Monthly Archives: May 2015

Taking Good Photos For Blogs & Social Media

Photography Resources

Photos, graphics and illustrations are what make your content REALLY stand out. Whether it’s your blog content, Facebook updates or your Pinterest images… great images are what grab people’s attention.

May is Photo Month, and I’ve been working on setting up a Food Photography corner in my home office. This is a great opportunity to share some cool resources & apps with you, and also hear YOUR favorite gadgets for taking good photos and video. :)

Fun Apps To Easily Enhance Your Photos

I take the majority of my photos with my mobile phone while I’m out & about. You can find great landscapes, beautiful skies, and endless ideas for gorgeous backgrounds. These are great for illustrations, or to add quotes as an overlay to use for engaging social media updates.

Apps I like to use to add text & quotes include:

  • Phonto for Android
  • WordSwag for iPhone
  • Canva

You can also create beautiful quote graphics using BrainyQuote.

I used the Phonto App to add text to this picture to illustrate a blog post:

Phonto App

Canva has a lot of free images you can use to create quote graphics and blog post illustrations. I used Canva to create this image:

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Make Your Content POP With Great Graphics

Even if you don’t take a lot of your own photos, you can still create awesome graphics & illustrations to make your content stand out. I use a number of resources for quick & easy graphics – including several graphics templates:

All three of those are super easy to use!

See my Infographics Case Study

Results speak louder than words. :)

Little Photography Accessories…

That Make A BIG Difference

This “selfie stick” is currently on sale for $4.15 with free shipping (usually $15.99):

This reflective photography table, with both a black and white surface, is GREAT for food photography or for smaller items like jewelry or other things you sell online:

You can also get awesome backdrops for your photos & videos on Amazon, along with stands to create “stand out” backgrounds:

Photography Backdrops

Lighting Is The REAL Key To Great Photos!

No matter what kind of camera you use, from high end professional camera equipment to a simple mobile phone camera, the real key to any great photo is the lighting. Natural light is ideal for the best turnout so you want to take your photos outdoors when you can. But that’s not always possible, which is where lighting kits come into play.

Here’s my continuous lighting kit setup. It’s easy to set up, works great, and it’s very affordable. Highly recommended! This is PERFECT for shooting quality video and taking great photos indoors.

At that link, I also share the web cam I’m using for quick web video – which is the best one I’ve found in regards to quality & clarity of video images. It has GREAT audio quality too. :)

For smaller items, a lightbox is a great solution:

Looking For A Great Camera?

Check out the Amazon Warehouse Deals: Cameras & Accessories to score great equipment at good prices.

You can click here to see my video editing software & camera equipment. That’s the setup I use to do my own videos, plus the continuous lighting kit I mentioned above.

Camera Deals

I would love to hear the apps, cameras, props & accessories YOU use for taking or creating great photos & graphics. :) Leave a comment & let’s share resources!

7 Free WordPress Admin Themes and Plugins

WordPress admin themes aren’t as popular because most folks think they’re unnecessary. However if you’re developing a WordPress site for a client, then you could benefit from customizing the experience. In this article, we will show you some of the best free WordPress admin themes that you can try right away.

Difference Between WordPress Admin Themes and Admin Color Schemes

WordPress Admin themes are not the same as WordPress admin color scheme. Users can go to their profile page and select one of the built-in WordPress admin color schemes to use for their admin area. This color scheme does not change the width, height, padding, spacing of the WordPress admin UI.

WordPress admin themes on the other hand can go one step ahead and change the width, padding, margin, borders of WordPress admin user interface. Admin themes can style and control the appearance of different elements like buttons, menus, links, and even typography in your WordPress admin area.

Now that we have covered the differences, lets take a look at some ready to use and free WordPress admin themes.

Note: all admin themes here are actually plugins. You will need to install them just like you would install any WordPress plugin.

1. Blue Admin

Blue Admin

Blue Admin is a simple minimalistic admin theme for WordPress. As the name suggests it uses Blue as the primary color for the WordPress admin bar. It changes the admin bar on the right to the white instead of matching the top bar color.

2. Tamed Admin Theme

Tamed Admin Theme

Tamed Admin Theme aims to simplify the WordPress admin user interface. This minimalist WordPress admin theme uses a more soothing and calmer approach for the UI colors. It looks very clean and simple while still providing a much familiar looking admin interface.

3. Slate Admin Theme

Slate Admin Theme

Slate is a clean and simple admin theme for WordPress. It uses a dark brown admin bar with blue color for links, buttons, and menus. Slate focuses on improving the content writing experience for bloggers by providing a lean admin user interface.

4. Fancy Admin UI

Fancy Admin UI is a neat WordPress admin theme with a blue top admin bar and soft gray menu bar. Users can change these primary and secondary colors from Settings » General page.

Fancy Admin UI

5. Reimagined Admin

Reimagined Admin

Reimagined Admin is a bold and dark WordPress admin theme. It gives the admin area a more fun look which could be appealing for some users. Its refreshing and strong at the same time.

6. Admin Color Schemer

Admin Color Schemer plugin

Admin Color Schemer is not exactly a WordPress admin theme. It allows you to change the WordPress admin color scheme from an easy to use interface. This means you can create an unlimited number of color combinations to use as your WordPress admin scheme.

7. White Label CMS

White Label CMS

White Label CMS is not an admin theme, but it allows you to customize and rebrand the WordPress admin area. You can remove WordPress logos and change the admin area to meet your needs. It is perfect for users who are developing sites for clients and want to offer them exactly what they asked for.

We hope this article helped you find a new WordPress admin theme for your site. You may also want to check out our tutorial on how to hide unnecessary menu items from WordPress admin area using Adminimize.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

To leave a comment please visit 7 Free WordPress Admin Themes and Plugins on WPBeginner.

Is Brand a Google Ranking Factor? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

A frequently asked question in the SEO world is whether or not branding plays a part in Google’s ranking algorithm. There’s a short answer with a big asterisk, and in today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains what you need to know.

http://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/g0nz20mcno?videoFoam=true

Is Brand a Google Ranking Factor Whiteboard

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I’m going to try and answer a question that plagues a lot of marketers, a lot of SEOs and that we ask very frequently. That is: Is brand or branding a ranking factor in Google search engine?

Look, I think, to be fair, to be honest, that the technical answer to this question is no. However, I think when people say brand is powerful for SEO, that is a true statement. We’re going to try and reconcile these two things. How can brand not be a ranking factor and yet be a powerful influencer of higher rankings in SEO? What’s going to go on there?

What is a ranking factor, anyway?

Well, I’ll tell you. So when folks say ranking factor, they’re referring to something very technical, very specific, and that is an algorithmic input that Google measures directly and uses to determine rank position in their algorithm.

Okay, guess what? Brand almost certainly is not this.

Google doesn’t try and go out and say, “How well known is Coca-Cola versus Pepsi versus 7 Up versus Sprite versus Jones Cola? Hey, let’s rank Coca-Cola a little higher because they seem to have greater brand awareness, brand affinity than Pepsi.” That is not something that Google will try and do. That’s not something that’s in their algorithm.

However, a big however, many things that are in Google’s ranking algorithm correlate very well with brands.

Those things are probably used by Google in both direct and indirect ways.

So when you see sites that have done a great job of branding and also have good SEO best practices on them, you’ll notice kind of a correlation, like boy, it sure does seem like the brands have been performing better and better in Google’s rankings over the last four, five, or six years. I think this is due to two trends. One of those trends is that Google’s algorithmic inputs have started favoring things that brands are better at and that what I’d call generic sites or non-branded sites, or businesses that have not invested in brand affinity have not done well.

Those things are things like links, where Google is rewarding better links rather than just more links. They’re things around user and usage data, which Google previously didn’t use a whole lot of signals around that. Same story with user experience. Same story with things like pogo sticking, which is probably one of the ways that they’re measuring some of that stuff.

If we were to scatter plot it, we’d probably see something like this, where the better your brand performs as a brand, the higher and better it tends to perform in the rankings of Google search engine.

How does brand correlate to ranking signals?

Now, how is it that these brand signals that I’m talking about correlate more directly to ranking signals? Like why does this impact and influence? I think if we understand that, we can understand why we need to invest in brand and branding and where to invest in it as it relates to the web marketing kinds of things that we do for SEO.

One very clearly and very frankly is links. So when we talk about the links that Google wants to measure, wants to count today, those are organic, editorially earned links. They’re not manipulative. They weren’t bought. They tend not to be cajoled, they’re earned.

Because of that, one of the best ways that folks have been earning links is to get people to come to their website and then have some fraction, some percentage of those folks naturally link to them without having to do any extra effort. It’s basically like, “Hey, you made this great piece of content or this great product or great service or great data. Therefore, I’m going to reference it.” Granted, that’s a small percentage of people. There’s still only maybe two or three out of a hundred folks who might visit your website on the Internet who actually have the power or ability to link to you because they control content on the web as opposed to just social sharing.

But when that happens, in a lot of cases folks go and they say, “Hmm, yeah, this content’s good, but I’ve never heard of this brand before. I’m not sure if I should recommend it. It looks good, but I don’t know them.” Versus, “Oh, I love these folks. This is like one of my favorite companies or brands or products or experiences, and this content is great. I am totally going to link to it.” Because that happens, even if that difference is small, even if the percent goes from 1% to 2%, well now, guess what? For every hundred visits, you’re earning twice the links of your non-branded competitor.

Social signals

These are pretty much exactly the same thing. Folks who visit content, who have experiences with a company, with a product, or with a service, if they’re familiar and comfortable with the brand, if they want to evangelize that brand, then guess what? You’re going to get more social sharing per visit, per exposure than you would ordinarily, and that’s going to lead to a cycle of more social sharing which leads to visits which probably leads to links.

User and usage data

It’s also true that brand is going to impact user and usage data. So one of the most interesting patents, which we’ll probably be talking about in a future Whiteboard Friday, was brought up recently by Bill Slowsky and looked at user and usage data. It was just granted to Google in the last month. It talked about how Google would look at the patterns of where web visitors would go and what their search experiences would be like. It would potentially say, “Hey, Google would like to reward sites that are getting organic traffic, not just from search, but traffic of all kinds on a particular topic.”

So if it turns out that lots of people who are researching a vacation to Costa Rica end up going to Oyster.com, well, Google might say, “Hey, you know what? We’ve seen this pattern over and over again. Let’s boost Oyster.com’s rankings because it seems like people who look for this kind of content end up on this site. Not necessarily directly through us, through Google. They might end up on it through social media, through organic web links, through direct visits, through e-mail marketing, whatever it is.”

When you’re unbranded, one of the few ways that you can get traffic is through unbranded search. Search is one of those few channels that does drive traffic, or historically anyway did drive traffic to a lot of non-branded, less branded sites. Brands tend to earn traffic from a wide variety of sources. If you can start earning traffic from lots of sources and have the retention and the experience to drive people back again and again, well, probably you’re going to benefit from some of these potential algorithmic shifts and future looking directions that Google’s got.

Click-through rates

Same story a little bit when it comes to click-through rate. Now, we know from experience and testing that click-through rate is or appears to have a very direct impact on rankings. If lots of people are performing a search and they click on your website in position number four or five, and they’re not clicking on position one, two, or three, you can bet that you’re going to be moving up those rankings very, very quickly.

Granted there is some manipulative services out there that try and automate this. Some of them work for a little while. Most of them get shut down pretty quick. I wouldn’t recommend investing in those. But I do recommend investing in brand, because when you have a recognizable brand, searchers are going to come here and they’re going to go, “Oh, that one, maybe I haven’t heard of it. That one, I’ve heard of it. That one, I haven’t heard of it.”

Guess what they’re clicking on? The one they’re already familiar with. The one they have a positive association with already. This is the power of brand advertising, and I think it’s one of the big reasons why you’ve seen case studies from folks like Seer Interactive, talking about how a radio ad campaign or a billboard ad campaign seemed to have a positive lift in their SEO work as well. This phenomenon is going to mean that you’re benefiting from every searcher who looks for something, even if you rank further down, if you’re the better known brand.

So is brand a ranking factor? No, it’s not. Is brand something that positively impacts SEO? Almost certainly in every niche, yes, it is.

All right. Looking forward to some great comments. I’ll try and jump in there and answer any questions that I can. If you have experiences you want to share, we’d love to hear from you. Hopefully, we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 2

Posted by Trevor-Klein

Last week, we began posting short (< 2-minute) video tutorials that help you all get the most out of Moz’s tools. Each tutorial is designed to solve a use case that we regularly hear about from Moz community members—a need or problem for which you all could use a solution.

Today, we’ve got a brand-new roundup of the most recent videos:

  • How to Examine and Analyze SERPs Using New MozBar Features
  • How to Boost Your Rankings through On-Page Optimization
  • How to Check Your Anchor Text Using Open Site Explorer
  • How to Do Keyword Research with OSE and the Keyword Difficulty Tool
  • How to Discover Keyword Opportunities in Moz Analytics

Let’s get right down to business!

Fix 1: How to Examine and Analyze SERPs Using New MozBar Features

The MozBar is a handy tool that helps you access important SEO metrics while you surf the web. In this Daily SEO Fix, Abe shows you how to use this toolbar to examine and analyze SERPs and access keyword difficulty scores for a given page—in a single click.

.video-container {
position: relative;
padding-bottom: 56.25%;
padding-top: 30px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;
}
.video-container iframe,
.video-container object,
.video-container embed {
position: absolute;
top: 0;
left: 0;
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
}

https://www.youtube.com/embed/arx5rLMYxa8


Fix 2: How to Boost Your Rankings through On-Page Optimization

There are several on-page factors that influence your search engine rankings. In this Daily SEO Fix, Holly shows you how to use Moz’s On-Page Optimization tool to identify pages on your website that could use some love and what you can do to improve them.

.video-container {
position: relative;
padding-bottom: 56.25%;
padding-top: 30px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;
}
.video-container iframe,
.video-container object,
.video-container embed {
position: absolute;
top: 0;
left: 0;
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
}

https://www.youtube.com/embed/7hcPizIiu-U


Fix 3: How to Check Your Anchor Text Using Open Site Explorer

Dive into OSE with Tori in this Daily SEO Fix to check out the anchor text opportunities for Moz.com. By highlighting all your anchor text you can discover other potential keyword ranking opportunities you might not have thought of before.

.video-container {
position: relative;
padding-bottom: 56.25%;
padding-top: 30px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;
}
.video-container iframe,
.video-container object,
.video-container embed {
position: absolute;
top: 0;
left: 0;
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
}

https://www.youtube.com/embed/InoQtYRXN5U


Fix 4: How to Do Keyword Research with OSE and the Keyword Difficulty Tool

Studying your competitors can help identify keyword opportunities for your own site. In this Daily SEO Fix, Jacki walks through how to use OSE to research the anchor text for competitors websites and how to use the Keyword Difficulty Tool to identify potential expansion opportunities for your site.

.video-container {
position: relative;
padding-bottom: 56.25%;
padding-top: 30px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;
}
.video-container iframe,
.video-container object,
.video-container embed {
position: absolute;
top: 0;
left: 0;
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
}

https://www.youtube.com/embed/ditAueB3Iuk


Fix 5: How to Discover Keyword Opportunities in Moz Analytics

Digesting organic traffic that is coming to your site is an easy way to surface potential keyword opportunities. In this Daily SEO Fix, Chiaryn walks through the keyword opportunity tab in Moz Analytics and highlights a quick tip for leveraging that tool.

.video-container {
position: relative;
padding-bottom: 56.25%;
padding-top: 30px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;
}
.video-container iframe,
.video-container object,
.video-container embed {
position: absolute;
top: 0;
left: 0;
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
}

https://www.youtube.com/embed/0DWi37CUxk4


Looking for more?

We’ve got more videos in last week’s round-up! Check it out here.


Don’t have a Pro subscription? No problem. Everything we cover in these Daily SEO Fix videos is available with a free 30-day trial.

Sounds good. Sign me up!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Get Wishlist Member FREE with LeadPages

Click Here To Get Started



This is a GREAT way to build your list & create recurring income for your business… at the same time.

:)

I noticed this deal today, and jumped right on it. Do you have LeadPages already? If not, this is a great time to join in! And if you do, you may want to upgrade and save tons of money.

It’s a total no-brainer.

Definitely the smart thing to do…

Here’s the deal: Until Sunday you can get Wishlist Member ($197) FREE when you sign up for LeadPages. You have to sign up for a Pro Annual account to qualify, or simply upgrade your account to Pro Annual. That’s it – and you get Wishlist FREE!

Wishlist and LeadPages go hand in hand, giving you a high-converting list builder and simple sales page templates PLUS a membership site platform – or an easy way to deliver your paid products to buyers.

I have a Pro Monthly account at LeadPages already, so my rate is $67/month. If I upgrade to Pro Annual it’s only $40/month – so I save $325 a year every year!

PLUS get Wishlist Member FREE, which is $197. That means I save over $500 this year alone, given I was planning to set up Wishlist anyway. This deal is SWEET. :)

When I went to upgrade, I noticed this message: “We will automatically credit the remaining balance of your current subscription to your new upgraded pro subscription as soon as you order.” –Very cool.

I have been super impressed with LeadPages from the beginning. I was sold on the concept, but what really sealed the deal was the List Building Training Session I co-hosted with their trainer. *(You can still watch it at that link.) I took tons of notes, some on the general ideas – but many of my own ideas for my own sites, which you might want to apply yourself. I shared the notes publicly in case you missed those.

I was thrilled to see this deal cross my screen and wanted to make sure you were aware of it too. If you’re serious about building your list and increasing your passive income this year, in a way that pays off for years to come, this is an ideal combo!

LeadPages with Wishlist Member

Wishlist, or any membership software, is a great solution for delivering your digital products easily – and securely.

Click Here To Get Started

* You can expect to receive Wishlist Member as soon as your 30-day money-back guarantee for LeadPages expires. If you want to receive the software immediately, just contact support and tell them you’d like to waive your 30-day money-back guarantee and they’ll hook you up with Wishlist Member within three business days.

How to Add A Restaurant Reservation System in WordPress

Are you looking to build a restaurant website with WordPress? You’re not alone. Thousands of restaurant websites use WordPress restaurant themes to power their website. However most of those sites just display the menu and a simple contact form. In this article, we will show you how to add a restaurant reservation system in WordPress.

Restaurant Reservation WordPress

Note: You need to install the self-hosted WordPress to use this plugin. See the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. If you’re looking for WordPress hosting, then we recommend Bluehost or Siteground.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Restaurant Reservations plugin. Upon activation, the plugin will add a new menu item labeled ‘Bookings’ in your WordPress admin bar.

Before you start configuring the plugin, you need to create a new WordPress page to handle your bookings. Go to Pages » Add New and create a new page. You can give this page any title you want. It’s important that you leave the content area empty and click on the publish button.

Once your booking page is ready, you can head over to Bookings » Settings to configure the restaurant reservations plugin.

Setting up restaurant reservation and booking system

Restaurant Reservations settings page is divided into three different sections.

On the general tab, you need to select the booking page you just created. Next, you need to select the maximum party size your restaurant can handle. You can also add a custom success message that users will see upon successful booking.

Once you are done with the settings click on the save changes button.

Add Booking Schedule and Timings

The difference between a proper restaurant reservation system and contact form is that your contact form does not allow users to choose booking time.

With Restaurant Reservation plugin, you can schedule your working hours allowing users to make their reservations accordingly.

Simply click on the Booking Schedule tab to enter booking times, schedule and exceptions. Don’t forget to click on the save changes button when you are done.

Add restaurant booking timings and schedules

Customizing Restaurant Reservation Notifications

Restaurant Reservations comes with a built-in notification system which sends email alerts to customers and administrators about bookings.

You can customize these email notifications by visiting the plugin’s settings page and clicking on the notifications tab.

Customizing booking notifications for restaurant reservations

First you need to provide a reply-to name. Ideally, this should be your restaurant’s name. The plugin will automatically use your WordPress site’s admin email address as the reply-to address for outgoing emails. You can change it if you want to receive replies on a different email address.

If you want to receive new booking notifications, then check the box next to the admin notification. The plugin will use your default WordPress admin address, but you can change it to any other address you want.

You will see a number of template tags that you can use in the outgoing email templates. Each tag will display some information. For example, {user_name} tag will display the name of the user who placed the booking.

After that you will find default email messages that will be sent to users and customers. Feel free to customize these messages as needed. If you are having trouble sending email notifications, then you may want to check our guide on how to fix WordPress not sending email issue.

Email templates for booking notifications

Displaying Restaurant Booking Form on The Front End

The plugin will automatically display the booking form on the booking page you created earlier. You can add this page to your site’s navigation menus by visiting Appearance » Menus>.

All you need to do is select the booking page from the left hand column and click on the add to menu button. The menu will appear in the right hand column.

You can drag and drop to adjust the menu location. Click on save menu button when you are done.

Here’s what the final preview of the reservations page looks like on the Twenty Fifteen Theme:

WordPress Restaurant Reservations Preview

We hope this article helped you add a restaurant reservation system in WordPress. You may also want to check out our guide on how to add Google Maps in WordPress to display your restaurant location.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

To leave a comment please visit How to Add A Restaurant Reservation System in WordPress on WPBeginner.