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Integrate Images from Your Instagram Feed to Your WordPress Site

Instagram has become one of the best apps and web platforms for photo and video sharing. If you have a WordPress site, you might be wondering how you can embed Instagram photo galleries and integrate images to your blog.

To help users integrate their photos to their blogs and websites, Instagram has released a public Application Programming Interface (API).

It is a seamless software-to-software interface which specifies how some software components should interact with each other without user involvement during the passing of information.

If you are not a developer, this might scare you and you might think that integrating Instagram photos and videos on your WordPress site is a rocket science.

Worry no more. This article will serve as a guide for both beginners and advance WordPress users on how you can integrate Instagram to the WordPress site using the Enjoy Instagram WordPress plugin.

Resource You Need to Complete This Tutorial

STEP 1 – Installing the Enjoy Instagram WordPress Plugin

To start off, install the Enjoy Instagram Plugin. To do this go to Plugins ->Add New and search for “Enjoy Instagram” WordPress plugin.

install

Next, click the “Install” button and afterwards the “Activate” button to activate the plugin.

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STEP 2 – Registering Application Using Instagram API

Now that you already installed the “Enjoy Instagram” plugin, register a new application on Instagram to be able to use its API.

To do this, first login to your Instagram account and then go to this URL: http://instagram.com/developer/

register

Next, click the “Register Your Application” button. You will be prompted to the “Developer Signup” screen.

Now go ahead and fill up the fields with your WordPress site domain, your phone number and your reason for creating the API.

Don’t forget to accept API Terms of Use and Brand Guidelines by clicking on the check box below the fields before clicking on the “Sign Up” button.

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STEP 3 – Registering a New Client

Now that you have registered your API, create a new client to get the API Client ID and Client Secret ID.

To do this go ahead and access this URL again: http://instagram.com/developer/

Click on “Register Your Application” button again.

register

Next, click on the “Register a New Client” button on the top right side of the screen.

register-a-new-client

You will be prompted with the “Register a New Client ID” screen. Fill up the form needed to continue and enter the Captcha details before clicking the “Register” button.

register-a-new-client

Note: You can get the OAuth redirect_uri by going into the plugin settings page on your WordPress Admin panel.

To do this, just go to Settings->Enjoy Instagram and you can copy the OAuth redirect_uri provided for your site.

settings

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After clicking the button, you’ll be redirected to the “Manage Clients” page which will contain your Client ID and Client Secret ID for your WordPress Site.

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STEP 4 – Copying Client ID and Client Secret ID to the WP Site

Now that you have already gotten both Client ID and Client Secret ID, it’s time to paste then on the Enjoy Instagram settings page.

To do this, from the “Manage Client” page on Instagram, copy the Client ID and Client Secret ID and paste it to the form where it says “Enter your Client ID and Client Secret ID”.

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Finally click the “Authorize Application” button to save it. You will be redirected to the Instagram’s API access request page. Click “Authorize” button to continue.

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After all these steps, you will be then redirected on the plugins success page on your WordPress site, indicating that your Instagram profile has been successfully integrated.

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STEP 5 – Creating Widgets to Display Instagram Photos on the WP Site

OK, great! You’ve successfully configured the API for Instagram. The next thing to do is display the Instagram photos on the sidebar with the use of widgets.

To do this, go to Appearance ->Widgets. Add the “Enjoy Instagram Grid Widgets” on the main sidebar and configure it to your preferred settings.

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Now, if you are going to check on the front page, you’ll see that your Instagram’s photos are already displaying on the sidebar of your site.

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Additional Option: Displaying Instagram Photos via Hashtags

If you prefer to display photos using hashtags instead of your own photos, you can navigate on the Enjoy Instagram settings page under “Settings” tab. Just click on the hashtag radio button and enter the hashtag you prefer.

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Note: Don’t forget also to click on the hashtag radio button on the the “Enjoy Instagram Grid Widgets” when adding it on the sidebar.

Conclusion

Enjoy Instagram is a flexible Instagram plugin that lets you display your images in a grid or a carousel. What is more great about this plugin, aside from the hashtag additional option, it is also optimized for mobile devices which offers touch support to mobile users .

What tools do you use to easily display Instagram images on your website? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Marks of Creativity: Reasons Why You Must Own a WordPress Blog

Almost everyday, thousands and thousands of bloggers busy creating, writing and publishing their own set of creative juices over the Net. It is now becoming a fad to the web industry. Blogging, or having your own WordPress blog, can be all about fun and freedom; it has become a helpful tool and served many purposes.

  • It helps an individual inspire to live a good life.
  • It helps an individual create a sense of branding or identity.
  • It helps an individual understand the little spice about the day-to-day ups and downs.
  • It promotes business.
  • It is changing the face of public relations and advertising.

What is a “blog”?

blog

“Blog” is short for weblog. This is a term used to describe websites that maintain continuous mainstream of information and ideas. A blog features daily “diary” commentaries and may have links to articles of other websites.

Tips you need to know before you start blogging:

  • Define the blog’s purpose
  • Learn to encourage reader response
  • Know the pros and cons of a blog design
  • Learn how to build a blog
  • Learn more about writing catchy and interesting content
  • Develop your blog writing voice and style
  • Know some tips on writing with keywords and search terms
  • Understand how to dealing with comment spam and destructive comments
  • Explore new SEO techniques
  • Learn some tips to prevent blog burnout
  • Learn about the rights of a blogger
  • Tips on online social networking and interaction.
  • Learn how to respond to copyright violations.

6 Reasons Why Everyone Should Have a WordPress Blog

Does this question tickle your curiosity? If yes, then you’re at the right place and time.

In this article, you will learn why you should you have a WP blog. The icing on the cake about WP  blogging is that it is easy to use and flexible enough for just about anything.

This is one of the reasons why most people around the globe have their blogs in WordPress. Based on a survey, WordPress powers 22.5% of all websites on the Internet.

A WP blog is a must for everyone

  • It is highly customizable

WP directly meets the demands of numerous users. It allows everyone to create and modify layouts and applications. Infused with some user-generated extensions, a website is no longer limited by extensions.

WordPress themes are easy to customize because the platform has an options panel that can modify every element of the blog site without writing any code at all.

  • It can handle different media types

Being not limited to encoding text, it comes with a built-in support to cater images, audio, and video content. A WordPress blog is content-rich because it supports embed-enabled websites. It has the ability to put URLs from sites such as YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

  • It has lower setup and maintenance cost

low

Customization is cheap and the maintenance cost is less compared to other open-sourced CMS. Static websites can have instances of locking down and it will cost a lot of money just to tweak them after initial development.

  • It’s open-sourced with room for expansion

There’s no cost involved in downloading, installing, and upgrading. WordPress can be self-hosted. There are more than 20,000 WordPress plugins readily available to be installed. Moreover, it has an easy website backup & restore functions.

  • It is search engine-friendly

user friendly

Of course, everyone wants a blog that is search engine- friendly. WordPress uses standard and high quality code and makes semantic markup, which makes your site very attractive to search engines. Talking about design, WordPress is SEO-friendly too.

  • It is accessible to everybody

WordPress was developed for non-tech savvy bloggers. Most of the user-interface attributes are user-friendly. Written and recorded manuals are available to gauge individuals how to use WordPress.

Why WordPress Is Better Than Joomla and Drupal

According to WordPress, there are different types of blogs, some of the categories are popular ones.

Here are some points why WordPress is better among others.

  • WordPress has been around since 2003.
  • It has the most sought-after tools for most bloggers.
  • It has an extraordinary features which others generally don’t have.
  • It has also become the content management software of choice by most non-blogging websites.

Support

support

Considering the support system, there is nothing you can ask for. It has WordPress support forums that answer every single possible question an individual could have.

Drupal, on the other hand, is far behind  WordPress when efficiency is concerned . It has a good support system, yes, still, the availability of modules to convert the system is little.

Joomla has a relatively low support for add-on development.

Usability

With every update that WordPress pushes out, the dashboard, editor and overall CMS all get even better. If you want to build a user-friendly content management system, WordPress makes adding content as easy as using a simple rich text editor.

On the other hand, Joomla is still not user-friendly enough for everyone to understand. Many users, beginners especially, are terrified by Joomla’s multitude of possibilities and functions.

For Drupal, user interface is difficult to familiarize with, especially for non-developers.

Search Engine Friendliness (SEF)

WordPress is so SEF-friendly that no other platform will allow the individual to install, host, design and customize an SEO-friendly website for under a few hundred dollars. Basics are included automatically and more control can be achieved through plugins.

Sad to say, Joomla needs a work-out to be search engine-friendly. If you want to incorporate additional meta tags, configuration will not be so easy and complete but you can still extend it by installing some necessary modules.

For Drupal, most of its attributes can be configured but most of it must be done manually for each page. It is time-consuming.

Options

Bookshelf

When it comes to options, WordPress provides multitude of options no matter what the business objectives, level of involvement or budgetary constraints are.

In Joomla, moderate control over most aspects of layouts is highly needed but some content cannot be modified or filtered.

With regards to options for Drupal, the script is not very user-friendly; it requires advanced knowledge to install and modify.

Customization/Design

Who wants limitless designs and modifications? WordPress offers thousands of themes and plugins. Just choose and feel free to customize the design and functionality of your WordPress website. It is incredibly easy.

On the contrary Joomla, it has some frustrating compatibility issues that may occur between some of the plugins. It is impossible to get some functionalities without some serious work on the PHP coding.

In the case of Drupal, it can be extended to do anything but it will require a lot of time to implement all features. It has access to all HTML elements for customization but takes a bit longer to theme them completely. If you’re used to older systems, getting used to this script will take some time.

Why Abandon Blogspot and Go for WordPress

abandon

Although there are many widgets available on Blogger, there are features that are not quite the same with WordPress. This means there are less options for customization. In addition, the Blogspot dashboard is not as intuitive as WordPress, though.

However, there is a huge community of helpful WordPress developers who continuously develop different plugins to enable more functionality on the blog.

Low Key Points of Blogspot:

  • Poor themes and designs
  • Hard to customize
  • Poor networking

toolkit

Blogging Tools

Blogging will never be the same again with the help of these amazing blogging tools. Let loose. Try some :

Blog Out

WP blogging can change an individual’s way of life . But it really depends upon what an individual wants to do. But if someone is craving for interaction and wants effort contribution on a day to day basis then consider WP blogging. It’s worth the choice. How about you?

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The Ultimate Guide to Podcasting Using WordPress

Podcasting has been popular for some time now, especially among the techies. You may have read a lot of articles on how to start a blog, but how can you take advantage of your WordPress blog to convert it and try to start podcasting? Here’s your must-read guide to podcasting using WordPress.

Now that things are beginning to be put online, it’s becoming hard to imagine how and why some companies and individuals are not uploading anything on the Internet.

Podcasts are online audio and video content delivered to users via Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds.

There are still more ways to make use of podcasts these days. You can now take advantage of this technology in either of the following ways:

  • Self-Guided Tours
  • Playing Music
  • Airing Talk Shows
  • Training
  • Storytelling

Now, one of the many benefits podcasting offers is that listeners can play this content wherever and whenever they want.

Because of the popularity of podcasting, it has turned journalists into bloggers, and radio personalities into podcasters.

In addition, WordPress has been opened as an avenue not only for blogging but for e-commerce and podcasting as well. It is very easy for a blogger to both perform blogging and podcasting activities.

focus

Things to Prepare

  1. WordPress Site
  2. Audio Player Plugin
  3. FeedBurner
  4. iTunes account
  5. Image Artwork (1400×1400 px)
  6. (Optional) S3 Amazon or Libsyn podcast account

*Disclaimer: This is the least costly method I know that will help you spark up your podcasts. Mostly, these are free services with the exception of your podcast host accounts (in S3 Amazon or Libsyn) and probably, your WordPress site. I’m also assuming that you already know how to start a WordPress site. If you happen to have no idea at all about this, click here.

Let’s start!

Preparing Your WordPress Site:

Let’s face it. Not everybody owns an iPhone, iPad, iPod. Not everybody even has iTunes installed in their computers. Having said that, it’s safer that you resort to hosting your podcasts in a platform that can be available to everyone.

Good thing, WordPress is the perfect fit for that. WordPress has been a potent tool in sharing content. Its uses extend from simple text-based information to rich and dynamic data such as audio and video.  Plus, with the variety of plugins and tutorials about WordPress out there, setting up everything and troubleshooting them is a cake-walk.

To prepare your WordPress site for podcasting, simply create a category by logging in to your account. Hover on “Posts” and a submenu appears. Click on “Categories” then add a new category named “Podcasts”.

You would also want to leave the “Parent” field to none. To finish everything, click on “Add New Category”.

Now that you already created a category, you will post all your podcasts under this one. The links to your podcasts from now on will be filed under: http://yoursitename.com/category/podcasts. Just take note of this.

Next thing you would want to do is to upload your audio files. Now you have a few options to do that.

Using a Plugin

  • Go to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.

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  • Click on “Plugins” then, “Add New”

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  • Key the phrase “Audio Player” in the search box and install the plugin created by Martin Laine.

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  • Activate it.

*You also have the option to download the plugin to your computer and install it by yourself.

Other Plugin Options:

Using the Audio Shortcode

You can add a link from your website to a file from another site. You just have to link it to the WordPress audio shortcode ([ audio <space> link]).

You can upload files to your blog’s Media Library and be able to edit, add, or remove the Title, Artist, Caption and Description of the File. If you want to insert it in a post, be sure to select the option called “Embed Media Player” and then click the “Insert into Post” button. It will insert the Audio Shortcode.

Aside from this, you can also create playlists using your Media Library. Using several files that you have uploaded into your server, you can put together a list of podcasts that you want to play. You can even play them on your sidebars.

  • Add files to your playlist. (.mp3)

b

  • Once your files are uploaded, a “Create Audio Playlist” tab will be visible in the “Add Media Window”.

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  • You can choose which tracks to include and insert in the post.

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  • Click on “Create a New Playlist” and you will be taken to the “Edit Audio Playlist” menu where you can drag tracks to reorder them. You can also include details in your Playlist Settings , remove or include Tracklists, Artists, Names and Images.

Embedding the Podcast/Playlist on Your Sidebar

  1. From your WordPress Dashboard, hover on the “Appearance” tab.
  2. Click on “Widgets.”
  3. Drag the “Music Player Widget” to your desired sidebar.
  4. Click on the link to upload or choose your media.

Create a Download Link

Another option is to create a download link that will require you readers to download the file to their computers and play it there. This is easier, especially if you are too conscious of the file size of your podcast, but you also need to adhere to copyright laws.

Now that you have already uploaded your podcasts on your blog, they are now ready to be published.

Submitting Your Site to FeedBurner

A feedburner stands between your blog and iTunes. Being able to publish feeds is pertinent because it gives you options to easily migrate to other websites.

According to Google,

Feeds are a way for websites large and small to distribute their content well beyond just visitors using browsers. Feeds permit subscription to regular updates, delivered automatically via a web portal, news reader, or in some cases good old email. Feeds also make it possible for site content to be packaged into “widgets,” “gadgets,” mobile devices, and other bite-sized technologies that make it possible to display blogs, podcasts, and major news/sports/weather/whatever headlines just about anywhere.

That being said, you will be needing a feedburner URL. To do that, go to feedburner.com. For this link, you will be needing a Gmail account.

Google has centralized all services you need, so, having a Gmail account will be advantageous. You will eventually need it to use Analytics, WebMaster tools, AdWords, AdSense, YouTube, and, of course, FeedBurner.

After signing in, you will see a welcome message. Below this is an invitation to “Burn a feed right this instant.”

  • You will be needing your feed address there. (http://yoursite.com/category/podcasts)

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  • Paste it in the address and add “/feed” at the end of it. Check “I am a podcaster!”.
  • Click on “Next.” In the case that you receive an error, that means your XML file is invalid. You need to check your blog is public (check Privacy Settings). Remember, private blogs can’t be submitted to iTunes.

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  • Next, in the “Identify Feed Source” window, you need to select or confirm the appropriate feed. If you see other options, click on the one containing “category/podcasts/”.
  • Then, you need to review the feed article and address. You can always change or keep them. Click on “Next”.

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  • You will now be directed to the “Congrats” page. From there, you need to copy the feed address. (It begins with feeds.feedburner.com and ends with the title you confirmed.
  • Click the Next button.

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  • Afterwards, you need to tick on the check box next to “Include iTunes Podcasting Elements” in the “Configure Your Podcast” page.
  • You will also be asked to select the category and subcategory for this.
  • Click the Next button.
  • Next, you will be asked for the statistics tracking option. Click on “Next” afterwards.
  • You now have your feeds prepared for iTunes store.

Submitting Your Podcast to iTunes

Now that your post is ready and already published, it’s time to let the masses know. For this, you’ll be using the iTunes platform. As you remember, as mentioned earlier, that not everybody uses iTunes. Yes, that is true but iTunes is the most plausible of all the alternatives. If you really don’t like to distribute your work on iTunes, you have alternatives:

As said, iTunes will be the distributor for your podcasts. For this, you will be needing an account. iTunes may also require you to key in your credit card number. But don’t worry, it’s totally free.

Here are the steps:

  1. Go to Apple’s instructions on testing your feed and following them.
  2. Now that you confirmed that you can listen to your podcast using iTunes, submit your podcast.
  3. After submission, your podcast will be reviewed by the iTunes staff. That means your podcasts won’t be readily available.
  4. Once your podcasts are accepted, you will be able to get a link to distribute them through email or website linking.

Some notes on Files

  • Files can be hosted using your current server. It’s the easiest and least costly way to do so. However, when traffic increases, your server is prone to crashing and being permanently suspended.
  • Try using S3 Amazon or Libsyn

Bonus: Equipment You Can Use

To make your podcasts high-quality, you also need to invest in your equipment. Yes, content is all that matters, but bringing in the content in a better way possible is a game changer. Here are a few gadgets you may want to invest in.

Software:

Microphones

heil

rode

mxl

snowball-mic

Mixers and Audio Interfaces

multimix

mw12cx

Portables

zoom

Roland R-05

If you want to learn how to create podcasts, here are a few awesome people who could help you:

Here are some great podcasts for web designers and developers:

Conclusion

You are now ready to Podcast using your WordPress site! We here at 1stwebdesigner are happy to finally see how you roll on those podcasts. We hope that we have helped you in this. If you have some questions, feel free to ask.

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How to Find and Fix Broken Links in a Jiffy

If you are running a website, you will surely have put a lot of hard work to make it an important resource. However if you can’t fix the broken links, it can destroy all the hard work you did.

The problem of broken links can be lot worse with outbound links. You will not be getting notified with the change in your linked website. Therefore, you should have a daily check to see whether all of your links are still working.

Broken Links Can Be Very Harmful to Your Site in Two Ways:

  • Destroying user experience. When the users click on a link and find that it’s dead with a 404 error, they will get annoyed.
  • Bringing down the SEO effort. Broken links disturb the link equity flow on the site and makes negative impact on the rankings.

In order to prevent any of these, you need to check for the broken links on your entire site. If you are wondering how to prevent this, we have the solution for you!

Why Broken Links Are Bad?

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If you ask yourself why broken links should be checked and fixed, here are the answers:

  • Broken links make the impression that you don’t care about your own site. When the users get a 404 Page error, the only thing they think of is that you don’t care for the content on your website and the user experience.
  • Broken links can be very frustrating. Visitors may feel like disappointed when they are unable to find what they were looking for. Also, this will prevent you from getting new visitors on your site and blogs.
  • Fixing the broken links will give the impression that you are keeping your site fresh and alive. SEO will be more effective when you are regularly updating your site. This will signal the search engine sites that you are regularly maintaining the site.

Broken links can have a huge impact on your site’s SEO. If all the links on your site are working, it will make the site more accessible on the search engines. But if you don’t fix these links, your site will be rated negative on the search engine optimization.

How Do Links Become Broken?

There are many reasons to which a link may become broken:

  • The web page doesn’t exist there anymore.
  • The server that hosts the target page stops working.
  • There is blockage from content filters or firewalls.

How To Find The Broken Links?

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The good news is you don’t need to do anything to find broken links. Finding them is not something that you can do manually; however, you can fix them yourself!

Plenty of plugins are available that will check both internal and external links.

  • Internal links – The ones that point from your single web page to any other web page that is available on your site.
  • External links – Points to some other website and take your visitors away from your site for further reading.

Increase Your Blog Experience With Un-Broken Links

Fixing the broken links can be very helpful in increasing the experience of your blog. If you are using some plugin to check the links that are broken, you will stay ahead of everyone.

You may think to just remove the old content, but, if you can simply update it using plugins, then, you will make sure that your site is liked by everyone.

By updating you broken links, you are making your place in the SEO results. A good approach is to check on the links that are linked externally from your site. Keeping them updated will help you to increase your site’s experience and bring more traffic to your blog and websites.

Improve Your SEO By Fixing Broken Links!

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Search engines are becoming smarter now; they only promote the pages in their results that are liked by users. Broken links are counted as bad experience by the visitors which can have an effect on the SEO. If there is a page with lots of broken links, it is more likely to get a negative rating from the search engines such as the Google.

The 301 redirect

The most SEO-friendly way to redirect the broken links is the 301 redirect.

The 301 redirect lets the search engine know that following page has been moved to some other location. This will help you pass the SEO properties for old pages all the way to new pages.

In order to put the 301 redirect in place, you will need to have the access to the .HTACCESS file that is located on your website server. However, this will only work for the links that point to the pages on your website that have moved locations.

In today’s post, we are featuring some useful plugins that will help you to check for the broken links on your site. Also, you will get some SEO tips to get rid of the broken links on your site in a fast and easy way. Let’s start then!

Here are some useful plugin that we have compiled for you to check the broken links:

1. Xenu’s Link Sleuth

xenu1

Image from Online Marketing News

Xenu’s Link Sleuth is a free plugin for Windows that scans the entire site for find the broken links. You only have to provide a URL and it will do the rest for you. This plugin runs the complete scan to check for:

  • Broken links
  • Images
  • Frames
  • Backgrounds
  • Stylesheets
  • Scripts

Besides finding broken links, Xenu can also be helpful in finding duplicate content, missing alt text, page depth, site structure, etc.

2. Screaming Frog

screaming-frog1

Image from Screaming Frog

This plugin is available for PC, Mac, or Linux. It can be installed easily. It is similar to Xenu; you will need to give a URL and the plugin will scan the entire site for you. Screaming Frog is meant for site optimization, and goes in depth for page elements like heading tags and the likes. You will be reported on the following:

  • Client and server errors
  • External links
  • Duplicate Pages
  • Page depth level
  • Anchor text

The plugin can be downloaded for free but, the free version has a limit of 500 URLs. Also, the lite version doesn’t give you full access to configuration. You can purchase the full version for £99 per year, which removes all the restrictions.

3. W3C Link Checker

w3c

Image from Flickr

W3C is another useful plugin to check any of the broken links on your websites. Also, it provides recommendations based on the results that are detected.

You have to set a limit of how deep the search should be made or else, it will keep on going. Link checker will look for the issues related to:

  • Broken links
  • Anchor and referenced objects in a web page
  • CSS stylesheet
  • Page depth

You can download the plugin and run on your computer to checkout on all the broken links that are in your site.

When choosing the best plugin among these will depend on your needs.

  • How much complex is your website?
  • Why do you want to check the broken links?
  • How frequently will you run the scan?

Once you know the answer to these questions, you will easily select the best plugin that you can use for checking the broken links on your site.

Conclusion

Everyone can get frustrated when they are going deep for an article on a news story and find that the link to further material is broken.

This post is meant to teach you the importance of broken links and how to find them through different plugins. We also share how important the links are for improving ranking on the SEO charts. We hope that you found the post useful. Please share it with others as well. If you like to add something, comment in the below section.

 

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What You Should Tweak in Your WordPress Theme Options Page (But Forgot)

Every website or blog needs some modification in its theme. Only then can you make your blog to stand out from the crowd and bring traffic to it.

WordPress theme options page is a custom admin page that allow users to change theme settings without modifying the theme files. These theme option pages can be simple or have lots of customization split into either tabs or multiple pages.

Theme options are good for majority of the users; however, these options do have a tendency to confuse things on the development side. So if you are a WordPress site developer, here are some of the options that you should be including in your WordPress theme page option. Moreover, the article explains why you should include these features in the WP theme options page.

Avada is the best selling theme on ThemeForest, we are using it as example in this article. We have covered the most important options below. For further information, you can also check complete documentation here.

General Options

Responsive Option

General Options will let people control the look of their site. There are three main sections in this option: Responsive Options, Favicon Options, and Tracking Options

  • Responsive Option – needed to make your website design layout responsive or fixed. Responsive design will adjust your website on different devices, whereas fixed layout is for users who want to display the site in fixed width.
  • Favicon Option – needed to associate an icon with your website URL that represents your website’s favicon.
  • Tracking Option – adds a track code into the footer template of your theme that allows people to use services like Google Analytics, among others.

Header Options

Header Option

The Header Option lets users customize everything above the content area, including the menu. It has three main sections: Header Content Options, Header Background Options, and Header Social Icon Options.

  • Header Content Option – needed to change header design, slider position, transparent header and website’s logo, etc.
  • Header Background Option – required for inserting background image in header. Users can choose various options like, repeat and even modify the heading top and bottom padding.
  • Header Social Icon Option – needed for customizing the social icons that are displayed in header.

Footer Options

Footer Option

The Footer Options help in customizing the different areas of website footer. The footer tab has two sections: Footer Widget Options and Footer Copyright Option.

  • Footer Widget Area Option – needed if you want to set number of footer columns. This option will let you insert an image URL for footer widget area background.
  • Copyright Area Option – useful for displaying copyright text in footer. This option will also will also help you in displaying social icon on footer of page (if you want).

Background Options

Background Option

The Background Options will let you change background for box and wide mode layout.

  • Background Option for Boxed Mode – needed for changing the background colors and pattern. This option is also recommended to change the background image and how the image repeats.

Typography Options

Typography Option

The Typography Options let you to customize fonts. There are five sections in it: Custom Font for the Navigation Menu and Headings, Google Fonts, Standards, Font Sizes and Font Line Heights.

  • Custom Fonts – needed to use custom fonts instead of Google and Standard fonts.
  • Google Fonts – integrating Google Fonts lets the user choose fonts for body, menu, headings, and footer headings for Google Font directory.
  • Font Size – needed to change font sizes for different areas of the theme page including sidebar widget, footer widget and copyright font size etc.
  • Font Line Height – allows setting font line for body and heading of theme page.

Styling Options

Styling Option

The Styling Options are needed to customize the colors of your website. This option has five sections: Background Colors, Element Colors, Element Options, Font Colors, and Menu Colors.

  • Background Color Option – needed to modify colors for several page items including header, content, footer and copyright, etc.
  • Element Colors Option – lets user control the colors for button, sliding bar, footer widget, form, blog grid and social share box, etc.
  • Element Option – used to disable button text shadow, sliding bar text shadow and footer text shadow.
  • Font Color Option – needed for controlling the text color of buttons, header tagline, heading, body, link, sliding bar, footer heading, and footer font color, etc.
  • Menu Color Option – gives you the complete control over colors for menu background, font and header.

Blog Options

The Blog Option can be good if you need to publish blog posts related to the content. It can also be used for customizing different blog aspects such as layout, sidebar, excerpts and date formats, etc.

  • General Blog Option – allows you to choose the title, layout, sidebar position, excerpt length and pagination, etc.
  • Blog Single Post Page Option – allows you to have a featured page with no sidebar and other distracting content.

Portfolio Options

Portfolio options enable user to customize different aspects of portfolio page, such as the number of items per page, sidebar, excerpts and more.

Social Media

Social Media

Social media options can help if you want to display the social icons on your site. These will help grow your social presence; also, they will add to your network marketing efforts.

Contact Page Options

Contact Form

Most people use custom contact form plugins, but having a built-in option can be helpful for non-techie individuals. These options let you customize the contact page on your blog. This option has two sections: Google Map Options and Recaptcha Spam Options.

  • Google Map Option – added if you want to show a Google map, and having direction to your business address. This option also allows you to set the width and height of  the map.
  • ReCaptcha Spam Option – helpful for securing your blog or a website with public and private ReCaptcha.

Sidebar Options

Sidebar options are needed for customizing the width of the content area and sidebar. This option is also needed if you want to choose sidebar background colors to match your content.

Custom CSS Options

Custom CSS option will be needed if user wants to overwrite or add new CSS properties to the theme. The HTML themes cannot be modified; however, custom CSS provides the power to create a custom design.

Conclusion

Every popular WordPress Theme has a powerful options panel. It offers a great way for customizing the page that can be managed and understood easily. Many users don’t know what a CSS is but, they can easily use these options to change colors, headings, fonts, and more.

Any developer who is creating a website or a blog on WordPress should consider these options for the theme option page. Which of these options have you included in your theme option page? Please share your thoughts in the below comment section.

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Light Your Posts: How to Create Featured Posts Section in WordPress

WordPress is a very powerful CMS. What is great about this is that it can be customized to the way you want it to be. You can add features and edit design and even create featured posts section in just a few minutes.

There are features that you can see on the widgets area to display like the categories, the latest posts and archive posts. But what if you want to highlight some posts to your readers on your site?

This is commonly known as “Featured Posts Content” or “Featured Posts Section“. It’s not a default feature that you can see on the WordPress “stock” installation. The good news is it can be added.

In this article,you are going to learn how you can add a Featured Section on your WordPress site.

Note: You will not focus on the design of the featured section here. Instead, you will be focusing on the implementation side of this tutorial. But please feel free to edit the CSS and customize the design the way you want it to be.

Resources You Need to Complete This Tutorial:

What You Are Going to Build:

screenshot

[ DOWNLOAD THE FINAL VERSION ]

Getting Started

A simple dummy WP theme called Test-theme was used in this tutorial. It is consists of a series of WP template files (but not complete) just for the sake of displaying featured posts. You can download it here if you want or you can use any other theme to go along with this tutorial.

This tutorial will focus on following features:

  • Creating a meta box (checkbox) on pages/posts
  • Saving the meta box information
  • Displaying the Featured posts on the front page

Let’s start!

STEP 1 – Creating a Meta Box (Checkbox) on Pages/Posts

Open functions.php, and add the following function to register a checkbox meta box. This function will create and display a meta box on pages/posts edit screen in a form of check box.

function add_featured_meta_box($post){
$featured = get_post_meta($post->ID, '_featured-post', true);
echo "<label for='_featured-post'>".__('Feature this post?', 'foobar')."</label>";
echo "<input type='checkbox' name='featured-post' id='featured-post' value='1' ".checked(1, $featured)." />";
}

If users want to add posts to the Featured Section on the front page or any page, they can simply tick the check box. But for now, it won’t save the data yet since you did not add the function to save the data of the meta box.

feature-checkbox

STEP 2 – Saving the Meta Box Information

Once again open functions.php, and add the following snippets under the add_featured_meta_box function.

function save_featured_meta($post_id){
// Do validation here for post_type, nonces, autosave, etc...
if (isset($_REQUEST['featured-post']))
update_post_meta(esc_attr($post_id), '_featured-post', esc_attr($_REQUEST['featured-post']));
// I like using _ before my custom fields, so they are only editable within my form rather than the normal custom fields UI
}
add_action('save_post', 'save_featured_meta');

These codes will check if the featured-post was set. It will update or save the data to the database using the update_posts_meta function. This function will update value of an existing meta key (custom field) for the specified post.

The first thing this function will do is make sure that $meta_key already exists on $post_id. If it does not, add_post_meta($post_id, $meta_key, $meta_value) is called instead and its result is returned.

STEP 3 – Displaying the Featured Posts on the Front Page

Now for this part of the tutorial, you’re going to display the featured posts on the front page. To do this, copy the snippets below on your preferred WP template file and position.

In this tutorial, codes on the index.php file located at the sidebar have been added.

<h2>Featured Posts</h2>
<?php
  $args = array(
        'posts_per_page' => 5,
        'meta_key' => '_featured-post',
        'meta_value' => 1
	);
    $featured = new WP_Query($args);

if ($featured->have_posts()): while($featured->have_posts()): $featured->the_post(); ?>
<h3><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"> <?php the_title(); ?></a></h3>
<p class="details">By <a href="<?php the_author_posts() ?>"><?php the_author(); ?> </a> / On <?php echo get_the_date('F j, Y'); ?> / In <?php the_category(', '); ?></p>
<?php if (has_post_thumbnail()) : ?>

<figure> <a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"><?php the_post_thumbnail('', array('class' => 'box')); ?></a> </figure>
<p ><?php the_excerpt();?></p>
<?php
endif;
endwhile; else:
endif;
?>                       	

This code will simply parse the array of the number of featured posts to display, the ID and the value. Then using WP_Query, you will with the intricacies of a posts (or pages) request to a WordPress about our featured posts.

Finally, you will loop the featured posts on the sidebar and get the details like the title, permalink, author, excerpt and so on.

Note: CSS has been added on the dummy theme created; however, you can change it the way you want it to be.

If you are going to check the front page, you will get result similar to the image below.

featured-posts

Conclusion

Congrats! You have successfully created your very first featured posts section using WordPress meta box and some functions. If you are not comfortable doing all this, you can use a plugin like TSP Featured Posts and Featured Posts Widget.

I hope this tutorial will be useful for you. If you have any way other than this to display a featured posts section please share it with us on the comment section.

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Create Custom WordPress Shortcode and Make Your Site User-Friendly

As WordPress introduced the Shortcode API in Version 2.5, a large number of plugins were released to help users add content to posts and pages in a user-friendly way. Although there are five of them already, the need for more shortcodes still continues as more and more plugin and additions of features are being developed. By that, this article is about how to create custom WordPress shortcode.

Shortcodes allow users to add particular styles or features to a site without going to the codes. WordPress have five default shortcodes within the WordPress core, namely:

Understanding Shortcodes

Shortcode API is a simple set of functions for creating macro codes for use in post content. It helps developers to create special kind of content such as forms and content generators, which users can use to attach to a certain post or page.

It usually comes together with themes or plugins. By just inserting something inside square brackets, it will replace that content with some other kind of content, usually being driven by a series of PHP functions.

Shortcode usually comes with this simplest version:

[advertisement]

The Shortcode API makes it easy to create shortcodes that support attributes like this:

[advertisement height=”100” width=”100”]
This is an Add
[/advertisement]

Two Steps Involved in Creating a Shortcode

  1. Building the Primary Handler Function
  2. WordPress Hook for the Handler Function

Although there might be some instances that you need to go beyond these steps, these two are the essential steps to build a shortcode.

Let’s take a look how we can create a custom shortcode for the advertisement theme options created from a previous tutorial about how you can create a theme options.

STEP 1 – Building the Primary Handler Function

The primary handler function will handle all the details and content of the Shortcode. Open up your functions.php file and create the primary function.

function advertisement_1(){
  // Do something here
}

STEP 2 – Adding the Attributes

The name of our function is advertisement_1. Shortcode handlers are generally similar to WordPress filters: they accept parameters (attributes) and return a result (the shortcode output). For this part, add the $atts attribute.

function advertisement_1($atts){
  // Do something here
}

This is the most commonly used attribute which consists of an associative array of attributes or an empty string if no attributes are given.

There are two more parameters that can be passed to the Shortcode callback function:

  • $content – the enclosed content (if the shortcode is used in its enclosing form)
  • $tag – the shortcode tag, useful for shared callback functions

STEP 3 – Creating Shortcode Content

For this tutorial, you’re going to display the content of the theme option advertisement area from this previous tutorial.

There are two advertisements here, the 743 X 82 px and 268 X 268 px banner ads.

Looking into to the process of calling these theme options to the template files, you’ve got the following codes.

<?php $options = get_option( 'theme_settings' ); ?>
<?php echo $options['banner1']; ?>

Now, you need to call these inside your primary function and return the result. Use a variable $output to store the [banner1] option content, which is the 743 X 82 px banner ads content.

function advertisement_1($atts){
$options = get_option( 'theme_settings' );
$output = '<div>' . $options['banner1'] . '</div>';
return $output;
}

Note: As of PHP 5.3, it’s now possible to create an anonymous function but this is not recommended since anonymous functions can’t be removed later by plugins or themes.

For instance, when you distribute your theme, and another developer tries to customize or call it back via a child theme or plugin, it can’t be done. Changes made by an anonymous function is permanent and can’t be revised.

STEP 4 – WordPress Hook for the Primary Function

Next, you need to hook the primary function into the WordPress to associate the shortcode of your theme options. This can be done using the add_shortcode function. Check out the code below.

add_shortcode('advertisement_1', 'advertisement_1' );

The name of the shortcode is exactly the same as primary function for simplification but feel free to set your own name.

So by this time, if you use the [advertisement_1] shortcode the 743 X 82 px banner ads will be display anywhere according to the placement of the shortcode either in post or page.

banner1

Applying the Same Steps on Advertisement 2

It’s actually easy to apply all of these steps on the 2nd banner, which is the 268 X 268 px banner ad. Check out the code below.

function advertisement_2($atts){
$options = get_option( 'theme_settings' );
$output = '<div>' . $options['banner2'] . '</div>';
return $output;
}
add_shortcode('advertisement_2', 'advertisement_2' );

Notice that you have the same set of codes except for the name of the primary function and name of the shortcode inside the hook. You also use the [‘banner2’] option to refer to the 2nd banner and then simply return it using the $output variable.

banner2

Wrapping Up

Congratulations! You just learned how to create a custom shortcode using the theme options elements. I hope you found this tutorial helpful.

If you have any questions or comments or you have other ideas on this topic, feel free to drop a line in the comment section.

Enjoy coding! Don’t forget to subscribe on our newsletter below.

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Aim High! Construct Your SEO Friendly WordPress Site

WordPress is one of the easiest to optimize CMS for SEO. Although WordPress sites have the highest possibility of getting ranked on search engines, it doesn’t mean that you should not optimize or work on your SEO friendly WordPress site.

If you are like the many users around the world believing that your default installation of WordPress will get your site on the top of the search engine ranking, you believe the wrong thing.

Just like the other sites on the Web, you really need to do something to make it SEO-friendly.

That being said, it’s not that hard to make your WordPress site SEO-friendly. With a lot of themes, plugins, tricks and conventions on the Web, you can definitely do it in a little amount of time.

Whether you are a serious WordPress publisher with specific goal on the Web or just planning to start a blog, this article is for you. This article will be a guide on how you can build your WordPress SEO-friendly site.

I. SEO-Friendly WordPress Themes

How the site was built have a greater factor on the SEO. When choosing a WordPress theme, it is important to pick an SEO-ready theme.

But the how do you know if a Theme is SEO Friendly?

SEO friendly” has been used as a sales term for a long time on the Web; however, if you are not developer or SEO, it is difficult to determine which one is the real SEO-friendly theme.

Since the SEO (Search Engine Optimizer) is the one who is responsible for checking the on and off-page SEO, it is really important to let SEO check the theme first before buying it. Of course, it won’t be for free.

However, there are WordPress SEO publishers who already reviewed some the best WordPress themes for free. As a matter of fact, they also created a guideline for SEO-friendly theme.

You can check SEO Yoast for more details.

Genesis Themes

Genesis+WordPress

According to Yoast, Genesis Themes are one of the best SEO-friendly themes that you pick from. Genesis WordPress theme framework is being used by some of the known pro-bloggers today, whose sites are ranking well on search engines. Genesis is coded carefully and follows all the schema markups which are essential parts of SEO.

You can get the Genesis Framework for $59 or you can choose the Genesis Pro Plus Package for just $399.95, which includes more than 60 SEO-friendly WordPress themes.

Check out their site for more information.

Some of the SEO Friendly Themes by Studiopress

The following are some of the Genesis Themes by Studiopress that are highly recommended by Yoast.

Agency

agency-screenshot

A professional agency theme with confidence and clarity design.

Key Features:

  • 5 color styles
  • Custom header
  • HTML5 Markup
  • 6 Layout Options
  • Custom Menus
  • Mobile Responsive
  • Custom Background
  • Featured Images
  • Theme Options

Magazine Pro Theme

screenshot-magazinepro

A magazine theme for online publishing with the up-to-the-minute, high-gloss look and feel.

Key Features:

  • 4 color styles
  • Custom Menus
  • Mobile Responsive
  • 6 Layout Options
  • Featured Images
  • Theme Options
  • Custom Header
  • Fixed Width

Winning Agent Theme

winning-agent

With this theme, you can build personal brand and look great in the process. Winning Agent is perfect for showing off your personality, your community and your real estate listings.

Key Features:

  • 4 Theme Colors
  • HTML5 Markup
  • Custom Header
  • Mobile Responsive
  • Footer Widgets
  • Theme Options

Tips in Picking an SEO-Friendly WordPress Theme

  • Page Loading Speed – A lot of WordPress themes come with a bunch of JavaScripts to make the theme attractive that results in a slow page loading speed. It’s important to check if the theme loads fast before purchasing it.
  • Responsive Design – Responsive designs have a greater factor of increasing traffics than the desktop only websites. It’s absolutely important in 2014 to use these themes.
  • User Experience and Site Architecture – Proper layout and placement of elements are also important factors to consider. If you will not consider user experience, you might lose a lot of visitors, especially now that Google is also checking the behavioral metrics on every site.
  • Social Compatibility – Using social media to connect on your site is also important. When articles are being shared on social media, there will be big traffic that will come to your site as the result.
  • Good Code Structure – A WordPress theme that is poorly coded will cause a lot of issues in the future. It will open doorways for hackers to invade the information on your site. It is best to ensure that your theme is properly coded with HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript’s and PHP.

II. Essential WordPress Plugins for SEO

When building WordPress sites, the default installation doesn’t come with a complete set of features (SEO, Backup, Google Analytics, etc).

WordPress plugins gives additional feature to your site. It will give you more options beyond the “stock” features of the default WordPress installation.

Listed below are 7 of the best WordPress Plugins that will help you optimize your site.

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

wordpress-SEO

This WordPress SEO plugin goes the extra mile to take care of all the technical optimization. It helps you write better content. WordPress SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere.

Key Features:

  • Title tags and meta descriptions
  • Sitemap Options
  • Bing Webmaster Tools
  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • Taxonomies
  • Social media SEO options

2. Google Analytics

Google-Analytics

When you have a website, you want to track how many visitors you have, where they come from, what they do on your site, measure your marketing and much, much more.

This plugin can do it for you. Adding Google Analytics to your website will inform you to focus on keywords when you’re writing your articles. It will make sure you use that focus keyword everywhere on your article.

Key Features:

  • SEO traffic sources (including keywords)
  • Geographic data
  • Measuring traffic sources
  • Technical data
  • Content Performance

3. Broken Link Checker

broken

This plugin will check your posts, comments and other content for broken links and missing images, and notify you if any are found.

Key Features:

  • Monitors links in your posts, pages, comments, the blogroll, and custom fields (optional)
  • Detects links that don’t work, missing images and redirects
  • Notifies you either via the Dashboard or by email
  • Prevents search engines from following broken links (optional)
  • You can search and filter links by URL, anchor text and so on
  • Highly configurable

4. W3 Total Cache

w3cache

This plugin is designed to improve user experience and page speed. Easy Web Performance Optimization (WPO) using caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support.

Key Features:

  • Cache settings
  • Option to minify code
  • Content delivery network settings
  • JavaScript grouping by template
  • Non-blocking JavaScript embedding

5. Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin

redirect

This plugin adds an option box to the edit section where you can specify the redirect location and type of redirect that you want, temporary, permanent, or meta.

Key Features:

  • Works with new WordPress menus
  • Works with new WordPress Custom Post Types (set option on settings page)
  • Rewrite the URL for the redirect so it takes the place of the default page URL (rewrite the href link)
  • Redirect Location can be to another WordPress page/post or any other website with an external URL
  • Import/Export of redirects for backup, or to bulk add redirects

6. Google XML Sitemaps

GoogleXML

This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to better index your blog.

Key Features:

  • Create an XML sitemap
  • Supports all kinds of WordPress generated pages
  • Notifies all major search engines every time you create a post about the new content

7. Google XML Sitemap for Videos

xml-video

This plugin will help you generate Google Video Sitemaps (XML) for your WordPress blog.

Key Features:

  • Generate an XML Sitemap for Video
  • Includes web pages which embed videos from YouTube

III. Ways to Make Your WordPress Site SEO-Friendly

1. URL Structure

Have you notice that default WordPress installation will generate url like this:
www.yoursite.com/?p=”13059″

This url will not make sense to humans nor to search engine web spiders.

A URL is meaningful to search engine. Making it readable will make a lot of sense to humans and search engines. A lot of WordPress users forgot to change this on the back-end. There is an option at the back-end under Settings->Permalink.

2. Titles and Descriptions

Titles are important factors of SEO. It tells readers what to expect on the rest of the content. Remember that the description is what search engine users will see once it comes up on the Google, Bing or Yahoo.

Always make sure that your title and description inspire users. Also, ensure that this is really the content of your page.

3. Header Tags

It’s also worth mentioning that H1, H2, H3 tags are good to your site’s SEO. By default, the title of your site will be wrapped in an H1 tag. This will inform the search engine robots to its importance to the page. But don’t overdo it.

4. Leverage Internal Linking

Internal linking is necessary because it helps your user to check related articles/posts on your site, thus, increasing traffic on your pages. Anchor tags (links) help Google to determine what your other pages are. A good example for this is Wikipedia.

5. Add Alt Text To All Your Images

Search engines can’t see pictures. They utilize the alt content to evaluate what the picture is. This will become handy if you’ll add what is the picture is all about. It will also give more indexes on your page and a chance of getting more visitors will increase.

6. Get the Proper Keyword

Keywords are essential part of any SEO campaign in fact these are the words search engine users search for.

If you’ve been wondering how you can start finding good keyword, you definitely heard about Google AdWords Keyword Planner where you can:

  • Search for keyword and ad group ideas
  • Get historical statistics
  • See how a list of keywords might perform
  • Create a new keyword list by multiplying several lists of keywords together

7. Integrate Social Media

Social media play a big role on search engines. Google and Bing now give more importance to the authority of the site on social media. Linking your site to different social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ will add more value to your site.

8. Write the Proper Content

Content is King

You might have heard this lot of times already but it will always be true. Search engines love good contents. Websites with good content rank good on search engines.

But how to write good contents and what are the factors?

Moz created a guide in 4 steps on how to create a good content that you can check on and might find helpful.

9. Maintain

SEO is not just a one-time process but a continuous process. As Google changes its algorithm continuously, you must also learn some new things and update your keywords as well. Learning from others is the best way to adapt to the changes. You might wanna follow the people or visit their sites:

Final Words

WordPress SEO is not that hard however it is a continuous process. These WordPress tips only scratch the surface. You might find a lot more plugins, themes and tips that can help your site rank well on search engine.

If you know some SEO tips you might have to offer to optimize WordPress, please feel free to share it with us on the comment section.

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