6 Free Plugins to Speed Up Your WordPress Site

Site speed plays a very important role in online business. It can increase or decrease the revenue of your online business, depending on how much time your site takes to load. There is a shocking relation between site speed and conversation rate, which is particularly true for e-commerce sites.

There are a dozen of reasons to improve the site speed, but the two most important ones are - search rankings and user experience.

Search Rankings

When Google first announced site speed in web search rankings, it played a miniscule part. But overtime it has become one of the main development factors Google takes into account for ranking websites.

While page speed isn’t the only factor Google takes into account, pages that load faster and follow Google’s best practices for performance tend to rank better in Google.

Google also offers a wide range of tools and resources to help developers build faster websites via Make the Web Faster.

User Experience

KISSMetrics reported that 47 percent of users expect a page to load within two seconds. So, if your site takes more than two seconds to load, there is a good chance users will navigate away.

The Internet is filled with case studies, reports, and surveys on how page speed impacts site rankings and user engagement. People simply don’t want to wait. With that in mind, you should invest some time in improving the site speed – just like you would with any other part of your business.

In this article I want to share six free WordPress plugins that will help you increase your site’s traffic, user engagement, and revenue. Spending just a few minutes and installing these plugins can potentially have a big impact on the speed of your website.

WP Optimize


wp-optimize-760x372

If you take your site seriously, you might want clean up your database. By default, WordPress stores every post, page, and comment including post revisions, trash data, and information from various plugins. This may not sound like a huge speed booster, but you can easily make substantial speed improvements by optimizing your database.

I rely on WP Optimize plugin for the task. It is great for beginner and intermediate users, because it does not require you to go to PHPmyAdmin or do any technical stuff. You can do everything from your WordPress dashboard.

WP Optimize helps you de-clutter your database by removing stale post revisions, spam comments, trashed items, and removal of transient options. It can also tell you your current database size and gives you an idea on how much space you can save with WP Optimize.

Note: If you are using this plugin for the first time, make sure to back up your database. It is always the best practice to have a backup, just in case anything goes sideways. Though, if you are hosted on a managed WordPress hosting like SEJ, then you can rely on staging feature to restore the previous version.

Digg Digg

It has proven that having social media buttons on your site increases the chances of getting your blog posts shared by 50%. Though, the opposite seems to work for e-commerce websites.

floating-social-bar

But most social media plugins load too many scripts and are amongst the slowest to load.Digg Digg plugin fixes this problem as it comes with lazy loading option, meaning your site visitors will be shown a fake button until a visitor hovers over the buttons for sharing. You can also add buttons at the top or bottom of your page.

W3 Total Cache

When it comes to improving the site speed, there are a lot of things that you can do. However, installing a cache plugin will have the biggest impact on your site.

The W3 Total Cache plugin is one of the most popular caching plugins available for WordPress. There is a good chance you will be able to increase your site performance by 10 times, as claimed by its plugin developers.

A caching plugin stores the images, CSS, and Javascript files of your website on the server, so it doesn’t have to load the website from scratch and every time you receive a visitor, instead the static version of your site is displayed. This saves a lot of resources and works with any type of website.

The plugin is not easy to configure, but if you have a basic knowledge of WordPress, it will only take five minutes to set up. Additionally, you can integrate it with a CDN service like MaxCDN, which works really well with W3TC plugin.

Other alternatives include: WP Super Cache and WP-Rocket.me. The latter one is a paid product and costs around $39.

WP Smush.it

Today, blogging is not just about high quality content, but is also about visual graphics (infographics, images, and slides). Take a look at any of the SEJ post and you will see every blog post has at least two images.

High quality content with visual graphics is essential to set your site apart from the rest, but you need to ensure the images are properly compressed and uses appropriate format. There are dozens of plugin available (even a desktop based application like Shrink-O-Matric) to help you get the better images, but one plugin that stood above from the rest is WP Smush.it.

The plugin works by reducing image file sizes and improving performance using the Smush.it API within WordPress. It also strips the metadata from JPEGs, and removes unused colors from indexed images.

If you don’t want to use a plugin, you can use a premium service like Kraken.io.

P3 Profiler

There are hundreds of thousands of WordPress plugins, most of them are useful, and will help you with one thing or another. If you want to add a new functionality, you can usually find a plugin. But plugins can also be responsible for increasing your site speed. And you never know which plugin is causing the trouble. Fortunately, there is a plugin for that called P3 Profiler.

P3-Profiler-plugin

P3 Profiler scans the website to find out which plugins are causing a slow performance. It narrow downs the impact your plugins are having on your site’s load time.

Once you have figured out which plugins are causing are slowing down your website, you can replace them or remove them entirely.

BJ Lazy Load

Another great plugin to optimize the post images is BJ Lazy Load.

It allows you to lazy load post images, thumbnails, Gravatar images, and content iFrames, and replaces it with a placeholder. The images are only loaded as they are about to become visible in a user’s browser. You can also lazy load other images and iFrames in your theme by using a simple function.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the site speed is just one of the 200 factors Google takes into account when ranking a website. So, make sure to also invest some time on other aspects of your business.

By the way, don’t forget to test your site speed before and after installing these plugins to see how effective they really are. You can use Pingdom or GTMetrix, which are great tools for testing site speed.

4 Highly Profitable Affiliate-Marketing Programs

affiliate-marketing-programsSo, you’re considering an affiliate-marketing program as a means to monetize your blog or add another income stream to your e-commerce site. But which networks offer the most profitable, highest-quality products and present the best revenue opportunities? Good question.

Here’s a look at four leaders in the field:

  1. Amazon Associates — Amazon sells millions of products (books, music, electronics, toys, and more) that fit into virtually any niche, so its affiliate marketing program is a natural choice for almost anyone. Comparatively speaking, its payouts are generous, too: They vary based on product type and sales volume, but commission rates start at 4 percent and can reach up to 15 percent for specific product lines. However, note that Amazon’s program is now illegal in several states (although there are some work-arounds).
  2. Commission Junction — This site serves as a clearinghouse for thousands of companies and small businesses looking to get into the affiliate business. It offers myriad affiliate programs, but you must apply separately to each one. Payout rates vary wildly, up to 50 percent, and some commissions are based on leads or clicks vs. sales. Frustratingly, Commission Junction deducts $10 from your accrued earnings for every month in which you don’t actively earn commissions; if you let your account lapse, your income could get wiped out.
  3. LinkShare — Like Commission Junction, LinkShare provides access to affiliate-marketing opportunities from a variety of companies, including Buy.com. LinkShare’s site features an easy-to-read publisher dashboard that keeps you apprised of the latest offers from your merchant partners and gives you real-time access to your earning data. According to the site, commission rates typically reach up to 20 percent.
  4. ShareASale — ShareASale provides access to more than 3,300 separate merchant affiliate programs in many vertical markets, including food, apparel, and home and garden. The network has smaller brands than most of its competitors, but many affiliate partners offer high payouts: The stationary company Tinyprints offers 10% commission on sales, or $5 per lead; while PerkStreet Financial Commissions offers as much as $50 a sale. The Affluent Blogger’s Aiden Clinton speaks highly of ShareASale’s intuitive web interface, asserting that it is particularly convenient for companies that run multiple websites. ShareASale also offers referral bonuses for signing up new affiliate marketers.

Of course, when using any affiliate program, you’ll be most successful if you think about the needs and desires of your existing audience — and provide reviews of and links to products that you know will interest them. In a future post, we’ll cover exactly how to do that.

Avoid These Rookie Affiliate Marketing Mistakes

Avoid-Rookie-Affiliate-Marketing-Mistakes

When I first started in affiliate marketing, all I wanted was to just make money. Off I ran in every direction, trying everything, with no real idea of the mistakes I was making that could very well affect my chances at long term success.

Through my years of experience with both affiliate marketing and teaching other affiliate marketers, I have come to the conclusion that there are 7 big mistakes new affiliate marketers make.

Let’s talk about these mistakes in more detail:

1) Selling Rather Than Helping

Yes, the word “marketing” is part of the phrase affiliate marketing, but for the most part, our job as an affiliate is not to sell — that is the job of the sales page our affiliate links lead the reader to.

When I first started, my overwhelming (and totally naive) impulse was to fill my pages with words and links that screamed “BUY THIS NOW!”. I didn’t help the reader learn why they should have this product. I only wanted them to click a link which would hopefully lead to a commission for me.

People want to hear from other people when making a decision to buy a product or not — that’s why the reviews on Amazon products are so powerful. Those reviews are genuine feedback from people who (usually) have absolutely nothing to gain if someone buys that product or not.

When we talk more like an unbiased reviewer rather than a high-pressure salesperson, we will find we make more sales and people will come back for advice on other products in the future.

2) Too Many!

This is another big mistake I made when starting out — joining any and every affiliate program I came across. While I absolutely do believe in cultivating multiple streams of income when working online, there is a point where you have too much to deal with and it becomes unmanageable.

Choose your affiliate programs wisely and don’t overload yourself.

3) Not Testing

Whenever I choose to promote a Clickbank offer (for example), I put myself in the shoes of a potential customer and opt in to test the vendors’ follow up sequence.

I learned this the hard way.

Nothing breaks a reader’s trust more than being led to a promotion that will blow up their inbox. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer and see what will happen if they follow your advice.

4) Not Tracking

This was a BIG mistake I made when I first started out. I began my affiliate marketing career using free-to-make web pages on a site called Squidoo (and I still do this to this day).

I am fond of promoting Amazon products on these pages, but would forget to use unique tracking affiliate links on each page.

Why is this a mistake? Very simple — when you make a sale, you want to know WHERE the sale came from. This enables you to know which pages are converting well so you can grow and scale that campaign.

Creating a unique tracking ID for an Amazon link is easy. Simply log in to your Amazon affiliate dashboard, click “Account Settings” at the very top on the right, then click “Manage Tracking IDs”. From there you can make a new tracking ID so you can track which web page/campaign sold what.  You can learn more about using Amazon’s Tracking IDs here.

Yes, making any commission is cool, but knowing where and how you made that commission is what makes you a better marketer. It lets you grow and scale your campaigns — as opposed to working blindly.

5) Not Comparing

One of the best converting tactics I use to sell affiliate products online (especially physical products from Amazon) is to compare the “main” product with two other similar products.

When people are in buying mode for a physical product, they tend to have their options narrowed down to 2 or 3 and need help making the choice that is best for them.

By comparing the “3 Best Widgets For _______”, I not only help my readers make a choice, but I also have my affiliate links there for THREE products instead on only one.

Over time, when I track that web page, I will be able to see which product is most interesting to readers and move the best converting product to the top of the page for better CTR.

Comparison web pages are not only very popular and helpful for readers, they are also very profitable for you.

6) Make Money Online Products

Perhaps you’ve seen this before. You’re in a “learn online marketing” type forum. A person publishes a post complaining that they can’t make a dime online. But in their signature line they have something along the lines of “I Made 50 Million Dollars with This” followed by their affiliate link.

It happens all the time. Please, don’t be that person.

If you’re new and you want to promote products in the Make Money Online arena, don’t make false claims that it made you money. In fact, don’t make false claims at all!

Sure, talk about the benefits of the product/training — maybe even why it sounds awesome to you — but don’t try to trick people. You will ruin your credibility.

 

7) “Oh Look! A Butterfly!”

This is the biggest downfall for any new affiliate marketer. In fact, it can cause really big issues for seasoned affiliate marketers as well.

It is all too common to be working on one thing when all of a sudden, something “shiny” comes through your inbox or is mentioned in a forum you frequent. Then off you go chasing some new idea to make money online.

Ignore the “butterflies” that are sure to fly by on a constant basis. They will just distract you from your project/campaign at hand. One completed and profitable campaign is worth so much more than 50 almost half-finished campaigns or projects.

Affiliate marketing is a business that requires self-motivation and focus. For many of us, these are learned skills. Once you are aware of the the mistakes that can cause a lack of profits and productivity, you will be better able to grow your business and be profitable long-term.

Best of luck!!

 

How to Rank Your Business Locally

Do you have a local business that needs to rank higher in search engine results? Then today is your lucky day. Here are some vital tips on how to make sure that your all-important geo-targeted audience can find your business immediately.

Have the Right Category Associations

Based on a survey conducted by Moz, this is considered the most important factor in getting ranked locally. And, for an obvious reason. How can people locate you if your business is not in the right selected category. For example, if you are an electrician in Chicago, then you have to select electrician in Google’s (or Yahoo! or Bing) pre-set category taxonomy. If you select restaurant, then your business will not rank in relevant search terms. You can select up to 9 categories to help narrow down results.

Also remember that while describing the details of your business, make sure that you use the right keywords that describe the business; proximity of business’s address to the town/city of search; and the you include the most up-to-date information for your business.

 

Have On-Site Optimization

 

On-site optimization simply means that your website contains both locally optimized title tags and and meta descriptions. These are what people will notice when they search for local businesses since they will appear the title.

 

You also want to make sure that your website contains geo-targeted keywords on everything from page titles to the content that you create. Your NAP (name, address, phone number) contact information should appear on the header or footer of every page of your website. And, please make sure that all of this contact information remains consistent (same spelling, punctuation, wording and address).

 

Bonus Tips: Embed a map by getting a HTML code when you enter your address on Google Maps. And, make sure that you use stronger keywords. Wordstream has listed 8 tools to help you discover what people are searching for.

 

Get Listed on Local Search Directories

 

Whether it’s a hyper-local directory or a national directory, getting included in a third-party local business directory is an absolute must. Just remember that you need to submit and have your business verified first, which is why you everything that described you business is current and accurate.

 

Some of the most well-known local business directories are: Google PlacesYahoo Local, Bing LocalYelpMerchantCircleSuperpages and Yellow PagesCitysearchAngie’s List and Zagat are a few other suggestion. You can also use a tool like Whitespark Local Citation Finder to discover more local directories.

 

One final word about citations. Don’t submit your site to every directory out there. You may think that getting featured on hundreds of local business directories will cast a wider net, but that’s not going to happen. Stick with directories that can help people find your business. For example, we’re been building up citations to PBInstitute for helping children with substance abuse.  If I were to build up citations from a plumbing site…it’s really not going to help at all.  It’s actually going to hurt them in the long run.  Keep it all related and it’ll help you 10x more in the long run.

 

Earn Positive Reviews

 

One of the best ways to get your local business to rank is through positive reviews. To accomplish this, having outstanding customer service is required. Kate Morris states on the Moz Blog when you do this, you are giving “them no choice but to tell people about you.”

 

Other ways to have people leave reviews is by dropping hints, like including buttons/badges from sites like Yelp on your website; reminding people to leave a review by mentioning a local business directory on receipts; and/or asking customers to rate their experience via an email following a purchase.

 

Finally, make sure that you engage your audience through the social media platforms where your customers spend the most time. However, don’t plead for reviews. Use social media to interact with customers, such as announcing an event; resolving concerns or questions; or sharing relevant content. Also include social buttons on your website, it just makes life easier for your fans. Reviews will follow this type of engagement.

 

Measure and Analyze

 

Finally, use Google Analytics to discover information about your customers, which local sites are increasing traffic to your site and even the type of opportunities that are available to capitalize on for local search.

What is Affiliate Marketing

affiliate_marketingAffiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products.

You find a product you like, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.

  • You’re happy because you earned a commission…
  • The company is happy because they have a new sale from a customer that they might not have normally been able to reach…
  • And the customer is happy because they learned about a product from you that will hopefully fulfill a need or desire.

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you don’t have to invest the time and effort to create a product to sell. You can begin selling something as an affiliate as soon as you have a platform to sell it on.

Affiliate marketing at its very core is about relationships, a relationship between three parties:

affiliate-advertiser affiliate-publisher affiliate-consumer
In the world of affiliate marketing, an advertiser can be a company selling a product like electronics, airline tickets, clothing or car parts, or an advertiser could also be an insurance company selling policies. The most important thing to remember is that you are an advertiser if you are ready to pay other people to help you sell and promote your business. A publisher is an individual or company that promotes an advertiser’s product or service in exchange for earning a commission. Advertisers contractually agree to work with a publisher, then provide the publisher with creative – in the form of links, banner or text ads or even unique phone numbers – that the publisher incorporates into their website. The final component that completes the affiliate relationship triangle is the consumer. The consumer is the one who actually sees the ad and then makes an action (either by clicking a link or by submitting their information via a form) that takes them from the publisher’s website to the advertiser’s to complete the action, which we call a conversion.

Learn more about Affiliate marketing [wikipedia]

 

5 Things To Stop Doing With Facebook FanPages Right Now!

Everyone wants a Facebook page, and when they launch they are so excited that they don’t think about what they should do after pushing their pages live.  People want fans, followers and everything else possible.  While I agree using social media is a great way to build a following, interact with your readers and drive traffic to your website; there are some very large mistakes I am seeing across the board with friends, companies and Bloggers.  This post will list 5 of them and why you need to stop doing these things with your Facebook marketing and FanPages.

1.  Inviting your friends to like your FanPage

This sounds weird right?  You have a company and you build a fan page for it so why wouldn’t you want your friends to see what you’re up to and like your page.  Because this causes a serious decrease in the amount of exposure your posts can have for your actual audience, your customers and your company’s fans. Here’s why.

If your Facebook page is about online marketing like mine, most of my friends don’t work in this niche.  If I invited them all to like my page, they wouldn’t interact with the posts which would in turn tell Facebook that the content isn’t relevant and it would stop Facebook from showing it to more of my Facebook FanPage Fans.  Try it, share something and ask a bunch of your fans to click like and if you want to share it (but sharing will skew this because the shares increase reach as well).  You’ll see an increase in exposure and reach.  Then post and if no one interacts with it, it should have less of a reach and get less exposure.  With that said, if you have industry friends, work friends in the same niche and role and friends that would generally find at least 90% of your posts interesting, those are the ones you want to invite to like your page.

These friends will click like on your posts, share them and comment on them.  These interactions should work with Facebook’s algorithm to say that the content is good and to keep sharing it and showing it to more of the pages Fans.  The big thing to remember is that if your friends wouldn’t click like or be interested in at least 90% of your posts, don’t invite them to like your page.  Instead wait until your customers, clients, Journalists and Bloggers, twitter followers that actually follow you (not a follow me follow you back) and industry people start to find you and like your page.

Your audience will grow over time and you’ll be fine.  Don’t hurt your page in the beginning by having people that aren’t interested in your company or services like your page and then end up ignoring your posts or clicking the I don’t want to see this in their feeds when it shows up.

2.  Talking about yourself instead of others.

The next thing is when someone starts a blog for their company or Facebook FanPage, they talk about themselves.  Although it’s great that you like yourself and your company, but that isn’t always interesting to the rest of the world or your user base.  Having some posts with your company and what’s going on helps to show that you are real people and can be fun and interesting, but not all of the time.

You have to share other people’s content and things that your Facebook Fans like, would find interesting or want to share.  If you have cool foods on your page, even if you can’t make them, they could be shareable helping to bring you more exposure and helping to show that your content is engaging.  The trick is making sure it is also relevant to your company, your products or services or your audience so that as people share it they may like your FanPage and you now have their attention and new potential customers.

On a side note, if you add images to your shares, make sure to click on each image and label them with a link so that when people click them they have a link to click through and go to your site.  The link can be the first comment or in a few other places.  This is key when doing single or multiple pictures in a post on a FanPage.

3.  Posting but not tagging the site you are sharing.

The next thing I keep seeing is that companies or social media experts keep sharing other people or companies content which is great, but they don’t tag the company, Blogger or other FanPage.  By not letting that person know you’re sharing their content they probably won’t find that you shared their content.  By letting them know you’ve shared their content or website, they may return the favor and share your site or FanPage on their page, or say something like “Check it out, we were featured on XYZ company’s FanPage.” and other times they may mention you on a post or a tweet to say thank you for mentioning them.

Being on their radar can help get them to share your content and hopefully drive more likes for your pages and customers for your business.

4.  Setting up pages with no contact information.

Many pages I come across have no way to contact you or your company.  Even if you don’t want to give your home address or phone number because you’re a blogger or work from home, give a link to your website or website contact form.  It’s great that people can see what you’re doing, but if you get them to want to use your services, give them a way to reach you.  This is even more important if it’s an angry customer so that they can come to you instead of posting about the issue they are having on your FanPage where everyone else can see it.

5.  Not using tracking or insights.

The last common mistake with Facebook FanPages and marketing is to test everything.  Facebook gives you analytics tools with a pixel to track conversions and your FanPages have insights to show everything from when your audience is active to what is working, what is not working and what people are doing with your content.

By checking out your insights once or twice a week and tracking the progress from your posts, you can start to get more of a reach into your fanbase based on actual numbers and results.  This can help you to start to be more successful with Facebook. These tools are free and show you what is happening with your content, so use them to help your company grow.

There are a ton of other issues I keep seeing with FanPages, but these are good starting points that can have an impact on pages with a large following or ones that are starting out.  Please feel free to share some of the common mistakes you find by leaving a comment below, and if you find this type of information interesting, like my page and then like this post.  (Had to put that there…sorry lol).