The Cost of Keeping Your WordPress CMS Website Secure

WordPressWordPress Content Management System (CMS) websites come with ongoing update costs that are easily overlooked. If you are like most of our clients, you don’t often think about, or pay much attention to, the backend of your website. WebWise Design & Marketing clients who choose to have a Security, Maintenance and Updates Plan may safely ignore updates needed to the functionality of their website as we take care of those tasks for you. Our security and maintenance plan includes monitoring and applying all WordPress security software updates, and all plugin updates. It also includes repairing any damage an update may cause to the website.

For those who do not have a Security, Maintenance and Updates Plan, please continue reading.

It is important to remember, simply ignoring or not applying WordPress and plugins is not an option. Updates must be applied, either by you or your web developer.

WordPress Plugins

PluginI am sure many of you are thinking, “what the heck is a plugin and why do I need them?” According to the WordPress Codex, “Plugins are ways to extend and add to the functionality that already exists in WordPress. The core of WordPress is designed to be lean and lightweight, to maximize flexibility and minimize code bloat.” Plugins offer custom functions and features so that each website can be tailored to the website owner’s specific needs. Some examples of functions and features often added with plugins include calendars, photo sliders, forms, captcha for forms, anti-spam, navigation menus, security, and additional SEO features. Most interactive and dynamic aspects of a WordPress website are provided through the use of plugins. Some plugins (generally those with fewer features) are free to use. Sometimes, it is essential to use “premium” plugins that are sold as a license subscriptions that includes all code updates for a year. Note: these updates are for the code and subscriptions only; they do not include applying the updates to your website.

Security and Maintenance Updates

If you have read this far, I imagine you have a fairly good idea about what drives the hidden costs of security and maintenance updates, so I will confirm it. WordPress and plugins need to be updated frequently. Not long ago, we could say “periodically,” but unfortunately, “frequently” describes how often security and maintenance updates are required in today’s world. With every new WordPress release (there have been six so far this year), any website built with WordPress needs to have it updated. Of course, it doesn’t end with that simple update. Often, most if not all plugins used in building a website will have to release updates of their own, which will need to be applied to the website as well. Throughout the process of updating, one has to check to make sure the website is not negatively impacted by an update. In other words, the website must be checked and all functions tested to make sure the update didn’t break anything, and that the website is still displaying and working properly. That “checking’ is done for multiple devices, browsers, and operating systems.

I know some of you are asking, “What happens if I don’t do the security updates?” Well, there are many things that can happen as a result of not having the latest version of WordPress and plugins installed on your website. Here is short list of some possible consequences.

  • Unauthorized access to your WordPress administrative area.
  • Unauthorized and hidden remote control of the computer of an authorized user (you) .
  • Your website doesn’t display properly.
  • Your website doesn’t display at all.
  • Your website is hacked and displays offensive and/or harmful content.
  • Your website is hacked and infected with malware that, in turn, infects the computers of your website visitors.
  • Your web hosting company disables your website because of security risks in violation of their Terms of Use Policy.

What Can You Do?

  • Monitor WordPress and Plugin updates status.
  • Make the updates yourself.
  • Review your website to be sure nothing is broken.
  • Fix what is broken if you can, or contact your website developer.
  • Hire your website developer to do those update tasks for you.

Summary

Websites created using WordPress need frequent back-end updates and maintenance that cannot be ignored. Updating WordPress, themes, and plugins takes time and money. Some plugins used require annual license/subscription renewal fees. Ignoring updates puts your website at risk. 

Of course, we are always happy to discuss how WebWise Design & Marketing can help you with anything in this post.

Call 1-800-281-9993 or 608-822-3750 Today!

Do you really need a mobile-friendly website?

Do you really need a mobile-friendly website? Google’s answer is, “…having a mobile-friendly website has become a critical part of having an online presence.

It has been over a year since Google’s April 21, 2015 announcement that they would give preference to mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results. In the FAQ’s of the Webmaster Tools Blog, Google says, “pages designed for only large screens may see a significant decrease in rankings in mobile search results.”

Mobile-Friendly WebsiteEleven months later on March 16, 2016, Google announced that they are, Continuing to make the web more mobile friendly. They are even more serious about it now. To help you understand how Google defines “mobile” and related terms here is a link to their Mobile Terms Glossary.

Another indication of how seriously Google is emphasizing the importance of having a mobile-friendly website is the rolling out of a new mobile-friendly testing tool on May 17, 2016. If you don’t know if your website is mobile-friendly, run the Google Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool.

Google also says, “If you haven’t made your website mobile-friendly, you should.” (The bold font was done by Google.) We urge you to take their words seriously. Do you really need a mobile-friendly website? If you want your website found by prospects and customers when searching with their phone or another mobile device, the answer is yes.

If your website does not pass Google’s Mobile Friendly Test, Call Us Now!
608-822-3750 or 800-281-9993

Portions of this page are reproduced from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.

How Do You Measure The Success of Your Website?

When talking with prospective clients, one of the questions we ask is how will you measure the success of your website? There is an old marketing adage, “If you are not measuring, you are not marketing.

One of the most effective ways of measuring the success of your website is by using website analytics. One of the questions we are frequently asked is “will I be able to tell how many ‘hits’ my website gets?” “Hits” have never been a good measurement. Each file (including individual images on the page and the page itself) sent to a website visitor’s browser from the web server is a “Hit.” Accordingly, each page viewed will generate anywhere from a few “hits” to dozens of “hits.” What most website owners are interested in is the number of “Page Views” and the number of visitors to their website. While these statistics are helpful, there is much more information available that will help website owners or managers measure the success of their website.

On every website we create, we install Google Analytics for our clients and provide them access to view their statistics. With over 100 standard reports along with countless custom reports that can be generated, Google Analytics provides more than ample data to help verify traffic in a multitude of perspectives.

Real-Time — six reports
Audience — thirty-one reports
Acquisition — five reports
AdWords (If a Google AdWords Campaign is linked to Google Analytics) — ten reports
Behavior — eighteen reports
Conversion — eighteen reports

What and how you measure depends on your purpose for having a website and what you are expecting to achieve. That said, there are some standard Google Analytics reports that are useful no matter what type of website you have. Those include the number of Users, number of Sessions, Pageviews, and Bounce Rate.

Here is an example of the Audience Overview report that contains the basic statistics related to the website’s audience. Becoming familiar with Sessions, Users, Pageviews, and Bounce Rate is helpful to anyone wanting to know what is happening on their website. You will see those metrics in many reports. Viewing those metrics from different perspectives can be very enlightening.

GA Audience Overview Report

Acquisition — Knowing how Visitors (Users) get to your website is important. That is especially true if you are paying for advertising.

In Google Analytics, under Acquisition > Overview > All Traffic > Channels, you will find the following Channel Groupings.
1. Organic Search
2. Direct
3. Paid Search
4. Referrals
5. Social

Listed for each of those types of acquisition, you will see all of the data for the audience Sessions, Users, Pageviews, Bounce Rate, and more. You will also be able to drill down in each of the acquisition types, to see more detailed statistics.

Behavior — You need to understand which pages Users visit, the number of Pageviews for a given page (and how many of the Pageviews were Unique), how long users stayed on the page, the Bounce Rate, and completion of Goals (if they have been created). The important reports in Behavior, are All Pages, Landing Pages, and of course, Goal Conversions.

Conversions — While the reports in this area are arguably some of the most important reports, they all require configuration, and most require editing the tracking code that goes on the pages. For that reason, we will not discuss them here. Of course, we at WebWise Design & Marketing are always happy to discuss how we can help you measure and increase your website traffic.

Now that you know you have all of this data available, how will you measure the success of your website?

Will it be a specific number of Users (visitors) per month, or number of Pageviews, or Pageviews per Session, Goals completed, contact forms completed (you will see the “thank you” page listed under “All Pages”), sales from products you offer online, or one of many more metrics?

Please remember, if you do not measure the results of your marketing, you are not actually marketing. You are simply spending money hoping for a return.

Do you measure the success of your website? If not, we will help.

Call Us Today!
1-800-281-9993 or 608-822-3750

It Is Not Enough To Know Who Your Audience Is

So, you truly believe you know who your website audience is. Hopefully, you don’t believe that is enough. You still have to make and maintain a favorable connection with your prospective and current customers.

How do you do that? The answer is by using the other 4 Ws as they relate to online marketing.

Five WsWhat — Refine what you want to say. Well-written, relevant, and grammatically correct copy is imperative. It doesn’t matter if it is a 1,200-word blog post, a 140-character Tweet, a product description, or a Google AdWords text ad with a 25-character headline and two 35-character description lines. Provide relevance and value.

When — The adage, “Timing is everything,” is true.  Know when to send your message to your audience.

  • Look at your website and or Facebook analytics to see when most of your visitors are online.
  • If you have a newsletter, check to see when your subscribers are opening your email.

Where — You said you know your audience. Go where they are. If the majority of your website visitors get there by searching Google, you may want to consider Google AdWords (the type of campaign may depend on the devices your visitors use). If your audience is on Facebook or Pinterest you should be too, and consider advertising there. The same is true of other Social Media. If they listen to the radio, a short commercial always closing with your URL can be effective. Similarly, classified and other newspaper ads can be effective as well. Remember your “Who” drives your “Where.”

Why — Are you trying to . . .

  • create brand awareness?
  • drive traffic to your website?
  • reduce inventory of a particular product?
  • announce a new product or service?
  • build your newsletter subscriber list?
  • thank a returning customer?

The reasons why you are trying to reach your audience affects what you say, when you say it and where it is told.

Applying the 5 Ws as they relate to your marketing plan (You do have a marketing plan, do you not?) will reward you for your time spent. After all, simply identifying your audience is not enough.

Your Audience and Your Website Visitors – Are They the Same?

Who is your audience? That is one of the very first questions we ask our new clients. The answer to that question is something that should be at the forefront of every business plan and marketing decision made for any business. Of course, identifying your audience is not enough. You need to know if your story is reaching them.

Many of you are going to say, “Of course, we know our audience” and I will grant it is likely that you do.

Assuming you do know your audience, are those in your target audience among your website visitors? Have you checked lately? You do review your website analytics regularly, do you not?

Google Analytics Demographics

Here is a little checklist for you.

  • Are you reviewing the demographics reports?
  • Are your visitors in your target age group?
  • If your target audience is a particular gender, are the majority of visitors that gender?
  • What is the ratio of “new” users and “returning” users?
  • Does that ratio coincide with your marketing plan?
  • Are the visitors to your website spending time on the pages you want them viewing?
  • Where do they go when they leave those pages?
  • Do they leave your website or do they look at more pages?
  • Is your conversion rate what you would like it to be?
  • Are visitors filling out a form or making an order?

If you are not measuring, you are not marketing, and if you are attracting the wrong audience, you are not marketing at all!

Are those in your target audience among your website visitors?