There are many thousands of WordPress plugins you can use for free, and there are also more you can buy for different purposes. According to WP Beginner, as of September 2012 there were more than 21,000 free plugins in the WordPress plugins repository! The question is; do you have to use all of them? You have probably seen a sidebar of a blog with a mile long list of awards and a multitude of links to other pages. Some people go as far as including hundreds of flashy widgets. If you are thinking of using several plugins, you should first learn why using too many of them will impact negatively on your readership.
They May Slow Down Your Website
This is, perhaps, the most annoying feature of using too many WordPress plugins. This slow down occurs because every plugin you use sends a server request when each of your readers loads the site. Imagine the effect of having fifty plugins when ten users are on your site. What about a hundred plugins with a thousand users? Do you really want your site to be that slow?
Some WordPress Plugins are not Secure
Just because a plugin works well does not mean that it is secure. Some plugins, especially the free ones, can be exploited by hackers who can then hack into your site. For example, users of some plugins such as WP Total Cache and WPTouch have been asked in the past to update their passwords after it was realized they were not secure. Since it is not always easy to know upfront which plugin is safe and which one is not, you will be doing a great deal of service to your site by installing only the minimum number necessary.
WordPress is the most popular Content Management System in the world, and a significant percentage of the sites on the Internet use it. That popularity is well-deserved, but it also makes WordPress an irresistible target for hackers who want to spread malware.
How to Tell if Your Site’s been Hacked
Sometimes it is obvious that your site has been hacked. Occasionally hackers will simply redirect the site to a different server, so that visitors to your domain end up at a site infected by malware, a site displaying advertising the hacker can profit from, or a porn site. But often hackers add malware or spam links to a site which they want to remain undetected for as long as possible. Having a hacked site can infect your visitors with malware, and it will almost certainly result in a huge hit to your SERP rankings, or even blocking by search engines, so it’s important to be vigilant. There are a number of tools available to webmasters to determine whether a site is vulnerable and whether it has been hacked.
The WP Security Scan extension won’t tell you whether your site has been hacked, but it will check for possible attack vectors and vulnerabilities, and offer suggestions for fixes. Of course, often the vulnerabilities will not be in WordPress itself, but in some other part of the software stack. The best way to ensure that there are no known exploits that hackers can use is to keep your software as up-to-date as possible.
Google’s Safe Browsing Diagnostic
Google has a service that enables webmasters to see whether they consider a site to be dangerous to visit. Copy the following URL into your browser address bar and replace the part following ‘?site=’ with your site’s URL.
Sucuri offers a free site scanning service that will catch major problems, and a paid for monitoring and cleanup service that can help if you are hacked.
Using these tools together can help you ensure that your site remains safe.
What Should You do If You’ve Been Hacked
Unless you are an experienced and expert developer or website administrator, cleaning a site with any level of confidence by yourself is almost impossible. Even if you think you have found all the malicious files and removed all the spam links, the files that make up WordPress itself may have been altered so that they reinfect a site after an attempted cleanup.
Contact your hosting provider and let them know you’ve been hacked. You might not be the only victim and the host provider’s sysadmins may already be taking action.
Securi, as mentioned above is an excellent tool, and it will attempt to auto-clean your WordPress installation. Should you choose not to use Securi, or hire a professional to clean your site, then the next best option is to delete the site and restore it from backups.
Hopefully, your site is hosted with a provider that offers a comprehensive backup service, in which case restoring the site to a previous version should be very simple. If not, we are going to assume that you have been making regular backups of your WordPress database.
Download a fresh install file from WordPress.org, to replace any files that may have been altered during the attack. Do not use the same passwords on the new install as you used on the hacked site.
After you have installed a fresh version of WordPress you can restore the WordPress database from a backup that you know to be clean.
Since you know that your site has been hacked once, and that there were vulnerabilities that malicious parties were able to exploit, if possible, it may be best to completely reinstall the server and restore from backups. At the least very scan the server with an anti-malware tool. If you are reasonably sure that the infection was limited to WordPress, then you should update all of your software to the most recent versions, to close vulnerabilities. If you’re using shared hosting your provider should take care of this for you.
If you haven’t been taking database backups, it may be possible that the WordPress database has not been breached, and that a fresh install of WordPress using the existing database is enough, but in that case be extra vigilant of alterations, follow the rest of the above advice, and start taking regular backups!
WordPress has become a favorite platform for many ecommerce sites: it’s easy to set up a sale button for an ebook or any other file in a matter of minutes. But while WordPress can be a decent ecommerce platform out of the box, there are ways to transform it into a great platform with some relatively simple tweaks.
Update Your WordPress — And Keep It Updated
The downside to using a well-known content management system for your site is that more people will be looking for security flaws to exploit. On the other hand, there are also more people working to resolve any security issues. Provided you keep your WordPress installation current, adding each new update as soon as it rolls out, there’s significantly less risk of something happening to your site. Considering that it only takes one malware issue to destroy any trust you’ve built with potential buyers — no one wants to run the risk of putting their payment information into a compromised site — keeping your site up to date and preventing potential security issues has to be a priority.
You can also prevent security issues by carefully vetting any plugins or themes you add to your site. Even if you aren’t able to evaluate the code on a line-by-line basis, do some research into the problems others may have encountered with anything you’re considering adding to your site. Personally, I have a preference for using premium themes and plugins that are well-known for the simple reason that I’m more likely to have support available.
Set Up Clear Permalinks
Built into the core WordPress settings are options to manage your permalinks. Make sure that you’re using links that aren’t just a bunch of numbers or dates, especially if you’re going to be sharing direct links to your sales page online anywhere. Direct links look more trustworthy to buyers, and they also help eliminate problems when people retype a link into their browser. During a longer sales process, you may be surprised by how many times exactly that will happen. In fact, it can be a good idea to have an individual domain that goes directly to your sales page, particularly if you have a lot of other content on your site.
Make Your Shopping Cart, Payment Processor and Everything Else Match
Depending on the themes and plugins you might use to set up different ecommerce elements on your site, you can wind up with a site that sends people off to far-flung parts of the internet to complete the sale. Even if they stay on your site, pages can wind up looking very different.
With only a few exceptions, though, you can make sure that each step of the purchasing process looks identical. Most payment processors will, at least, allow you to add your own logo to the page, if not add CSS styles or other elements to make offsite pages look the same as those that are actually on your site. The more times you ask a buyer to trust an entirely different website (particularly in terms of visual cues) the more likely that buyer is to stop the purchase process and close the window. You need to prevent that as much as possible.
The viability of WordPress (WP) as a blogging tool is non-existent without the existence of WordPress plugins. These are part of the features that enable bloggers to extend the abilities of their blogs beyond their base installs. Plugins are integral in the addition of widgets. They are also useful in undertaking SEO activities. Currently, WordPress boasts of 18,000 plugins in its database. The following are ten of the most popular WordPress plugins:
1) Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 allows web developers and bloggers alike to manage numerous contact forms. They can also undertake a customization of WP’s mail contents and form. This is usually a flexible process that involves the use of simple markups. Contact Form 7 supports CAPTCHA, Akismet-based spam filtering and Ajax-oriented submitting.
This plugin uses the cloud power from WordPress.com to supercharge self-hosted WordPress sites. It boasts of numerous features that comprise email subscriptions for comments and blog posts. It also allows users to submit comments via social networks. Jetpack comes embedded with widgets that display the most current tweets while commenters can benefit from Hovercard popups via Gravatar.
3) WordPress SEO
The Yoast-made plugin allows bloggers to preview the appearance of their posts in search results. As such, they can adjust certain features of their posts to their liking. These include the title and meta descriptions. WordPress SEO also analyzes the post to check for availability of images, subheadings, meta descriptions and alt tags among others. This enables bloggers to add anything that they may have forgotten.
Its packages do not end there; WordPress SEO also creates XML sitemaps automatically before sending a notification to various search engines. Bloggers can also increase their SEO rankings. This is usually possible through the addition of links to RSS feeds.
4) WordPress Importer
Thanks to WordPress Importer, bloggers or web developers can transfer content from WP export files. Examples of such content include comments, authors, post metas and custom fields. It is also possible to import pages, custom posts, tags and categories.
In today’s world, many people make use of WordPress for hosting a successful and useful site. However, depending on WordPress is just the beginning. You need to build a site that will actually work for readers or you will not keep those readers for very long. One of the mistakes that many people make is creating a site that has low or poor performance. This happens simply because they are making wrong choices when they build their site. Have you noticed that your own WordPress site seems to be slow to load, frustrating, and just plain hard to use? If so, then you need to go through a few steps to improve the performance of it.
Limit the Plugins
It may be your first reaction to choose a wide variety of plugins to a site simply because they can be useful, eye catching, and fun. However, as with anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad. When you use too many plugins, then you can actually slow your site down to the point that it can be slow loading and difficult to load. In order to improve the performance of your WordPress site, be sure that you are limiting your plugins on each of the pages. Some of the plugin options that can be major culprits in a slow site would include the following:
- Requiring HTML to resize images instead of resizing them by hand
Choose the Right Theme
One of the best ways to build a WordPress site that is high performing, fast loading, and easy to use is to choose from Premium WordPress templates that are designed to be streamlined. These themes are designed specifically for both performance and attractiveness of the site. Choose a theme that will help you limit the chances for performance busting features from the very beginning.
Google offers a content delivery network that can work with the JQuery library. This means that if users find your site through Google, their computer will most likely already have that JQuery information on their computer. This leads to a faster loading site. If you want your site to be high performance, then choose to use JQuery that comes from the Google content library.
WordPress is a very handy tool for website creation when you use it wisely. By taking the right steps and avoiding the right things, then you will be able to build a site that is higher in performance.