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An Introduction to Caching

One of the most common things a website owner will hear when trying to troubleshoot a problem is a request to “clear the browser cache”. What is a Cache? The cache (pronounced like “cash”) is a collection of frequently-used data. What caching does is enable a website to load more quickly by storing data most likely to be needed in a separate and easily accessible place. You can think of it like a library with a section of popular books. If visitors frequently check out and check in the same few books, you will be able to allow more patrons to quickly check out books if you store the popular ones near the checkout in their own special pile, rather than having to look them up and search for them in the large stacks all the time. In the same way, cached files are kept separately so that they are…
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Take Your Site from Amateur to Professional in 5 Steps

Is your WordPress site getting crawled properly by Google? Is it secure? Is it loading fast enough?

Several things typically distinguish professional websites from amateur jobs. At first glance, the difference is usually in the graphics and layout. Does it look like someone put careful thought into the user experience, or is it something slapped together with a bunch of clip art?

Just because your audience and user base is small doesn't mean that you should have a small-time attitude. Behind the scenes, professional websites run smoothly and are managed properly, so that they load fast and securely. Yours can too. These 5 things will help level up your site's performance.

  1. A SSL Certificate

    Secure websites are marked with an SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer), which authenticates the identity of a website. You’ve seen this on any website whose URL begins "https". Just click the lock icon at the top of your browser window, and you’ll see further information about the verification of this address. The idea is to assure users that you are who you say you are, and that any data sent through the website will be encrypted.

  2. A Content Delivery Network (CDN)

    A CDN helps speed up your site by taking most of the load off of your host and distributing it across a network. This allows for faster page load times across the globe (the content is uploaded to multiple servers worldwide). You push your files to a CDN provider and it serves the user a copy. John O'Nolan has a great guide to setting up a CDN with WordPress.

  3. A XML SiteMap

    Sitemaps allow search engines to find all of your webpages. An XML sitemap contains all of the important pages of your website and the date that it was last updated. This ensures that search engines have not only crawled the page, but also the latest version of it. Yoast has a terrific tutorial about XML Sitemaps and how to generate one (hint, it uses their plugin).

  4. Google Search Console Connection

    Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site's presence in Google Search results. This includes things like search terms used to find content on your site, 404 errors, and how your content displays on Google's search engine results pages. Read more at the Google Search Console website.

  5. Images

    Most people can spot stock images art from a mile away. When you place images of people you've never met on your company's homepage what are you saying to your potential customer? What are you hiding behind? Consider hiring a professional photographer for images of real employees and your real office. Failing that, try to find some more authentic images. We wrote about some of our favorite resources for free stock images here. It's critical that you have permission to use any images that you find online. Our short guide to photo licenses and how to sort Google Image search results by license can help.

  6. Regular Updates

    You must, must, MUST, keep your WordPress website updated. This means the WordPress core files, your theme and your plugins. A well-maintained website is up to date with all of the latest security patches. This goes, by the way, for the computer you use to access your website as well. Using a professional maintenance service will take away the hassle of keeping on top of updates and the headache of dealing with what happens when an update causes things to break.

Without a whole maintenance team, you need to keep things simple. These 5 things will put your website on solid ground for security, usability and searchability. If you'd like to hear about how we can keep your website maintained for you, contact us today.

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How to Choose a Hosting Company

“You get what you pay for” definitely applies to website hosting. The factors you most need to define when deciding how to choose a hosting company are number of users per month, the size of the website, and if the website is collecting sensitive information such as credit card processing. Let’s break down what website hosting is and then we’ll cover some of the other services that are often also provided by a web host. What is Website Hosting? A website hosting service provides a powerful computer called a “web server” that stores websites and makes them accessible to users on the Internet. Every website needs some sort of host. Working backwards, when a site visitor enters your domain name into a browser (www.yoursite.com), the domain is then translated into your server IP address, and then the server sends that user your site files. When you use a service like Weebly,…

Your Website Development Checklist

So you know your business needs a website. You research for referrals and start making inquiries. But without understanding first what your website needs for your business, how will you even know what you are asking for? Here is a plan to help businesses organize their website strategy, so that they can understand what it is that they are shopping for and approach web agencies with greater confidence. 1. Have a clear purpose A website is a tool. If you don’t have a particular goal in mind, how do you know what the right tool is? Questions to ask yourself: A. Why do you want a new website? Or why are you building one in the first place? (ex. Portfolio, sells a product or service, attracts leads) B. Who is your target audience? What are they expecting from your website and how are you going to deliver it? C. What…
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WordPress Website Maintenance E-Book

After helping more than website owners make changes to, restore or troubleshoot their WordPress website, we’ve compiled our tips for proper WordPress website maintenance. Your website is bound to break. Follow these steps and it will happen a lot less often, and you’ll have proper backups when and if it does. Learn how to manage passwords, how often you should be making backups, our secret weapon for multi-site management and more. It’s free, so go ahead and read it now! How to Professionally Maintain Your WordPress Website: For Performance, Security and Peace of Mind Let us know what you think!

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