My Tips for Securing WordPress

My firm blogs for many clients and in the process we’re on blog sites more frequently than the blog owner. In some cases my team was the first to notify the client of a hack. Typically when a site is hacked, we cannot login to write or see the WordPress site when we go to gather links for a blog post.

To keep your WordPress blog or WordPress website from being hacked these are my tips for security.

1. Make sure you are using a secure password. Many times the client’s webmaster will send us our logins and the password is something like 123456. For security, I like passwords like this A&Ji3nGba*3!. Impossible to remember but really hard for a hacker to guess.

2. Secure your site from brute force login attempts. I like the WordPress plugin Login Lockdown. This plugin allows you to lock out intruders who are repeatedly trying to get in by blocking their IP address.

3. Monitor your core WordPress files. I really like this plugin. It monitors your core WordPress files and emails you when there have been changes and advises you what files have been changed. I cannot begin to tell you how easy this  makes fixing a hack attack by having an idea where to start.

4. Use an exploit monitor. I use the WordPress plugin called Exploit Scanner. We’ve found several deep hacks with roots in a parent website feeding into an on-domain blog this way. By scanning the WordPress files for explode and hidden elements we have been able to quickly identify a hack and work fast to remove it.

There is nothing worse for a website owner than to do a search for themselves on Google.com and find a note next to their site for users not to visit it due to malware or Google to turn off the links to their site.

These simple preventatives are what we suggest for every blog owner they are easy to install and require just  minimum of vigilance.

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Working with WordPress Backbone Websites

I am in the process of finishing up and readying for launch a new website built on the back bone of WordPress. I have to say the website has turned out nice, but I wanted to share with you a few of my thoughts on using website built like this for search engine placement.

I think that if you want to save money on webmaster services, like the control of being able to add and update your content at will; a well designed website using WordPress has no comparison. But for people, like me, who are used to full and complete source code control for SEO purposes a website built with WordPress leaves much to be desired.

Professionals in my industry know that template based websites (and that is really what a WordPress built site is-  a custom template) do not allow you full source code control. Although the designers that have worked with me on building this site have really done a great job, there are instances when I wanted to name my uploaded images my own way; I wanted to custom design my site architecture and be able to change the names and structure easily if I needed to down the road; I wanted to add special design or style elements to my pages without having to create hacks to make the page work the way I wanted it to within the template constraints. In other words, there is an element of control, subtle though it may be, that is simply missing with a WordPress site versus a custom created, built from the source code up, website.

I guess with all new improvements to allow customers to control their own content there are trade offs, but I’m not sure that I want to lose that control for every customer.

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Have You Spent Time With Google Insights?

With the world of organic search optimization having changed significantly and few really good keyword research tools for website placement on the Web, Google Insights has become a very important tool as you consider making changes on your website. Personally, I use the Google AdWords keyword tool hand in hand with the Google Insights tool. What the Google Insights tool helps me to understand is if a keyword phrase I am thinking of using for optimization on a website or for creating a new content page for a client is worth the expense and trouble.

Here’s an example, I have a client in California who wants to do a page on their website for climate controlled warehouse space. I used the AdWords keyword tool to find phrase variations that are popular for clicks in the United States. Then I used the Google Insights tool to review which of those phrases were important and in what locations since 2004. The information has helped the client access how much they want to push this service.

As it turns out climate control keyword phrases are not important to his local or state customers but for the East Coast and Southern markets it is. If he does not have clients in these eastern and southern areas, it may not be worth the time and trouble to do a new service on his website nor promote the service on AdWords. In fact based on the information, he may not move to a new warehouse with climate controlled space.

That’s how powerful Google Insights can be to a business which is developing a new strategy or service. If you want to check out the tool yourself, visit Google Insights now. I think you’ll find the tool useful and very interesting.

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Matt Cutts on WordPress SEO

If you can’t see this YouTube video, you can watch it on YouTube.

In this video you’ll see pure unvarnished personable Matt Cutts, cat lover, talking about blogging and WordPress. Although the video is really for a newbie webmasters and not really for hard core SEO pros.

There are some good nuggets in the video and here they are:

  1. WordPress takes care of about 90% of the mechanics of search engine optimization.
  2. You can optimize WordPress with a few simple plug-ins.
  3. Matt likes Cookies for Comments and Enforce www Preference for his own blog.
  4. PageRank is the number of people that link to you and how important they are. The higher your PageRank the higher you’ll place organically. Quantity is not important, but rather the quality of links.
  5. You can flow through your PageRank to other sites by linking out to them. But the authority decays with each link.
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Where Will SEO Be Going in 2013?

Talk to any SEO expert and you’ll get many different answers in regards to what they think will be important for search engine strategies for 2013, but there are a few things that everyone seems to agree on; the world of search engine optimization has changed.

As for me, I am watching and moving into several things in a very strategic way for key clients and my own business this year.

Here are a few things that I like and that others are talking about:

1. Mobile Search
My Google AdWords company rep. tells me that Google expects mobile search to eclipse regular search this year. If you have not already moved into to the mobile space with a mobile version website you should soon. If you aren’t testing AdWords advertising for mobile I would recommend considering doing so fairly quickly before your competition moves in.

2. Google+ Communities
I think this will be a new landscape with serious SEO benefits for those who strategically move into moderated communities. I am actively working towards this goal for my own business and several key clients.

3. Additional Emphasis on Personalized Search Results
We are already seeing this happen right in front of our eyes. If you are not on Google+ building your circles you are missing one of the biggest opportunities to be an advocate for your own business and to skew other’s search results to show what you like. Activity on Twitter, maybe Facebook for Bing but probably not Google, and social media interaction and sharing will impact the search results of others in your networks.

4. Excpect Organic Click Through Rates to Impact Search
I fully expect Google to start using organic search click through rates to impact the search engine results in the near future. If you’ve followed Google’s patent disclosures over the years this was in one over three years ago as was AuthorRank. We are just now seeing the some of these technology improvements impact search results this year. I expect to see more emphasis on these two areas AuthorRank and Click Through this next year.

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