Your New Website: Vet Your WordPress Theme with These Tips

Nancy McCord a Google Partner and Bing Partner
Nancy McCord a Google Partner and Bing Partner

Many business owners of websites older than five years are thinking of updating their websites this year. A frequent question we get at McCord Web Services is “Is WordPress right for me?” For some businesses WordPress may be a good fit, but it is important to understand that you do have options to a WordPress website.

In this series on WordPress or PHP, we will be looking at the pros and cons as well as benefits and challenges.

If you are considering a WordPress website please review my checklist below before you make a final selection and get your site into production. I encourage you to have a frank talk with your potential website designer and nail down some of these issues before you go to contract or fund the project with a deposit.

WordPress Theme Vetting Checklist

  1. If you are using a custom created theme, ask to see links of similar projects. Input the URL in the Google Page Speed tool to understand clearly the page speed you may end up with in your custom project. https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
  2. If you are going to use a pre-designed theme, all theme designers will have a “live preview”. Ask for that link and input the URL in Google’s page speed tester. https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ Better yet, let your web designer know that you will not want to use any WordPress themes that do not score in the “green” zone on the Google Page Speed Tester.
  3. Assure that your site designer knows that you will want to use AMP plugins to render your WordPress website to be AMP friendly. If the designer has used that theme before, ask to see the AMP page of a site. The page you see in your browser and smartphone should not have navigation links and elements with the content pushed to the bottom. It should have a narrow banner and content. If you see a lot of navigation links, it means that the theme’s navigation is not compatible with the AMP plugins. If your site designer cannot provide a page for you to use, consider buying the theme in question, having them do the installation, install the AMP plugin for your evaluation before you go further. Do not do site build-out until you verify that this is not an issue with your theme. It is by far better to write off the cost of the theme (typically under $100) and choose a new theme to get the AMP compatibility you really need.
  4. Review with your web designer the type of theme they will be using. It is easy for another webmaster to come in and put in blog content. Will blog post pages have builder fields and have to be customized at installation or will the blog content entry fields be typical as in WordPress Twenty Seventeen or Twenty Eighteen. Does the blog require a featured image and what are the size dimensions of the featured image? For many sites using featured images an image of 1920 by 1080 is required. This requires the blog post installer to buy a special larger image and then resize it to fit. This is an added expense that you should know about before you purchase your theme or go into production as you will incur additional costs.
  5. Let the website designer know you are serious about security. All testing logins and user names and passwords at set up should be complicated and never use admin or default settings. After launch WordFence Premium can be added for additional security and firewall protection, but don’t allow your site to be hacked while in the design phase through lax security.

In our next blog post on Wednesday, we will discuss why there has to be such a focus on page speed for your new website.

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Google States Mobile Page Speed Will be a Ranking Indicator

We Are a Google Partner Specializing in Search Marketing, Mobile, and Display.
We Are a Google Partner Specializing in Search Marketing,, Mobile, and Display.

Well that cat is finally out of the bag! Google has stated that in July they will now be using the mobile page speed of your website as a mobile index ranking indicator.

This is very important news. Google had already moved to using just the mobile index for determining the organic ranking for all platforms and no longer had a separately ranked desktop index. The announcement released on Wednesday January 17th goes even further.

Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.

The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.

The key takeaway on this announcement is that page speed is important to Google and should be an important factor in the selection of any new WordPress theme or website design or web design platform.

Page speed will not be going away and site owners need to really start a review and efforts to address their slow loading websites.

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The Burger King Syndrome

Nancy McCord a Google Partner and Bing Partner
Nancy McCord a Google Partner and Bing Partner

The Burger King Syndrome? Yes, that is what I call it when a customer wants everything their way right away. Now, mind you, that is not necessarily a bad thing to want something your way – sometimes.

It’s great to want things your own way. I want them my own way too. But it’s not a good thing if a client is not willing to pay for that level of customization.

In some cases, where you are working with an ecommerce store theme that is a template-driven application, you may not be able to get your product images in a different position than the theme template allows – no matter how much you might be willing to pay to make that change. It is important to understand, there are simply some things that simply cannot be customized to your personal specifications.

Here is where addressing customer expectations in advance is very important as well as having a contract for a project. If, as part of a project, a customer expresses needs that you know will not be workable, you can always shift the customer to a different item before work even starts. And before the contract is enacted.

Taking time to evaluate needs and clarify what is supplied, what can be customized, and what additional options can be purchased, is all a part of taking good care of a customer and providing excellent customer service. I personally never rush the early part of a project before contract.

No one likes to hear – no we can’t do that, but sometimes you may simply not be able to have it your own way.

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Social Media? Not Using It – Lose It

Not Using It? Lose It!
Not Using It? Lose It!

Social media is about connecting. One of my pet peeves is for business websites to have social media icons to various platforms, but they have not updated them for months or sometimes years.

My rule is, if you are not using it – lose it!

We all have our favorite social media accounts to use and some of us will use more than others, but if you are going to have the icon on your website, you should try to do one update a week and at the minimum of once a month. If you cannot keep on top of that consider farming out your social media updates to an employee or contactor.

When you are operating in a competitive market, social media interaction may be the one thing that helps differentiate you from your competitors. Especially if you are providing value to users in the things you are doing on social media.

It does not have to be difficult to keep your platforms updated. You can use an application like Hootsuite or Sendible to schedule, repeat, and save updates to reuse. In fact with Hootsuite, you can even send the same update to multiple profiles with one click.

Don’t make things hard for yourself, boost traffic and engage clients with the smart use of social media.

 

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Is there Still a Place for Social Media in Your Marketing Program?

Solutions for your business that make sense.
Solutions for your business that make sense.

As more businesses work to tighten where they are spending their advertising budgets, some are dropping social media out of their marketing mix.

Advertising your website and services using Pay per Click is great, as it generates immediate traffic and increases the potential of sales, but social media also should have a place in every business’ marketing plan.

Not all businesses will need Twitter or Google+ status updates, but most businesses should be posting to Facebook and working to engage prospects in that arena.

For many clients, Facebook is the strongest and most important social media platform. Add Facebook pay per click advertising to the mix and your Facebook activity and comments on ads can really skyrocket. It is not unusual for a client who is really working Facebook to have over 5,000+ active users.

I have personally found that for some businesses, Facebook user’s will post comments on their ads which will need moderation to protect your reputation and to shape your message. Even though I never drive traffic to a Facebook page with their pay per click advertising, we always will get adjunct likes and follows just by the nature of advertising there.

I have one client who is getting great leads from Facebook at a third or even less, than the lead cost they spend at AdWords. Tie in Facebook remarketing and I have seen leads at under $5 a conversion.

But, it all starts with great Facebook status updates, integration with your website and blog, and at least 200 followers to make sense.

 

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