Choosing your WordPress Hosting and When to Upgrade the Core Files

Choosing Your WordPress Hosting

Finding a WordPress hosting site may be the most important thing you do. Choosing the right host is not always an easy task, and remember unlimited hosting is not unlimited. Look for the real limits. Make sure to “READ THOSE T.O.S.” For example, I recently helped a client with a website at Site 5 hosting and they have an arbitrary limit for what they call resource points— I mean what is that???

Make sure you find a hosting company that offers great support in at least 2 ways. Some preferable ways are live chat, e-ticket and phone. With multiple options you will always get the support you need when you need it.

Choose a company that offers cPanel hosting if at all possible. cPanel provides a graphic interface and automation tools that simplify hosting a web site. It is easier to setup and manage your website. And many cPanel providers have simple one click install scripts for WordPress which makes the installation easy. Plus they have an optional auto update of the core, but be careful of that (see the next part of this article on why auto update might not be a good idea).

Look for a company that does not oversell their shared hosting.  What does this mean? Well almost all hosting you can get for $17 a month or less will be shared hosting. This means you share the server with upwards of thousands of other websites. Think of a freeway. If you have ever travelled on one at 2am, you know you can go top speed, but if you have ever travelled one at 5pm, you know you might be moving at 10mph — same idea on a web server, more websites means slower delivery.

Finally, be sure they make WordPress a priority for their hosting service since WordPress has some unique needs for it to run efficiently and with as few problems as possible.

I researched several hosting companies recently and have found two that do not seem to oversell their servers and provide great customer service (as well as cPanel hosting). So if you need hosting, check these guys out:

When to do your WordPress Core Update

So it’s been a couple of weeks now since the new core update to WordPress version 3.5, and the question many people have is how soon after core drop should you upgrade? In my opinion it should be held off for about 2 to 4 weeks when moving to a major upgrade.

Upgrading WordPress is a painless process 98% of the time and goes perfectly smoothly. But that 2%, either you will end up going backwards and reverting back to previous version, spend your precious time troubleshooting what went wrong, or find the need to hire a professional to fix it for you.

Why should you wait a week or three? When you wait a bit to do your major upgrade, all the prominent plugin authors will get their plugins updated. This is usually where 99% of all upgrade issues stem from because the plugins that have glitches in them.

What are the benefits of upgrading? You get great new features like the new media manager in WordPress 3.5, and you get the new 2012 responsive theme to help you create a simple but elegant website.

What’s the downside of upgrading? Well you lose features you might have become used to such as the link manager. Yes, not too many folks know about or use it any more but I do have a few clients who do. And although you might lose something you like with an older version of WordPress, you will have to eventually upgrade. Why? Well simply because security flaws are always present, and if you leave an out of date WordPress website up, you are asking to get hacked….. Just ask Reuters about what happened to them when they did not upgrade.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about either subject, I have more detailed podcasts at my website WPMedic.ca

 

Deck Your WordPress with Boughs of Holly for a WordPress Christmas

It’s a Very Merry WordPress Christmas

It’s that time of year again, and many of us look forward to Christmas decorations and the displays of lights around the neighbourhood.  Well the web is no different. People are looking for ways to make their website shine and show off the coolest decorations.

Here are some simple plugins to decorate your WordPress website for the holidays.

Have Yourself a very merry WordPress Christmas.

Holiday Message

Start with Holiday Message Plugin. This plugin allows you to place a custom festive message with your choice of Santa, Snowman, Christmas Tree, Carol Singers or a menorah in your choice of colours.  You can even add a snowfall effect to it all.  You can get it here.

 

Xmas Lights

Next you need some lights to hang from the top of your website. You will want to check out the following plugin Xmas Lights. While this plugin is about a year old now, it is still pretty great and does a nice simple job of hanging some Christmas lights from the top of your website. It goes quite nice with the Holiday message plugin. You can get it here.

 

Snow, balloons and more

And now you might want to add a little holiday cheer with some snow, balloons and more… like  falling Santas, trees or snow flakes all over. Add this great little plugin, which is also good for other festive occasions. A special treat of this plugin is you can limit it to specific pages. and you can add you own images to really get creative. The other bonus is that you can have it stop snowing after a few seconds so as not to annoy your visitors. You can get it here.

WP-Christmas

And finally you can add a Snowman message to greet the visitors to your website with this simple little plugin. This presents a couple of animated Snowmen who come in from the side of the screen to a simple melody, share a scarf and then disappear. It hassettings for individual pages and to show it only once. You can get it here.

So have a very merry WordPress Christmas. Enjoy your holidays.

Useful Facebook Comments on your WordPress Website

Add useful Facebook comments to your WordPress Website

Let’s face it, getting people to comment can be a challenge especially with all the many hurdles they face just to place a comment. You know what I am talking about – such as the ever favourite ReCaptcha, which 7 out of 10 time you cannot read and have to reload until you finally get one you can read, or those simple questions such as what is the colour of the sky? And even then, once you place the answer, something goes wrong, and it does not accept it or you get the response wrong, and it wipes out that wonderful 2 paragraph thought you just tried to post.

There has been an option for some time to allow comments via Facebook, but it had many issues: the biggest of which was you lose all the SEO value provided by those comments. They stayed on Facebook and you lost out…

Well now you can avoid all that in one simple step by allowing your visitors to leave comments on your WordPress website using their most used social program, Facebook, with this great plugin. The problems with using Facebook for comments have been overcome in this plugins as it takes those comments down from Facebook and places them into your database before displaying them on your site as well as taking all comments on your site and moving them up to Facebook.

Create useful Facebook Comments on your site with:

SEO Facebook Comment 1.4.5.1


This plugin is fantastic in how it handles Facebook comments on both your website and on Facebook. It even keeps the nice threaded look for you. Installing it is a breeze, and I’ll walk you though that below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can keep your old commenting system & comments on the site if you like, or remove them completely.

Installing this plugin take a few minutes, but if you follow along, it will be done in no time.

First: Go to your admin dashboard and under the plugins menu click on add new and search for SEO Facebook Comment

 

Now you need to do is install and activate it. Then look for a new menu item in the left called SEO Facebook and click on it. Once open, you will get this area:

Here they have a convenient link for you to go to and create your Facebook App, but in case you miss it – click here. Make sure you are logged into the Facebook account you want to create this app for. I will not duplicate their instructions as they are pretty comprehensive and simple, but if you’d like to go off on your own, here is the link to Facebook developers to create the app: https://developers.facebook.com/apps.

Once you have created the app, which takes all of about 5 minutes even if you have not yet registered as a developer, then you need to locate the specific user ID for the Facebook page you want to share comments with. Again, they have a convenient link to locate your ID.   or if you want to head off on your own, click here to get your Facebook user ID.

Once all this is completed, you need to set a couple simple steps such as what width you want the comment box to be, the auto approve and if you want to hide the default commenting system or not. Once that is done, simply look at any post on your site to see how it looks and you’re all done.

So now you can enjoy having your visitors who use Facebook make simple comments on your site and you still get all the SEO benefits and more.

WordPress Photo Galleries Made Easy

WordPress, in all its glory, has a minor downfall in how it natively handles photo galleries. It does a poor job of displaying those pictures if someone clicks on the image to enlarge it. It displays them in simple rows on your post.

Yes, we all know the standard photo galleries in WordPress have something to be desired (hence the plethora of gallery plugins available for WordPress). Now, wouldn’t it be great to use the built in WordPress photo galleries to create great looking galleries and have them pop up in a light box to display?

Well there is a way you can do that, and I will show you how as well as show you a simple gallery plugin that displays beautifully on screen and fits your post every time no matter what size you have your content area set to.

Lets start with the standard gallery we all know and love.. First you need 6 images and the following plugin jQuery Lightbox For Native Galleries http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/jquery-lightbox-for-native-galleries/ and the steps are:

(note:  since publication, the author of this plugin has opted to discontinue development in favour of the carousel module in Jetpack)

1. Goto add new plugin and add the above plugin and activate it, there is nothing to configure except choosing from 5 different themes to display your images and the default one is pretty nice

2. Upload your images, then insert gallery as in images below.

Then check out how it looks on your sites front end as below..

Now just click on any image and you should see a great looking pop up of the image in a lightbox as in picture below.

Now for an add-on photo gallery that always fits the bill.

Ok, now that you have done the simple way of enhancing your native galleries it is time to use a simple gallery option. Here is what you need: First, install the following plugin DM Albums™ which is an in-line photo album/gallery plugin that displays high quality images and thumbnails perfectly sized to your blog. Get it here at http://blog.dutchmonkey.com/product-release/dm-albums-3-1-8/ and install and activate in the usual way.

Once installed, all you need to do is go and create a post and in the right hand side at the top should be a new box for gallery creation as in image below.
Then just create a gallery or two and then look at the front of your website to see your beautiful new gallery.
So with these two great and simple solutions you can improve the display of galleries on your website in no time.

Enjoy.

Tune WordPress with these 4 Tools

Like every great machine, even WordPress need some tuning up occasionally to keep it running smoothly, and as time moves on with your WordPress website you will need some tools to enhance it or to help keep it functioning at its best. It always seems that clutter creeps in and starts to create a bit of a mess, and just like your house for some reason, WordPress accumulates dust for no apparent reason. You need to clean that dust up from time to time to keep your website nice and shiny. Theses tools will make that job much easier to accomplish.

 

KT Cleanpress

KT-CleanPress is designed to help you clean and optimize your WordPress website. It will do the following for you:

  • Clean Posts & Pages: helps you remove posts marked as Trash, Pending or Draft. As your site ages, you have added draft or pending posts that you will never use. You may want to remove them from time to time. Or you may want a fast way to empty the trash bin.
  • Clean Post Revisions: Something many people do not realize is that every time you make an edit and save a draft or update a post, WordPress saves a revision of that post. I have had posts with a dozen or more revisions, and you may want to clean that info from your database.

…Check this plugin for the additional items it will do for you…

 

Broken Link Checker

I have heard and seen it said that having broken links on your website can be a detriment to your SEO. So occasionally it is a good idea to clean up those broken links. This plugin will check and monitor your website for links that break and let you know about it so you can fix or remove them.

  • Monitors links in your posts, pages, comments, the blogroll, and custom fields (optional).
  • Detects links that don’t work, missing images and redirects.
  • Notifies you either via the Dashboard or by email.
  • Makes broken links display differently in posts (optional).
  • Prevents search engines from following broken links (optional).
  • You can search and filter links by URL, anchor text and so on.
  • Links can be edited directly from the plugin’s page, without manually updating each post.

This is a great plugin for helping you keep your outgoing links nice and clean providing that little bit extra for your visitors.

 

Bulk Comment Remove


Occasionally you might get hit by spammers in a bad way and end up with dozens or even hundreds of comments you need to remove quickly. This plugin provides just such a solution; with a single click, you can delete all those comments waiting in the approval cue.

 

WordPress Uploaded Files Cleaner

This plugin will help you clean-up your media manager by removing the unused junk from it. It checks your media folder for any unused files that have been uploaded and are no longer used, and then it moves them to a new folder for removal from your server or to restore in case of error. You can exclude this folder from backups to save some serious space when making you backup.