What is a Chatbot? Which One Should You Add To Your WordPress Website?

You’ve probably already heard of a chatbot – and if you spend any time online – you’ve also probably used one. They usually appear in the lower-right corner of your computer screen while browsing online.

What is a Chatbot?

A chatbot is a computer program that interacts with human users via a chat interface. A chatbot can either be powered by rules using if/then statements or artificial intelligence or a mix of both.

For example, Dominos Pizza has a Chatbot named Dom – Domino’s ordering assistant bot.

This chatbot mostly relies on multiple-choice menus and basic input to help customers but it’s extremely user-friendly and serves its purpose of helping users place online orders effectively and easily.

7 Ways a Chatbot Can Help Boost Conversions on Your WordPress Website

Chatbots can serve a ton of different purposes on a website. Here are 7 of the most valuable:

1. Collect Leads

The most important goal for many websites is collecting information your sales team can use to contact new prospects. Chatbots are perfect for this purpose.

2. Qualify and Prioritize Leads

Collecting quality leads is challenging but what’s even harder is evaluating and prioritizing the leads. Chatbots can simplify this process by identifying high quality leads. A user lands on your website and the chatbot asks the user to choose from a variety of options about why they are there – 1) looking for information 2) just browsing 3) ready to make a purchase decision.

3. Put Visitors in Touch With Your Team

Many people think that chatbots are designed to replace human support staff but that’s not the case at all. In fact, one of the best roles a chatbot can play on a website is a connection between your customers and your staff. Many chatbots start with a question asking whether the visitor would like to speak directly with a sales analyst. If they need to speak to billing instead, the lines aren’t clogged and visitors are able to get directly and reliably in touch with human support staff.

4. Increase Newsletter Subscriptions

Because they are automated chatbots can save you a lot of time and effort when it comes to building your list of email subscribers. The key is to use chat as a lead capture opportunity. Occasionally a lead will need more incentive to provide their email address. One effective way to get an email address out of a visitor is to offer a special discount in return.

For example, the chatbot could be set up to recognize when a user is shopping on an eCommerce page. The chatbot can then be used to offer a discount off their purchase. To get the coupon code, the visitor would need to provide their email address and then you can send a one-time promotional code directly to their email.

5. Direct Visitors to Helpful Resources

If you’ve already created lots of content on your website, you can make the most of this content by training a chatbot to direct visitors straight to the resources that are relevant to their interests and questions.

6. Personalize the Browsing experience

A chatbot can make the browsing experience personalized by utilizing a landing page sized chatbot that immediately interacts with website visitors.

7. Reduce Your Employees’ Workloads

Many of the chatbot capabilities on this list are typically handled by customer service teams. By integrating a chatbot, you can eliminate these tasks from your employees’ workloads and help them focus on more meaningful activities.

 

What to do if your website home page now say’s ‘The Site Ahead Contains Malware’

If you get to a website and you see the warning “Site Ahead Contains Malware”, you need to act fast.

If it’s not your site, you need to turn around because there could be malware on the website you are trying to access.

If the site ahead happens to be your own site, you need to act fast to fix the situation. This message indicates that your website is either infected with malware and/or has been hacked. Google crawls websites regularly to add new or updated content to the search index. These crawlers also can detect if your site has a malware infection.

If Google or other search crawlers find malware on your site, they immediately flag your site and display this warning to protect users from accessing the web site. This warning has detrimental effects on SEO, site traffic, and your credibility. It can also lead to your web host suspending your hosting account.

Why did your WordPress website get hacked?

Websites get hacked for the following reasons:

  • economic gain
  • drive-by downloads – malware injections
  • black hat SEO
  • system resources
  • hacktivism

How did your WordPress website get hacked?

Malware can infect your site in a number of ways:

  1. Plugins – An infection could have come through the plugins installed on your website. This can happen for several different reasons – a) old plugins without recent updates are prone to vulnerabilities; b) pirate software is free but often contains malware; c) you may have installed a plugin from an untrusted source.
  2. Your Computer Might Have Malware – Often when a computer is infected with malware, uploading a file to a website can lead to a website infected with malware.
  3. Brute-force attacks by hackers – Hackers can use a brute-force attack to guess your username and password and break into your website.

What do you do if your site now say’s “The Site Ahead Contains Malware”?

It’s important that you act fast. You will have to remove the malware from the website and then submit your website to Google for review. Google’s safe browsing policies that you need to follow before you submit your site for review are:

  • You need to log into Google Search Console and prove you are the owner of your website.
  • You need to make sure that your website is clean and free of any malware infections or backdoors.
  • You need to fix the vulnerability that led to the hack. We recommend installing the premium version of Wordfence.
  • If your host has suspended you for malware, you need to contact them and request they remove the suspension. Your website needs to be back online prior to submitting it to Google for review.
  • Call Connect4 Consulting at 202-236-2968 so we can help you with these steps.

How do you prevent “The Site Ahead Contains Malware” from happening again in the future?

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of finding yourself in this situation, it is imperative that you do everything possible to prevent it from happening again. To do that, implement the following procedures:

  • Make sure someone is actively managing the hosting of your website. That means you need to make sure that all plugins and WordPress are updated as soon as updates are available. You can’t just rely on hosting alone.
  • Install Wordfence or Wordfence Premium to protect your website.
  • Update WordPress regularly.
  • Only use trusted themes and plugins – stay away from free plugins or themes – particularly if there have been no updates in the last 3 months or more.
  • Remove inactive themes and plugins – the more elements you have on your website, the greater the opportunities a hacker has to break into your website.
  • Update website passwords, remove inactive users, limit login attempts, install an SSL Certificate.

 

 

 

How to keep visitors on your website longer

If you’ve ever looked at a Google Analytics report, two of the key factors are time on page and bounce rate. It can be very frustrating to spend hours composing what you believe is a masterful blog post and then discover that most visitors hang around for less than a minute. So that begs the question – How do I keep visitors on my website longer? What can I do to help them stay on the page?

  • Improve your design so that it’s easy to read your content
  • Stick with a white background
  • Add whitespace around your content so it’s easy on the eyes
  • Increase the font-size and line-height
  • Use a standard font that is easy to read
  • Create better content
  • Look at Google Analytics – maybe there’s a disconnect between what visitors expect to see on the page and what is actually there.
  • Create helpful content
  • Try writing longer blog posts
  • Make sure your headlines are relevant to the page or blog post
  • Add section titles so it’s easy for a reader to scan the content on the page
  • Use visual media on your posts such as videos, images, infographics, slideshows, etc.
  • Link to other related blog posts on your site
  • Open external links in new windows
  • Check for 404 errors – if people search for a page that for some reason no longer exists, create a custom 404 page with some unique content

Keeping visitors on your website and reducing bounce rate is mission critical to your website’s success. Engaged visitors are more likely to sign up for your services, purchase your products, or tell others about the awesome experience they had with you.

WordPress vs. Squarespace

WordPress or Squarespace?

If you’re reading this post because you need a new website and are trying to figure out whether to go with WordPress or Squarespace, I can help you make the decision an easier one: WordPress wins the head-to-head battle every time. WordPress crushes Squarespace. I know this first-hand because we actually get a fair number of prospective clients who start their website process with Squarespace. They are recruited to Squarespace for all the reasons that give it so much potential – it’s so inexpensive you don’t even need a credit card to get started; it has an intuitive WYSIWYG theme builder; the hosting is fast and reliable; you don’t need to know anything about websites, domain names, or technology to have a nice looking website.

While both WordPress and Squarespace both give you a platform to build a website, they are completely different. WordPress is used by more than 25% of all websites on the internet, while Squarespace powers just 0.5% of all websites on the internet.

This post will give you more than 20 reasons why WordPress is the clear winner over Squarespace.

 

Reason #1: Free Download

WordPress is free, open source software for anyone to download and use on the web host or server of your choice.

On the other hand, Squarespace isn’t flexible – you are stuck with their hosting, which is strictly on Squarespace’s servers.

Reason #2: Build Upon the Software

WordPress has a GPL 2.0 License. This means that you can improve upon the code and make changes that suit your specific needs, as long as you are willing to share your changes with others as open source.

Squarespace has no such license and actually forbids you from tinkering with their code.

Reason #3: Edit with Code as Much as You Want

You can also edit WordPress plugins and themes as much as you want to extend the capabilities of your website. You aren’t limited to the number of changes you can make. There are also many plugins you can use to add custom code to your website.

Squarespace isn’t flexible at all. While you can add a little HTML, CSS or JavaScript to make small customizations, you can’t change any major components.

Reason #4: WordPress has 49,000 Plugins

WordPress has a huge repository of more than 49,000 plugins to extend the functionality of the core WordPress software. You can find practically any feature imaginable for a website in the plugin repository.

Like the visual editor in Squarespace, what you see is what you get. If a certain feature or functionality you need isn’t available, you’re out of luck and this is where and why many people leave Squarespace and seek out WordPress.

Reason #5: Your Copyrighted Content Can’t Be Used for Free

WordPress has no right to publish any part of your website for free.

On the other hand, Squarespace, according to its Terms of Service, statements 2.2 and 2.3, can use any part of your site for uses such as advertising, even if the content they take is copyrighted. If you want a Squarespace website, you have to agree to this. While you can opt out, it’s not an easy one-click option.

Reason #6: Features aren’t Discontinued without Notice

The WordPress core gets updated regularly with new features and security updates and there’s a system in place to ensure transparency with what goes in, gets fixed and what’s omitted.

Changes are suggested, reviewed and approved before they’re worked on, then later released. Any amendments or omissions are well documented and announced beforehand. In the event that a feature you need is discontinued, you have time to search for or create a plugin to cover the capabilities you want.

Squarespace, on the other hand, can discontinue or remove any features at any time and without notice.

Reason #7: Your Server Resources Aren’t Limited

You can choose to host your own WordPress website unlike Squarespace which requires you to host your site on their servers. This means that you can’t scale it later if it becomes super popular.

Squarespace advertises all plans as having unlimited bandwidth, but the fine print on their pricing page makes it clear that the service is limited to normal usage.

This means your site can get shut down if Squarespace decides you’re getting more than average amounts of traffic – whatever that means – since there isn’t a clear definition (or any at all) for “normal usage.”

Conversely, WordPress gives you the freedom to choose your own hosting so you can find one that’s scalable and works for you.

Reason #8: No High-Resolutions Images? No Problem!

It’s much easier to find a WordPress layout that suits your needs and content. You also have the option to adjust the theme to better fit your images, videos, posts and other content.

Unfortunately Squarespace is heavily biased towards themes with gigantic high resolution images. Most of their 59 themes require huge images and if you don’t have them or need them, your website won’t look great.

Reason #9: Top Companies Trust WordPress

There are many popular, high-profile companies that trust WordPress to power their sites including The New York Times, CNN, PlayStation, LinkedIn, Flickr, Walt Disney, NGINX, Time Inc, cPanel and hundreds more.

Many celebrities also have their sites built on WordPress including Beyoncé, Snoop Dogg, Katy Perry, Jane Fonda, Kim Kardashian, The Rolling Stones, Sylvester Stallone, and William Shatner.

Top companies don’t trust Squarespace because of the reasons listed in this blog post.

Reason #10: Better Analytics

There are many WordPress plugins that can add analytics straight into your site’s back end. Often times, you can get incredibly comprehensive analytics.

For example, you could sign up for Google Analytics and use the Google Analytics + plugin to add all the stats to your WordPress dashboard.

Squarespace includes an analytics feature, but it only has basic information that isn’t nearly as detailed as Google Analytics and you aren’t able to connect the two together in the admin area.

Conclusion

When it comes to a head to head comparison of WordPress and Squarespace, there’s no contest. Yes, you can create a great-looking website with Squarespace, but the platform is severely limited when compared to WordPress, which you can use to do practically anything you want.

How to Schedule Your WordPress Blog Posts

If you’re like me, you tend to write in spurts and starts. Not every day is a blogging day, but once I begin blogging I will usually commit a good percentage of the day towards those efforts. This quick tutorial will show you how to schedule your wordpress blog posts so that all four blog posts you create the same day are published on different days.

Why Schedule Your Blog Posts in WordPress?

Each website has a specific time or day for peak traffic. Now if you live in a different timezone than your readers, then it can be a problem. Imagine having your peak time as 3 a.m. Scheduling posts can be very handy for this.

The other situation is if you are going for a vacation, but you don’t want to abandon your blog.

If you schedule your WordPress blog posts, you don’t have to worry about either of these scenarios. This function allows you to stay ahead of yourself by finishing up articles in advance and have them ready. You can prepare for a busy week ahead of time and schedule articles to be published automatically.

How to Schedule Your WordPress Blog Post

Once you are done writing your blog post, before hitting publish, you need to look at the option right above the publish button that reads “Publish immediately”. Click on “Edit”. Set Date and Time and click Schedule.

Follow these easy steps and you can know schedule your WordPress blog posts.

WordPress Powers Nearly 80% of All Websites

According to a recent report by CodeGuard, the WordPress content management system (CMS) powers nearly 80% of all websites. Joomla and Drupal follow with just 7% and 5% of the market. WordPress has made such dramatic gains in popularity because of its ease of installation, management, and support. WordPress is being adopted by designers and developers at a faster rate than bloggers and this has fueled its growth. Most hosting providers now offer WordPress specialized hosting to cash in on the increased demand.

 

What’s New in WordPress 4.0?

WordPress 4.0 was released about a month ago.

This release is code-named “Benny” in honor of jazz legend Benny Goodman, and saw a record number of contributors during this cycle — 275 volunteers from all around the world.

Better Support for Languages

For years, WordPress has supported localization — running the WordPress dashboard in other languages. But until now, the process has been confusing and beyond the reach of most beginners. Now that’s ancient history, because WordPress 4.0 presents you with a choice of languages during the installation process, making easy to use WordPress in whatever language you prefer!

New Media Grid View in Media Library

Media Library Grid View ‹ Connect4 Consulting — WordPress
The Media Library now includes a gorgeous, endless grid view that allows you to browse your uploaded images more easily than ever. Plus, the new details preview (shown below) makes viewing and editing your media files a snap. You can now also bulk select images if you need to delete them.

 

Media Library ‹ Connect4 Consulting — WordPress

Better Plugin Discovery and Search

There are now more than 30,000 plugins in the WordPress plugin directory, and it can be overwhelming to find the right one for your needs. WordPress 4.0 makes this easier with an improved search and browsing experience. Plus, search results will return plugins translated into your language first!

Add Plugins ‹ Connect4 Consulting — WordPress

 

Post Editor Improvements

The post editor has been upgraded in WordPress 4.0, and now automatically expands to fit longer content as you write. And if you frequently write longer posts, you’ll love the way the formatting toolbar now “sticks” to the top of the editor while you scroll up and down the page, ensuring your editing tools are always visible!

New sticky editor toolbar in WordPress 4.0

Real Preview of Embedded Video and More!

Finally, you can simply paste a YouTube or Vimeo URL on a new line in your post, and instantly preview it directly in the editor! It even works with Tweet URLs. Say goodbye to the ambiguous grey box; now embedding is a more accurate experience. The functional preview of your embedded content saves you time and enables you to preview precisely what your content will look like before hitting the publish button!

True video previews in WordPress 4.0

For a complete list of what’s new, check out the official page on the WordPress Codex.

How To Make Sure You’re Not Using A Shady WordPress Theme

WordPress is fast becoming the most popular website content management system. It is popular because it is user-friendly and relatively inexpensive. In fact, there are many free WordPress themes. Unfortunately, some of these WordPress themes could have some very negative effects on your website and your web presence.

Top Three Shady WordPress Theme Practices

Static links pointing to suspicious websites

Not all static links (or embedded links) in WordPress themes are bad. Usually, embedded links are just links that acknowledge the developer of the theme. As long as the links are decent, and granted that the theme user is informed that the links will be displayed on their site, then they might be alright.

However, in some instances, the embedded links may be going to spammy websites. When links point to casino sites, online pharmacies or some shady biz-op products, all without the site owner’s knowledge, then unfortunately you have a WordPress theme you should not be using. Search engines will not reward your site and its links to the dark side of the internet, and you may actually be penalized for it even if you’re an unwitting participant.

Theme-locking

Some links and code blocks in shady WordPress themes are “locked” with JavaScript and/or PHP code. Removing these links or code blocks will make the entire WordPress site go blank, displacing your content with a message telling you that you need to put the links/code blocks back in place to be able to remove the message from your site.

Encrypted code

Encrypted code is a term in the WordPress community for code snippets that are purposely being hidden from the user of the theme. The intent of encrypted code is to hide portions of the theme’s source code and to make these portions difficult to remove. Encrypted code can do a variety of things, such as generating links to third-party sites and interfering with the user experience.

Why are these theme developers using these shady practices?

Some companies go out of their way to include harmful elements in their WordPress themes. Why would they do this? You might ask. Because WordPress themes are a great online marketing tool.

The market for themes keeps growing year over year. It’s been reported that nearly 20 percent of all sites are built with WordPress. And, at one point, all those site owners will go out looking for nice themes. The way some people capitalize on this opportunity is by creating a great-looking WordPress theme and then including hidden links and obfuscated code in the theme. Imagine what their reach could be like if they get even a few hundred domains installing their theme.

How to make sure you’re using a trustworthy theme

The best option is to use a theme obtained from a reputable source and created by a trustworthy theme developer, both of which can significantly reduce the potential of these shady practices being employed. If you are using a free theme, it’s also a very good idea to have a consultant review your site to make sure you’re using a trustworthy theme. Call Connect4 Consulting at 202-236-2968 for help.

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.

 

WordPress Keyboard Shortcuts for WordPress Users

WordPress keyboard shortcuts let you access frequently used features with a keystroke, and with your fingers never leaving the keyboard to use the mouse on your computer, saving time and increasing productivity. On a Windows computer:

  • Ctrl + A = Highlight All
  • Ctrl + C = Copy
  • Ctrl + V = Paste
  • Ctrl + P = Print
  • Alt + Tab = Cycle through open Windows
  • Ctrl + Tab = Cycle through open browser tabs

The same types of wordpress keyboard shortcuts are available within the WordPress Editor:

Mac PC
SHIFT + OPTION + B ALT + SHIFT + B Bold
SHIFT + OPTION + I ALT + SHIFT + I Italic
SHIFT + OPTION + L ALT + SHIFT + L Align left
SHIFT + OPTION + C ALT + SHIFT + C Align center
SHIFT + OPTION + R ALT + SHIFT + R Align right
SHIFT + OPTION + A ALT + SHIFT + A Insert link
SHIFT + OPTION + S ALT + SHIFT + S Remove link
SHIFT + OPTION + M ALT + SHIFT + M Insert image
SHIFT + OPTION + T ALT + SHIFT + T Insert “more” tag
SHIFT + OPTION + P ALT + SHIFT + P Insert “page break” tag
SHIFT + OPTION + J ALT + SHIFT + J Justify text
SHIFT + OPTION + O ALT + SHIFT + O Numbered list
SHIFT + OPTION + U ALT + SHIFT + U Bulleted list
SHIFT + OPTION + Q ALT + SHIFT + Q Blockquote
COMMAND + C CTRL + C Copy
COMMAND + V CTRL + V Paste
COMMAND + A CTRL + A Select all
COMMAND + X CTRL + X Cut
COMMAND + Z CTRL + Z Undo
COMMAND + Y CTRL + Y Redo