Monthly Archives: July 2016

Tips To Hiding the Download URL of the File with Simple Download Monitor Plugin

The simple download monitor plugin has an option that you can use to keep the download URL of the file hidden. This can be useful if you are offering some password protected file downloads and you want to keep the actual URL of those files hidden.

First, Quickly Install the Free Plugin (if you don’t have it)
You can install the plugin using the following steps:

Download the Simple Download Monitor Plugin from the plugin page of the WordPress repository.
In the WordPress Dashboard menu, select Plugins, then click Add New.
Search for “Simple Download Monitor” and locate the Simple Download Monitor Plugin in the list of results.
Click the Install Now link, then Activate it.
Configure a New Download Item
Step 1) Click Downloads, then Add New from the left-hand menu.

Step 2) Configure the download item as usual.

Step 3) Check the “PHP Dispatch” option. See screenshot below:

configuring-download-item-with-file-url-hidden

Step 4) Optionally, set a password for the download (if you want to apply password protection to this download).

Step 5) Embed this download item on any post or page using the standard SDM plugin shortcode.

When your users download this item, the actual file URL of the item will now be hidden.

Steps to Fully Optimize Images for Speed and SEO in a WordPress Site

A fast web site gets and retains more traffic. And, traffic is the lifeblood of many an online business, right?

And let’s face it, images are often the main culprit in slowing down our web sites.

So, how do we properly optimize the images? Is there more to it than just making smaller file sizes? Let’s explore that and more in the coming paragraphs.

I feel that to properly serve an image from our web site, we need multiple versions of that image.

Why?

We should only load an image that fits within the display area of the viewer’s screen, because it will load faster than one with larger dimensions. And, of course, this needs to be done dynamically because there are a variety of people viewing our sites on a variety of screens at any given time.

Beyond that, we should utilize the best format for the image when available. In today’s landscape that means loading the WebP version of the image when the browser supports it. WebP is a special image format that can look exactly the same as its JPEG and PNG cousins, but actually take up less space on disk, and load quicker in a web browser, all things being equal. Additionally, loading Progressive JPEGs rather than standard Baseline JPEGs has its advantages, and so does LazyLoading. Most solutions will add these extras as a side benefit to image conversion and optimization.

I don’t know about you, but here are the maximum number of steps and considerations that I would like to be responsible for personally when uploading an image to WordPress, whilst maximizing my image optimization:

Find/take an appropriate high-res image.
Put my insertion point (cursor) where I want my image to load within my blog post.
Initiate the upload of the image to be added to the Media Library.
Cite the image when appropriate (give credit where credit is due, and stay true to Copyright law).
Decide whether I want the image to float left, float right, be left justified in a space all by itself, or be centred within the space that it’s in.
Decide on the max size (in terms of dimensions) for the image.
Insert it into the post with one more click.
And that’s it!
And here’s the list of things that I would like to happen on my behalf:

Have a WebP version of the main image and all of its thumbnails created.
Have multiple images created with different dimensions.
Have all images optimized (smaller file size, but looking pretty much the same after reduction)
Have the code placed that will dynamically load the *best* sized image for the current visitor to my web site, whether the page is a regular HTML page, or an AMP page. Firstly though, the server should know to serve the WebP version of the image, when it’s supported, before displaying the JPEG or PNG version.
The above of course is beyond all the other magic that we now take for granted such as: digital communication between devices, transfer of bytes through TCP/IP, and whatever else happens that we generally stop consciously appreciating after awhile.

Worth noting: AMP pages (Accelerated Mobile Pages), when leveraging the Google AMP Cache (AMP CDN), will perform image reduction/optimization, WebP creation, and dynamic image/WebP serving from a single image call, without any pre-steps on our part. Cool!

OK, so, how do we easily and simply prepare our WordPress web site for the proper creation and optimization of images without a lot of effort and expense?

Well, there are lots of ways to accomplish these tasks. Here is the general list of things we can do that will allow us to leverage other people’s digital intelligence.

Find and use a plugin that creates a WebP version of an image upon upload. [Here’s one and the EWWW plugin does it too]
If you want to be kind to Apple or double-density screen users, and while this doesn’t have a lot to do with speed and SEO more than it does *beauty*, find and use a plugin that creates a Retina (double resolution) version of an image upon upload. [Here’s one]
Find and use a plugin that optimizes all versions (sizes and types) of images. [Here’s one that supports WebP and Retina]
Find and use a plugin that will render the proper *image HTML* for the AMP version of our web pages (you are creating AMP versions of your web pages, yeah?) [Here’s one by Automattic]
Enable WebP support on the server, or more simply (and with more significant speed advantages)… find and use a caching plugin that will enable the server to serve WebP, and also honour the loading of a WebP version of the image when appropriate (it would create 2 static HTML files, one for the WebP version, the other for the regular version of the image). [Here’s one]
Expected WordPress automation: The above assumes that WordPress is also creating *thumbnail* versions of each image in all formats (which is the default nature of WordPress, so it’s a safe assumption). In other words, it is creating images (based on the originally uploaded image), that have different dimensions. Therefore, when the image is being viewed in a web browser, the size of the *screen* is considered to determine the best possible *sized* image to show. Also, the proper code should be in place in the resultant HTML that indicates to the web browser which image to load. WordPress will do that for you too.

Note: Another layer we could add to this would be to have our images load from servers close to the geographic location of the visitor (so they don’t have to travel so far, and can therefore show up faster). Google: “content delivery network” or “free cloudflare” or “keycdn” for more on this topic. For AMP pages, as mentioned, when using the Google AMP Cache, this is in-built!

To recap the settings demonstrated in the video that allows us to setup WordPress to: create/optimize Retina (double-density) images, create WebP images, optimize the uploaded image and all of the thumbnails, plus configure the server to deliver WebP images (when relevant), and create a secondary cache for when WebP image delivery makes sense:

1) First, using the WP Retina 2x plugin, go to Settings >> Retina >> Basics, and be sure that “Auto Generate” is selected.

2) Next, using the ShortPixel Image Optimizer plugin, go to Settings >> ShortPixel >> Advanced, and be sure that “WebP versions” is selected.

3) Lastly, using the Cache Enabler plugin, go to Settings >> Cache Enabler, and be sure that “Create an additional cached version for WebP image support” under “Cache Behavior” is selected.

After that, when uploading an image to the Media Library:

– WordPress will create all the thumbnails defined by the currently activated theme (and perhaps some plugins)
– WP Retina 2x will create Retina versions of the thumbs
– ShortPixel will create WebP versions of all images
– ShortPixel will optimize all images and thumbs (including Retina)
– Cache Enabler will enable WebP support
– WordPress will place the HTML necessary for the web browser to know which image to show based on the screen size of the current visitor
Take care to name your images (the filenames), and to add title and alt tags, for added SEO benefit.

Tips To Increase the Consumption of Your Blog Content

Creating quality content requires a lot of time and effort. A well researched 1000-1500 word blog post can take you between 2 to 5 hours (sometimes even more) to write.

But is your hard work really worth it? Is anyone reading your content?

According to Hubspot, more than 60% of readers never read more than 40% of a blog post. That means most of your content never gets consumed.

The “time on page” of your individual blog posts is a good indicator of how much of your content is actually getting consumed.

But increasing content consumption is not as difficult as you might think.

Neil Patel, a leading content marketer, increased his time on page by almost 70% by making just a few tweaks to his content format. Many other leading bloggers have reported similar successes by restructuring their content.

Here’s how you can replicate their success, and increase the consumption of your blog content.

Minimize Design Distractions
You blog design has a direct impact on the readability of your content. A clean, clutter free and focused blog design allows your readers to consume content much more effectively.

So even before you start writing content, make sure your side bar has no unnecessary elements, your navigation menu is small and to the point, and your headings and body text size is large enough with proper spacing.

Create the Right Type of Content
There are certain content types that people prefer to read and share. And depending on your niche, there are always certain topics that have a higher demand as compared to the others.

For example, research by AppSumo indicates that list posts, ultimate guides and expert round up posts get the highest social shares.

So instead of guessing and experimenting unnecessarily, create the content types with a higher success rate. To find more niche specific insights, search the Ahrefs content explorer tool with your main keyword. It will show you the most popular posts related to your topic.

Go through the top posts to get a good idea of the idea of the kind of content you need to create in order to attract more readers.

Use Magnetic Headlines
Research indicates that out of all the people who read your post headline, only 20% actually click it to read your post.

A poor headline can waste hours of hard work that you put into creating awesome content. That is why some of the most successful bloggers spend almost as much time crafting headlines as the total writing time of their posts.

Here are a few things you should do to create magnetic headlines

Keep your headlines to 65 characters (they have the highest conversion rates)
Limit your headlines to 6 words for maximum impact
Use adjectives to create impact with headlines (e.g powerful, effective, supreme etc)
Use numbers and percentages in your headlines to create credibility
Use the words I, You, What, Why, How in your headlines
Your headlines have a huge impact on your content consumption rate. So make sure you get them right.

Always Think Mobile First
More than 60% of Google searches are now generated from mobile devices. But the number of mobile users is even higher when it comes to blog readers.

Almost everyone reads blogs on smartphones these days. So you need to make sure that your design is responsive, and optimized for mobile visitors.

If you have any pop-up plugins on your blog, make sure they’re inactive for mobile readers because pop-us can be really annoying on mobile.

Also ensure that your social media sharing widgets, and comment plugins are mobile responsive.

All these things impact your content consumption rate.

Create a Killer Intro by Making a Promise and Giving Incentives
When a visitor lands on your blog, you have approximately 3 seconds to grab his attention and persuade him to read the rest of your blog post.

Most bloggers fail to do that.

Why? Because their blog posts have boring introductions.

Here’s how to write engaging introductions

Expand on the problem mentioned in your headline. Give them a summary, without going into too much detail.
Get to the point straightaway. Your readers don’t have time for long introductions. Just tell them what value your post has for them.
Clearly identify your post’s objective, make a promise and give readers a glimpse of the solution
Give them an incentive to read till the end. For example, you could say
“Here are 7 ways you can increase website conversions (plus link to a free conversion optimization tool at the end that’ll blow you away)”

Tell Readers What They’ll Learn
When you write long and resourceful blog posts, it’s always good to provide a skeleton view of the post at the start.

This allows the readers to identify the sections they want to read, and also gives them an immediate idea of the value your post has to offer.

You can do this simply by creating a “What You’ll Learn in This Post” section and list down the main sub-headings of the post.

You can even link each heading to the relevant portion of the post allowing readers to quickly jump spaces.

Use Short Paragraphs
Modern day internet users are short on time. Most of them skim through blog posts instead of reading every word.

If your post has paragraphs longer than 2-3 sentences, skimming will become hard for your readers. So you need to make sure that you mix up shorter paragraphs with the occasional longer ones.

For example, you could keep the average paragraph size to 2-3 lines and insert a couple of 4-5 line paragraphs in between.

Talk to Your Readers
Blogging is different from conventional article writing. Instead of writing from a third person perspective, you need to talk to your readers directly.

For this, make use of words like I, You and Me frequently. Use short sentences and avoid using heavy vocabulary.

When you’re writing, talk to only one person – your reader – not a group.couple of 4-5 line paragraphs in between.

Use Sub-Headings Frequently
Intelligent use of sub-heading throughout your blog post can significantly increase its consumption. Sub-headings give your readers a clear idea of your post’s distribution and what each section of the content has to offer.

It also allows readers to easily skim through the post and jump to any particular topic they want to know about.

Quote Experts and Cite Credible Research
Backing your arguments with credible data and research can add a lot of weight to your blog posts. Instead of making a claim all by yourself, include relevant number and studies that verify your claims.

Quotes from experts and renowned industry figures also has the same impact. When you add them to your content, it gives credibility to your arguments.

Add Images, Infographics and Memes
Did you know that almost 65% of readers prefer infographics, memes and images in blog posts?

Visual content makes your blog posts much more attractive and digestible. Instead of just throwing a wall of text on your readers, add images to the mix.

Relevant and high quality images can complement your content and make it much more effective.

Provide an Actionable Summary at the End
Just like the introduction, a good actionable conclusion is also good for your blog post. It should effectively summarize all the key points of your post, and its key takeaways.

An effective conclusion also drives action from the readers (for example, a comment or a share).

Wrapping Up
Increasing the consumption of your blog content depends heavily on user experience and the type of content you create. If you can identify the topics that your audience loves to read about, and structure your posts in a reader friendly manner, there’s no reason why you can’t make readers stay on your site longer.

How do you ensure that your readers consume your blog posts to the fullest? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.