Monthly Archives: August 2015

How to Use Your Child Theme on Another WordPress Site

Child themes allow you to make changes and customize your WordPress theme without ever editing the main theme. This allows you to continue to get theme updates without losing your changes. Recently one of our readers asked us how would he go about using his child theme on his wife’s website. In this article, we will show you how you can use your child theme on another WordPress site.

Editing child themes

Getting Started

Child themes are the safest way to customize and make changes to a WordPress theme. Take a look at our how to create a WordPress child theme article to learn more about child themes.

Child themes are completely portable, and you can use it on as many sites as you like. You can download them and install them on another WordPress site. You can even submit your child theme to the WordPress theme directory for others to use if it meets certain standards.

Before moving your child theme, you may want to take a look at our checklist of things you must do before changing your WordPress theme, and how to properly switch WordPress themes. These articles will give you a general idea about theme-specific settings that you need to look out for.

Last but most importantly, make sure that you have complete WordPress backup of both your sites before performing any actions.

Moving a WordPress Child Theme

First thing you need to do is connect to your website using an FTP client and browse to the /wp-content/themes directory. Next, download both your child theme and parent theme folders to your computer.

Downloading your parent and child themes

The next step is to connect to the WordPress site where you want to install your child theme using the FTP client. Browse to the /wp-content/themes/ directory and then upload both child and parent theme folders you downloaded earlier to the new site.

Now login to the admin area of the site where you want to install the child theme and visit Appearance » Themes. You will be able to see both parent and child themes installed there.

Previewing a theme before activation

Click on the live preview button under the child theme to make sure everything is working as expected. Once you are satisfied, you can safely activate the child theme on your new WordPress site.

We hope this article helped you learn how to use your child theme on another WordPress site. You may also want to see our hand-picked list of these 43 beautiful free WordPress blog themes.

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 Use Your Child Theme on Another WordPress Site on WPBeginner.

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WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal – Which One is Better?

While WordPress powers 23% of all websites on the internet, it’s not the only open source content management system in the market. There are some other really awesome software like Joomla and Drupal. All three of them have a lot in common, but they still have their own pros and cons. In this article, we will compare WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal to find out which is the best.

WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal

Note: We are comparing WordPress.org and not the WordPress.com hosting service. Please see our guide on the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

What’s Common in WordPress, Joomla and Drupal

All three of the web’s most popular CMS have a lot in common in terms of technology, philosophy, and community.

WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are released under GNU GPL license.

  • WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are all free and open source software licensed under GPL. See our article on Why is WordPress Free to learn more about free software.
  • All three of them are written primarily in PHP.
  • They all support MySQL as their database management system. WordPress exclusively supports only MySQL, while Joomla and Drupal support other database management systems.
  • All three of them use themes and templates for visual appearance of sites, and plugins, modules, or extensions for extending features.
  • As open source software, they are all community-driven projects.

While there are a lot of similarities, they are different in many aspects. They have different policies about what to include in the core software, how to handle modules and templates, how to deal with security, etc. These differences make a big impact on users, and how they build their websites.

Having that said let’s take a look at how WordPress, Joomla and Drupal compare to each other.

Ease of Use and Beginner Friendliness

Most people creating their websites are not web developers, designers, or programmers. They are average users who just want to build a website. Ease of use is the most important factor for majority of users.

WordPress

WordPress comes with a famous five minute install. Most WordPress hosting providers also offer one click install of WordPress. This makes it fairly easy for a new user to get started with their website.

WordPress post installation welcome screen

The post install user experience of WordPress is way better than Joomla or Drupal. The user sees a simple clean cut user interface with the menus to create posts, pages, or start customizing appearance and themes.

Joomla

Joomla installation may not look as quick as WordPress, but it has very similar steps. Apart from that many shared hosting providers offer one click install packages for Joomla as well.

Joomla post installation dashboard

After the installation, the user lands on a control panel that is not as straight forward as WordPress. There are just too many menus to click on and customize your site. Joomla fans would say thats because Joomla is a lot more powerful than WordPress, but we think it is kind of scary for a beginner.

Drupal

Drupal’s installation is similar to both Joomla and WordPress. Simply download and upload the package and run the installation script.

Drupal installation wizard

Drupal also offers distributions. These are pre-packaged Drupal bundles with modules and configurations to create specific kind of websites.

The post installation experience for absolute beginners is a bit complicated. Users will find it difficult to figure out how to change things on their site. Drupal makes it very obvious how to add the content, but changing appearance and adding non-content elements is not very obvious.

Winner: WordPress

Themes and Addons

All three of these popular CMS come with themes and plugins / modules as a way to extend the features and appearance of the software.

WordPress

WordPress allows users to change their site’s appearance using themes. WordPress comes with a few default themes pre-installed. At any time, you can click on the add new button from your Appearance page and install free themes from official WordPress.org theme directory.

WordPress Themes

Apart from free themes, you will find many more premium WordPress themes developed by third party theme shops like StudioPress, Themify, or ThemeLab. These are paid themes and come with premium support options.

The real power of WordPress lies in plugins. There are more than 38,000 WordPress plugins available for free in official WordPress plugin directory. You can also buy premium plugins which come with paid support provided by plugin developers. Check out our list of 20 must have WordPress plugins for 2015 to see how plugins make WordPress awesome.

Joomla

Just like WordPress, Joomla also comes with templates and extensions. There are great extensions to do just about anything from creating an ecommerce store to managing email.

Joomla Extensions

However, the quantity of these templates and extensions is not as high as WordPress. This could make finding the perfect template and the perfect extensions a bit difficult.

By default Joomla does not have a feature that would allow users to search and install extensions or templates from the administration area. There is an extension that allows you to add install from web feature for extensions. But for templates, users will still have to manually search templates and then install them by adding their URL.

Drupal

Drupal has the same issue with the availability of themes and modules. Users will have to leave their site, search for the module and theme they want to add, then locate the project’s zip file URL. Finally they can enter the URL in the Modules or Themes page to install them.

Drupal modules

There are modules to do just about anything and new ones are added regularly. Still, the overall quantity of modules is lacking when compared to WordPress.

Winner: WordPress.

Support Options

Availability of help and support options is very important for beginner users. There will surely be some hurdles when you are trying a new software. That’s ok as long as you can get help.

WordPress

WordPress has a strong community of users. You can find WordPress help on official support forums, docs, handbooks, codex, Slack channels, Stack Exchange, and almost every forum on the internet about web design and development.

WordPress Forums

There are sites like WPBeginner, containing hundreds of tutorials, video tutorials, and articles catering to beginner level WordPress users. There are many ways to ask for free WordPress support and get it.

Apart from the free support options, there are ways to get paid support for WordPress as well. Online platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and elance where you can hire WordPress professionals from around the world to quickly solve a problem for you at very reasonable price. Due to immense popularity of WordPress, finding WordPress developers is easy and affordable for small businesses and individuals.

Joomla

Joomla, just like WordPress has a large and very helpful community. There is an extensive documentation on the Joomla website which is a valuable resource for beginners. For more interactive support, users can join forums, mailing lists, IRC chatrooms, etc.

Joomla support

Apart from community support, there are third party resources, paid training, and development agencies that can be helpful.

Unlike WordPress, finding affordable expert help is quite difficult for Joomla. Hiring a developer or expert for Joomla development, troubleshooting or assistance can cost way more than WordPress.

Drupal

Drupal has a very proactive community of fans and users. You will find all the community support options for Drupal just like WordPress and Joomla. There is extensive documentation, support forum, mailing lists, user groups, irc chatrooms. All good places to get advice and free help.

Drupal community support

Drupal tries to connect users to developers and companies offering professional Drupal services. You may find them in Drupal Marketplace.

Winner: WordPress

Localization & Multi-Lingual Support

A large percentage of websites created each day, are non-English or multilingual sites. It is much more likely that many beginners would probably be looking for a CMS that can handle multiple languages or has support for different locales and languages.

WordPress

WordPress does an excellent job at offering a good platform to build a multilingual site. It does not support multiple languages out of the box, but there are some excellent plugins that allow you to easily create a WordPress multilingual site.

WordPress is available in more than 53 languages. New languages can be installed with just a click from WordPress admin area.

Switching language in WordPress

Most popular themes and plugins are also available in multiple languages. Theme and plugin developers are actively seeking help translate their packages into other languages.

All these efforts make WordPress a great platform to build a non-English or multilingual website.

Joomla

Joomla comes with out of the box capability to handle a multilingual website without installing any extension. Simply go to language manager, add a content language and start creating multilingual content on your website.

Joomla Multilingual

Translations are also available for admin interface in many languages and can be easily installed from the admin area.

Drupal

Drupal comes with built-in support to handle non-English or multilingual sites. You will need to enable locale and content translation modules. After that you can add site and admin interface languages from Drupal’s configuration section.

Multilingual support in Drupal

Winner: Tie – All three of them support multilingual sites and are available in multiple languages.

Security

Security is a very important factor when choosing a CMS for your website. Almost every website on the internet is vulnerable to security threats.

WordPress

Being the most popular CMS in the world, WordPress based websites are often targeted by hackers. However, WordPress is built on a very secure code, and it responds to security vulnerability very quickly. WordPress also has an auto-update mechanism which allows WordPress websites to automatically update when there is a new security patch.

WordPress sites can be further secured with automated backups, two factor authentication, and other best practices.

There is also a built-in mechanism to show updates for WordPress themes and plugins. This allows themes and plugin developers to rapidly respond to any security vulnerability.

Joomla

Joomla is very similar to WordPress when it comes to security. They actively respond to any security vulnerability and are very quick to patch it up. However, maintaining a website and installing updates is still up to the user.

There are extensions available to backup your Joomla site. You can also strengthen your Joomla site’s security by following the same best practices as WordPress.

Drupal

Drupal takes a very serious approach to security. They publish security vulnerabilities on their own site as they are discovered and patched. There is a perception that Drupal is more secure because you don’t hear about Drupal sites being hacked as often, but that could be cause it’s not as popular Joomla or WordPress.

Winner: Tie – All three follow proper security standards.

Conclusion

Drupal, Joomla and WordPress are all fantastic content management systems. Drupal and Joomla come with many more built-in features than WordPress. However, WordPress beats them with its ease of use, huge global community, plugins and themes. We feel that most non-developer users would find it much easier to build with WordPress than Joomla or Drupal.

Overall Winner: WordPress

We hope this article helped you compare WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal, to find out the best CMS for your site. You may also want to see our guide on how to move your site from Joomla to WordPress.

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 WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal – Which One is Better? on WPBeginner.

The Social Media Manager’s Daily, Weekly, Monthly Checklist

Hmm, I feel like I’m forgetting something. 

OK, where to begin?

These thoughts will sometimes race through my head when I’m sitting down to focus on social media time. I’ll fire up Twitter and Facebook and Buffer and want really bad to ensure that I’m covering all my bases and spending time in the best way possible.

And on the good days, I’m right into the groove where I know exactly what to do next and what are the most important tasks that need to get done.

The difference for me is with making a checklist for my social media activities.

I’m happy to share with you all of the tasks I have on my checklist at Buffer and also the ones that social media managers around the web have on their daily, weekly, monthly checklists. And if I’ve left out a favorite to-do item of yours, I’d be so grateful to hear from you in the comments!

 social media checklist article

The Daily Weekly Monthly Social Media Checklist

A Daily, Weekly, Monthly Social Media Checklist

We’ve found before that social media managers have a full-time schedule getting all their many tasks accomplished. As you might see in the below checklists, there’s lots to do!

I’ve broken it down here into a daily checklist, a weekly checklist, and a monthly checklist as some of the activities vary in their frequency and need. Feel free to adapt any of this to suit your specific needs (here’s a free template that you can copy and edit).

Keep reading for lots more info and explanation on each of the checklist items you see here!

Download the checklist as a pdf! Free and direct download here.

daily social media checklistweekly social media checklist

monthly social media checklist

Daily

  • Reply to everyone
  • Check your mentions
  • Monitor social media for keywords and phrases
  • Schedule your updates for the next day
  • Check out other social media profiles
  • Curate content to share
  • Advocacy: Make it easy for your team to share
  • Engage with MVPs
  • Follow back those who follow you
  • Connect with one new person

Weekly

  • Check your stats
  • Engage with influencers
  • Engage with partners
  • Weekly goals check-in
  • Hold a strategy session
  • Attend events—chats, hangouts, etc.
  • Update your social media ads

Monthly

  • Perform a social media audit
  • Goal-setting
  • Come up with new experiments
  • Plan ahead for the next month or more

The Daily Social Media Checklist

1. Reply to everyone

If you can reply to everyone who engages with you on social media, you’re doing better than 75% of brands on social media.

Some reports, like this one from Sprout Social, have found that 5 in 6 messages that need responses are not answered by brands. The inverse, of course, is that only 1 in 6 messages get an answer—that’s just 17%!

Response study - Sprout Social

So first and foremost—and on those days when there’s just tons going on, perhaps the most important to-do item of the day and the one we’d recommend for sure making time for—reply to everyone. Reply as quickly as you can, given all else you have happening.

I like this line from AdWeek:

Ignoring customers on social media is similar to ignoring the phone ringing when they call your help centers.

Here are some of our best tips for quick and thorough replies:

  • Set up push notifications on your mobile device
  • Set up email notifications (with an IFTTT recipe notification if you’d like)
  • Use a desktop app like Tweetdeck or other
  • Use software like SparkCentral (for Twitter, where response time is paramount)
  • Filter customer service to customer service

2. Check your mentions

One layer deeper into replying to everyone (and quite closely related to it) is checking your mentions—any time someone reaches out directly to you on social media.

There are a few quick and easy spots to visit to find these:

As far as the best frequency here, I tend to check my mentions once per day, which I’ve found to be a good flow for my personal brand. The Buffer team, on the other hand, we check our mentions constantly throughout the day on Twitter, using SparkCentral, and in morning and afternoon drivebys of our other social media channels.

3. Monitor social media for keywords and phrases

First off: How do you monitor? There are some neat ways we’ve found to use things like saved Advanced Searches in Twitter, for instance. And we gain a lot of value out of tools like Mention, which feature really robust Google-Alerts-like options for tracking mentions everywhere.

Then as a followup to the how, here’s the what: This great list from Courtney’s post on social media monitoring covers many of the basics of what to monitor on social media.

Brand or company monitoring

  • Your name or your brand’s name (e.g., Buffer)
  • Any variations of your brand’s name (e.g., Buffer and bufferapp)
  • Potential misspellings of your brand’s name (e.g., bffr, bufffer)
  • Names of the most active/visible members of your company (e.g., Joel Gascoigne, Leo Widrich)
  • Mentions of specific campaigns you’re running (e.g., #bufferchat, #bufferpodcast)
  • Your catchphrase, slogan or tagline

Industry or topic monitoring

  • Key words or phrases that describe your industry or interest (For example, at Buffer I might want to monitor for key phrases like “social media sharing,” “social media posting” and “social media automation” to start out)
  • Key words or phrases related to or complementary to your industry or interest
  • Frequently used industry hashtags

I quite like this idea from Sprout Social also, where you use social media monitoring to discover potential new customers for your product.

Monitor for mentions of keywords that indicate that someone is looking for a product similar to yours.

In our case at Buffer, this could be someone who’s searching for “scheduling social media” or “social media management” tools.

4. Schedule your updates for the next day

Schedule your updates ahead of time is perhaps our number one time-saving tip for social media. I’ve personally felt such great freedom and productivity from batching the creation of social media updates into one window of time each day.

When it comes to the amount of what to post, we’re grateful for the research and advice that others have put together on ideal frequency of all the social networks.

Here are some best practices. I’d highly encourage you to test and experiment with what works best for you!

  • Post 3 or more times per day on Twitter
  • Post 2x per day on Facebook
  • Post 1x per day on LinkedIn
  • Post 1 to 2 times per day on Instagram
  • Post 5 or more times per day on Pinterest
  • Post 2 or more times per day on Google+

The timing of publishing these posts is another great one we’ve enjoyed researching. I really enjoy this infographic from SumAll that does a nice job summarizing some of the best practices out there:

social media timing infographic

5. Check out other social media profiles

We’ve gained so much inspiration from the work of others that it’s become a regularly-scheduled part of the day to head out and see what folks are trying on social media.

This can be as straightforward as visiting a handful of favorite profiles—either some industry titans, some peers in your field, some influencers, or some members of your audience.

On Twitter, this can be done quite quickly with a daily visit to one or more Twitter lists. We’ve come up with lots of ideas on how to create these lists. My personal favorite—and one I try to visit every day—is the list of my Buffer teammates.

On Facebook, you can add other pages to your Insights reports. To do so:

  1. When logged in as the page admin, click Insights from the top of your Facebook page.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the Insights page, and you’ll see the “Pages to Watch” section.
  3. Click the blue button to Add Pages.

Here’s a sample of what our “Pages to Watch” looks like at Buffer:

Pages to Watch Facebook

6. Curate content to share

Part of a social media sharer’s day is likely to include finding fantastic content to share.

We’ve found this to be an area where we’re okay investing a good chunk of time in order to find truly helpful, high-quality content to pass along to our audience. Many sites excel in personalized recommendations and hand-picked stories, and we’re grateful to include many of these in our daily workflow.

Here’re a few favorites:

Nuzzel

Nuzzel

Nuzzel is another one of the “news from your friends” apps, letting you connect your social profiles in order to surface the stories that your circles are sharing. A few neat features of Nuzzel include:

  • Not only news from friends but also news from friends of friends
  • A list of replies and tweets referring to the top content shared by friends
  • A boomerang feature: stories that might have slipped your attention

Panda

UsePanda web app

The site collects the top stories and visuals from some of the best communities on the web and delivers the content in an easy-to-browse layout (or via email, if you’d prefer). You can cycle among a handful of different sites without ever leaving the Panda homepage.

  • Hacker News
  • Growth Hackers
  • Designer News
  • Sidebar.io
  • Product Hunt
  • Lobsters
  • Dribbble
  • Behance
  • Awwwards

Plus here are some more content sources that we’ve found to be great options as well:

7. Advocacy: Making it easy for your team to share

Some of your biggest fans and promoters are likely the people you work with!

LinkedIn found that employees are 70 percent more likely to click, share, and comment on an update than a typical LinkedIn user.

This brings up the idea of advocacy: Encouraging your team to share your content and advocate for your brand.

In practice, this can be as simply as adding a daily checklist item of emailing the team with a new blog post of yours or recommending a tweet to RT or favorite. Further, we’ve made it possible to suggest content to your teammates from within Buffer, which make this level of advocacy even smoother.

Here’s more, if you’re at all interested:

8. Engage with MVPs

Come up with a list of MVP fans or followers, or key people who regularly evangelize your brand. This could be a list of top users, influential people in your industry, folks you’d love to get to know, etc.

Focusing on brand advocates is a popular way to go here, as you can multiply yourself to a degree by encouraging others to share about you. MailChimp co-founder Ben Chestnut has a great way of explaining and showing this process of flipping the funnel upside down:

funnel_upsidedown

What this might look like in practice:

  • Creating a spreadsheet of MVPs with a column for the last time you made contact
  • Marking MVPs within your social media management tool (we have a VIP tag within SparkCentral)
  • Setting up a tickler file so you’re reminded to followup with MVPs

9. Follow back those who follow you

On most all social networks, you have a chance to reciprocate a follow and to really make someone’s day!

I follow a bit haphazardly on my personal accounts, so I’ve found lots of inspiration from others in the disciplined way they go about adding this task to their daily to-dos. There are a couple different strategies I’ve noticed with this one:

1. Follow everyone!

Return the favor for all those who follow you on social media. This can be quite straightforward on sites like Twitter and Instagram. For other networks, you can add people to circles on Google+, accept all connections to your LinkedIn, and follow a user or an individual board on Pinterest. On Facebook, pages can “like” other pages.

2. Follow those who fit with your focus or niche

Some people and brands choose to follow a bit more strategically by connecting with those who share common interests. With this, you can browse through a new follower’s bio or timeline to see if their social presence meshes with yours and then decided whether or not to return the follow.

Crowdfire (Twitter/Instagram) and ManageFlitter (Twitter) are two really useful tools for finding people to follow back and for removing any followers who are no longer a fit.

Crowdfire

10. Connect with a new person

Similar to some of the other daily to-dos here on the checklist, connecting with someone new can fall in quite smoothly with re-following, replying, and engaging.

The idea behind this item is to practice making one-to-one connections with the people in your audience, welcoming new followers with a personal message or reaching out to someone you appreciate or admire.

And there are some fun ways to do this quickly and easily: Say hi, share a GIF, or go the extra mile with some surprise and delight.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The team at Social Rank wrote about the surprise and delight element, going as far as creating campaigns around the strategy (and highlighting some really cool examples).

Surprise and Delight Campaigns

The Weekly Social Media Checklist

1. Check your stats

Some people enjoy checking stats on the daily, which is great!

We’ve found for us personally at Buffer that stat-checking is something that fits a bit better on a weekly basis—we can focus on creating and engaging every day and then take a step back to analyze once the week is over.

(One way that’s been helpful for me to think about this is by numbering each week. So for instance, we’re in Week 35 right now. The website whatweekisit.com is really helpful for this.)

what week is it

In terms of what to check when it comes to stats, there are so many, many options.

We’ve shared a bit about an introduction to social media stats, as well as a weekly social media report you can create for sharing with your boss, client, or team.

I also really like this tip from Finola Howard:

Measure what’s worked. Note your best-performing posts in a spreadsheet or other file so you can reference later as you hone your content.

What makes for a best-performing post? That can be totally up to you, depending on the stats that matter to you. I’ve found that “best-performing” can often be quite easily seen by checking into the stats in my Buffer dashboard and noting how many clicks and reshares an update got, plus how many people it reached.

Buffer stats example

2. Engage with influencers

Many of the daily checklist items involve engaging with your audience. This weekly to-do encourages you to reach out to those outside your circle, particularly any influencers in your industry or niche.

Influencers would typically be those with either a large following or a verified status or an important role at a significant company.

In the past, I’ve identified a few people who I was keen to connect with, added them to a Twitter list, then went about the weekly task of checking out their updates and engaging when appropriate. The goal, ultimately, is to build a relationship and connection—and in a lot of cases it works, if given time.

3. Engage with partners

Similar to the above, engaging with partners involves staying in frequent connection with your fellow brands and friends—in our case it might be some sister SaaS tools like Moz, Unbounce, Feedly, or Pocket.

It’s great to foster these good relationships with peers and partners so that you can continue to collaborate and help each other out as you grow.

4. Weekly goals check-in

How are you doing on your goals? (Much more on goal-setting in the Monthly section below.)

Often times, along with checking your stats on a weekly basis, you can quickly peek at how your stats fit with the goals you’ve set for social media. Here’re a couple of ways we do this at Buffer:

1. Per-post basis

I know that we’ve got a certain benchmark in mind for a successful post, so I’m able to quickly see if we’ve reached that goal by peeking at the per-post stats (for instance, one benchmark is 200 clicks per tweet).

2. Longer-term goals

At other times, we’ll set a bigger goal to aim for over time, and we’ll use what’s called a waterfall graph to chart our progress.

Waterfall graph

All credit to the team at HubSpot for turning us onto this cool idea. If you’re keen to make a waterfall graph for yourself, here are the instructions:

  1. Make a copy of our waterfall template here.
  2. Set a long-term goal for the month (or longer)
  3. Divide that goal by how many days you have between now and the goal’s end (alternatively, we’ve also done this by weeks)
  4. Fill out the spreadsheet with your goals and data—the built-in formulas to the bulk of the work here—and add your new traffic/numbers each week to see the graph grow!

5. Hold a strategy session

This one fits with our value of making time to reflect. I’ve found that I can quite easily get heads-down into the day-to-day tasks of social media, and it’s always so refreshing to take a step back and see our social media strategy from a higher level.

Some neat exercises here could be reviewing what went into your social media marketing plan in the first place, i.e. your goals and purpose behind social media. Or answering some of these questions:

  1. What do we hope to achieve with social media?
  2. Are we on the right networks to connect with our audience?
  3. How does our voice/tone convey our brand?
  4. In what ways can we be most helpful to those we serve?

At Buffer, we’re getting into the pattern of a weekly visioning sync on some of these higher-level ideas, and it’s felt great to be able to spend focused time making reflection a priority in this way.

6. Attend events – chats, hangouts, etc.

Often times, social media events will occur on a weekly basis—Twitter chats, Google Hangouts, and the like.

We run our weekly #bufferchat every Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. Pacific.

We enjoy participating in the weekly #CMGRHangout (for community managers) every Friday.

In terms of finding a chat like these to participate in, Nicole put together a great list of possible places to look:

7. Update your social media ads

Depending on the depth of your commitment and involvement in social media ads, this one could easily be a daily to-do item. If you’re running just a few ads, then weekly could be a good frequency to start with. Check and refresh your ads. Keep the ones that are working. Iterate on the ones that aren’t.

We covered some introductory ground with our social media ads experiments on Facebook, and the comments on the post—like the one below from Lucie—are super helpful in explaining how to know what’s working and what to check on a regular basis.

Facebook ads comment

The Monthly Social Media Checklist

1. Perform a social media audit

With a monthly social media audit, you can look for

  • Any updates needed to the profile picture, cover photo, description, or bio for your accounts
  • The frequency with which you’ve been publishing to each place
  • The growth in followers
  • Referral traffic from a network back to your site
  • Average clicks and reach for your updates

We’ve placed all this into a spreadsheet that we use to check in with things on a monthly basis. We’d be happy to share the template with you if that’d be helpful for your workflow!

Here’s the social media audit template that you can copy and use.

2. Goal-setting

There’re lots of different ways to go about goal-setting, as highlighted in this neat chat between Tim Ferriss (who enjoys setting goals) and Leo Babauta (who doesn’t).

I find that I fall somewhere a bit in the middle, where I really enjoy having production goals to aim for (publish four blog posts per week, launch a new thing every month) instead of end goals (get to 20,000 followers, have 1 million visits to the blog).

How does goal-setting look for you?

When it comes to social media goals, we wrote in the past about seven goal-setting strategies that could be helpful as you approach this monthly task of finding goals for the future. Here are the seven:

  1. S.M.A.R.T
  2. Locke and Latham’s
  3. OKRs
  4. BSQ
  5. BHAG
  6. Growth Hacker goal-setting
  7. Intriguing metric

3. Come up with new experiments

In the list of goal-setting strategies above, the last one—intriguing metric—is one that we’ve found quite helpful for us here at Buffer as we think about coming up with new experiments for social media.

The process for doing so involves fitting our metrics into one of four buckets (HT to KISSmetrics cofounder Hiten Shah for his advice here!):

  1. High traffic, low conversion
  2. Low traffic, high conversion
  3. High traffic, high conversion
  4. Low traffic, low conversion

The first two buckets are the ones where you find the biggest opportunities for growth and experimentation. Bucket No. 3 isn’t half bad either. Bucket No. 4 is best to be left alone.

4. Plan ahead for the next month or more

This one fits nicely in with the “time to reflect” value and focus of the weekly strategy sessions. In fact, planning ahead on a monthly basis could happen alongside weekly visioning as well.

With planning, you can both brainstorm strategies for the coming months and get granular with setting up an editorial calendar and charting upcoming campaigns.

The editorial/content calendar idea in particular is one that seems to resonate with a lot of folks. This calendar mockup from the team at Twitter is one that gets me particularly excited about planning ahead and getting things on a calendar!

A few other beautiful and helpful social media checklists

In researching this article, I came across a pair of really great checklists that I thought could be quite useful here as well. The first is from The Whole Brain Group:

WBG_Infographic_Social_Media_Checklist_V3_FIN

The next one comes from AdWeek’s Social Times and is based on a social media checklist that Sprout Social social media manager Darryl Villacorta uses.

MichaelPattersonSocialMediaManagersChecklist

Over to you

What tasks are included in your daily workflow?

Weekly?

Monthly?

It’d be wonderful to learn from you and to pick up any tips you might be open to sharing! I’d love to continue the conversation in the comments, and I’ll look forward to hanging out with you there!

Image sources: Unsplash, Pablo, IconFinder

The post The Social Media Manager’s Daily, Weekly, Monthly Checklist appeared first on Social.

Moz’s Acquisition of SERPscape, Russ Jones Joining Our Team, and a Sneak Peek at a New Tool

Posted by randfish

Today, it’s my pleasure to announce some exciting news. First, if you haven’t already seen it via his blog post, I’m thrilled to welcome Russ Jones, a longtime community member and great contributor to the SEO world, to Moz. He’ll be joining our team as a Principal Search Scientist, joining the likes of Dr. Pete, Jay Leary, and myself as a high-level individual contributor on research and development projects.

If you’re not familiar with Mr. Jones’ work, let me embarrass my new coworker for a minute. Russ:

  • Was Angular’s CTO after having held a number of roles with the company (previously known as Virante)
  • Is the creator of not just SERPscape, but the keyword data API, Grepwords, too (which Moz isn’t acquiring—Russ will continue operating that service independently)
  • Runs a great Twitter profile sharing observations & posts about some of the most interesting, hardcore-nerdy stuff in SEO
  • Operates The Google Cache, a superb blog about SEO that’s long been on my personal must-read list
  • Contributes regularly to the Moz blog through excellent posts and comments
  • Was, most recently, the author of this superb post on Moz comparing link indices (you can bet we’re going to ask for his help to improve Mozscape)
  • And, perhaps most impressively, replies to emails almost as fast as I do 🙂

Russ joins the team in concert with Moz’s acquisition of a dataset and tool he built called SERPscape. SERPscape contains data on 40,000,000 US search results and includes an API capable of querying loads of interesting data about what appears in those results (e.g. the relative presence of a given domain, keywords that particular pages rank for, search rankings by industry, and more). For now, SERPscape is remaining separate from the Moz toolset, but over time, we’ll be integrating it with some cool new projects currently underway (more on that below).

I’m also excited to share a little bit of a sneak preview of a project that I’ve been working on at Moz that we’ve taken to calling “Keyword Explorer.” Russ, in his new role, will be helping out with that, and SERPscape’s data and APIs will be part of that work, too.

In Q1 of this year, I pitched our executive team and product strategy folks for permission to work on Keyword Explorer and, after some struggles (welcome to bigger company life and not being CEO, Rand!), got approval to tackle what I think remains one of the most frustrating parts of SEO: effective, scalable, strategically-informed keyword research. Some of the problems Russ, I, and the entire Keyword Explorer team hope to solve include:

  • Getting more accurate estimates around relative keyword volumes when doing research outside AdWords
  • Having critical metrics like Difficulty, Volume, Opportunity, and Business Value included alongside our keywords as we’re selecting and prioritizing them
  • A tool that lets us build lists of keywords, compare lists against one another, and upload sets of keywords for data and metrics collections
  • A single place to research keyword suggestions, uncover keyword metrics (like Difficulty, Opportunity, and Volume), and select keywords for lists that can be directly used for prioritization and tactical targeting

You can see some of this early work in Dr. Pete’s KW Opportunity model, which debuted at Mozcon, in our existing Keyword Difficulty & SERP Analysis tool (an early inspiration for this next step), and in a few visuals below:

BTW: Please don’t hold the final product to any of these; they’re not actual shots of the tool, but rather design comps. What’s eventually released almost certainly won’t match these exactly, and we’re still working on features, functionality, and data. We’re also not announcing a release date yet. That said, if you’re especially passionate about Keyword Explorer, want to see more, and don’t mind giving us some feedback, feel free to email me (rand at moz dot com), and I’ll have more to share privately in the near future.

But, new tools aren’t the only place Russ will be contributing. As he noted in his post, he’s especially passionate about research that helps the entire SEO field advance. His passion is contagious, and I hope it infects our entire team and community. After all, a huge part of Moz’s mission is to help make SEO more transparent and accessible to everyone. With Russ’ addition to the team, I’m confident we’ll be able to make even greater strides in that direction.

Please join me in welcoming him and SERPscape to Moz!

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!

How to Achieve Explosive Growth on Pinterest: 8 Key Ways to Build and Multiply Your Audience

Before he became the co-founder of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann moved to California and started working for Google in customer support before eventually starting a business.

He says, of his then move from Des Moines, Iowa, to the Valley:

Being close to people that inspire you is a very good first step.

Fittingly, that’s exactly what his company, Pinterest, now makes possible: Allowing people to get close to the brands, products, and people that inspire them.

With Pinterest now accounting for 25% of retail referral traffic and driving 4x more money per click than Twitter, Pinterest has proven its power as a massively effective place to connect with your audience. And many brands are considering whether they need to give their Pinterest marketing a bit of a push.

Are you one of them?

I collected data on how best to answer the question of whether Pinterest is a good fit for you and, if it is, how to grow your brand visibility and audience reach through the platform.

Ready to start building your brand on Pinterest? Let’s talk about some ideas that may work for you.

pablo (3)

Is Pinterest the Right Social Media Fit for Your Brand?

Before we talk about growing your audience, however, one of the most important questions to ask for any business or brand is: Is our audience worth growing on Pinterest?

As of April 2015, Pinterest had 72.8 million users, with 85% of them being women. In fact, looking at the statistics, you can see why Pinterest is a social network that most businesses cannot afford to ignore and may even need to take precedence over all your other social media marketing.

  • Percentage of all US social media users that use Pinterest: 30%
  • Percentage of Pinterest users that are from outside the U.S.: 40%
  • Pinterest’s growth in users outside the U.S. in 2014: 135%
  • Average time spent on Pinterest per visit: 14.2 minutes

Here are some questions that might help in making that decision:

1. Are you already getting Pinterest traffic?

Before you do anything else, get a hold of your Google analytics traffic stats and look through quickly to see if you’re getting any referral traffic already through Pinterest.

A good way to to do this is to follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account.
  2. Scroll down the left-hand menu and look for the option titled “Acquisition.” Click on it to open up a sub-menu.
  3. Select “Overview.” You’ll see a pie-chart detailing which percentage of your users is coming from Organic Search, Referrals, Direct, Social, etc.
  4. In the list at the bottom of the page, you’ll see all the different sources of your traffic. Click on Social.
  5. This will open up a another list that will show you, in numbers, how much referral traffic you received from each social media channel in the last month. Do you spot Pinterest anywhere?

You might be surprised by how many people are already pinning images from your website or blog.

While this is especially true for businesses that place a high value on images, such as those in retail, fashion, food, and travel, I was quite surprised to find that I already had a Pinterest audience in the high hundreds for my own business, which caters to freelance writers.

2. Do you have visual elements to your business or can you introduce some?

Like I mentioned above, Pinterest brings obvious benefits to businesses that are big on visual content, but creative and out-of-the-box thinking can help you find innovative ways of communicating with your audience even if you’re in the service sector or have a business (such as insurance) that doesn’t directly translate to a visual medium.

For instance, many authors create Pinterest boards with book cover images or images they find during research for their novels. Freelancers share neat home office spaces.

3. Do you have a constant stream of good images coming through or do you have the resources to create them?

Creating images centered around your brand takes time, focus, and a lot of thought. If you’re a one-person brand currently focusing on sales and strategy, it may not be the right time for you to be putting all that effort into creating original images.

Does your company have the resources to create a constant stream of images or the funds to hire out this part of the process? If not, it might be a better idea to wait until you do.

Here’s a handy list we put together of 23 tools and resources that will help you create images for social media.

4. How much do you care?

Finally, no matter your business—visual or not—if you’re interested in using the visual medium to further your brand, you can push through all the hurdles and bottlenecks and make your brand shine.

Good questions to ask are: How much time do you spend on Pinterest? Are you often curating images in your head? Do you look at boards from other brands and have ideas on how to make them better? If you answered yes to those questions, you should be on Pinterest.

12.03.13_pinterest-flowchart_FINALcopy-590x1736

How to Massively Grow Your Audience

1. Pin consistently and frequently

As with most other social networks, consistent and frequent sharing can often be the key to building an audience and keeping them engaged with your content.

Timing can be important, too, though with global audiences, it’s often better to spread your content out over a span of the whole 24 hours so you’re leaving out people in other time zones. This exposes you to more of your audience more frequently and often leads to more pins, shares, and comments as a result.

P.S. You can easily do all this and more with Buffer.

Buffer-for-Pinterest

With frequency, more is often better, we find, with 5x a day being optimal. Some experts recommend as much as 15-20x times a day, but if you’re a small company or brand, it’s better to pick a lower number and stay consistent than to do higher numbers intermittently.

Here’s an infographic we created that tells you, in a glance, what kind of frequency and topics you’d do well aiming for:

The-Science-of-Pinterest-Scheduling

2. Pin good quality images only

In 2013, Philadelphia-based startup Curalate, which calls itself “the world’s leading marketing and analytics suite for the visual web” did some intense number-crunching on a database of 500,000 images to try and figure out which images did well on Pinterest and why. On the request of Wired.com, they then undertook the massive task of finding the one perfect Pinterest picture that encompassed all the elements of a popular Pinterest image.

This image from cooking show host Paula Deen won out:

perfect-image

The image, called “Aunt Peggy’s Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad” has been repinned 307,000 times, liked 8,000 times, and commented upon 300 times.

So, what makes a perfect Pinterest image? These are the winning characteristics:

  • No human faces
  • Little background
  • Multiple colors
  • Lots of red
  • Moderate light and color
  • Portrait style

You’re not always going to be able to create the perfect Pinterest image. But incorporate enough of these characteristics and you’ll frequently be able to create a viral one.

3. Write keyword-rich descriptions for pins and boards

Unlike Twitter and Facebook where content is shared quickly, read quickly, and disappears quickly, Pinterest boards are, for the most part, evergreen. What this means is that while you may create a board and pin an image today, it may still be relevant to readers, especially new ones, months and even years from now.

That does, however, depend on one crucial factor: You have to be found.

Three months from now, if a Pinterest user is looking for wedding dress ideas on Pinterest, will she come across your bridal boutique’s designs?

In order to make sure that she does, you’ll want to make sure that both your pins and your Pinterest boards are tagged with keywords and that the descriptions themselves are keyword-rich and specific. Optimize your pins. Don’t overthink this too much. Most people who search don’t go for fancy terminology. Instead, when we’re looking for something, we often go with the very basics: “white” or “lace” or “long train.”

wedding-dresses

Last year, Pinterest launched its Smart feed, which took away the chronological nature of pins. Much like Facebook, in order for your pins to reach the top, they now need to meet certain criteria. Peg Fitzpatrik outlines them in this brilliant post for Social Media Examiner:

  • Pin Quality: Your pins move to the top of the queue if they’re high-quality images with substance.
  • Source Quality: While it’s great to share pins from your own website, it’s an even better idea to pin images from other sources, especially high-quality websites. This gets your pins seen in ways and reach audiences that you otherwise couldn’t with your own website, especially if you’re still new and building your brand.
  • Pinterest Rating: According to Pinterest’s blog, your pins are likely to get more traction if they are high-quality images that are clear and relevant, have minimal text and no borders, and include great, helpful pin descriptions.

Similarly, you’ll want to make sure that your pinboards are organized. This not only helps with the optimization and finding of your pins but is also a great way to encourage Pinterest users to browse through specific boards that pique their interest. For instance, if you’re a travel company, consider adding boards for countries and specific locations, sure, but perhaps you could also create boards for “treehouse hotels” or “Not-to-miss train journeys.”

In a post that explains how she grew her Pinterest following from 1,000 to 4,000 in 3 months, blogger Dannielle Cresp writes:

I organized my boards into categories that are relatively narrow. I split the 4000 pins I had in “For the Home” into boards for each room type. It took 6 days, but my followers jumped after that. Make the board name clear, it can be a fun name, but make it easy for people to know what you’ll be pinning to it.”

4. Confirm your website

Confirming your website on Pinterest can be a good first step in building trust with your new audience. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to see your logo or profile picture on Pins that people saved from your site. You’ll also have access to web analytics in Pinterest Analytics.

To do this, follow the following simple steps:

  1. In your settings, click ‘Confirm website’ in the Website field.
  2. Follow the instructions on the next page. You can verify with an HTML file or a meta tag.
  3. Once your website’s confirmed, you’ll see your logo or profile picture on Pins that people saved from your site.

5. Use rich pins

Pinterest defines rich pins as

Pins that include extra information right on the Pin itself.

There are six types of rich pins:

  1. App Pins include an install button, so Pinners can download your app without ever leaving Pinterest. (For now, App Pins are compatible with iOS apps only.)
  2. Movie Pins include ratings, cast members and reviews to help Pinners learn about new flicks.
  3. Recipe Pins include ingredients, cooking times and serving info to get Pinterest cooks excited to hit the kitchen.
  4. Article Pins include headline, author and story description, helping Pinners find and save stories that matter to them.
  5. Product Pins include real time pricing, availability and where to buy. Pinners may also get notifications when prices drop more than 10%.
  6. Place Pins include a map, address, and phone number.

As you can tell, rich pins are a fantastic way to have your content stand out amongst the rest of the Pinterest crowd and give your products a bit of visibility and boost. It helps, of course, that the pins themselves catch a pinner’s eye because of their attractiveness and are very retail friendly, which means that in many cases, Pinterest users can interact with or buy your products right from Pinterest itself.

Pinterest rich pins

6. Optimize your website to be Pinterest friendly

Once you start getting serious about Pinterest, try to take steps to make your website Pinterest-optimized as well. The more you tell people about your Pinterest presence, the more likely they are to check you out there and follow you. Even regular Pinterest users need to be reminded, sometimes, of what you’re doing on Pinterest and doing so will encourage them to repin your content, as well as share and comment more.

The easiest way to start the engagement using your own website is to use these handy Follow and Pin It widgets that Pinterest offers. This ensures that when visitors to your website like something they like, it’s easy for them to pin it or share it simply and with the click of a button.

Another way to create user engagement from within your website is to promote individual boards by embedding them in blog posts and other content. It’s sometimes helpful to focus on getting followers for individual boards than it is for your entire account, so work on promoting your most popular boards to your audience.

On the Pinterest page itself, you might want to put your most popular boards on top so that website visitors who decide to check out your Pinterest page can see, at a glance, the boards that are most likely to interest them.

Random House pinterest

7. Build a community

Like with all other social networks, your brand on Pinterest will grow in proportion to the effort you put in towards becoming a part of the community. A good way to start doing this is by following other boards in your niche and forming relationships with the people and contributors behind them.

Further, try and take advantage of group boards, which are run by a single administrator but allow pins from multiple contributors on a subject. By harnessing the power of group boards, you can gain access to an audience that may be interested in your products and services, but that may not have heard of you before.

top-group-boards

Finally, take the time to comment on popular pins and repin others. Mention other brands and people by name when you can when pinning from their blogs. This puts into place the reciprocity effect in a way that introduces you to people positively and gives them the opportunity to further share your work.

8. Be useful

Social” is a key component in any social media effort and Pinterest is no exception. Try and go in with the mindset of helping your users and customers and creating an amazing experience for them, visually and otherwise, and you can’t help but succeed.

Over to you

What have been your best Pinterest brand-building strategies?

I’d love to hear about what steps you’ve taken towards your own Pinterest marketing efforts and what has led to the most growth and success for you on the platform.

The post How to Achieve Explosive Growth on Pinterest: 8 Key Ways to Build and Multiply Your Audience appeared first on Social.

The SEO Professional’s Guide to Waterfall Diagrams

Posted by Zoompf

As we know well by now, the speed of a web page is very important from an SEO and user experience perspective. Faster pages have higher search engine ranks, and users will visit more pages and convert higher on a fast performing website. In short, the smart SEO professional needs to also think about optimizing for performance as well as content.

As we discussed in our last article, WebPageTest is a great free tool you can use to optimize your website performance. One of the most useful outputs of the WebPageTest tool is a graphic known as the waterfall diagram. A waterfall diagram is a graphical view of all the resources loaded by a web browser to present your page to your users, showing both the order in which those resources were loaded and how long it took to load each resource. Analyzing how those resources are loaded can give you insight into what’s slowing down your webpage, and what you can fix to make it faster.

Waterfall diagrams are a lot like Microsoft Excel: they are simple in concept and can be very powerful, yet most people aren’t using them to their fullest potential. In this article, we will show how an SEO professional can use waterfall diagrams created by tools like WebPageTest to identify and improve their site’s performance and user experience.

How to read a waterfall diagram

If you haven’t done so already, go to WebPageTest and run a test of your site. When the results are finished, click into the first test result to see the waterfall. Below is a sample waterfall chart (click for a larger version).

cia-waterfall-small

As mentioned above, waterfall diagrams are cascading charts that show how a web browser loads and renders a web page. Every row of the diagram is a separate request made by the browser. The taller the diagram, the more requests that are made to load the web page. The width of each row represents how long it takes for the browser to request a resource and download the response.

For each row, the waterfall chart uses a multi-colored bar to show where the browser spent its time loading that resource, for example:

waterfall-row-better

It’s important to understand each phase of a request since you can improve the speed of your site by reducing the amount of time spent in each of these phases. Here is a brief overview:

  • DNS Lookup [Dark Green] – Before the browser can talk to a server it must do a DNS lookup to convert the hostname to an IP Address. There isn’t much you can do about this, and luckily it doesn’t happen for all requests.
  • Initial Connection [Orange] – Before the browser can send a request, it must create a TCP connection. This should only happen on the first few rows of the chart, otherwise there’s a performance problem (more on this later).
  • SSL/TLS Negotiation [Purple] – If your page is loading resources securely over SSL/TLS, this is the time the browser spends setting up that connection. With Google now using HTTPS as a search ranking factor, SSL/TLS negotiation is more and more common.
  • Time To First Byte (TTFB) [Green] – The TTFB is the time it takes for the request to travel to the server, for the server to process it, and for the first byte of the response to make it make to the browser. We will use the measurement to determine if your web server is underpowered or you need to use a CDN.
  • Downloading (Blue) – This is the time the browser spends downloading the response. The longer this phase is, the larger the resource is. Ideally you can control the length of this phase by optimizing the size of your content.

You will also notice a few other lines on the waterfall diagram. There is a green vertical line which shows when “Start Render” happens. As we discussed in our last article, until Start Render happens, the user is looking at a blank white screen. A large Start Render time will make the user feel like your site is slow and unresponsive. There are some additional data points in the waterfall, such as “Content Download”, but these are more advanced topics beyond the scope of this article.

Optimizing performance with a waterfall diagram

So how do we make a webpage load more quickly and create a better user experience? A waterfall chart provides us with 3 great visual aids to assist with this goal:

  1. First, we can optimize our site to reduce the amount of time it takes to download all the resources. This reduces the width of our waterfall. The skinnier the waterfall, the faster your site.
  2. Second, we can reduce the number of requests the browser needs to make to load a page. This reduces the height of our waterfall. The shorter your waterfall, the better.
  3. Finally, we can optimize the ordering of resource requests to improve rendering time. This moves the green Start Render line to the left. The further left this line, the better.

Let’s now dive into each of these in more detail.

Reducing the width of the waterfall

We can reduce the width of the waterfall by reducing how long it takes to download each resource. We know that each row of the waterfall uses color to denote the different phases of fetching a resource. How often you see different colors reveals different optimizations you can make to improve the overall speed.

  • Is there a lot of orange? Orange is for the initial TCP connection made to your site. Only the first 2-6 requests to a specific hostname should need to create a TCP connection, after that the existing connections get reused. If you see a lot of orange on the chart, it means your site isn’t using persistent connections. Below you can see a waterfall diagram for a site that isn’t using persistent connections and note the orange section at the start of every request row.
    connections-bad
    Once persistent connections is enabled, the width of every request row will be cut in half because the browser won’t have to make new connections with every request.
  • Are there long, purple sections? Purple is the time spent performing an SSL/TLS negotiation. If you are seeing a lot of purple over and over again for the same site, it means you haven’t optimized for TLS. In the snippet of diagram below, we see 2 HTTPS requests. One server has been properly optimized, whereas the other has a bad TLS configuration:
    ms-is-silly
    To optimize TLS performance, see our previous Moz article .
  • Are there any long blue sections? Blue is the time spent downloading the response. If a row has a big blue section, it most likely means the response (the resource) is very large. A great way to speed up a site is to simply reduce the amount of data that has to be sent to the client. If you see a lot of blue, ask yourself “Why is that resource so large?” Chances are you can reduce the size of it through HTTP compression, minification, or image optimization. As an example, in the diagram below, we see a PNG image that is taking a long time to download. We can tell because the of the long blue section.
    long-download
    Further research revealed that this image is nearly 1.1 MB in size! Turns out the designer forgot to export it properly from Photoshop. Using image optimization techniques reduced this row and made the overall page load faster.
  • Is there a lot of green? Chances are there is a lot of green. Green is the browser just waiting to get content. Many times you’ll see a row where the browser is waiting 80 or 90 ms, only to spend 1 ms downloading the resource! The best way to reduce the green section is to move your static content, like images, to a content delivery network (CDN) closer to your users. More on this later.

Reducing the height of the waterfall

If the waterfall diagram is tall, the browser is having to make a large number of requests to load the page. The best way to reduce the number of requests is to review all the content your page is including and determine if you really need all of it. For example:

  • Do you see a lot of CSS or JavaScript files? Below is a snippet of a waterfall diagram from an AOL site which, I kid you not, requests 48 separate CSS files!
    aol-is-silly
    If you site is loading a large number of individual CSS or JavaScript files, you should try combining them as with a CMS plugin or as part of your build process. Combining files reduces the number of requests made, improving your overall page speed.
  • Do you see a lot of “small” (less than 2kb) JavaScript files or CSS files? Consider including the contents of those files directly in your HTML via inline <script>, <code>, or <style> tags.
  • Do you see a lot of 302 redirects? Redirects appear as yellow highlighted rows and represent links on your page that are usually outdated or mistakenly made. This creates an unnecessary redirect which is just needlessly increasing the height of your waterfall. Replace those links with direct links to the new URLs.

Improving rendering time

Recall that the Start Render time represents when the user first sees something on the page other than a blank white page.

What is your Start Render time? If its longer than 1.5 seconds, you should try and improve it. To do so, first take a look at all the resources “above and to the left” of the Start Render line. This represents everything that should be considered for optimization to improve your render time.

Here are some tips:

  • Do you see any calls to load JavaScript libraries? JavaScript includes can block page rendering, move these lower in your page if possible.
  • Do you see a lot of requests for separate CSS items? Browsers wait until all the CSS is downloaded before they start rendering the page. Can you combine or inline any of those CSS files?
  • Do you see external fonts? When using an external font, the browser won’t draw anything until it downloads that font. If possible, try to avoid using externally loaded fonts. If that is not possible, make sure you are eliminating any unnecessary 302 redirects to load that font, or (even better) consider hosting a copy of that font locally on your own webserver.

As an example, here is the top of a waterfall diagram:

cia-render

The green start render line is just over 1 second which is pretty good. However, if you look to the left of the line, you can see some optimizations. First, there are multiple JS files. With the exception of jQuery, these can probably be deferred until later. There are also multiple CSS files. These could be combined. These optimizations would improve the start render time.

You may need to coordinate with your designers and your developers to implement these optimizations. However the results are well worth it. No one likes looking at an empty white screen!

Other factors

Is my server fast enough?

We know that the time-to-first-byte from your server is a factor in search engine rankings. Luckily a waterfall tells you this metric. Simply look at the first row of the diagram. This should show you timing information for how the browser downloads the base HTML page. Look at the TTFB measurement. If it is longer than about 500 ms, your server may be underpowered or unoptimized. Talk with your hosting provider to improve your server capabilities. Below is an example of a waterfall diagram where the server was taking nearly 10 seconds to respond! That’s a slow server!

bad-server

Do I need a CDN?

Latency can be a big source of delay for a website, and it has to do with the geographic distance between your server and your website visitors. As we have discussed, latency is driven by distance and the speed of light; a high speed internet connection alone doesn’t fix the problem. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) speed up your website by storing copies of your static assets (images, CSS, JavaScript files, etc) all over the world, reducing the latency for your visitors.

Waterfalls reveal how latency is affecting the speed of your site, and whether you should use a CDN. We can do this by looking at the TTFB measurements for requests the browser makes to your server for static assets. The TTFB is composed of the time it takes for your request to travel to the server, for the server to process it, and for the first byte of the response to come back. For static assets, the server doesn’t have to do any real processing of the request, so the TTFB measurement really just tells us how long a round-trip takes from a visitor to a user. If you are getting high round-trip numbers it means your content is too far away from your visitors.

To determine if you need a CDN, you first need to know the location of your server. Next, use WebPageTest and run a test from a location that is far away from your server. If your site is hosted in the US, run a test from Asia or Europe. Now, find the rows for requests for several images or CSS files on your server and look at the TTFB measurement. If you are getting a TTFB for static content that is more than 150 ms, you should consider a CDN. For commercial sites, you might want to look at the enterprise grade capabilities of Akamai. For a cheaper option, check out CloudFlare which offers free CDN services.

Summary

Believe it or not, we have only scratched the surface of the performance insights you can learn from a waterfall chart. However this should be more than enough to begin to understand how to read a chart and use it to detect the most basic and impactful performance issues that are slowing down your site.

You can reduce the width of the chart by optimizing your content and ensuring that each resource is received as quickly as possible. You can reduce the height of the waterfall by removing unneeded requests. Finally, you can speed up how quickly your users first see your page by optimizing all the content before the Start Render line.

If you’re still not sure where to start, check out Zoompf’s Free Performance Report to analyze your site and prioritize those fixes that will make the biggest impact on improving your page speed and waterfall chart metrics.

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How to Create a Welcome Gate in WordPress

Are you looking to add a Welcome Gate on your WordPress site? Welcome Gates are one of the highest converting list building techniques in the market. Recently one of our users asked us for the best Welcome Gate plugins for WordPress. In this article, we will show you how to create a welcome gate in WordPress without affecting SEO.

Full screen welcome gate or interstitial ad  on a WordPress site

What is a Welcome Gate?

A welcome gate is a full screen call to action that appears before a user can see any content. Often website owners use it to quickly grab user’s attention and display a targeted offer to build their email list.

Traditional Welcome Gate techniques simply redirected users to a new page. Since the user does not see anything else on the screen except for a call to action or an advertisement, this ensures maximum conversion. Sounds great right? But here is the catch.

Redirecting users to a page they didn’t request is bad for your site’s SEO and user experience. Google is actively penalizing websites redirecting users instead of showing them the content they requested.

However there are modern WordPress welcome gate plugins that allow you to maximize your conversions without affecting your site’s SEO.

Adding a Welcome Gate in WordPress

We will be using OptinMonster to create a welcome gate. It is the best lead generation solution in the market, and we use it on WPBeginner. It allows you to create high-converting optin forms such as welcome gates, exit-intent lightbox popups, scroll-triggered slide-ins, floating bars, etc along with doing A/B testing, page level targeting, and gathering conversion analytics.

OptinMonster is a paid service, but WPBeginner users get an exclusive 10% off with the OptinMonster Coupon code: WPB10.

Once you have purchased OptinMonster, you need to install and activate the OptinMonster WordPress API plugin.

Upon activation, you will be asked to add your API credentials which can be found in your OptinMonster account.

OptinMonster API Credentials

Once you have connected your account with your site, you need to click on create new optin button.

Create new welcome gate optin

This will take you to OptinMonster app where you will select and design your fullscreen welcome gate.

Creating fullscreen welcome gate optin in  OptinMonster

First you need to enter a title for your optin and select your website. If you have not added your website yet, then you can click on add a website to add it now.

Click on fullscreen under ‘Select your design’ column. This will show you a welcome gate theme. Clicking on the theme will launch the OptinMonster design builder.

Customizing your welcome gate

In the builder, you will see the live preview of the welcome gate. You can change colors, text, add buttons, and fully customize your welcome gate here.

When to Display Welcome Gate?

Timing is crucial when you want to display a full screen welcome gate or interstitial. Unlike other solutions available in the market, OptinMonster provides you with a wide range of behavioral controls that helps you boost your conversion rates.

While we’re using the OptinMonster Fullscreen as a welcome gate, you can actually turn it into an interstitial ad and even exit gate.

OptinMonster allows you to set time and scroll-based delays. You can choose to load the Fullscreen optin at 0 seconds which means it’s a Welcome Gate. You can delay it by XX seconds, and it becomes an interstitial. Or you can select exit-intent which triggers the full screen optin when the user is about to leave turning it into an exit gate.

All of this can be selected from the OptinMonster design builder.

Choose when to show the welcome gate

OptinMonster also comes with referrer detection. This allows you to show or hide welcome gate for users coming from a certain domain. You can explicitly show your full screen welcome gate to users coming through search or social media.

Referer detection

Once you are done configuring your optin, you can simply click on the save button and exit the customizer.

Going Live With Your Full Screen Welcome Gate

After designing your welcome gate, there is just one more step to make it live on your WordPress website. Simply click on the OptinMonster icon in your WordPress admin area and then click on refresh optins button.

You will see the optin you just created in the list. Click on edit output settings link below your optin.

Edit output settings

This will show you the output settings for your welcome gate. Simply check enable this optin option and choose one of the display settings (such as load globally, load on specific posts, load on specific categories, etc).

Enable full screen welcome gate on your site

Once you are done, click on save settings button.

Your full screen welcome gate is now live on your website. You can check it by opening a new window under incognito mode and visit your website.

We hope this article helped you create a welcome gate in WordPress. You may also want to take a look at our guide on how to add a YouTube video as fullscreen background in WordPress.

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.

Full disclosure: WPBeginner’s founder, Syed Balkhi, is the co-founder of OptinMonster.

To leave a comment please visit How to Create a Welcome Gate in WordPress on WPBeginner.