Hardening Your WordPress Install

Recently I installed a very useful plugin on most of my WordPress sites called Wordfence.  Wordfence offers both a free and a paid version.  The free version is quite robust, although the paid version does unlock a number of useful features.  Both the free and the paid version do a nice job at blocking the most common types of hacking attempts and, if you wish, the plugin will email you when someone tries to penetrate your site.

The Wordfence emails are interesting in that they reveal what hackers are trying to do.  In my case, I previously maintained dozens of WordPress installs on the same IP address (not a good idea, and I have fixed this).  There are numerous tools out there that anyone can use to identify all web sites – WordPress or otherwise – on any IP address, so if you own or manage multiple sites and use the same login name and password, once one site is penetrated, they could all be at risk. [click to continue…]


How to Solve a “Fatal Error: Allowed Memory Size Exhausted” Problem

You can add some incredible functionality to WordPress by installing plug-ins.  If you run a quick Google search you will find where WordPress power users have posted lists of “essential” plug-ins.

The law of conservation of energy being what it is, however, you give up speed as you add more plug-ins.  As a rule, a site running 10 plug-ins will be faster and more stable than a site running 25 plug-ins.

In addition, some plug-ins do not play well together, and, worse, some plug-ins are poorly coded and will hog resources.  For example, there is a really useful plugin called Broken Link checker, but activated using certain configurations can really slow your site down. [click to continue…]


Adding Driving Directions to Your Website or Blog

Are you trying to figure out how to add driving directions to your website or blog?  If you Google “embed code for driving directions” you will see several results for a Google Gadget that is supposed to do this, but currently, the gadget does not work and no code is generated.

I needed to add driving directions to one of my sites so I dug around and found code that works.  [click to continue…]


How to Preserve Your Site Rankings if You Convert to WordPress

Several years ago, before WordPress was a mainstream content management option, I used an HTML authoring program called NetObjects Fusion to create my websites.  NetObjects was and is a great tool for creating websites – I find it much easier to use than Dreamweaver and it is much more robust and full featured than many of the free web page editors on the market.

NetObjects also has the advantage of not being widely used in the United States, although it has a large user base in Germany.  This means that there are a large number of themes out there for designers.

As good as NetObjects has been, however, it is not a web based solution.  Over the past few years, most web designers have moved to web based content management software like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.  WordPress, in particular, has evolved into a very robust solution that is accessible to non-techies and techies alike. [click to continue…]


Solution to Disappearing Visual Editor

WordPress has become ubiquitous in the online world because it is readily available and because both paid staff and unpaid volunteers constantly work  to update the software.  Many of the updates are released to address security concerns and it is wise to keep your WordPress install current.

Similarly, WordPress theme designers regularly update their software as well.  There are literally hundreds of free and paid themes out there – because I publish multiple sites, I made the decision several years ago to standardize on two robust theme frameworks – Thesis and Genesis.   A framework adds functionality to the basic WordPress install, while child themes or skins designed for the framework give a site its unique look and feel.   This site is built on Thesis 2.x and the Pearsonified skin.   You can view a Genesis framework site with a child theme at ssdAnswers.com.

As these updates have been released, however, I began to see a recurring problem – my visual site editor stopped working. [click to continue…]


Marketing Tip: Don’t Insult Your Prospect

the birdThis morning I received a direct mail promotion addressed to me at my law firm from an ad rep at one of Atlanta’s largest media companies (they own Atlanta’s main daily newspaper, a several radio stations and a network TV station).  Proving once again that size and financial strength do not convey intelligence, the direct mail piece began as follows:

Mr. Jonathan Ginsberg:

A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.  Let me suggest that this well-known adage pertains to legal marketing as well….

I don’t know what the rest of the letter said because I stopped reading.   If I was in the market for TV, radio or newspaper space, I don’t know that I would want to do business with an ad rep who managed to both insult me and to condescend to me in one sentence.

What does this bozo know about me or my business and who is he to tell me that I am a fool, or that I am such a simpleton that I cannot possibly succeed without his help?  I wonder (but I think I know) how much of his own money this fool has risked in an advertising campaign. [click to continue…]

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Google Gamed by J.C. Penney?

dishonest dealingsThis Sunday’s (February 13, 2011) New York Times ran a front page story in the business section entitled The Dirty Little Secrets of Search.  The story discussed how J.C. Penney appeared as the number one result for hundreds of search phrases for its products.  In some cases, the J.C. Penney result for a brand name appeared before the brand name company web site – the example given was the phrase “Samsonite carry on luggage.”   J.C. Penney’s sales page for Samsonite appeared ahead of Samsonite.com.

J.C. Penney’s organic search results topped Google’s rankings for months, including the critical holiday season.   The Times researches determined that J.C. Penney’s rankings were due in part to incoming links from thousands of pages, many of which had nothing to do with consumer retail goods.   In other words,  somebody created a huge network of bogus sites that existed primarily to generate “link juice” that benefited J.C. Penney. [click to continue…]


Search Engine Optimization Instructions…Directly from Google

SEO checklistBecause I spend a lot of my time tweaking and optimizing for the search engines my own sites as well as client sites, I have a good sense of the various strategies and tactics being discussed by SEO professionals as well as business owners interested in finding an edge.   Generally the strategies for achieving good results on the search engines are well known – produce quality content for a human audience, produce it regularly and figure out ways (tactics) to get other web sites to link back to you using descriptive link text.  I currently own or manage over 100 web sites and blogs, many of which appear on the first page of search results for several relevant keywords (search phrases)

The marketplace of tactics is a lot more fluid – methods to achieve your strategic goals change frequently.  Ten years ago, most web sites contained pages titled “recommended links” and there was even software available to automate this process.  Today, we know that Google and other search engines ignore pages that exist solely to exchange links and a much better tactic involves guest posting articles with links embedded therein. [click to continue…]


Generate Backlinks by Commenting on “Do Follow” Blogs

blog comment strategyI recently read a blog post written by a marketing consultant who set out a strategy for getting backlinks pointing to your blog.  The strategy calls for posting thoughtful and relevant comments on authority blogs.   When done correctly, this strategy operates as a “win-win” – the blog publisher gets additional content in the form of your comments and you get a backlink to your blog or web site.

This all makes sense except for one glaring admission – you must find blogs with the “no follow” attribute turned off.  Otherwise your comments will not create any backlinks.  Ironically the marketing consultant who described the blog comment strategy had “no follow” enabled on his blog!

What is “no follow?”  No follow is an attribute that is now the default setting in WordPress.  It signals Google and some other search engines not to follow a hyperlink, in this case, your link text.   The blog publisher must turn off “no follow” in order to send his commenters a backlink.

In order to turn off “no follow” in WordPress, you need a plugin, which you can find by clicking on the link.  Install the plug-in and activate it and your blog comments will become “follow links.” [click to continue…]


Why “Content is King”

The Internet Marketing educator who has most influenced me is a gentleman named Ken McCarthy, who is well known for his work producing the System Seminars.  Back in 2004, I attended my first seminar, where Ken and several other speakers offered up a basic rule that underlies successful commerce on the Internet – namely that “content is king.”

  • Content is king because your clients/customers/site visitors expect that your site will educate them
  • Content is king because clear, thoughtful and education content functions as currency and your customers will trade their time and their business for that currency
  • Content is king because new content is constantly being added to the marketplace of ideas – if you put up a 10 page web site three years ago that has not been touched since, there is absolutely no reason that anyone will assign any value to that content
  • Content is king because very bright people working late at night are constantly devising new distribution channels for that content – Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Digg, etc.   Content is so valuable to the publishers that the owners of these distribution channels will host your content at no cost to you because they know that the public demands fresh content.
  • Content is king because the Internet is primarily an educational tool.
  • Content is king because clear and concise writing is rare.
  • Content is king because human beings yearn to learn and to connect and the Internet offers a place for both.
  • Content is king because the Internet is like a television with tens of millions of channels – and good content helps you get found.