Category Archives for WordPress for Small Business

WordPress Sites on GoDaddy Vulnerable to Malware Hack

Security Update for WordPress Site Owners Hosting with GoDaddy.com!

Yesterday, a fellow WordPress security expert – Regina Smola (her site is http://www.wpsecuritylock.com) put out a e-mail to her user base to warn them of a Malware hack that was attacking WordPress sites that are hosted with Godaddy.com. I know that many of my customers have sites hosted with them and I wanted to get this out to you so you can take action.

Here is a quick synopsis of what happened:

Malware Virus Name: acrossuniverseitbenet

The malware will inject itself into your server files and once on your server will infect your WordPress database. I guess the hackers (or "crackers") didn't think infecting your files was enough! This script, once launched will redirect to "Fake Anti-Virus" sites. Some of these sites are "zero day" attacks, meaning that your up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer won't catch it.

To get more details on this hack, I refer you to WP Security Lock. They also take you through the steps of checking your server, database and how to clean it off if you have been infected.

Has Your WordPress Site Been Hacked?

If you find out that your WordPress site has been hacked and you are not sure how to get it cleaned, please contact me and we will get right on it for you.

If you have not been hacked – great! But that doesn't mean you are out of the woods. If you have not backed up your site files or your WordPress database you need to start doing that now. Here are a couple of articles for you to read for backups and security:

WordPress Backups – What You Should Know To Protect Yourself
WordPress Security – Installing It Right The First Time!
Is Your WordPress Business Site On An Up To Date Server?

Resources To Learn More About This Malware Hack:

Attacks against GoDaddy – acrossuniverseitbenet + Hilary Kneber + HardSoft
Security Update: Malware Affecting Some Databases

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I'm here to help you build a successful and growing business using WordPress and online marketing efforts. Please connect with me on Facebook. You are what makes up Lapeer Website Design!

Patrick WhitsonPatrick Whitson has spent more than twenty years in the computer field programming and designing web sites for such companies as J. Walter Thompson, Ford, MSX Intl., White Castle, Delphi and many small to mid-sized businesses. Moving out of corporate America, he decided to work specifically with local businesses to help them market online using their own website. He has worked with many small businesses and is seeing them grow and bring in more customers with Lapeer Website Design.


Getting Started With Your Business WordPress Site – Pt. 2

The article before last – Getting Started With Your Business WordPress Site took you through a few basic steps to get you on your way to your first WordPress site for your business. Today's article we will pick up from where we left off and give you a few more steps to take to getting you closer to the end result – a new website.

Are you excited to learn more about this?

I hope so. 

Ok, we left off with you obtaining hosting for your new domain that you purchased that will store your files for your business WordPress site. At this point, you should have received an e-mail from your hosting company (see example below):

Let's take you through this so you have a good understanding of what it means. The e-mail you will receive from your hosting company (in this case – Fat Cow. I know, funny name…) will have a few pieces of information that you will want to take note of:

NOTE: Please print this out when you receive it and file it in a safe place.

  1. cPanel Login Information – This is the central area of your hosting account and where you can access sections such as e-mail, file manager, ftp, databases and more. Your hosting company will give you a link where you can login to access your cPanel. Your "Username" will be in this e-mail but they may not send the "Password". If you do not remember what your password is, you can reset it.
     
  2. FTP Login Information – If you are not sure what FTP stands for, it's "File Transfer Protocol". It's just a way that you can upload files from your computer to your website. In this section they will also include the address you need to use (i.e. ftp.yourdomain.com), your "Username" and "Password". Again, if you don't know your password, it's usually the same one to access your cPanel.
     
  3. Domain Name Information – Each hosting account has it's own DNS (Domain Name Servers). In other words, you can look at a website like www.amazon.com as an address on the internet but it also has an associated I.P. address such as 207.171.166.48. For humans, it's easier to remember amazon.com instead of a set of four numbers. The DNS translates this when someone enters the domain name into it's corresponding I.P. address.

    This only comes into play if you have registered your domain name (i.e. lapeerwebsitedesign.com) separately from your hosting company. If you purchased both your domain name and hosting through the same company then you are good to go.

    Want to know more about what is DNS?
     

  4. Setting Up Your Email – All hosting accounts come with e-mail. This section will give you some quick instructions on how you can setup your POP (incoming) and SMTP (outgoing) e-mail within your specific e-mail client software (Outlook, etc.). If you want to setup specific e-mails for your domain such as support@mydomain.com, log into your cPanel and navigate to the "Email" section and click on "Email Accounts". It will step you through the process there.
     
  5. Hosting Support – This will give you links to where you can issue support tickets, view the hosting company's knowledge base or live chat with a support person. If you wish to get on the phone with someone, they usually will give you a number to call for support.

So, there you have the run-down of the e-mail you will receive from your hosting company. The first thing you will want to do now is verify that you can log into your cPanel with the username and password you were given. Did it work? Ok, good. Before you go off and do some damage, get familiar with your cPanel. This is your central operations for your website, so taking a little time to get to know it will only benefit you.

Once you are done with that you will want to setup your e-mail accounts for your domain.

Creating Email Accounts For Your Domain

Navigate to the Email box in your cPanel. It should look something similar to this:

Click on the "Email Accounts" link with the envelope graphic above it (see image above). You will now be brought to the following screen:

Take the following steps to create your new e-mail account:

  1. Enter a name for your new account in the "Email" field. An example could be "support", "info" or your name.
  2. Create a strong password for your email account. This is crucial so that hackers and spammers can't break into your server and cause havoc on your site or bring your site down. The best thing to do is use the "Password Generator" that is provided by the hosting company. Just be sure to record the password in a safe place. Here is an example of a real strong password:

    y;MHmk37#yV1
     

  3. If you want a large amount of space for your e-mail account, then change the default size that is there or click the "Unlimited" option.
  4. Click the "Create Account" button and you're done!

That wasn't so hard, was it? ๐Ÿ™‚

I think we will stop here for now as you have quite a bit of information to "chew" on and you will want to go get your e-mail accounts setup before we dig into the nitty gritty parts of creating your WordPress website. That's what we will be talking about in the next article.

Have you decided to move forward and get your own domain for your business to create a website? Leave us a comment below with your questions, concerns or if you just need some help.

 

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I'm here to help you build a successful and growing business using WordPress and online marketing efforts. Please connect with me on Facebook. You are what makes up Lapeer Website Design!

Patrick WhitsonPatrick Whitson has spent more than twenty years in the computer field programming and designing web sites for such companies as J. Walter Thompson, Ford, MSX Intl., White Castle, Delphi and many small to mid-sized businesses. Moving out of corporate America, he decided to work specifically with local businesses to help them market online using their own website. He has worked with many small businesses and is seeing them grow and bring in more customers with Lapeer Website Design.

Getting Started With Your Business WordPress Site

How Do I Get A WordPress Website Created For My Business?

If you are a small business owner who has not yet created a website for your business, then this article will get you moving in the right direction to take action and get that site started.

I work with a lot of business owners from all walks of life and who run a variety of businesses. A common question that is asked is:

"where do I start because I don't know anything about building a website?"

There are several steps you will need to take before you can even begin to design or add content to your site. Don't worry though… I'll start from the top and we'll take this step-by-step – OK? Great!

Step 1: Keyword Research

Some of you are probably making a funny face ( 8-P ) and are asking yourself – "Don't I need a domain name first?". Hang with me here and I'll get to that. What you need to do first is research some keyword phrases on what your business provides. For example, if you provide "dental implants" for local residents you want to make sure you are going to get traffic for that term.

Go to Google Keyword Tool and type in "dental implants" in the top search box, enter the code into the "captcha" field then click the "Search" button. You will now be presented with a results page that will display keyword, competition, global monthly searches, local monthly searches and local search trends.

Here is a screen shot for the results for "dental implants":

Look at how many searches there are under "Local Monthly Searches" for "dental implants" – 246,000. What "Local Monthly Searches" means, is the amount of searches done in the United States. Now, if you are a dentist, who wants to do implants for your patients, this would be a good keyword phrase to go for because you know that a lot of people are searching for it.

Of course, I only did a search for one keyword phrase here. Be sure to take several of your keywords that you either know or believe your customers are going to use to find your product or service and run them through the Google Keyword Tool.

Step 2: Get A Domain Name

Ok, now for those who were wondering why I didn't start out with getting the domain, it's because you need to find some keyword phrases getting some decent traffic. Once you've found a few, you can then go to a domain registrar and get a domain that has one of your keyword phrases in it.

  • Domanin Registrar – A company that registers domain names for individual users and manages those registrations.

Here are a couple of domain registrar's where you can go register your domain:

  1. Name Cheap (Highly Recommended)
  2. GoDaddy.com
  3. 1 and 1
  4. Host Gator
  5. Site5

Once you select a place to register your domain, you will need to go there and find out if the name is available. Some tips on a domain name:

  • Make it as short as possible (if you can).
  • Make it memorable. Something like "getdentalimplants.com" is much better than "comeonoverherefordentalimplants.com".
  • Get a top-level-domain (TLD) of .com, .net or .org. These have shown to be the best and most reconginzed throughout the internet.

I am going to use Namecheap to show you how to do the domain registration. Head on over to Namecheap.com. You will be presented with this screen:

Once at this screen you have a couple of options:

1. Enter the domain name you want in the search box given (denoted by the #1 in a red square), or

2. Click on the "> Bulk Domain Search". This will allow you to enter several variations of the domain you would like and will return to you whether they are taken or available.

Be sure to enter your keywords without spaces, but you can use the hyphen (-) or the underscore (_) in your domain name. And, be sure to put the keyword phrase you are wanting to target – generally for your business.

Per our example above, if we wanted "dental implants" in the domain name, we could search for "getdentalimplants", "dentalimplantsnow", etc. If  that domain name were available then you would go through the process of purchasing that domain name.

Namecheap makes this very easy to do. Whether you search for one or multiple domain names, you will see a results table telling you if the domain name is available. Next to each item is a check-box. All you do is check the domain(s) you want to purchase and then click the "Add To Cart >>" button just below the results. That's it!

Now that you have a domain name, what do you do next?

Step 3: Give Your Domain Name A Place To Live

You now have to get hosting for your domain name. You might be asking "What exactly is hosting?" Good question, and here is the answer:

  • Hosting – Also known as web hosting, website hosting is the business of housing, serving, and maintaining files for one or more Web sites.

There are plenty of hosting providers out there that will house your website for you, but I would like to recommend some of the best ones out there that I have had good experience with:

  1. Host Gator – This company is top notch and has great support as well. I recommend the "Baby Plan".
  2. Site5 – Very flexible plans, good support and forum. We provide hosting to our clients through Site5 and they have been great!
  3. GoDaddy – A poplular choice with many, but navigating around is more cumbersome.

All of these hosting companies offer a basic hosting package starting under $5 (can't beat that, huh?) and will meet the basic needs of your website. You can compare the different packages to see what is included or will match your needs for your site. If you are not sure, going for the middle package will usually be a good fit.

Once you select a hosting plan that you want to house your wordpress site, you will then go through the process to purchase that plan. The hosting company will send you an e-mail with important information that tells you what your temporary address is for your domain,  your file transfer protocol (FTP) access and cPanel (Control Panel) access.

Print a copy of this e-mail out and place it in a safe place. If for some reason you lose your e-mails, your e-mail provider has a catastrophe or goes out of business, you will be able to get to your login information to your hosting account. As a note, it would be a good idea to keep a "hard copy" of any of your important account(s) that are critical for your business – for good security measures.

The next article we will be covering what you will be doing with that e-mail. Until then, I hope you are getting a better idea and understanding of what the steps are to setting up your own website for your business.

I welcome questions or comments about your experiences with this process or lack thereof.

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I'm here to help you build a successful and growing business using WordPress and online marketing efforts. Please connect with me on Facebook. You are what makes up Lapeer Website Design!

Patrick WhitsonPatrick Whitson has spent more than twenty years in the computer field programming and designing web sites for such companies as J. Walter Thompson, Ford, MSX Intl., White Castle, Delphi and many small to mid-sized businesses. Moving out of corporate America, he decided to work specifically with local businesses to help them market online using their own website. He has worked with many small businesses and is seeing them grow and bring in more customers with Lapeer Website Design.

Is Your WordPress A Security Risk?

Why It Is Essential That You Upgrade Your WordPress

 

Just recently (November 30th to be exact), WordPress announced a MUST upgrade version of their popular blog software – WordPress 3.0.2. This newest version addresses a moderate security issue found in the earlier version which could allow author level access to other areas of your website – which, if accessed could cause havoc for you and your site.

In your wordpress dashboard you will be notified when an upgrade is available, like this image reveals:

The reasons to upgrade may be obvious to some, but to many small businesses who are working on building their clientele aren't as up on why they should upgrade.

The essential reason to upgrade is for security. If the core software is not up to date, then it leaves you open to hackers who will take advantage of your ignorance. Of course, there are more things to do than just upgrade your WordPress to make it as secure as possible, but having the latest version is a big step along with keeping your plug-ins up to date. You can learn more about WordPress security by checking out these links:

WordPress Security – Installing It Right The First Time

Is Your WordPress Business Site On An Up To Date Server?

Steps You Should Take Before Upgrading Your WordPress Site

If you are going to venture to upgrade your WordPress version yourself, there are some things you need to take into consideration before doing so. Follow these steps and your upgrade will be a success:

  1. Make a backup of your WordPress site files – These are the files that make your WordPress run and communicate with your database.
  2. Backup up your WordPress database – This is where essential information is stored for your site. Items such as your plugins, posts, comments and pages.
  3. Verify your backups – Make sure you can see the files where you stored them. Open them up and be sure that the files and folders are there. For the database, open the .sql file and make sure the tables and data is there.
  4. Update your plugins to the most current version – Doing this will make sure you have the latest plugins to work with your new version of WordPress. Once you upgrade your plugins, disable them before upgrading WordPress.
  5. Update your theme – It is important to update your theme you are using for your WordPress site and wouldn't hurt to verify with the authors that it is compatible with the new WordPress version.

 

Once the four steps above are completed, you can then use the automatic upgrade button within your dashboard to install the newest version.

Reactivate your plugins one by one to be sure that they are going to "play nice" with the new version of WordPress. Take a look at the list of plugins that work in version 3.0.2 and also check for theme compatibility.

Upgrading To WordPress Version 3.0.2

We tested the automatic upgrade option on this site from the dashboard and it went very smooth. We did not test the manual option (for those more technical) but if you would like to go that route you can follow the WordPress Extended Upgrade instructions over at WordPress.org.

The most important part is to take action and upgrade to version 3.0.2 for security reasons.

Leave Your Feedback

Let us know how your upgrade went or if you ran into any issues upgrading to the newest version of WordPress by leaving a comment below

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I'm here to help you build a successful and growing business using WordPress and online marketing efforts. Please connect with me on Facebook. You are what makes up Lapeer Website Design!

Patrick WhitsonPatrick Whitson has spent more than twenty years in the computer field programming and designing web sites for such companies as J. Walter Thompson, Ford, MSX Intl., White Castle, Delphi and many small to mid-sized businesses. Moving out of corporate America, he decided to work specifically with local businesses to help them market online using their own website. He has worked with many small businesses and is seeing them grow and bring in more customers with Lapeer Website Design.

Is Your WordPress Business Site On An Up To Date Server?

Host Your WordPress Website On A Healthy Server

By: Patrick Whitson

secure-hosting-server

When deciding to host your WordPress small business website it is important to be sure that the hosting company is updating the applications on it's server. I spoke a few articles back about securing your wordpress site right the first time. This article will focus on your hosting company's server and the applications it servers up which your wordpress uses.

The WordPress of the Future

In future releases of WordPress it will require that your hosting server have, at a minimum, the most up-to-date PHP and MySQL versions in order to host your site. In a way, this keeps the hosting companies in check to be sure that they are not lagging behind in keeping the most current applications on their servers.

Let's start with those of you who are contemplating using wordpress to build your website but have not acquired your hosting service as of yet. The first thing you need to do is go take a look at the most popular hosting services out there, such as:

  1. Hostgator.com
  2. GoDaddy.com
  3. Site5.com
  4. BlueHost.com

Each of these hosting companies will have a few options to choose from but what you want to do is make sure that they list what version of PHP, MySQL and WordPress they have installed. Currently PHP and MySQL are at version 5+ and WordPress is at version 3.1. Although PHP 4+ will work with the most current version of WordPress, it's best to have the latest release.

For those of you who already have a wordpress site hosted you can quickly check to see what versions of PHP and MySQL by using a new plugin named Health Check. Once you install it from your wordpress dashboard and activate it, you will see a message up at the top that looks like the image below.

health-check-plugin

The image above is a screen capture after I activated the plugin. Notice that it states that the PHP and MySQL versions are up-to-date and will be great for WordPress version 3.2. Why does it say that? Because, once WordPress 3.2 comes out and successive versions, they will require PHP 5 and MySQL 5 or above.

If you have an older version of WordPress than you won't be able to upgrade unless you have the latest versions of PHP and MySQL on your hosting server.

As Regin Smola from WPSecurityLock.com states:

For those who do not meet the minimum requirements of PHP and MySQL are at great risk of having their websites hacked and will not be able to upgrade to WordPress 3.2. The WordPress built-in updater won't allow it.

Read Regina's article "Health Check – WordPress Plugin" to find out more details.

In conclusion, security for your hosting server and your WordPress website is important so be sure that you are on an up-to-date server and have the most current version of WordPress installed, update your plugins, use secure passwords, do regular wordpress backups and check the security of your server and wordpress install frequently.

Leave Your Feedback

Have you checked to see if your hosting company has the latest applications? Do you know if your WordPress site is secure? Leave us your comments and experiences below. Thank you.

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I'm here to help you build a successful and growing business using WordPress and online marketing efforts. Please connect with me on Facebook. You are what makes up Lapeer Website Design!

Patrick WhitsonPatrick Whitson has spent more than twenty years in the computer field programming and designing web sites for such companies as J. Walter Thompson, Ford, MSX Intl., White Castle, Delphi and many small to mid-sized businesses. Moving out of corporate America, he decided to work specifically with local businesses to help them market online using their own website. He has worked with many small businesses and is seeing them grow and bring in more customers with Lapeer Website Design.

Local Dentists & Dental Practices – Are You Being Found By Your Patients Online?

 

Local Dentists & Dental Practices – Are You Being Found By Your Patients Online?

By: Patrick Whitson

Local Search Online
 

"Am I being found online by my target patients?" should be a question that every dental practice needs to be asking – especially in today's economic downturn. The truth is, most experts are predicting that if you are not easily found online or even have your dentist practice online, that you may be OUT of business in the next 3-5 years.

That's a sobering thought – isn't it? 

Why Your Dental Practice Needs To Have An Online Presence

Because your patients are going to Google, Yahoo and Bing to search for the treatments they need – such as "your city dental implants" or "your city cosmetic surgery". Google, of course, being the 800lb. gorilla in this marketplace. Let's take a look at a couple of hard facts:

– There are 51 million searches per month for DENTAL SERVICES
– Only 14% of those searches come from the phone book
– 39% of people who use a search engine to find a local business are looking for medical/dental services
   (Nielsen/WebVisble)

Another way to say that, is for every one time someone opens the Yellow Pages there are 3,387 searches for local services on Google. Don't you want to be in front of that traffic? I know that you do as that would bring in more patients to your practice.

Through research and study, I have been hearing that many dental practices are on the brink of going out of business or they are struggling to get new patients in the door – consistently. This poses the question "how can your dental practice be found online ahead of your competition so that you can grab the lions share of the patients?"

Your Biggest Source For Patients Finding You

There are a plethora of ways to make sure that you are being found online. There is the social media, video, articles, search engines and directories. Utilizing all of these should be a part of your online strategy. But there is one source where your prospective patients turn to when they are searching for dental services – the search engines.

A large portion of people go to Google, Yahoo and Bing when they are searching for local services. It's quite easy to start up your browser, type in google.com and enter what you are searching for. If, for example, you were looking for a dentist in Dallas, Texas you would see that people are searching for dentist or dental services over 12,000 times per month. That's just in the Dallas area!

As you can see, the search engines are the source which people use to search for services locally, and what you want to be able to do is put your dental services in front of them when they are read for what they are seeking.

What You Need To Know To Get Your Dental Practice To The Top Of The Search Engines

Once you understand that search engines are the source of you getting new patients, you will need to implement an online strategy so your practice will be found when people search for dental services. Outlined here you will find three ways you can do that:

1) Build a website – In order to be found online you need to have a website that is the central "hub" of your dental practice. If you are a dental practice and you do not have a website, I highly recommend that you take that leap and do it now. This gives you an online presence that provides a way for your prospective patients to learn and know what you offer them (Read: What's In It For Me). Your website will also be tailored to your employees and vendors as well. 

If you already have a website, then congratulations! But is it performing the way it should – meaning are your prospective clients finding you for the services they want, or are they finding your competitor.

2) Get on the map – The map? Yes, Google, Yahoo and Bing offer a local listing resource where you can add your dental practice. When people search for "your city dentist" (or a variety of other terms) and you have properly setup your local listing, your practice will show up on the map at the top. This allows you to get found for the more competitive searches such as implants, cosmetic and sedation.

The most popular of these local listings is Google Places. If you are not showing up here, you are losing out on patients every month.

Just recently, Google has changed how local listings are displayed on their search engine. Go read this in-depth article on how this is going to change local search drastically.

3) Focus on marketing – Any business, if it is to survive needs to market. It's the lifeblood and source of consistent income. Your website and local listings have to be marketed on a consistent basis – or you will not be found. And being found IS the goal. You can do this by properly optimizing your website and local listings, creating content through video, articles and other online properties that bring traffic to your website.

This gives you a quick run-down of what you will need to do to get your dentist practice to be found online and bringing in new patients within a short period of time. It's not the whole enchilada that you should be doing, but this is the foundation to get you in front of those prospective patients that want what you are offering them.

Take this information seriously as it will help you become the premiere dental practice in your area. Please leave a comment below and let us know how your online presence is coming along.

 

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I'm here to help you build a successful and growing business using WordPress and online marketing efforts. Please connect with me on Facebook. You are what makes up Lapeer Website Design!

Patrick WhitsonPatrick Whitson has spent more than twenty years in the computer field programming and designing web sites for such companies as J. Walter Thompson, Ford, MSX Intl., White Castle, Delphi and many small to mid-sized businesses. Moving out of corporate America, he decided to work specifically with local businesses to help them market online using their own website. He has worked with many small businesses and is seeing them grow and bring in more customers with Lapeer Website Design.

Local Internet Marketing – Most Important Way To Market Your Business

How The Internet Is Changing The Way Consumers Find Local Businesses

By: Patrick Whitson

 

Introduction

When the internet first began to grow in popularity, it was generally thought to be a means of connecting people from around the world, to share data and information, and to improve communication. As these things became second nature, big businesses grabbed onto the notion of the internet and took it to a whole new level. Soon every major corporation had an online presence, and even the most traditional businesses were forced to embrace the new technology. With millions of people on the web every day, and the internet now a trillion dollar industry, it would be foolish not to try and harness this new technology to your advantage.          

People used to think that the internet could only really be utilized properly by large companies with huge marketing budgets. In 2000, millions of dollars were spent on both online advertising and offline advertising trying to drive people to certain websites. This was never going to be a particularly viable business model, because the internet simply hadn't grown enough to accommodate such huge spending. Suddenly everything fell apart, and in the wake of the dot com crash, it seemed that even big businesses were going to struggle on the internet.

Over the last few years, however, things have changed dramatically. Technology has improved, the internet has become more popular, and big businesses are now much better placed to harness the power of the internet. It is now the time for a new internet generation to really flourish, that of the small business.

Everyone using the internet these days is familiar with search engines and browses various websites regularly. Because of this, there is less emphasis on being a household name, and as long as you have a strong online presence, someone is going to find your business. As more and more people search for local businesses, rather than major chains, there is clear potential to dramatically increase your business prospects.

There are various ways you can do this, and we'll look at the different marketing strategies that can be used to take your business to the next level. There's a myriad of consumers out there who want to find your product or service, and the internet is the best way for them to find you. If you can build a stronger online presence than your other local competitors, you've won a major battle and can look forward to a profitable future as your business grows exponentially.

Every day, new people discover the internet, and they could be right next door. Instead of only being used by college students and the younger generation, the internet is now a powerful tool to find almost any customer base you could think of.

Building an online presence

Your first port of call when building your online presence will probably be to build a website to showcase your business. All you need is a simple website which will give clear information about the product or service you provide. There's no need to fill you website with pages and pages about the industry your business is part of, because this just isn't interesting to the people visiting your site. The important thing is to appeal to your audience and make sure you answer any questions they may have through the content on your website.

Building your local business website isn't necessarily about breaking the mould, it's about proving to people that your business can be trusted, and the best way to do that is not to fill your website with boring copy and an uninteresting history of your company. If you look at big businesses, they have all recognised that they can't be overly serious with their online presence; they have to appeal to a number of different audiences. Therefore, they've created much more diverse websites that generally speak in a slightly more informal tone, in order to build up rapport and trust.

As we can see from the graph below, building your website can have a fantastic effect on your potential customers.

Local Internet Marketing

Harnessing the search engines

The most popular way for someone to find a website is by going through a search engine. Google is the most popular, so it's important to target their results more than other search engines. Here are some incredible stats about search engines that you may not know:

    * 75% of Americans use search engines on a regular basis.
    * 56% of all Americans using one every single day.
    * 40% of all search engine searches are for local businesses and services.
    * 54% of Americans regularly use the internet instead of the phone book to find local services
    * 92% of all local searches will eventually convert into a sale

The whole search engine industry used to be about very short “keywords” that would lead people to finding the website they were looking for. Everyone used to simply type things like “New York Rea Estate” into a search engine, check out the first few results and then make a decision.

However, these days consumers are becoming much better at searching with Google, so keywords have progressively become longer in order to return more relevant results. For example, instead of just “New York Real Estate” which may give us some good websites for that keyword, we might be looking for something a little more specific.

Therefore, we might type “New York Low Price Apartments”. The reason we would do this is because we're fed up searching through websites that don't offer us the chance to see any low price housing, so we're searching using Google rather than simply clicking on various websites.

This sort of mentality has revitalized the world of small businesses online. Instead of just searching for a product or service, people now search for a niche product or service in a particular area. This means that, instead of massive chains dominating the search results, small business websites are flourishing.

Local Internet Marketing is something that requires a great deal of experience and expertise. Without it, you simply aren't going to know how to get your found on the front page of Google when local customers search for your product or service. The competition won't be that fierce considering you will be competing for more specific keywords, but you'll still need to be able to those local consumers to succeed.

With more people moving towards local searches, you're going to need to target your Internet Marketing to specific keywords and areas. If you fail to do this, you'll be competing with the major players in your industry nationally, and it's a battle you almost certainly won't win. The graph below shows the massive increases the local search industry is seeing.

Local Searches

Building a captive audience

When local customers start searching for products or services in their area, they will most likely be very clear of their intentions. They are generally ready to buy. One of the most powerful parts of internet marketing is the ability to build a relationship with someone without ever having spoken to them directly.

By allowing consumers to find in different locations throughout the internet, you can be sure to reach a wide ranging audience, all of whom will be interested in your product or service.

As we can see from the graph below, the internet is an incredibly effective way of selling your product to a potential customer. Never before have businesses been able to communicate so well with their potential customers.

Local Search Sales ROI

Being found on the internet

People use the internet in very diverse ways, and you can't possibly hope to capture every single person who might be looking for a product like yours. However, you can make it extremely easy for people to find your business by being prominent all over the internet.

With so many different types of content, and various ways of receiving information, there are limitless possibilities for marketing your website on the internet. Whether this is in the form of local business directories, online classifieds or videos about your product posted on popular websites, you're sure to find people who are looking for your product or service.

Internet marketing is essentially about being “found” online by the people who will become customers. They will be looking for what you are selling, and so you have to make it as easy as possible for them to find you. Your business should be all over the internet; in classifieds, directories, search engines, and once this has been done, there'll be a flood of people wanting to do business.

Building links to your business

One of the most important parts of Internet Marketing is listing your business on websites with high levels of traffic that will give you the best opportunity to be seen by local customers, and therefore make plenty of sales.

There are actually local directories on the internet that showcase only businesses in a particular area. These are excellent resources for you to use because they allow your business to be shown in a highly targeted manner. Local directories also tend to be used by people who are struggling to find what they're looking for, so if your site is listed properly in the right categories, then you're bound to entice people towards your business.

Conclusion

As we can see from the graph below, the internet is dominating the way that people find local businesses. The graph shows the breakdown for the primary source of finding local business information:

Finding Local Business Information

As we've seen throughout this report, the internet is taking over as the most important way to market your business. If you embrace it now, your business will survive and probably flourish even in the most difficult times. All of the data and statistics should tell you everything you need to know, and given that local search has only become truly popular in the last few years; it is likely to grow even more in the future.

There are so many different ways of building up a good online presence that you can't fail to succeed. By putting your business in front of a highly targeted audience, the profits are almost guaranteed.

Are You Putting Your Local Business In Front Of Your Target Audience?

Tell me your experiences (good or bad) about marketing your local business using the internet. If you need help marketing your local business online, I'm here to help.

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I'm here to help you build a successful and growing business using WordPress and onilne marketing efforts. Please connect with me on Facebook.

Patrick Whitson Patrick Whitson has spent more than twenty years in the computer field programming and designing web sites for such companies as J. Walter Thompson, Ford, MSX Intl., White Castle, Delphi and many small to mid-sized businesses. Moving out of corporate America, he decided to work specifically with local businesses to help them market online using their own website. He has worked with many small businesses and is seeing them grow and bring in more customers with Lapeer Website Design.

7 Reasons To Use Thesis For Your WordPress Website

WordPress + Thesis

7 Reasons To Use Thesis For Your WordPress Website

By: Patrick Whitson

Last week we discussed the benefits to small businesses of using WordPress to build your website. The next step to take is to "dress up" or style your website – this is what gives your site it's look and feel. We call these WordPress themes. There are a plethora of free themes out there, as well as, premium themes that can be used for the styling of your WordPress website. A number of themes come to mind such as cutline, copyblogger, StudioPress and iThemes.

In my experience of developing WordPress Websites for small business clients, the Thesis Theme shines forth like a lighthouse for a lost ship on a dark and foggy night! This article doesn't do Thesis justice for what it can accomplish for your website, but allow me to lay out for you here seven good reasons to use Thesis.

Let's get rolling!

NOTE: We will be discussing Thesis version 1.8 as that is the most current version available.

  1. It's All In The Framework That Makes It Easy
    The WordPress Thesis Theme is a powerful framework that is loaded with easy-to-use-controls that allow you to fine-tune your website without having to know HTML, CSS or even PHP. The Thesis framework is very efficient and smart. It allows you to do the one thing that is needed most, providing good quality content for your target market.
     
  2. The Options Panels Do All The Heavy Lifting For You
    Thesis provides a powerful menu system within your WordPress dashboard which gives you the keys to command your website to look and feel how you want it to. The two main options panels are:

    1. Site Options

      Thesis Site Options
      Click for larger image

      This area offers you site-wide options such as setting your "Title Tags", what pages you want to show on your navigation menu, inserting your syndication/feed url (it also allows you to integrate Feedburner), Home Page SEO, Robots META and much more. Take a look at the image of this page to see the many options that are there.
       

    2. Design Options

      Thesis Design Options
      Click for larger image

      This is where it starts to get really good! Just pop this area open and start designing your site by picking which layout (1,2 or 3 columns) you would like, choose whether you want a text or image header, set the colors for the background of your site, pages as well as your navigation menu. Don't know what colors you like – there's a color picker built-in.

      Want a visual appeal to your site?

      Thesis has a multi-media box that allows you to rotate images, embed video or insert custom code, such as, tabbed menus. The possibilities are endless.
       

  3. It's Built For Speed With Extensions Already Included

    One of the main goals of Thesis is to be fast as can be. The reason for it's speed is due to the many extensions that are already installed within Thesis. With WordPress you can extend it's functionality with plug-ins such as Google Analytics or Platinum SEO. But Thesis already has an area where you can enter your Google Analytics "UA" code and has SEO built-in.

    Why does this matter?

    Because, if you are using a load of plug-ins with your WordPress installation it is going to slow it down and that's not good when a visitor comes to your site to view your content. If they are waiting more than seven seconds…they're gone! Fortunately though, Thesis has solved this for you.
     

  4. Hooks Are For Catching Fish, Aren't They?

    GEEK WARNING! This is more on the technical side but is very instrumental to why Thesis is such a great theme. Just sayin'.

    Thesis has an architecture that frankly allows you to customize your site like putty in your hands. Maybe not that easy, but it is definitely flexible. It gives you "hooks" into different areas of the Thesis framework so you can modify your design. At it's basic level, hooks represent each section of your theme and defines areas before and after that section. For example, the header area has a "Before Header" and "After Header" hook.

    For Livonia Symphony Orchestra I placed the navigation menu before the header so it would show at the top of the page. I used hooks quite a bit when I customized this site – can you tell?

    There are two ways to access hooks in Thesis:

    1. custom_functions.php – You can enter hooks code through the Thesis menu, under "Custom File Editor". Select custom_functions.php from the drop-down and click "Edit Selected File". if I wanted to relocate the navigation bar using my own custom function ‘custom_nav()’ I would the following into the file editor:

      remove_action('thesis_hook_before_header', 'thesis_nav_menu');
      add_action('thesis_hook_after_footer', 'custom_nav');

       

    2. Thesis OpenHooks Plugin – This is the easy way to go as it gives you access to each hook within Thesis. All you have to do to add your customizations is click on "Thesis OpenHook" under the "Appearance" menu and then use the drop-down box to find which area of the site you want to customize, enter your text (HTML, PHP, etc.) and save. All done!

      Just be sure to verify your changes to be sure they are what you were hoping for. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thesis OpenHook
      Click to see larger image

      Here are some resources that you can use to find out more on Thesis hooks:

      Sugar Rae's Hooks for Dummies Tutorial (2008)
      Thesis Hooks – A Visual Reference. There are a few more links you can follow on this page to more resources.
       

  5. Upgrades Are Easy As 1-2-3

    I've designed in other themes that I had customized and when it came to upgrading those themes it took quite a bit of work to do. You had to keep track of all the files, code and styling changes and then re-apply it to the newest upgrade. That can take just as long as the original customizations sometimes. No thanks!

    Thesis has a centralized folder called "custom" where all of the PHP, CSS, HTML and images go for all of the customizations. This makes it much, much easier to upgrade to the newer version of Thesis. It's just a matter of copying this directory over and you're back in business. I've recently upgraded from Thesis 1.6 to 1.8 and it was seamless.
     

  6. It Won't Cost You An Arm And A Leg

    This is probably one of the major benefits to someone who wants to setup and design their website using WordPress + Thesis – it's only $87 smackers. Less then dinner out for the family at a decent restaurant. You also get a 30-day money back guarantee, lifetime upgrades and access to their off-the-hook support forum. Can ask for anything more than that!
     

  7. Look Who Is Using Thesis

    You might not think this should be part of the seven reasons to use Thesis with you WordPress website, but when you have popular folk and brand name companies using Thesis it makes you wonder why you shouldn't be using it for your business. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Popular People Using Thesis
     – Matt Cutts of Google
     – Niel Patel a internet serial entrepreneur
     – Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
     
    Brand Name Companies Using Thesis
     – Krispy Kreme UK
     – The White House
     – eBay
     – Yahoo

What's Holding You Back From Using Thesis?

These are the main reasons why I use Thesis and recommend it to my clients. Are you using Thesis? Is there another theme that you have been using but are contemplating switching? Tell me your experiences in the comments below.

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I'm here to help you build a successful and growing business using WordPress and onilne marketing efforts. Please connect with me on Facebook.

Patrick Whitson Patrick Whitson has spent more than twenty years in the computer field programming and designing web sites for such companies as J. Walter Thompson, Ford, MSX Intl., White Castle, Delphi and many small to mid-sized businesses. Moving out of corporate America, he decided to work specifically with local businesses to help them market online using their own website. He has worked with many small businesses and is seeing them grow and bring in more customers with Lapeer Website Design.

More Benefits Of Using WordPress To Build Your Website

We covered in an earlier article why WordPress is an excellent choice to building your website. We believe that WordPress is a great tool to build your website, but your site doesn't have to look like a blog. Building a website with the wordpress platform allows you to have both a site and a blog at the same time. Having the blog aspect will bring more traffic to your site.

Here are a couple more benefits to building your small business website in wordpress:
 

Bringing Valuable Information To Your Target Market

If you are a small to mid-sized business just starting on your venture of getting a website up, one of the things you are going to be concerned about is how you will get prospective customers coming to your site. External linking, SEO and marketing your site can definitely do that but one of the major ways is providing good, quality content that your target market wants.

You see, Google (and any other search engine) wants to provide relevant pages to its users and advertisers and not spammy sites with a bunch of links to non-relevant content. Posting quality content on your site regularly will draw googles software bots to your site, allowing your content to get indexed in their database and marked as "relevant" content for your particular subject.

WordPress Post Edit

For example, if you are a plumber, you can publish articles that answer common questions that prospective clients might have. Article topics could be "3 Ways To Check If Your Hot Water Will Last" or "How To Find And Hire A Plumber". Here are some benefits to you by writing on topics of interest to your target market:

  1. Brings high value to your visitors.
  2. You will get links to your site because others like your content.
  3. Helps your website rank better in the search engines.

Having A Static Front Page On Your Site

WordPress gives you the ability to have a "static page" as your home page for your website. This takes away the image of your site looking like a blog and gives it a unique feel to it. You can also have links to your article topics, which are your content rich blog posts which we spoke about above.

You might be asking "what is a static front page?"

It basically means that you create a "front page" that has specific information on it that you want your target market to know about what you can provide them (think benefits or what’s in it for me) and this page is what everyone who visits your website sees. If you were to have your blog posts showing up on your "home" page then the content would change once a new article was written. For example, here is a site I did for a local plumber in lapeer michigan :

Lapeer MI Plumber - J.W. Bliss

As you can see, his "home" page is static and doesn't change. If you scroll down the page, you will see on the right side a section labeled "Plumbing Blog". This is where he puts links to his content rich articles (blog posts) for his target market – see how that works?
 

Search Engine Optimization For Your WordPress Website

The old adage "if you build it, they will come!" is a false statement. There are billions, may I say, probably trillions of sites that are out on the internet. Just because you slap up a WordPress site for your small business, and start putting some content out there doesn't mean you are going to be attracting a swarm of "ready to buy" customers.

Yes, WordPress gives you built-in SEO capabilities and automatically notifies the search engines that you've put out some new content. But you have to know what keywords your target market is searching on and incorporate those key phrases into your content rich articles. This is what we call search engine optimization, also known as SEO.

SEO is made up of two parts:

  1. On-Page
  2. Off-Page

We are not going to cover SEO in-depth here. You can watch my video: "What is SEO Anyway?" for more detail on SEO.

In the area of SEO is where WordPress beats out a traditionally created website, or should I say, it gives you a easier way to input the keywords you are wanting to rank for.

How does WordPress incorporate SEO?

With a basic install, wordpress will use information from your "general settings", "permalinks", "post categories" and "tags" to help your site get noticed much faster than a regular website. This gives you an advantage over your competitors to get ranked and found in the search engines. There are other add-ons that can enhance SEO for your WordPress site. These are:

  1. Plugins

    There are two plugins that you can use to automatically optimize your WordPress site for SEO. They are "All in One SEO Pack" and "Platinum SEO Pack". In general, both these plugins can optimize your titles, generate meta tags, avoid duplicate content and work for you right out of the box. For more advanced users, you can fine-tune them to suit your SEO needs.

    NOTE: I recommend going with "Platinum SEO Pack" as "All in one SEO Pack" is no longer supported, plus, Platinum is a much more robust SEO plugin.
     

  2. Themes

    Themes are a add-on to WordPress that "dress up" your sites look and design. There are plenty of free wordpress themes out there that you can pick from but a large majority of them do not have SEO built-in. That's where professional themes come in such as the Thesis theme. I will be covering more about the Thesis theme in another article.

    Thesis is one of those themes that has SEO built-in and gives you the ability to optimize your posts and pages with what is needed to get noticed in the search engines, as well as, attract your target market to come read what you have posted. I can't recommend Thesis enough. If you are setting up a wordpress site, you can't go wrong with Thesis.

    Thesis SEO Features

In Conclusion

As you can see, WordPress has a lot of benefits to using it to build your small business website. Let me know your experiences with your use of and building your website with wordpress.

I'm here to help you build a successful and growing business using WordPress and onilne marketing efforts. Please connect with me on Facebook. You are what makes up Lapeer Website Design!

Patrick Whitson Patrick Whitson has spent more than twenty years in the computer field programming and designing web sites for such companies as J. Walter Thompson, Ford, MSX Intl., White Castle, Delphi and many small to mid-sized businesses. Moving out of corporate America, he decided to work specifically with local businesses to help them market online using their own website. He has worked with many small businesses and is seeing them grow and bring in more customers with Lapeer Website Design.

Move From WordPress.com to WordPress.org

I have been hearing from some of my friends and around on the internet about moving their site they have setup over at WordPress.com to a self-hosted wordpress site. Before I give you a nice link on where you can find out how to do this, did you know that there are two sites for WordPress?

No! Well, there are.
 

Wordpress.com vs WordPress.org

WordPress.com and WordPress.org – some of you already knew this, but my friend Don Campbell over at Expand2web has a real good article on WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which One Should I Choose. Read it to find out the pros and cons of each.

For those of you who set a blog up on WordPress.com and are contemplating moving it to a self-hosted site, here is an article by ProBlogger that tells you how to do it.

One question that comes up a lot about moving your WordPress.com site is "How do I keep my WordPress.com links?" Here is a resource that will help you with that http://blog-well.com/2008/01/27/wordpresscom-to-wordpressorg/

Let me know your experiences of moving your site from one or the other.