WordPress Multi User

"wordpress-multi-user"I’m afraid I had to give up on WordPress Multi User. In theory, it’s a brilliant idea. Access to all your sites from one dashboard.

However, in practice, it’s a bit of a bodge. There is confusion over site mapping and, certainly, the Google XML Sitemap is not compatible. There are some special MU plug-ins but then there was conflicting advice over use of those too. Was I using a special Multi User plug in or just a function of regular WordPress? I know I had to change the coding in two files to make it happen but the suggestion was that with the new 3.0 version of WordPress, it contained a built-in multi-site facility that was different to the previous multi user format.

Despite the fact that there were several experts giving advice online, none of them seemed totally confident that they had everything up and running. Whilst it wasn’t too difficult to adapt the site to get the multi-user facility, everything seemed to fall down after that, especially if you’re not a fully-fledged geek.

The problem was that, if I wanted to host more than one site on the vcluster hosting at Fubra, I had to do it using WordPress Multi User and I wasn’t totally confident that it was working properly. I had a duty to my various clients to ensure that their site was being properly crawled by the Google spiders and I could not guarantee that. There were also issues over using different versions of the same template on the various sites. The only way to provide a proper hosting package was to have separate vclusters for each client at a cost of nearly £6 per month, almost double what was available at standard UK hosting sites.

So, despite the fact that the customer service at Fubra and the quality of the hosting itself was exceptional, I was left with no option but to bite the bullet and get a different UK web host account that would allow me separate cpanels for each individual client.

Unfortunately, it then took me two hours of faffing about to remove the code from the wp-config file that would change the site from Multi User back to single use again.

It doesn’t help that my laptop just doesn’t seem to like the new multiple user hosting account – it takes ages to load any of the pages. I’ve switched off my firewall and that makes no difference. But it’s only the sites hosted on the new account that are affected and only on my networked laptop. It seems to work fine on the wired PC.

Very frustrating.

On the plus side, I have a new project that will see me getting up close and personal with both WordPress and Drupal.

I’m very excited and totally trepidatious all at the same time.

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Affordable Small Business Website Design

For the second time in less than a week I have had a very frustrated client on the telephone asking me to help with their professionally built website.

I don’t know quite what’s going on in the world of website design, but I repeatedly hear about two problems.

The first is that the designer is too busy to accommodate the ongoing needs of their client. This means that said client has a number of small changes to make to their website that will keep it current but, despite repeated phone calls, nothing happens. Frustrating and limiting.

The second is that the designer charges a lot of money to make any changes. I came across one recently who wanted the equivalent of what I would charge for an entire website just to upload some new photos and change a few headings.

My goal is to provide affordable small business website design that the client can alter for him/herself without continually having to bring me in. Things like changes in members of staff or products for sale online – this sort of small alteration shouldn’t require the services of a skilled coder and the requisite high charges. This is what makes the internet frightening for small businesses – unforeseen costs that escalate beyond all reason and where the owner is completely in the hands of the professional.

I now realise that I’m going to have to become familiar with platforms other than WordPress.

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My first Affordable Small Business Website Design

Well, my plan for world domination has got off to a cracking start.

A few weeks in and my first client is already ranked Number One on Yahoo for his two chosen keywords.

For Google, we have achieved a good slot in Places with a position in the top four on the map for both keywords and second in the organic rankings for a non-directory listing. Not bad for a site that is only a few weeks old.

And this is now starting to translate into telephone and email enquiries.

A good way to achieve this position in the rankings is to use your keyword in the url. So many people want to use the name of their business but, if no one knows who you are, they don’t know who or what to look for.

It’s far better to identify a good search term and try to rank for that. By all means buy your business name as a domain too – you can always forward it to the main site to ensure that you don’t lose any traffic once you become more established.

Working on the basis that Google is a logical machine, if you type in a search term and the spiders have crawled a url which matches that search term, chances are it’s going to be pointing traffic in your direction eventually. However, you can also give those spiders a few clues by raising your hand and calling them over. Giving yourself a ping is always a good idea. As is making sure that you start to get a good selection of backlinks on trusted sites by submitting your site to the local listings.

Even more important is to have a strategy for ensuring that your website contains unique content which is informative, regularly updated and pulls in visitors. Making a blog part of your template is a great way to achieve this. It’s simple to use and very effective.

So, remember the Google Caffeine Algorithm? If your site has good, often changing content, a few back links to show that content is appreciated by other people and some comments to demonstrate that people are connecting with you on the site, then you have the Holy Trinity.

Content. Backlinks. Activity.

And Google will start to notice you.

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Organic Listings

“So what is it that you actually do?”

Hmmm. I’ve heard that question a lot recently.

Basically, most businesses spend a lot of money on advertising in media that has been around for a long time. Strategies that they understand. Physical directories in book form or local newspapers. It’s expensive but, historically, it’s had a relatively good success rate.

Over the last few years, these traditional methods of advertising have experienced strong competition from online services which offer a similar product on the internet. Again, it’s expensive, but if someone comes round offering to provide you with your own website and the marketing to go with it, if you don’t understand computers, you bite off their arm.

However, whilst these companies can be very successful in getting your company ranked on Google, they are in it for themselves, not for your business.

This means that, in many cases, the Google juice acquired from the website that bears your name actually goes to the advertising company. The data relating to ‘your’ website is, often, either too generic to give your company any real help or actually drives the Google spiders towards their website. A lot of the time, this is because the people designing those websites don’t understand how meta data or keywords work.

Another way of advertising is to use Google Adwords. Specific keywords that relate to your business and which are given a monetary value that you agree to pay every time someone clicks on that link.

"organic-listings"So, on the Google search pages, the top two or three returns will be ‘paid’ or ‘sponsored’ links. As will all those in the right hand column. If anyone clicks on them, the companies to whom they link pay Google the agreed amount, a figure which varies depending on how high up the listing you want to be. The url at the top will have agreed to pay the most money every time that link is clicked.

The other links on the page are known as organic listings.

These are sites that the Google spiders, scouring the internet on your behalf, have decided are the best match to the terms of your search.

In days gone by, the sponsored links would get as many as 30% of any clicks on the page. However, recent data shows that only 2-3% of searchers actually click on the paid listings at the top of the page and only 1-2% for the column on the right-hand side.

Averaged out this means that if you’re spending as much money as you possibly can advertising on Google Adwords, you’re still only able to get 4-5% of the available clicks on that page.

This is because the general public are becoming more internet-savvy. We now know about the composition of the page and that the person at the top of the paid listings might not be the cheapest or, indeed, the best. More and more, we are turning to the free organic listings which are decided through popularity.

As a website owner with a site optimised for a specific keyword, you want your business to show up in the top ten results on that page.

The site at position Number One will get as many as 45% of any available clicks.

Position Number Two will receive between 11 and 18%.

7-15% of users will plump for the url situated at Position Number Three.

Sites ranking from 4th to 9th will get 2% of the clicks – equalling the performance of the best paid rankings at the top of the page but without any monetary input. That’s right, they get the same number of clicks for free.

Curiously, because people ‘scroll’ down, the site in 10th place is better placed than the six sites ranked above it, achieving 3% of the page’s interest.

So that’s what I want to achieve for my clients – front page ranking for their chosen keyword but, better still, getting them slotted into the top three or tenth spot on the free organic listings.

And, I tell you this for nothing, I’m a hell of a lot cheaper than Google Adwords.

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I Don’t Speak Geek

"i-dont-speak-geek"It’s no good, I have to admit it.

Despite aspirations to the contrary, I find computer technology really difficult.

I just don’t speak Geek with any fluency.

Being a woman, I am not necessarily the most logical of humans. Being this woman, I find it extremely hard to try to translate what a techie is saying from Geek into English.

As I explained to the computer guys at my new hosting company, who are busy writing manuals to assist new users, you have to remember that newbies are not only not competent, they are actually more likely to be incompetent in terms of working with computers.

When producing a help guide, you have to write in words of one syllable and never take any level of understanding for granted. Even down to logging in where necessary.

And then, after you’ve proof read your document, you need to find a non-Geek to work through the instructions and test that they can be followed.

Most software manufacturers do not do this. And I have fallen foul of their inability to explain clearly on numerous occasions since I first started to become involved in Internet Marketing.

I’ve spent two days now trying to change a site from one hosting company to another. That, in itself, would not have been too difficult. What’s causing the problem is that I have a lot of sites that I want to put on one account – I’m far too thrifty to consider shelling out for separate hosting for each of my sites when I can get them all together for one smaller payment plus a bit of techie work on my part.

The guys at the hosting company did offer to do it for me but the problem with that is that you never learn from that arrangement. It’s not that I want to become a techie, just that I want to have a better grounding than I do currently – so some bloke can’t tap me on the head, patronisingly, at a future date and try to blind me with science – as plumbers and electricians have done regularly on the domestic front.

I guess, at the end of the day, that I want to be able to offer a properly rounded service to my clients. Sure, I will learn how to delegate those things that I’m not so good at in order to focus on my strengths.

But I also think it is very important to have a working knowledge of all areas so that anyone I employ to help me cannot ‘extract the proverbial’…

Anyway, with my usual tenacious determination, I will persevere and, by the end of the week, I will understand how the new WordPress template works with multi-users… and, as a result, I will have improved my understanding of the platform generally.

Onwards and upwards… with a few frustrated curses for good measure.

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