5 Sizzling Summer Tips to Upgrading WordPress

With summer here I wanted to take a few minutes to run through 5 things that you can do to keep your WordPress blog or site chugging along without any issues.  WordPress, especially a WordPress.org site can take a little extra work but its the version of WordPress I prefer to run.  From time to time it takes some updating and upgrading as newer versions of WordPress become available.  Now if you’re like me then you probably try to push it off as long as possible thinking that something might break in a newer release and you are probably better off to do your own testing before rolling a new version live on your WordPress blog.  I wanted to highlight a few tried and tested tricks to ensure that you can upgrade your WordPress blog or site successfully.

  1. Backup your WordPress database regularly – This is something that should go without saying but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this and get themselves into trouble.  If you aren’t comfortable backing up your mySQL database that houses the content your site uses then have a look at some of the top WordPress plugins that can do this for you pretty quickly and without having to memorize any code.
  2. Test it first – If you aren’t sure just how your WordPress website will function the best thing you could do is build (or have someone build) a test or staging site where you can check out the new version of WordPress being you push the button on your live WordPress site.
  3. Upgrading Plugins – When you do upgrade your WordPress site you’ll probably notice that a lot of the plugins you’ve used are now out of date and they’ve got new functionality built in that you can use on your newly updated WordPress site.  Remember to do this because it really can help your site function even more effectively.
  4. Upgrade your WordPress Framework (Optional) – Not everyone has a WordPress Framework installed on their website but I bring this up for those of you who do.  I currently run the Genesis Framework from StudioPress because it allows me even more custom functionality than a traditional WordPress theme and regularly this needs to be updated when you upgrade WordPress.  In the case of Genesis, it actually posts a reminder that your framework is out of date and that you need to upgrade it but not all Frameworks are the same so check yours out for more information.
  5. Use the Dashboard on your WordPress site – This is something that I’ve been using recently more and more to manage my WordPress sites because it provides a quick snapshot of things on your WordPress site.  There is also a section solely for updates needed to your WordPress site and this is a great time saver that is easy to use even if you are just diving into WordPress for the first time.

Please share any tips that I haven’t added here of things that you do when you upgrade your WordPress site.

How to hand over a Shopify Store to your Client

I decided to write this for those of you snooping around Website-Experts.ca looking for tips and tricks to make your client’s Shopify store’s even more amazing.  Shopify recently released its “Merchant Handoff Kit” for designers and developers who are delivering Shopify stores.  When you are handing over any website a lot of loose ends need to be tied up and this kit helps you and your client do just that.  You’ve got to give it to the team at Shopify for creating this as they are clearly putting customer success ahead of just selling an e-commerce solution.

So what does this wonderful kit contain anyways?

  • Its a template that allows you to brand yourself as a Shopify partner
  • It contains a lot of beginner tutorials like product creation and management, collections, orders and more
  • Links to various Shopify resources to help your clients run there Shopify store

If you are interested in downloading this for a project you are completing for a client of yours, you can download it here.

How to use Collections in Shopify

For those of you that are new to Shopify, Collections are a way to group products together on your Shopify store and are basically categories in Shopify.  The name may confuse you as to what they are but they are logical groups of products in Shopify (aka categories).  So now that we’ve got that out of the way lets talk about their use in Shopify.  Strolling through the “Collections” page on your Shopify store you’ll see some standard settings like Title, Description, Featured Image and than you get to “Conditions” and this is actually something that is very interesting.

Shopify-Collections-01

 

You can either choose to manually select products (boring) or automatically select products (to be included in your collection) based on conditions which is very cool and a time-saver, to say the least.  Keeping in mind, that you can set the condition look for the product type, product title, product vendor, product price, product tag, compare at price, weight, inventory stock or variant’s title of a product along with operators like “is equal to”, “starts with”, “ends with”, “contains”, “is greater than”, “is less than” you can setup a condition that looks for new products to add to collections and customize the logic that Shopify uses to add these products to your Shopify store’s collections.  You can also have more than one condition associated to a collection and have all products meet the conditions you’ve setup or any of the conditions to get added to a Collection on your Shopify store.

Shopify-Collections-02

 

The next thing that you can do on a collection is to add SEO characteristics like page title and meta description along with URL & Handle.  Also you can schedule when the collection is going to be published or choose to keep it visible or hidden.  Collections can be very useful based on the fact that you can automatically add products to your collections and makes Shopify very useful to run your online business.

Coming Soon – Publishing Posts on LinkedIn

comingsoonLinkedIn has been working on allowing its user base to write and publish posts that are tied to your profile under a posts section.  Lately I’ve seen a number of my connections on LinkedIn publishing content that they can share with their respective network on LinkedIn so naturally this got me curious in how people are allowed to do this.  What I found from LinkedIn is that they are looking to release a feature in the coming months to all users and that they are currently accepting users into their early access program.  If you are interested in applying to LinkedIn’s early access program just click here and follow the directions.

As to how this will change blogging and content only time will tell because this is really the first social media network that is choosing to allow their users to publish articles to their user base but it will definitely change blogging and perhaps the authority of bloggers forever.

How to integrate Shopify and Pinterest using Rich Pins

Shopify just released that they’ve partnered with Pinterest to offer Rich Pins on Shopify stores.  You can read more about it here on Shopify’s blog but I just wanted to how it works and how you can get this feature working on your Shopify store.

Here is what you need to know about using Rich Pins on your Shopify Store

  • You need a Pinterest business account; personal accounts don’t qualify for this feature.
  • Currently the Rich Pinning feature is only available on stores created after April 2014.  If you’re store is older than this you will need to wait until Shopify gets around to updating everyone
  • You will need to edit the liquid template of your Shopify store’s theme.  This definitely isn’t meant for beginners but we will walk through how to do this regardless.

Step 1: Create a Pinterest business account and go through the normal steps of setting this up.

Step 2: In Pinterest, you will need to edit your profile and add your shopify store’s URL and click the “Verify Website” button you see below.

Pinterest-01

Step 3: Click the “Verify with a meta tag” link.  You will need this for the next step

Pinterest-02

Step 4: You’ll that Pinterest generates a meta tag that you are going to add to your Shopify Store.  Hold on, this is where it gets tricky for those you how don’t know much about coding websites, thank god you found this tutorial.

Pinterest-03

Step 5: You are going to need to switch into Shopify for a moment to add the Meta tag that Shopify just generated and you will need to add it to the header section of code (just like below) by copying and pasting the meta tag and lastly you will click “Save”.  Didn’t lose you yet?  Well good, we are almost done.

Pinterest-04

Lastly you are going to click the “Complete Verification” button in Pinterest and barring any unforeseen issues you will have your site successfully verified by Pinterest.  Now that you’ve gotten this far the next step is to simply pin products from your Shopify store into Pinterest.  Simply copy the URL of the product on your Shopify store into the Rich Pin Validator app that Pinterest has…

Pinterest-05

On any product you are using Rich Pins on you will need to add an .oembed extension to the URL of the or you won’t be able to validate your Rich Pin.

http://lucs-daily-deals.myshopify.com/products/deal-1 will not validate properly.  In order to do that I would need to do the following http://lucs-daily-deals.myshopify.com/products/deal-1.oembed

From here, click the “Validate” button and review your product before clicking the “Apply now” button.  Lastly, you will need to enter your Shop URL and select “Shopify” as the data format and click “Apply Now” and you will now have access to add rich pins into Pinterest from your Shopify store.

4 Great Translation WordPress Plugins

With a lot of the online world being non-english speaking it makes a lot of sense to have a multi language option on your site. Even in Canada and the US the second languages are French and Spanish so not catering to people that speak these languages means lost visitors and sales.  WordPress has a lot of great plugins, some are free while others you have to pay for to enjoy the features that are included in professional versions but sometimes this can really be money well spent.

Today we are going to look at four solid WordPress plugins that will give you the power to get your WordPress site to a place where multi languages are supported. I will break them down by the costs and the pros and cons of using each.

WPML Plugin

WPML

Cost: between $29 and $195 depending on license type

Pros - This plugin is probably the most user friendly and easiest to use so if you aren’t looking for a whole lot of coding to customize your WordPress theme, WPML is probably going to be your best choice.  Also, it allows you to customize the pages on your WordPress site in the languages you want and you can choose to localize your WordPress theme or not.

Cons - This is probably the most expensive WordPress plugins that you could purchase.  That combined with the fact that most other WordPress plugins are free will probably keep you away from using this one.

WP Translate plugin

WP Translate 

Cost: Free to $3.95

Pros – This plugin add the Google Translate widget to your WordPress site which will allow your visitors to select the language they want to view the page in without having to go over to Google Translate.

Cons – This plugin relies solely on the functionality of Google Translate to translate your pages by offering an on page widget that allows you to select your language.  Given that you can use Google translate functionality without this plugin it isn’t the best plugin outside of offering an on page clickable widget.  Also if you are going to buy the Pro version its not really worth it because it offers additional widget positioning and some other uninteresting features like Google Analytics integration.

 Xili-language WP Plugin

Xili-Language

Cost: Free

Pros – One of the biggest pros besides the fact that this is a free plugin is that it works with localizable themes using the themes localized (.mo) files to translate pages on your site.  According to the developers behind Xili the plugin “provides an automatic selection of language in theme according to the language of displayed post, series of posts, page or articles.”

Cons – There is a fairly steep learning curve to developing your WordPress site with Xili.  If you aren’t a developer I would probably steer clear of this one as its highly customizable through coding.  Amateurs need not apply however it you are a web designer or developer you should be able to overcome any hurdles you face.

 Transposh WP Plugin

Transposh

Cost: Free

Pros – This plugin combines automatic translation and human translation so that you can source the best translation of your pages from users with an in-context interface.  This in-context interface works by allowing users to highlight and suggest changes to text they see when on your website.

Cons – This plugin will have a bit of a learning curve to understand how it works with your WordPress site.  The way that the in-context interface works can be a little confusing to use as well and could throw some users off of using the plugin entirely.

What you need to know about the #AmazonCart Twitter Hashtag

As a regular shopper on Amazon I can tell you that the new #AmazonCart is an interesting addition to selling online.  What the #AmazonCart hashtag allows you to do is add products to your cart in Amazon which you can later choose to buy.  This adds an interesting new disruption to selling socially.  No longer is social selling restricted to a Facebook page or simply sharing a product through your social media channels.  If you are selling products partly through Amazon’s marketplace this offers an interesting way to socialize and sell your products socially.

Here are some things you should know about the #AmazonCart hashtag:

  1. Its aimed solely at Twitter users to help sell products socially that are posted from Amazon
  2. Its not a checkout option – If you add a hashtag to a product you like on Twitter you still have to go to your Amazon account to buy the product and complete the sale
  3. When you’ve successfully added a product to your cart on Amazon you will receive a tweet back from @MyAmazon confirming you’ve added something to your cart

The goal of Amazon working with twitter in this fashion is a more seamless experience for the customer cutting down on having to click out of twitter and search Amazon for the same product you’ve found.  Check out Amazon’s video on this ecommerce functionality below.

How to Stop Updates When Your Edit Your LinkedIn profile

Linkedin, is a great way to stay in touch professionally with colleagues and grow your career network.  One of the most annoying things however is getting updates every time you adjust your profile, add a job or position you held or getting liked and calling attention to your updates is something that you might not want people to do.  But how do you turn it off?  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to do that?  Well let’s have a look at how you can.

As you can see below when you go to the “Privacy & Settings” section under “Account & Settings” this is where we will find our answer on how we can edit what we share across our LinkedIn network and with our LinkedIn connections.

Linkedin-Privacy Settings

 

Once you click on it you will need to go to the setting called “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts” and you will see a popup with a checkbox that says “Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies“.  When you uncheck this your changes we not appear as updates for when you change your profile.  The downside here is that people won’t see when you recommend others and when you follow companies but I don’t think that will be an issue if you are looking for a more discrete way to used LinkedIn.

LinkedIn - Privacy Settings 2

 

This is just one possible option when you are in Privacy and Settings in your LinkedIn account but if you want to not get congratulated every time you update a position then this will do the trick.

ECWID launches version 2.4 of its WordPress Plugin

ecwid_logo_appECWID launched the latest version 2.4 of its WordPress plugin last week to rave reviews so far with over 170,000 downloads as of April 7th.  ECWID also known as “ecommerce widgets” is a platform that is highly customizable and easily integrated with a large number of content management systems today like WordPress and others to name a few.  Some of the big updates to come out of this release are…

1. Add products to pages and posts using a new shortcode – ECWID has come out with a new shortcode to make it easier to customize and add products to various pages on your WordPress site. The code looks something like this…


When you add the product id of your product from ECWID you will be able to add it to your pages and posts making it even easier to connect the products you sell on your WordPress website or blog.

2. Improved SEO on store pages – The team at ECWID has focused further on SEO by adding product attributes to SEO optimized versions of product pages.  The jist of this is that ECWID has really been working with Google’s recommendations to ensure that your products are better indexed for search engines to find and rank them for improved search results

3. Improvements to store layout for mobile devices – In this day in age it goes without saying that ECWID is striving to improve the functionality of its platform on mobile devices.  These changes are automatic, which means that you won’t have to spend a lot of time working to improve your ECWID store.  One example of this is that before if you used horiztonal categories widget on your WordPress site, you may have seen that it did not fit the width of narrow screens when you opened it on a mobile device however now with this plugin it will automatically hide the horiztonal categories widget on narrow screens to make sure it looks good on mobile-optimized sites.

ECWID really has done a lot to ensure that your WordPress site mirrors ECWID and extends the functionality of ECWID in your WordPress site which makes it an interesting solution to consider if you are running an online business.  If you haven’t tired ECWID yet its worth a look and with the option to sign up for a free basic account there is no reason not to check it out.

Product Review: ShopLocket

ShopLocket is a different model of ecommerce solution.  The focus of this platform is that it gives entrepreneurs the ability to life using flexible pre-order solutions, a shopping cart and customer management tools.  With all that said its an interesting type of ecommerce system and one that might not be for everyone.  When I first logged into ShopLocket I was immediately interested by layout and user interface of this solution.

shoplocket_01

As you can see above, its a really simple interface to navigate and use.  This is a great solution if you are trying to launch an ecommerce solution quickly and easily.

So what can you do with Shoplocket?

  • Create products really easily on the fly and setup a pre-order option if you are in the process of launching a product (definitely a different approach than most ecommerce solutions out there)
  • Offers not only the option to sell physical products but also digital ones as well
  • Previews for the checkout page and product page
  • You can collect credit card information during the pre-order process and charge when you product launches
  • You can add product options for various styles, sizes and other variations of your product
  • Run limited time offers for your product
  • Customize your product page and checkout without any coding

If you are an entrepreneur launching a product you can really get your idea setup and ready to sell online in more time at all.  I realize this solution is not a “one size fits all” type of solution and it really does appeal to people looking to get their ideas off the ground quickly.  Check it out today at ShopLocket.com 

Beginner SEO in Shopify

For those of you using Shopify for your ecommerce store you may be interested to know how to start to setup SEO (search engine optimization) for your Shopify store.  I wrote this article for those of you who have a basic understanding of SEO but perhaps you’ve never seen how to do this in Shopify so let’s take a tour and show you the nuts and bolts of these settings in Shopify.

Basic SEO in Shopify

What you will notice on pages, products and posts that you are editing in Shopify is that you always have the option to insert some SEO related attributes to your pages and posts including the Page Title, Meta Description, URL & Handle.

Shopify SEO 01

 With these attributes you can setup a few things on the pages that you are editing.  It falls in line with what Search Engines normally look based on the length on these attributes.  If you are new to running your store in Shopify and have no experience doing SEO this can be a great way to start to improve the SEO on your Shopify store.

Outside of setting up SEO settings on products, pages and posts you can also do this at the site level by clicking on “Settings” in the left side menu and what you will find is that you can edit your Store name, Homepage title and a homepage meta description.  As a best practice it makes sense to keep your terms and description broader and less detailed when you are defining them at the site level.

Shopify SEO 02

Interesting SEO Apps for Shopify

Another part of Shopify that people will find interesting can be found in their App store.  The Shopify App Store allows you to download and buy apps that integrate with your Shopify store.  When I searched for SEO related apps on Shopify’s App Store I found a number of apps that fit a wide variety of needs but a few that really stood out are…

Plug in SEO – This app which i’ve used before lets you get a rating on your site in terms of what you need to improve on your site to improve your SEO.  Its a fan favorite with a lot of positive reviews from the Shopify community and its free to use.  Click here to get it

SEO Meta Manager – This little app has a lot of bells and whistles that will  help you to streamline your SEO efforts.  I wouldn’t rate this as a beginner app and will have a bit of learning curve for those of you that have never looked at SEO improvement techniques before.  That being said this is a paid app that costs $50 but according to people that use it its an invaluable app if you want to improve your site’s SEO.  Click here to check it out