Category Archives for WordPress for Small Business

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 [email protected], 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? 🙂

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 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 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.

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.

WordPress Security – Installing It Right The First Time!

WordPress Security Lock
WordPress Security – Installing It Right The First Time!

By: Patrick Whitson
 

Is Your WordPress Site Secure?

As a small to mid-sized business owner, you or someone you paid has put a lot of time effort and dedication into creating your site. Your wordpress site was created to help you bring in more customers and grow your business.

One day, you come into the office and you fire up the computer to go check out if you received any orders on your site, or if anyone has requested that free report.

As you type in the address of your site and hit enter…your site is not there. Gone!

All you see is a blaring warning that states your site is no longer operational – you've been hacked!

Is this an exceptional case? Matter of fact, it isn't. Millions of WordPress sites are getting hacked on a daily basis because they have not been initially setup securely.

Is WordPress Secure Out Of The Box?

At the basic level, yes. But, many of the installations are created using the "Five Minute Install" under their host account which gives you a default install. I don't advocate installing WordPress in this fashion. With WordPress 3.0, they have solved a couple of the issues to help better address the security issue. We will cover these in a minute.

I practice installing WordPress on any host manually. This gives control over the process and allows security measures to be put in place before you begin to start building your site. Because security on your WordPress is serious, you need to start it off the right way. This article is not meant to be all-inclusive on WordPress security, but to give you a good, clean start. Let's begin!

Securing Your WordPress Site Right

Here we will outline the initial steps to install your wordpress securely. GEEK WARNING!!! The first few steps are technical, but don't worry if you don't understand it or can't figure it out, just follow through with it and you will be fine. 🙂

  1. Download the most recent, stable version of WordPress (3.0.1 as of the writing of this article)

    Point your browser to the WordPress.org site. When you are there, you will see a blue button down the right side that says "Download WordPress 3.0.1". Download this .zip file (it will be named latest.zip) and save it to your desktop.
     

  2. Unzip the file on your server

    If you are hosted with a shared host, you most likely have cPanel. Go log into your cPanel for your host. Navigate to your "Files" menu and click on "File Manager".

    cPanel File Menu

    This will bring up a new window in your browser. On the left-hand side you will see some directories, look for "public_html" and click on it. The pane to your right should show the root directory and files. Up at the top of the window is a button labeled "Upload". Click on that. Click on the "Browse" button to the right of the text field and find the file "latest.zip" that you downloaded to your desktop. Once you've found the file, click the "Open" button and it will then begin to upload the file.

    Return back to the "File Manager" window and make sure the file was uploaded successfully. You want to now select that file and then go to the file menu (where the icons are) and select "extract" (on some hosts it may say "unzip" or "unarchive"). When that is finished you should see a "wordpress" folder.

    Double-click on the "wordpress" folder. This will open it up and allow you to see the other folders and files within this directory. We are now going to move these folders and files into the "root" directory of your blog.

    NOTE: If you wish, you can create a new folder to move the folders and files into as well.

    You want to select all folders and files and then click on the "Move" (It may say "Move File") icon in the windows menu. This will open up a new window with the files selected that you want to move and a field to enter the folder. The move-to folder should be pre-populated with the root folder (/public_html or /). It it is, then click the "Move Files" button. You're done!

    Alternate: If your host allows it, you may be able to select the folders and files and drag them to the folder where you want them moved.
     

  3. Create a database for your WordPress install

    You will now need to create a database for WordPress to store your pages, posts, links, categories and tags. Go back to your cPanel, and scroll down until you see the "Databases" menu. Select "MySQL Database Wizard".

    cPanel Database Menu

    This will take you through the following steps:

    a.  Enter a database name: Here you want to enter a database name that is unique and hard to figure out. Use UPPER and lowercase letters. An example could be "Th1sIsaD2". It will show a green check if your name is appropriate. Click the "Next Step" button to create the database.

    b. Enter a user name: This is the user that will have rights to connect to your database and be able to read, write and/or modify the content. Again, enter a hard to figure out name. Some use the same as the database name, and in this case let's do that (unless your host has a limit on characters). Our user name: Th1sIsa. You will then be asked to enter a password. In the case of passwords you can use UPPER and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Use a combination of these and your password will be much harder to crack. An example: Os]Bm.X~SWVt. Click the "Next Step" to create the user.

    c. Select privileges for the user: You will see on this screen a confirmation that the user/password was created. You have to now give the user privileges to access the database. Select the top option "ALL PRIVILEGES" and then click "Next Step". You're done.
     

  4. Install WordPress

    Here is where the fun begins! Go to a window in your browser and type in http://www.nameofyoursite.com/wp-admin/install.php (replace the "nameofyoursite" with your domain – i.e. lapeerwebsitedesign). This will bring up a page that says:

    "There doesn't seem to be a wp-config.php file…"

    Below that is a button that says "Create a Configuration File". Click it. The next screen will let you know what information you need before the configuration file can be created – which is the information from Step 3 above. Click the "let's go!" button. The next screen you will be entering the following information:

    a.  Database Name: This is the name you created from Step 3. Enter this here.
    b.  User Name: Enter the username created in Step 3.
    c.  Password: Enter the password created in Step 3.
    d. Database Host: Typically this is "localhost" but there are some hosts that have a different host name. Verify with your hosting service.
    e.  Table Prefix: This another important security item. You will need to change the prefix name to something other than "wp_" as this will make your site a little bit more secure. A good example would be: "B3aRy_swE3T".

    Click the "Submit" button. At the next screen, hit the "Run the Install" button.

    You will now be presented with the "Welcome" screen. Here you will enter:

      1.  Site Title: This is self explanatory and it can be changed later, so don't think too hard what you want to enter here.
      2.  Username: This is another security item that is important. You don't want to keep "admin" as the username. Change this to something harder to crack, such as "LapW3bDEs1gN".
      3.  Password: Create a password with a combination of UPPER, lowercase and special characters and numbers.
      4.  Your E-mail: Type in the e-mail that you want notifications sent to.
      5.  don't select "Allow my site to appear in search engines…" at this point. You can turn this on once you have your site up and running with some decent content.

Click the "Install WordPress" button. You should be presented with the "Success" page that tells you that wordpress has been installed. You will also see your username, password (characters not shown) with a "Login" button. Click the "Login" button. This will take you to your official page to log into your site (i.e. http://www.nameofyoursite.com/wp-login.php). You will see the login form below, enter your "Username" and "Password" and click the "Login" button. Voila!

You now have your WordPress site setup right and have a good start on securing it.

WordPress Backups – What You Should Know To Protect Yourself.

WordPress LogoMost likely you are a small to mid-sized business who has a website built on the WordPress platform and what I would like to ask you is "Are you backing up your WordPress site?"

In my more than 20 years in the computer field, backing up data (in this case your WordPress site) has been put on the back-burner for most businesses. So, if you don't currently back up your site, this information is for you.

Backing Up Your WordPress Site Is Vital

As a technical person, I have been backing up my WordPress site the manual way – with the exception of the database because there really hasn't been a real good all-in-one solution to backing up your WordPress site files as well as the database.
Now, you don't have to know how to manually backup your site, but it is vitally important that you do backups.

I had a friend ask me the other day – "How do I best protect my WordPress site IF something should go wrong with my server/hosting?"

First, don't put your trust in your hosting provider to do backups of your WordPress site. I know what you’re thinking “but they are hosting my files and should be doing backups atleast on a weekly basis!”  Yes, they should, but I have had friends who had their sites hacked and it took days to get it back up, and others who have lost their entire site.

You can't expect a whole lot from your $5/month budget hosting provider now can you?

What You Need To Know About WordPress Backups

You most likely are asking "what is involved in a complete WordPress site backup?"

Behind the scenes of WordPress there are two components that make it run. Let me give you a quick run-down of what those two components are:

  1. The WordPress Database
    This is where your content is stored for posts, pages and comments as well as other content such as links, categories and tags. This is a vital piece of your site that needs to be backed up. If you don't, you risk losing all your content as well as those followers of yours who left comments on your posts.
     
  2. The folders and files
    WordPress File Structure
    You have several files and three important folders underneath the root directory of your WordPress site (see diagram at left) that you should be backing up:

    a.  System Files – Your .htaccess (which WordPress updates anytime you make a change to your url) and the wp-config.php (which has the information to connect to your database where your content is for your site) are the two major files under the root directory of your WordPress site. But I would backup all the files in the root directory just to be safe.

    b.  Themes Customizations – Ideally you should backup your entire theme folder. If you purchased a pro theme (such as Thesis) or you paid a programmer to design a theme for you, you don't want to lose those customizations. This is where the styling of your site is stored, such as, colors, fonts, etc. If this is lost it can cost you a lot of money to get it back to the original.

    c.  Uploaded Images – Any images that you have uploaded to be used in your posts or pages of your WordPress site are stored in the wp-content/uploads/ folder under the year and month you uploaded them (see diagram). Again, if you have had custom headers, footers or paid for photos, you need to backup this folder.

    d.  Plugins – Backing up this folder is a matter of how many plugins you have or whether you will remember which ones you had installed. To be on the safe side and to make a restore easier, go ahead and backup this folder.

I hope the above gives you a clearer idea of why it's important to backup your WordPress site. You don't want to have your site down for more than 24-48 hours like my friends, whose was down for a week! Something she doesn't want to go through again, and I would dare to say that you wouldn't want to go through that either.

What WordPress Backup Options Are There

I have mainly backed up my WordPress site the manual way and have experienced backing up my database using a free plugin. Up until recently though, there has not been any all-in-one solution for backing up both my WordPress database and site files. I will give you some tools that I've found to be valuable.

Your Hosting Provider (Least Recommended)

There are many hosting companies that do regular backups of your site files and your database. My particular host, Site5.com is one of those hosts that runs backups on their servers and gives you the ability to download those files to your computer. This is a nice option but you will still need to log into your control panel and get the files (usually after working hours for less load on the server). Ideally, we want an automated process to get your backups done for you.

Site5 Backup Options

WP-DBManager Plugin

Here is one of the plugins that I've been using for quite awhile on my WordPress sites and really like – WP-DBManager. This is a power-packed plugin, but the two main things it allows you to do are:

  1. Backup your database. You can have this plugin automatically back up your database and email you the backup file. I would recommend, on a minimum, to backup your database weekly. You also have the option to manually make a backup if you so choose.
     
  2. Optimize your database. Databases are like hard-drives, they fill up with content (data) and over time it can slow your system down. This option allows you one-click optimization of your database. Once you do this, it will clean up the overhead in your database allowing it to find your content much faster. I would recommend that you run this, atleast, on a monthly basis.

The downside of this plugin is that it only backs up your WordPress database and not your site files.

WP-DBManager Backup Scheduler

BackWPup

This is a plugin that I have just found out about that will backup both your database and your site files. You can send your backups to an offsite storage such as Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, a directory, FTP or to an e-mail address.

The plugin is not very user friendly and requires you to create a folder for the logs on your server – which it didn't tell me up front that I had to create them. Still, it looks like a nice, FREE solution that can be used to solve a full backup of your WordPress site. I am testing this out on one of my sites and will keep you posted on how it turns out.

BackupBuddy Plugin

This is a premium plugin that looks really promising and will also migrate your site for you. I have not tested it yet but will be doing more research into this to see how useful it is. It's creators are well known in the WordPress theme arena and I'm sure they've put a nice touch into this plugin.

Conclusion – Start Backing Up Your WordPress Site

I hope after reading this article that you will now begin to backup your WordPress site.

With the many options out there to do most or all of the work for you – freeing up your time to grow your business – there is hardly any excuse not to prevent losing your website due to no backup. The minimum would be to install the WP-DBManager plugin and backup your database.

If you have any backup solutions that I may not have covered, leave a comment and share with us.

WordPress for Small Business – Why It’s An Excellent Choice!

If you are a small business owner who either owns an existing website or is contemplating getting one – you need to read this article before moving forward with your website changes or design.

WordPress LogoWordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) used to build blogs, a website, or both. We will cover in this article the reasons why WordPress is a good choice for small business websites.
 

Building a Small Business Website Using WordPress

WordPress is a powerful content management system that is totally FREE! As a small or medium business, you want to be using this powerful tool as it is an easy way to manage your web site. In the past, WordPress used to be solely used as a blogging platform, but with a few tweaks it can be transformed into a website and a blog together – or just a website. This is where WordPress has some advantages over other blogging software.

If you are familiar with the traditional website, you not only needed a web designer to create the site layout, and graphics but you also needed a webmaster to place your content on the site or change it when needed. This cost you money each time you needed a content or graphic change! No more of that nonsense. WordPress to the rescue!
 

Five Reasons Why WordPress for Your Small Business Is a Good Choice

1. Built-In SEO Benefits – Out of the box WordPress gives you SEO benefits that far outweigh traditional built websites.

2. Adding content is easy – WordPress allows you to add content to your site without knowing HTML. If you are not one to learn complex software such as Dreamweaver, you are in for a big surprise! No longer do you have to ask your webmaster to make a small change for you – you can easily create new pages or edit them using the built-in editor.

3. Plug-Ins – The WordPress community has a plethora of programmers who create FREE themes and plug-ins. Plug-ins gives you the ability to extend the functionality of your website with contact forms, social media and other cool features without a programmer.

4. Fantastic Support – You can find easily accessible help and support from the WordPress community as well as the hundreds and thousands of developers out there if you have a problem, or you want to have something customized. At the very least, you can do a google search to find them when needed.

5. Installation is quick – WordPress is easily installed (They call it one-click installation) by many hosting companies such as Hostgator, GoDaddy, Site5 and 1and1. As long as your hosting company has cPanel, you will be able to install WordPress quickly. Once caveat though, I don't recommend the one-click quick install as this put's your website at risk of being hacked, hi-jacked or prone to spammers. Having your WordPres installed securely should be a priority!

We will be sharing more tips and tricks on how to best utilize WordPress for your small to medium business.