18 Dec 2020

Merry Christmas – that’s a wrap for 2020.

Well everyone, 2020 is drawing to a close. And we’re pretty sure most of us are rather happy about that. It certainly has been a year for everyone to remember and for us here at Watch The Dot that’s no exception. The pandemic has brought it’s challenges and forced everyone to work in a different way. We’ve been very  fortunate that we’ve been able to access our office for the most part only working from home for a short period during the first lockdown.  

There have been some real positives to come out of this strange and unpredictable year, however. Recently Claire has joined the team and will be in the office at least three days a week from the new year. And as a result we’ve managed to expand our offerring as a business, branching more firmly into the area of digital marketing. We’ve continued to grow and it’s been a pleasure to take care of our long standing loyal clients, as well as welcome our new ones on board.

From 1.30 today (18/12/20) we will be out of office until 04/01/21. We will of course be available through our usual support channels for any emergencies. 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients for their custom this year.  We very much  look forward to working with you in 2021. Until then stay safe and have a very merry Christmas.    

31 Oct 2020

The Importance of a Responsive Website

It is getting more and more important to cater for the needs of mobile phone and tablet users when it comes to building an effective website. This is because the majority of website traffic now comes from mobile users.

The stats show that over 55% of all internet traffic is accounted for by mobile users, so if you rely on your website for business, you should be thinking about the experience you are providing to mobile users.

We recently converted an ecommerce website for a client who immediately saw a 3x increase in sales. Although they were getting plenty of traffic to the site, the site was losing those mobile users who were finding the site difficult to navigate. How much pinching and zooming do you really want you customers to be doing? The lesson is clear, make it as easy as possible for your customers to buy on all devices.

Check the below infographic from the team at Top 10 Website Hosting for more stats.

The Importance of a Responsive Website - An Infographic from Top 10 Website Hosting

Embedded from Top 10 Website Hosting – Via: Only Infographic

This content was originally published here.

30 Oct 2020

Halloween Marketing Ideas To Boost Up Sales On WordPress Site [Freebies] – WPDeveloper

If you have a WordPress website, then you are probably already aware of special Halloween themes for WordPress. But why bother customizing a whole theme for Halloween when you can create a Halloween landing page with a single click? By using ready Elementor templates, you can instantly add a killer Halloween landing page to your WordPress website. 

Elementor is one of the most popular WordPress page builders to create stunning web pages. You won’t have to bother messing with codes; just insert any Halloween page template for Elementor into your WordPress website, add your own content and you are good to go.

Wondering which ready Elementor templates you can use for creating your Halloween landing page? We’ve got you covered. You can try this amazing Halloween Party template pack for Elementor from Templately to create your Halloween page with a single click. 

Have you ever visited a website and seen a small, beautiful popup banner at the top of the page? These banners are called optin popups, and they can help you to boost up sales easily. How does it work? It’s simple. When you add optin popups to your WordPress site, your site visitors will see the popup no matter which page they browse. If you make these optin popups sticky, then they will move when your site visitor scrolls down your page.

This content was originally published here.

29 Oct 2020

25 WordPress SEO Mistakes to Fix for Better Rankings

Want more visibility in the SERPs and more traffic?

Of course you do!

True success with a WordPress website all begins with your SEO.

In this post, you’ll learn some of the most common WordPress SEO mistakes and how to fix them.

I’ve been doing WordPress SEO since 2007.

Along the way, I’ve learned a great deal about what it takes to make a high performing website.

Avoiding or fixing the following 25 mistakes will provide some great opportunities to boost your WordPress SEO today.

1. You Forgot to Set Your Time Zone

Let’s start with something easy: setting your time zone.

Why is this important?

Whenever you schedule posts to publish in the future, you mark a time of day to share the content.

If your time zone isn’t set correctly, you won’t be sharing content when you think you are.

This could affect everything from views to shares of your work, ultimately hindering your organic engagement.

You can select your time zone by going to Settings, then clicking General.

You’ll see a section labeled Timezone that allows you to pick from a dropdown menu.

2. Your Database Connection Isn’t Established

If you get a notification that there’s an error establishing a database connection, your screen will look something like this:

If that’s the case, there are a few possible solutions:

Continue Reading Below

3. You’re Avoiding Social Meta Data

Sure, social media may not be the biggest thing on your mind if you’re focused on SEO.

But let’s not forget that this tool brings people to your website, and increased traffic is bound to boost your rankings (or at least get you crawled).

Use the Yoast SEO tool on WordPress to enable open graph meta data for Facebook.

To do this, go to your plugin and slide Add open graph meta data from Disabled to Enabled.

Doing this allows you to specify which photo you want to share along with your post.

Under the Twitter panel, enable Twitter card meta data.

Slide Add Twitter card meta data from Disabled to Enabled.

This turns a URL into a full preview for anyone who shares links to your content.

4. You Don’t Have an XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap is just what it sounds like: a map to your website in XML format.

If you haven’t made and submitted one, now is the time.

Use your Yoast SEO plugin to get the job done.

Within the plugin, click on SEO, then go to XML Sitemaps.

Slide the XML sitemap functionality button from Disabled to Enabled.

Use the hyperlink to view your sitemap, then submit it to your Google Search Console. It’s as easy as that!

Also, do not forget about Bing Webmaster Tools as well.

5. You’re Getting the 500 Internal Server Error on WordPress

If a white screen pops up that says Internal Server Error, you’re dealing with a 500 internal service WordPress error.

To resolve it, try one – or all – of these potential solutions:

If Your Memory Limit Has Been Exhausted, Increase It

Open your trusty wp-config.php file and edit it to add code.

Within the main body of PHP tags, add:

This sets your memory limit to 64M, so you can change the number higher if need be.

Change Your .htaccess File Name to Say .htaccess Old

You can do this in your FTP or file manager.

If this doesn’t resolve the issue, reset it back to the original file name.

6. Your Permalinks Are All Wrong

SEO involves keywords. But that’s not all.

It also means off-page tactics, not the least of which is permalink naming.

You can improve your ranking and increase your click-through rate (CTR) just by changing your posts’ permalinks to correlate with the title.

Instead of manually changing every permalink, you can automate the process in your Settings.

From there, click Permalinks. You’ll see a handful of options, like plain, date and numeric.

But be sure to select the one that says Post name.

When editing the permalink, just double check that it has one of your target keywords within it.

When it comes to SEO, you might as well take every bite you can get!

7. You Aren’t Making Use of Footer Space

To improve internal linking and keep people browsing your website for a longer period of time (ultimately increasing engagement and conversions), add a link to your home page and other important landing pages in your website’s footer.

When Google crawls websites, they utilize branded anchor text to help them.

This strategy contributes to that, so it’s super beneficial, despite its simplistic nature.

8. Your Content Rollout Is Irregular

The more you publish content, the more keywords you’re trying to rank for and the more chances you have to rank on search engine results pages.

It’s also true that the more you post (and post on a regular basis), the more likely it is that you’ll get quality traffic.

9. You Forgot to Set Google Analytics Destination Goals

If you’re taking all this time to build out your WordPress website and aim for high-achieving SEO, but SEO is hardly the ultimate goal.

The real goal?

That’s why you need to set destination goals in Google Analytics.

You can use this tool to measure how much of your organic traffic leads to conversions.

Implement a “thank you” or “congratulations” page when someone converts (i.e., buys your product, registers for your virtual seminar or signs up for your newsletter).

You can use this page as a destination to measure whether or not you’re reaching your conversion goals.

10. You Leave Content to Collect Dust

Content production is necessary, but it’s not the only side of the coin.

One of the most common WordPress errors people make is failing to update or refresh old content.

This process makes yesterday’s news new again, and it can even transform once-topical content into something more evergreen.

But why would you take the time to do this?

Because the average website blog has a lifespan of two years (when it will have reached 99% of its engagement).

Make a plan to incorporate refreshes into your content strategy.

Otherwise, you might be missing out on a lot of valuable traffic and – in turn – conversions.

11. Your Connection Has Timed Out

If you reach a screen that says your connection has timed out, try one of these key solutions:

If Your Memory Limit Has Been Exhausted, Increase It

Open your wp-config.php file and edit it to add code. Within the main body of PHP tags, add:

This sets your memory limit to 64M, so you can change the number higher if need be.

Deactivate All Your Plugins

Reactivate them one at a time to determine which one – if any – is causing the problem.

Revert to a Default WordPress Theme

Be sure you’ve backed up your site before you do this (more on that below)!

Your theme might need adjusting if so. If this is the problem, remove spaces at the end of the file.

12. You Have Broken Links

Make sure you’re checking for broken links on a regular basis.

Broken links can show up if external links changed or if you altered your own permalinks.

It’s not hard to find broken links, and you don’t even have to resolve this WordPress error manually.

You can use a little something called Broken Link Checker, a plugin meant solely for WordPress users.

13. Your Site Is Unavailable Due to Scheduled Maintenance

If you’re getting a message that reads, “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute,” you’re not alone.

This often happens when WordPress decides it’s a good time to update a theme or plugin that you just so happen to use.

You can either go into your WordPress account and perform the update manually or visit your root directory and delete your .maintenance file (via your file manager or FTP).

14. You’re Getting the WordPress 404 Error

Whether or not it was through WordPress, we’ve all seen the 404 error at one point in time.

Most often, permalink settings are the root of this issue.

To fix this issue, visit Settings and Permalink.

This is where you can reconfigure your permalinks, manually rewrite them, or overwrite the default settings.

15. You Aren’t Using Schema Markup?

Schema markup can make a huge difference in your SEO potential.

Failing to make use of it doesn’t mean you’re penalized, but it does mean you’re missing out on a good opportunity.

There are various types of schema markup you can implement, like star ratings (a simple one to begin with), Q&A schema and FAQ schema, just to name a few.

You can also use WordPress plugins to implement schema on your website.

16. You’re Getting the ‘Memory Exhausted’ WordPress Error

Your WordPress website has an allowed byte size of memory.

If you’ve gone over that limit because of a plugin or script, you’ll see a note that says Fatal error: allowed memory size of X bytes exhausted (in this instance, X equals a long list of digits).

If Your Memory Limit Has Been Exhausted, Increase It

Open your wp-config.php file and edit it to add code. Within the main body of PHP tags, add:

This sets your memory limit to 64M, so you can change the number higher if need be.

17. You Have a ‘Missed Schedule’ Error

If you’re someone who schedules posts ahead of time, you may encounter a WordPress error that says you have a missed scheduled post.

Why does this happen?

Well, to automate post scheduling, WordPress uses something called “cron jobs.”

Unfortunately, they occasionally fail and you need to publish the content manually from your dashboard.

If you don’t want to rely on a system that may fail you again in the future, you can install a WordPress plugin called Scheduled Post Trigger.

18. You’re Getting the White Screen of Death

Uh oh.

If you’re getting a plain old white screen with no WordPress error message on it, you’re probably feeling…frustrated.

There are two primary ways you can resolve this:

If Your Memory Limit Has Been Exhausted, Increase It

Open your wp-config.php file and edit it to add code. Within the main body of PHP tags, add:

This sets your memory limit to 64M, so you can change the number higher if need be.

Set Your Theme Back to Default and Disable All Your Plugins

No, it’s not fun, but you may have to do it anyway.

It’s possible that your theme has been coded badly, or that your plugins are acting up.

If the white screen goes away, then you’ve narrowed down the issue.

Implement your plugins one at a time until you’ve removed the possibility of them all causing the white screen.

If need be, you can re-code your theme to eliminate unnecessary spacing toward the end of the file.

19. You Failed to Back Up Your WordPress Site

Anything can happen on the web.

In the process of trying to fix other common WordPress errors, you could forget the biggest one of all: backing up your WordPress site.

Before you go ahead and make even more mistakes, it’s a good idea to save what you have so far.

That way, in case your site ends up in worse shape, you can begin right where you left off.

20. You Have Both Tags & Categories Live

One of the biggest mistakes people make with WordPress websites is they leave both tags and categories live.

You really only want one and I strongly recommend that you use categories.

If you are going to leave categories live, and not noindex them, make sure you dynamically optimize them. You can do this with Yoast.

21. You Need to Decide on AMP

When it comes to AMP, you have a big decision to make.

Either go for it 100% or skip it altogether.

If you are going to install AMP make sure you are selective on the pages you use it for.

AMP should really only be used for the blog section.

You can also do other pages, but if you do, make sure you are up for maintaining them.

22. Your Sidebar Is Not Maximized

You really need to be intentional with your sidebar. Let’s start at the top.

First, you should say who you are and what you do.

That way, people will know where they are on the internet should they land on your blog.

Next, it is a good idea to have a call to action for a great offer, followed by:

23. You Don’t Have an Awesome Pop-Up Tool

Not everyone loves pop-ups but wow do they work.

I use them in a very responsible way.

My favorite tools are Sumo and OptinMonster.

Both of these platforms offer other things in addition to pop-ups.

It is a great idea to use one of these tools to fire unobtrusive pop-ups on top pages when a customer is leaving.

By doing this, we generally increase leads by 14%.

24. You’re Not Checking for Core Web Vital Errors & Page Speed Issues

Core Web Vitals will be a ranking factor in 2021.

It is important to check Google Search Console to make sure you do not have Core Web Vital errors.

In addition, the faster your page speed the better. These are both really big topics so I would recommend you learn more here.

25. You Aren’t Doing Push Notifications or Building Remarketing Lists

Push notifications are really powerful and have oddly high opt-in rates.

I recommend you check out tools like Pushnami.

It is also a great idea to make sure you have Google Tag Manager installed for all your analytics tracking, so you can build remarketing lists for your ads and even get advanced with data enhancement tools like Clearbit.

You also want to avoid any errors, make sure you are set up in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, have schema implemented, and the website is fast.

Do all of this and publish content, build links, and have a fantastic website experience and you should be in a good spot.

I’ll see you at the top of the SERPs.

All screenshots taken by author, October 2020

This content was originally published here.

28 Oct 2020

How to Downgrade WordPress to an Older Version?

How to Downgrade WordPress to an Older Version?

|By Jane

Having problems with your theme or plugins compatibility? Downgrading WordPress to an older version might be a quick solution. In this article, we will show you several methods to downgrade the WordPress core to a previous version.

Why Downgrade WordPress?

The recent WordPress 5.5 update broke thousands of websites. There were several issues but one of the most common ones was the compatibility of the new WordPress version with plugins and themes. This means that every theme, plugin, or custom code that isn’t compatible with the new WordPress core, shows error messages and crashes the websites due to these conflicts.

We’ve already seen different methods to fix the WordPress 5.5 problems and one of the best ones is to downgrade WordPress to a previous, stable version. Even though this doesn’t solve the compatibility problem with the new version, it allows you to have your site online until the incompatible themes and plugins receive an update.

So, in this guide, you’ll learn different ways to downgrade the WordPress core.

You can test the compatibility in a staging environment, make sure that nothing is wrong there.

How to Downgrade WordPress to an Earlier Version?

There are three main methods to downgrade WordPress to an older version.

They all get the job done so choose the one that best suits your skills and needs. Now, let’s have a look at each of them step-by-step.

1) Downgrade WordPress Manually

Out of the 3 methods, having to downgrade the WordPress core manually is probably the hardest for beginners. However, it’s very useful, especially if you’re locked out of your WordPress admin area.

In this process involves you will have to download the previous WordPress files from its official website, create an FTP account, use FileZilla to upload those files and make some changes to the files. So, let’s see how to do it step-by-step.

Download CMS Core

The first thing you need to do is download the previous stable version of WordPress. For this guide, we are going to roll back to 5.4.2. To do that, go to the WordPress releases page and download the files.

You can download the Zip file/tar.gz or IIS Zip file. After you download it to your local computer, extract the file. You will see three folders and some PHP files inside it.

After that, you need to create an FTP account.

Create FTP Account

Now, it’s time to create an FTP account to access your WordPress site’s file manager. If you are on shared hosting, the FTP account settings will be in your control panel.

Managed WordPress hosting companies like Kinsta and WP Engine have a dedicated section for the FTP account in the user dashboard. Simply create your username and password and create an FTP account.

After that, log in to your file manager using any FTP client such as FileZilla. In our case, we are going to choose the FileZilla FTP client.

Modifying Files and Directories

After creating your FTP account, log in to your file manager. You’ll have to make some changes to the files.

Now, you need to delete the wp-admin and wp-includes folders. Both directories contain a lot of subfolders and files, so this process may take some time.

After deleting both directories, you need to upload the WordPress files of the version you’ve previously downloaded to the server. So simply select the files, right-click, and press Upload.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to upload the wp-content folder because it contains your uploaded media and related files.

When you do this, you will see a dialogue box on the screen. Select the Overwrite option and click Ok.

After uploading the new files, go to your WordPress admin section and press Update WordPress Database.

Your server will now update the database. This may take some time if your database is big so be patient.

Then, log in to your WordPress dashboard using your username and password and you will see that the installed core version is now 5.4.2.

You’ve just downgraded WordPress manually! The process involves several steps but if you follow them in order, you shouldn’t have any issues.

2) Downgrade WordPress with a Plugin

A more beginner-friendly option to downgrade your WordPress install is by using a plugin. There are several tools that you can use but we recommend using WP Downgrade. This is a free plugin that allows you to change the WordPress versions and choose an old one in a few clicks.

Installation and Activation

First, you need to install the plugin on your site. So, in your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins > Add new. Search for WP Downgrade on the search bar and then install and activate the tool on your site.

Then, go to Settings > WP Downgrade. There you will see your current WordPress version and you’ll have to specify the version you want to downgrade to (or Target Version). You need to enter the exact version number so you can check out WordPress’s official releases page.

In our case, we’re running WordPress is 5.5.1.

Let’s say you want to downgrade your core to WordPress 5.4.2. So, in the WordPress Target Version box, simply type 5.4.2. Remember that you need to specify the exact version number. After that, press the Save Changes button.

In the next page load, you will see that WordPress has been downgraded to the specified core version.

You can see the same in the WordPress updates page.

This method is very effective and only takes a couple of clicks. So if you want to change your WordPress version without using any third-party tools like FileZilla, this is an excellent option for you.

3) Restore a Previous Backup

The third method to downgrade WordPress to an older version is to restore a previous backup. This will only work if you have a backup of your site. If you’re not sure how to do it, you can have a look at our guide on how to generate a full backup.

So, before downgrading WordPress, you need to create a backup of your website. This way, you will be able to restore this backup file when you need it. For this demo, we have created several demo backup files using the UpdraftPlus plugin.

When you want to restore a backup, all you need to do is go to the plugin settings in the WordPress admin and click Restore on your target version.

On the next page, you can select the components you want to restore such as plugins, themes, uploads, and more.

The plugin will import all your database tables by default but you can also exclude the tables you don’t want to restore. After that, click Restore.

The restoration process may take some minutes if your backup is big. When it finishes, you’ll see a success screen.

And that’s how you downgrade WordPress to a previous version by restoring a backup.

NOTE: It’s worth noting that managed hosting solutions such as Kinsta, WP Engine, or Flywheel generate daily backups of your website. So, if you are using any of those, you don’t need to rely on additional plugins to create backups.

Tips to Downgrade WordPress

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world so WordPress sites and plugins receive constant attacks from hackers. That’s why, to keep your website and your files safe, we recommend you generate regular backups of your site. This way, if anything bad happens, you can restore it and keep your business up and running. If you’re not familiar with the process of creating a backup, check out our tutorial to generate a complete backup.

Additionally, we recommend keeping the backup files on a secure location. So, instead of keeping them on the same server, you can download them to your local storage or upload them to any other secure cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Some backup plugins like BackupBuddy allow you to automatically transfer the backup files to any third-party cloud storage or even an FTP server. So, consider this when you use a backup plugin.

Finally, before updating WordPress to the latest version, it’s a good idea to create a staging environment. This way, you’ll be able to test the changes before applying them to your site. So if there’s an issue, you can solve it without breaking your website.

All in all, downgrading WordPress to an older version can be a good option when you’re having problems with the latest WordPress update, when you’re experiencing compatibility issues with plugins or themes, or when you simply want to run a previous version of WordPress.

In this guide, we’ve seen different methods to do it:

If you’ve been locked out of your WordPress site, the manual method is the best for you. It requires several steps and it’s not as easy as the other methods, but if you’re familiar with FTP and file uploading, you won’t have any issues.

On the other hand, the plugin method is the simplest way to downgrade WordPress. If you have access to your WordPress dashboard, simply install the WP Downgrade plugin and roll back to a more stable WordPress version.

Finally, another easy way to get your site back online is to restore a previous backup. This process is quite simple but it will work only if you have a complete backup of your WordPress core.

Do you know any other methods to downgrade WordPress? Which one do you use? Let us know in the comments section below!

This content was originally published here.

28 Oct 2020

Facebook & Instagram Drop Support For WordPress Embeds

A change which is set to roll out on October 24 will break embedded Facebook and Instagram content on WordPress sites.

To be specific, an upcoming API update will remove support for unauthenticated Facebook and Instagram embeds.

That means, after October 24, embedded content will only be supported for publishers with a Facebook developer account and a registered Facebook app.

The change is retroactive, so all Facebook and Instagram embeds on the sites of unauthenticated publishers will soon become broken. This has the potential to affect millions of sites.

Meeting Facebook’s new requirements for embedded content is not an option for all publishers. Creating a Facebook developer account and registering a Facebook app is far from being a practical solution.

So what are publishers to do if they want to embed content from Facebook and Instagram on their web pages?

Here’s more about what’s changing, why it’s changing, and what publishers can do to prepare for it.

Changes to Facebook oEmbed Endpoints

In developer terms – the current oEmbed endpoints for embeddable Facebook content will be deprecated on October 24, 2020.

oEmbed is an open format designed to allow embedding content from a website into another page.

Facebook oEmbed endpoints allow you to get embed HTML and basic metadata for pages, posts, and videos in order to display them in another website or app.

There’s currently an oEmbed endpoint built into Facebook’s API, which has allowed publishers to easily embed content from Facebook and Instagram on their web pages.

Facebook’s API will soon be dropping support for that endpoint.

Further, in response to Facebook’s API change, WordPress is removing Facebook and Instagram as an oEmbed source.

What does this all mean for publishers?

In plain language – the combination of these changes from Facebook, Instagram, and WordPress means a whole lot of content will be broken.

If you have ever embedded content from Facebook and Instagram on your WordPress website, then this change affects you.

Facebook only offers one solution, which is to meet its stringent set of new requirements.

New requirements include:

If that sounds at all like a realistic solution for you, then you can get more information on the Facebook developer blog.

Thankfully, there are more realistic solutions available though the use of WordPress plugins.

Fix Facebook & Instagram Embeds With Plugins

While this change hasn’t rolled out yet, plugin developers have been working hard to prepare simple solutions for site owners.

Here are a couple of options available so far.

oEmbed Plus

A new plugin called oEmbed Plus, by developer Ayesh Karunaratne, brings back support for Facebook and Instagram content embedding.

Even with this plugin installed, publishers will have to register a Facebook developer account and “create” an app.

Note that you will not have to actually create a real app, it will only exist on paper.

Check out the walkthrough here to see what’s involved.

Although there are a few hoops to jump through, this plugin does make the process easier than doing everything on your own.

Smash Balloon Plugins

A development company called Smash Balloon, whose plugins are used on over 1.4 million sites, offers an even easier solution.

The company has updated its existing plugins with fixes for broken Facebook and Instagram embeds.

With the plugins from Smash Balloon you will not have to go through the process of registering a Facebook developer account and creating an app.

That’s because Smash Balloon already has the API key required to create custom feeds for both Facebook and Instagram. There’s no additional authentication needed to restore embedded content.

Smash Balloon offers dedicated plugins Instagram and Facebook.

After installing the plugins go to the oEmbed navigation menu and then click on the Connect button.

All plugins mentioned in this article are free.

This content was originally published here.

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