Seven Obsolete SEO Tactics

Search Engine Optimization has changed dramatically over the years and what worked before doesn’t necessarily work anymore. Some of the old tactics you are using may now be a waste of time or money and it’s also possible that some obsolete SEO tactics may actually now harm your search engine ranking.

Obsolete Tactic #1: More Backlinks Means Higher Ranking

Although more backlinks used to mean a higher search engine ranking, this is no longer completely true. These days you’ll notice new sites with few backlinks that rank better than old sites with hundreds of backlinks. What’s going on? Google is prioritizing backlinks – rewarding backlinks that are more relevant. This just shows that you don’t have to focus on backlink quantity. Focus on building highly relevant links that are topical to the content of your website.

Obsolete Tactic #2: SEO is About Writing Keyword-rich Content

If you want to rank for a term like “business loans,” you would need that phrase on your web page, right? That used to be the case, but Google’s algorithm uses latent semantic indexing.

Latent Semantic Indexing is an indexing and retrieval method that uses a mathematical technique called singular value decomposition (SVD) to identify patterns in the relationships between the terms and concepts contained in an unstructured collection of text. LSI is based on the principle that words that are used in the same contexts tend to have similar meanings.

In other words, Google sees the words “corporate loans” as being similar to “business loans”. That means that if you used the word “business” instead of “corporate” you would still rank for both words.

Instead of trying to write keyword-rich content, write content that is user-friendly. If you put your users first and you write what’s best for them, Google will naturally figure out what terms you should rank for and will place you there.

Obsolete Tactic #3: SEO is Just Links, Code, and Content

This is what SEO used to be five years ago. Sites with tons of links, good on-page optimization, and mediocre content ranked really well. That’s not the case anymore.

Sites that rank well are sites that have a large social following. The more popular your site is on the social web, the more eyeballs you will draw to it. And the more people see it, the more backlinks it’ll get.

Check out this great Social Media Tutorial if you want to build your social following yourself.

Obsolete Tactic #4: You Need to Track Your Rankings

Rankings are irrelevant. Sure you want better rankings, but search has changed into a long tail game. Just look at the data: search volume for head terms is down by 8%, and sites are starting to see the majority of their traffic coming from long tail phrases.

The beautiful part about this is that you no longer have to track your rankings. Instead, you need to focus on creating a long tail strategy by using content marketing.

Obsolete Tactic #5: More Pages Means More Traffic

If the pages aren’t high in quality, you won’t rank well. Instead of actually helping you, adding too much content, especially mediocre content, can hurt you.

Google released an update called Panda, which targeted sites with low quality content. Such sites got penalized, and their search traffic dropped.

Don’t create sites with thousands of pages. Focus on creating high quality content.

Obsolete Tactic #6: Higher Rankings Means More Traffic

There is a big misconception in the SEO industry that higher rankings mean more search traffic.

It’s true that more people will see your listing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will get more clicks because the keywords you are targeting may not get much search volume. Or your meta tags may not be appealing, which will cause people to not click on your listings.

You can solve this by doing two things:

  1. You need to start using the Keyword Planner tool by Google to find the right keywords to go after.
  2. You need to optimize your click-through rates.

 

Obsolete Tactic #7: You Need A Lot of Text to Rank Well

Until recently, you needed as much as 2,000 words on a page to rank well, but this is changing dramatically. Sites like upworthy.com have very little text but rank well.

This shows that text isn’t the only form of valuable content. Videos and images also do well in the rankings, which is what Upworthy typically uses within its posts.

If you want high rankings, use different types of content to reach this goal. From podcasts to videos and quizzes, there are many possibilities.

Conclusion

Stop wasting your time on obsolete SEO tactics, and start focusing your energy on strategies that will boost your traffic.

Need A New Website? Why Should You Hire A Professional Designer?

There are several companies aggressively pushing their way into the website design field that are targeting people and businesses in need of a new website. If you watch TV, you’ve seen ads for Wix and SquareSpace. These sites offer people affordable and easy to use ways of designing your own site and for some people that’s perfectly fine. However, I’m going to tell you why you should hire a professional website designer.

Top Ten Reasons You Should Hire A Professional Website Designer

1) A professional website designer is going to save you time

By hiring a professional, you get the benefit of hiring a web presence expert who knows successful, efficient ways to create an appealing website for your industry.

2) A professional website designer will make your website unique

It’s 2014 and there are more than a billion websites. Making your website stand out from the crowd is crucial. A professional designer has the ability to create a site that is unique to your business, user-friendly, loads efficiently, and is search engine optimized.

3) A professional website designer will make your site easy to use

Professional web designers design with your visitors in mind. This makes it easy for your visitors to seamlessly navigate the website without getting confused or giving up and leaving the site altogether.

4) A professional website designer will help boost your credibility

By having a professionally designed website it gives your visitor’s confidence in your services. Online competition is strong and first impressions are very important to attract and retain customer.

5) A professional website designer is a communications expert

Professional web designers are experienced in knowing how to communicate your business message. Through the use of colors, web fonts, graphics etc…, a professional website should convey a clear and consistent message that represents your business.

6) A professional website designer will build your site so that it is search engine optimized

Having a website is one thing, having a website that can be found is another. A professional designer and website developer will know how to design your site so that it is SEO friendly.

7) A professional website designer will build you a website that doesn’t look home-made

Do a quick search online and you will quickly be able to decipher between a home-made web site and a professionally designed website. Your customers and clients will know the difference too. By having a professionally designed website it conveys to your customers a sense of security about your services.

8) A professional website designer will make your business the online expert in your industry

A professional designer knows how to portray your business as the online industry expert in your field. A good professional web designer will suggest resources, online material, articles and web content that will make your company look stand out in your business niche.

9) A professional website designer will help you convey that your business is trustworthy

A good website designer knows ways to convey your trustworthiness through the use of images or text in the design. This lets your website visitors know there is a real human on the other side that is worthy of doing business with.

10) You have a business to run

Hiring a professional website designer to create, launch, and manage your website will allow you to focus on what matters most – growing your business. You’re probably already responsible for every aspect of your business, from sales and marketing to the everyday administrative duties like payroll, etc., especially if you are small. Do you really need to focus your time and energy on creating your website?  Let an expert handle that for you to ensure that your site is one that will give you the most competitive edge in the marketplace and which reflects the best image possible to potential customers.

Make Your Website’s First Sentence Count

Ten seconds is about how long you have to convince the average visitor to your website to stick around. That is just about long enough to read one sentence — so it better be a good one.

Visitors Make Snap Judgments

Microsoft recently published research showing that website visitors make rapid decisions about whether to stay or go.

Basically, visitors are most likely to leave during the first 10 seconds. If a visitor sticks around for about 30 seconds, they are likely to stay and read more. In other words, you have about 10 seconds to convince someone to keep reading or click over to another page on your website (which resets the stopwatch).

Your Website’s First 10 Seconds

Open the stopwatch on your phone and go to your website. Don’t look at it yet, though. Pretend you are visiting your website for the first time — or even better, find someone who has never seen your website and look over their shoulder. Start the stopwatch as soon as you open your eyes (or just hide your website under a blank browser tab until you are ready to start the stopwatch). At 10 seconds, stop, and make a note of how far you got.

Did you come across anything interesting enough to click on get you to keep reading during that 10 seconds?

If not, it’s time to go to work on your website.

The First Sentence

If you want the majority of visitors to your website to stay, the first sentence better be a good one. That is true whether the first sentence is a tagline, a text overlay on your header image, or the first sentence in a block of copy. And if your first sentence is so buried that it takes longer than 10 seconds to get to it, make sure that what visitors can see in 10 seconds is pretty awesome, or else it is time to redesign your website.

It’s important to note that it is not just the first sentence on your website’s front page. You never know where someone may land when they come to your website – so their first page may not necessarily be the home page. The first sentence on every page matters.

Unfortunately, there is no formula for the perfect first sentence, but I like Matt Homann’s “Haiku of What You Do”:

Who do I help? (Answer in Five Words)
What do I do for them? (Answer in Seven Words)
Why do they need me? (Answer in Five Words)

Here is an example:

I help small business owners
market their business online using new technology
so they can sleep better.

The Haiku of What You Do is a good approach because it answers one of the main things a potential client visiting your website for the first time probably wants to know: whether you can help them. Few websites do a good job of answering this simple question. Instead, they tend to be all about how great the company is and what services are provided.

The main thing to remember, is that your website isn’t about you — it’s about your prospective clients. Keep that in mind when writing copy for it. Focus on helping visitors to your website figure out if you can help them. Don’t just write about yourself.

Write Like a Normal Person

Find a sixth grader to read your website out loud.

Remove the jargon. For example, words commonly used to describe types of law practices, like boutique and virtual, are meaningless to most people. Irrelevant, too, for the most part. Stock business-website phrases like innovativecompassionate, and aggressive are equally meaningless and irrelevant, as well as a bit cliche.

To figure out if you are writing like a normal person, read your website copy out loud. Better yet, find a sixth grader to read it out loud. If he or she stumbles on any of the words or giggles when saying them, use different words. Or try reading it out loud yourself when you are exhausted and bleary-eyed after a long day. Because your first sentence needs to be totally obvious to someone surfing the web half-asleep at midnight.

Make Those 10 Seconds Count

No matter what you come up with, go back to the Haiku Of What You Do exercise above, after you think you have got your first sentence just right. Now do you think you would click a link to another page on your website or keep reading? When you can confidently answer yes, you can call the job done.

To see whether it worked, keep an eye on your website’s bounce rate and time on site over the next month or so. If your new first sentence was an improvement, the bounce rate should go down or the time on site should go up, or both.

Comment Spam: What Is It and How To Control It?

If you have a blog or WordPress site, chances are you have encountered comment spam. Unfortunately, the more popular your blog becomes, the more spam it is likely to get. There is nothing more frustrating than having to spend time moderating your comments to determine which ones are spam and which ones are legitimate. The good news is that this unethical approach to search engine optimization is used less and less frequently thanks to Google cracking down on the process and not rewarding fake links.

In today’s post, we are going to look at:

  • How to identify spam.
  • Settings and plugins you can use in the base WordPress comment system to help moderate spam.

Comments, Trackbacks, and Pingbacks

Before we go any further we need to define a few terms that are related to blog comments.

  • Comments – Comments are created when someone uses the comment form on your blog post to engage with your content.
  • Pingbacks – Pingbacks are automatically created when someone links to your blog post from one of their blog posts.
  • Trackbacks – Trackbacks are manual notifications by one blogger that they have linked to your blog post within theirs. Pingbacks were created to automate this process.

WordPress refers to Trackbacks and Pingbacks as Pings when you attempt to filter your comments.

 

You can recognize the difference between the two visually like this. Comments will have the comment author’s name, email address, optional website link, and IP address listed along with their comment.

 

Trackbacks and pingbacks (Pings) will only have the title of a blog post, a link, and an excerpt from the external blog post as the comment.

 

Unfortunately, comments, trackbacks, and pingbacks are all used frequently as spam. There are ways to even automate the spamming process which adds to the problem. So let’s look at some ways to identify spam.

Why Comment Spam Is Harmful

Some people, in an attempt to inflate their number of comments, will approve comments that they know are not legitimate. Why is this bad? Consider these things:

  • Google is cracking down on bad links. This doesn’t just include sites that buy bad links, it also includes sites that allow bad links. The last thing you want is Google to think that you are allowing bad links on your website, even if they are just in your comments.
  • Comment spam shows lack of moderation. Imagine that you’re buying a home and you drive through a neighborhood and there’s a house that’s unkempt at totally overgrown in weeds. That’s the impression you are giving to your visitors if your blog posts are littered with comment spam – that no one is actively taking care of it.
  • Your readers might lose faith in you. What if one of your readers clicks on a comment link and is taken to a site they don’t want to be. If you wouldn’t link to a viagra website in your own website, you shouldn’t let a commenter link to one either.

How to Identify Spam

How do you know whether a comment on your blog is spam or legitimate? This is tough and it’s really up to you. Some blog owners will read every comment and consider it legit if the comment shows that the reader actually read the post. Other blog owners will dismiss a comment as spam based on the fact that the link does not match the same industry as their blog. Here are some questions you can answer when looking at a comment that will help you determine whether or not you should approve it to go live on your blog.

  • Is the author using a real name or a bunch of keywords? The use of keywords in a name in a comment field without first or last name is always the sign of an SEO spammer.
  • Would I want my blog readers to click on the comment author’s link? If the answer is no, don’t approve the comment.
  • Is the comment specific, or could it apply to any blog post? 
  • Has the same comment author been using several different email and website addresses? If John Doe comments one day linking to an outdoor store and then the next day linking to an automobile supply store, you know it’s spam.
  • Does the comment author use a legitimate email address? If you see someone commenting using an email address like email@email.com then chances are it’s spam.

Settings to Control Comment Spam

WordPress has some basic settings that you should use to control comment spam.

Moderate Comments from First Time Comment Authors

Not only will this prevent your blog from becoming a spamfest, but it will also allow people who have been approved once to be approved for future comments, leaving less to moderate. Comment authors who change the way they enter their name, email address, or website link will be placed into moderation again. This keeps someone from being approved once with a good website link from coming in and using one you would not approve of in future comments.

To hold a first time commenter author in moderation, go to your WordPress dashboard > Settings > Discussion. Under the Before a Comment Appears section, check the box for comment author must have previously approved comment. Make sure the checkbox above it for an administrator must always approve the comment is unchecked.

Turn Off Trackbacks

Trackback spam is sometimes worse than comment spam. So you have to consider whether or not having it on is even necessary. You can still find out who is linking to your blog by looking at the Incoming Links portion of your WordPress dashboard.

Turn Off Comments After 30 or 60 Days

People who comment for link building purposes (SEO spammers) typically look for blog posts with high PageRank – Google’s 1 – 10 scoring of authority. Typically, blog posts start out at a PageRank of 0 and only gain PageRank after a few months. This means that SEO spammers are going to be targeting your older blog posts.

Typically, the height of popularity for a blog post is within the first two weeks. That will also be when you get the majority of your comments (unless you don’t update your blog that often). Hence, if you close blog comments after 30 – 60 days based on your preference, you will have a lot less comments to moderate.

Plugins to Control Spam

At Connect4, our WordPress sites all come with the Akismet comment spam plugin installed. It filters all comments and acts like a junk email filter for WordPress comments. It is not perfect, however, and you still have to moderate the process and approve some comments identified by Akismet as junk, but it is far better than not having any plugin to control comment spam.

 

Terrible Web Design Trends and How to Stop Them

From LiveStrong yellow wristbands to Planking, the power of trends is undeniable. In our digital age dominated by social media and audiences with ever-shortening attention spans, these rapidly changing trends extend to web design as well. Continuously developing design and development technologies means that web design trends come and go quickly. While it might be cool to be an early-adopter, it certainly doesn’t pay to be a late-adopter or you will be left with a website with one of the following five terrible web design trends. Thankfully, most of these are not that common anymore.

Splash Pages

We’ve all seen a site that loads with sliding photography, blinking status bars, and a cacophony of visual excess. The thought behind a splash page is “Watch this long ‘short intro’ video to discover how awesome our website is!”

Hoping for a strong first impression, websites that adopt this practice of showing a splash page definitely make an impact. Unfortunately, it’s usually an overly negative one.

Splash pages waste time and delay people from accessing the real website content. Site users just flock to the “click to skip” link, or, in some cases, can’t even find it and decide to leave instead of waiting.

Conclusion:

A good homepage, information architecture (how the information is organized), and content strategy are all you need. Don’t waste precious time by showing users pointless filler content.

Web 2.0 Design

Rounded corners, reflections, drop shadows and gradients say one thing: 2005. As the Internet moves toward a flatter, harder-edged aesthetic, don’t let your site get stuck with an outdated look.

These days, dimensionality and drop-shadowing look soft and tentative. Skeuomorphism for skeuomorphism sake doesn’t really accomplish anything, other than potentially confusing your viewer with an over-complicated design. You can do better. Simplify your designs to make your interfaces more user-friendly and to improve UX.

Conclusion:

With major tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google and others going flat, the reality is that this is what users will come to expect.

Stock Photos

Good stock photos don’t actually look like a stock photo, but they can be prohibitively expensive. So, instead, we are often shown cold, lifeless fake photos of people.

Conclusion:

Use stock photography sparingly. If photos are needed on your website, try and take them yourself. If this is not an option, be very selective with your stock photography. Make sure that adding the photo is actually going to improve the look of your site instead of making it look like a joke.

MySpace-ification

Thankfully we don’t see this too often anymore, but in the mid-2000s, internet-savvy users were defined by the amount of personalization in their MySpace profiles. Unfortunately some web designers picked up on this trend, over-designing sites to the point of complete chaos.

Conclusion:

This one is simple. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Flash Sites

The strength of Flash is also its weakness. Though animations and movement definitely grab attention and can enhance the look of your site, they are also incompatible with many Web devices (all Apple products).

What good is a large amount of visually-stimulating content if many of your users can’t even see it?

With the maturation of CSS3 transitions and HTML5 standards, it is now possible to create impressive animated sites without the use of proprietary, closed-source software.

Conclusion:

It’s time to stop relying on Flash and get on board HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript which accomplish many of the same things as Flash with less compatibility and performance issues.

Background Music

Some web designers want to engage their viewers’ senses, so they add some tunes to help build a connection. If you’re considering this, keep in mind two things: 1) some of your viewers have their sound muted and will thus miss out on your awesome jams, and 2) those that do have the sound on are likely listening to something else or looking to hear something specific.

Not to mention the potential issues with site loading speed, licensing, user experience, etc.

Conclusion:

Unless you’re a DJ company or a radio station, please skip the urge to add music to your site.

Popup Windows

I think we have all experienced the frustration of loading a webpage and immediately being bombarded with a trillion unclosable pop-up windows. It truly harms our experience on the site and makes us wary of coming back.

Unfortunately, today, popup windows are being reincarnated in the form of modal window overlays that open automatically and interrupt our reading experience. Check out Tab Closed; Didn’t Read to see a showcase of disruptive window overlays.

Conclusion:

Ads are a part of life, and they’re an important way for many sites to generate revenue. That being said, no one likes an ad that’s overly disruptive. If you’re going to use popups, use them sparingly, strategically, make sure they can be closed and don’t cover the entire screen.

Like any trend, what’s popular in web design comes and goes quite quickly. If you have a robust development and design team, incorporating current trends can make your site look fresh and relevant.

Just remember that trends have a shelf-life, and be prepared when it’s time to make a change. What’s hot right now could soon go the way of sparkly mouse pointers and site visitor counters.

For those who are more risk-averse (or strapped for time or by budget), it’s best to focus on more mainstream design ideas that will always look professional and be effective.

 

How to Improve Your Small Business Website

Websites are powerful marketing tools. Some are magnificent, drawing you in  and making you look deeper. Then there are those that fall far short because they are sloppy, hard to decipher, and lack inspiration.  Your website is often the first impression you make to your customers or clients. The website needs to be about your customer or client – not about you. It should help them find a solution to their problem.

The good news is that there are simple and immediate solutions that you can implement to keep prospects on your site longer and convert them to customers.

Five Simple and Immediate Solutions to Improve Your Small Business Website

Create a clear purpose

When a visitor comes to your website, your purpose needs to be clear and obvious. Do you want a prospect to enter her name and email into a website opt-in form? Are you trying to sell a product or service? Are you interested in educating the prospect over time? Your website should be designed to efficiently guide visitors directly to the information that they are seeking. It must have a clear and direct purpose.

In the overcrowded world of the Internet, you only have three seconds to capture a visitor’s attention. If your visitors are confused (even slightly), they are going to leave your website in order to find a more obvious solution.

Highlight your benefits

A prospect visits your site in order to solve a problem. It is your job to convince them that your product or service will accomplish this. You can succeed by highlighting the benefits that your prospect will receive if they purchase your product or service.

Will your product make your prospect happier? Will it save them time? Will they be healthier or wealthier? Your prospect must understand they will receive an obvious and important benefit if they purchase from you or select your service.

Keep it simple

Keep your web copy concise and to the point. You should use short paragraphs, bulleted lists and bolded and underlined text to highlight items of importance.

Time is precious. More than ever before, your visitors are looking for a solution to their problems in a quick and timely manner. They don’t have hours to browse through your website looking for the answer.

Give your visitors reasons to trust you

As soon as a visitor comes to your site, it’s paramount that they feel that they can connect with and trust you. There are a number of ways to increase the trust factor. Make sure your contact information is prominent and easy to find. Your website should be free from grammatical and spelling errors. Your site should have the look and feel of a well-established and successful company. Research suggests that trust must be established for prospects to either give you their information or make a purchase.

Offer something irresistible

No matter how spectacular your website may be, we know that visitors rarely make a purchase on their first visit. In fact, it can take up to twenty-seven exposures to your brand before they’re ready to buy.

That’s why it’s essential that you capture your visitor’s name and email address so that you can continue to communicate with them. However, you can’t just throw up a form on your website expecting your visitors to hand over their personal information.

You need to offer your visitors something irresistible in exchange for their name and email address. Ideally, it should be something they would gladly pay money to obtain. It might be an entertaining special report, educational ebook or engaging quiz. (Let’s face it, a long-winded whitepaper or subscription to your newsletter isn’t too irresistible.)

By giving away something irresistible to your first-time visitors, you’re able to market to them over time.

There are numerous ways to improve your small business website and keep prospects engaged in your website and convert them to happy clients and customers. If you revamp your website with a clear and specific purpose, keep things simple, create a sense of trust and offer something irresistible, you’ll soon find yourself with an abundance of new sales, clients and happy customers.

Best WordPress Plugins – Miscellaneous

WordPress is an incredibly flexible, easy-to-set-up and manage web publishing platform that has been downloaded more than 60 million times since its launch in 2003. As of August 2013, WordPress is used by nearly 19 percent of the top 10 million websites. The content management system’s popularity has spawned thousands – nearly 30,000 in fact – of plugins that expand the basic functionality of WordPress. At Connect4, we routinely use 45 WordPress plugins. We use some plugins, for security, admin, and SEO, for example, on nearly every site we create.

The problem with WordPress plugins is that many of them present as much trouble as they do opportunity on a website. Not all plugins play friendly in the same sandbox. And not all plugin developers continue to provide updates for their plugins. Plugins that haven’t been updated in a year make for a security risk. So make sure you consult with your webmaster or web developer prior to installing any of these plugins. It’s always a good idea to make sure you have a backup before trying out a new plugin.

Today we are going to talk about essential wordpress plugins that fall into the miscellaneous category.

Miscellaneous

  1. WP Greet box
  2. Co-Authors Plus
  3. Print Friendly and PDF Button
  4. nRelate Related Content
  5. Edit Flow
  6. WordPress Editorial Calendar
  7. Custom Post Donations
  8. TablePress

WP Greet Box

This plugin lets you show a different greeting message to your new visitors depending on their referrer url. For example, when a visitor clicks through from Twitter, they will see a message suggesting them to tweet the post and follow you on Twitter. You can also set a default greeting message for new visitors (not matching any referrer URLs) suggesting them to subscribe to your RSS feed. Having these targeted suggestions will help your blog increase exposure, loyal readership, and reader interaction. Best of all, this plugin is compatible with WPMU and various WordPress cache plugins (so you do not have to sacrifice speed).

 

Download WP Greet Box

Co-Authors Plus

Assign multiple bylines to posts, pages, and custom post types via a search-as-you-type input box. Co-authored posts appear on a co-author’s archive page and in their feed. Co-authors may edit the posts they are associated with, and co-authors who are contributors may only edit posts if they have not been published (as is core behavior).

 

Download Co-Authors Plus

Print Friendly and PDF Button

This plugin by Joost de Valk (developer of the wildly successful WordPress SEO by Yoast) automatically creates printer friendly and PDF versions of your pages without the hassle of having to create a print CSS file. No coding, hacking or programming required. Simply install the Print Friendly & PDF plugin, activate, and choose settings for full customization. It also gives your user the ability to remove images and paragraphs of text, so they really only have to print exactly what they want.

Download Print Friendly and PDF Button

nRelate Related Content

This is the best way to display related content from your site, and/or your blogroll. Nrelate is not just another related posts plugin. What’s particularly cool is that the plugin continuously analyzes your website content and displays other related posts from your website. This ultimately leads to higher site page-views, and a better user experience.

 

Download nrelate Related Content

Edit Flow

Edit Flow empowers you to collaborate with your editorial team inside WordPress. Edit Flow is modular so you can customize it to your needs:

  • Calendar – A convenient month-by-month look at your content.
  • Custom Statuses – Define the key stages to your workflow.
  • Editorial Comments – Threaded commenting in the admin for private discussion between writers and editors.
  • Editorial Metadata – Keep track of the important details.
  • Notifications – Receive timely updates on the content you’re following.
  • Story Budget – View your upcoming content budget.
  • User Groups – Keep your users organized by department or function

 

Download Edit Flow

WordPress Editorial Calendar

Did you remember to write a post for next Tuesday? What about the Tuesday after that? WordPress doesn’t make it easy to see when your posts are scheduled. The editorial calendar gives you an overview of your blog and when each post will be published. You can drag and drop to move posts, edit posts right in the calendar, and manage your entire blog.

 

 

Download WordPress Editorial Calendar 

Custom Post Donations

This WordPress plugin will allow you to create unique customized PayPal donation widgets to insert into your WordPress posts or pages and accept donations. WP Plugin for creating custom PayPal donation widgets. PayPal for WordPress. WordPress ecommerce.

Donation Widget Types

  • Standard Donation – One editable donation amount field.(DEMO)
  • Fixed + Additional Donation – One fixed donation amount with an additional editable donation amount field. (DEMO)
  • Per Item + Additional Donation – Fixed donation amount per item with an additional editable donation amount field. (DEMO)
  • Per Item + Additional + Fixed Donation – Same as above, but includes a fixed additional amount. Possibly a shipping charge. (Pro version only)
  • Campaign Donation – Donations plus Fields for Name, Address, Occupation and Employer. Meets Federal Election Commission (FEC) requirements. (Pro version only)

Download Custom Post Donations

TablePress

Even though advances in HTML and CSS have moved web developers far beyond the use of tables for organizing website content, every once in a while you have a need for actually displaying content in a table. The most common scenario is if you need to set up a pricing table. That’s where TablePress becomes a very useful WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) WordPress plugin.

 

 

Download TablePress

 

Best WordPress Plugins – Comments, Contact Forms & Forums

WordPress is an incredibly flexible, easy-to-set-up and manage web publishing platform that has been downloaded more than 60 million times since its launch in 2003. As of August 2013, WordPress is used by nearly 19 percent of the top 10 million websites. The content management system’s popularity has spawned thousands – nearly 30,000 in fact – of plugins that expand the basic functionality of WordPress. At Connect4, we routinely use 45 WordPress plugins. We use some plugins, for security, admin, and SEO, for example, on nearly every site we create.

The problem with WordPress plugins is that many of them present as much trouble as they do opportunity on a website. Not all plugins play friendly in the same sandbox. And not all plugin developers continue to provide updates for their plugins. Plugins that haven’t been updated in a year make for a security risk. So make sure you consult with your webmaster or web developer prior to installing any of these plugins. It’s always a good idea to make sure you have a backup before trying out a new plugin.

Today we are going to talk about plugins that control comments, contact forms, and forums for WordPress.

Comments, Contact Forms & Forums

  1. Contact Form 7
  2. Thank Me Later
  3. Discuss Comment System

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is the most widely used wordpress contact form because it is easy to use, extremely flexible, and free. Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.

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Thank Me Later

Have you ever posted a comment on a blog, or provided your email to a site and then received an email a few seconds after doing so?  You automatically think, “Well either that’s the most obsessive blog admin on the web, or this is an auto-generated email.”  Well, with Thank Me Later, you can make your ‘Thank you,’ emails far more personal through the ability to customize certain fields, and the best part… you can tell it to send hours after you the signup.  The beauty of this is the fact that it provides a much more personal touch to the emails that are programmed to be sent to new commenters and visitors. Thank Me Later sends ‘thank you’ emails to your commenters. Simply write a message saying thanks and it will be emailed after a time of your choice — 5 minutes, a day, a month, whenever!

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Disqus Comment System

Disqus, pronounced “discuss”, is a service and tool for web comments and discussions. Disqus makes commenting easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commenters across a thriving discussion community.

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Ten Website Design Trends for 2014

Website Design trends are constantly changing. Every year brings new standards. This year’s website design trends include unique typography, flat design, large hero areas, mobile, videos instead of text, long scrolling sites, simple color schemes, simple content, no sidebar, and new technology. Some of these website design trends will stay and others will go but this post gives you the scoop on what we predict the top ten website design trends will be in 2014.

1. Unique Typography

For many years websites have used standard serif and san-serif fonts like Helvetica.  In 2013 there was a shift to more unique fonts with personality. This trend is definitely going to continue in 2014.

2. Flat Design

You can thank Apple for this one. With the release of iOS7 came the design aesthetic most commonly known as “flat design.” While eliminating drop shadows and gradients might seems like a good idea in some cases to give a more updated look to things, Apple took it to a whole other level by dropping pretty much any design element it could.

Apple has for a long time been a trendsetter, and what Apple does, the rest of the world seems to follow. iOS7 has been out for a while and already there are a flood of sites coming online every day with new “flat” designs.

3. Say Goodbye to Sliders and Hello to Large Hero Areas

Large hero areas (the “intro” area, often an image with a little amount of text, at the top of a website – a borrowed term from print design) on website home pages are very popular right now. Look at Line25’s Sites of the Week for the first week of January and you’ll see that almost all of them reflect this change in design.

4. Greater Focus on Mobile

Now that responsive web design is more commonplace, developers and designers are focusing more attention on the mobile audience (which is growing constantly). Integration with social media, asking for email subscriptions, long scrolling sites (see below), and fast loading sites all help make the mobile Web a more friendlier place in 2014.

5. Videos in Place of Text

Why read about something when you can watch it? In 2014, you will start to see websites with large videos in the hero area. The cost of video production is going down and they are increasingly easier to share online and on social media.

6. Long Scrolling Sites

Sometimes these are called one-page sites. This is a design feature that has come full circle. Websites used to have way too much content on long scrolling pages and then there was a shift to more complicated menu structures and additional pages. Responsive design and designing for a mobile audience has led us back to the idea that it’s actually comfortable to scroll down through content. The difference that 2014 brings is a greater attention to design – look for long scrolling sites with plenty of white space, unique layout, and fonts.

7. Simple Color Schemes

In 2014, we will see a lot more website with very simple color schemes. And by simple, we mean really only one or two colors.

Take for instance the UIKit site above. That site has only one hue: blue (in design and art, white and black aren’t considered colors, but neutrals). The use of a more simple color scheme seems to come with flat design (discussed above), but not always. The site above uses blue predominantly throughout the design, but it is the only color you see.

Some websites being launched now are using very little color, or even forgoing color all together. White, black, and everything in between are popular color schemes now, and adding just a hit of another color, such as red, adds drama and impact – all things that garnish attention when used in the right way.

8. Simplified Content

Simplified content means short bursts of content, a la Twitter style. Over the years as a population, our attention spans have become shorter, so designers have compensated for that by putting content in short bursts instead of long narratives. Not many areas (aside from blog posts) have more than 250 characters. This is because readers are scanning as a new way to consume content.

9. Dropping the Sidebar

You see this more in magazine and news sites, but many are experimenting with dropping the sidebar altogether. This allows for a more visual with content.

10. Manipulated Imagery

In 2014, we are going to see sites with images that have color overlays, blurred images, or even images that are reminiscent of Instagram images with filters.

11. Bonus – Cool New Website Technology

We are going to continue to see websites experiment with cool new HTML5-driven technology. For example, Tobi’s Story’s website is a great use of really cool things done in a great way.