Top 5 mistakes in your navigation menu: This is how to prevent them!
The menu structure of your WordPress website is very important for both visitors and search engines. With this article, you can improve the main navigation of your website in a few simple steps. We’re talking about the most important menu at the top of your WordPress website. Are you ready for the do’s and don’ts?
Five mistakes in the navigation of your WordPress website
Mistake #1: Generic names for menu items
When I talk to customers about a new menu navigation, I usually show their homepage and cover everything but their navigation menu with my hands. I read the menu out loud and ask them: what is this website offering and to whom? There’s usually a silence. After your logo, the navigation menu is the first thing a visitor reads on your website. An excellent opportunity to show important information here. That is why instead of ‘Our services’ or ‘What we do’ we use the terms ‘WordPress Development’ and ‘Hosting & Maintenance’. When choosing the right terms, think of what the customer is looking for, instead of what your organization wants to say. Also check out our tips at the bottom of this blog.
Mistake #2: Too many items in your navigation
Limit the number of items in your navigation. A maximum of 7 is a good guideline, but less is even better. Personally, we only have four. Other options:
Make a short menu of, for example, three items. The last item being a menu button called ‘More’, that contains a drop-down menu with all the other, less important options
Use a secondary menu next to the main menu
Or both, see screenshot:
Mistake #3: Menu with an odd style
A menu with an unusual style is very common. Think of these mistakes:
Bad contrast between the menu items and the background, for example menu items that are shown on a colorful picture that makes it unreadable.
Hamburger menu on a desktop. We usually advise against this, because it adds an additional click, before your visitor gets to the relevant information. Except for a landing page where you want to show as little distraction as possible, and you choose to focus on just one action.
Bad responsive menu, that doesn’t come out well on smaller screens like tablets and mobile phones. (Tip: look at your website on all devices with Browserstack)
Odd location, for example when your main menu is not situated horizontally at the top or vertically at the left-hand side of your page (but in another creative place, without this making any sense or being a deliberate choice).
Mistake #4: Wrong order
Items at the top or bottom of a list are the most effective. Navigation is no exception to this. In psychology there’s the term ‘serial position effect’, which describes the tendency of a person to most remember the first and last items on a list. So, place your most important menu items at the top and your least important ones in the middle.
Mistake #5: Complicated drop-down menus
You’ve probably seen this: drop-down menus containing more drop-down menus, that make it impossible for you to click on the item you want. Just don’t do it! Live on the edge and try not using a drop-down menu at all. Why? Because you’re causing a choice overload, by confronting your visitor with more choices after they’ve just made a choice in the main menu. And yes, we’ve got some learning to do ourselves in this area ????
Five tips to improve your menu navigation
These where the things we often see go wrong in navigation menus of WordPress websites. But then what? How can you do it right? We give you five tips to improve the navigation of your WordPress website:
Tip #1: Take a visitor’s perspective
When naming your menu items, look at it from the visitor’s perspective and not your own (or that of your organization). When selling products, consider using the most important products or product categories as navigation. When providing services, try to name them. It can be helpful to use your target groups as navigation items. What will help your visitor to a better navigation?
Tip #2: Remember the search engines
When creating your main navigation, you also give an incredible amount of information to search engines about the structure of your website. This is why it can be a good idea to include your most important services and/or products in the navigation. Because with this, you’re saying: “Look, Google, this is what I have to offer”.
Tip #3: Remove the ‘Home’ button
The ‘Home’ button is not necessary in the main navigation. By far, the most internet users get that they can click on the company’s icon to go to the homepage. But keep your target group in mind: for an older target group we do recommend you leave the home buttons, because they are very used to them, and are very attached to the buttons they’re familiar with.
Tip #4: Put the call-to-action in your menu
In the end, your website is there to convince your visitors to do something. For example, to subscribe to something, order a product, request a quotation, to donate or to contact you. Put this action in your menu, because that is the way you want to lead your visitors. You’ll find good example, here below:
Tip #5: Make your menu visually attractive
When you sell various products on your website and you have a target group that is visually oriented, it can be very effective to include images of these products in your menu. Do you offer a service? Then icons are often very suitable. An example of Sony:
Bonus tip: Use WordPress to simply change your main navigation
Did you know you can easily change your main menu in WordPress? Check out our special WordPress Menu Manual!
There is usually lots of room for improvement in a main navigation. Do you have any good tips or ideas for this? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in a comment below.
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10 WordPress plugins to increase your conversion rate
In this article, we’ll talk about WordPress plugins that can substantially improve the conversion rate of your website. Please note: it’s no use installing ALL plugins. Consider which WordPress plugins actually lead to the kind of conversion you want. In case you need help with this, then read our tips on how to determine your online strategy.
We’ve divided the WordPress plugins into four common calls to action (some plugins appear in more than one category):
Ninja Popups is still one of our favorite plugins when it comes to collecting e-mail addresses on your website. The plugin is flexible, you can choose from many different pop-ups and you can choose the exact moment to show the pop-up (for example when the visitor is on your website for more than 30 seconds, when he’s scrolling, or rather right when opening the page). Also, you can send the new e-mail subscriptions directly to your favorite e-mail marketing software (like MailChimp or CreateSend). Make sure the pop-up is not full screen, because Google doesn’t like pushy pop-ups.
Elegant Themes gives you one year access to a lot of plugins and themes for $ 89 per year, among which there’s Bloom Email Optin. You can choose from many beautifully designed pop-ups, opt-in bars and banners to let visitors subscribe to the newsletter. The nice thing about Bloom Email Optin is that you can also place the call to action as a widget in the sidebar or footer. This is something Ninja Popups does not offer. Bloom Email Optin is in comparison a rather pricy alternative, but worthwhile, if you also want to make use of the beautiful themes and the Divi content builder that Elegant Themes offers.
With ConvertPlug, you can choose from many different pop-ups for very little money. Subscriptions to your newsletter can be linked directly to your favorite e-mail marketing software, and there are flexible options to set up the pop-ups. The design of some of these pop-ups is in detail not always that great, but if you have some knowledge of CSS, then ConvertPlug is a good and cheap solution.
Thrive Leads is our most favorite plugin, because it is the most extensive one, and offers all the features of the above-mentioned plugins. You can make all kinds of pop-ups, but also do A/B testing, create Content locks (content is made available after you’ve given your e-mail address), Multiple Choice forms, etc. A big advantage of this plugin is that you get free updates for life after one single purchase. When you are a WpUpgraders customer, you can try out this plugin for free for a year.
WordPress plugins for forms
Sometimes catching someone’s e-mail address is not enough; for example, when the purpose of your website is to collect warm leads that want to be called back. In that case, you want at least a name and phone number, and a contact form with a flexible configuration is what you’re looking for. We’ve listed the best forms plugins for WordPress for you.
Gravity Forms is still our favorite forms plugin for WordPress. The plugin has been around for years, it has a good reputation and is very well maintained. This is important, because collecting customer data requires a well-secured plugin. Granted; when it comes to design, there are other forms plugins for WordPress that look much more modern, but if your theme includes support for Gravity Forms – or if you’re pretty good with CSS – then this is still the plugin you want. Gravity Forms saves the subscriptions for you in WordPress, but you can also have them forwarded to e-mail addresses, external CRMs or marketing software.
Formidable Pro is somewhat more complicated than Gravity Forms, but it also allows you to make simple applications. You can make forms entries publicly searchable, which allows you to, for example, create a review system on your website. In case you will be needing this kind of system on your website in the future, then Formidable Pro is a nice two-birds-with-one-stone plugin that’s worth buying.
The most well-known and widely used WordPress plugin for contact forms is still Contact Form 7. This plugin is completely free and has all the basic requirements; you can create forms, and visitors can fill them out. However, the entries are not saved on the website (so, if you don’t receive them by e-mail then they’re lost) and there’s no link to third parties included in the standard package. On the other hand, there are hundreds of add-ons for Contact Form 7 that offer such extensions. But if you think you’ll be needing those, we’d rather recommend one of the above-mentioned plugins; they have proven to be very reliable – with OR without add-ons.
WordPress plugins for direct contact
When we say direct contact, we mean the possibility to contact you with just one click. Contact forms (or newsletter subscriptions) are not included in this category, because the visitor has to do more than just clicking once. Depending on the branch you’re in, offering direct contact on your WordPress website can be very attracting (or even necessary). Think of websites for car dealers, but also web stores, real estate agents, etc. There are several plugins that create the possibility to make direct contact on your website.
1. LiveChat (free trial, then from $ 16 per month)
With LiveChat visitors can start a chat session on your website with just one click. With the LiveChat app on your phone, you can also respond while travelling. Are you not available? Then the chat will not be visible on your website. The WordPress plugin LiveChat is integrated into your WordPress website with just a few clicks. Plus, you can try out the service for free the first 30 days.
The YITH Live Chat plugin requires a little more configuration than the previous one, but a limited version is available for free. You do have to integrate the plugin using Firebase, a Google service for mobile applications. This service has a limited free version, but you have to pay once you start using it more frequently. If you like playing with settings options, you should definitely try YITH Live Chat.
Did you know you can link buttons on your WordPress website to a phone number? When you click it, your device will directly call the phone number. For laptops and desktops this is, of course, of very little use, but for mobile visitors it can be very useful to be able to call you with just one click. The plugin Really Simple Click To Call Bar does exactly what its name implies; for mobile users, it adds a bar at the bottom of the website with a clear button: ‘Call us’. When you tap it, you immediately make the call.
WordPress plugins for social media conversion
Social media can be used in different ways to increase the conversion rate of your WordPress website. This works on two levels; first of all, you can convince the visitors of your WordPress website to follow you on social media (e.g. ‘Follow us on Facebook’. Secondly, you can use your WordPress website to feed your social media channels with new content, so you keep attracting your visitors to your website. Note: always keep step 1 in mind: does the integration of social media serve your strategy and objective?
Ninja Popups is not only good for e-mail marketing, but you can also use it to gather followers on social media. For example, you can show pop-ups on specific pages where you invite visitors to follow you on Facebook. It helps when you briefly explain to them the advantages of following you. For example, being informed on interesting offers or relevant messages.
ConvertPlug also offers social media integration beside e-mail marketing. The nice thing about ConvertPlug, is that you can also use pop-ups to tell your visitor about certain messages you’ve shared on social media. So, the plugin can be used to get more followers, but also to increase your range among your followers!
Jetpack Publicize makes it easy to automatically share recently placed messages on your WordPress website with your social media channels. This is very practical when you want to efficiently increase your range of your WordPress website. There are very many WordPress plugins like Publicize, but we still find Publicize the easiest to work with. Publicize is part of Jetpack; a free plugin package that allows you to activate or deactivate different functionalities (so, you can install the package, but only use Publicize).
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The Impact of the New Privacy Law (GDPR) on Your WordPress Website
As from the 25th of May, 2018, the new privacy law (GDPR) comes into force. From then onward, all of Europe will have to abide by the same privacy regulations. The Dutch Wbp will be suspended and replaced by new regulations for processing and editing personal data. These new rules apply to your WordPress website too should you have a contact form, make use of Google Analytics, or have a webshop. In this article we explain how the new privacy law operates and what applies to your WordPress website and, therefore, deserves your attention.
This is no juridical article and no rights can be derived from its content.
Moving from a user agreement to a handling agreement
The former privacy law already required a secure processing of personal data, which was to be defined in a user agreement. The new law requires every European organization to be able to account for a secure handling of all personal data, which is to be recorded in a handling agreement. This means that you, first of all, need to know exactly what kind of personal data your organization gathers.
Secondly, you need to be able to guarantee that personal data you share with third parties, is also protected; such as personal data you share with your accountant, with your CRM or within your email marketing software. This applies to software of non-European origin as well (e.g. software supplied by American companies). You are obligated to make agreements with all your suppliers. Practically, this means the GDPR has an impact on privacy policies of organizations worldwide.
You also need to make agreements with third parties that have access to your WordPress website; like your hosting party, editors, administrators and parties that can access personal data via a plugin.
What is personal data?
What is considered to be personal data? And, when is this data deemed privacy-sensitive? Basically, all data that can identify a person as an individual. For instance, when someone fills in a contact form on your WordPress website. Data like,
location data (e.g. GPS coordinates)
Keep in mind that company information (e.g. the name of an organization, email address, postal address, etc.) is not considered personal data.
When is personal data regarded as extremely privacy-sensitive?
On top of ‘standard’ personal data, there is an additional category: ‘privacy-sensitive’ personal data. Should you handle data within your organization that is categorized as such, then there are additional requirements. These requirements also apply to your WordPress website, when you gather data that involves,
Social Security Number
Religious / political preference
What rights do consumers have?
As mentioned before, the goal of the new privacy law (GDPR) is to protect the rights of the end user (consumer). This includes visitors of your WordPress website. But what exactly are their rights, and what can they demand from you as an organization?
Inform, permit and refuse
People have the right to be informed before their data is being gathered, edited and processed by your WordPress website. Users must give their explicit consent to this, too. This means providing a cookie announcement in the footer of your website, giving the option to sign up for a new letter via a tick box (that is not checked by default!). Ultimately, users must be given the option to withdraw their permission at any time, for instance by unregistering or reviewing the cookie settings again.
Individuals you have gathered personal data from on your WordPress website, are allowed to request this data from you. Organizations have to deliver this data within a month and are, in principle, not entitled to charge any costs. In addition, there is the data portability right: personal data must be able to be inspected in a reasonable manner. Excel sheets or CSV files are relatively easy to open, but a direct database dump is not.
Edit, limit and remove
Consumers are entitled to ask you to rectify faulty information, as well as request to refrain from further editing of personal data (apart from storing it). Also, every person has ‘the right to be forgotten’. Put differently, upon request you will have to be able to remove people’s data completely.
The GDPR and marketing automation
Quite possibly, you make use of marketing automation in your WordPress website. This may consist of email marketing software reminding you to respond to a comment, or to send a follow up mail once the first email has been viewed. Or perhaps adverts that are shown based on customer behavior.
People have the right to demand from you that your software cannot make automated decisions based on their data and/or behavior, unless you have explicitly have asked their permission. Therefore, in case you use marketing automation, make sure you explicitly ask your visitors permission, as well as inform them that automated decisions are made based on their personal data.
How serious is all this GDPR stuff?
The penalties that can be imposed by this law are considerable. That is, fines can run up to € 20 million or up to 4% of the annual revenue. The provided ‘grace period’ that lasts until May 2018, foretells that the GDPR will be seriously upheld. Moreover, the GDPR is applies to every organization within Europe; not only the bigger ones or the multinationals.
Make sure your WordPress website is GDPR compliant
https://www.wpupgrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/photodune-20831680-judge-gavel-on-a-wooden-desk-law-books-background-xxl.jpg43947500sowmediahttps://www.wpupgrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/logo_pink-1_resized.pngsowmedia2018-02-05 09:51:222020-03-13 13:33:26The Impact of the New Privacy Law (GDPR) on Your WordPress Website
Checklist: Is Your WordPress Website GDPR Compliant?
By May 25, 2018, every European organization has to comply with a new privacy law to be allowed to process and handle personal data. This applies to the personal data you gather via your WordPress website as well. We already posted an article on the impact the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has on your WordPress website. In this article, we provide you with a clear-cut checklist to help you determine whether your WordPress website meets the GDPR requirements.
This is no juridical article and no rights can be derived from its content.
1. Inventory and document
To start off, describe the target group(s) that visit your website. Then make up a spreadsheet in which you document the kind of personal data your WordPress website collects for each group (inform yourself here on what the GDPR marks as personal data). As you specify per target group, you’ll reduce the risk of missing something. Complete this inventory by checking the following list:
a. Hosting & Administration
External service providers have access to your website as well. Check how they handle your data and if you have made the right agreements with them.
Theoretically, your hosting party has access to all data on your website. For this reason, you will have to make a processing agreement with your WordPress hosting party.
Managed hosting, external developers and administrators
Which administrators have access to your WordPress website? Should you contract certain bureaus (or freelancers) to work on your WordPress website, then you will have to set up processing agreements with them as well.
Where and how does your hosting party make backups?
Log in as administrator on your WordPress website and answer the following questions to complete the list above. In WordPress, go to ‘Plugins’, then locate what data is being collected by each plugin and determine whether this data is being stored or not:
Contact forms (e.g. Gravity Forms)
What information do you require from your users? And where is it being stored?
What profile information is stored for each user? And, what else can possibly be deduced about your users through membership? Think in terms of political activity, religious preference, financial status, or sexual orientation.
E-commerce (bijv. WooCommerce)
E-commerce will contain basic personal data, such as names, addresses , and banking details. However, it also reveals the kind of products people order. Do you, for instance, sell magazines with a political affiliation?
Email marketing widgets (e.g. sign up via MailChimp or CreateSend)
Which information do you require? What will you do once you obtain it from your users, and to which service do you forward it?
Links with external services, like accounting packages
g. a link between WooCommerce and Exact Online
WordPress reaction plugins
g. Akismet, which filters spam based on data gathered from your users’ reactions, email addresses and IP-addresses. Or, Disqus, which stores such information as well.
Safety plugins, like Wordfence, process IP-addresses and user locations for instance.
Complete copies of your site are privacy sensitive should they end up in the wrong hands. Where are backups stored and how are they secured?
Like Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager: are you aware of which parts of your users’ data is being stored.
For instance, activity monitors that register user activity.
c. Services outside the EU
Check whether you make use of services outside the EU. For instance, American service providers, for instance, that may process data from your website. Verify if they are GDPR compliant.
Check how long personal data is stored and ascertain yourself that this is done no longer than necessary. The following step will help you consider whether this time span is justifiable.
Which users have access to your website, and are their pass words up to par? Are you using marketing automation or A/B-testing? If so, have the subjects been informed?
You have to be able to justify reasons for all personal data you are storing on your WordPress website. Make sure your data gathering stays within the boundaries of the law. If you intend to store data on your WordPress website, then this is only allowed when meeting one of the following criteria:
Because it is by consent, backed up by an agreement Like paid subscriptions on your WordPess website for which you need users’ banking details.
Because you are obliged to record this by law Like customer data in your WooCommerce shop that you also need for your administration according as the Tax Administration demands.
Because you have been given explicit consent to do so
By virtue of a cookie announcement on your WordPress website or a registration form by which one subscribes to your newsletter. Make sure that,\
consent is freely given (users are not to be misled or forced)
consent is explicit (that means no tick box checked by default!)
consent needs to be given per component (e.g. someone registers for an event, and also subscribes for a newsletter)
users have to be able to withdraw their permission.
Because the gathering of this data is justifiable Like tracing the location of a logged in user as an additional safety check to determine if the user is logging in from a likely location on the planet. Of course, determining what is justifiable data gathering is somewhat of a grey area. All the more reason to explain in detail why you consider it justifiable. And, when in doubt, you may want to consult a lawyer.
Go through the inventory list (step 1) and check each item for its justification.
Remove personal data that you cannot legitimately gather and store in your WordPress website.
Deactivate plugins that can’t do so either, or search for alternative plugins that do comply.
4. Draw up Procedures
Record different protocols for situations that may occur in the future. Make sure it is crystal clear which information is to be found where, so you won’t have to figure that out later on. In any case, record the following procedures:
Personal requests Individuals may demand access to their personal data stored by your WordPress website, but may also want to edit or delete their data.
Safety Record how you will guarantee data to remain confidential, now and in the future. Think about a consistent update policy for your WordPress website, plugins and theme, but also a safe back up storage and a complex password policy for every new user that is added.
Data breaches In case of data breaches, you are required by law to inform the Personal Data Protection Authority within 72 hours. Therefore, make sure you have a phased plan ready, as speed is crucial in such cases.
5. Inform and ask for permission
Inform visitors of your WordPress website in a clear and transparent manner. This can be realized by clearly referring to a privacy statement, for instance in the footer of your website and in the cookie statement. Also, ask visitors of your WordPress website explicitly for permission of data handling activities as documented in your privacy statement. Make sure that you get their permission as described in step 2c.
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With the free WordPress plugin Yoast SEO ((search engine optimization) you optimize your WordPress website for search engines. But how do you set up this plugin of Dutch origin? In this article, we’ll explain step by step how you can set up your WordPress website for the ideal search engine optimization.
You’ll find the Yoast SEO plugin in the WordPress repository. In WordPress, go to Plugins -> New plugin and search for “Yoast SEO”. Click “Install now”, then click “Activate”.
2. Yoast SEO Configuration Service
Now that the WordPress SEO plugin has been installed, you’ll see a “SEO” button in your WordPress menu on the left-hand side. Click it to open the plugin’s Dashboard. You’ll probably already see some notifications and warnings, but we’ll ignore these for now. First click the “General” tab at the top, then click “Open the configuration service“, and then “Configure YOAST SEO”.
You’ll now run a wizard that will help you set up a large part of your website for SEO (search engine optimization). Many of these steps are self-explanatory, but we’d like to comment on some of them:
2a. Company or person? (step 4)
At step 4 you’re required to fill out whether you’re a company or a person. In both cases, you can still fill out the name of your company/person. We recommend you include your most important search term in your company name. For example, if you are a carpentry business with the name “Johnson LLC“, then fill out “Johnson LLC Carpentry”. And if your name is Vanetta Smith and you write a personal website on recipes, then call yourself “Food blogger Vanetta Smith”. Copy this text right away, because you’ll have to fill it out a couple of times.
2b. Social profiles (step 5)
When entering your social profiles, do not think: the more, the better. Limit yourself to using two or three social media channels, that you use well, instead of using eight which you totally neglect. Consider the social media channels that are most suitable for your target group.
2c. Visibility of the post type (step 6)
In every WordPress website there are three default post types: Pages, Posts and Media. Some themes and plugins add extra post types. A properties plugin for real estate agents, for example, can add the post type “Houses” to the website.
At this step, you can set up exactly which post types should be indexed by Google and which should not. All post types that you don’t use for the conversion goals of your website, can here be set to “Hide”. This does not mean that they won’t be used on your website. But only that the search engines won’t be instructed to index such posts.
In case you don’t have a blog/news archive, but only a few static pages, you can hide the post type “Posts”. The same often goes for media; the media library on your website is probably not setup with the purpose of attracting traffic that increases conversion; usually these media are used to, for example, placing images in your pages and posts, in which case you can simply hide “Media”.
In fact, some plugins put their settings in a post type. In that case, you might see something like “Extended framework” as a post type. If you have no use for this, then hide this too; the more unnecessary post types you hide, the better the other types will be valued by the search engines. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure you don’t accidentally hide a post type that you do need. Because then you’ll be throwing away a lot of valuable information for the search engines.
2d. Title settings (step 9)
At this step, you can fill out the website name. Here, you paste the text that you copied at step 4, or fill out your activities, and maybe even your location. For example, “Rotterdam Lawyers Friesinger & son”. Or “Architect Anna van der Molen”. You’ll need this text again later in this manual, so be sure to copy it again.
3. Fine-Tune WordPress for SEO
Now that you have run the configuration service, you’ll arrive back at the Yoast SEO plugin Dashboard. You’ll probably get some more notifications at this time. You can keep ignoring these, because first we’re going to run through some WordPress settings, that will probably resolve a large portion of these notifications.
3a. Site title and subtitle
Now, in WordPress go to Settings -> General. At the top, you’ll see the site title and subtitle. Many people use the name of their website or organization as a site title. This seems logical, but if you want your website to be easy to find in the search engines, it’s better to put your activity here, just like you did in the configuration service. So, again paste the title that you’ve used at step 2a and 2d here, e.g. “Furniture manufacturer New York – Donald McMillan”, or “Antique children’s toys – Web store ToyToy”.
Very often, the subtitle is still the default WordPress text: “Just another WordPress site”. Remove this line and enter a short description of your website. Try to use keywords that apply to your entire website and keywords that you want to lead visitors to your website. For example: “Web store for remanufactured chassis parts for Volkswagen Beetle.”
Now that you are on this page: be sure to scroll down and check if your website language is set correctly. Is your website in Spanish? Make sure your website language is also in Spanish. Because the language is also picked up by search engines. It says something about your target group.
Finally, click “Save changes”. Save or copy the title and subtitle, because you’ll need them again later.
3b. Update services
In WordPress, go to Settings -> Write. At the bottom of this page you’ll find a field to “Update services”. These are external webservices that need to be informed when you’ve made changes to your website, e.g. when you’ve written a new blog, or made changes to one. This makes sure that search engines are almost immediately informed of your new content, so they’ll include it faster in their search results. Make sure it says: “http://rpc.pingomatic.com/” under “Update services”. If it doesn’t, then paste this URL here. Pingomatic is an update service that informs all large search engines of your new content, so you don’t have to. Usually this is configured correctly, but it never hurts to check.
3c. Search engine visibility
In WordPress, go to Settings -> Read. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find the “Search engine visibility” option. Make sure this box is unchecked, otherwise your website will actively inform search engines to NOT be included in the search results. Are you developing a website, or do you have a website that you, in fact, do NOT want showing up in search engines, then DO check this box. By the way, this is not a completely safe guarantee that your website will not show up in any search results; if you really don’t want to be found, it’s best to secure your website with a password. You can do this with a free plugin such as Password Protected.
3d. SEO for comments on your WordPress website
In WordPress, go to Settings -> Comments. Here, you can change the settings for comments on your website. It may seem strange to include this topic in a manual for SEO, but we’ve done this for a good reason. After all, comments on your website are content too! So, ask yourself whether comments on your website will help you be more findable to search engines, or that they would only add less relevant information to your webpage. If you’ve noticed that the comments on your articles lead to irrelevant conversations and discussions, then it might be better to turn off the option to leave comments on your website, or decrease the amount of comments under your blog. Or maybe you’ve seen that your blogs rarely get comments. In that case, you also better turn off the option to leave comments, because it makes your pages more compact. And with less irrelevant content, the rest of the content gets valued more by search engines and your visitors.
With permalinks you configure the structure of your website’s URLs. This is very important for the SEO (search engine optimization) of your WordPress website, because the structure of a URL says a lot about the content of its page. As the term implies, permalinks are permanent; you configure them once, and then you never look at them again. Anyone who links to your website (search engines, social media, friends, etc.), will link to the URL as configured in your permalink.
In WordPress, go to Settings -> Permalinks. The default general permalink settings are year, month, day and name. This will result in URLs like www.furnituremanufacturer-newyork.com/2017/08/12/sanded-wood-with-discount/. But these data are probably not at all what you want in your URL. What you do want is to include the most important category of your blog in the URL (e.g. “Sale”). This way, you could get a URL like this: www.furnituremanufacturer-newyork.com/sale/sanded-wood-with-discount/. You can configure this, by choosing the “Customized structure” and then typing: /%category%/%postname%/.
Under the general settings, you’ll also find the “Optional” button. Below this, you’ll be able to change the category and tag archives structure. The permalink of the archive for the category “Dinner tables” by default would be: www.furnituremanufacturer-newyork.com/category/dinnertables/. But the word “category” is not relevant here (and thus a distraction for the search engines), so you could choose another word instead, for example: “furniture”. Please note that the category structure is the same for all categories; so, the “Sale” category archive will get the URL: www.furnituremanufacturer-newyork.com/category/sale/. In case you don’t know any good category structures, you can also turn it off altogether (see step 4e).
You’ll probably use several categories for most of your articles. The Yoast SEO plugin gives you the option to set one primary category, so that one will always be used in the permalink. To do this, click “Make Primary” next to the most relevant category, when creating/editing a post.
If you change the permalink structure afterwards, a lot of old links will probably become obsolete. This has great consequences for your findability; search engines don’t like it when pages in their search results are suddenly unreachable. It will cause you to drop fast in their search results. So, when you change your permalinks, check to see if existing links still work in the search engines. If not, then install a plugin like WordPress Ultimate Redirect Plugin ($ 29), that will automatically try to redirect as many “not found” pages (or 404 pages) to the right page. It’s like saying to the search engines: “The current page still exists, but has been moved to this new URL”. That way you transfer the accumulated value in search engines to the new pages on your website, and search engines will gradually adjust their index to your new permalink structure.
4. Fine-Tune Yoast SEO
Now that WordPress has been set up correctly for SEO (search engine optimization) and the basics for Yoast SEO have been configured, it’s time to do some fine-tuning in the Yoast SEO plugin.
4a. Activate advanced settings
To unlock additional functionalities in Yoast SEO, we first must change some settings. To do this, go to WordPress, SEO -> Dashboard and click the “Features” tab. Set the “Advanced settings pages” to “Enabled”. Then click the “Security” tab and also enable the “Advanced section of the Yoast SEO metabox”. Now click “Save”. In the menu on the left-hand side, under “SEO” you will now see additional options.
4b. Titles and metas
Titles and metas, are the title and description of a page/post, just as they are communicated to search engines. With this, you actually tell the search engine: “When you include this page in your search result, then show this title and description.” It’s obviously up to the search engine to do what they want, but if you use relevant texts, your request is usually honored.
Using good Titles and metas is very important, because you use them to give a first impression to your potential visitors, even before they visit your website. So, make sure you have attractive, relevant texts. The title is also shown in the tab/title at the top of your browser screen when visiting that specific screen.
Click “SEO” -> “Titles & metas” and open the “Homepage” tab. Here, you enter the title and subtitle that you’ve also filled out at step 3a. If you want, you can change the subtitle a little, by adding a call to action, to make it even more attractive to click on. For, example, if your subtitle is: “Web store for remanufactured chassis parts for Volkswagen Beetle”? Then your meta description could be: “Web store for remanufactured chassis parts for Volkswagen Beetle? Ordered today, delivered tomorrow!”.
Now click the “Post types” tab. Here you’ll see the visibility for the post types, as you’ve configured them at step 2c. Good to know, if you ever have to change this in the future. Here, you can leave the title and meta templates as they are, because we’ll configure these per article/page later in this manual.
Now, click the “Taxonomies” tab. Taxonomies is the umbrella term for both categories and tags. So, on this tab you’ll find all the categories/tags of your WordPress website. Every taxonomy has an archive page in WordPress. It is passed on to search engines by default. Just like with the visibility of the post types (step 2c) you must ask yourself here which categories/tags you actually use. So, for example, if you have added no tags at all to your posts, then set the “meta robots” for that taxonomy to “noindex”. This way, you tell the search engines, that the archive pages for that taxonomy don’t have to be included by the search engines; because they are not relevant pages.
For the taxonomies that you do use, you can check out the title templates. By default, they are set up as follows: %%term_title%% Archives %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%. The title for a post category called “Sale” would then be sent to search engines like this: “Sales Archives – Furniture manufacturer Rotterdam – Pieter de Heuvel”. Which is fine, but there’s room for improvement. If you make sure all your categories for this taxonomy are consistent, then you can change the template to for example: %%term_title%% of %%sitename%% %%sep%% %%page%%. With categories like “Sale” and “Portfolio” you’ll get nice-looking titles: “Sale of Furniture manufacturer New York – Donald McMillan”, or “Portfolio of Furniture manufacturer New York – Donald McMillan”. The meta description template can best be left empty here, we’ll run through that later on in this manual.
Now, click the “Archives” tab. Here you will see some additional options for archive pages generated by WordPress next to the taxonomies. Such as author pages, date archives, etc.
Author archives show all articles per author. This is usually unnecessary, because for search engines it is rarely relevant who wrote the article. In fact, author archives are only useful when you work with several well-known authors and you want to build up findable archive pages for them. For example, the Youp van ’t Hek columns on the NRC (news) website. You can probably turn off your Authors archives, though.
The same goes for date archives; these show all articles published on your website during a certain period (e.g. January 2017). Unless you publish news messages that actually describe current events, you can turn off these archives; your archive pages for taxonomies probably offer much more relevant content than this kind of archive pages.
You’ve now configured quite a lot, so don’t forget to hit “Save”!
4c. Social SEO
Go to SEO -> Social. Here, you’ll find an overview of the social media accounts you added at step 2b. Run through the various tabs and fill out all the required information for the social media that are relevant for you. The rest of the precompleted settings in these tabs are all perfectly set, so you don’t have to look at those.
Now go to SEO -> XML Sitemaps. Sitemaps are XML files, automatically generated by Yoast SEO, that give search engines a structured overview of all content on your WordPress website. Make sure that the settings under the “Post types” and “Taxonomies” tabs include only in the sitemap what you’ve configured as visible at steps 2c and 4b.
Now go to SEO -> Advanced. You start off at the “Breadcrumbs” tab. A breadcrumb trail shows on which page you currently are in the tree view of the entire WordPress website. Many WordPress themes already have a built-in crumb trail, but in case yours doesn’t, it is best to archive it here. You do, however, have to make some adjustments to your WordPress theme, so a little PHP knowledge is required.
When activating the breadcrumb trail, delete the text after “Prefix for Archive breadcrumbs”. And at the bottom, at “Taxonomy to show in the breadcrumb trail of the post types” select for each post type the richest taxonomy for that post type. When I say “rich”, I don’t necessarily mean the taxonomy containing the most terms, but that the terms in that taxonomy are full of posts. Categories are usually richer than tags; an average tag maybe contains two or three posts, an average category probably ten to twenty. Finally, click “Save”.
Then, click the “Permalinks” tab. In this tab Yoast SEO can make a few more changes beside the changes you’ve made to the permalinks in WordPress at step 3e. This way, you can turn off the category structure if you couldn’t think of any good category structures at step 3e.
Enable “Redirect attachment URLs to parent post URL” to prevent visitors from directly going from a search engine to one of your website’s attachment pages (usually containing only an image and a title). This feature makes sure that visitors are sent to the corresponding page where the attachment is used. This is generally more relevant.
Finally, under “Clean-Up Permalinks” choose “Remove” under “Stop words in the slug”. This way, words like “the”, “a” and “an” are automatically removed from your permalink when writing new articles. The rest of the advanced settings are good, so now click “Save changes”.
5. Link Search Console
You can link the Yoast SEO plugin to your Google Account. This way, you can load relevant SEO information and resolve warning notifications on the website. Go to SEO -> Search Console and click “Get Google Authorization Code”. Follow the steps, paste the code and click “Authenticate”. You then get an overview of the pages of your website that cannot be found by Google, but that are linked to on other pages (or used to). You can run through this list and check to see if you can restore them (by changing the permalink of a page, or by making redirects to the correct page).
6. Resolve Notification Issues
Go back to the Yoast SEO plugin Dashboard. Maybe you’re still getting a few notifications. These notifications point to your WordPress settings that need to be resolved to further optimize your website for search engines. Do not click the close icon on the right, but click the link on the notification. You’ll then be directed to the right page for the WordPress settings.
In the above-mentioned example, you’re redirected to the WordPress Customizer, where you can enter your site title and subtitle under “Site Identity”. By the way, if you’ve been following the steps of this manual, you’ll probably not get this notification, because we’ve already fixed this problem. Resolving notifications is something you can do on a regular basis. The Yoast SEO plugin gives you a clear overview, so if you schedule this once a month, it’ll cost you very little time.
7. Write Content
Your website is pretty much set up for Yoast SEO. But you can still fine-tune Yoast SEO per page, post, category and even per tag. We’ll start with fine-tuning posts and pages.
7a. Titles and permalinks of your WordPress articles and pages
After typing the title of your post, WordPress automatically generates a permalink for you. This is not always the permalink you want, and sometimes you change the title afterwards, but the permalink stays the same. The main rule is: you can easily change your permalink as long as you haven’t published your post yet. Then, you best leave the permalink as it is.
What is a good permalink for your post or page? You only need to include the most important keywords. Say, as a furnituremaker, you’re writing an article in the category “import” called “Strong quality improvement of imported wood from Italy”, the permalink automatically ends with: “/import/strong-quality-improvement-imported-wood-from-italy/”. This can be made shorter and more relevant; the words “import/imported” are duplicates and some of these words are not relevant for the slug. How about: /import/quality-improvement-wood-italy/? Much better.
7b. Configure the Yoast SEO metabox
When you’ve finished writing your article, there’s a new block “Yoast SEO” under your text editor. Here, you’ll see an example of how Google will probably show your page in the search results, based on your title, permalink and text. An example of such a snippet below.
The content of this snippet is based on the settings we’ve configured in the previous steps. However, it is possible to make a few more adjustments for this particular article. In the above example, we see that the title is too long for the box, and the description underneath is too. Click “Edit Snippet” to change the title and description. By making the title and the meta description a bit shorter and more attractive, we’ve created a snippet that looks nice in Google: You can edit the snippet for each and every post or page that is important for you in the search results. Also, you can edit your categories and tags to see per category what a similar archive page will look like in search engines. To do this, go to Posts -> Categories (or Tags) and select a category. At the bottom, you’ll find the Snippet. You can, for example, give the category “Import” a nicer description:
7c. Focus keyword
Under every snippet you’ll also find a “Focus keyword” field. Here, you can enter the most important keyword of the page. Under the focus keyword, the SEO plugin gives you an analysis of the page, containing suggestions to make improvements. Mind you, it is a technical tool; always ask yourself if the suggestions make sense. The analysis of an article with the focus keyword “jerseys” can turn out wrong, because the words “jersey” and “sweater” won’t be recognized. So, use the analysis as a guideline, not as hard facts. Furthermore, it is good to know that the focus keyword is only a personal analysis; the focus keyword won’t be sent to search engines as a search term, nor is it embedded in the code of your page.
7d. Cornerstone articles
When you’re editing pages or posts, there’s another option under the focus keyword: mark the article as “cornerstone content”. Cornerstone articles are the most important articles on your website. The ones you really want everyone to read. Say you write a lot of articles on the different aspects of DIY woodworking. But there is one article about the complete process of woodworking. In that case, this article is a cornerstone article; in a way, all the other articles are related to this main article. By marking the main article as a cornerstone article, Yoast SEO will make new suggestions; are there enough links to this article? And do these links contain the most relevant keywords for this article?
An average website can contain about five cornerstone articles. Choose them carefully and ask yourself; can I link to these cornerstone articles from all the other (non-cornerstone) articles? And make sure you do this; after the introduction of a non-cornerstone article, make a quick reference to the cornerstone article.
8. And from Now on: Content Strategy
If you’ve made it all the way to the end, your WordPress website has a great configuration for SEO! But you’re just getting started; make sure your website stays attractive, relevant and up to date. You do this, by regularly writing articles on topics related to your website. Make a content strategy and schedule, for example, one day a month to write and publish a good article.
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Many organizations have all kinds of social media links on their WordPress website. But is this wise? When you use social media the wrong way, they can backfire on you. In this article, we’ll explain what you can do as an organization to prevent this from happening. And we’ll talk about a social medium that is often forgotten.
Invite in or send away?
Imagine you’ve just finished a new blog post and you share it on your Facebook page. An interested follower clicks on the link and visits your WordPress website. While he’s reading your article, he sees the sidebar with Facebook and Twitter feed. He stops reading and starts scrolling through your Twitter feed. He clicks on one of the conversations and goes to the Twitter website.
What is happening here? You first successfully get the attention of a visitor on Facebook, but as soon as he arrives on your WordPress website, you make it really easy for him to leave again. That sucks!
Social media on your website
We see many organizations embed all kinds of social media feeds on their website. For example, you’ll see their most recent messages from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. in the sidebar next to an article. Embedding a feed like that is so simple, that you almost forget to ask yourself why you would do this. Very often, such a feed does not serve your goals.
I often hear people say they place these feeds to keep their website ‘alive’, or because they want to show their organization is an interactive and modern one. But these arguments don’t fit in a solid online marketing plan. You’re treating your visitors like ping-pong balls: on social media you invite them to visit your website, but once they’re there, you put your social media back on display.
Don’t make it too difficult for your visitors; limit their choices. Ask yourself where does most of the conversion of online activities take place for your organization. Are most of the sales and quotation requests processed on your website or on your social media channels?
Your online activities are like a funnel: by being visible on various platforms, you attract as many people as possible to one place. Often this place is your website, but in some cases, this can be a social medium (a vlogger’s purpose is to “funnel” as many followers as possible to his YouTube channel).
Say your marketing funnel points to your website. Does this mean you should not integrate any social media on your website? Maybe, but then you might be taking it a bit too far. Because even if the conversion for your website might not be happening on social media, they may still serve another purpose: engagement.
Engagement: a long-term relationship through social media
Even if the conversion for your organization does not take place on social media, they can still be functional to build a “soft relationship” with your visitors. Because every visitor is unique; one takes immediate action on your WordPress website, another may want to get to know you better first. Social media are perfect for this.
Again, a well thought-out online strategy is very important; because you need to focus your social media on a specific target group: potential clients that want to get to know you better. This means you have to think about the image you want for your organization on social media; are you an informal bunch, or a serious group of professionals?
These choices determine the type of content you put on social media; do you build confidence by showing you’re having a good time or by sharing professional knowledge? To answer this question, you can ask some of your new clients what made them decide to become your customer. You can let these decisions determine your content on social media.
When you’ve decided on a strategy, then you can go back to thinking about the role of social media on your website. A role which is now well-defined: For example, you now only bring social media to the attention of your visitors to give them an alternative, next to the direct action to make a purchase. Or you use social media mostly to ask (and answer) direct questions. Whatever the purpose, with a clear definition you’ll know how and where to use social media on your website. For example, a social media follow button with caption, or rather a prominent place on the contact page.
Which social media and which target group?
Every social medium has a different user group. And these groups change continuously. We see Facebook being used mostly by adult consumers, Instagram and Snapchat are more popular with teenagers, and Twitter is averagely used more by men than by women.
Plus, there is a clear difference between business and personal use. Few users have a Facebook account for their business. On the other hand, there aren’t many people on LinkedIn who show pictures of their afternoon walk.
The difference in age, fields of interest and motivation of users are important for the way you use social media. When you have a business service, think about the usefulness of approaching your customers through social media. A manufacturer of packaging material would not use a marketing campaign on Instagram.
Don’t forget this one
The landscape of social media is changing continuously. Every time, different social media are popular. That’s why you’d almost forget this one social medium that has been incredibly effective when it comes to building engagement: e-mail.
The great power of e-mail is in this small detail: messages on social media pass by very fast; if you’re not on Facebook even for a day, you miss a great number of messages. Messages that you don’t just get back on your timeline. An e-mail, however, only disappears after you’ve read it (or marked it as read). So, e-mail has a much more pressing character than messages on social media.
Because e-mail is more pressing, it demands caution; for a good reason, many e-mails end up in the trash or spam folder without being read. By law you are required to get someone’s permission before sending them a newsletter. And if you have this permission, consider carefully the e-mail’s title, length, content, the time you send it and the frequency with which you send e-mails.
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WordPress themes and plugins for the hotel and catering industry
If you are the owner of a hotel, bed-and-breakfast, restaurant, café or any other business in the hospitality sector, you can use WordPress to make a beautiful website. But which themes and plugins should you use? In this article, we’ve listed the pros and cons of some popular themes for the hotel and catering industry and recommend some additional plugins to make your online service successful
Some links in this article contain affiliate code.
WordPress themes for the hotel and catering industry
Online you can find thousands of WordPress themes for restaurants, coffee shops, diners, bed-and-breakfasts, etc. But which one is most suitable for your company? We’re giving you an overview of the most popular WordPress themes for hotel and catering businesses.
Enfold is our favorite WordPress theme, and is also suitable for restaurants. With the floorplan and reservation form, your customers can book their own table in your restaurant. Furthermore, Enfold can be expanded with many plugins.
Floor plan with reservation form
Many settings options
No digital menu
No ordering module
Booking module does not block the times that are fully booked
Restaurant Theme from Organic Themes is simple and to-the-point. The fact that you can make a very elaborate menu with this theme, makes it very attractive. The contact form is limited and depends on the Gravity Forms plugin, which is not included ($ 39 per year).
Hotel California is a very complete WordPress theme for hotels, hostels and bed-and-breakfasts. The theme offers the possibility to show different rooms, that can also be booked. It includes a calculator, so visitors can quickly calculate the price of their stay.
Grand Restaurant offers lots of space for photo impressions. The theme contains a menu for your products, including ordering options when you’re using WooCommerce. Also, the theme has a simple reservation module.
Design offers space for photography
Simple booking and reservation module
Ordering products via webstore
No payment module
Booking module does not block the times that are fully booked
With Piquant you can choose from different website layouts for your restaurant/café. You can describe your recipes and ingredients, and have your visitors book a table. Visitors can also purchase products online, using WooCommerce.
Practical menu description
Booking and reservation module for tables
Elaborate descriptions of recipes and ingredients
No payment module
Booking module does not block the times that are fully booked
WordPress plugins for the hotel and catering industry
Hotel and catering businesses often need additional functionalities on their WordPress website. Think of a booking system for a bed-and-breakfast, a reservation module for a diner, an online menu and payment methods for a take-away and ordering forms for ordering online. Not every theme contains all the functionalities you need. That is why we describe a few plugins you can use as an addition to your WordPress theme to complete the website for your restaurant or café.
WooCommerce adds a webstore functionality to WordPress. This allows customers to buy meals, but also to pay for the reservation of their room or apartment. Plus, there are loads of plugins and extensions for WooCommerce, so it has many possibilities.
Free base product
E-commerce integrates with WordPress
Many plugins and extensions
Many themes are compatible with WooCommerce
The base product is free, but the extensions are usually not
Our favorite plugin for building webforms is so extensive that it can even be used as a basic ordering system. Are you subletting a few rooms per month? Don’t get into an entire webstore package, but start out with Gravity Forms. With a few clicks, you create an ordering form, place it on your ordering page, and you’re ready to go.
Just like with Pinpoint Booking System, you can use BirchPress Scheduler to handle the reservations and payments of the tables or rooms on your website. Additionally, BirchPress offers synchronization with an external schedule, so you can also see the reservations, for example, on your phone. This plugin is exceptionally suitable for restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts.
Elaborate plugin with many settings options
Link to external schedule feed
Many payment modules possible
It takes some time to get to know the plugin
Payment modules via WooCommerce are versatile, but complex
Booked Appointments is a lesser-known, but a very nice plugin with a clean design, that may be exactly what you need for some target groups. Visitors can pick a date, schedule a time slot, and then leave their contact info. Optionally they can even make a payment with a WooCommerce payment module.
Plugin has a clean design
Compact display of schedule and dates
Can be synchronized with an external schedule feed
Many payment modules possible
Form fields are configurable
External schedule feed is read-only (reservations are not saved into the schedule)
Plugin is not easily extended with add-ons
Do you have another tip? Please tell us below!
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How do you change your menu navigation in WordPress?
Changing your menu navigation in WordPress is very simple. In this manual, we will explain step by step how you can change a menu in your WordPress website. Read more
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Google penalizes pop-ups: Here are 3 WordPress alternatives
Are you used to grabbing visitors’ attention on your WordPress website through pop-ups? Well, you may want to take note of the fact that Google will penalise these so-called ‘intrusive popups‘ in its search results as from january the 10th, 2017. Especially when you set up intrusive pop-ups that are almost screen filling on mobile devices, you’d better find alternative ways to attract your visitors’ attention before January 10, 2017. Read more
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