How to implement WordPress caching and image optimisation your website

How to implement WordPress caching and image optimisation your website

I recently ran a Google test on my site to check how friendly my site was. This test checks how fast your site loads and gives a percentage score so you know how good or bad your website ranks. When I checked www.shanemcdonald.ie I got a score of 32%. I knew I had to do something as Google could use page speed as a ranking factor. I did some research into WordPress caching plugins and found some interesting information.

Not all WordPress Caching plugins are the same. Some work better than others. These Wp-cache plugins varied in functionality and sucess. The one WordPress caching plugin which stood out WP Fastest Cache. I also found that it works best with Autoptimize and the image compression plugin Imagify.

I installed the first two WordPress caching plugins which help minify the .js and .css files on your site. They also .gz compress some other files to help your site load faster.

All of these plugins can be added using the WordPress Dashboard by clicking ‘Add New’ and running a search. If you are using the very latest WordPress version, then your plugin should auto-install. Once installed you can activate it from the plugins section. Note, you may need to adjust settings before any changes become visible. Most plugins have default values or no active values on activation.

The Google score was now 54% which was an improvement already.

Finally, I installed Imagify which compressed the images I already had on the server. Note, this was only done up to a certain limit. I get another limit of about 15Mb in 1 months time. A premium version of Imagify is available which gets rid of this limit.

After the WordPress caching plugins and the image compression plugin was installed and configured the Google score was at 75%. This was an increase of 43% points from 32%. This was 2.3 times better than the previous score. Hopefully, this will help reduce bounce rate and increase visits and visitor time to the site. Since I wrote this, I have added 2 new posts and the images I used are not fully optimised so there has been a drop in score but I now know the areas where I need to optimise on the website.

I am also running this optimisation on my photoblog at www.shanemcdonald.me and I will be posting the results and more details in the coming weeks. I am using the same WordPress caching plugins and the same image compression plugin. It should be interesting to see the effect on google analytics.

I have placed links to the WordPress caching plugins below.

WP Fastest Cache – https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-fastest-cache/

Autoptimize – https://wordpress.org/plugins/autoptimize/

Imagify – https://imagify.io/

 

If you have any comments or questions regarding these plugins for WordPress caching, minifying or optimisation plugins please leave them below…

Tips to Improve your Twitter Account

Tips to Improve your Twitter Account

Easy Twitter Tips to improve your Twitter account

I have been on Twitter quite a while now and over the past 3 years I have come to love the platform. For me Twitter is a source of news, opinion and interesting articles as well as the odd competition which I have won. If you are looking to grow your Twitter audience and influence you are going to have to invest some time on Twitter. These are some Twitter Tips to help in growing your following and presence.

1. Have a good Twitter Profile image

The first Twitter tip is update your profile pic. The Profile Image is the small icon which appears beside each tweet. Your profile picture should be representative of you or your business. Try make the image one which will stand out.

The key here is don’t leave it as the default Twitter Egg! The profile photo of an egg is indicative of an account which is new. So change this and you’ll get an advantage over accounts with Twitter eggs.

 

2. Ensure you include a Header image

At the same time you should upload a good header image. The header image could be a product photo or something which works along with your profile image to strength your accounts visual appeal. You can use systems like Canva to place a nice quote or even your web address.

 

3. Your Twitter Bio

Your Twitter Bio should detail what your account is about. It should also outline the content people will expect if they follow you.For example you could tell people what interests you or what you tweet about.

Feel free to use hashtags or even other accounts. e.g. “I am account manager for @mentioncompanyhere and I like #Travel”.
If you have a website don’t forget to include that. This is one of the key Twitter Tips – so if you do one thing, it’s update your Bio.

 

4. Daily Twitter Activity

Each day, you should log on to Twitter and do some sort of activity. This activity may include;

– Tweeting something even if it is just a comment on the weather. This keeps your feed flowing with recent content.
– Retweeting others tweets. If you find something interesting retweet it.
– Responding to any replies or notifications
– Thanking some of your recent followers.
– If you find content you like the press the ‘Like’ button
– you should follow any Twitter accounts which you are interested in. Normally I follow about 5-10 accounts per day. If I find a Twitter list of Food Bloggers or Travel Writers I may end up following 50 or 60 accounts. By monitoring their content I can then see if I want to keep following. Every so often I clear down the accounts I am following based on their content. One good app for doing a follower check is Crowdfire.

 

5. Tag or include others in your tweets

Every now and again you should mention other accounts using the @account method.
For example “Hi @mrshanemcdonald many thanks for liking my tweet. Delighted you are interested” would send me a nice mention and I may then follow you as a result.

 

How do I know if I am doing well ?

There are a few pointers to show your success in growing your account.

  1. The first is your growth, if it is increasing fast this is one indicator that you are doing well.
    You can track your growth visually on TwitterCounter – take a look here at my Twitter account on TwitterCounter to see how it works.
  2. Secondly is your mention notifications, if you are getting a lot of @mentions, either responses or direct mentions, this shows a well engaged audience.
  3. You can also check your Klout score which takes into consideration all your social/online channels and gives you a number between 0 and 100; The higher the better! If you are over 45 on that score you are progressing well, Over 60 and you are a real contender, and 70+ would be social influencers.
  4. If you are enjoying Twitter and you are Tweeting daily – In a way this is a success of it’s own as many people start on Twitter and just give up!

 

I hope you enjoyed these Twitter Tips and this is what works for me. If you have any other interesting Twitter Tips or hacks please feel free to leave a comment.

 

Follow Me on Twitter

My Twitter account is @mrshanemcdonald so if you like this post why not follow and say hi!

Be Careful with the new PayPal Phishing Scams

Be Careful with the new PayPal Phishing Scams

I get these from Paypal Phishing emails time to time and I’m sure anyone with an active email account will also. We are all used to seeing spam emails pretending to be from valid companies all the time. The question is how can you spot if these are legitimate emails? How can you spot if these are just trying to get your account details? Well there are some things you can look out for…

No Personalised Name

Firstly you will normally see Dear PayPal User, or Dear Netflix user or simply Dear Subscriber

If this is a valid company, who has your details, why is the email not using your first name?
Most emails from companies such as Netflix or PayPal will include some identifying ID info on your emails. This may include your account number, your name or your username. Check out the example below!

Some Frantic Excuse

Very often there is some excuse for the email. Some scenarios I have seen include ;

  • “We were updating our severs and noticed an issue, you now need to revalidate your account”.
  • “In order to further secure your account please log in and verify your credentials”
  • “If you do not login within 24 hours your account will be deleted”

Don’t fall for these excuses. This is just to get you panicking so that you don’t think about what you are doing.  Check out the example below!

Links are not official Links

Within the email , if you are required to log in, you will see a link such as ‘log in’ or ‘sign in’. The link to these phishing sites will be under this.

You have two ways to check for this. First you can hover-over the link in your email client. If it is from PayPal the web address should be PayPal.com. Similarly if it it is a Netflix email, Netflix.com should be the web address listed as the link. Occasionally email systems like ConstantContact may place their link and use a redirect – therefore it does not always work.

The second way to check, is if you do click the link, ensure you are on the official site by checking the we address.

Graphics May appear out of line or pixelated

One other way you can detect spammy phishing emails is by their graphics. The images used in the emails are often just stolen from the official sites and are not always placed correctly in the emails. Therefore they may look too wide or not the right height to width ratio.

What to do if you are unsure?

If you get an email from Netflix, PayPal or even your Bank or Revenue, email them via their official website or call them. Better to be safe than sorry.

Remember your Bank and the taxation/revenue services will never usually contact you by email asking for personal or security information.
Be cautious and be safe. If it sounds a bit far fetched then it could very well be a phishing email.

Example of a Phishing Email

This is an example of one email I got, the web address when I clicked the link did not bring me to PayPal.com – you can see some of what I mentioned above in the email below. Not personalised,  and a frantic excuse about ‘unusual activity’.

Phishing email

Conclusion

Just to finalise on this topic, firstly companies like PayPal and Netflix have no control over this. If you get a phishing email it is not their fault therefore as the customer you will have to take due care with your account details. Hopefully the tips above on how to spot phasing scams will help you if you are unsure. If you get an email and you are still not sure what to do, ask a friend who might have more IT/web knowledge – get a second opinion. It’s better than losing your account, or worse, money. Stay safe online, always be on the look out for something which doesn’t feel right.

Twitter Verification for All

Twitter Verification for All

Twitter have announced that there is now an online application process in order to get your Twitter account set as a verified status. Verified accounts on Twitter allow people to identify important individuals and organisation ensuring that the followers know that they are authentic. This authenticity is denoted by a circular blue badge icon. Before today’s announcement accounts were verified if they were deemed to be public interest, e.g. brands, celebs, sports stars, public figures, politicians etc. There are currently about 190,000 accounts with Twitter Verification.

Twitter have stated that they want to make it easier to “find creators and influencers on Twitter”. Twitter are hoping that by allowing people to appliy for verification it will help more people to find “great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience.”

The application process is now live and I have already applied for mine, so I’m hoping that @mrshanemcdonald will be verified soon. Full details of the twitter verifiaction process is available via the Twitter Help Centre.

To complete the Twitter Verification application you will need the following;

  • A verified phone number
  • A confirmed email address
  • A completed bio
  • A profile photo
  • A header photo
  • A birthday (for accounts that are not company, brand, or organisation accounts)
  • A website / URL
  • Your Twitter account set as public in Tweet privacy settings (i.e. not a private account)
  • You will also need to explain why Twitter should verify an account.

The responses will be replied to by email and if your request is denied, you can submit another Twitter Verification request for the same account 30 days after receiving the email from Twitter.

I’m sure there will be hundreds of thousands of applications but lets see what happens. From what I have heard many applications are being rejected, even those with high follower counts and thousands of tweets. I will update this post should I get any news from Twitter regarding my application for Twitter Verification status.

More Details on Twitter Verification

Twitter Verification Update – 25th July

I just got an email from Twitter with the following;

 
 
Thanks for your request to verify @mrshanemcdonald.
 
We reviewed the account, and unfortunately it is not eligible to be verified at this time. Please visit our Help Center for more information about the types of accounts we verify.

Maybe next time … I can resubmit in 30 days !

Twitter to remove Images and Links from Character Count

Twitter to remove Images and Links from Character Count

According to reports in the media your Links and photos may soon (possibly in the next 2 to 3 weeks) be ignored by Twitter and therefore would not be counted in the 140 character limit for tweets.

Proposed Changes

This radical change would come at a time when Twitter are trying to boost active user numbers and new user registrations, by simplifying the product. Ultimately users would have the ability to compose longer text commentary in their messages.

At the moment a link in a tweet will use up 23 characters in your tweet, after that most users like to leave about 20 characters for retweet potential, so this new change could be a welcome boost for Twitter.

Personally I love Twitter, I find it really useful and very enjoyable to simply dip in and out of. Although the company have declined to comment I really hope that this rumour is more than just talk.

Lets see what the next few weeks bring…

Simple Tip for better WordPress SEO ?

Simple Tip for better WordPress SEO ?

I just learned of something which might be hampering your attempts to get good levels of traffic to your site if you are using WordPress.

One of the best things about WordPress is that you can add a category or two to your post. It turns out that listing your blog post under more than one category might be considered as duplicate content in Googles eyes and your site may be penalised.

I will be posting under only 1 category for a while to see if this helps with the site traffic / SEO on the site.

Any comments – please add them below to discuss the search tricks you use for WordPress SEO