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Is WordPress Easy to Use?

From small personal blogs to websites of major corporations including Disney, Bloomberg, and BBC America, WordPress is the site building platform... The post Is WordPress Easy to Use? appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

The Ultimate Guide to WordPress SEO Settings

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a must for getting traffic to your blog or website. Making a new site search friendly can be a challenge, though—especially for those without a lot of web development experience. But WordPress offers users a number of easy ways to improve a website’s searchability by adjusting the general settings available right in the site’s WordPress dashboard. Read on to learn how Bluehost SEO tools can help your website gain more traffic. SEO Matters on Every Level The exact algorithms that drive major search engines are opaque and constantly changing, but it’s clear that many elements play a role in helping search engines, such as Google index and rank a website, so that searchers can quickly locate the content they want. These include keyword options, various types of links, and the amount and quality content featured on the site. These basic SEO strategies help build any website’s visibility and authority so that it can rise higher in a search engine’s rankings and reach the eyes of potential visitors. But sites built with WordPress come natively equipped with a set of SEO friendly options for optimizing site pages to help increase search engine visibility. WordPress site owners can adjust a site’s search visibility, create searchable permalinks for each post, choose the way a domain name appears, add in a meta description and focus keyword for each blog post, and much more—all from the site’s user-friendly WordPress dashboard. And, for additional functions that the Settings panel just can’t handle, the basic WordPress platform also includes a long list of powerful plugins for optimizing posts, pages, and other content for organic search. WordPress SEO Settings WordPress was originally designed for online publishing, so it’s inherently SEO friendly, with a substantial set of built-in tools for managing WordPress SEO Settings easily and quickly from the Settings menu on the site’s Admin dashboard. These tools are generally used to allow users to manage various aspects of a site’s appearance and functions, but they can also be used to boost its search visibility. From the Settings menu, multiple aspects of the site such as Reading, Writing, and Appearance can be customized and optimized for SEO with no need to access WordPress site files or to know any coding at all. Setting Site Title and Tagline WordPress themes come with the option to customize the site’s title and tagline within the Settings>Appearance panel. Use these WordPress SEO Settings to add a focus keyword tagline and title for the site. These elements can be indexed by search engines and help boost a site’s visibility. Managing Visibility Settings In some cases, you might not want your site to be visible to search engines, such as when it’s still under construction or undergoing a makeover. But forgetting to uncheck the visibility settings means the site will remain invisible. From Settings, select Reading to access the “search engine visibility” option and make sure that it is unchecked in order to allow search crawlers to access it. Customizing Permalinks Each post and page on a WordPress site has a custom URL, but the default one consists of a collection of numbers and isn’t particularly search-friendly. From Settings, select WordPress Permalinks to create a custom permalink structure that includes keywords from any blog post or page title. Permalinks can also be edited from the text editor for both posts and pages. Setting Up the Web Address In earlier days, every web address began with “www.” Now, that isn’t necessarily so, but many people still search for websites using this prefix, so having it as part of the website name could improve the site’s visibility in search. SEO settings in WordPress allow users to choose whether their domain will display with or without the www. From Settings, choose Web Address and select the way the site name will appear everywhere on the internet. Setting Image Data for Search Though it isn’t directly accessed from the site dashboard’s Settings options, WordPress image settings also provide opportunities for optimizing a site for SEO. When an image is selected for adding to a post or page, users are given the option to add a title or caption, or “alt” text—a short description of the image. Customizing these settings presents more opportunities to add searchable keywords that can be accessed by search crawlers. Add More Functions With Plugins The native WordPress SEO settings provide a number of ways to optimize a site for search engine visibility, but more advanced help is also available from one of the many SEO-related plugins offered by WordPress and a variety of third-party developers. Popular plugins such as All in One SEO Pack and Yoast SEO plugin add more customizable settings to the WordPress dashboard, with options for analyzing new posts and pages for optimal keywords and generating metadata based on the content. Yoast SEO plugin and a variety of other plugins can be installed from the WordPress plugin directory, and their settings become available from the dashboard as well. WordPress was designed with search visibility in mind, and its developers work hard to ensure that its code follows SEO best practices. For that reason, WordPress hosting includes a robust set of SEO tools that can be used by users of all skill and experience levels right from a site’s admin dashboard. With additional specialized SEO functions provided by its many plugins, you can easily implement SEO strategies for optimizing a site and its content for maximum visibility and searchability. The post The Ultimate Guide to WordPress SEO Settings appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

WordPress Frameworks: How to Get Your Ideal Theme

WordPress themes define the look and functionality of any WordPress site, and users can choose from thousands of premium and free themes that can be customized in a variety of ways to capture a brand’s unique style. WordPress themes can be built from scratch, although that takes time. But with theme frameworks, users of all skill levels can create multiple custom themes to meet the specific needs of just about any business or personal website. What is a WordPress Theme Framework? The WordPress source code – the site building files that can be downloaded and installed for free with any hosting provider – contains all the elements for installing a functioning WordPress website. That’s the first of the three core elements of WordPress. The second of these is the WordPress theme, another set of code that’s overlaid on those original source files to establish things like the site layout, colors, typography, and other elements that define the site’s appearance and contents. A theme framework is a set of completed code that forms the foundation of a WordPress theme. Because the theme’s essential structure is already defined, choosing the best WordPress framework saves web developers considerable time and effort in building the site. A theme framework is the starting point for customizing all aspects of a site’s appearance without having to create the full theme code from scratch. Frameworks from reputable developers contain clean, quality code that meets industry standards, making them safe to use for developing personal and client sites. Because a WordPress framework is simply a library of code containing a specific set of functions, it is possible to build multiple sites with different design styles, layouts, and features from a single framework, thanks to the WordPress parent-child theme structure. Frameworks, Parent and Child Themes WordPress themes of all kinds come with their own code files that can be updated or modified either by developers rolling out new versions or by users with development experience who can make changes directly to the code in order to customize the theme. But if a user makes significant changes to the theme’s core code, and the theme’s creators issue an updated version, any user-generated customization can be lost when the new version is installed. To preserve the full functionality of the original theme, and still make specific changes to customize the header, slider, footer, or layout, WordPress users can create a copy of the theme, called a child theme, which can be endlessly modified to suit a site’s specific needs, while leaving the original, or parent, theme’s code intact. Child themes allow for safe changes and updates, since the parent code remains intact, and is always available as a fallback if things don’t turn out as planned. All WordPress theme frameworks are actually parent themes, capable of providing the structures needed to create multiple child themes with varying levels of customization – but not all parent themes are suitable for serving as theme frameworks. Themes with minimal structure, such as a landing page, or those with a specific functionality, may not be good candidates for use as a framework. For that reason, many theme frameworks are designed to be quality parent themes, with all the elements users need to build as many child themes as they like. Frameworks can be developed in a number of different ways to accommodate the varying needs of WordPress site builders. Users can select from frameworks designed as parent themes for use as a basis for multiple child themes, or as a standalone theme. Some frameworks are actually WordPress plugins, designed to extend the functionality of an existing theme. Should You Use a Framework? Frameworks can save developers a lot of time and offer users many options for customizing themes, but not everyone needs a framework to get the right look for a WordPress site. Small sites with minimal content, such as a blog site, a single page, or landing page site, may not need the level of customization that a framework can offer. For sites like these, a quality free or premium WordPress theme would probably have all the features a user needs. This kind of theme can be customized without coding using the options built into the theme settings. Frameworks can make it easier and faster to develop a site with multiple parts and complex features that need specific kinds of customization, and working with a framework allows developers to control every aspect of the site’s look and functionality. Although frameworks can make a site developer’s job easier, users without experience in development or coding can also work with frameworks. Some free and premium WordPress frameworks and third-party developers are completely code-free, with drag and drop functionality that lets even new site builders make all the changes they need to get exactly the look they want when it comes to design elements and theme options. How to Use Frameworks There is a WordPress framework for just about every price range and need. Frameworks are available from a number of web developers and designers and come with a wide range of functionality and cost. From the stripped-down Genesis framework, popular among seasoned developers, to the virtually code-free versions with drag and drop simplicity, such as Pagelines, users of all levels of experience can find a framework option that is suitable for their requirements. Frameworks can be purchased for one time fees or by subscription for ongoing support and additional features. Most quality themes from reputable developers also include updates and resources, such as tutorials and access to user communities. Once you’ve purchased a framework, simply download and install it in the appropriate location in order to access its directories and style sheets, or any tools it contains. From there, you’ll either be able to create a child theme with its own styles and functions or build a theme using the drag and drop functions available with the framework. When all changes are complete, install the theme settings to any WordPress site and activate it. WordPress frameworks streamline the design process by providing a basic structure built with quality code that users can customize as they choose to get the right look and style for any WordPress website. With options for new users as well as experienced developers, frameworks help site builders of all kinds in creating the ideal WordPress site. The post WordPress Frameworks: How to Get Your Ideal Theme appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

WordPress Hosting Prices

WordPress is the most popular site builder and content management system in the world, with over 23 billion page views on WordPress sites every month. One reason for the popularity of WordPress is that it is completely free to download and install on a variety of platforms. Because WordPress can be used in so many different hosting environments, the price for WordPress hosting can range from less than $5 per month for shared hosting to several hundred dollars for fully managed hosting. Between those two extremes lies a variety of hosting packages offering varying combinations of services and customer support, so that there is a hosting price to suit the needs of users ranging from personal bloggers to large corporations. WordPress Hosting Options WordPress is a fully functional content management system, or CMS, that allows users of all levels of expertise to launch and manage a website. For those without site development training and expertise, WordPress can be installed with “one-click,” and customized from a host’s control panel with any of the thousands of premium and free themes available from WordPress itself and a long list of third-party developers. And, for site owners with web design and development experience, WordPress also allows for advanced customization and control. This versatility and flexibility make it possible to include WordPress in hosting environments of all kinds – and to allow for a range of hosting packages and prices to meet a wide range of user needs. Shared WordPress Hosting – Affordable Options for Small Sites Shared WordPress hosting puts web hosting within the reach of nearly everyone, with hosting prices that can start as low as $3 to $5 per month on initial promotions. Once the promotional period ends, standard hosting prices generally apply, but those prices can still remain under $20 per month on many large hosting platforms. For these providers, WordPress is just one of many platforms users can install with a new account – and, since it’s free to use, no additional fees apply. In this kind of hosting environment, a site powered by WordPress shares space on a common server used by hundreds, or potentially thousands, of sites using not only WordPress but also the many other available site builders. This allows providers to offer a basic plan at very low prices. A shared WordPress hosting solution is not for everyone. Because all sites on a shared server have to share the server’s resources equally, a site that uses more of those resources can cause neighboring sites to run slowly. Security measures may be skimpy and poorly implemented, too. The lack of WordPress specific features and support can also mean that users are not likely to get assistance from the support team for WordPress related problems. But, for smaller sites and new users who are establishing an online presence, shared WordPress hosting can be an affordable and convenient option. Scaling Shared WordPress Hosting For users who want more features than the basic low cost service can offer, some shared WordPress hosting providers may also offer tiered service packages for higher prices. That can include WordPress-specific hosting within the shared environment so that WordPress sites share space on a dedicated server optimized for WordPress performance. Managed WordPress Hosting – More Features at Higher Prices Managed WordPress hosting is an option offered either by general hosting providers who also have a separate hosting optimized for WordPress, or by hosts that are dedicated exclusively to WordPress websites. Depending on the level of hosting and the types of features a user needs, both options can provide support and services that are specifically designed to accommodate the features and functions of WordPress. WordPress hosting on a general hosting site typically features a set of shared servers that are optimized specifically for WordPress. This allows for faster performance and enhanced security for WordPress sites at costs that can be three to four times higher than a basic shared hosting plan – between $10 and $25 per month for a basic package that can include features such as a free registered domain name and Secure Socket Layer (SSL). This kind of hosting can also be scaled to include additional features in higher-priced plans. Some hosting providers offer WordPress hosting exclusively, with a long list of optional features that can be combined to create customized packages that can meet the needs of larger, more complex sites. This kind of managed WordPress hosting is optimized to support all the features of WordPress design and development so that websites load faster and can accommodate higher traffic volumes than typical shared hosting environments that distribute server resources over a much larger number of sites running on different platforms available through the host. Managed hosting from a dedicated WordPress provider also includes enhanced security features for protection against both general and WordPress-specific threats. Security monitoring, upgrades, and patches are carried out automatically by the web host as part of the dedicated hosting contract. And, with a focus exclusively on WordPress, the host’s technical and customer support representatives are specialists, specifically trained to offer in-depth solutions to users’ questions and concerns. Depending on the level of service, this kind of web host can also take complete ownership of managing the site, which includes handling all technical and maintenance issues such as upgrades and site security monitoring. Scaling Managed WordPress Hosting This kind of full-service managed WordPress hosting typically comes at a higher price than shared hosting or packages offered by general hosting providers, but a basic plan can be fairly comparable to the higher tiers of those types of services, starting at $25 to $30 per month. The “concierge” services of managed WordPress hosting plans can range into hundreds per month with the addition of selected available features and expanded involvement of the hosting provider in general site management. A Price to Suit Every WordPress Website The spectrum of available WordPress hosting options not only allows new users to establish an online presence but also provides scalable solutions for growth over time. From low-cost shared hosting of a free WordPress install to fully managed hosting that includes enhanced security and WordPress specific optimization, there’s a WordPress hosting solution that can fit just about any budget. The post WordPress Hosting Prices appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

Gutenberg: Understanding Blocks in the New Editor

Sometime in 2018, WordPress expects to release Gutenberg, the first major change to its longstanding TinyMCE content editor in years. Named for Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press, Gutenberg promises to revolutionize the way content is created in WordPress and make online publishing even easier. The Gutenberg editing interface is based on a system of blocks—movable, editable “containers,” for creating rich posts with both text and multimedia elements. The block structure promises to make content creation easier and more intuitive for users of all skill levels, but it also represents a major departure from the rich text editor WordPress users already know. What Makes Gutenberg Different? WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder, and it’s also a complete content management system with a robust set of tools for creating both static pages and dynamic posts. To create content of any kind, users access the WordPress content editor, which offers options for working in a visual (WYSIWYG) or text-based mode. In either mode, users have access to a rich set of word processing tools similar to those found in platforms like Microsoft Word. Within this editor, it’s possible to insert different kinds of content elements from a variety of sources, but that involves a variety of approaches. Along with text, a page or post could include acceptable media files from the site’s own media library, pasted links from external sites, shortcodes for various specialized elements from plugins, and sidebar or footer widgets that can contain both text, plugin assets, and embeds from external sites. Managing and integrating all these things can be cumbersome and require multiple actions in order to get a page or post to look and perform as it should. Gutenberg promises to change all that, with a new type of block-driven content editor that, according to, will make it easy for anyone—from beginning users with no experience in coding to seasoned developers—to create rich pages and posts quickly and easily. For new users, Gutenberg’s block structure provides a way to organize content visually and add a variety of media without having to make adjustments for multiple file types and interfaces. For developers, the block system allows for customizing existing block types as well as for creating new ones for specific kinds of functionality. What Are Blocks in Gutenberg? The existing WordPress content editor is simply an open editor into which a user loads any and all relevant content from a variety of sources. In that way, a single post or page can contain not only text but also a wide range of multimedia elements. But Gutenberg’s blocks act like templates for different kinds of content, so that they can be placed in their own blocks and moved, rearranged, deleted, and modified to get the layout and visual appearance a user is looking for. On the technical side, a WordPress block is a JavaScript object that is also rendered on the back end in PHP, the programming language used to create WordPress itself. Each block is a self-contained unit designed to hold a certain kind of content. How Are Blocks Used? In Gutenberg, every post or page consists of a combination of relevant block types, filled with appropriate content. In the current WordPress editor, a user selects either Post or Page from the site’s admin dashboard and a single window opens with all available tools for formatting text and placing images or other content within it. But in Gutenberg, creating a new page or post begins with selecting the blocks you’ll need for the kind of content you plan to include. Gutenberg comes with a set of default blocks for adding basic elements such as text, headers, and images. All a user has to do is to select the desired block type from the Add Block menu when starting either a new page or a post. Once a block is selected, it appears in the editor, ready to be filled. Selecting a block opens all the available tools related to the block, such as editing tools for header or paragraph blocks or sizing and placement options for images added to image blocks either from external sources or from the media library. The block library also includes blocks premade to handle specialized content such as embedded videos, content for sharing, and galleries. It’s also possible to add custom blocks to add features specific to a site’s unique needs. Users with development experience can create their own custom blocks, but any user can access the expanding library of custom blocks that are being produced by members of the WordPress community. And, much like plugins and themes, custom blocks may be purchased from third-party developers taking advantage of a new and growing market for new WordPress assets. Gutenberg’s block system can streamline the content creation process in many ways, with benefits for new and experienced users alike. Blocks can fill many functions previously provided only by added plugins, such as creating galleries or slideshows, and they can work with any theme. There’s no limit to the number of blocks that can be added to a post or a page, and blocks can be moved, copied, or edited at any time. Like any other aspect of the WordPress platform, blocks can be modified by any WordPress user and shared among the WordPress community. That makes it possible for developers to create new block types with specialized functions or customize existing block types even further to meet specific needs. The full version of Gutenberg is expected to be included with the upcoming release of WordPress 5.0 in mid or late 2018. But it’s now available as a WordPress plugin that can be installed alongside the “classic,” content editor for anyone who wants to take this new content creator for a test drive before the full release. Gutenberg’s block-based content creation system may take some getting used to—but its developers promise that this new, seamless page builder is the next step in the quest to make online publishing easy and accessible to everyone. The post Gutenberg: Understanding Blocks in the New Editor appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

5 Reasons To Start Your Blog This Holiday Season

The holidays always provide downtime for people to rest and recharge before heading into the new year. With all the free time you’ll have during this season, this is  the perfect time to set goals and plot the next steps in your website journey. Have you been itching to start a blog? Here are the 5 reasons you should get off the couch and start your blog this holiday season. 1.) You can save a ton with our awesome sale The holidays can be a busy time for everyone looking to shop, which is why you have to capitalize on the awesome Black Friday sales headed your way. Why stockpile on clothes and tech devices when you can invest in your blog by purchasing a web hosting plan for your site. Bluehost is giving new customers the gift of a basic shared hosting plan for $2.65/monthly at a 36-month term. If you are just beginning your web building journey, a basic shared hosting plan is perfect for launching a blog site. Your plan includes 50GB of storage, 5 email accounts, and free domain and SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to keep your site protected. With a sale this great, there’s nothing stopping you from starting your blog. 2.) The holiday spirit will fill you with inspiration Every great writer thrives off of inspiration that helps them create innovative content. The holidays provide countless options for the types of content you can create for a wide range of audiences. Use the holidays to your advantage by creating content that will be timely and resonate with people who are actively seeking posts, pictures, or media that is festive and fun. Blogs can be an interactive experience that reflects your personality and introduces visitors to what you are passionate about. Here are a few examples of blog content people will enjoy: Stocking stuffer ideas Holiday gift guides Favorite seasonal recipes How to shop on a budget Your favorite in-store sales If your think tank is running on low, reflect on what excites or interests you during the holidays and get creative. 3.) You can work ahead and start on your New Year’s resolutions You are already setting yourself up for success by launching your website before 2019. Look at the new year as an opportunity to create an plan to meet your goals for your blog. Time is of the essence when you are in the business of blogging, and you should get ahead of the curve by starting now rather than later. You can create plans for your blog based on how your blogs have performed during the holidays. Maybe you were experimenting with a certain theme or style for the holiday season and want to transition into a different format. You can use this time to lay the foundation for your site by creating blogs you enjoy and planning for your future content. 4.) You can create your content calendar at the beginning of the new year Nothing is better for your blog than preparedness. You can use the holidays as a great time to evaluate the content you enjoyed writing. Before writing your content calendar, you should evaluate how much time you can devote to posting over the next year. By starting your blog now, you can set realistic goals for 2019. Writing out a detailed content calendar will help you develop a timely posting schedule and decide what type of content you plan to create. As you continue to build an audience over the holiday season, how often you post your content will be vital to your site’s success. Whether you enjoy an old-fashioned planner—like me— or a spreadsheet, there are various resources you can use to help keep you organized. Online management tools like Trello and Coschedule offer different prices and monthly plans to keep you consistent and on track with your goals. 5.) You’re off work and maybe have time to start writing Being home for the holidays provides us with many opportunities to relax and take a break from work. However, in your spare time you can start putting your pen to paper and get some writing done. Blogs don’t have a set format, so you can practice different types of writing styles you may want for your site. A daily writing regime will help you get comfortable with your tone and assist in identifying who your blogs’ target audience will be. Your target audience is a major factor in how you write, therefore you should create content that will resonate with them and keep them coming back for more. Even if you end up with a handful of drafts, you are making a great first step in the direction of launching a successful blog. Don’t let turkey and dressing keep you slumped on the couch, take a walk and get inspired by the magic of the holiday season. Whether you are a new Bluehost customer purchasing a basic shared hosting plan for Black Friday or Cyber Monday or a current user who is ready to take their site to the next level with different deals, the time to start is now. Your blog is ready to be launched, what are you waiting for? The post 5 Reasons To Start Your Blog This Holiday Season appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

What Is VPS Hosting?

For growing businesses who need more hosting features than basic shared hosting, but aren’t ready for dedicated hosting on a private server, VPS, or virtual private server hosting, can fill the bill. Flexible, scalable, and more secure than shared hosting, VPS offers users the experience of a private server with the economy of a shared physical space. How Does VPS Hosting Services Work? VPS hosting combines features of both shared and dedicated hosting, designed for those whose sites have outgrown the limitations of a shared hosting environment. This hybrid model uses a form of virtual technology called hypervisor to partition a single server into multiple independent spaces, or virtual machines, each with its own operating system and infrastructure. Although each VPS site on the server operates in isolation, it receives an allocation of the server’s shared resources, which are distributed among all the sites using that server. A user’s virtual machine can be used to host a single company website, or to host multiple websites under a single account – a strategy that might be used by startup web hosting companies for hosting the sites of multiple customers. But, all sites hosted by an individual virtual machine must still draw a share from the available resources of the single hosting server. In this way, virtual private server hosting allows users to configure and manage sites independently, as with a dedicated server, but at a much lower cost. In a VPS hosting environment, users can enjoy complete control over virtually all aspects of a site’s features and functions, with better performance and scalability than shared hosting. For many businesses, VPS hosting services may have all the features needed to accommodate growth, without the need for “upgrading” to dedicated hosting at all. VPS Offers Control and Customization In shared hosting environments, users typically have relatively limited control over the features and functions of the sites they own. A host’s individual hosting packages can establish which aspects of a site can be changed or reconfigured but, in general parameters, are set by the host, and users typically are not given the level of access needed to configure core aspects of a site’s appearance and functions. As in all other hosting environments, the VPS hosting provider is responsible for the maintenance of the physical server, as well as for upgrading server software and managing its core resources of memory, bandwidth, and computing power. But, users can take control of all other aspects of configuring and managing their sites. In VPS hosting, users have full access to the site’s operating system, including unrestricted root access and administrator permissions. That allows site owners with experience in web development and design to configure their sites from the ground up, with the ability to configure the site’s infrastructure and install any software or applications that are relevant to the company’s operations. That might include installing industry-specific security features, payment gateways or apps for protecting consumer information. For those without this level of technical expertise, though, VPS hosting providers typically offer support and assistance for setting up and maintaining sites on the virtual server. VPS Improves Performance Sites in a shared hosting environment can be affected by issues involving neighboring sites on the server. Surges in traffic, security breaches, and other events affecting other sites can cause a site to experience slow speeds or downtime – or even crash because of sudden demand placed on a shared server’s resources spread among hundreds or thousands of sites. VPS hosting improves site performance because it reduces the risk of problems like this, although it doesn’t eliminate them entirely. Because each VPS site is isolated from others on the server, users face a lower risk of “contamination” from a compromised neighboring site. But VPS users still share a single server, even if it hosts fewer sites than a typical shared server would. That means that each account has an allocation of overall server resources, just as in a shared hosting environment. And, in the same way, when another site on the VPS server happens to draw more than its allotted share, that can affect the performance of other sites around it. VPS Enhances Security VPS hosting can be significantly more secure than shared hosting, thanks to the virtual partitioning that keeps sites separate. It also has the ability for users to install the kind of security features that are relevant to the site’s specific needs. VPS hosting providers are responsible for installing and maintaining the essential security features of the server itself, which provides protection against a wide range of web-based cyber threats or prevents cybercriminals from attacking. But, because sites on those servers maintain their separateness, the risk of infections by malware and viruses from an adjacent site is greatly reduced. Users are also able to directly install any type of security and monitoring applications they need within the site itself so that security measures can be customized to suit individual needs. VPS Can Be Scalable For users looking for more room to grow, VPS offers a level of scalability that’s beyond the scope of most shared hosting and offers users a smaller slice of a server’s shared resources. With fewer accounts drawing from the resources of a VPS server, users typically have access to more bandwidth and memory. But, those resources are still finite, so a site that experiences rapid growth and a significant increase in traffic may still need to upgrade to another service tier or find another hosting solution, such as a VPS host with larger allocations or even a dedicated hosting provider. An Economical Solution for Growing Businesses VPS hosting plans offer an economical hosting alternative for small but growing businesses. With basic VPS plans that can rival the higher tiers of shared hosting packages, VPS offers many of the benefits of much higher priced dedicated hosting services. Within the VPS hosting environment, users can also choose from a variety of tiered plans with varying service options ranging from completely unmanaged to managed services that handle most aspects of a site’s setup and daily maintenance. Within the parameters of the shared physical server, VPS hosting can be upgraded as needed, at predictable monthly rates. VPS hosting isn’t for everyone. But, this hybrid solution combines essential features of lower cost shared hosting with the privacy and control of higher-end dedicated server hosting to offer growing businesses a flexible hosting option for the present – and the future. The post What Is VPS Hosting? appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

What Does Gutenberg Mean for Developers?

Gutenberg, the first new content editor for WordPress in over a decade, is ready to roll out sometime in mid or late 2018 with the release of WordPress 5.0, and its arrival is already being met with nearly equal parts of anticipation and dread among WordPress developers and designers. Gutenberg promises to make it easier than ever to create dynamic, rich content in posts and pages with its system of visually based content blocks. But, although Gutenberg makes the tools of page building available to everyone, this new content creation system may also open new doors for WordPress professionals willing to work with, not against, its new features and functions. Gutenberg Changes the Content Creation Game Currently, the default WordPress content editor runs on a version of TinyMCE, a versatile rich text editor that includes both Visual and Text modes. It’s a simple content window that allows users to input text and insert images. For other kinds of tasks, such as inserting an image gallery or embedding multimedia content, users must typically turn to plugins or themes designed for specific functions such as a landing page or e-commerce site. Integrating and managing all these different elements can be difficult. But a page builder can simplify the process—and Gutenberg is a robust and efficient page builder. Page builders can create a dynamic post or page that integrates all these functions, and they make it easy to set up a website without any coding or site design experience. Until Gutenberg, page building plugins could be added to a WordPress site alongside the default editor, offering users the option of drag and drop page design as well as the flexibility of the core editor. But Gutenberg brings page design functionality to the editor itself with its system of movable, editable blocks that can contain everything from text to embedded media. And, once WordPress 5.0 rolls out, Gutenberg will be the default editor for the WordPress core. Gutenberg is a system that, as its developers at point out, revolutionizes WordPress content creation by making it possible for even a beginner with no site design experience to create rich, visually appealing pages and posts in minutes. But where does that leave seasoned developers and designers who have worked hard to acquire the specialized skills needed to build custom sites from scratch—or to create the many third-party WordPress themes and plugins that extend the functionality of WordPress sites? Gutenberg Offers Users New Options Page builders of all kinds offer a do it yourself solution to creating a website. That accounts for much of the appeal of “drag and drop,” site design options like Wix and SquareSpace. Now, Gutenberg brings a page builder system to the basic WordPress framework, too—and that can appeal to a wider group of new users who might otherwise not feel comfortable with the DIY approach to creating a WordPress site. But just because users can create appealing posts and pages on their own doesn’t mean that they will or that they should. Developers who can work with the features and functions of Gutenberg will still be in demand for clients who don’t want to take on the job of building pages at all—and for helping DIYers solve problems with the pages they’ve created on their own. Gutenberg Can Make Site Development More Efficient Some developers view building sites with page builders rather than custom coding as a shortcut that’s less professional than custom coding from scratch. But using Gutenberg’s block structure for site design can be an efficient way to quickly develop a site that meets a client’s expectations. Working with Gutenberg’s tools can streamline development tasks in other ways, too. Within Gutenberg, it’s possible to make custom adjustments to existing blocks in order to fine-tune the look and performance of an existing WordPress site. And it might also be necessary to make some adjustments to site’s core code to ensure that all its components are working well with Gutenberg. Gutenberg Creates Design Opportunities As the new default WordPress editor, Gutenberg is a part of the WordPress core, not simply an added option. And like other parts of WordPress, Gutenberg can also be modified and expanded by any member of the WordPress community. That opens new opportunities for designing custom blocks to meet specific needs or for modifying existing blocks to add custom functionality. Some WordPress experts predict that in the same way that many third-party developers are constantly creating new WordPress themes and plugins, designers may find a new niche for themselves in creating Gutenberg blocks that can be sold and managed like any other WordPress asset. Likewise, many WordPress professionals offer tutorials and courses on using WordPress for non-designers and beginning users. Now, some may opt to offer training in using Gutenberg as well. Gutenberg’s developers say that this new editor will forever change the way people think about and use WordPress. By making it easier than ever for even beginners with no coding experience to create striking webpages for sites of all kinds, Gutenberg advances the original goal of WordPress: to democratize online publishing. But the advent of Gutenberg also opens new doors for experienced WordPress users and development professionals willing to think outside the coding box and apply their skills in innovative ways. The post What Does Gutenberg Mean for Developers? appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

5 Tips for Awesome WordPress Website Building

Whether you’re a new website owner or a seasoned site developer, WordPress makes it easy to set up a website and pack it with the content you need to build your brand and promote your products. But building the ideal WordPress website for your business depends on making smart choices about its appearance, functions, and searchability. WordPress powers about a third of the world’s websites, and because it is free and open-source, it can be downloaded and used by anyone, in any setting. WordPress was originally designed for blogging, but with an array of general and industry-specific themes and plugins to extend a site’s functionality in virtually unlimited ways, it’s a versatile and scalable platform for new startups, small businesses and large corporations alike. Working with WordPress WordPress consists of three core components: the WordPress core code, which defines the basic structure of a site, themes that define a site’s appearance and layout, and plugins to add other kinds of functions like payment portals for e-commerce, galleries, portfolios, and live chat. New users with no coding experience can customize and set the functions of a new WordPress site from the site’s dashboard without ever working with the WordPress core code or the style sheets that define elements like colors, fonts, and images. More experienced developers can access those site files directly to make more complex changes. It is possible to create a WordPress website for just about any purpose – but to make your site easy to find, navigate and share, you’ll want to consider these five tips for building an awesome WordPress website that showcases your company and keeps customers coming back. Choose Your Theme Wisely Your site’s theme defines how your website will appear to visitors, so it is important to select a theme that both reflects your brand and provides a positive user experience. The WordPress theme directory is instantly accessible from any WordPress site and offers hundreds of free and premium themes, with many more available to purchase from third-party developers from around the world. Before picking a theme, spend some time considering how you want your site to look and what elements of your brand you want it to reflect, such as colors, fonts, styling, or images. Themes can be switched out if you find that your selection doesn’t work, but this can create problems for displaying content you’ve already created with the original theme. So, it pays to have a plan before going theme shopping. Free themes work well for site builders on a budget, but consider purchasing a premium theme for your business website if possible. Whether you purchase a theme outright from a developer or select a subscription option, you’ll get ongoing support, theme upgrades, and other features to take your site from good to great. Look for a theme that is light, fast loading, and mobile responsive to give your visitors the best possible experience on your site. Pick the Right Plugins WordPress users can choose from thousands of free and premium plugins from both the WordPress plugin directory and third-party developers, and there’s a plugin for just about every function your website needs. When you’re building your own suite of plugins, consider your site’s goals and purposes, as well as essential issues such as security and searchability. WordPress developers caution against overloading your site with too many non-essential plugins that can slow it down and cause compatibility issues, but aim for installing a core set of quality plugins for basic functions, such as: SEO (search engine optimization)Spam blockingSocial media sharingSecurity, particularly if your site involves transactions and storing sensitive data Depending on your site’s purpose, you may need to install other types of plugins, as well. Look for plugins that are compatible with the latest version of WordPress, and install updates to your current set of plugins whenever they become available. Make Your Site Mobile Friendly More than half of all web traffic worldwide comes from mobile devices, and mobile users want a quality experience on the sites they visit. Making your site mobile friendly extends the reach of your brand and encourages mobile users to keep coming back. Look for WordPress themes that are mobile responsive and consider installing the Google Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, plugin for WordPress, which optimizes select pages of your site for better viewing on mobile devices of all kinds. Install Analytics Analytics software plays an important role in business and commercial websites by providing insights about traffic, user behavior, and more. That information can be invaluable for guiding decisions about developing the site and creating the kind of content that appears there. Google Analytics is a free tool that can be installed on websites of all kinds, and a variety of analytics plugins that provide both basic statistics and more sophisticated tracking features are also available from the WordPress plugin directory and a variety of third-party developers. Add Lead Generation Tools Statistics show that 75 percent of people who visit a website, but take no action, leave the site and never return. That means business and commercial sites of all kinds need ways to engage visitors and turn them into customers and clients. Lead generation tools such as email list builders, opt-in forms, lead magnets, and landing pages can create two-way communication between your site and its visitors, and WordPress offers multiple ways to integrate lead generation on your site. Some themes are designed specifically with lead generation in mind, with templates for sales pages, squeeze pages, and landing pages. Additionally, a number of free and premium plugins feature tools for creating subscription forms, contact forms, live chat, email newsletters, and more. The best WordPress websites are fast loading, mobile friendly, and optimized for search and a great user experience. With the right combination of themes, plugins, and tools for searchability and lead generation, your WordPress website can showcase your brand to the world and turn browsers into buyers. The post 5 Tips for Awesome WordPress Website Building appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

Exploring Gutenberg: Learning To Navigate The New WordPress Editor

As a free, open source content management system, WordPress continues to excel in providing its users with innovative tools that can help provide success for their online web presence. WordPress is changing the game of website building with the new Gutenberg content editor that is set to launch in November as part of the WordPress 5.0 update. Gutenberg is an addition to the WordPress platform that will transform the way websites and content is displayed through a series of customizable blocks. This will allow users the flexibility to control the way their content appears on the page and create an easier building experience for anyone looking to create a website. With so many content management systems out there, why would you choose WordPress? We believe in WordPress for a number of reasons, but most important is that WordPress is powerful. Over 30% of the internet uses WordPress to power their websites while the next largest CMS has only 3.2% in comparison. WordPress is an open source project— which means it is free and can be redistributed or modified by anyone and it was created with the goal to democratize the web. Updates like Gutenberg ensure that it will stay around forever and evolve with time. Gutenberg makes the design and publishing process more visual for non-technical website builders which makes for an easier content creation process. The simple design has everything you need to create custom and engaging pages and posts. My life’s work is improving WordPress. I firmly believe that Gutenberg is the direction that will provide the most benefit to the maximum number of people while being totally in line with core WordPress’s philosophies and commitment to user freedom. So keep giving us your feedback, and let’s push through the fear together. It’s worth a little discomfort to change the world. Matt Mullenweg We’re moving from text boxes to blocks The current editor is known as the text-based TinyMCE (WYSIWYG) editor and it currently runs on a PHP/HTML/CSS but does not allow for a visual editing experience. It is a heavily text-based editor and without coding experience can restrict customization for content creators without coding knowledge. It allows for HTML editing and the addition of media; however, it does not allow users to create custom features within a post. Gutenberg requires new and different skills (Javascript and React) along with long-established WordPress development skills (PHP and HTML/CSS).  This marks an entirely new frontier for many WordPress professionals. Why is the change happening now? The name “Gutenberg,” derives from Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the first movable printing press. This invention changed the way written content was distributed and the way content was published. The Gutenberg editor does the same for the online publishing experience. This is a welcome change for WordPress and allows for a more seamless website building experience for users who are not able to write code. It also makes for a simplified mobile editing experience. This means you will be able to edit your website or blog content even easier from your mobile device. Gutenberg focuses on your content, which is your websites most valuable asset. The new editor also allows for developers to create guard rails so to speak that will guide content editors to their intended goals. Imagine that it is similar to the bumpers that are used to improve your performance when bowling. Developers and agencies will also have the opportunity to create interactive and custom templates that everyday users can easily update without the fear of breaking their website. Building blocks and how to benefit from them Remember the blocks you played with as a child? You’d build a castle or a highway and then tear it down and build something else? Well, Gutenberg blocks work in a similar way for your website.  The new editor separates all the elements that could coexist on a page or post into individual units called blocks. Blocks can contain items such as text, images, videos, links, widgets or quotes, and more. Users can select the appropriate box for the content they want to insert from a block menu that includes all possible block types. The content of each block can be edited separately, so Gutenberg makes it possible to completely customize its appearance. Images and video are automatically embedded in their appropriate blocks, and all blocks can be moved and sized independently of each other. You can still navigate between CSS and HTML views without leaving the editor, and it’s just as easy to alternate between the text and visual editors familiar from the text editor. One huge bonus to the block editing capabilities of Gutenberg is the ability to see how a finished page can look while it’s being edited, which is a feature you do not have in the text-based editor. This allows users to adjust sizing, spacing, and more in real time, without switching to a preview mode after creating a page or post. The ability to actually see and make changes to your blog on the go – or even post a blog with custom features from your phone is just one of the many updates Gutenberg will bring to WordPress. Text pasted from Word or Google Docs will get cleaned up and converted to blocks automatically and instantly. The blocks make perfect use of spacing between each of them so your galleries and blog posts look cleaner than ever before. What if you decide at the last minute you no longer want that image at the top of your post? No worries, just drag that block to where you want it on the page. If you don’t have the ability to create custom blocks yourself or the resources to hire a developer or agency, you still have access to some default blocks that will still give you options you don’t currently have. Here are a few examples of the default blocks: Another cool feature is that every block you create can get its own layout and settings that you can save these as reusable blocks! Meaning, you can add custom color, fonts, and more—and save it as a block you can drag and drop in the future. How To Prepare For Gutenberg Before Gutenberg integrates into WordPress on November 27, there are some steps you should take before then. Install and activate the Gutenberg plugin By installing and activating the plugin today, you are able to see what your website will look like after the 5.0 update. This can help you decide whether or not you want to Install and use the Classic Editor, or if you need to look for plugins that are compatible with Gutenberg. If you activate the Gutenberg plugin, you should check your pages and plugins to ensure there is no loss of functionality and if not, you are good to go! Here’s how to install the plugin: 1.) Click on the Plugins bar to the left of your WordPress dashboard 2.) Choose ‘Add New.’ 3.) Under the ‘Featured Plugins,’ click to install the Gutenberg plugin 4.) You will then need to Activate the plugin in order for it to work on your site Create a copy of your site in a staging environment If you have access to a staging environment—like all Bluehost customers—you can test your site before the update. This can help prevent decreased functionality if you have a plugin or theme that does not work well with Gutenberg. There are currently 56,285 plugins in the repository and not all of them are compatible, therefore they should be tested now. Pro tip: Before installing any new plugins or changing your them, check the documentation to ensure they are compatible with Gutenberg. We look forward to seeing everyone flourish with the new Gutenberg editor! We will continue to support our customers as we transition with WordPress into the future with this exciting new editor. The post Exploring Gutenberg: Learning To Navigate The New WordPress Editor appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

Top Tools for Small Businesses

Building a robust online presence is a must for small businesses of all kinds, as it offers new opportunities to boost brand awareness, build relationships, and compete in a rapidly growing global marketplace. Many free and premium tools are available to help both online-only entrepreneurs and owners of “brick and mortar” businesses to expand their brand in the digital world, and the list continues to grow. But, which ones make the most sense for your business? Here’s a look at some of the top online business tools for essential functions to help small businesses grow an effective – and lucrative – online presence. Build Your Toolkit With Goals in Mind Hundreds of apps and free WordPress plugins are available to perform just about every kind of business-related task, from scheduling meetings to bookkeeping. Every business has unique needs related to its niche, company culture and mission, and building a “go-to,” kit of online tools to keep the company running smoothly needs to keep those things in mind. In general, though, just about every business needs management tools for organizing finances and handling payments, communication, marketing, and social sharing, and handling documents. These popular online tools for handling those and related tasks are all available in a cloud-based form, so users don’t have to install software on local computers in order to use them. Financial and Accounting Tools Businesses of all sizes and types need reliable and accurate ways to track finances and manage taxes, and a variety of online apps exist to fill the bill. The most versatile and user-friendly of these, according to business accounting specialists, is the well-known Intuit QuickBooks. QuickBooks is a one-stop solution for handling billing, preparing taxes and managing day-to-day accounting tasks. It’s available both for purchase in the traditional desktop software bundle or by subscription in the cloud, with monthly plans for users ranging from independent contractors to small business owners and providers of both services and products. Payment Gateway Tools For businesses that take online payments for services or products, a secure payment gateway is essential for keeping transactions and customer data safe from theft or compromise. Major e-commerce platforms provide their own payment frameworks, but a variety of free and premium gateway applications with features including SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology and encryption to keep transactions secure, but users can download and install a variety of cloud-based payment portals for taking payments directly from a company website. The best known of these is, of course, PayPal, which offers both personal and premium business versions, along with a variety of other business services such as invoicing. Related products offering secure payment options for credit and debit card transactions include Stripe and Square, with a variety of tiered plans with additional services available. Communication Apps for Far-Flung Teams A variety of communication and scheduling apps are available to help company staff stay connected and in sync on projects that involve coordinating the efforts of individuals working in locations around the country – or around the world. Topping the list is Slack, a cloud-based messaging and connectivity app that helps teams brainstorm as well as share documents, images, and video. Slack allows users to create multiple workspaces with direct and team messaging, with a variety of extensions for additional functionality in its tiered plans for business and enterprise users. For video conferencing and in-person calling, apps such as Skype and create virtual chat rooms for live discussion and meetings, while GoToMeeting allows users to schedule webinars, online workshops, and conferences with users around the world. Digital Marketing and Social Sharing Apps For businesses in niches of all kinds, online marketing through social networks can build awareness and attract new customers. Content creation, social media sharing, and search engine optimization plugins can help boost a company’s online presence and save time and resources. With robust features for promoting and sharing content on social media accounts and publishing sites like Medium, social media management plugins and apps such as Hootsuite and Buffer allow users to schedule content for posting to a variety of social media accounts, along with social media management tools to track engagement and activity. Both platforms offer a free basic version or free trial, with additional tiered plans for more features and business-related services. Analytics tools can also boost the success of digital marketing, and Google’s suite of analytics and keyword planners provide tools for optimizing your website content and metadata for search rankings, and for tracking user engagement and the performance of different types of shared content. Both are available for free from Google. Yoast is one of the most famous SEO tools that can help ensure web content such as blog posts or pages are optimized for search engine results. The basic version can be added to WordPress websites as a free plugin, and premium versions with additional features are available from the developer. Document Sharing and Collaboration Tools Whether a group is working on a publication or two people want to discuss a memo, sharing documents quickly and easily with all relevant parties is essential for smooth collaboration and communication. With online apps that can be accessed from any device, it’s possible to collaborate and keep projects on track in real time, with no need for downloading, printing, or emailing. Google Drive/Google Docs is accessible from anywhere, offering options for storing documents in the cloud and allowing for editing and sharing right on the page. Google Docs can also be used as an online writing tool for creating new documents, and cloud storage makes it easy to keep and share them. Another efficient and popular cloud-based document sharing tool, Dropbox is available in both free and paid formats, depending on the amount of storage needed, and links to the documents stored there can be shared with anyone. With cloud-based functionality and free versions and trials, online tools for small business owners can save time, resources, and money. The top online marketing tools for small businesses are scalable, versatile, and easy to use – and no matter what the task might be, there’s always an app to help. The post Top Tools for Small Businesses appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

GutenTalks: Core Developer William Earnhardt

As we are counting down the days until the new Gutenberg editor will merge into WordPress core, users are eager to learn about how the editor will change the WordPress experience. Core Developer William Earnhardt pens a letter sharing his thoughts on accessibility, favorite features about Gutenberg, and what he learned working behind the scenes on the new editor. Gutenberg is coming our way and it’s bringing some great changes to the WordPress platform. I know there have been concerns about Gutenberg, but this project is pushing WordPress into the future. As a developer who has been fortunate enough to work behind the scenes on this project, I’m here to share my thoughts on the improvements that have been a labor of love for everyone involved. Let’s start with accessibility. Across the web, accessibility has become a bigger concern than in years past. In tech and software fields and everything in between, it’s just overall a more discussed topic. Accessibility is more high profile and visible right now in the WordPress community due to the mixed feelings about the Gutenberg project. When accessibility topics came up with regard to Gutenberg, people who may not have normally been involved, have been more vocal. The biggest talking point around Gutenberg is not about micro-level issues, but more so about the cognitive overload and the complexity of the new editor. It’s not one little thing that’s been deemed an issue by the community—it’s rather the entire interface potentially being overwhelming to comprehend for someone with a visual impairment. As far as WordPress itself, Gutenberg provides lots of enhancements with regards to accessible content and considerations for those who have visual impairments or people using screen readers. These conversations have led to a renewed focus on accessibility. Automattic has assigned a full time developer to the project and WPCampus is seeking a professional accessibility audit on Gutenberg. I previously worked for the University of North Carolina, and as a public university we were required to follow federal accessibility laws. We had to think about this when training users on how to do things such as add images to content in an accessible way, and which colors to use for contrast purposes. To have tools to help with this as part of Gutenberg is amazing and it’s a huge step forward that will help users on the front end. I’ve learned that there isn’t just a checkbox you can mark off with accessibility—there are so many different levels to it. Gutenberg will undoubtedly be better than the Classic Editor when all is said and done and there are big improvements in Gutenberg currently that didn’t exist before. One of the great things about receiving so much feedback from the community is that it has helped us to continually improve Gutenberg. Gutenberg will be the largest and most controversial update ever introduced into core. One thing that’s helped this merge be more successful is the increase of people being able to test it before it’s been live. No other updates have ever had this amount of installs—I believe Gutenberg has over 600,000 installs today. That additional user feedback has been immensely helpful in improving the user interface. The “Try Gutenberg,” messaging plus Bluehost auto installing Gutenberg for all new customers has dramatically increased the number of people testing the plugin. That feedback has helped us to identify where to focus our efforts before the 5.0 update. As a core contributor hearing all the feedback over the past few months has impacted not only how I see my job, but my reaction to others. It’s important to make sure that people know their feedback is being heard. One complaint I have seen about Gutenberg, is people feeling like their concerns are not being listened to. But as someone working on it, it’s important to let people know we aren’t just making our own decisions, we are listening and we are working on things. Despite some of the  backlash, we always make sure user feedback was incorporated into Gutenberg, which has been evident by the frequent updates and changes. I think if we remember that we all want to make WordPress better, it’ll make these growing pains a little easier. We have done our best to make this a smooth transition for users, but we could have probably done a better job of integrating the accessibility team and the public into the feedback loop. We repeatedly analyzed feedback, made changes, and released updates in a continuous loop that has been in progress for two years now, but there could have been a tighter connection between the accessibility team and the developer team throughout. While this has been challenging at times, it’s strengthened my understanding and knowledge of Gutenberg and the community. For users looking to help with the project, documentation is a great way to start without having any technical knowledge. We don’t have the best user documentation and there is a huge push for that — there are several people leading that charge to make sure there is good documentation before 5.0 is live. As I’ve gotten to work with Gutenberg more over the past few months there have been a few features that excite me both as a user and a developer. The Slash inserter is awesome to me because I prefer to use the keyboard alone. Also, I’m not fond of shortcodes because they aren’t really HTML and also not content— it’s not a great user experience. And then when you start nesting shortcodes, they just turn into a soup of characters that is difficult to read. Now, in Gutenberg, to be able to visually SEE the changes you are putting in is really nice and it makes for an inspiring experience. We will see more of that as more plugins build more advanced blocks. PRO TIP/ + typing the block name that you want is a great trick for those who only like using the keyboard.  If I could give any piece of advice to a new or advanced user about Gutenberg, here’s what I suggest: Try to learn the basics of the interface first because once you understand the concept of the block and the simple interface elements like the block inserter and the / shortcuts, the rest of it will come really naturally. For advanced users who are likely coming from the classic editor, the basics can still be beneficial to help set a good foundation for efficiency going forward. My observation has been that people who are experiencing WordPress for the first time are having an easier time with Gutenberg than those who have previously worked with the classic editor.  A lot is changing, but I think once people learn their new workflows, it will be much smoother for them. I have enjoyed working on Gutenberg because I am excited about it being part of core. I know it’s going to be a great thing and I look forward to working on Phase 2 next year. Most of my work on Gutenberg so far has been around Rest API interactions, but I am excited to get more deeply involved with JavaScript development. I can’t wait to see what users and developers create with Gutenberg once it’s ready. It is truly a joy and an honor to contribute to a project that is so meaningful to so many people. The WordPress community is amazing and I’m thankful to be a part of it. William Earnhardt   William works for Bluehost as a WordPress core contributor. He’s been working with WordPress for over a decade in many forms—as a freelancer, for an international non-profit, in the enterprise, and in higher education.  The post GutenTalks: Core Developer William Earnhardt appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

Using AMP for WordPress: A Beginner’s Guide

By 2015, mobile web traffic outpaced traditional desktop use for the first time. Now, more than half of all web traffic worldwide originates from a mobile device – and of those users, 57 percent say they won’t use or recommend a business whose website is not optimized for mobile. Making sure your WordPress website is mobile friendly is essential in today’s highly mobile digital world, and that means ensuring that a page’s load time is fast and is easy to read on small screens. That’s the goal of Google’s new Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP – an open source initiative to make websites of all kinds more accessible on smartphones and tablets. Google AMP is available as a free plugin for WordPress websites, and it can be easily installed and customized to boost your brand’s visibility across mobile platforms of all kinds. How Does AMP Work? Websites can be slow to load on mobile devices because of the many elements they contain, based on different programming languages and protocols. For the same reason, websites may not appear correctly when viewed on a mobile device. This creates a less than optimal user experience that can drive users away, never to return. In fact, nearly half (46 percent) of users in a recent survey about mobile buying habits said that if they had a poor mobile experience with a particular brand, they would never buy from that company again. Google AMP is a technology that aims to prevent that scenario. As the name suggests, AMP “accelerates” the accessibility of web pages on mobile devices by placing a stripped down version of the page with minimal HTML and Javascript in Google’s AMP cache. The cached page is then served to mobile users instead of the full web page, which makes for faster loading and gets essential content in front of them immediately. Along with Google, the Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative is backed by numerous web innovators such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit. Because it is open source and freely available to everyone, AMP is designed to work on all applications, browsers, and web viewers. WordPress users can install AMP in minutes from the WordPress plugin directory and customize it through the settings on the site’s Admin dashboard. Google encourages the use of AMP by rewarding AMP optimized pages. Using the AMP plugin for WordPress can boost a site’s ranking in mobile search results, and AMP optimized content can improve a site’s visibility and attract more traffic. But AMP does have some drawbacks. Because AMP uses minimal code for quick loading, it can’t include all the elements on a fully functioning webpage, such as certain widgets or embedded content. This means that a webpage viewed with AMP doesn’t look exactly the same as how the original page would appear on a desktop or laptop, and users don’t have access to the full range of features available on the original page. This can lead to a negative user experience too, especially for viewers who are using the site for conducting transactions like online shopping. AMP allows for some customization of the way a site will appear in mobile viewing, but options are limited due to AMP’s stripped down functioning. WordPress users can work around this problem with a few other plugins, but it can be difficult to give mobile visitors the full viewing experience of a carefully crafted webpage. Another problem for some users is that AMP currently supports only Google Analytics. Users of other analytics tools won’t be able to easily get a clear picture of how their site’s AMP optimized pages are performing on mobile. Using AMP for WordPress AMP is easy to install and use on your WordPress site, but it can be harder to uninstall if you decide it’s not for you. After deactivating and uninstalling AMP, switching back to non-AMP optimized posts requires setting up 301 redirects back to the original posts. Still, if your site receives a considerable amount of mobile traffic, or if you’re hoping to boost its Google rankings and visibility on mobile, installing and implementing AMP for WordPress pages can be a smart move. Here’s how to add AMP to your WordPress website. Install the AMP Plugin The AMP plugin is available for free through the WordPress plugin directory. To install this free WordPress plugin on your site, open the plugins tab from your WordPress site admin dashboard. Click ‘Add New’ and search for the AMP plugin. Click ‘Install’ and then activate the plugin. AMP now appears in your site’s Appearance tab, and you can begin customizing its settings. Customize Settings Google AMP comes with basic options for customizing the way your site will display on mobile screens. Choose from a series of AMP WordPress theme templates, or change the heading and display colors from the available customization options. As you edit, AMP displays the page as it will appear on mobile devices. Any page that is mobile optimized with AMP will have /amp/ added to its permalink. AMP also includes a set of Advanced Setting options that allows for customizing the behavior of mobile-optimized pages, including an option to select specific pages you want to designate as mobile-ready. Customize Further with The Yoast Plugin AMP itself doesn’t offer many ways to customize your site’s mobile display, but many WordPress users have discovered that it is possible to make more changes to an AMP display with a combination of two other plugins: the popular SEO Yoast plugin and a related one called Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP. Both are free from the WordPress plugin directory. Yoast is a robust SEO plugin for optimizing every post and page for search with keywords, metadata, and more. Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP integrates Yoast SEO functions into all your site’s AMP pages, which helps to ensure that metadata will display correctly on mobile devices. As a bonus, Glue Yoast AMP also allows users to add more customization to AMP-optimized pages so that they more closely match the styling of the site’s full display. To access these options, install the Yoast SEO plugin, if your site isn’t already using it. Then, install the Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP  plugin. From the site dashboard, select SEO > AMP from the Settings tab and follow the prompts to change the page’s colors, link styles, and more. Mobile devices account for more than half of all online transactions in the world, and your site needs to have a fast load time and is visually appealing to keep these users coming back.  Free and easy to install, AMP works on any platform to make your WordPress site accessible with increased speed for users on the go using a mobile device. The post Using AMP for WordPress: A Beginner’s Guide appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

3 Ways to Deck Your Online Store for the Holidays

Just hear that “jingle-ing, ring-ting tingle-ing,” of customers clicking away on your site as they start to shop for the holiday season. During the holidays, people get all their shopping completed and they’re looking for stores that will give them the best deal. This season is the perfect time to have fun with your ecommerce store by decorating it with content that has awesome holiday elements your visitors will love. Looking to deck out your store for the holidays? Here are three ways you can bring the holiday spirit to your ecommerce site. 1.) Spruce up your site with holiday branding The end of the year brings plenty of opportunities to have some fun with your brand or company by incorporating festive elements to your ecommerce store. You don’t have to do a holiday overhaul on your site to make customers happy, but incorporating some detailed elements to your site can affect customer sentiment when they are interacting with your site. How a customer engages with your site is often measured in two factors: “communicability,” and “aesthetic.” Communicability measures how website content can positively or negatively impact consumer perception. This is extremely vital because the text, video, or visual content on your site can influence whether a customer makes a purchase or not. The aesthetic is how the elements of order, balance, and clarity affect customer sentiment. When you are deciding whether to update your theme, logo, or site design, you want to create brand favorability that can entice new customers without deterring your current audience. A great example of a small holiday touch to a brand that is trendy, but doesn’t alienate users is Google’s annual festive update to their company logo. A snowflake here and some jingle bells there is an awesome way to get creative with your site design this season. You may have so much fun with adding these touches to your site that you decide to expand by creating holiday-themed content or sales that your users can engage with. 2.) Create holiday content your readers will love The holiday’s don’t have to create a stress on your online store, you can make your audience smile with festive content to boost sales. The great thing about the holiday season is that there are numerous celebrations to highlight so you aren’t limited in what content you want to create. Content marketing during the holidays allows you to develop high-quality content that can stimulate your visitors using blogs, videos, or social media. It’s an excellent way to engage your visitors by creating timely, holiday-themed content that builds brand awareness and shows your personality. Here a few examples of the types of holiday content you can add to your ecommerce store: Sales graphics Banners Best Selling Items Markdown items A “Best of 2018,” list Customers want to be directed to where they can save and get reasonably priced products or services and incorporating holiday content gives you the power to leverage your sales. The end of the year is the perfect time to audit your inventory and create a specialized holiday page that your visitors can easily access. If you don’t have the time to create brand new content, you can repurpose your favorite holiday content from previous years and just update the information. Visitors will love that you are getting into the holiday spirit. 3.) Highlight your favorite products with a holiday gift guide During this busy season, people want to get their holiday gifts quickly with minimal stress. We all know the dread of fighting shoppers in the mall or camping out till midnight during Black Friday, which is why the online sales are projected to rise 22% during the 2018 holiday season. Online shopping is fast, painless, and users have the benefit of crossing out their gift list from the comfort of their couch. Creating a gift guide is a great marketing tool for small businesses to showcase your products or services in a fun and trendy format. Some of the best and biggest brands create holiday gift guides to captivate their audiences and boost holiday sales. Writing out a holiday gift guide can increase your SEO and direct your audience to overlooked items or services you want to market. You can create several gift guides based on different themes or categories such as gifts under $10 or your favorite stocking stuffers. If you have a multitude of products or services and don’t know where to start, you can begin by identifying your target audience when writing out your guides and categorizing your products around their interests. You can add personalized touches to your guide by adding holiday-themed photos of a specific product or writing a “thank you,” note to your visitors. It’s never too late to make your ecommerce site a bit merrier with some interactive and engaging holiday content. Prepare your updates ahead of time so your site will be holiday ready and you can kick back with some eggnog and watch the sales roll in. How do you plan to deck out your site during the holidays? Let us know below! The post 3 Ways to Deck Your Online Store for the Holidays appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

Gutenberg Custom Blocks for Content Creation

Gutenberg, the new WordPress content editor, is coming, and it promises an entirely new way to create and organize content on your WordPress site. Planned to launch with WordPress 5.0 with an anticipated launch date in fall 2018, Gutenberg is based on a system of blocks – movable containers for everything from text to images and multimedia. And while Gutenberg comes with a lengthy list of premade blocks designed to handle most basic content creation tasks, users can also customize these blocks or add specially developed custom blocks for their own unique needs. Gutenberg is a New Kind of Content Editor Gutenberg is a page builder, a WYSIWYG content editor that relies heavily on visual elements. This represents a major change to the familiar WordPress rich text editor that allows a user to insert any kind of content, from all kinds of sources, into a simple content box that can contain both text and a variety of multimedia and image features. However, even though this open editor comes with an extensive set of editing tools and options for inserting and adjusting images in both HTML and visual modes, it doesn’t offer much flexibility for controlling the appearance of a page or post. Gutenberg promises to change all of that. Named after Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, this new WordPress editor is based on a system of blocks, self-contained elements that can be selected from a menu of preset block types or installed as custom block plugins. To create a media-rich post or page in WordPress, users simply choose the blocks they need, size them as they wish, and add the elements that they want to appear on the page. Gutenberg’s developers say this makes it easy for users of all skill levels, from beginners to experienced developers, to design visually appealing, media-rich WordPress pages and posts without having to adjust for different file types and interfaces. Gutenberg has been available for a while as a plugin for interested users to install alongside the standard text editor, but it will be a part of the WordPress core when WordPress 5.0 rolls out. What Are Gutenberg Blocks? In Gutenberg, every page or post is made up of a collection of individual blocks, which can then be arranged as a user wishes and filled with the relevant kind of content. Block presets are accessible from the Add Block menu in the Gutenberg dashboard, and users can choose from blocks for things like titles, text, dividers, headers or video in order to construct a page or post. Blocks can be moved or resized as needed to achieve the look and layout a user wants, which offers far more flexibility and control over the look and feel of the content than the standard editor does. Selecting a particular block opens all the tools that apply to the block so that it can be edited as needed. For example, selecting a header or paragraph block opens an array of editing tools similar to those on the standard content editor, and choosing an image block brings up tools needed for resizing and positioning visual content from either an external source or the site’s media library. Blocks make it easy for users to actually see the layout of a particular piece of content before it is published, and to move and edit elements as often as needed to get the right look. Gutenberg also includes some templates and allows users to create and save their own, which can help to streamline the content creation process. The Gutenberg block library is extensive, but in some situations, it might not have the kind of block a user needs.  Like WordPress themes and plugins, custom blocks can be purchased from third-party developers who produce specialized WordPress assets, or they can be created by users with coding skills. Working With Custom Blocks in Gutenberg Gutenberg blocks can fill many functions that are usually provided by WordPress plugins, such as adding galleries, slideshows, and other specialized elements that aren’t part of the WordPress core framework. Custom blocks for specific functionalities are generally developed as plugins, too, since they act as containers for content, not simply as modifications to a theme’s appearance. In this way, they remain independent of updates or changes that affect the theme itself. Custom blocks can add even more flexibility and niche-specific functionality to a WordPress site’s pages and posts, and combined with preset blocks from the block library, they can streamline the content creation process considerably. With custom blocks for a website’s specific needs, users can create unique, media-rich content in minutes, with no coding required. Custom blocks for Gutenberg can be purchased from theme developers and marketplaces worldwide. Because Gutenberg was created by a team of WordPress developers, it’s free and open source like WordPress itself, so anyone is free to create assets for it. Custom blocks can be downloaded and installed like other plugins. Once installed, they appear in the Gutenberg block library for use like other blocks. Building Custom Blocks for Gutenberg WordPress users with coding and web development experience can also create their own custom blocks, or modify existing blocks for added functionality. Custom blocks generally function like plugins, so users with experience building plugins can create them from scratch for specific purposes – but a number of block-building tools are also available to streamline the process and make it easier to create and register a custom block for use by the entire WordPress community. These block generating toolkits, such as create-guten-block, can be deployed on a test site and configured to meet user specifications, then installed on a WordPress site. Gutenberg is a “drag and drop” page building tool that can make content creation easier and faster for both new and experienced WordPress users. For nervous new adopters, WordPress says it will continue to make the Classic Editor plugin available alongside Gutenberg as users adjust to the new tool, but with an extensive library of preset blocks and the option to add custom blocks for all kinds of specific functions, Gutenberg will change the way users think about creating content for their WordPress sites. The post Gutenberg Custom Blocks for Content Creation appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

8 Tips For a Successful Holiday Email Marketing Campaign

The holiday season is coming up on us fast. As an entrepreneur, this is one of the most important parts of the year. This is the period where you make the most money. Sales during the holiday season are on an upward trend. Between 2016 and 2017, sales have increased by a whopping 5.5%. There are no signs of sales slowing down, so it’s predicted that holiday profits are only going to increase in the coming years. It’s time to start getting your holiday marketing plan in motion. We are here to help you learn some tricks of the trade so you can boost your profits, engage more customers, and start the new year on the right foot. Without any further delay. Here are 8 tips to build an excellent holiday email marketing campaign. Start Early One of the most important things you can do when scheduling your email marketing campaign is make sure you plan ahead. You absolutely cannot wait until mid-December to start sending out emails. The sooner you start, the better. Many marketers kick off their holiday promotions during the first week of November. There are multiple benefits to planning ahead and starting early. First, the earlier you start, the more people you can reach. If you’re scrambling to send out emails during the first week of December, you’ll be at a disadvantage when compared to the marketer who started dripping out holiday marketing emails during the first week of November. Next, you’ll have more time to build high-quality marketing campaigns. You can tell when someone sends you a rushed email versus someone who takes their time to articulate every word and get their point across. You want to be part of the latter group. Market for Every Holiday It’s easy to create a Christmas marketing campaign and call it a day. But if you want to make real progress, you need to make sure you cover every single holiday possible. You can create Thanksgiving promotions, Black Friday Deals, Cyber Monday Blockbusters, Winter Solace Sales, and more. As you’re working with your marketing team, consider the major and minor holidays throughout the season and make sure you target your customers during this time. For example, Target and other big name box stores often create curated emails based on their hottest selling items. In the following ad, notice the bright contrasting colors, the smiling faces, and the phrase “early access” to entice people to take advantage of these deals before they expire. It’s possible to create an ad similar to the one below for virtually every holiday. (Target Holiday Email Ad: If you touch on all of the holidays, you’ll increase your visibility and boost your sales. If someone gets your Winter Solace Sale email on December 21st, it might trigger something in a customer to make them say, “Oh, I forgot to buy something for (relative)!” And that’s where your business comes in. Create a Sense of Urgency If you want to get sales, you have to learn how to create a sense of urgency — today! See how that works? When you use words like “act today,”  “limited time offer,” “this week only,” or any variation of those phrases you trigger a buying instincts in customers. Urgency plays on the social engineering of customers and encourages them to make a purchase. They don’t want to miss out on the special offer or promotion.  We are all familiar with one day only Black Friday deals. However, you can apply this strategy to any holiday. For example, you can have a “Thanksgiving Weekend Sale.” This simple trick can boost your click-throughs and sales significantly. In the following Christmas ad, you can see the “sense of urgency,” marketing tactic in use. In big, bold print they let you know that this is a “Limited Time Offer.” This image further draws in the audience with festive graphics and the phrase “Treat Yourself A Nice Gift.” It’s supposed to make you think –“I’d love a gift, but I have to act now.” (Ad Featuring a Sense of Urgency: Use Festive Optin Forms Optin forms are an excellent tool that can help surge the growth of your business. During the holiday season, it’s helpful if you make holiday-themed optin popups to encourage your customer to sign up for your newsletter or take advantage of your offer. You can create custom optin popups based on the behavior of your visitors. If they go to leave the website, you can trigger a popup that encourages them to sign up for your newsletter for special promotes. This is the perfect time to get their attention, add them to your lead list, and potentially convert. It’s also possible for you to encourage customers to make a purchase today by using the aforementioned sense of urgency. You could create an optin that says “Limited Time Christmas Offer 35% Off NOW!” It’s possible to add countdown timers and custom artwork to make your optin form pop. The next graphic shows a unique optin ad. As you can see, they fit their promotion, 30% off for 2 months, with a festive template. The options also clearly show that there is a correct choice. The average person would look at this ad and say “Of course I want to save, and no, why would I want to pay more?” The holiday themed coupon code is the final touch that makes this optin ad shine. (Holiday Optin Ad: While an optin form is something you would generally add to your website, it’s also an excellent tool to help fuel your email marketing campaign by encouraging people to subscribe and get future emails from you. Use Holiday Themed Text and Email Templates When you’re sending out your marketing emails, you have to make sure that you’re expressing holiday cheer. You can do this with your email subject heading, body, and email template. Email subject lines should always be short and sweet. You make want to try something like “Happy Holidays! Get 20% Off Now!” Some email applications let you use emoticons like Christmas trees and Santa emojis. These little touches are sometimes enough to encourage people to click-through. Once they open your email, they are going to want to see an email that matches the subject line. Luckily, there are plenty of great holiday-themed templates for you to use when crafting your emails. After you pick a template, you can add your own personal touch to make your emails unique. Abandoned Cart Follow Up Since the holidays are so hectic, often times people will start placing orders and then get interrupted. Maybe they found a deal elsewhere, they got busy, or the person they were shopping for walked in the room. As a result, they abandon their shopping cart. You can pull a percentage of these people back to your website for them to complete the sale if you know how to reach them. Retargeting pixels are used to capture the email addresses of people who start an order but don’t complete it. If someone begins to place an order but gets interrupted, you can direct their email address to a specific lead list. Once this happens, you can schedule periodic reminders that they have a vacant cart on your website. Many companies opt for 3 reminders. They will get one email within the hour, one within 24 hours, and one within a week. SalesForce data revealed that 60% of people who received personalized abandoned cart emails followed through with their purchase within 24 hours. Create a Referral Program Believe it or not, word of mouth is one of the best forms of marketing a business could hope for. If you want to see your sales grow, send out emails to customers who have shopped with you in the past and let them know that they can save some cash, or earn some money, by referring a friend. You could encourage customers to get one friend to sign up for 10% off their next order, 2 friends for 20%, and so on. There are nearly infinite possibilities when building a referral system. It’s possible to merge this system with the holidays by telling them that you’re celebrating the season of giving by offering free gifts to them and anyone they get to sign up for your newsletter or make a purchase. If you’re delivering quality service, you’ll discover that many people will jump at the chance to get a discount on their next purchase if they refer a friend. They want to spread the word because they believe in your brand. Use A/B Testing A/B testing is a method of marketing that involves you sending out two campaigns or ads at the same time and monitoring the results in real time to see which performs better. You can apply this method to your email marketing plan for the holidays. For example, create multiple Black Friday and Cyber Monday ad campaigns and send them out early. Check the engagement to see which two are more popular in terms of click-throughs and conversions. You can also A/B test a regular ad against a holiday themed ad and gauge which one gets better click-throughs that lead to more conversions. It’s possible to break this down further and try various holiday themed ads in order to build the perfect blend of advertisement and holiday cheer to your customers.   (Holiday A/B Testing: these two big days come around, you’ll know exactly which campaigns you should run. Many marketers apply this method to their Christmas emails as well. They will create a generic “Happy Holidays” email campaign and a “Merry Christmas” campaign to see which one does better. Based on the response of the recipients, they move forward and launch the ad campaign during the holiday season. Conclusion There are plenty of ways you can run a successful email marketing campaign this holiday season. Most of what you’ll be doing is experimentation to see what your customers like. As you develop your brand and a strong following, you’ll start to notice trends in the way customers respond to your emails. After you figure out what your customers like visually, you can start tweaking your special offers and promotions. Before you know it, you’ll have enough data to start planning for next year. Remember, much like shopping, it’s never too early to start planning your email campaigns for the holidays!   The post 8 Tips For a Successful Holiday Email Marketing Campaign appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.


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