Posts by Greggor

How to safely change WP themes

WordPress is one of the most used content management systems out there. The one thing that makes WordPress so accessible is its ecosystem, including the themes and plugins available. As a user, you’ll find hundreds of free and paid themes. Ease of use also makes WordPress an excellent choice for building a blog or business website.

In this article, we will focus on the steps that are required to change the WordPress theme of your website safely. If you have used WordPress before, you might know how easy and intuitive it is to change a theme, but new users may not find it so straightforward – and one wrong change can lead to site malfunction. This article will also provide some useful information for more seasoned users.

Step 1: Selecting a fresh WordPress theme

Even though this step is obvious, it is important to tick off. Getting a new theme can be a challenging task for those who don’t know how and where to get it. If you are looking for a free alternative, a good starting point is to check the free WordPress themes collection via the WordPress official repository. For paid options, Themeforest is one of the best places to look, with a vast collection of themes.

Before you choose a theme, always ensure that the new themes have all the functionality you need and that it is compatible with your current setup. Changing to a theme that breaks the site’s functionality can lead to unwanted problems.

Step 2: Backing up your website

The next step is to backup your website. This step should never be ignored – especially if you have a website with a lot of visitors. Smaller sites can skip the step, but it is highly recommend not to.

If you want to use plugins, we recommend BackWPUp, which is completely free but also very effective.

Step 3: Clone your website

The next step is to clone your website for testing purposes. It is also known as a staging site where you test out changes before pushing them to the live server.

If you are using WPEngine or GoDaddy, you get a one-click staging option. Each hosting platform has its own way to activate staging. For example, if you are using WPEngine, you can login in the dashboard and find the “WP Engine” option on the sidebar. There you will see the Staging option. Click on the option, “Copy site from LIVE to STAGING”, and you’re good to go.

If you are using other hosting platforms, do check the hosting documentation on how to create a staging website. In case of confusion, always take the offer of support before making any changes.

Step 4: Installing and testing the new theme on the clone website

Now, it’s time to install the theme on your clone website. However, before you do so, ensure that logging is turned on. Here are some of the things you need to do to ensure that the new theme works as intended.

WP_DEBUG

WP_DEBUG can help you list the issues with your theme. To enable it, you need to add the following line of code in the wp-config.php file:

define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);

Plugins

Check whether all your previously installed plugins are working as intended. You may also want to install new plugins that you intend to use in future. This will ensure that the new theme is a perfect fit for your website.

Check on different browsers

Websites act differently on different browsers, so it’s always a good idea to test your staging website on popular browsers such as Chrome, FireFox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

Responsive/Mobile Check

Check whether the new theme is rendering correctly in mobile devices. (Go to “Customize” and you’ll see display options for a tablet and cell phone)

The checklist is not exhaustive, but you get the idea. In short, you need to make sure that the new theme works without breaking anything. Also, be sure to take your time while testing – there’s no need to be in a hurry and ruin everything. Take your time, and only move the staging website to the live site if you are 100% satisfied with the change.

Step 5: Installing the new theme on your live website

There are two ways you can install the new theme.You can move the staging website to the live site, but the simplest way is to install the new theme on your live website directly. When you do so, don’t forget to enable maintenance mode – this will let you make the changes without affecting user experience. Visitors, on the other hand, will also know ahead of time about the change.

Wrapping up

Changing a WordPress theme can be a trivial task, but it requires careful steps if you have a big website and don’t want to take risks. For a smaller site, the steps outlined in this article are also recommend as they will protect you from any malfunction later on. These five steps cover everything that you need to do to ensure that your new theme installation is as smooth as possible.

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WordPress SEO – Pages vs Posts

Both pages and posts are important for SEO, but is one more important than the other?

It turns out that, according to the Yoast blog, the category archives obtain higher rankings in search engines than separate pages or posts. The post and the page are equally perceived. But when the author publishes several articles on certain subject, its category will most probably take the top rankings in search engines.

So proper organization of your site’s content is extremely important. The categories and category pages should be properly arranged so that Google could share the information contained on your site with Internet users.

It becomes more and more challenging to outwit Google nowadays. The search ranking algorithms became more intelligent. So Google doesn’t buy into SEO optimization tricks. Organic search rankings is a priority nowadays so your task it to provide information to it. Proper organization of pages and posts makes your site clear for Google. It should know what it’s all about.

Category pages can be compared with landing pages.

It may seem strange that Google prefers blog categories pages to separate pages and posts.

However, it’s really so. And there are reasons for it.

Google gives preference to user intent and find-ability. The category pages show the right direction therefore they are more important.

The administrator of the site should care about the structure of the site to achieve better usability and findability. This is a common problem for many resources. The visitor comes to the site and doesn’t know how to find the product because the structure of the website isn’t clear.

This factor plays a very important role contributing to better SEO and search rankings.

It’s also important to remember about things enhancing search results such as their titles and descriptions.

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Updating WP, Why and How to

Updates include updating the WordPress core, themes and plugins installed on your website. Here are the reasons why:

SECURITY

If you don’t update your WP site, you’re leaving it susceptible to a hack attack. WordPress has a team offering security patches whenever there is a need for one.

SPEED

Some updates sent by developers help improve the speed of your website, so you’ll want to update wherever you can.

MORE FEATURES

Sometimes updates include expanded features, in order to add value to companies’ software.

BUG FIXING

Software gets updated to fix bugs that had yet to be fixed, so you’ll want to get updated on your themes and/or plugins so you don’t have any headaches caused thereby.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO UPDATE?

There are themes and plugins, but then there are also core files of WordPress. Without such files, your site wouldn’t function, so any update to the core is paramount.

HOW TO UPDATE WORDPRESS, ANYWAY?

A link’s almost always available under “Dashboard” -> “Updates”, but for core updates it can also be seen right under “WordPress Version” on the dashboard main page. (Make sure to backup everything beforehand, just in case something goes awry.)

AUTOMATING WORDPRESS UPDATES

It is possible for WordPress to update on its own, and doing so is very simple and easy – simply open your wp-config.php file and paste the following code:

define ( ‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’, true);

Automatic updates for themes and plugins are possible as well, and all you have to do is go to your activated theme’s functions.php file and paste the following code snippets:

add_filter ( ‘auto_update_plugin’, ‘__return_true’ );
add_filter ( ‘auto_update_theme’, ‘__return_true’ );
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Poor WordPress Security and Its Impacts

Many users are unaware of looming security threats, which leads to poorly maintained security and a lack of preparation. Here are the most common security threats WordPress users face and what they can do to combat them.

BOTS CAN DISRUPT YOUR ANALYTICS

By mimicking human-like mouse movements, cycling through random IP addresses, and switching their digital identities, bad bots fly under the radar, so they get away with a lot, from stealing data to publishing fake reviews.

Here are a few things to avoid them as much as possible:
. Rename your login page – this can be done with “All in One WP Security”
. Install “StopBadBots” and “Blackhole for Bad Bots” – these plugins work by “trapping” bad bots: if a bad bot tries to crawl your website, security measures are triggered and they end up with 403 “forbidden” errors.
. Use “Google Webmasters” to monitor any suspicious activity.

PEOPLE CAN STEAL YOUR ACCOUNT AND CREDENTIALS

Do you have an SSL? Does your website have a little lock icon next to your URL? If not, your info can be stolen by hijacking your connection between your PC and the server.

We can do this for you so you don’t have to pay a yearly fee – click <here> for more information.

OTHERS MIGHT RE-POST YOUR CONTENT

You want people to share your content, not copy and paste it; that’s because Google hates plagiarism. Two things to do here:
. Keep letting Google crawl your website and they’ll be able to tell your content’s original.
. If plagiarized, file a request with Google ASAP.

HACKERS MIGHT INJECT MALWARE

Besides installing a security plugin to avoid so-called “code injections”, simply keep your theme and plugins updated.

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WordPress Speed Testing

You need to find out if your site’s loading just fine or not – this is fairly simple to accomplish!

1. PINGDOM

Pingdom is very easy to use and yet extensively comprehensive. For beginners, the summary box provides some useful data such as load time (in seconds), page size, your ranking among other tested sites, and a performance grade. Below said summary box, there’s additional info which specifically shows what’s fast and what’s slowing down your site.

2. GTMETRIX

GTMetrix works like Pingdom but provides even more data. Not only does it show what’s slow, but it even shows if there are errors (bad requests, etc.) which can also slow down your site and/or hinder its performance.

HOW TO DIAGNOSE AND FIX ANY PROBLEMS FOUND IN YOUR SPEED TEST RESULTS

After testing, what should you do with the information? Diagnosis is actually quite easy.

1. POOR HOSTING

Hosting performance is paramount because if the server’s slow then so is your website. If it’s taking too long for your host to respond to the initial request, you might need to look for a different web hosting service.

2. POORLY CODED/BLOATED PLUGINS

Plugins are great as long as they don’t hinder your site’s performance – the “Plugin Performance Profiler” (developed by GoDaddy.com) scans your installed plugins and checks for any site-slowing culprits. You’ll also want to delete any plugins you don’t or no longer use.

3. POORLY CODED THEMES

WordPress Themes do need to be eye-catching but also high-performance; this means you want to be careful about any that have too many styling options and shortcoding. One we recommend that’s feature-rich but does extremely well is “OceanWP”.

5. NOT USING A CDN

Please use CloudFlare. It’s incredibly nimble as a Content Delivery Network, and it starts at the great price of $0.

6. POOR THIRD-PARTY SERVICE

Sometimes your site might have to use Third-Party content (content from another server). This can result in poor performance because, not only is the number of HTTP requests increased, but your site’s dependent on another server to load fast.

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