11 Ways SEO is Changing in 2015 and Beyond

seo-in-2016

As the year 2015 winds down to a close, it’s time to start looking forward to 2016 and beyond. Digital marketers and SEO professionals are always looking to the future so they can be ready for the changes that are no doubt coming. Google is constantly pursuing a better search experience. This results in changes to how they index and rank pages, resulting in changes to SEO tactics.

It’s a cycle that has been going on for years, and 2016 will be no different. New WordPress tips and SEO best practices will start emerging, but I’m here to give you the inside scoop now instead of later.

11 Emerging SEO Trends for 2016

 Google is a business like any other, they just happen to be one of the largest businesses in the world. Everyone that uses their service is a customer to them, so it’s only natural for them to constantly pursue a better experience for their users.

As you read these eleven upcoming SEO changes, keep the words user experience at the forefront of your mind. You’ll find that all of these changes make sense when viewed through that lens.

  1. Voice and Mobile Search Functionality

The ability to search using your voice is nothing new, but with the release of virtual assistants like Cortana, Google Now, and Siri, people are using the feature more than ever. They want to ask a question and receive their answer immediately. In the past, people would search on their computer, find an article, and retrieve the information themselves.

Not anymore. Now they want the answer immediately. Here’s how to adapt:

  • Utilize structured data and “rich snippets” to answer important questions immediately
  • Focus less on keywords, and more on how your audience converses
  • Look for the questions they ask and answer them in a way that the search engine can’t (more in-depth for example)
  1. Direct Answers in Search Results

Google has applied the knowledge graph and the carousel into search results for some time now. These provide people with answers to their questions immediately and are often pulled from a specific website. To appear in one of these, you will need to have an authority on the subject. And provide a clear, concise answer to the question at hand in your content.

Since Wikipedia likes to dominate these, how do you compete?

  1. The Mobile-Focus Continues

There has been a growing focus on mobile-responsive web design, and 2016 will continue to increase this focus. More people access the internet on mobile devices these days, than ever before. If your site doesn’t respond and adapt to these different screen sizes, you will be penalized by Google because of a poor user experience.

It’s time to adapt:

  1. Local SEO Becomes a Major Focus

The best way to stand out from the crowd is to appeal to people in your local area. This provides a focus for your SEO strategies and narrows the pool of competition. Mobile and voice search will pair with this to help people find local solutions to their problems, so let’s make sure you’re on top of that list:

  • Utilize keywords focused on your location and area
  • Provide up-to-date Google Maps information
  • Offer app integration with Google as well (this will show up in search results)
  1. SEO and Digital Marketing Become One and the Same

Over the past few years, SEO and “content marketing” have slowly become synonymous with one another. Google has been focusing on the user experience high quality content more and more with each update. A successful SEO campaign now includes social media campaigns, and other elements of digital marketing. The two will continue to blend.

Here’s how you stay ahead:

  • SEO and Digital Marketing are no longer separate, they work together
  • High quality content, social media promotion, and marketing all connect with SEO
  • The goal is to build organic links, increase engagement, and build brand awareness
  1. Bing Offers More Competition Than Ever

Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, has always been a competitor to Google, but in 2016 it will become more important than ever. The integration of Cortana with Bing brings voice search and direct answers to this platform. With Google making some questionable choices, we’ll see SEO professionals start looking to Bing more than ever before.

How do you get comfy with Bing?

  • Many of Bing’s SEO is identical to Google (use what you’ve been using)
  • Take a look at Bing’s Webmaster Tools
  • Bing Looks at physical location more than Google (so local SEO is important here)
  1. Building a Varied and Natural Link Profile Becomes more Important

The backlinks you have pointing to your site have always been important, but now it’s also important for them to be natural, relevant, and diverse. In 2016, you’ll want to avoid any link building services that promise quality links for cheap. These will raise red flags on Google’s end every time.

As you continue to bring in backlinks in 2016, keep these tips in mind:

  • Pursue links from other sites in your niche that are valuable and relevant to those readers.
  • Use influencer outreach and guest posting to ensure your backlinks are coming from the proper anchor text and from high-quality sites.
  • Vary up your anchor text constantly and keep the flow of new links steady.
  1. User Engagement Becomes a Focus

In 2016, a high bounce rate and low user engagement will be killers for your SEO ranking. Your site needs to captivate and capture readers, or they won’t stick around to visit other pages. If people are leaving immediately, that shows Google they didn’t find what they were looking for.

Understanding what your audience wants and needs is the first step in creating a high user engagement. Take these steps next:

  • Run A/B Testing to see which design elements are working
  • Take steps to engage your readers in the comments and on social media
  • Learn what they want and need from your site and provide that from the get-go
  1. Google’s Focus Turns to the User Experience

There are numerous factors that point towards the overall user experience of your website. Everything Google is doing in 2016 and beyond points towards them finding new ways to measure the quality of the experience on your site. Things like bounce rate, the number of ads, the mobile responsiveness, and other factors all affect this overall metric.

Keep these things in mind:

  • Always look at your site and its content through a reader’s eyes.
  • Simplify and streamline the elements of your site to ensure ease of use.
  • Maintain a focus on reader intentions and desires in your content.
  1. Interstitial Ads Must Go

Google recently announced that it would begin penalizing sites with Interstitial Ads. These are ads on mobile sites that appear right as you arrive and block you from seeing the content within. They usually prompt you to download the app and won’t go away until you find their small close button.

These types of ads are downright annoying. You may not have any ads like these on your site, but consider other ads you have:

  • Are any ads blocking users from reading your content?
  • Do ads appear quickly, interrupting a reader just as they arrive?
  1. Reconsideration Requests Become More Difficult

Our final trend refers to the process by which websites can have penalties lifted from them by Google. If you’ve been penalized, you can apply for a reconsideration request once you’ve fixed the issue. In the case of certain sites, they will fix the problem, obtain approval, and then turn around and do it again.

You won’t do this, but since others have, Google may become stricter with how they reconsider penalties. Prepare accordingly:

  • Stay up-to-date on new updates and try to avoid penalties.
  • If you need to submit for a reconsideration request, ensure you’ve removed the problem entirely beforehand.
  • Once approved, take steps to ensure it won’t happen again to avoid another penalty.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the user experience is at the forefront of Google’s mind. Everything you do with SEO should somehow connect back to that one concept. How do you see SEO changing in the future, and what steps are you taking to prepare?

Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below!    

Cyber Security Awareness: Are you and your website protected?

cybersecurityarticleInternet security has always been a major concern for businesses and website owners. In today’s online world, these threats are becoming more and more widespread and diverse in nature. With so many attack vectors and vulnerabilities being discovered daily, it’s more important than ever that you keep a close eye on potential security risks. In this article, we’ll go over some of the best practices you can employ to keep yourself and your website protected.

Protect Yourself
On the local level, individuals should ensure they are running all of the latest up-to-date software versions and actively updating your virus protection definitions. It’s always a good idea to change your passwords regularly, use stronger passwords, and never store them anywhere in plain-text. There are several password management applications out there that use encryption methods against your master password database which will make it very difficult to decrypt should the database fall into the wrong hands. An example is KeePass, a free open-source password manager  that uses the best, and most secure encryption algorithms.

Protect Your Website

Unlike most local home networks protected by a gateway router’s firewall, your website is purposefully exposed to the entire internet. If it wasn’t, no one would be able to access your site. Because the internet never sleeps, our system administrators are actively watching our servers and networks 24 x 7 x 365 for potential security threats. We log and analyze malicious activity from every region of the globe at all times of day. This assures your hosting server remains secure and the integrity of your data is never compromised.

That being said, it is important to be aware that your website itself may still be vulnerable to several malicious attacks, such as Cross-site Scripting (XSS) attacks, SQL Injections (SQLi), Inclusion Vulnerabilities (LFI and RFI), Brute Force attacks, and many more. Many websites these days are built on content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc. Each of these engines have third party themes, add-ons and plugins that can easily be installed to enhance website functionality. Unfortunately, as with any software source code, there is always the potential for bugs to be introduced, discovered and exploited. Your first line of defense in keeping your website secure is to consistently apply updates as they are released. If your CMS supports it, we also highly recommend enabling auto-updates which will take care of updating your site for you as new versions become available. If you are unsure how to do this, InMotion Hosting’s support center has additional information and instructions to guide you through the process.

While it’s always important to be vigilant in updating and managing your own website, rest assured that when a widespread vulnerability is disclosed, our security experts are immediately engaged. Often times, by identifying a unique pattern or string inside the attack vector, we are able to deploy defense mechanisms such as writing custom mod_security rules to protect our customers.

Password Best Practices

We’ve mentioned the importance of regularly rotating your passwords, but if your password is weak it can still easily be compromised via brute forcing or cracking, even if it was just changed yesterday. Here are some tips and suggestions which will keep you secure when choosing your next password:

  • Passwords should be at least 12 characters in length (the longer, the better)
  • Passwords should contain at least 1 character from each of the following groups:
    • Lower-case letter (a-z)
    • Upper-case letter (A-Z)
    • Number (0-9)
    • Common Symbol (e.g. %; &; +; ?)

Article written by: Erik Soroka, Tier 3 Architecture Manager at InMotion Hosting

FINDING THE RIGHT WORDPRESS THEME FOR YOUR ONLINE PROJECT

Things to look out for when searching for the right WordPress theme 

Are you just about to start a great online project? Maybe a tech blog, a stylish fashion magazine or a local news website? If you have opted for WordPress as your CMS, than that is a good first choice so far. Now you will have to look out for and find the right WordPress theme which fits your needs. In general, a suitable WordPress theme is one that contributes to the readability and accessibility of your content and it should make your website faultless.

Your first choice to make – free or premium?

When looking for a WordPress theme you can choose between free and premium templates. The difference between free and premium in functionality and overall design can be determining. The benefits of premium WordPress themes are quite notable. You can customize and modify your theme mostly through an extensive options panel. With a premium WordPress theme it is convenient and comfortable to switch styles and colors via multiple styles, you will have reliable support and moreover premium themes meet the modern web requirements.

Professional or personal website?

In case your plan is to launch a business website, then you’ll have to look out for different features and options of a WordPress theme as opposed to a blog or an online magazine. Typical features of an online magazine are for example a static front page or an informative sidebar – or even two. With business websites it is usually very likely that they present their services in an intuitive way and for a blog a nice and neat overview of latest blogposts is quite suitable.

What is your website/content about?

Depending on what kind of website you are planning to run, you should decide on suitable content management features of your online presence. For a simple and clean blog with maybe an image here and there, a pure and clean tempate would be suitable. For a vivid online magazine where latest a most popular articles should be in focus, a WordPress theme which allows you to create a static front page and manage a great bunch of content through custom widgets would be a really good choice.

Make your choice

No matter what kind of website your are planning to launch, there are plenty of WordPress themes to choose from. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find what is best for you. If you are having a hard time to decide, just think of the most important aspects your website should contain and focus on those – like e.g. a full-width header image, a flexible layout, several color schemes or a custom background. And if you’ve eventually made your choice you can finally focus on great and unique content.

 

Introduction to WordPress

If you are new to the online world of websites and blogging, you may have heard of WordPress or even recognize the prominent ‘W’ logo. If you are one of these people and don’t know what WordPress is, this is your opportunity to learn about one of the most prevalent and accessible website platforms.

WordPress is an innovative tool that is used to build websites. You will often hear it referred to as a Content Management System (CMS). That means WordPress is an application designed to support the creation, management, publishing, editing, organizing, and deletion of website content –  all from one central dashboard.

WordPress.COM vs WordPress.ORG

Signing up with WordPress is completely free. It’s an exceptionally cost-effective way to get started on any website. However, the option many users must face is to either use the hosted platform, WordPress.com, or go with your own web hosting space using WordPress.org.

For beginners, starting with the hosted platform on WordPress.com is a good way to learn the ropes and get started. This will get you a sub-domain that is located on wordpress.com. You will have access to built-in plugins, features, and themes that are readily available on the WordPress platform. However, you are limited in that you will not be able to access or download the larger repository of free and premium plugins and themes. You will also have limited support for free themes and are restricted from modifying them. This route is suggested if you are just interested in trying out WordPress as as starter package or have a very simple 1-2 page website.

If you choose the route of downloading the WordPress software through WordPress.org you will need hosting from a web hosting company. Here at InMotion Hosting, we give you the option to have pre-installed WordPress software to go with your hosting. You will have your choice of a unique domain name, full support and access for all themes and plugins that exist on the WordPress platform. Another perk of owning your own WordPress site is that you will be able to monetize by adding advertisements to your page. The WordPress.org route is recommended for those who are past the planning stages of their website and require full customization, plugins, and business features such as ecommerce.

Why is this the best platform for any user?

1) Flexibility and ease of use

WordPress is often associated with the creation of blogging websites. However, since its founding in 2003, it has evolved to provide a comprehensive solution for any type of website. Whether it’s a business, informational, non-profit, job listing, or even corporate website, the CMS excels in providing a comprehensive list of website templates. WordPress is also able to handle all sorts of media content, from text, images, music, and video.

Examples of ways to use a WordPress Website:

  •         Merchandise / Shopping Store
  •         Photo or Image Gallery
  •         Video Collection
  •         Blog
  •         Review Site
  •         Personal Website
  •         Informative Website

WordPress caters to the needs of both novice web users as well as those who are more advanced and familiar with web development and coding (such as CSS and HTML). WordPress provides beginners with the tools they need to get a website started with minimal difficulty. Free and premium themes are available as a starting point from which you can quickly build and shape a website to match your vision.

WordPress is also completely open source, which means the code behind the WordPress system is available to the general public to use and modify- making WordPress extremely customizable. Many big name brands also use WordPress for their website. The New York Times, CNN, and People Magazine, just to name a few, are all powered by WordPress.

2) Large knowledge base

WordPress’ long standing success and continuing popularity comes with an enthusiastic user base that has created a massive repository of informational tutorials and videos that can help one use WordPress for all their website needs. With the robust, global WordPress community, the answer to any question you might have should be easy to find with a simple Google search. And if it isn’t, the active community on WordPress support forums is quick to respond and provide input.

3) Plugins!

There are 40,000 plugins and counting for WordPress!  Anything from needing something to make sure your website isn’t being flooded by spam content to making sure your website is secure from potential hackers. WordPress has plugins for optimizing your website. What about help with your website’s SEO? You know, Search Engine Optimization – the way that Google learns how to rank your website? There’s a plugin for all of that! When you use WordPress, you have thousands of plugins available at your fingertips to help you design, protect, and optimize your website for any of your needs.

4) Keeping up to date

Staying on top of updates has never been easier with WordPress. The growing popularity of WordPress has led to continuous modernization to make sure the system is always advancing. New improvements are being added all the time. Updates are hassle free and inform you what new features and functionality are being added or fixed. 

Overview

Overall, WordPress is a strong platform to get started on your website venture. WordPress has grown exponentially and has diversified to fit almost any website niche. With a vast library of themes and plugins to choose from and a very simple learning curve, WordPress continues to be the top solution for a website CMS.

WordCamp Baltimore 2015

 

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Arnel’s Road Trip Selfie

WordCamp Baltimore was my first traveling foray into the world of WordPress enthusiast user groups. I’ve been to many conventions and helped to host user groups, but WordCamps are in a class all their own.  WordCamps are held worldwide and can vary from a small group of people to a large group numbering in the thousands.  This Baltimore trip was more in the size of a smaller group but it was still a great event to attend. It was the first opportunity for the Community Support team to travel together as well.  Our group of six included a member of our sales team (Danny), and most of the Community Support team from Virginia Beach – John Paul, Scott, Tim Sisson (Tim S.), Tim Elsass (Tim L.) and myself.  Our manager, Tim S., was the chauffeur for the trip graciously putting up with a bunch of restless guys in the five hour trip there and back.

 

Once we got our stuff in place and rested up a little, we headed out to a restaurant called Wit and Wisdom. While the service was not the greatest, the views of the Baltimore downtown waterfront were amazing. We got a little bit to eat and planned how we would end the evening.

 

Danny was visiting an old friend in Baltimore so the rest of us were left to decide how to spend the evening. I ended up working on the InMotion Hosting Support Center website as customer questions still needed to be answered. Both Tims ended up going back to attend the WordPress dinner in a place called the James Joyce Pub. John Paul, Scott and I ended up exploring nearby restaurants for some local food for dinner and then settled for a movie or college football games. The first night ended uneventfully as we got some rest in preparation for the busy day ahead.

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InMotion Hosting Sponsor table

The next started early as we were volunteers in registration and helping with the speakers of the WordCamp. We also needed to get the InMotion Hosting sponsor table setup – complete with many goodies to give to any curious visitor. Saturday was a bit gloomy with impending rain, so it was a perfect day to be indoors for the event.

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WordCamp organizer providing directions for parking

The venue for the was the University of Baltimore. I was assigned to help with registration of attendees. The others were helping with the speakers and the InMotion sponsor table. Each attendee who registered in time was given a t-shirt for the event as well as a lanyard with a identification card that also provided the schedule for the different sessions of the event. I ended up alphabetizing a box full of names.

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Attendee Registration table

With the help of several fellow volunteers, we got things quickly sorted out. Registered attendees would get their name badge, a lanyard to hold it, and a t-shirt. Late registrants got blank badges and no t-shirt until after lunch. Surprisingly, out of all the shirt sizes, the small size went quickest. Or maybe it was just good forethought on what sizes should be in plentiful supply.

Volunteers at the registration table
Volunteers at the registration table

Manning the registration table was a bit hectic, but I had plenty of help and my only job was basically to find and handout badges and lanyards to incoming attendees. While I was working at the registration table I got to meet one of the organizers – Anthony Paul, as well as a theme programmer named David who works remotely for Automattic. I met several others whose names unfortunately escape my memory, but they were all friendly and helped us greet and direct all of the incoming attendees.

Station North
Station North

The locations in the venue were divided into two main areas – the auditorium (which was on the same level as the registration table),and a room below. These rooms corresponded to locations known as “Downtown” and “Station North.” The schedules for each of these rooms were detailed on the badges. Once we got it sorted out, we ended up giving quirky, but memorable directions for the repeated location questions, “The Downtown is upstairs. If you’re going to Station North, go downstairs, bang a u-turn at the bottom of the steps and it will be on your right.” We quickly became familiar with the area and the important directions including the location of the restrooms.

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Tim S. and Melode Laylor

Once our assigned times for our volunteer slots were over, we were free to attend the speaker sessions. I ended up attending Tim’s session named “Growing your Nonprofit with WordPress” and recorded it. I also attended the “Building Parsec: Return of the Responsive Theme” by Joe Casabona, and “War Room Collaboration Across the Internet Canyon” by Anthony Paul. Each session was well attended and the facilities provided by the University of Baltimore were excellent.

 

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Tim S. speaking about non-profits

Tim’s session was very interesting to me as I am very busy with non-profit community organizations after work. Several questions from the audience also indicated the interest level in the topic. Joe Casbona’s session was also very entertaining with many references to Star Wars. However, the most educational session for me was the collaboration session given by Anthony Paul.

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Antyony Paul’s session on group collaboration

I often deal with many people in the community where remote collaboration around a central tool would be beneficial in order to help unify our communications, record our actions for future review, and reduce our needs for repeated group meetings. The challenge I face is getting everyone to agree on a collaboration tool. Anthony’s session provided some insight into existing tools that could even benefit our team at InMotion Hosting. These included applications such as Slack (slack.com),Wake.io(https://wake.io/), Google Slides(https://www.google.com/slides/about/) and Trello (https://trello.com/). Slack is one of the messaging apps for group collaboration. It works across multiple platforms, is easy to use, searchable, and best of all – it’s free. Anthony also showed how to use Google Slides for collaborative wire framing and sharing group ideas through video chats. Wake.io was suggested by an attendee as another graphical collaborative tool. Trello is an online project management tool that can be expanded. I suggested using Freedcamp(freedcamp.com) – which is very similar to Trello. All of the suggested tools are free and can be expanded for enterprise- level use with payment.

 

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Danny with Eddie and John Paul at the WordCamp after party

As the sessions started to wrap up, we gathered at the InMotion Sponsor table that had significantly less swag than earlier. We packed up our stuff and then headed back to the hotel to grab a little rest before heading out to dinner and the WordCamp after party. As a group we went to the Riptide restaurant and enjoyed some seafood for dinner. The after party started at 7pm in the Waterfront Hotel bar a few doors down from Riptide. There was an upstairs reserved room with an open bar until 9pm. Here we enjoyed more food – chicken wings and shrimp and also met up with many of the attendees and speakers. We also met Melodie and her husband David Laylor from the Hampton Roads WordPress meetup group. We will be working with Melodie in the WordCamp Hampton Roads event on October 17.  I had a drink and listened to one of the attendees, named Khalid, speak about his European adventures. He then explained how he was using WordPress as an educational solution in his current venture. He was using multisite in a way that I’ve never seen done before.

The rest of the evening slowly died down with the sharing of some good stories with old friends and new ones. The next morning we got up early in order get back home to Virginia Beach in a reasonable time. Scott, Tim S. and I had a nice breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then gathered up the rest of the group so that we could leave the watchful eyes of downtown Baltimore.

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Don’t run that red-light in Baltimore…

 

 

 

 

 

WordCamp St.Louis 2015

Now that I have caught up after missing my connector Sunday forcing travel into Monday, thank you American Airlines; I now have time to write about how my first WordCamp went in St. Louis. I chose St. Louis for two reasons; one is that it is where I grew up and I have friends and family in the area I was able to stay with, and two was that it is one of the bigger WordCamps with over 300 people in attendance this year. I was one of the more than 175 newbies or first-timers to a WordCamp. WordCamp St. Louis 2015 was hosted on the campus of Washington University. This was nice because it allowed me to relive my youth around UCity and for attendees to see more eclectic parts of St. Louis.

I have attended dozens if not hundreds of conferences over my professional career and WordCamp is one of the more unique experiences. I hold nearly 20 professional certifications, so the conferences I typically attend are very content specific. I have also worked with military, NGOs, and broadcasters over the years which have conferences associated with those particular industries. WordCamp was much more of an all inclusive conference with cliques, the secret of the cliques was that you utilize or support WordPress within your given clique. Instead of talking about how you utilize or support WordPress directly though, everyone wanted to know what you did. Questions were about work, organizations, or passions then we got onto how WordPress could be utilized in those efforts. The cliques formed around design, security, content, etc but everyone had the underlying common theme of WordPress.

Don’t get me wrong, there were very specific WordPress discussions but they happened in the individual rooms covering Users and Developers needs related to WordPress. These topics were further divided by intro/basic to experienced/advanced topics. My favorite discussions included Pippin Williamson’s @pippinsplugins on backwards compatibility and his impassioned speech on the topic.

Another topic was Cameron Barrett @camworld discussing a topic close to my heart; assisting K-12 districts by utilizing WordPress.

Lucas Lima @luwkaslima also gave a standing room only presentation on how to utilize project management principles when work with WordPress and clients.

Cain @michaelcain and Obenland @obenland Show was entertaining as well as informative on recent WordPress topics including the new release WordPress 4.2 Beta 1.

Finally, listening to how one of the respected members of the community, Mika Epstein @ipstenu, got her start with WordPress and how you can become part of the community by giving back.

If those sessions didn’t dive deeply enough to cover your topic of interest, they had the Happiness Bar open for assistance, or Give Back to Core and Hackathons the second day. They also had a Kids Camp for those kids interested in or who had already had a WordPress site set up.

Community Day - Kids WordCamp
Community Day Events

All in all this was a great first experience for me with the WordPress community. It reminds me in a lot of ways how NGOs and professional organizations run which was familiar and comfortable for me based on my background. It also gave me a few ideas. Plus motivated me to move from the WordPress.com site to a hosted WordPress. So in the near future instead of hvyw8.wordpress.com; I will have a hosted blog with a number of plugins covering diabetes.

Until next time @hvyw8

WordCamp Lancaster just got Real

This was my first WordCamp. I’ve been to plenty of business development conferences over the years and really expected this to be much of the same. Let me go on record… I was wrong! WordPress and WordCamp in particular is about community. Thats what makes WordPress so great! The vibe was informal and inviting. It was literally for everyone, whether you were a core contributor or a brand new user. I was lucky enough to spend my friday night hanging out at the Speaker Sponsor Dinner. Typically, its for, well, speakers and sponsors and I was neither, however my travel companion was a speaker.

This was informal and allowed me to chat it up with not only the organizers but speakers as well. It’s all industry people and everyone was incredibly approachable. Well, except for #NickfromAlbania but thats another story.

I arrived around 8am to check in at WordCamp Lancaster the following morning. The check in process was simple and after getting a badge I was invited to grab some Swag. Who doesn’t like free stuff?

After registering, everyone headed into a main room where conversations were abound. A cup of joe and a pastry rounded out a successful morning thus far. I spoke with a few people, probably in their mid twenties from a local marketing company. They seemed nice, and eager to learn. I suggested a few topics I thought they may enjoy off both speaker tracks. Most WordCamps seem to have multiple tracks for speakers. This is important since let’s face it designers and developers are vastly different people.

After the opening remarks from George Stephanis (@daljo628) (a nice fellow I met the night before and one of the organizers), I listened to Joe Casabona deliver a captivating lecture on responsive design. If I got anything from him speaking it was to follow best practices and take your time. Well, and he likes star wars. I may even grab his book.

I heard a great presentation on the nueroscience of conversions by Tom Shapiro (@TomShapiro). It made sense and it was great advice for anyone serious about improving their website conversion rates. Once it shows up on WordPress TV, I’d suggest watching it.
I took a break, decided to head back to the refreshments area where I struck up a conversation with Michael from LiteSpeed. Considering I work for a hosting company, any product that can reduce the resources needed to serve a website, is appealing. I look forward to learning more about their product.

Michael was speaking too, about hosting nonetheless. I wanted to see what others would present on the topic since, I’m sort of biased. He did an awesome job, really digging into what to look for in a host. He was spot on and it was refreshing to hear someone present on the topic so well.

After lunch and more chatting with other folks from Parallels and Lite Speed Technologies. Then off to hear Jeff Matson (@thejeffMatson) talk about documentation and the benefits of doing it right. This is something we know something about. Have you seen our Support Center ? Most people don’t realize how having great documentation can help drive revenue and Jeff did an awesome job explaining it. I’m sure plenty of attendees will be heading home to write how to guides on their plugins because of it.

The afternoon wrapped up and we caught some rest before heading to the after party. That’s right, if you’ve never been to a WordCamp there’s an after party where the organizers, sponsors, speakers, and attendees all get to mingle over some libations.

This after party was no different. Great conversations were had about all kinds of off-topic stuff as we all decompressed from a day filled with learning about WordPress. We talked about eCommerce, Amazon, Google, and Project Tango to name a few.

In the end, I’m excited to make some new friends, see the huge impact WordPress has had in people’s lives, and that there’s tons of people just like me who love WordPress and want to give back to the community.

Squashing the misconceptions about WordPress

I have highly recommended WordPress for various different projects, and often times I am provided with a reason as to why they think WordPress may not be suitable for them.  Those who work with WordPress regularly, know that WordPress can be used to a multitude of projects and in most cases, is the best solution.

These misconceptions are so common, in fact, that Andrew Nacin recently asked for feedback on the most common misconceptions people have.

When reading the replies, it seemed that many others who work with WordPress on a daily basis are all giving the same responses like, “It doesn’t scale”, “WordPress is just for blogs”, and “WordPress isn’t for developers”.  Of course, these are simply not the case.

“WordPress doesn’t scale well”

One of the most common things WordPress development studios face is clients thinking that WordPress is not scalable enough to operate on enterprise platforms.  To think so, is just insane.

WordPress.com is one of the most used blogging sites on the planet and on during October 2014, sites hosted on WordPress.com or externally hosted using JetPack received over 17 billion pageviews and is steadily increasing without any decrease in sight.  While externally hosted sites may skew these statistics a bit, but it still represents the sheer power of how WordPress can be scaled.

Now, you may be thinking, “Ok, but how many individual sites are on WordPress.com?”  Based on how WordPress operates, they are actually all within a single multisite installation of WordPress.  This means that a single WordPress installation is currently operating this massive number of sites.  If that’s not scalability, I would love to see what is.

Of course, this isn’t just limited to WordPress.com who are are better supported than any other WordPress site in existence.  This also spans to Microsoft, CNN, and The New York Times.  If those media giants can successfully scale a WordPress site to fit their massive amount of daily activity, anyone can.

“WordPress is just meant for blogs”

It’s no secret that WordPress was initially created for blogging, but it has evolved into so much more.  WordPress has become the standard for any content management system at this point.  Powering over 23% of sites on the internet, WordPress is certainly used for much more than blogs.

With the launch of AppPresser, WordPress is slowly being adopted as a mobile application framework.  As mobile phones are taking over market share by leaps and bounds, a mobile application framework makes perfect sense and will continue to push WordPress as one of the best ways to deliver your content to end users.

In terms of websites, even sites that are very light on written content are making the change to WordPress due to it’s versatility.  WordPress is made to be built upon and sites are fully equipped to evolve as their needs grow, so logically, WordPress is made for whatever you want to build on top of it.

“WordPress isn’t for real developers”

This is a big one that I hear often from self-exclaimed elitists.  WordPress is but a tool that is meant to be built upon and any other developers stating this are simply misinformed. Just as we fight for WordPress, you can’t blame other developers for fighting for their favorite tools.  We support what we like and many times feel that other tools are inadequate simply because we don’t use them, but belittling a developer’s tool simply because you don’t prefer it is just bad form.

You have to ask yourself, what is a real developer?  For me, it’s someone who simply makes something awesome.  Plenty of WordPress developers push the boundaries and innovate new ideas every day.  Most open source developers want to build things that make the biggest impact on the world and with as large as WordPress is, they are certainly making that impact.

“WordPress is insecure”

This mostly stems from the thought that because it is open source and anyone can view the source, it is insecure.  In the contrary, you have many, many, additional people who are constantly testing WordPress for security vulnerabilities from it being open source.

Do WordPress sites get hacked?  Most definitely.  Is it because of some sort of laziness or lack of adequate security?  Certainly not.

WordPress is a target because of how large it is.  If you had a content management system that is used by 1,000 people, you would see far less hacks not because it is necessarily secure, but because it’s simply not a target.  WordPress simply targeted because it has a very large market share.

So, how do we solve these misconceptions?

Resolving all of these misconceptions about WordPress are primarily the responsibility of the community as a whole to inform the public.  If we can set these things right every time we see them happening, we can begin to push these rumours into the abyss.

I personally feel like the closeness of WordPress.com and WordPress.org are certainly confusing folks.  When a beginner is looking into WordPress at first, they simply see WordPress.com for the most part.  I think if we could better differentiate the two, we would see a significant improvement in fully understanding WordPress for the general public.

As for the developers that think WordPress developers are some kind of wannabes, that may never change.  All we can do here is simply show off our work and the improvements we have made, and hope for the best.  There are always going to be haters out there, but lowering those numbers is only going to be done by writing better code, and proving to any opposition that we are here to stay.

WordPress In My Mind – WordCamp Raleigh 2014

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending WordCamp Raleigh where I represented InMotion Hosting as well as spoke on WordPress optimization.  As with all other WordCamps I have attended, there were incredible discussions and memorable relationships made all around.

Pre-WordCamp Gatherings

Being a speaker at WordCamp Raleigh, the first of many interactions with others was the speaker event on Friday.  Differing from the several others I have attended, the organizers decided it would be a great idea to have a sit-down, family-style dinner at Jimmy V’s Osteria.

At the dinner, I sat beside Will Haley and Allen Moore in which we had excellent discussions about our upcoming presentations, web hosting, and front end development.  Through these conversations, I felt an immediate need to learn a bit more front end development and I was able to provide a better inside look on various aspects of hosting.

After the dinner, we made our way over to The Oxford for a bit more relaxing and mingling before the main event on Saturday.  Of course, I always expect at least one person from WebDevStudios when I attend a WordCamp in which I met up with Justin Sternberg and discussed all of the great they’re doing for Microsoft, as well as the newest addition to AppPresser – Reactor.

The Main Event

WordCamp Raleigh took place in the engineering building of NC State University.  The venue was perfect for WordCamp presentations due to large lecture rooms.

Justin Sternberg gave an excellent presentation on CMB2 which will allow you to create custom metaboxes and fields with incredible ease.  If you use any custom fields on either the front end or back end, it is certainly worth looking into.

My favorite talk at WordCamp Raleigh was Allen Moore’s talk on work/life balance.  In this talk, Allen hit the nail right on the head with the endless struggle between working hard and having a life outside of work.  As someone who begins working immediately after rolling out of bed, continues late into the night, and make myself available at all hours, it was great to hear that I’m not the only one that struggles with a lack of social life outside of the WordPress community.  I certainly learned that while WordPress and InMotion Hosting have become a very large part of my life, I need to take a step back sometimes and get my face out of my computer, phone, or iPad.

My presentation at WordCamp Raleigh was titled “Stop Eating Resources and Optimize Your WordPress Site“.  Within my presentation, I was able to inform WordPress users on how to better optimize their site to increase server performance and visitor experience.  Everyone’s site has the opportunity to become faster than it already is, and I’m glad that I was able to help so many users hit the next level of site performance.

While at WordCamp Raleigh, I was also able to have some great conversations about hosting with Steve Mortiboy of SemperFi Web Design.  It seemed he was quite pleased with InMotion’s efforts to know what customers want, and catering to their needs in the most effective way possible.  It was certainly great to speak with someone who genuinely appreciated all of the efforts that InMotion and I make to provide a consistently pleasurable experience for everyone.

Overall Impressions

WordCamp Raleigh was an excellent experience.  I feel the organizers picked the perfect venue, and speakers were well selected.  I had some excellent conversations with highly skilled individuals, as well as some who are just starting out.  WordCamps are a great way for users, developers, and designers to all meet on even ground to help each other, and WordCamp Raleigh did exactly that

A big thanks goes out to all of the speakers, volunteers, and especially the organizers who have shed their blood, sweat, and tears to make WordCamp Raleigh an amazing experience.

Word Camp LAX 2014

Michelle Galvez WCLAX Experience

This past weekend the 2014 Word Camp Los Angeles event took place at the beautiful California State University Los Angeles campus. The event brought together over 400 WordPress users and supporters to engage, share, learn, and experience being a part of the WordPress Community. As proud sponsors, we attended both Foundation Friday and Saturday Sessions.  On Friday we had Maria Abugan(@Maria_InMotion), Paul Tardiff (@HubPaulT), Ryan Balikian (@RyanBalik), Sunil Saxena (@SunilSaxena), and myself (@IMH_Michelle) attending the awesome workshops provided on the beginner, business, and design workshops.

InMotion Hosting has arrived at Word Camp LA!
InMotion Hosting has arrived at Word Camp LA!
Word Camp LAX
Attending a session @ Word Camp LAX

Saturday at WCLAX was even more exciting!  As sponsors, we welcomed and greeted all the attendees at our InMotion Hosting booth. Hanging at the booth were Jerrett Farmer (@JerrettFarmer), William Miles, Sunil Saxena (@SunilSaxena) and myself (@IMH_Michelle). It was such a joy to meet current and potential customers who were excited to hear about all our upgrades to both our hardware and service plans (SSDs!).

InMotion Hosting Booth @ WC LAX
InMotion Hosting Booth @ WC LAX

We wanted to make sure everyone had a great time and even brought our speed stacking cups game for a shot at our newly designed InMotion Hosting jersey-shirts. To top that off, you could trade your business card for raffle tickets to win a brand new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4.

Try your hand at our cup stacking game
Try your hand at our cup stacking game
Word Camp LAX
Our lucky raffle winner of a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4

 

As a first timer to any Word Camp event, my experience was definitely a positive one. I forged new relationships, made people smile, and educated others about our plans and services. It’s a place where you can geek out about WordPress and fit right in. Jerrett Farmer took it one step further and volunteered for the Happiness Bar this year. Below is the recap of his awesome experience.

Jerrett Farmer’s WCLAX Experience

I had the opportunity to serve at the WCLAX Happiness Bar this year. I was very excited to have a slot at such a joyfully named place and couldn’t wait for the good times to flow. What could be better than WordPress and beer? Maybe WordPress and more beer?

{sound of record scratch}…There is no beer. There isn’t wine. There isn’t even soda pop. Turns out, I’m not passing out hard liquor to web masters, I’m giving out tech support to WordPress users…for FREE! I thought this was going to be a nightmare. I would have to use my brain and everything.

I was worried for no reason. I had a blast. I met new people and helped with a few problems. Most importantly I sat beside the great Dave Jesch, http://wordpress.tv/speakers/dave-jesch/, who makes everything better. I really hope to get to serve at another Happiness Bar in the future.

Side note, Dave Jesch is the only human being to successfully order a beer from the Happiness Bar.