Top 5 WordPress Plug-in’s for your Business Website

Top 5 WordPress Plug-in's

 

There are almost an infinite number of Plug-in’s available for a WordPress based website.

However, there are some that I believe are a must have regardless of what type of Website or Blog you have.

The following Plug-in’s are the top five that I believe are essential and you should have installed:

    • Change the urls (web address) for the WordPress dashboard including login, admin, and more.
    • Rename the “admin” account. For example you could rename it admin2013.
    • Change the WordPress database table prefix. The default is wp_.  The plug-in will change it to a random set of letters.
    • Change wp-content path. You could change this to anything, for example site-content.
    • Ban bots and other hosts.
    • Prevent brute force attacks by banning hosts and users with too many invalid login attempts.
    • Enforce strong passwords for all accounts from Subscriber’s to Admin’s.
    • Detect and block numerous attacks to your filesystem and database.
  • BackupBuddy – This plug-in has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.  Imagine you have spent 100’s of hours and dollars developing your website, and the unthinkable happens.  Your website is hacked and your website is compromised, or even worse, the Web Hosts’ Server is hacked and everything is lost.  Now wouldn’t it be nice to be able to restore your website from a backup almost immediately?  Well that is just one of the things you can do with BackupBuddy.  BackupBuddy is a “Paid For” plug-in, but it’s worth every cent.  With BackupBuddy, you can:
    • Back up your entire WordPress installation. Your Widgets, Themes, Plug-in’s, Files, Images, PDF’s and SQL database – the entire website!  Just like you would backup your laptop or desktop computer, you should be doing regular backups of your website. With BackupBuddy you can schedule backups and have them sent off-site to Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, an FTP server, or your email. Or you can download them straight to your computer.
    • Restore your WordPress site fast. The restore function in BackupBuddy is very simple. Upload a file called importbuddy.php and your backup file, and it restores WordPress including your Themes, Widgets, Plug in’s, and everything else. You don’t even need to re-install WordPress first!
    • Individual File Restoration – Did you make a whole lot of changes to your theme and then decide that you wanted everything back like it was?  Now you can identify files to restore individually, instead of having to go through a complete site restore!  Easily browse your backup .zip file contents right from the dashboard and decide which files to restore.
    • Move your WordPress site to another Web Host easily.  Not happy with your current Web Host?  No problem.  Simply make a backup of your website, sign up to a new Web Host, upload the backup file and importbuddy.php script and run it.
  • WordPress SEO – WordPress SEO would have to be the most complete WordPress SEO plugin around. It does everything including a Google Snippet Preview and Page Analysis that helps you optimise your page content, image titles, meta descriptions and more, as well as creating XML sitemaps, and a heap of optimisation options in between.
  • Broken Link Checker – Over time, a website will accumulate quite a number of links within pages, both internal links and external links.  These links will occasionally break when the website they point to cease to exist for any number of reasons.  You would only know if this was the case if you happened to check the links periodically, or you are notified by a vigilant visitor to your website.  Broken Link Checker will notify you via the WordPress Dashboard and via Email if it detects any broken links.
  • Imagify – One of the biggest mistakes I see when people manage their own websites (and sometimes by so called professionals), is the use of images that haven’t been optimised for web use. Imagify takes the hard work out of optimising images by doing it as you upload them. Of course you should still resize images to an appropriate pixel count first, but with this plug-in, images will be optimised on the fly. If you already have images on your website, there is also a bulk optimisation feature. The free version of the plug-in offers 25MB of data per month at no cost. After that, a fee is applicable, or you can wait until the next months anniversary and pick up a further 25MB Free.

CMS Websites at risk from Hackers

Content Management Systems (CMS) websites like WordPress have long been a target for Hackers.

CMS systems like WordPress are popular because they are free and Open Source, and very flexible to such an extent that just about anybody can create a Website, or Blog, or eCommerce website with relative ease.

The problem is that a lot of website owners either fail to keep their CMS and plug-in’s up to date.

New versions of the platform and plug-in’s are regularly released, not just to improve functionality, but to plug security holes.

This is why Hackers love to target CMS websites.  It’s because they know there is a high chance of discovering an unpatched website.

Even if you do keep the platform and plug-in’s up to date, you must also do a few other things.

Here is a checklist:

  • Use a strong Password – You must not use easy to guess and simple passwords.  Never use “Password” as your password for example.  Also avoid using dictionary words, pets names, family members names etc.  Use Upper and Lower case letters in combination with numbers and keyboard characters like @#$%^&* if possible.  If you find it difficult, try substituting some letters with characters or numbers.  For example MyPassword2013 could become MyP@55w0rd2013.
  • Use a good Security Plug-in – My favourite Security Plug-in is Better WordPress Security.  Among the things it does is:
    • Change the urls for WordPress dashboard including login, admin, and more
    • Rename “admin” account
    • Change the ID on the user with ID 1
    • Change the WordPress database table prefix
    • Change wp-content path
    • Ban troublesome bots and other hosts
    • Ban troublesome user agents
    • Prevent brute force attacks by banning hosts and users with too many invalid login attempts
    • Enforce strong passwords for all accounts of a configurable minimum role
    • Detect and block numerous attacks to your filesystem and database
  • Add CAPTCHA to your User Log-in – I like to use another Plug-in called SI-CAPTCHA Anti-Spam.  Not only does it add CAPTCHA to your Log-in, but to WordPress forms for comments, registration, and lost passwords too.

It may sound daunting, but if you have your website hosted and maintained by Spotty Dog Computer Services, all the updates are included in our Monthly Maintenance Fee.  And as an added bonus, if a Hacker does manage to compromise your website, we make regular backups so we can restore your website if it all turns pear shaped 🙂

Do you want an online catalogue for your Business Website?

It is often quite beneficial to display your Business Product Catalogue online in a format that actually behaves like a Print Catalogue.

For a start, even if you have an eCommerce website, a Flipping Book Online Catalogue looks flash and will impress your visitors.

Secondly, it provides a way for your visitors to interact with your website in a fun way, whilst at the same time allowing them to see your Products or Specials or whatever it is you want to display.

Now this can be achieved two ways.  Either using a Flipping Book Plug-in, or my preferred method, using software on your computer to create the Online Catalogue, and uploading the files to your website.

Below is an example of a Specials Catalogue that I created for my Computer Repairs Business.

The latest version of the Flipping Book Software has integrated support for the HTML5 standard which means that your publications are readable on almost all devices, including iPhones and Android based Phones, to tablets like the iPad, and E-readers.

Watch the video below to learn more about the capabilities of Flipping Book software.

Small Businesses Targeted by Scammers

Domain Name Scam and Billing ScamIncreasingly I am seeing not only my own business targeted, but I am getting a huge amount of inquiries from other businesses asking me if something they received in an email or through the post or via the telephone is legitimate or a scam.

Invariably they are scams.

There are all sorts of tech threats such as viruses and spyware out there, but it’s the age old tricks that are still fooling small business owners.

Instead of trying to hack into your computer by stealth, scammers are finding it easier to just send you an email, or fax, or just phone you with an offer they hope you can’t refuse.

One of their common tricks is to send a business a fake Invoice in the hope that someone in the office pays it without asking any questions. It’s easy enough to do when you’re under the hammer and snowed under with paperwork.

Office supplies have become a favourite with scammers invoicing you for stationery or toner and ink cartridges that you never ordered, or even sending you an email stating that your refills are ready.  Such an innocuous-looking bill could easily slip through the cracks and be paid, especially in a small business without a dedicated accounts department to keep an eye out for such things.

There are a multitude of variations to the fake billing scam, so always check your bills carefully. Another big one is receiving an invoice from dodgy Directory Services or Advertising Company requesting payment for listings which were never published or were ran without your authorisation.

Fake Domain Name renewals are becoming more prevalent now.  They will ask for payment so you can continue to use your website address. Sometimes you’ll receive a bogus invoice, perhaps for your Domain Name, or more commonly, one which is similar to your Domain Name.

Some dodgy Domain Name Registrars have been known to send out what looks like an invoice from your current provider but is actually an authorisation to transfer your Domain Name to them. They even check online records to see when your Domain Name is due for renewal, with the hope of catching you off guard because you’re expecting an email from your real Domain Name Registrar anyway.

Dodgy Domain Name Registrars are also known for sending out emails claiming that your competitors are trying to buy up Domain Names similar to your own and offering to sell those Domain Names to you first.

For example my website is www.websitedesignmorayfield.com.au, so they might offer me www.websitedesignmorayfield.net.au and www.websitedesignmorayfield.org.au – claiming that if I don’t pay for them my competitors will buy them in an attempt to steal my customers.

Scam emails are also used to sneak spyware onto computers. Rather than sending out Spam offering cheap medications and Viagra, hackers are now sending spam disguised as a legitimate notification from a Bank, Courier Company, Airline, the Tax Office or Post Office.

The style might change, but they all require you to open an attachment or click on a link to check the status of an order or delivery. Do so and your computer could be infected with Malware designed to steal passwords or perhaps lock down your computer and hold your data to ransom.

Alternatively, you might be logging into a spoof website and handing over your password. The safest option is never to trust links or attachments in such emails and to contact the service provider directly if you’re unsure.

Scammers aren’t afraid to use the telephone either and there have been a spate of phone calls in recent times purportedly from Microsoft, claiming your computer is infected with a virus or has some other issue.

The scammers request remote access to your computer, and then identify supposed errors as an indication you have a virus and then demand money in order to remove the virus. If you receive one of these phone calls, just hang up on them.  Once inside your computer they can cause extreme havoc if you refuse to pay.

All of these types of scams rely on human error rather than technical and security weaknesses.  Scammers will often target junior staff hoping to fool them. The best way to protect your business is to educate your staff about the potential dangers of scams and enforce strict policies regarding the placement of orders and payment of invoices.

Vigilance and education are the keys to keeping your Business and Bank Accounts safe!!!!

What your Business should look for in a website

There are several things you should be looking for when getting a website developed for your business.

Below is a list of the top seven considerations that I believe are the most important.

  • It should use a Responsive Theme.  This has been touched on in the content on our Home Page, but it’s worth reiterating it here because I think it’s the Number One consideration.  A Responsive Theme will adjust itself to display well and correctly as the screen size of the device used changes.  So in other words, if you view a website on a 24″ Desktop Monitor, and then a Laptop, and then a Tablet and then a Mobile Phone with a small screen, the website should adapt and be usable on all the different screen sizes and resolutions.  Images should scale themselves down as applicable, and the Navigation structure should adapt as well.  So why is this so important?  Well the use of mobile devices and tablets to access the Internet has skyrocketed in recent times, nowhere more so than in Australia where our population has embraced the use of mobile devices.
  • It should have Cross Browser compatibility.  Not everyone uses the same Internet Browser.  Some people prefer Internet Explorer, or Firefox, or Chrome, and if you are using a Mac or iPad, then it’s most likely to be Safari.  In each case however, your website needs to display correctly.  If your business website does not display as intended, and parts of it are not where they should be or missing, then that will present an unprofessional look for your business and possibly result in a lost sale.
  • It should contain quality and relevant content.  Again, this has been touched on in the content of our Home Page, and what I am referring to is SEO or Search Engine Optimisation.  You can have the best looking website in the world, but if the content on the pages is not well written and relevant to your business and you are not targeting key words related to your industry, then you may as well not bother.  Take the time to do some Key Word Research, do a Google Search for some keywords and then check out the competitions websites to see what they are doing to get those top rankings.  You can’t guarantee you will get the same results, but it sure is better than doing nothing.
  • It should be easy to navigate and find things.  There is nothing worse than visiting a website and finding multiple navigation structures.  Some things can be found in the top menu, other things in a side menu and yet further things in the footer.  Now having said that, there are some valid reasons for doing this.  For example, on this website you will find our “Website Terms of Use” and “Privacy Policy” in the Footer and not on the Main Menu.  This is because they are not the sort of thing most visitors would be looking for.  Everything else however, should be accessible from the Main Menu and you shouldn’t have to guess where to look.  You should also have some sort of Search capability.  I use two different types of Search, depending on whether there is eCommerce involved or not.  If eCommerce is involved, then a Predictive Search plug-in is useful.  A Predictive Search will display a list of results as you type, and is handy for visitors looking for a particular product.
  • It should look clean.  Now this one is a hard one to quantify as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Colours that I would say are garish, have been insisted on when I have designed websites for some customers.  All I can say is that just as you wouldn’t normally paint the walls of your house bright pink, so should you NOT do the same on your website.  Your logo may well incorporate bright orange and yellow, but that doesn’t mean it should permeate through the pages of your website.  It may even detract from the message or products you are trying to highlight.
  • It should allow visitors to engage via Social Media.  Now this one is the thing that most Business Owners struggle with.  The number one thing that I hear when I mention this is, I don’t want anything to do with that S*#!@.  Let me tell you that I hear you.  The fact of the matter though is that more and more people are using Social Media to communicate, shop, find out information, share information, and it can affect your Search results if you do not have a Social Media presence.  As much as we might dislike it, it is now part of online life whether we like it or not.
  • Make sure you own the Website and Domain Name.  I can’t count how many people have come to me after having their website designed by another company, being dissatisfied, and then wanting to transfer the Management of the website to us.  But when you ask for the log-in details for Domain Name Management, FTP log-in credentials, Website Hosting Account log-in credentials, and they don’t have them and the web designer won’t provide them.  Worse still, they have registered the Domain Name and Hosting Account in their name instead of the Business Owner, and setup the website so the Business Owner does not have full Admin control of the website.  This makes it almost impossible to transfer to a different Domain Registrar and Hosting Provider, and at the very least a frustrating and time consuming exercise.  So the lesson here is, make sure you are the owner and point of contact for your Domain Name, Website Hosting and that you have full Admin control of your website.

How to access your Hosting Account

The interface to your Website Hosting is known as cPanel, and it can be accessed in two ways.

The first way is to type http://www.yourdomain.com.au/cpanel into your Internet Browser’s navigation bar (where “yourdomain.com.au” is substituted with your actual Domain Name).

This will present a screen where you are required to enter your Username and Password.

cPanel Log-in

This information was sent to you via Email when you signed up for Web Hosting.

Should you need this information to be sent again, please email us at info@spottydog.com.au

The other way to access your Website Hosting is by clicking on the link that was in the original email you were sent with the subject heading of “Your Web Hosting is Ready“.

Your Website Hosting is Ready

You will be taken a web page that looks like this:

Web Hosting Login

Either of these methods achieves and does the same thing.

Once you have logged into your Hosting Account, you will see the following screen:

cPanel

From here there are many things you can do, including creating and removing email addresses, changing email passwords, creating Autoresponders etc.

Setting up your Email in Microsoft Outlook 2003

This “How To” shows you how to set up an email address in Microsoft Outlook 2003.

For “How To’s” on setting up your Email in Microsoft Outlook Express or Microsoft Outlook 2007, please see our other “How To” Guides.

To Set Up Your E-mail in Microsoft Outlook 2003

1. In Outlook 2003, click on the Tools menu, then select E-mail Accounts.

Outlook 2003 Email Accounts

2. In the E-mail Accounts wizard window, select Add a new e-mail account, and then click Next.

Outlook 2003 Add New Email Account

3. For your Server Type, select POP3 and then click Next.

Outlook 2003 Server Type

4. In the Internet E-mail Settings (POP3) window, enter your information as follows:

Your Name
Your first and last name.
E-mail Address
Your full Email address.
User Name
Your full Email address, again.
Password
Your Email Account password that was chosen when the email address was setup.
Incoming mail server (POP3)
“mail.your-domain.com.au” (where ‘your-domain.com.au is replaced with your actual Domain Name.
Outgoing mail server (SMTP)
“your-outgoing-mail-server” (where ‘your-outgoing-mail-server is replaced with your specific Internet Provider’s Outgoing Mail Server (eg. “mail.bigpond.com” if Telstra Bigpond is your ISP, “mail.optusnet.com.au” for Optus, “mail.tpg.com.au” for TPG, etc).

Outlook 2003 User Information

7. Click Test Account Settings to verify everything is configured correctly.

8. Click Next and then click Finish.

Removing message copies from the Mail Server

1. On the Tools menu, click E-mail Accounts.

2. Click View or change existing e-mail accounts, and then click Next.

3. Select your account, and then click Change.

4. Click the More Settings button.

5. Click the Advanced tab, and under Delivery, select the Leave a copy of messages on the server check box.

6. Select the Remove from server after and type in a value of however many days you’s like. The example shows 7 days. This will tell the Mail Server to download all Email messages to your computer but only leave a copy of the messages on the server for a certain number of days. This allows people who want to read their messages at work but also download them for permanent storage on their home computer. We recommend that you choose the smallest number of days that suits your needs. The longer you leave messages on your Mail Server, the greater the risk of filling-up your Mail Server and exceeding your mailbox size quota.

7. Click OK, and then click Finish.

Outlook 2007 remove copy from Server

Setting up your Email in Microsoft Outlook 2007

This “How To” shows you how to set up an email address in Microsoft Outlook 2007.

For “How To’s” on setting up your Email in Microsoft Outlook Express or Microsoft Outlook 2003, please see our other “How To” Guides.

To Set Up Your E-mail in Microsoft Outlook 2007

1. In Outlook 2007, from the Tools menu, select Accounts.

Outlook 2007 Account Settings

 

2. On the E-mail tab, click New.

Outlook 2007 New Email

 

3. Select Microsoft Exchange, POP3, IMAP, or HTTP and click Next.

Outlook 2007 Mail Type

 

4. Check Manually configure server settings or additional server types and click Next.

Outlook 2007 Manually Configure

 

5. Select Internet E-mail and click Next.

Outlook 2007 Connection Type

6. Enter the requested information:

Your Name
Your first and last name.
E-mail Address
Your full Email address.
Account Type
POP3
Incoming mail server (POP3)
“mail.your-domain.com.au” (where ‘your-domain.com.au is replaced with your actual Domain Name).
Outgoing mail server (SMTP)
“your-outgoing-mail-server” (where ‘your-outgoing-mail-server is replaced with your specific Internet Provider’s Outgoing Mail Server (eg. “mail.bigpond.com” if Telstra Bigpond is your ISP, “mail.optusnet.com.au” for Optus, “mail.tpg.com.au” for TPG, etc).
User Name
Your full Email address.
Password
Your Email Account password that was chosen when the email address was setup.

Outlook 2007 User Information

 

7. Click Test Account Settings to verify everything is configured correctly.

8. Click Next and then click Finish.

Removing message copies from the Mail Server

1. On the Tools menu, click E-mail Accounts.

2. Click View or change existing e-mail accounts, and then click Next.

3. Select your account, and then click Change.

4. Click the More Settings button.

5. Click the Advanced tab, and under Delivery, select the Leave a copy of messages on the server check box.

6. Select the Remove from server after and type in a value of however many days you’s like. The example shows 7 days. This will tell the Mail Server to download all Email messages to your computer but only leave a copy of the messages on the server for a certain number of days. This allows people who want to read their messages at work but also download them for permanent storage on their home computer. We recommend that you choose the smallest number of days that suits your needs. The longer you leave messages on your Mail Server, the greater the risk of filling-up your Mail Server and exceeding your mailbox size quota.

7. Click OK, and then click Finish.

Outlook 2007 remove copy from Server

How to use Webmail

From time to time, you may have a need to use your Webmail facility.

This may because you need to access your email whilst using someone else’s computer, or you may be having an issue with your email service and you want to test it to see if it’s working.

Using Webmail is very easy. Simply visit www.yourdomain.com.au/webmail (where “yourdomain.com.au” is substituted with your actual Domain Name).

This will present a screen where you are required to enter your Username and Password.

Webmail Login

Enter your email address as the Username, and whatever Password you chose when you setup your email address, and then click “Log in”.

Once you have done this, you will be presented with the following screen.

Webmail Roundcube

You have three options to choose from. They all do the same thing, but just look different. I personally prefer “RoundCube”, so that’s what we’ll run with.

After clicking on RoundCube, you will see the Webmail interface and the Inbox, with any emails that are waiting.

Webmail Roundcube Inbox

From here, it is pretty much like using any email program, so I won’t go into the nitty gritty’s.

Suffice to say that you can perform all of the same functions as you can with any email program.

Setting up your Email in Microsoft Outlook Express

This “How To” shows you how to set up an email address in Microsoft Outlook Express.

For “How To’s” on setting up your Email in Microsoft Outlook 2003 or Microsoft Outlook 2007, please see our other “How To” Guides.

To Set Up Your E-mail in Microsoft Outlook Express

1. In Outlook Express, from the Tools menu, select Accounts.

Outlook Express Tools Menu

2. A box will appear. Click Add and select Mail.

Outlook Express add Mail

3. In Display name, enter your name as you would like it to appear on your emails and click Next.

Outlook Express Name

4. In E-mail address, enter your full email address and then click Next.

Outlook Express email address

5. On the E-mail Server Names window, enter your information as follows:

My incoming Mail Server is
POP3
Incoming mail (POP3, IMAP or HTTP) server
“mail.your-domain.com.au” (where ‘your-domain.com.au is replaced with your actual Domain Name).
Outgoing mail (SMTP) server
“your-outgoing-mail-server” (where ‘your-outgoing-mail-server is replaced with your specific Internet Provider’s Outgoing Mail Server (eg. “mail.bigpond.com” if Telstra Bigpond is your ISP, “mail.optusnet.com.au” for Optus, “mail.tpg.com.au” for TPG, etc).

Outlook Express Mail Servers

6. Click on Next.

7. In Account name, enter your full Email address, then enter the password that was chosen when the email address was setup.

Outlook Express Log On

Removing message copies from the Mail Server

1. On the Tools menu, click E-mail Accounts

2. Click View or change existing e-mail accounts, and then click Next.

3. Select your account, and then click Change.

4. Click the More Settings button.

5. Click the Advanced tab, and under the Delivery section, select the Leave a copy of messages on the server check box.

6. Select the Remove from server after and type in a value of however many days you’s like. The example shows 7 days. This will tell the Mail Server to download all Email messages to your computer but only leave a copy of the messages on the server for a certain number of days. This allows people who want to read their messages at work but also download them for permanent storage on their home computer. We recommend that you choose the smallest number of days that suits your needs. The longer you leave messages on your Mail Server, the greater the risk of filling-up your Mail Server and exceeding your mailbox size quota.

7. Click OK, and then click Finish.

Outlook Express remove copy from Server

How to setup an email address in cPanel

The first step is to log into your Web Hosting account, the interface is known as cPanel.

To log-in, enter http://www.yourdomain.com.au/cpanel into your Internet Browser’s navigation bar (where “yourdomain.com.au” is substituted with your actual Domain Name).

This will present a screen where you are required to enter your Username and Password.

cPanel Log-in

This information was sent to you via Email when you signed up for Web Hosting.

Should you need this information to be sent again, please email us at info@spottydog.com.au

Once inside the cPanel system, click on the ‘Email Accounts’ icon, located near the top of the cPanel page, in the section named “Mail”. This will take you to the Email account screen where you can add/delete/modify email accounts.

cPanel Email

To create a new email account simply fill in the necessary form fields as described below:

Email: Enter the prefix for your email. For example “info” or “admin” etc.

Password: Enter the password that you wish to use for this account. You will need to enter it twice to indicate that you haven’t mistyped it. You can also use the “Password Generator” button next to the Strength Indicator, which will automatically create a password for you. Just remember that the password is randomly generated and although very secure, it can be difficult to remember!

Mailbox Quota: Enter the total amount of megabytes that you want the mail account to have. If you ignore this field, the default value of 250MB will be used. Or you can choose “Unlimited”.

Click “Create Account” to immediately activate the account.

cPanel email

The email account will be active immediately and you can start sending and receiving email with it.

You can do that via webmail by visiting www.yourdomain.com.au/webmail, or by setting up an email client to use the email address.

Using Webmail and setting up an email clients is a different topic of conversation.

New Shop Front Interface

Website Hosting, Domain Names, Email Hosting, Caboolture MorayfieldOur new Shop Front for the Purchase of Domain Names, Website Hosting, Email Hosting, DNS Hosting, SSL Certificates etc has been completed.

You can view the new Interface at http://domains.spottydog.com.au.

From this page, not only can you purchase the products listed above, but you can search for Domain Name availability, Transfer a Domain Name, View Pricing information, and log in to your Account and Hosting Manager.