WordPress support: which steps to undertake for a solution

Although WordPress is a very user-friendly content management system (CMS), it can still happen that you can’t find a solution to your (technical) WordPress problem. This can be very frustrating and at that moment you are desperate for WordPress support. There are many manuals and articles findable online about different WordPress problems and how to solve them. However, it is sometimes difficult to find the specific answer you need from these sources. From that position, you have a few options to seek for help: 

  1. Through an (official) WordPress forum 
  2. Via your hoster
  3. Via a (premium) theme or plugin supporter (if you have one) 
  4. Via WordPress Codex and the Developer Handbook
  5. Via a premium support party

Before looking for an answer think carefully first what you want answers to..

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what you need help with. Therefore, before you approach different websites, groups and forums, it is smart to do some research and identify the exact problem with your WordPress website. After this, you can determine a lot easier where the problem is coming from and what kind of help you need. In this process, you should ask yourself the following:

    • Is your WordPress question related to a hosting problem? This could be the case, for example, if the memory limit of your WordPress website has been reached and you can’t download new themes or plugins because of this. Or if individual files are too large to upload to your server. Almost every hoster offers (free) support where you can make use off if you have a hosting problem. 
    • Do you have a specific WordPress question? For example: how do I customize the WordPress menu or how do I change my theme colors? Then you can often find your answer through a blog or Youtube video. If you have a more specific question then it’s better to search for help on the official WordPress forum 
    • Want to know about how to modify a specific WordPress code? Try the Codex or the Developers Handbook. The downside is that you do need to be slightly tech savvy to understand these sources. 
    • Have you purchased a premium theme? Then you can often get your question answered by submitting a ticket on a support page of the theme’s creators.
    • Do you want a problem solved quickly and are you a professional company? Then you can always consider investing in a premium support party.

If you have gone through these steps then hopefully you have a better idea of where to go for WordPress help. Below we explain each WordPress resource in more detail and you can ask for help. 

Official WordPress forum

The WordPress support forum is the place to get answers to a specific WordPress problem. For example, you can ask questions about installing WordPress, code solutions, CSS/formatting and plugins. On this forum both paid and non-paid specialists are active who are willing to help you, often all for free. 

The support forums are mainly staffed by volunteers who are not paid by WordPress or an employer. Another part is working for WordPress organizations, agencies or companies that encourage their employees to share their expertise through the forums. Plugin and theme developers also often offer help through WordPress forums. Is your WordPress related to a paid plugin or theme? Then you can ask for help via premium theme or plugin support. 

Before asking your question, it is important to always do some research to see if your question has not been asked and answered before. If there is no answer to your question yet then you can ask it. However, keep in mind that the forums are largely supported by volunteers. So be a little nice to them and don’t expect an answer immediately

Hoster

Do you have problems with the speed of your website, does your website crash all the time or do you not have enough website memory for downloading new themes or plugins? Then the fault probably lies with your hoster. Almost every hoster has a dedicated page where you can ask for support, usually by submitting a ticket. Also, most hosters can be reached via live chat or over the phone, if you are using a smaller hoster. 

Is your hoster unable to resolve your WordPress issue or has your submitted ticket been open for a long time? Then it’s probably time for a new one. The two hosters we can heartily recommend are Kinsta and SiteGround. Both are very good and score excellent on speed, support and security. 

(Premium) Theme or Plugin supporter

Many theme and plugin developers offer (free) support on their websites and WordPress forums. Especially paid themes and plugins offer free support because this service is part of their products. Of course they do not want you to switch to another provider.. 

Do you have a problem updating a theme or plugin or do they no longer function properly? Then the best place to start is with the theme or plugin developer. Most of them will have a dedicated page where you can submit a ticket. Often you’ll have an answer to your WordPress question within a few hours.

WordPress Codex and the Developer Handbook

If your question is not specifically about a hosting, theme or plugin problem then you can probably find the answer in the WordPress Codex or the Developer Handbook

The WordPress Codex can be seen as a very comprehensive WordPress library containing information on how to use WordPress, functionalities, how to use a theme and even how to develop a plugin. The Codex pages are very detailed, so if you read carefully then you can definitely find the answer to your WordPress issue here. The Codex is suitable for less technically inclined WordPress users as well as developers. 

Unlike the Codex, the Developer Handbook is aimed primarily at developers. It is the official guide to the basic code of WordPress. The guide includes topics on WordPress coding standards, API development, the Gutenberg block editor and how to develop your own theme. If your question is related to a development issue then you will definitely find the answer here.

Premium support party

If you want your question answered immediately without much effort and want the problem solved at once, you will most likely have to pay someone for that. There are many companies and freelancers that offer premium support for a fee through a ticket system, for example. Before you decide to hire the services of a provider, you should always research the company carefully. 

Cheap does not always mean quality and you will be in trouble if the problem is still not solved when you have hired one of these companies. So always find out how the companies are rated, whether their website looks professional and what they promise regarding how quickly they solve the problem.

We hope we helped you out with where to go for WordPress help

As you have been able to read, there are plenty of places to turn to for WordPress help. You may feel a bit overwhelmed by the different WordPress support channels where you can ask your question. However, if you think a little critically and you have a good understanding of the problem of your question, then you can pick a help channel that best suits your issue. 

We hope this blog has helped you by making the right choice between the different WordPress support channels and are very curious about your reaction. Please leave it at the bottom of this blog if you are feeling to. 

Core Web Vitals: a very important Google update in 2021

A few weeks ago we wrote an article about the most important Google ranking factors of 2021. In this article we explained that from may 2021, Google will rank websites more strongly based on new metrics, called Core Web Vitals.

A few weeks ago we wrote an article about the most important Google ranking factors of 2021. In this article we explained that from may 2021, Google will rank websites more strongly based on new metrics, called Core Web Vitals. 

Although nobody knows exactly how big the impact of these new metrics will be on the rankings, we do know that Google will place more value on user experience factors that have to do with page speed, responsiveness and the stability of content during loading. 

Focus on user experience and drastic measures

In essence, the Core Web Vitals represent different facets of the user experience. And because the user experience is quite a catch-all term, Google has made certain demarcations in the search algorithm, which are called the Core Web Vitals. 

Google has mentioned that website owners do not need to be hardcore web developers to meet the requirements of Core Web Vitals. According to them, the Web Vitals initiative aims to simplify website optimization and help websites focus on user experience factors that matter most. 

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Our analyses show that many websites need to take drastic and complex measures to meet the Core Web Vitals’ requirements. Therefore, we expect many website owners to engage the help of web developers. Ironically enough, Google itself does not meet all Core Web Vitals and even they still have important improvements to make:

Google Core Web Vitals

But don’t despair! Below we explain exactly what the Core Web Vitals are and how you can make your website meet these new metrics. 

 

But what exactly are the Core Web Vitals?

In order to be able to give a good answer to this question, it is important to make a distinction between the concepts ‘page experience’ and content. 

Google defines page experience as “aspects that measure how users experience a web page beyond the pure information value of that page”. The pure information value in this definition is about the relevance of information, or content. 

The Core Web Vitals mainly relate to the page experience. Hence, these metrics do not so much measure how relevant your website content is, but rather the things around it. This means that your content can still be so good, but if the visitor has to wait too long before the page loads or is flooded with intrusive interstitials (e.g. ads, banners or pop-ups), Google will not be very happy about it. 

However, Google has promised to still give priority to pages with the best content in general. The Core Web Vitals therefore help a website to score better when there is a lot of competition on similar content. The page experience can thus be seen as a decisive factor for a higher ranking in the search results.

As a website owner, how do I take the Core Web Vitals into account? 

The current set for 2021 focuses on three aspects of the page experience – loading (measured by Largest Contentful Paint), interactivity (measured by First Input Delay) and visual stability (measured by Cumulative Layout Shift). Good to know is that the statistics that make up Core Web Vitals will evolve over time and therefore multiple aspects of user experience will be added in a later stadium. 

Google Core Web Vitals

In summary, the three aspects that are the most relevant at this moment, mean the following:

Largest Content Paint (LCP): measures the loading performance of your website. For a good loading performance, the largest element of the website should be loaded within 2.5 seconds after the page is opened. If this takes longer than 4 seconds, your website will score badly. 

First Input Delay (FID): measures the responsiveness of your website by measuring the time between loading a page and the moment when the user can interact for the first time. To provide a good user experience, pages must have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures the visual stability of your website and the frequency with which users see unexpected layout changes. To provide a good user experience, pages must have a CLS of less than 0.1.

To ensure you meet the recommended target for each of the above metrics, it is a good threshold to have 75 percent of page visits comply with the frames.

The three Core Web Vital aspects explained 

You probably won’t comprehend much from the summary above if you’ve never heard of the concepts LCP, FID and CLS. That is why we explained them more detailed below. We also tell you with which factors your website should comply in order to get a better user experience. 

LCP: make your website faster

As we discussed earlier, a good loading time of a page on LCP is under 2.5 seconds. If the loading time is between 2.5 and 4 seconds, improvements have to be made. If the loading time is longer than 4 seconds, it often means that the visitor has already left. Of course that is not the goal of any website. 

There is a whole list of LCP factors you have to take into account to offer your visitors the best web experience, but in total there are four factors that really matter: 

1. Response time of the server

The longer it takes for a browser to receive content from the server, the longer it takes to display something on the visitor’s screen. A faster server response time immediately improves each individual page loading speed, including the LCP.

To optimize the server speed, you need to investigate how your server processes all content. This is measured by the Time to First Byte (TTFB). From there you can see what is needed to optimize. Possible solutions are for example: 

  • Optimizing your server 
  • Directing visitors to a CDN
  • Caching
  • HTML cached pages

2. Render blocking JavaScript and CSS

JavaScript and CSS are two important sources that can block the display of content on a page. And thus also slow down the LCP. Therefore, make sure that only the minimum amount of CSS required blocks the display on your website by applying the following: 

  • Reducing CSS
  • Delaying non-critical CSS
  • Inlining critical CSS
  • Reducing the blocking time of JavaScript

3. Resource load time

Although an increase in CSS or JavaScript blocking time directly results in poorer loading performance, the time required to load external sources such as photos and videos can also affect LCP. There are a few ways to ensure that these files are loaded as quickly as possible:

  • Optimizing and compress images
  • Pre-loading key resources
  • Compressing text files

4. Client-side rendering

Recently more and more website builders are using JavaScript frameworks because they offer a lot of options and are very user friendly. One problem, however, is that this can undermine the LCP, causing a visitor not to see a page or do nothing on the page, until all critical scripts have been executed.

If you are building a website that is mostly client-side displayed, you should be extra wary of the effect this can have on LCP when a large JavaScript bundle is loaded. Therefore, consider the following optimizations when building a client-side rendered site:

  • Minimizing critical JavaScript
  • Using server-side rendering
  • Using pre-rendering 

FID: make the interface of your website responsive 

FID measures the time from the moment a user first interacts with a page (clicking a link, tapping a button or using a custom JavaScript-controlled control) to the moment the browser processes the event in response to the interaction. 

If the interaction is very slow and there is no confirmation for the visitor that something is going to happen, this can affect the user experience. 

In essence, the FID can be seen as a subjective measure of user frustration. It differs per visitor how annoying they find it before an action occurs when they have searched for interaction by, for example, clicking a button or sending a form. 

Of course Google has to draw a line here and they have set this at a delay of one tenth of a second (100ms). So for a good score on First Input Delay you have to make sure that in 75% of the page visits there is 100 milliseconds or less delay between an interaction on your page and the result thereof.

Solutions that can help you with this:

  • Visually show that something is being processed
  • Limit the loading time of third-party codes such as Google
  • Shorten the JavaScript execution time
  • Minimize the main thread work
  • Keep the number of requests low and the transfer formats small

CML: don’t let the layout of your website shift during loading

Shifts in the layout of a website can be very distracting. Nothing is more annoying for the experience of the visitor when suddenly all elements on the page shift when fully loaded. 

Often these shifts are caused when visible elements are forced to move because another element has been added to the page or its format has changed.

Ultimately, the CML measures the instability of content due to shifts that do not occur within 500 ms of user interaction. It looks at how many visible elements have shifted and at the distance by which the elements have shifted.

Google sees the CLS as a very important metric for user friendliness, and this applies especially to the mobile phone. A mobile screen is in fact very small, so a shift in the layout soon has a huge impact. 

The most common causes of a bad CLS are:

  • Images and advertisements without dimensions. Make sure you specify the height and width of the images and/or advertisements. Reserve enough space for this in advance and take a good look at what the elements look like on the page.
  • Dynamically implemented content. For example, an arrow pointing to relevant content after the user clicks a button. Make sure the arrow is loaded within 500 ms to meet a good CLS score. 
  • Webfonts cause FOOT / ERROR
  • Actions waiting for a network response before updating DOM

How do I check if my website complies with the Core Web Vitals?

There are several ways to check how your website is doing with respect to the Core Web Vitals. In the tool list below a distinction between field, lab and Javascript tools is made. 

Field tools (measuring real-time data)

Javascript tools (very accurate for measuring Core Web Vitals but requires knowledge to implement them)

Lab tools (lab measurements are the best way to test the performance of functions during development) 

The Core Web Vitals keep developing

With Google’s constantly changing search algorithm, it is expected that many more future improvements and additions will be made to the Core Web Vitals.

We recommend that you keep a close eye on updates from Google and optimize your website based on the information about the current Core Web Vitals in this article.

 

30 best free WordPress themes for 2021

Best WordPress webshop themes 2021: our top 8

Are you planning on making your own webshop or do you want to build a webshop for a client? Then you for sure need an attractive, fast and responsive WordPress webshop theme that is user-friendly as well. Luckily there are plenty of great webshop themes to choose from and it is often not necessary to build one yourself from scratch. 

To create your webshop you can choose the free Storefront theme of Woocommerce itself. This is a free theme with a quite attractive design that meets most Google pagespeed scores. The theme also offers a number of options for implementing your own branding and is maintained by the main developers of Woocommerce. Which means that the integration with WordPress and other WooCommerce extensions is seamless.

If your goal is to design a website where you can customize the branding, it is best to choose a premium (paid) theme of WooCommerce. Most themes cost between $50 and $70 and offer numerous options for applying your own style and design. Moreover, the themes are often fully responsive and have a good speed score which is beneficial for SEO. Furthermore, the themes usually take a lot of account of user experience factors, making it easier for your webshop to convert. Which is the main goal of most webshops right? 

Enough talk, below we present our top 8 WordPress webshop themes.

Top 8 WordPress webshop themes

 

1. Astra 

Astra

 

 

Astra is a very light WordPress theme that can be used for creating webshops, portfolios, agency’s blogs and many other purposes. The theme is above all very suitable for building webshops because it is very user friendly and meets all Google pagespeed scores. The theme also offers many options for customizing your webshop. Furthermore, the theme offers very good support and is being updated with many new features on a monthly basis due to the large number of users. You can choose to extend the functionality of Astra by upgrading to the pro version of the theme. However, this is most of the time not necessary because a wide range of functionalities are completely free to use.

2. Astra 

OceanWP

OceanWP is a flexible WordPress theme that is suitable for almost any webshop, in any sector and of any size. The theme has a very clean code and is quite light, making the website optimally secured and also very fast. Also, the theme is fully responsive, works very well with Woocommerce, has an extensive mega menu and is compatible with almost all popular page builders. In addition, monthly updates are performed, making the theme better and better by time.

3. Shoptimizer

Shoptimizer

Shoptimizer is a WooCommerce theme of CommerceGurus, built around the two goals of speed and conversion. Research shows that even a one second delay results in a 7% reduction in conversions. Because Shoptimizer meets all major page speed scores, you don’t have to worry about your webshop converting less well due to poor website speed. Besides the lightning-fast website speed, Shoptimizer also has a number of very handy conversion-oriented features, including a distraction-free checkout process, trust badges (in addition to attractive call-to-action buttons) and a callback option. Moreover, this theme is designed to be completely mobile-first, which is beneficial for SEO as well.

4. Jayla

Jayla

If you want to go for a minimalistic and modern Woocommerce website then Jayla is definitely a suitable option. Jayla contains every functionality you need for creating a professional looking webshop to promote and sell your products/services online. The theme is fully responsive as well and super flexible through the advanced panel options and mega menu’s. Moreover, you have many options for customization through the Multi Builder blocks and an unlimited number of colors for the layout. Video backgrounds and even portfolios are also available! Building general pages can be done with the easy-to-use page builder Visual Composer and the Bootstrap framework.

5. Metro

Metro

Like Jayla, Metro is an excellent choice if you want to go for a minimalistic WooCommerce design. The theme comes together with two premium plugins called WooCommerce Variation Swatches Pro and Woocommerce Variation Images Gallery Pro. These two plugins are built to make your web shop pages even more attractive and convert better. Metro also offers a wide range of layout choices, with an unlimited number of color combinations and seven unique multi-page homepages. Like all the other themes in this blog, Metro is fully responsive and mobile friendly, making your web shop look great on all devices.

6. Divi

Divi

Divi is an immensely popular theme, suitable for all kinds of applications – from creating blogs to building webshops. Especially when combined with the bundled WooCommerce plugin, Divi is transformed into a true e-commerce monster. Thanks to Divi’s very user-friendly page builder (called Divi Builder), designing layouts is a breeze for everyone. When you download Divi you can choose from pre-programmed layouts with different homepages, portfolios, e-commerce storefronts and much more. In this way you can start building your webshop right away!

7. Storefront

Storefront

Storefront is the official WooCommerce theme of WordPress, which can also be downloaded for free at WordPress.org. The theme is seen as a lightweight basic theme that forms an excellent basis for creating a webshop. The integration with WooCommerce is seamless and makes it easy to create a fully functional webshop. The theme looks pretty simple, but the lightweight and bloat-free design makes it easy to expand and customize Storefront to your own wishes.

8. Atelier

Atelier

Atelier offers a high-quality look that you would expect with a premium WooCommerce theme. Because of its luxurious look, the theme is very suitable for selling art or more luxurious clothing for example. Moreover Atelier contains and supports a number of popular plugins, such as Yoast, BuddyPress, Visual Composer, Gravity Forms, Revolution Slider and Go Responsive Pricing Tables. It also has a large number of layouts to choose from, with seven demos, three product pages, 10 headers and more. Also included are shortcodes and a child theme for easy customization.

 

Enough WordPress webshop themes to choose from.. 

As you can see there is enough choice for your ideal WordPress webshop theme. We are curious about what your favorite theme is for creating a webshop, in a comment at the bottom of this blog.

 

Google Ranking factors: what is going to change in 2021?

About a month ago, WordPress Tavern published a rather disturbing article about a number of new Google ranking factors in 2021. The article states that as of May 2021 Google will rank websites more strongly based on user experience factors by means of  ‘Core Web Vital statistics’. This includes factors such as page speed, responsiveness and the stability of content during loading.

The upcoming Google update combines these factors with previously announced UX-related signals for mobile friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS security and intrusive interstitials (intermediate pages or web elements that appear before or on the mobile web page you actually want to visit, for example ads, banners or pop-ups).

Google has promised that website owners will have until May 2021 to improve their website metrics in terms of user friendliness, speed and structure. Since then, the company has seen a 70% increase of Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights and Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report users in preparation for the update.

But what will be the effect of these new ranking factors on the current ranking system? That is of course the big question and nobody knows exactly. What we do know is that Google has promised to still give priority to pages with the best information in general. Hence, the website metrics related to user experiences, which will be used from May 2021, help a website to score better when there is a lot of competition on similar content.

Most likely this means that already existing Google ranking factors such as backlinks and content will remain important. So we think there is no reason to worry that the entire ranking system will be blown over by the Google update. Below we have made a list with which Google ranking factors will all remain relevant in 2021, taking the new update into account.

Type Google ranking factors

Before we present our top 6 Google ranking factors, with which you can optimize your website, we will first discuss the three different types of Google ranking factors. Marketers usually talk in terms of ‘on- and off-page’ Google ranking factors, but there are actually three distinct types: 

Off-page ranking factors: external ranking factors that are not measured on your website by Google and mainly relate to backlinks.

On-page ranking factors: ranking factors that are measured on your website itself and are related to the keywords and informative quality of your pages. 

Technical ranking factors: factors that are also measured on your website itself, but have more to do with the overall performance of the website as a whole, as opposed to individual pages as is the case with on-page ranking factors. 

It is important to note that there is not a single Google ranking factor that will make or break your SEO. It is the sum of all your technical, on-page and off-page efforts that will determine your website ranking.

The 6 major Google ranking factors in 2021

Now that we have categorized the Google ranking factors, we are pleased to present the 6 important ranking factors in 2021, starting with the technical ones.

1. Core web vitals

As discussed in the introduction, Core Web Vitals are the latest user experience metrics that will soon become very important Google ranking factors. The statistics measure the first impression the user gets when visiting a website. For now this impression will be made measurable with three metrics, but there will most likely be more in the future. These three measurement factors are the loading time, interactivity and stability of a website.

Google ranking factors 2021: As discussed in the introduction, Core Web Vitals are the latest user experience metrics that will soon become very important Google ranking factors. The statistics measure the first impression the user gets when visiting a website. For now this impression will be made measurable with three metrics, but there will most likely be more in the future. These three measurement factors are the loading time, interactivity and stability of a website

Source image

 

Google has released a detailed set of guidelines to optimize every vital website part. In summary: for faster loading, Google recommends better service response times, less JavaScript and CSS blocking and faster loading of resources. For improved interactivity, Google recommends splitting codes and using less JavaScript.

Finally, for improved visual stability, Google recommends using size related guidelines for images and videos. This content should also be loaded from above so that images and videos are visible immediately. For more in depth knowledge about the Core Web Vitals we recommend reading the following article

Want to know how to measure core web vitals on your own website? Then read the following article.

2. Mobile optimization

Since September 2020 Google uses mobile-first indexing when crawling websites. This means that Google’s search engine mainly uses the mobile version of a website for evaluating a page.

Even if the desktop version of your website is fully optimized, your ranking in Google’s search engine can take a huge hit if the site is not optimized for mobile traffic. So always preview your web pages on the mobile to see if they are easily accessible on this device. 

You can use this test of Google to check whether your website is mobile friendly. If your website is sufficient, you’ll get a green light and if not, you’ll get (some) suggestions for improvement. 

Checking your website page by page may be a bit impractical. You can also choose to use the Google Search Console tool to check all your pages at once. Instructions: Start the tool, go to Enhancements > Mobile Usability and view a report compiled with a list of suggested improvements.

In this article on Mobile SEO you can read more about how to optimize your website for mobile traffic.

3. Internal links

As mentioned in the article about Mobile SEO, search engines crawl different types of content and index them accordingly. The search engine uses internal links as a method to analyze information and index it correctly. In this context, the term ‘internal links’ refers to any hyperlink that refers to an internal page on a website.

In practice, this means that the more organized and thoughtful your internal link structure is, the easier it is for search engines (and users) to find what they are looking for. 

To realize this, when creating a new page, you need to think about which pages you are going to link to. As we also have done in this article. 

A popular method to structure internal links is by creating subject clusters. The idea is simple: you create content around a specific overarching topic and maintain interconnectedness within this cluster.

Furthermore, topic clusters are also beneficial from a user experience perspective. It makes content easy to navigate and readers will find that they do not have to go to multiple sites to find what they are looking for. This also increases the ‘average time on website’, which is also an important parameter for a better ranking.

4. Backlinks

On the contrary to an internal link, a backlink is a hyperlink that comes from a page outside your website. In 1996 Google launched its groundbreaking PageRank algorithm update that made the number and quality of links to a website or page a strong indicator of a website’s ranking. Ironically enough, this is still the case more than two decades later. 

It seems that Google is planning to abandon backlinks in the future, but for now this still seems to be a pie in the sky. Backlinks are and will remain the most important ranking factor for a website for the time being. So your goal should be to get as many backlinks as possible from domains with a high authority. 

There are several backlink strategies to grow your backlink profile. The three most important are writing quality content that peers in your sector can share, guest blogs and the most difficult one: cold-outreach. To get more ideas of what kind of backlinks are suitable for your niche, competitive research is very useful. Tools that can help you on your way are for example SE Ranking and Ubersuggest.

5. Relevant keywords

There is no doubt about whether relevant keywords are the basis for an effective SEO strategy. Keywords are the search terms that people use when they visit a search engine to find what they are looking for. Before you start creating content for your website, it is crucial that you do a keyword search.

It can be a challenge to find out which keywords to use, where to place them and how often to do this. In order to have as much chance as possible to rank well, it is a good strategy to benchmark the top pages of your competitors. You can do this with the tools SE Ranking and Ubersuggest, which in our opinion are two of the best SEO tools. 

Once you’ve determined your keyword strategy, it’s time to create content. One tool that can be very useful for meeting SEO variables on the pages you are going to create is Yoast. Yoast gives you, among other things, an indication of how often you should use the keyword and where to place it. It also gives advice about the link structure on the pages you are going to design.

6. Quality content

In the good old SEO days it worked to stuff your pages with many different keywords at the same time. Nowadays focus is very important in SEO and a page has to meet an appropriate number of relevant keywords, titles and images in order to rank well. Hence, the page should be written in a ‘natural copywriting style’ with qualitative information as the main focus. After all, the goal of the visitor and Google is to get an answer to the question they have been looking for. 

Most content loses its value over time. Articles you have written in 2018 become obsolete at some point and Google search trends change over time. So try to take a closer look at older pages and complement them with new keywords and information.

Some pages may need a complete rewrite, while others only need a few minor adjustments to bring them back to life. If you are updating a message, republish it with the new publication date. This will give your visitors the impression that the message is brand new. Don’t forget to delete the old message otherwise Google will see it as duplicate content.

Google’s algorithm keeps evolving

The new update of Google that will be implemented in May 2021 shows us to keep an eye on the ever evolving SEO landscape. It is highly likely that in the future current Google ranking factors, such as backlinks and keywords, will gradually lose their value. Other factors, such as user experience and qualitative content, will take their place.

At the same time, there is no such thing as an SEO miracle cure. Climbing into the search engine takes time. It turns out that Google’s algorithms are erratic and that updates can completely overhaul the current ranking system. The most important notion to keep in mind is therefore to keep your website as relevant and informative as possible for your visitors.

Google wants to show the most relevant search results for each search, so that everyone can find the information they are looking for as quickly as possible. So if you do your absolute best to show your visitors the most relevant information possible, Google will notice it and will reward you with a positive ranking.

Icon fonts: the 10 best icon websites and tools

During the design of your website you have undoubtedly needed them: icons, also called icon fonts. They come in all shapes and sizes, and are often available for free. In order to meet the demand of minimalist website design, the large supply has become more or less a necessity. 

In this blog we present an overview of the icon fonts where a distinction is made between free and paid options. On certain websites you will be asked to refer to the icon font source when putting it on your website. And this is mainly the case with free variants.

Most of the time this is not considered convenient by web developers as it gives an amateuristic appearance on a webpage. Therefore we mentioned in this whether it is the case you have to give a reference when using the icon font.

The follow-up of this blog will be about how you can best implement the icon fonts in your website and how to determine which icons are suitable.

Our top 10 icon fonts websites and tools

 

Option 1: Font-Awesome (free and paid option)

Icon fonts: Font-Awesome

 

Font-Awesome is one of the most widely used icon sets and toolkits for developers. The biggest advantages of Font-Awesome are that you can choose out of more than 7.000 icons! The icons are very customizable as they are very css friendly. In addition, their library made it super easy to add the icon to your website and the tool is easy to use as well. 

Moreover, It is also possible to add your own created icons to Font-Awesome.

Option 2: IconMoon (free and paid option)

icon fonts: IcoMoon

IcoMoon has over 5000 open source icons available in their library. All IcoMoon icons are designed on a precise pixel grid, making the icons look attractive on any website.

With the extra feature ‘IcoMoon app’ you can create your own icon packages and use them in many different formats, including SVG, polymer, PDF, XAML, CSH, icon font with ligatures or good old PNG / CSS-sprites. IcoMoon offers both free and paid variants.

Option 3: Dashicons (free)

Icon fonts: Dashicons

Dashicons is the official icon font of the WordPress administrator from 3.8 onwards. Since 2018, no new icons have been created but there is a whole list (more than 300 icons) to choose from. The icons are very compatible with Gutenberg, which is the standard pagebuilder of WordPress.

Option 4: Bytesize (free)

icon fonts: Bytesize

Each Bytesize icon is hand coded along a 32×32 grid and uses a SVG line for maximum style flexibility; meaning you can adjust the weight, color, size and shape of the icons. 

If your goal is to build an uber lightweight website, then Bytesize is definitely a good option. All their 84 icons weigh only 9kb in minified form and 2kB in SVGZ or Gzipped.

Option 5: Flaticon (free)

Icon fonts: Flaticon

A good option for unique and fun icons is Flaticon. With the free version you can download up to 10 icons per day. The icons weigh around 16 kb each. However, the disadvantage is that if you use the free version, you will have to reference the source of the icon on your webpage.

Option 6: Fontello (free)

Icon fonts: Fontello

Fontello is a free icon font generator, where you can discover and build new icons. There are standard icons available but it is also possible to convert vector images into an icon font. You can also upload your own images and have them converted.

Option 7: Free Icon Shop (free)

Icon fonts: Iconshop

Just like Free Icon Shop, this is a good (free) option for unique and good looking icons. The advantage of this website is that there is no need to mention the source. The disadvantage is that the website does use advertising which hinders you from downloading the icons.

Option 8: Iconfinder (free)

Icon fonts: Iconfinder

On Iconfinder you can choose from more than five million icons! Approximately 319 thousand of them are free. Via the search function you can set whether you are looking for free or paid icons. You can also indicate if you are willing to put a backlink on your website for the icon packs where this is obligated. So you can filter in such a way that the website only shows the icons that you can use completely for free.

Option 9: Envato (often paid)

Icon fonts: Envato

In addition to many other images, Envato also offers icons. Most icon packages are paid for but you have so much choice on this platform that it is not difficult for you to find a unique set of icons.

Option 10: Emojipedia (free)

Icon fonts: Emojipedia

Of course you can also just use classic icons: emojis. These are very easy to integrate into your website and are all freely accessible. They also weigh almost nothing.

So plenty of options to choose from.. 

As you now know, there are a lot of options that can help you in finding your ideal set of icons. Let us know what your favorite website/tool for icons is, in a comment at the bottom of this blog.

Mobile SEO: mobile first and the most important ranking factors

Mobile SEO: mobile first and the ranking factors

The growth of the mobile internet is unstoppable… Worldwide, more and more people are using their mobile phone to perform searches on Google, visit websites and make purchases on webshops. Of the just over 17 million inhabitants in the Netherlands in 2018, 16.38 million people were Internet users and 84% of this group used their mobile phone to surf the Internet. 

Research shows that on average we spend more than a month a year on our smartphones. The cell phone truly has become our best friend. We take it with us everywhere we go, even to the toilet.

Mobile SEO best friend

Apart from the fact that this trend has a major impact on our way of life, the SEO, ‘Search Engine Optimization’/Search Engine Optimization, ranking factors are also strongly influenced by this phenomenon. Many websites already receive more than half of their search traffic via mobile phones.

Google also sees that mobile searches have increased explosively in recent years. 

That is why websites are increasingly judged based on SEO ranking factors related to concepts such as ‘mobile first’ and ‘mobile friendliness’. Do you want to know what this means and what guidelines you should use to optimize your website for mobile traffic? Then read on or click below on the topic you want to know more about.

  1. Brief introduction SEO
  2. Mobile SEO
  3. Mobile Indexing
  4. Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines
  5. How WPupgrader can help you with your mobile SEO rankings

Brief introduction SEO

Ever wondered why one website in Google ranks better than another? The answer is SEO, which stands for the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website for internet users of a search engine. In essence, SEO ensures that your information, product or service matches the searches of internet users as well as possible. SEO also often refers to the improvement of unpaid results and excludes direct traffic through the purchase of advertisements.

This is how it works: Google (or any other search engine that performs a search) has a ‘crawler’ (a robot that searches the world wide web in a very methodical and automated way), which collects information about all the content it can find on the internet. The crawler brings all this data back to the search engine to build an index. That index is then fed through an algorithm that tries to match all the data with a specific search query. There are a lot of SEO factors that are relevant for this algorithm, just take a look at this article.

Mobile SEO

No distinction is made between the SEO ranking factors on the mobile phone or the desktop; the same principles apply to both devices. However, as relatively many searches and website visits are performed on the mobile phone these days, the experience on this device is becoming more and more important. Google and other search engines measure this experience based on a number of essential factors that you should definitely take into account when optimizing a website for mobile traffic. Don’t worry about this, because if your website is already optimized for search engines there are only a few things that need to be adjusted according to Google.

It is always a smart idea to check if your website gets a lot of mobile search traffic before you start optimizing your website. It could be that your website receives almost no mobile traffic, this differs from industry to industry (see the image below). If this is the case, it’s a shame to completely set up your website for mobile traffic. Researching your website traffic can be done with the tool Google Analytics.

Responsive web design

Advantages responsive web design

Creating a responsive website offers many advantages. For example, only one website needs to be developed and maintained for different devices and most of the content remains accessible on almost all devices, with focus on the mobile phone. 

Moreover, a responsive web design offers an optimal visitor experience on both smaller screens and larger screens with a (very) high resolution. As with dynamic websites, in a responsive web design there can also be chosen to omit less relevant content from mobile visitors in order to improve page speed. For example with heavy imagery or font files.

In addition to these benefits, Google indicates some other advantages of a responsive web design;

  • a responsive web design makes it easier for users to share content with the same URL and link to it;
  • a responsive web design helps assign Google’s algorithms accurate indexing properties to the web pages instead of investigating and indexing the existence of corresponding desktop or mobile pages;
  • it requires less time and energy to maintain multiple web pages with the same content;
  • a responsive web design does not require redirection of visitors to display a device optimized view, which ultimately reduces loading time;
  • and Google only needs to crawl a responsive web design website once, instead of multiple times to retrieve the content. This improvement in crawl efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of your site’s content and find all relevant content.

All in all, Google definitely recommends to go for a responsive web design, in order to score well in terms of mobile SEO and create the best user experience.

Mobile indexing

Another very important topic of mobile first is mobile indexing. It is very important that the Google crawler can fully index a website by not excluding JavaScript and CSS files from indexing in robots.txt. If you don’t do this, Google will not be able to determine whether the website is actually mobile friendly.

In 2020, Google indicated that their analyses show that most sites displayed in search results are suitable for mobile-first indexing. For example, 70% of the sites displayed in Google’s search results have already switched to mobile-first indexing. To make it easier, Google will switch to mobile-first indexing for all websites from September 2020. Google claims to still crawl with the traditional desktop Googlebot from time to time, but most crawling will be done with their smartphone user agent.

To check if your website complies with the mobile-first indexing features, it’s best to use the Google Search Console tools. For example, the status your mobile first indexing can be displayed on the settings page as well as in the URL inspection tool. In particular, Google recommends ensuring that the displayed content (including text, images, videos, links), metadata (titles and descriptions, robots meta tags) and all structured data are the same on both the mobile and desktop website.

 

Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines

SEO mobile ranking factors

There are several ways to make your website mobile-first easier and score well on the mobile SEO ranking factors. Below you’ll find 11 very important methods to do this:

 

  1. High page speed score: Ensure a high page speed score. This is a very important ranking factor and certainly for mobile traffic. When your website is too slow, Google will not only rate your website worse, but you will also miss a lot of visitors. If a page doesn’t load within three seconds, visitors will most likely abort the loading and go to a competitor’s website. This is especially true for webshops. Ways to improve the page speed score are: selecting a fast hoster (like Kinsta), reducing resources on HTML, CSS and JavaScript, optimizing images, limiting the number of redirects, enabling compression, using browser caching, improving the server response time, considering a Content Delivery Network and choosing a suitable (WordPress) theme. With this tool you can examine the page speed of your pages.
  2. Responsive web design: Always go for a responsive web design in the first place if you want to score as good as possible in the field of mobile SEO, here is explained why.
  3. Mobile friendliness analysis: Always test the mobile friendliness of your website with an analysis tool like the mobile friendliness test or the settings page of Google Search Console and improve the error messages.
  4. Delete unnecessary content: Delete all unimportant content on your website. Mobile visitors don’t feel like scrolling through long lists of unnecessary content, so always make sure you have a minimalistic and sleek landing page. This ensures a lower bounce rate, which can significantly improve the SEO of the website.
  5. Call to action buttons: Make sure your Call to action buttons work and give them a prominent place. In this way you don’t run the risk that visitors will leave because they couldn’t find what they came for fast enough.
  6. Clear pages: Work with clear buttons and (product) pages. For example, provide your pages with a logical categorization of content and do not put too many products on one page when you are running a webshop.
  7. Search bar at the top of the page: Make it easy for the visitor to search for specific content by placing the search bar clearly visible at the top of the page.
  8. Structured data: Use structured data from Schema.org. Because of the limited screen space on a mobile phone, a search result with rich snippets is even more striking than on a desktop. It is therefore recommended to take advantage of structured data such as rich snippets.
  9. Optimize titles and meta descriptions: Remember that when a visitor visits your website with a mobile phone, you have less screen space to work with. To score best in terms of mobile SEO, you need to be as concise as possible when creating titles, URLs and meta descriptions.
  10. Optimize for local search: If your business offers a local service or product, don’t forget to optimize the website for local search. This includes standardizing the name, address and phone number and including the name of your city in the metadata of your site.
  11. AMP: Make use of AMP (‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’) on your website where this is possible and appropriate. Read more about AMP here.

Besides the different ways to make your website mobile-first and score well  in the search results, it’s also useful for both visitors and search engines, that your website meets the following guidelines of Google;

  • notify Google when a page has been created for mobile search traffic. This helps Google to accurately display your content in search results for mobile traffic;
  • make sure your website does not block CSS, JavaScript or other  files. The Smartphone GoogleBot wants to see and categorize the same content as users, so don’t hide it. These elements are essential for Google to understand whether you have a responsive site or another mobile solution;
  • try to avoid common mistakes that really frustrate mobile visitors, such as displaying unplayable videos (for example Flash video as the main content of the page). Mobile pages that provide a poor search experience can be downgraded in the ranking or displayed with a warning in mobile search results; 
  • the text must be readable on the page without having to zoom in;
  • content should be scaled based on screen size;
  • do not bundle links in a small area 
  • avoid installing App Interstitials for mobile users as much as possible (e.g. a pop-up for downloading a particular app).

WP Upgrader can help you with your mobile SEO rankings

The above Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines can be a lot to process and perhaps also difficult to put into practice right away. At WP Upgrader we are happy to help you as our goal is to rank your (mobile) website in the search results for organic (mobile) search traffic as high as possible. We do this by applying our knowledge of the Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines to your website. So if you need help with the implementation of the SEO ranking factors, creating a responsive website or have certain questions about the Google guidelines, you can ask for help here

 

What changes in WordPress 5.5?

It has been a while since the current version of WordPress has been launched. But WordPress (and other Open Source software) is like the Sagrada Familia: never finished. The latest edition of our favorite software (5.5) is scheduled to be launched on August 11.

Automatic updates for everything

Well, almost everything. With the latest version of WordPress, the automatic updates set since version 3.7 are extended to plugins and themes. You must do side effects for the core of WordPress manually.

Full-site editing

One of the biggest of the biggest updates in sight is the ability to edit your entire site from one worksheet. This sheet would make direct archive, search page, blog posts and post types accessible. This video from The Gutenberg Times gives a rough idea of ​​how full-site editing works.

Possible workflow with the full-site editor

Direct access to the Block Directory

A plugin from the Block Directory is actually a block (one with special features, a bit like a Uno hit map). In WordPress 5.5, you can put a block from this library in your post with the same ease of adding a new block in older versions of WordPress.

Built-in sitemaps in XML

Early this year, a team assembled by Google and Yoast built an XML sitemap. This map includes a homepage, a page for blog and “regular” posts, categories and tags and users. Not everyone is happy with this. After all, it can slow down loading speed and an XML sitemap is already available as a plugin.

Online maps, gps navigation concept. Map pointer location on a computer laptop. 3d illustration

Global Styles refresh

At the moment, work is still underway on Global Styles, an extension that allows theme makers to set standards such as font and color via a JSON file. Website users can then edit the theme through an administrator status interface. The question is whether this is a good development: after all, it may happen that end users perish in the multitude of options (do you go for a line height of 10.1 or 10.2 millimeters with font x?) That sets this in motion.

From beam to block

In addition to making the internet more accessible to the world, WordPress has another mission: to make a block of all toolbars. The full transformation is planned to be over after the launch of 5.6, so block fans are not quite satisfied with 5.5.

Corona plugin shows location distribution

Since the world has been gripped by the corona virus, the WordPress community is doing its best to alleviate the various measures by building different implementations for WordPress.

We wrote earlier about the launch of icons by Font Awesome. There is also a WordPress plugin called Corona Virus Data from the Chinese architect Duke Yin that shows where the virus is spreading. Data from infections, deaths and recoveries from COVID-19 are visualized on the world map, in a graph or table. It is also possible to display one continent in a WordPress message by using shortcodes. For those who do not want to reveal anything about themselves at any cost, the plugin is less suitable: the user’s IP address is stored.

Screenshot Corona plugin for WordPress

Screenshot corona plugin

 

 

Unfortunately, the application is not usable for those interested in corona data from Russia, because the API is blocked by the Russian government. Fortunately, such obstacles are not the case in the Netherlands and at Sowmedia we remain fully operational, corona or not.

Do you have any tips to deal with this situation? Leave it in the comments!

Font Awesome launches font for “corona awareness”

Font Awesome launches font for corona awareness


A few weeks ago, Font Awesome launched a series of icons to increase “corona awareness”. The “solid” or filled symbols are free to download. The regular, non-colored or two-tone colored icons must be paid for.

The aim of the series is to provide websites and apps with a means to raise awareness about the global pandemic. In the last updated version, 47 new symbols have been added that depict hygienic activities such as hand washing. Other icons indicate viruses and social distance storage. There are even a few pictures of toilet paper (because these are apparently necessary in this world where panic buying is a new concept).

“Based on recommendations from the World Health Organization, you will find symbols that communicate good hygiene and social distance keeping,” wrote Jory Raphael, head of icon design at Font Awesome. “We can’t be on the front lines and act like the brave medical professionals around the world do, so we hope these icons help communicate some of the most important things people can do to protect themselves and their communities.”

Corona icoon

The symbols were originally requested a few weeks ago at Font Awesome’s Github repository. The design team acted diligently to make them available. There are additional requests for liquid and solid soap.

Like all Font Awesome symbols, the series is available as part of a package or individually downloadable in SVG format. Below you can see the current available icons:

covid icons

Users of Font Awesome’s WordPress plugin should have unrestricted access to the string. The plugin uses the external Font Awesome CDN or kits from the latter. Users can also choose from various icon libraries (which also include the corona symbols). On our website you can also find information about other free plugins for WordPress.

Improve the loading time of your WordPress website with preloading

Improve the loading time of your WordPress website with preloading

Search engines attach more and more value to the speed with which visitors can go through your WordPress website. If you have a slow website, visitors will lose interest faster, and you will also be rated less highly in search engines. There are a lot of measures you can take to improve the speed of your WordPress website. Also consider faster WordPress hosting. But in this article we will discuss a very simple way to improve the loading speed of your WordPress website for visitors: page preloading.

What is preloading of WordPress pages and posts?

Preloading means that pages and posts from your WordPress website will be loaded “in the background” before your visitor clicks them. Suppose a visitor visits your homepage. In your menu and on the page itself there are various links to other pages and messages. While your visitor is orienting themselves, the links are already stored in the browser’s memory by a so-called “preloader”. For example, the next page loads faster when a visitor clicks on it.

Preloading WordPress plugin

Flying pages wordpress pluginYou can easily activate preloading of pages and posts on your WordPress website with the free WordPress plugin Flying Pages. The plugin can actually be used immediately without any configuration. The Flying Pages preloader is also intelligent; background preloading only starts when the current page is fully loaded. And if your visitor moves the mouse over a link, that link takes precedence in preloading. This way you get the most out of improving the loading time of your WordPress website.

Would you like to try out the plugin? Then install and activate it, but log out afterwards. As a logged-in administrator of your website, the preloader is disabled by default, so you will notice little difference.

3 WordPress plugins for crisis communication

3 WordPress plugins for crisis communication

In crisis situations, the right communication is of great importance to your organization. To be able to act quickly in the event of an emergency, crisis management with good preparation is half the battle. So make sure that your WordPress website is ready as a communication channel in case of a malfunction or crisis. Then you can inform your supporters quickly and efficiently in case of calamities and malfunction reports.

In this article, we cover the best three WordPress plugins for crisis communication. You can already install and configure these plugins on your WordPress website. This makes you well prepared when an unexpected event occurs.

Live blog for WordPress

Live blog for WordPressWith a live blog you have a very efficient way to keep your supporters informed about the latest state of affairs. A live blog can be useful for error messages, but also for constantly changing events. A live blog on your WordPress website is set up in no time with the LiveCom for WordPress plugin ($ 30).

Notification bar for WordPress

Notification bar for WordPressWith the Apex Notification Bar ($ 22) you can place a notification bar in your WordPress website in many ways. for example, you can quickly inform the visitors on your homepage or contact page about a telephone failure or the limited accessibility of your office. Even if your service is temporarily interrupted, you can prevent a lot of calls with the same question through such a notification bar.

Push notifications for WordPress

Push notifications for WordPressIf you have a lot of regular and returning visitors on your WordPress website, live push notifications on your website can offer a solution. By already activating the WordPress Push Notification ($ 49) on your website, website visitors are asked if they want to receive notifications from your website. This way, your visitors can register in advance, and in the event of an emergency or crisis, you can immediately send a notification to this group of visitors. They will see that notification when they have your website open in their browser.