The title tag is stored in the database to find and display images.

In the past, WordPress inserted the title tag in the HTML code as well. However, it was not an ideal situation from the accessibility point of view, which is why they removed it.

What is the Difference Between Alt Text vs Caption

The alt text is used to describe the image for search engines and screen readers. On the other hand, the caption is used to describe the image for all users.

Alt text is not visible on your website while captions are visible below your images.

Example of a caption displayed below an image

The alt text is crucial for better image SEO on your website. The caption is optional and can be used only when you need to provide additional information about the image to website visitors.

How to Add Alt Text, Title, and Caption to Images in WordPress

Alt text, title, and caption make up the image metadata that you can add to images when uploading them into WordPress.

When you add an image using the default image block, WordPress allows you to add caption and alt text for the image.

Adding alt text and caption to an image in WordPress

It automatically generates a title for the image from the file name. You can change the title by clicking on the edit button in the image block’s toolbar.

Editing an image in default WordPress editor

This will bring up the media uploader popup where you can enter your own custom title for the image.

Changing image title in WordPress

You can also edit the alt tag and title for the images that you have already uploaded to WordPress. To do that, you need to visit Media » Library page and locate the image you want to edit.

WordPress media library

Simply clicking on an image will bring up the attachment details popup where you can enter title, alt text, and caption.

Add alt tag and title via media library

Note: Changing an image’s alt tag or caption via Media Library will not change it in the posts and pages where the image is already used.

When to Use Captions for Images in WordPress

Captions allow you to provide additional details for an image to all your users. They are visible on the screen for all users including search engines and screen readers.

An image gallery with captions for each image

As you may have noticed that most websites don’t normally use captions with images in their blog posts or pages. That’s because captions are often not needed to explain an image.

Captions are more suitable in the following scenarios:

  • Family or event photos
  • Photos that need additional explanation describing the background story
  • Product image galleries

In most cases, you would be able to explain the image in the article content itself.

Disable Attachment Pages in WordPress

WordPress creates a page for all images you upload to your posts and pages. It is called the attachment page. This page just shows a larger version of the actual image and nothing else.

This can have a negative SEO impact on your search rankings. Search engines consider pages with little to no text as low quality or ‘thin content’.

This is why we recommend users to disable the attachment pages on your website.

The easiest way to do this is by installing and activating the Yoast SEO plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, it automatically turns off attachment URLs. You can also manually turn off attachment pages in WordPress by visiting SEO » Search Appearance page and clicking on the Media tab.

Disable attachment URLs in WordPress

From here, make sure that the ‘Media & attachment URLs’ option is set to ‘Yes’.

If you are not using Yoast SEO plugin, then you can install the Attachment Pages Redirect plugin. This plugin simply redirects people visiting the attachment page to the post where the image is displayed.

You can also do this manually, by adding the following code to your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific plugin.

function wpb_redirect_attachment_to_post()  
if ( is_attachment() )  
global $post;
if( empty( $post ) ) $post = get_queried_object();	
if ($post->post_parent)	
	$link = get_permalink( $post->post_parent );
	wp_redirect( $link, '301' );
	exit(); 
	
else	
	// What to do if parent post is not available
	wp_redirect( home_url(), '301' );
	exit(); 
	


add_action( 'template_redirect', 'wpb_redirect_attachment_to_post' );

Additional Tips to Improve Image SEO

Adding alt tag is not the only thing you can do to improve image SEO. Following are a few additional tips that you should keep in mind when adding images to your blog posts.

1. Write descriptive alt text

Many beginners often just use one or two words as alt text for the image. This makes the image too generic and harder to rank.

For example, instead of just ‘kittens’ use ‘Kittens playing with a yellow rubber duck’.

2. Use descriptive file names for your images

Instead of saving your images as DSC00434.jpeg, you need to name them properly. Think of the keywords that users will type in the search to find that particular image.

Be more specific and descriptive in your image file names. For example, red-wooden-house.jpeg is better than just house.jpeg.

3. Provide context to your images

Search engines are getting smarter every day. They can recognize and categorize images quite well. However, they need you to provide context to the image.

Your images need to be relevant to the overall topic of the post or page. It is also helpful to place the image near the most relevant text in your article.

4. Follow the SEO best practices

You also need to follow the overall SEO guidelines for your website. This improves your overall search rankings including image search.

5. Use original photographs and images

There are many free stock photography websites that you can use to find free images for your blog posts. However, the problem with stock photos is that they are used by thousands of websites.

Try to use original photographs or create quality images that are unique to your blog.

We know that most bloggers are not photographers or graphic designers. Luckily, there are some great online tools that you can use to create graphics for your websites.

We hope this article helped you learn about Image SEO for your website. You may also want to see our guide on how to fix common image issues in WordPress.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post Beginner’s Guide to Image SEO – Optimize Images for Search Engines appeared first on WPBeginner.



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How to Install Google Analytics in WordPress for Beginners


Do you want to install Google Analytics in WordPress? Knowing how your audience interacts with your website is crucial for your success.

The best way to know your audience is through your traffic stats, and this is what Google Analytics provides for FREE.

In this article, we will share why Google Analytics is important, and how you can easily install Google Analytics in your WordPress website (step by step).

How to Install Google Analytics in WordPress

First, we will explain why Google Analytics is important and how it can help you grow your website.

After that, we will show you how to sign up for a Google Analytics account and different methods to install it on your WordPress site.

Finally, we will explain how to view your traffic reports in Google Analytics.

Here is a quick overview of what you’ll learn in this article.

  • Why is Google Analytics Important
  • How to Sign up with Google Analytics
  • How to Install Google Analytics Using MonsterInsights (Recommended)
  • How to Install Google Analytics Using Insert Headers & Footers Plugin
  • How to Install Google Analytics in WordPress Theme (Advanced)
  • Viewing Reports in Google Analytics
  • Making the Most out of Google Analytics
    • Ready let’s get started.

      Why is Google Analytics Important for Bloggers?

      Once you start a blog, your #1 goal is to get more traffic and subscribers. Google Analytics help you make data-driven decisions by showing you the stats that matter. You can see:

      Who visits your website?

      This part of analytics answers what is the geographical location of your audience, which browser did the user use to visit your site and other important information such as screen resolution, JavaScript support, Flash support, language and more.

      This data is extremely useful, and it can help in numerous ways. When getting a custom design, you can use the user data to make sure that your site will be compatible with your audience.

      If most of your users don’t have Flash support, then you should avoid adding the flash element in your site. If most of your users are on 1280 screen resolutions, then make sure that your design is compatible with that resolution or smaller.

      What do people do when they are on your website?

      You can track where the users are going on your website, how long do they stay on your website, and what is the bounce rate (the percent of users exit your site on the first visit).

      By using this information, you can decrease the bounce rate and increase your pageviews.

      You can also find your most popular articles, articles that are not doing so well, and what kind of content your users are looking for.

      When do people visit your website?

      By looking at the hottest hours in the day for your site, you can pick the time when you publish your post. If that time zone is not compatible with yours, then you can schedule your post to meet that hour.

      How do people find your website?

      This section of the analytics shows you where did the users come from (for example: Search Engines, Direct Links, Referral links from another site).

      It also shows you what percentage of your visitors came from each of these sources. Google analytics gives you the breakdown of each of these categories. If it is the search engine category, then it shows you which search engine got you the most traffic, Google, Yahoo, Bing etc.

      The breakdown of referral sources shows you which sites you need to work with the most. If your top referral source is Facebook, then you need to have exclusive Facebook content to make your Facebook audience feel special.

      If your top referral source is an external website, then you might want to consider having a partnership with that website (guest post exchange or something else).

      How do people interact with your content?

      Google analytics shows how your users interact with your site’s content. It shows you what percent of the user clicked on which link on your site and much more.

      You can run A/B split tests by creating content experiments in Google Analytics to understand what works best to meet your goals.

      By seeing the user interactivity, you can work your content around your users. By seeing the answers to the questions above, you can focus on the strategies that work for your site and avoid strategies that don’t work.

      Simply put, eliminate the guesswork and focus on stats that matter, so you can make data driven-decisions.

      How to Signup with Google Analytics

      Google Analytics is available for free and all you need is a Google or Gmail account to sign up. The sign up process is quite simple, follow the step by step instructions below to create your Google Analytics account.

      Step 1: First you need to visit Google Analytics sign up.

      You will be asked to login with your Google account. If you already have a Google or Gmail account, then you can use that to sign-in. Otherwise, you can go ahead and create a Google account for yourself.

      Sign in with your Google account

      Step 2: Once you sign-in with your Gmail account, you will be prompted to a screen like the one below. This is where you will signup for Google analytics with your Gmail account.

      Sign up for Google Analytics

      Step 3: On the next screen, you will be given choice to choose between a website or mobile app. Make sure you select website.

      After that, you need to enter account name (It will be the Google Analytics profile name for this website), Website name, website’s URL, country, and the time zone.

      Fill in your website information

      Once you have entered this information, click on the Get Tracking ID button. You will be presented with Google Analytics terms and service which you must agree to, so click on ‘I Agree’ button.

      Step 4: Now you will be presented with your Google Analytics tracking code. You can copy this tracking code because you will need to enter it in your WordPress site depending on the method you use below.

      Your Google Analytics tracking code

      We suggest leaving the analytics browser tab open as you may need to revisit it, once you have installed the code on your WordPress site.

      Now that you have setup a Google Analytics account, lets take a look at how to install Google Analytics in WordPress.

      How to Install Google Analytics in WordPress

      There are a few different ways to setup Google Analytics in WordPress. We will show you three methods where the first option is the easiest and the last being the hardest.

      You can choose the one that best suits your needs.

      1. Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights

      MonsterInsights is the most popular Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. Over 1 million websites use it including the likes of Bloomberg, PlayStation, Zillow, and more.

      It is the easiest and by far the best way to add Google Analytics to WordPress (for all users beginners and experts alike).

      MonsterInsights is available as both, a paid premium plugin, and a free version. In this tutorial, we will be using the MonsterInsights free version.

      You can use the MonsterInsights Pro version if you want more advanced features like E-commerce tracking, Ads tracking, Author tracking, etc. The process of setting them up is the same.

      Let’s get started.

      The first thing you need to do is install and activate the MonsterInsights plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

      Upon activation, the plugin will add a new menu item labeled ‘Insights’ to your WordPress admin menu. Clicking on it will bring the MonsterInsights setup wizard.

      MonsterInsights setup wizard

      First, you will be asked to choose a category for your website (a business website, blog, or online store). Select one and then click on ‘Save and Continue’ button.

      Next, you need to click on the ‘Connect MonsterInsights’ button.

      Connect MonsterInsights

      This will bring up a popup which will take you Google accounts where you will be asked to sign in or select a Google account if you are already signed in.

      Sign in or select a Google account to continue

      Next, you will be asked to allow MonsterInsights to access your Google Analytics account.

      Allow MonsterInsights to access your Google Analytics account

      Click on the ‘Allow’ button to continue.

      The final step is to select the profile you want to track. You need to select your website here and then click on the ‘Complete authentication’ button to continue.

      Select your website profile to compete setup

      MonsterInsights will now install Google Analytics on your website. After that you will be asked to select the recommended settings for your website.

      Recommended settings for Google Analytics

      The default settings would work for most websites. If you use an affiliate link plugin, then you need to add the path you use to cloak affiliate links. This will allow you to track your affiliate links in Google Analytics.

      Click on the Save and Continue button to save your settings.

      Next, MonsterInsights will show you paid add-ons that you can access if you upgrade to PRO. You can simply click on the ‘Save and Continue’ button to skip this step.

      Upgrade to pro

      After that, you will be asked to install WPForms plugin, which is the best WordPress contact form plugin. You can install it or simply click on ‘Skip this Step’

      Recommended plugin

      That’s all you have successfully installed and setup Google Analytics on your WordPress site. Remember, it will take Google Analytics sometime before showing your stats.

      Google Analytics successfully installed using MonsterInsights

      The best part about MonsterInsights is that you can view your Google Analytics reports inside your WordPress dashboard. Simply visit Insights &raqo; Reports page to check out a quick overview of your analytics data.

      Your Google Analytics reports in WordPress dashboard

      Note: MonsterInsights was formerly known as Google Analytics for WordPress by Yoast. WPBeginner’s founder, Syed Balkhi, acquired the plugin in 2016 and rebranded it to MonsterInsights. Now it is part of our family of premium WordPress plugins.

      2. Insert Headers and Footers Plugin

      This method is not as not as good as MonsterInsights because you will not be able to do advanced tracking configuration, and you will not be able to view Google Analytics data in your WordPress dashboard.

      First, you need to install and activate the Insert Headers and Footers plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

      Upon activation, you need to visit Settings » Insert Headers and Footers page. Here you need to paste the Google Analytics code that you copied in step 4 into the headers section.

      Adding Google Analytics tracking code using Insert Headers and Footers plugin

      Don’t forget to click on the save changes button to store your settings.

      That’s all, you have successfully installed Google Analytics on your site.

      3. Install Google Analytics in WordPress Theme

      This method is for advanced users who are familiar with the code. It is somewhat unreliable because your code will disappear if you switch or update the theme. We almost never recommend using this method.

      If this is your first time adding code to your WordPress files, then you should check out our guide on how to copy paste code snippets in WordPress.

      Add code in header.php file

      Simply edit the header.php file in your WordPress theme and paste the code you copied in step 4 right after the <body> tag.

      Don’t forget to save your changes and upload the file back to your server.

      Add via Functions File

      You can also add Google Analytics tracking code to WordPress functions file. It will then automatically add the tracking code to every page on your WordPress site.

      You will need to add this code to your theme’s functions.php file.

      <?php
      add_action('wp_head', 'wpb_add_googleanalytics');
      function wpb_add_googleanalytics()  ?>
      
      // Paste your Google Analytics code from Step 4 here
      
      <?php  ?>
      

      Viewing Reports on Google Analytics Website

      Google Analytics is capable of showing you a treasure of data collected from your stats. You can view this data by visiting your Google Analytics dashboard.

      Google Analytics reporting

      You will see the built-in Google Analytics reports in the left column. Each section is divided into different tabs and clicking on a tab will expand it to show more options.

      • Real-time This report will show you a real time view of your traffic.
      • Audience tab will show reports to help you understand your users.
      • Acquisition reports explore where your users came from.
      • Behavior reports summarize what your users do after they arrive on your site.
      • Conversion reports show how well you’re doing against your goals.

      Making the Most out of Google Analytics

      Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool with tons of awesome features. Some of them are quite obvious and easy to use, others require some additional setup.

      Here are some of the resources that will help you make the most out of Google Analytics reports.

      Google Analytics works best with Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools). It allows you to see how your website is doing in search results. See our complete Google Search Console guide to learn how to use it to grow your website.

      We hope this article helped you learn how to install Google Analytics in WordPress. You may also want to see our ultimate WordPress SEO guide for beginners.

      If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

      The post How to Install Google Analytics in WordPress for Beginners appeared first on WPBeginner.



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How to Choose the Best Products to Sell Online (Beginner’s Guide)


You want to make extra money on the side, so you looked into several online business ideas and decided that creating an online store is the way to go.

The next step is where beginners often struggle the most: choosing which products to sell on your online store.

In this ultimate guide, we will explain how to easily choose the best products to sell online by following our step by step process.

Choosing products to sell online

1. Basics of Choosing Products to Sell on Your Ecommerce Store

Before you start looking into products that you can sell, there are some basics that you need to keep in mind. Let’s look at some of the most important ones first.

1. Choosing Your Ecommerce Platform

First you need to choose a platform that you want to use to sell your products.

Choosing the right eCommerce platform is important because it would affect your choice of products and how you do business.

Choosing an eCommerce platform

WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce platform in the world. It is easy to use, and you can use it to sell all kind of products while accepting payments using multiple payment gateways. See our guide on how to start an online store to get started with WooCommerce.

However, WooCommerce is not the only platform out there. There are some great WooCommerce alternatives that could be better for you depending on what you are trying to sell.

If you lack technical skills and want a quicker way to build an online store, then you may want to look into Shopify. It is a fully hosted solution that takes care of all the technical stuff. The catch here is that you will be paying a little more, and your costs will grow as you make more sales.

For a side by side comparison, see our article on Shopify vs WooCommerce with the pros and cons of both platforms.

2. Shipping

Shipping has a huge impact on the success of an eCommerce store. A study conducted by Business Insider discovered that higher shipping costs are the #1 cause of all abandoned shopping carts online.

Shipping costs more cart abandonment

You would obviously want to select products that you can ship at lower costs or for free. If you only plan to sell digital products (music, video, software, ebook, etc), then you don’t have to worry about shipping because the products will be downloaded by customers online.

3. Inventory

Do you want to manage inventory and keep products stocked? For that, you will need storage space and inventory management through your eCommerce software. Keeping products in stock will increase your cost of business.

On the other hand, drop-shipping solves this problem. You can select products that are shipped directly by the manufacturer or supplier.

4. Price

You’ll need to find products where you can offer a competitive price to your customers. If the product you are selling is more expensive than your competitors, then obviously that would discourage many first time buyers.

2. Types of Products That You Can Sell Easily

There are many different kinds of products that you can sell in your online store. Let’s narrow them down into two major sections.

1. Commoditized Products

These are products that everyone needs and are sold by many small and large stores without any difference in quality. For example, everyday products like soap, detergent, cereal, and more.

These products are made by some of the largest brands in the retail industry and are available widely with little to no difference in price.

This makes it harder for you to compete with giants like Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc. They can offer those products at lower costs, free shipping, and other perks.

This rules out a large number of products for you.

2. Niche Products

These are products that are unique or hand-made, available in limited stocks, and from specific suppliers. Think of home-made soaps, novelty t-shirts, ceramics, gift items, software, and countless other products.

Since these products are not widely available, they give you a competitive advantage.

There are even unique platforms like Etsy stores where you can find small vendors who make beautiful products and would love to partner up with other stores.

Etsy stores

You can also find suppliers abroad using websites like AliExpress or Alibaba.com. These suppliers can make those niche products to your specifications and deliver them to you.

Niche products are available in almost any product category imaginable. You’ll find tons of unique ideas as you do your product research.

This brings us to our next tip.

3. Doing Product Research On Your Own

Don’t use your best guess to select products you sell online. Back it up with data so that you know there is a demand for these products and customers are looking for them.

The first tool you are going to use for your research is Amazon.

It is the world’s largest eCommerce store with thousands of products. Luckily, it is also a treasure trove of free data that you can scrap and make your decisions.

Go through different product categories to find out top performing products in each category. Keep narrowing down your search to sub-categories to find targeted sub-niches of products.

Let’s suppose you wanted to sell kid’s toys, narrow down your search to very specific toy categories. This excludes popular products, and you get a very focused set of products as you filter through.

Narrow down categories to find product data

Switch to the ‘Bestsellers’ view to find the top performing products on Amazon under each category.

Sort products by Bestsellers

SEMRush is another great tool that you can use to gather data from competitors or any eCommerce store you want.

SEMRush

It shows you where those eCommerce stores are getting most of their traffic, which products they are promoting through paid advertisements, what are their most viewed products, and more.

It also shows your competitor’s product listing ads from Google. You can see their best performing product listing ads, keywords, and other data.

Here are some other tools you can use to gather product data from other websites.

  • Ahrefs – A powerful competitor research tool that will show what’s popular on the websites of your competitors.
  • AdPlexity – A popular eCommerce research tool that helps you collect eCommerce data from across the web, from competitors, or any other website.
  • AmazeOwl – It is an Amazon product reseach tool available as a free desktop application.

4. Use Customer Personas to Find Product Ideas

Using customer personas to find products

A customer persona is a fictional profile of an ideal customer that you want to target. You create this profile by answering simple questions about an ideal buyer.

This is your target audience and personifying them helps you understand them better when you are doing product research.

If you have an existing store, then you can use eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics to build an ideal buyer persona.

If you are just starting out, then use your best guess to build a customer persona. This exercise helps you understand your customer’s needs, questions they may have, and what kind of products they would like to buy.

To learn more about buyer persona, see this guide on creating a concrete buyer persona with ready-made templates and examples.

5. Find Products You are Passionate About

As career advisors say, ‘Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’.

Similarly, choosing products that you are passionate about helps you sell them more effectively.

These could be products that you personally love and passionately recommend to your family and friends. These could be products related to a hobby or activity that you are passionate about.

Nothing drives more passion when you build something useful and want others to use it.

Following your passion allows you to look deeply into products and find ideas that offer real value to your customers.

We hope this article helped you learn how to choose the best products to sell online. You may also want to see our article on tips to grow your business online without spending a lot of money.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How to Choose the Best Products to Sell Online (Beginner’s Guide) appeared first on WPBeginner.



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How to Add Social Share Buttons in WordPress (Beginner’s Guide)


Do you want to add social share buttons in WordPress? Social media websites are where people spend a lot of their time on internet.

You can use social media to build user engagement and bring new users to your website. The simplest way to do this is by adding social sharing buttons to WordPress posts and pages.

In this article, we’ll show you how to easily add social share buttons and display share counts in WordPress. We will cover couple of different ways to do this, so you can add social buttons above and below post content or make a floating share bar..

How to Add Social Share Buttons in WordPress - Easy Way

Why You Should Add Social Share Buttons in WordPress?

Social networking is one of the most popular online activities today. It is estimated that by the end of 2019, there will be around 2.77 billion social media users around the globe. (Source)

That’s why social media marketing is now a crucial part of any businesses’ growth strategy. If you want to reach more potential customers, then social media platforms are highly effective channels to communicate with them.

The problem is that when you share your content on your own social media profiles, tit only reaches a limited number of your own followers.

The best way to reach people who don’t follow your business on social media is by adding social sharing buttons to your WordPress site.

Social share buttons prompt your website visitors to share your content on their social media timeline. This allows your content to be seen by their friends and followers who can then add comments, like, and re-share it.

Adding social sharing buttons to your website can help you:

  • Get more traffic to your website
  • Increase your social media following
  • Generate more leads and sales
  • Build social proof and brand recognition

Having said that, let’s see how to easily add social share buttons in WordPress.

Adding Social Share Buttons in WordPress

For this tutorial, we’ll be using the Shared Counts plugin. It is the best WordPress social media plugin available on the market.

Using this plugin, you can easily add social share buttons in your WordPress posts and also display the share counts. The best part is that it is optimized for performance and doesn’t slow down your website.

Unlike other social sharing plugins, Shared Counts uses a unique caching method to have minimal impact on your website’s speed and performance.

The first thing you need to do is to install and activate the Shared Counts plugin. For detailed instructions, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

After you’ve installed the plugin, you need to go to Settings » SharedCounts menu to configure plugin settings.

Shared Counts WordPress menu

Next, you need to scroll down to the ‘Display’ section and choose the share buttons you want to display. By default, three buttons are selected (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest).

Shared Counts Plugin - select social share buttons

You can click on the white area in the field to add additional share buttons that you want.

Add social share buttons in Shared Counts

Next, you can choose the share button style from the dropdown menu labeled “Share Button Style”. Shared Counts plugin comes with 8 beautiful button styles.

Shared Counts share button styles

After that, you’ll need to select the theme location where you want to display the social share buttons. You can choose from 3 options: Before Content, After Content, and Before and After Content.

Theme Locations for Social Share Buttons

Lastly, you need to select the supported post types. It has ‘post’ selected by default.

If you want to display share buttons on your pages and other post types, then you can check the box next to page option.

Supported Post types Shared Counts

Don’t forget to click on the Save Changes button to store your settings.

Once done, you can visit any post on your website to see the social sharing buttons in action. Here’s how our demo website looks with the ‘Classic’ button style on default Twenty Nineteen theme.

Social Share Buttons by Shared Counts

How to Display Social Share Counts in WordPress?

As the name suggests, Shared Counts plugin can also show your social share counts without slowing down your website.

To enable social share counts, you’ll need to go to the Shared Counts settings and set up the share count source.

On the Shared Counts settings window, you’ll see the ‘Share Counts’ settings at the top.

By default, you’ll see the None option selected for ‘Count Source’ which means that share counts are not being retrieved and displayed.

Share Counts Source none Shared Counts

To show the social share counts, you can choose from two sources.

Share Counts Source Options

The SharedCount.com is the recommended option for the plugin. If you choose this option, the counts are retrieved from the SharedCount service API. It allows fetching all counts with only 2 API calls which is the best for performance.

If you choose the ‘Native’ option, share counts are retrieved from the respective social service, like Facebook API for Facebook counts, Pinterest API for Pin counts. This method can slow down your site because it will require multiple API calls.

We recommend choosing SharedCount.com as your count source. Next, you’ll see a field for SharedCount API key.

Shared Counts API field

You can get the SharedCount API by signing up to for a free account on SharedCount.com website.

Register for SharedCounts com

Enter your email address and a password. Then click Create Account.

Create SharedCounts.com account

The website will now send a confirmation link to your email address. You need to click the link to verify.

SharedCounts.com account verified

Once your email is verified, you need to log into your SharedCount account and navigate to your account at the top right side of the screen. There, you’ll see your email address and a dropdown icon next to it.

SharedCounts.com account

Next, you need to click the drop-down menu and select ‘Settings’. From here you’ll find your SharedCount API key.

SharedCounts.com API key

You need to copy the API key and go back to your plugin’s settings page on your WordPress site. Now, go ahead and paste the API key in the ‘SharedCount API Key’ field.

Insert SharedCounts API key

Below that, you’ll see some other settings related to social share counts. You can review and change them if you like.

If you want to show the total counts, then you can check the box next to ‘Count Total Only’ option.

We also recommend checking the box to hide empty counts instead of displaying a zero (0).

Share count options

Next, you will see a new ‘Total Counts’ field in the Display section. This allows you to show total share counts alongside your share buttons.

Add Total Counts button Shared Counts Plugin

Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save changes’ button to store your settings.

You can now visit your website to see the social sharing buttons with share count for each blog post.

Adding Social Share Buttons on Selected Pages

Typpically social share buttons aren’t usually added to WordPress pages however sometimes you may want to enable them on some specific pages.

If so then, you can use the Shared Counts shortcode: [[shared_counts]].

You can add this shortcode anywhere on your website to display the share buttons.

To add shortcodes in WordPress, there is a shortcode block in the WordPress block editor.

Shortcode Block in Gutenberg Editor

You can simply add the block to your content area and then paste the Shared Counts shortcode.

Insert Shared Counts Shortcode

Using the shortcode, you can add social share buttons really anywhere on your site.

Adding Floating Social Share Bar in WordPress

The Shared Counts plugin allows you to add social share buttons above content, below content, or both above and below content. These share buttons are static and not visible all the time.

Another popular way to display social sharing buttons is by adding a floating social sharing bar. It is a social sharing menu that sticks on users’ screens as they scroll down.

Unlike the standard sharing buttons, the floating social share bar will be seen the whole time a user reads your article. Making them more noticeable and helping you boost social sharing.

Some user experience experts argue that it makes your website look bad as it fills out the white space. However, if you can keep it clean, then it can be quite useful.

For the floating social share buttons, you need to install and activate the Sassy Social Share plugin.

Upon activation, the plugin will add a new menu item labeled ‘Sassy Social Share’ to your WordPress admin sidebar. Clicking on it will take you to the plugin’s settings page.

Select your button style

First, you need to choose an icon style. The plugin comes with square, rounded, and rectangle buttons. You can choose styles for both the floating social share bar and the standard share bar.

Next, you need to switch to the ‘Standard Interface’ tab. From here you can enable or disable the standard static social sharing buttons.

Standard sharing buttons

We recommend using either floating or static social buttons. Using both of them will be an overkill and may create a bad user experience.

Next, you need to switch to the ‘Floating Interface’ tab and check the box next to ‘Enable Floating sharing interface’ option.

Floating social share plugin settings

After that, you need to choose the social media websites you want to display. You can add or remove buttons and rearrange them by simple drag and drop.

Once you are finished, click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.

You can now visit your website to see floating social share buttons in action. Here’s how it looked on our demo website.

Floating social share buttons

We hope this article helped you learn how to add social share buttons in WordPress. You may also want to learn how to add social media icons to WordPress menus and how to add the social icons to the sidebar.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



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How to Get a Free SSL Certificate for Your WordPress Website (Beginner’s Guide)


Did you know that Google shows all non-SSL websites as “Not Secure”. This means that if you are not using a SSL certificate on your website, then you’ll lose customers trust.

Because SSL certificate helps protect your website data, it’s actually a requirement for accepting payments online.

Normally, paid SSL certificates are quite expensive. If you are just starting a blog or making a DIY business website, then you likely want to keep costs low.

Luckily, there are multiple ways to get a free SSL certificate to reduce your website cost. In this article, we will show you how to easily get a free SSL certificate for your WordPress website and set it up all by yourself.

Getting a free SSL certificate for your WordPress site

We will also cover the following topics:

  • What is an SSL Certificate?
  • Why You need an SSL certificate for Your WordPress Site
  • How does SSL certificate work to keep information secure
  • How much SSL certificates cost
  • How you can get a free SSL certificate
  • How to Install a free SSL certificate in WordPress

Ready? Let’s get started.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is an internet protocol for securing data transfer between a user’s browser and the website they are visiting.

Every internet user transfers information when they visit websites. This information can often be sensitive like payment details, credit card information, or login credentials.

Using the normal HTTP protocol means this information can be hijacked by hackers. This is where SSL or HTTPS comes in.

Websites need an SSL certificate issued by one of the recognized certificate issuing authority. This certificate is verified and highlighted in the user’s browser address bar with a padlock sign and HTTPS instead of HTTP.

Address bar showing SSL secure padlock icon with HTTPs

Do I Need an SSL Certificate for My WordPress Website?

SSL / HTTPS is recommended for all websites on the internet. However, it is absolutely required for all websites that collect user information like login details, payment information, credit cards, and more.

If you are running an e-commerce store, a membership website, or require users to login, then you need to get an SSL certificate right away.

Most online payment services require your website to use SSL/HTTPs before you can receive payments.

Apart from security, SSL certificate also creates a positive impression of your brand among your users. Google also recommends using SSL, and research shows that SSL-enabled websites rank slightly higher in search results.

Last but not least, if your website is not using an SSL certificate, then Google Chrome will show your users that your website is not secure.

Not secure label shown in Google Chrome web browser

This icon affects your brand image and user’s trust on your website.

How Does SSL Certificate Work?

Now that we have explained what is SSL and why is it important, you might be wondering how does an SSL certificate actually works?

SSL protects information by encrypting the data transfer between a user’s browser and the website.

When a user visits an SSL/HTTPs website, their browser first verifies if the website’s SSL certificate is valid.

If everything checks out, then the browser uses the website’s public key to encrypt the data. This data is then sent back to the intended server (website) where it is decrypted using the public key and a secret private key.

How SSL works to protect data transfer

How Much Do SSL Certificates Cost?

Cost of SSL Certificates differs from one certificate authority to another. Their pricing could be anywhere between $50-200 / year. Some providers offer add-on services with their certificates which may also affect the cost of your SSL certificate.

If you are going to purchase an SSL certificate, then we recommend GoDaddy. They are the largest domain name registration service in the world, managing more than 77 million domains.

They offer simple SSL certificate plans starting from $74.99 / year. After you have purchased an SSL certificate, you can ask your hosting provider to install it for you.

But before you do that, you should check to see if you can get the SSL certificate for free.

How Can I Get an SSL Certificate for Free?

A lot of website owners are reluctant to use SSL due to the additional cost. This left many small websites vulnerable to data and information theft.

A non-profit project called Let’s Encrypt decided to fix this by establishing a free certificate authority.

The purpose of this certificate authority is to make it easier for website owners to get a free SSL certificate. Internet becomes a safer place if more and more websites start using SSL.

Due to the significance of the project, it quickly earned the support of major companies like Google, Facebook, Shopify, WordPress.com and many others.

The challenge is that installing the free SSL certificate by Let’s Encrypt for a beginner user is quite difficult because it requires coding knowledge and server systems knowledge.

Thankfully, all of the best WordPress hosting companies are now offering free SSL certificate with all their hosting plans (some are using Let’s Encrypt).

Choosing one of these providers will save you from the hassle of installing the free SSL certificate on your own.

Here are the top WordPress hosting companies that offer free SSL certificate with their hosting plans.

If you are already using one of these companies, then you can turn on your free SSL certificate from your hosting dashboard. Simply login to your hosting account’s cPanel dashboard and scroll down to the ‘Security’ section.

Enable free SSL certificate from cPanel

Bluehost users will find the free SSL option by visiting My Sites » Manage Site page. From here, you can switch to the security tab and turn on free SSL certificate for your website.

Bluehost free SSL

Depending on your hosting company, your web hosting control panel may look different than the screenshot above. If you are having trouble locating the free SSL option, then you can ask your hosting provider to enable it for you.

If your web hosting company does not offer free SSL, then you can easily follow our guide to switch your hosting and move your sites to one of the companies above.

Installing Free SSL Certificate and Setting up WordPress

Once you have enabled your free SSL Certificate, you will need to set up WordPress to start using HTTPS instead of HTTP in all your URLs.

The easiest way to do this is by installing and activating the Really Simple SSL plugin on your website. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, the plugin will check to see if your SSL certificate is enabled. After that, it will turn on HTTP to HTTPS redirect and change your website settings to start using SSL/HTTPs.

SSL enabled in WordPress

To make your website completely secure, you need to make sure that URLs of your website are loading using the HTTPS protocol. Really Simple SSL plugin does that automatically by fixing the URLs when the page loads.

Even if a single URL still loads using the insecure HTTP protocol, then browsers will treat your entire website as not fully secure.

Connection not fully secure

To fix these URLs, you will need to use your browser’s inspect tool to find them and then replace them with the correct HTTPs URLs. For more on this, see our tutorial on how to fix mixed content error in WordPress.

Really Simple SSL Plugin makes it super easy to set up free SSL certificate in WordPress. That’s why we recommend it for all beginners.

However, it catches insecure URLs when the page loads, which increases your page load time a little bit. This is why advanced users who are concerned about WordPress speed uses the manual method to setup their free SSL certificate.

We have created detailed step by step instructions to help you properly switch WordPress from HTTP to HTTPS (which shows both the manual method and the plugin method).

We hope this article helped you learn how to get a free SSL certificate for your WordPress site. You may also want to see our step by step guide on how to create free business email address for your WordPress site.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How to Get a Free SSL Certificate for Your WordPress Website (Beginner’s Guide) appeared first on WPBeginner.



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How to Optimize Your Robots.txt for SEO in WordPress (Beginner’s Guide)


Recently one of our readers asked us for tips on how to optimize the robots.txt file to improve SEO. Robots.txt file tells search engines how to crawl your website which makes it an incredibly powerful SEO tool. In this article, we will show you how to create a perfect robots.txt file for SEO.

Using WordPress robots.txt file to improve SEO

What is robots.txt file?

Robots.txt is a text file that website owners can create to tell search engine bots how to crawl and index pages on their site.

It is typically stored in the root directory also known as the main folder of your website. The basic format for a robots.txt file looks like this:


User-agent: [user-agent name]
Disallow: [URL string not to be crawled]

User-agent: [user-agent name]
Allow: [URL string to be crawled]


Sitemap: [URL of your XML Sitemap]

You can have multiple lines of instructions to allow or disallow specific URLs and add multiple sitemaps. If you do not disallow a URL, then search engine bots assume that they are allowed to crawl it.

Here is what a robots.txt example file can look like:


User-Agent: *
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/
Disallow: /wp-admin/

Sitemap: https://example.com/sitemap_index.xml


In the above robots.txt example, we have allowed search engines to crawl and index files in our WordPress uploads folder.

After that, we have disallowed search bots from crawling and indexing plugins and WordPress admin folders.

Lastly, we have provided the URL of our XML sitemap.

Do You Need a Robots.txt File for Your WordPress Site?

If you don’t have a robots.txt file, then search engines will still crawl and index your website. However, you will not be able to tell search engines which pages or folders they should not crawl.

This will not have much of an impact when you’re first starting a blog and do not have a lot of content.

However as your website grows and you have a lot of content, then you would likely want to have better control over how your website is crawled and indexed.

Here is why.

Search bots have a crawl quota for each website.

This means that they crawl a certain number of pages during a crawl session. If they don’t finish crawling all pages on your site, then they will come back and resume crawl in the next session.

This can slow down your website indexing rate.

You can fix this by disallowing search bots from attempting to crawl unnecessary pages like your WordPress admin pages, plugin files, and themes folder.

By disallowing unnecessary pages, you save your crawl quota. This helps search engines crawl even more pages on your site and index them as quickly as possible.

Another good reason to use robots.txt file is when you want to stop search engines from indexing a post or page on your website.

It is not the safest way to hide content from the general public, but it will help you prevent them from appearing in search results.

What Does an Ideal Robots.txt File Should Look Like?

Many popular blogs use a very simple robots.txt file. Their content may vary, depending on the needs of the specific site:


User-agent: *
Disallow:
 
Sitemap: http://www.example.com/post-sitemap.xml
Sitemap: http://www.example.com/page-sitemap.xml

This robots.txt file allows all bots to index all content and provides them a link to the website’s XML sitemaps.

For WordPress sites, we recommend the following rules in the robots.txt file:


User-Agent: *
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /readme.html
Disallow: /refer/

Sitemap: http://www.example.com/post-sitemap.xml
Sitemap: http://www.example.com/page-sitemap.xml

This tell search bots to index all WordPress images and files. It disallows search bots from indexing WordPress plugin files, WordPress admin area, the WordPress readme file, and affiliate links.

By adding sitemaps to robots.txt file, you make it easy for Google bots to find all the pages on your site.

Now that you know what an ideal robots.txt file look like, let’s take a look at how you can create a robots.txt file in WordPress.

How to Create a Robots.txt File in WordPress?

There are two ways to create a robots.txt file in WordPress. You can choose the method that works best for you.

Method 1: Editing Robots.txt File Using Yoast SEO

If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, then it comes with a robots.txt file generator.

You can use it to create and edit a robots.txt file directly from your WordPress admin area.

Simply go to SEO » Tools page in your WordPress admin and click on the File Editor link.

File editor tool in Yoast SEO

On the next page, Yoast SEO page will show your existing robots.txt file.

If you don’t have a robots.txt file, then Yoast SEO will generate a robots.txt file for you.

Create robots.txt file using Yoast SEO

By default, Yoast SEO’s robots.txt file generator will add the following rules to your robots.txt file:


User-agent: *
Disallow: /

It is important that you delete this text because it blocks all search engines from crawling your website.

After deleting the default text, you can go ahead and add your own robots.txt rules. We recommend using the ideal robots.txt format we shared above.

Once you’re done, don’t forget to click on the ‘Save robots.txt file’ button to store your changes.

Method 2. Edit Robots.txt file Manually Using FTP

For this method, you will need to use an FTP client to edit robots.txt file.

Simply connect to your WordPress hosting account using an FTP client.

Once inside, you will be able to see the robots.txt file in your website’s root folder.

Editing WordPress robots.txt file using FTP

If you don’t see one, then you likely don’t have a robots.txt file. In that case, you can just go ahead and create one.

Create robots.txt file using FTP

Robots.txt is a plain text file, which means you can download it to your computer and edit it using any plain text editor like Notepad or TextEdit.

After saving your changes, you can upload it back to your website’s root folder.

How to Test Your Robots.txt File?

Once you have created your robots.txt file, it’s always a good idea to test it using a robots.txt tester tool.

There are many robots.txt tester tools out there, but we recommend using the one inside Google Search Console.

Simply login to your Google Search Console account, and then switch to the old Google search console website.

Switch to old Google Search Console

This will take you to the old Google Search Console interface. From here you need to launch the robots.txt tester tool located under ‘Crawl’ menu.

Robots.txt tester tool

The tool will automatically fetch your website’s robots.txt file and highlight the errors and warnings if it found any.

Final Thoughts

The goal of optimizing your robots.txt file is to prevent search engines from crawling pages that are not publicly available. For example, pages in your wp-plugins folder or pages in your WordPress admin folder.

A common myth among SEO experts is that blocking WordPress category, tags, and archive pages will improve crawl rate and result in faster indexing and higher rankings.

This is not true. It’s also against Google’s webmaster guidelines.

We recommend that you follow the above robots.txt format to create a robots.txt file for your website.

We hope this article helped you learn how to optimize your WordPress robots.txt file for SEO. You may also want to see our ultimate WordPress SEO guide and the best WordPress SEO tools to grow your website.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



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