WordCamp Chicago 2016 – some helpful notes for website owners

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Overview

O3 Internet provides help for website owners to reach their online goals - helpful some notes from WordCamp Chicago 2016.O3 Internet has used many content management systems, but WordPress is our favorite because our clients find it easy to learn and use to keep their sites up-to-date.

Carol attended WordCamp Chicago 2016 in early May. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events held all over the world. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.

Below are some quick notes that may help you reach your online goals.

Quick Notes from WordCamp Chicago 2016

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If you want people to find you on search engines such as Google, ranking well should be an important aspect of your marketing. The goal is to have your website appear on the first page of rankings for keyword phrases that your customers, members or clients use to find businesses or organizations such as yours.
Here are some ideas to improve search ranking:

  • Make sure your site is “mobile responsive” – that means it looks good and functions on all device size. Having a separate mobile site such as m.mysite.com dilutes the “domain authority” of your primary domain and may reduce your search ranking. A mobile responsive site will save you the cost and time of developing a separate mobile website and ongoing costs to maintain two versions of your website.
  • If at all possible, post your blog content inside your main website, on a URL such as yoursite.com/blog/.  Having your blog on a subdomain such as blog.yoursite.com also dilutes domain authority. This also applies to a blog on a separate URL such as myblog.blogspot.com, where all search ranking goes to blogspot.com – not to your own website. Moving the blog into your main site helps direct traffic to that site and can improve your main site’s search ranking.
  • Local directories such as Google, Bing, Yahoo or Yelp can help area customers find you – these search listings often appear at the top of search results. You are likely to be contacted by companies that offer to outsource this work for you. It’s often better to do it yourself so you can be sure it’s done correctly and that you have the login information in case you need to change your hours, your location, your phone or your services or products in the future. Just one hour a month can make a big difference in your local search results. See our blog post on Local Directories…
  • Registering your main domain for multiple years tells Google you plan to be around for awhile – and that can positively influence ranking.
  • It’s OK to copy part of a blog posting to feature it on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Pinterest – just make it an excerpt with a link back to your main website.
  • Be sure to permanently redirect the old page(s) to the new pages to preserve search ranking – if you change the URL of a page or if you launch a new website with different URLs.
  • What happens when someone goes to a page on your website that doesn’t exist? They see the “page not found” page (404 page.) This page can be used as an opportunity to help searchers find what they are looking for or to find something similar. Considering putting your menu, a link to your contact page or other helpful information on this page.

Security

Hackers continue to use creative and devious ways to get to your valuable information. Cleaning up a hacked computer or website can be time-consuming, costly and stressful.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe:

  • Keep WordPress, plugins and themes up to date! WordPress is under constant scrutiny by the thousands of developers who contribute to it’s core files, plugins and themes. Updates come out almost daily, and some of them include critical patches for security.
  • Back up your WordPress database and files regularly, especially before changing something or upgrading. Automated backups that are saved somewhere other than your web server are essential.
  • Uninstall any disabled or unused plugins and themes from your WordPress site. Even a disabled plugin can be used to hack into your site if it contains a vulnerability, and some disabled plugins aren’t updated automatically. Yes, this includes Akismet and Hello Dolly, which are included in every WordPress install.
  • Use hard-to guess passwords, and don’t use the same password twice. Using a password manager such as Dashlane or LastPass can help manage all those passwords.
  • Don’t email passwords or other sensitive information. Online services such as onetimesecret.com can help share credentials securely.
  • Be careful when at public wifi locations that are most likely not encrypted. Your login information may be able to be sniffed by those using the network. You can use software to hide you such as HMA – warning, the actual URL is a bit crude.
  • In general: don’t click on attachments in emails you aren’t expecting. Don’t visit questionable websites. Do run antivirus and malware software on your computer. Keep your operating system and software updated.

Marketing Strategy

Some general observations from the conference that you might find interesting:

  • A website that’s not updated is unlikely to appeal to potential clients or to rank well on search engines compared to competitors’ websites that are kept up-to-date with interesting and relevant content.
  • Site owners are frequently approached by large companies such as Dex or Yahoo or other “automatic” service to create and host their websites in a package deal bundled with lots of other services. This can be more costly over the long run as large monthly charges add up over time. And many  such sites are populated with boilerplate that isn’t unique to the business, that isn’t updated over time, and with designs that “look like 1997”.  A good web developer can help you identify your company’s or organization’s unique value and help convey that in ways that work best for both potential customers AND search engines.  If you’re on a budget, they can help you understand what’s important and what can wait until phase 2.

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