Using WordPress for Business? 8 Things You Need to Know

Powering more than 25% of the web (over 75 million websites), WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. But if you are (or are thinking about) trusting your business to WordPress, you had better know these 8 things.

Before I get into what those 8 things are, let me fist say this: do I think you should use WordPress for your business? Absolutely. At AdPlugg we work with thousands of sites using dozens of different platforms and CMSs. In addition, the core of our staff are all web developers and marketers. We’ve worked personally with many different types of websites both as users, marketers and developers. WordPress’ combination of high ROI, low cost of ownership, flexibility and ease of use make it a great choice for most sites. Anything from a personal blog to massive news sites like The New York Times and the BBC can (and do) use WordPress.

However, in addition to the often lauded success stories, the web is littered with thousands of stories of downtime, “white screens”, scaling issues, hacked sites, massive revenue losses and more. Before getting involved with WordPress, you had better know the common problems and how to make sure that your site and business are safe.

8 Things You Need to Know About WordPress for Business

So here are the 8 things that you absolutely need to know if you are going to trust your business to WordPress.

1. WordPress is a Major Target for Site Hackers

Malicious hackers target the efforts at the biggest possible sample size to maximize their effect. This is why most viruses target Microsoft Windows. Similarly, WordPress now has the largest share of the web. Hackers scanning the web for sites with vulnerabilities are putting the bulk of their efforts into targeting WordPress. If you were on a more obscure or homegrown CMS before, you may find that as soon as you are on WordPress you have increased risk, simply because of the volume of hackers and scripts that are specifically going after WordPress sites.

As a quick example, we’ve seen access logs of non-WordPress sites showing millions of access attempts at a url of “/wp-admin” (this is the location where the admin page would be if the site were running WordPress).

2. Never Hack WordPress Core

Being able to quickly and safely update WordPress core is essential for keeping your site up to date with the latest security updates. Hacking (modifying) the WordPress core files is a big no no for many reasons but primarily because doing so limits your ability to get the latest updates.

3. You Take A Risk With Every WordPress Plugin You Use

You shouldn’t hack/modify WordPress’s core files but that doesn’t mean that you can make significant customizations to your site. In fact, WordPress’ hook system makes WordPress extremely flexible and customizable. The way that you make modifications is with plugins. However, keep in mind that with every plugin that you add, you are taking a risk. Any plugin that you install is running code on your server and has unrestricted access to your server files and database. Even if the plugin isn’t malicious or poorly designed/coded, plugins can eat up your server’s memory and cpu. They can also cause your whole site to “white screen” or just crash.

4. Your WordPress Site is Only as Good (secure, stable, efficient) as Your Weakest Plugin

Your WordPress site is only as good (secure, stable, efficient) as your weakest plugin. You can have a great site, on premium hosting and with the latest version of WordPress and a premium theme and if you have just one bad plugin, it can compromise the whole thing.

5. WordPress Plugins Are the Wild West

Open source is a great thing. The world would be well behind where we are today if not for the availability of free, open source code. However, not all open source code is created equal. In fact, it’s not even close. While many open source projects are created and run by major software firms, with teams of professional developers, others may be created by one person with no formal training or experience. It’s up to you to vet the code.

With some open source ecosystems, the vetting is done for you. For instance, Linux come in “distros” (distributions). Linux distributions such as RedHat and Ubuntu have picked a bunch of different Linux packages (and package versions), vetted them, put them together and tested them. RedHat tends to be more conservative with the code that it will put into its distro while Ubuntu is much more liberal (putting newer code that has been less battle tested). You can choose where you want to fall on the scale of latest/most stable when you choose which distro you want to use.

No such system currently exists for WordPress. When a WordPress plugin author updates their plugin, it just goes right out and is immediately released. It can then be downloaded and running on millions of sites within minutes. This is great if the code is good but it skips over all of the safeguards built into linux distros. It is totally up to the plugin developer to test the code.

6. By Default, WordPress Sites Are Incredibly Inefficient and Slow

WordPress is designed to be flexible and extendable. It does a great job of this but these very goals are contrary to those of efficient code. WordPress’ use of denormalized database table structures, dynamic code, uncompiled code (PHP), etc mean that it can’t perform at nearly the speeds of other systems (at least not by default).

7. Having Your WordPress Site Under Your Primary Domain, Puts Your Whole Domain At Risk

If you have more than one site operating under a single domain (ie. example.com/intranet and example.com/blog) even with separate hosting and databases, all of your sites may be at risk from bad code in just one plugin of one site.

Sites operating on the same hostname are susceptible to a number of different client side attacks. If your sites are all running at the same hostname, they may be susceptible to Session Hijacking Attacks and Session Fixation Cookie Attacks. Even if you put your sites under different subdomains, you may still be vulnerable to Cross Subdomain Cookie Attacks, Cookie Jar Stuffing Attacks, and Cookie Tossing Attacks.

8. WordPress is Licensed Under the GPL (Use At Your Own Risk)

WordPress is licensed under the GPL (GNU General Public License). This license explicitly states that you are on your own. If things go wrong, there is no one to fix it and no remedies other than those that you come up with on your own.

Solutions and Recommendations

1. Stay up To Date

As soon as WordPress learns of a vulnerability they will patch it. They will then announce the vulnerability in coordination with the launch of the patch. At that point it is a race to see if you can patch your site before the hackers break in.

Use a plugin, script or managed hosting to ensure that you are getting the latest security updates as soon as they are released.

2. Vet Your Plugins

Make sure that the plugins that you use are well coded (and ideally with a software company behind them). Have a developer check the code out. Make sure to check the following:

  • Does the plugin have unit tests?
  • Is the code well organized and look like it was programmed by an experienced developer?
  • How often is the plugin updated?
  • How many support issues does it have? How many are still open? Have their been previous complaints of new releases having bugs?

While it may be tempting to use free plugins from an author that gives the whole thing away for free, keep in mind that if the plugin has no monetization strategy, the author likely built it as a hobby and likely has little to no incentive to fix the bug that is costing your business thousands of dollars a day.

3. Performance is All About Caching

The key to WordPress performance is caching. If your site gets a decent amount of traffic you should have a page level cache (like Varnish) in front of WordPress. Even better is to distribute the cached pages by using a CDN.

WordPress makes thousands of computations to render each page. There is no point in doing this work for every visitor only to return the exact same page. By using a cache, WordPress renders the page once and then it is served to potentially millions of people by the cache. Caches are how the New York Times and the BBC are able to use WordPress successfully.

4. Keep An Open Relationship With A Development Firm or Use Managed Hosting

Things may go wrong with your site and when they do, the best you can do on your own is to post to the WordPress forum.

If you are trusting your business to WordPress, you should have a relationship with someone who you trust to be there to fix it.

You can either use a managed WordPress host such as WPEngine or you can contract with a local web development firm that specializes in WordPress.

Conclusion

While the choice to use WordPress over other CMS’s may seem like an obvious one, you need to understand the risks.

Used carefully, WordPress can help your business achieve new levels of success. Used recklessly, WordPress can quickly become a liability.

Have comments or questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

Content Targeting: AdPlugg + Open Graph


AdPlugg just launched a new content targeting feature that allows you to target your ads based on the Open Graph tags on your pages. This allows you to target ads to specific topics, sections, tags, etc. The new Open Graph targeting feature is available to all Pro Plan subscribers.

The Open Graph targeting feature is especially useful if you don’t include the category of the article or post in the page’s url. For instance, using AdPlugg’s Page Targeting feature, you have long been able to target ‘sports’ related ads to a url such as ‘http://www.example.com/sports/tennis/wimbledon-2017’ (based on ‘/sports/’ being in the url). However, if you’ve structured your urls in a flat format (such as ‘http://www.example.com/wimbledon-2017’), there was previously no way to target ‘sports’ (or ‘tennis’) related ads to the article. With Open Graph targeting, AdPlugg can now look at your Open Graph meta tags, and for this kind of targeting, the URL doesn’t matter.

So What Exactly are Open Graph Tags?

Open Graph tags are meta tags that you add to the header of your site’s pages. They are used to describe the content of the page.

Below is an example of Open Graph tags that indicate that the page is in the ‘sports’ section/category and that it has been tagged with ‘tennis’ and ‘wimbledon’.

<head>
<meta property="article:section" content="sports"/>
<meta property="article:tag" content="tennis"/>
<meta property="article:tag" content="wimbledon"/>
...
<head>

Though the Open Graph protocol defines a large number of different tags, AdPlugg has specifically added support for the article:section tag and the article:tags shown above.

If you want, view the source of this page to see what Open Graph tags it uses.

How do I add Open Graph tags to my site?

There is actually a good chance that your site is already using Open Graph tags. To check, right click on one of your pages and look for tags that look something like the ones shown in the example above.

The AdPlugg Blog runs on WordPress. We use the Yoast SEO plugin which adds Open Graph tags automatically to all of our posts. The article:section tag that it adds corresponds to the Primary Category that we pick for each post. The plugin also adds an article:tag tag for each of the WordPress Tags that we assign to the post.

The Yoast SEO plugin is just one of over a dozen different WordPress plugins that you can use to add Open Graph tags to your WordPress site.

But I don’t use WordPress!

Don’t use WordPress? No sweat! Open Graph is a standard that has no tie to any particular CMS. There are plugins available for all major CMS systems that allow you to easily (and often automatically) add Open Graph tags to your pages.

Targeting Your Ads and Placements by Open Graph Tag

We’ve added two new subsections to the Page Targeting settings on both the Ad form and the Placement form. One subsection is for “Section Targeting” and the other is for “Tag Targeting”. We’ve renamed the general “Page Targeting” settings to “Path Targeting to better describe how they target the ‘path’ part of the URL.

Once you’ve ensured that Open Graph tags are on your pages, you can use the new Section Targeting and Tag targeting fields to target ads to the page. There are instructions for how to use the settings directly below the fields themselves.

You can tell AdPlugg to target sections or exclude sections, you can also target or exclude pages that aren’t part of a section. The sections can also include wildcards (such as ‘sports-*’).

With “article:tag” targeting, you enter any number of tags and choose whether you want to have your list be the tags that are included or excluded.

We plan to add support for additional Open Graph tags in the future. Some of the ones that we are specifically eying are og:locale (which would allow targeting based on the page’s intended country and language) and og:site_name (which, of course, would allow targeting based on the name of the site). You can see the complete list of Open Graph tags at ogp.me.

Have a question about how to add Open Graph tags to your site, how to target your ads based on your Open Graph tags, or anything else? Post it to the comments section below!

WordPress HTTPS Everywhere

https_everywhere
“I always feel like somebody’s watching me”, the 1984 hit song from Rockwell sums it up…and he might just be right! At the Google I/O Conference back in 2014, Google introduced (or at least endorsed) the principal of HTTPS Everywhere. Where as traditionally HTTPS was only used on login and credit card pages, during the conference, Google suggested that HTTPS be used on all pages on all sites, EVERYWHERE!

Why

Not interested in the “Why”, skip to the “How” below.

Before we get into the “why”, it’s important to note that it’s not just Google. Over the last couple of years, most major sites have been moving towards this concept of HTTPS Everywhere as well. Now Google, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times and others only serve pages over HTTPS. Last month, AdPlugg followed suit and switched to 100% HTTPS as well. We still allow you to serve your ads over HTTP but anytime you are viewing a page on our website, it will be over HTTPS.

In 2017, Google has gotten more serious about this initiative and it is no longer just an option, now there is a penalty! Beginning last month (January, 2017), Google Chrome now displays an exclamation point in the search bar any time you are viewing an HTTP page. This is designed to alert the user to the fact that they are not on a secure page. Where previously the norm was HTTP and only some pages had HTTPS, Google now wants all pages to be HTTPS and to alert users when they aren’t on HTTPS. In addition, Google is now using HTTPS as a ranking factor, favoring sites that are on HTTPS to those on HTTP for Google’s search results.

The reason Google is doing this is interesting as it represents a shift in what is considered “sensitive” data. In fact, as I am writing this article, I wanted to describe passwords and credit card numbers as “sensitive data”. Google is suggesting that all of our activity online be considered sensitive, and it makes sense. Any time you are browsing over HTTP, a man (server) in the middle somewhere on the internet (or your own ISP) may be spying on what you are doing. In some cases ISPs even alter the content that you see. For instance, if you were to request http://www.example.com, your ISP could easily change what is returned to you since it is being transmitted in plain text. If however, you were to access https://www.example.com, your ISP and servers in the middle can’t read the request or response and you know that not only are you not being spied on but that no one has messed with the information that you are viewing. This can be especially important when you are using public WIFI. If you are on public WIFI over HTTP, the hotel, coffee shop, airport might be spying on what you are doing, if you are on HTTPS, you know that no one in the middle can see anything.

There are some concerns for the publisher however, HTTPS is costly. First of all, you need an SSL cert and your server needs to be configured to support HTTPS. You need to be aware that every page requested must be individually encrypted by the server and not just once, it needs to be individually encrypted for each user. This can cause quite a bit of additional load on your server and result in additional hosting costs.

However, Google has spoken and publishers would be wise to listen. For Google to remain popular, the user must have a good experience using the Google Chrome browser and Google search engine. Google has decided that the user will best be served by viewing pages only over HTTPS. It’s my belief that 10 years from now, Google won’t return HTTP results at all and Chrome will turn red with alerts any time you are viewing an HTTP page.

Because of Google’s initiative, blogs are now recommended to use HTTPS only as well. In this post I’ll be explaining how to set your WordPress site up for HTTPS only.

How

Now that you know why you should move your WordPress site to HTTPS only, in this section, I’m going to tell you how to do it.

Get an SSL Certificate

If you don’t already have one, first you are going to need and SSL certificate. SSL certificates are used to encrypt the data that is transmitted between your WordPress site and the user’s browser. If you are already feeling like you may be in over your head, you may want to just contact your hosting company. They can provide you with an SSL certificate and install it for you. However, if you think you can do it on your own, you can save some money.

I recommend ssls.com for inexpensive certificates that work just as good as the pricey ones. Go to www.ssls.com. For the average WordPress blog, their Comodo Positive SSL for $8.95 for 1 year is a great deal. SSLs.com provides instructions for how to create a private cert and CSR (Certificate Signing Request). Once you checkout, they will provide you with your SSL/TLS cert.

Install the SSL Certificate

How you install the SSL certificate is going to vary based on your host. Check your host’s help for details. You can also contact your host for help, once you have your own cert, most hosts will help you install it for free.

Configure WordPress for SSL Only

Once your SSL cert is correctly installed you should be able to view your site over http or https.

Now we want to configure WordPress and Apache so that they know that your site is only on https and to redirect all http requests to https.

Update Your WordPress Settings

  • Log in to your WordPress admin.
  • Go to Settings and then General.
  • Update the “WordPress Address (URL)” and “Site Address (URL)” fields to use https (ex: “https://www.example.com”).
  • Save the Changes.

Update your internal links (Optional, but recommended)

Most likely, you have links throughout your site that link to other parts of your site. And likely, these links all say “http://”. In the next step, we are going to redirect all http bound traffic to https. So while these links will continue to work, for SEO reasons, it’s a good idea to update all of your internal links to https so they point to the real page and not to a redirect.

The easiest way to do this is using a tool called wp-cli. In order to use wp-cli, you will need to have command line (SSH) access to your hosting account. Once you have wp-cli installed, issue the following command (update example.com to your own domain).

wp search-replace http://www.example.com https://www.example.com

If you don’t have SSH access (or don’t feel comfortable using it), you can do the search and replace using the WordPress Search and Replace Plugin.

Redirect all HTTP Traffic to HTTPS

We can update our internal links to use https instead of http but we don’t have any control over backlinks from other sites, google, etc. The last thing that we want to do is to break all of those links. What we should do instead is 301 (moved permanently) redirect the http request to https.

You can redirect all http traffic to https by adding the following to the top of your .htaccess file:


RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

Conclusion

You now know both why you should move your WordPress site to HTTPS only and how to do it. Have something to add or need help? Post to the comments section below.

Also note that AdPlugg can serve ads over HTTPS in both our Free and Pro versions.

New Help Videos

adplugg_help_videos

We’ve just added a new section to the AdPlugg support site for help videos.

The new section includes a number of screencast style video tutorials that teach you how to use AdPlugg. The videos section is broken up by “series”. Right now there is just one series, called “WordPress Ad Plugin Videos”, but we intend to have additional series available soon.

The WordPress Ad Plugin Videos series has two videos in it at this point. Both videos are designed to get you up and running quickly with the AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin. Here’s a quick synopsis:

WordPress Ad Plugin Quick Start Video

Duration: 3:38

In the WordPress Ad Plugin Quick Start Video video we take you from the point of having installed and activated the WordPress Ad Plugin all the way through to the point of seeing an ad on your site. This video is great for anyone looking to use the AdPlugg WordPress Ad plugin.

WordPress Ad Plugin Really Quick Start Video

Duration: 0:55

The WordPress Ad Plugin Really Quick Start Video covers the same material as the regular quick start video but does it in 55 seconds. We’ve cut out a lot of the typing and transitions and just show the steps. This video is excellent for those who are very comfortable navigating and using web based services.

AdPlugg On YouTube

In case you missed it, we also recently launched an AdPlugg YouTube Channel. Check it out for more videos about AdPlugg.

More Videos

We plan to regularly add more videos to both the AdPlugg Help Video site and the AdPlugg YouTube channel, so as they say, stay tuned for more…

Got an idea for a video or have suggestions for how we could make these videos better? Post your ideas and suggestions into the comments section below.

Facebook Instant Article Ads

Facebook Instant Article AdsAdPlugg just launched support for Facebook Instant Article Ads. In last week’s post, Facebook Instant Articles: 5 Things You Need to Know, we talked about what Facebook Instant Articles is and what it means for publishers. We also mentioned that AdPlugg was going to be supporting it and allowing you to serve your AdPlugg ads into your Facebook Instant Articles.

Well, we just launched the feature and are excited to tell you all about it. Here’s how it works (note: these instructions are for WordPress sites, see below for info regarding other platforms/sites):

1. Install the Facebook Instant Articles for WP plugin

First you’ll want to install the Facebook Instant Articles for WP plugin. This is the official Facebook Instant Articles plugin from Automattic, the makers of WordPress. This plugin is great but is pretty barebones: it doesn’t (at this point) have any settings available via the WordPress admin. But what it does, and it does very well, is create a Facebook Instant Articles Feed. Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, you should be able to go to http://www.yoursite.com/feed/instant-articles and see a feed ready for Facebook to ingest.

Get Version 1.3 of the AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin

In Version 1.3 of the AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin we’ve added the ability to insert ad tags into your Facebook Instant Articles feed.

Configure Your AdPlugg Ads

If you don’t already have one, create an account at adplugg.com. Next upload the ads that you want to include in your feed. AdPlugg allows you to upload virtually any kind of ad that you want. This includes image ads, text ads, HTML5 ads, etc. I’d recommend that you create some AdPlugg Ad Zones that are specifically for your Facebook Instant Article ads. You could call them something like “fb-zone-1” and “fb-zone-2”. Once you’ve created your zones, target your ads to them directly or via an AdPlugg Placement.

Add the Ads to Your Facebook Instant Articles Feed

The AdPlugg WordPress plugin makes it easy to add ads to your Facebook Instant Articles feed by utilizing a system that you are probably already familiar with, the WordPress Widget System! Here’s what you do:

  1. Log in to the WordPress administrator.
  2. Click AdPlugg in the left menu and then click Facebook to go to the new AdPlugg Facebook settings page.
  3. Check the “Automatic Placement” checkbox. This will enable the feature and create a new Widget Area called “Facebook Instant Articles Ads”.
  4. Go to Appearance and then Widgets. You should now be able to see the Facebook Instant Articles Ads widget area.
  5. Drag and drop the AdPlugg Widget into the Widget Area.
  6. Configure the Widget by giving it a Zone machine name, width and height.

Select AdPlugg as Your Instant Article Ads Provider

  1. In the WordPress administrator, click Instant Articles in the left menu.
  2. Scroll down to the Ads section.
  3. Under Ad Type, choose AdPlugg.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and press the “Save changes” button.

Check the Output

Check your feed at /feeds/instant-articles – it should now include your AdPlugg ads! Feel free to add more ads, rotation, scheduling etc, from the settings available from your account at adplugg.com! Note: it’s best to limit each of your Facebook Instant Articles Zones to only show one ad at a time (you can do this via the Max Ad Count field in the Zone settings).

Join the Facebook Instant Articles Program

Log into your Facebook account and go to your Facebook Page. Starting April 12th, 2016, there will be a link there to the Facebook Instant Articles program signup page.

Non-WordPress Sites

If you aren’t using WordPress, you can still serve AdPlugg ads into your Facebook Instant Articles feed. To do so, edit the code that generates your feed and add the following tags to the <header> section.

Example

<header>
    ...
    <section class="op-ad-template">
        <figure class="op-ad">
            <iframe 
                  src="https://www.adplugg.com/serve/<your access code>/html/1.1/index.html?zn=fb_zone_1" height="250" width="300"></iframe>
        </figure>
        <figure class="op-ad op-ad-default">
            <iframe src="https://www.adplugg.com/serve/<your access code>/html/1.1/index.html?zn=fb_zone_2" height="50" width="320"></iframe>
        </figure>
    </section>
</header>

Change the access code, zone names and sizes in the code above to match your account and requirements.

Conclusion

AdPlugg makes it easy to serve, manage and track your Facebook Instant Article ads. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions; add them to the comments section below!

Facebook Instant Articles: 5 Things You Need to Know

Facebook Instant Articles Infographic
Facebook Instant Articles is a new feature for web publishers from Facebook. Here’s a run down of the 5 things that you need to know.

1. Shows Articles Within the Facebook Mobile App

Traditionally, when a user clicked an article that you posted to your Facebook page, they would go to your website to view the article. With Facebook Instant Articles, when a user clicks on one of your articles from within the Facebook Mobile App, they are shown the article within the Facebook Mobile App.

Key Points

  • Works on iPhone and Android devices.
  • Is seemless for users
  • Is up to 10 times faster than content served through a mobile browser (Facebook accomplishes this by buffering the content before the user clicks it and by not having to render your site, just the article content).
  • The Facebook App shows a small lightning bolt icon in the top right of the article’s featured image if the article is available via Instant Articles.
  • Desktop and browser (non app) users will continue to be directed to your website.

2. Requires your Site to Have a Custom Feed

Rather than submitting your articles to Facebook, with Facebook Instant Articles, Facebook will regularly pull your feed and automatically add new articles to your Facebook page.

Key Points

  • Facebook pulls from your feed, you no longer need to push your articles to Facebook
  • The Instant Articles Feed format is based on RSS but requires certain non-standard elements (a standard RSS feed won’t work).

3. There’s a WordPress Plugin For It!

A couple of weeks ago (March 7th, 2016), Automattic, the makers of WordPress launched a new Plugin called Facebook Instant Articles for WP. This plugin adds a special feed at /feed/instant-articles. You can submit this feed “endpoint” to Facebook when you enroll in Facebook’s Instant Articles program.

Key Points

  • You will need to install a special plugin (such as Facebook Instant Articles for WP) to add Facebook Instant Article support to your WordPress site.
  • Other CMS systems will likely have their own Facebook Instant Articles plugins. If you have any info about these, please post it to the comment section below.

4. Allows You to Serve Your Own Ads

Facebook wants to make Instant Articles a win for Facebook, its mobile app users and for the publishers generating the content. For this reason, they allow you to include your own ads within your feed.

Key Points

  • You can serve your own ads within the articles that you submit to Facebook Instant Articles.
  • Ads need to be submitted through your Instant Articles feed in a special format.
  • You can distribute your ad “tags” manually throughout your feed content or place your ad tags in the header to have Facebook place them throughout the article automatically.
  • AdPlugg is currently adding support for Facebook Instant Article feeds and intends to fully support them by the time Facebook launches the feature (see below for the release date).
  • If you don’t have your own ads, you can optionally choose to serve Facebook Audience Network ads within your articles.
  • There are some restrictions regarding the type of ad and the “ad density” (number of ads that you can display). See the official documentation for more info.
  • Some of the publishers already using Facebook Instant Articles have complained about ad revenue issues. Facebook is working to address those concerns.

5. Becomes available to all publishers on Apr 12th, 2016

Facebook Instant Articles is already in use by major publishers such as BuzzFeed and the Washington Post. On April 12th, 2016 Facebook Instant Articles becomes available to all publishers.

Key Points

  • Was launched for select major publishers on May 12th, 2015
  • Launch for all publishers is scheduled for April 12th, 2016

How To Try Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook Instant Articles Screenshot
To try out Facebook Instant Articles, do the following:

  • Open the Facebook app on your Android or iOS device.
  • Use the built in search to find and pull the official page for BuzzFeed or the Washington Post.
  • Click on any of the articles that have a lightning bolt in the top right corner of the article’s featured image.
  • Enjoy the lightning fast load time :).

Conclusion

Facebook Instant Articles is an exciting new feature that provides an enhanced experience for the user while allowing publishers to gain exposure and grow ad revenues.

AdPlugg is adding support for Facebook Instant Articles as we speak and we are tying the functionality into our WordPress Ad Plugin.

If you have any questions or comments about Facebook Instant Articles, AdPlugg’s support for them, or anything else; please post them to to the comments section below!


Infographic template design by Freepik.

How to Write a Blog

how-to-write-a-blog
So you want to know how to write a blog? We’ll, you’ve come to the right place. We work with thousands of bloggers and are bloggers ourselves. Not only that, we’ve studied what it takes to make a blog successful and have gained a lot of insight over the years; insight that we’d like to share with you in this post.

Let’s get the basics out of the way. Blog is short for web log. The act of writing and publishing a blog is called blogging. And someone who blogs is called a blogger.

A good way to think about a blog is as a public journal. Instead of writing in a paper notebook for only your own enjoyment and memory keeping, you write to a public website so that you can share your thoughts, ideas and experiences with others.

Of course, if you want to write in a journal, you need to have a journal of some sort to write in. Similarly, in order to blog, you need to have a blog. A blog is made up of these basic components:

  1. A Name (For example, “Jane’s Kitchen”)
  2. One or more authors (this could just be you or you could start a blog with your friends or family)
  3. A Subject/Topic (For example, Cooking). However, you can have your blog be simply about your life or just random musings, etc.
  4. A blogging platform
  5. A domain name (For example, “www.janeskitchen.com”)

Numbers 1 through 3 above are totally up to you. Numbers 4 and 5 take a bit of technical know-how.

A blogging platform is basically the journal that you write in. While there are a number of great blogging platforms out there, I unfortunately don’t have time to discuss them all in this post. I’ll save you the time of researching them and tell you that WordPress runs more blogs than all of the other blogging platforms combined. So unless you have special requirements, WordPress is probably the best way to go.

So what is WordPress? WordPress is simply a computer program that allows you to create, manage and publish blog posts…and it happens to be free. But you will need to host it (generally not free) in order to have it available on the internet.

Luckily, the same companies that can help you get a domain name (number 5 above) can host your WordPress site. A couple of good hosts/domain name registrars include: Bluehost, HostGator and GoDaddy.

Any stumbling blocks that you run into with setting up your site can be handled by your chosen hosting company’s support team.

Once your site is up and running, it’s time to start blogging. This is your time to shine. Here are some tips:

  • Try to pick blog topics that are interesting to both you and your readers.
  • Try to give each blog post a catchy headline.
  • Try to write at least one blog post a month (once a week is even better).
  • Try to add at least one picture to every blog post.
  • Make your blog personal. Even when reading about technical things, it’s more enjoyable to read content that has personality. Don’t worry about your grammer so much and instead make your blog fun and personal.

Have any questions or comments, please post them to the comment section below.

WordPress AdSense: The Ultimate How-To

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Making sense of AdSense on WordPress

In this blog post we are going to talk about how to use AdSense with WordPress. We’ll go though what options are available, best practices and more.

Ad What? Word Who?

WordPress is the largest CMS (Content Management System)/blogging platform in the world and is used by more than 60 million websites. AdSense is Google’s advertising system for publishers allowing publishers to place google ads on their sites. It’s estimated that over 1.5 million sites use Google AdSense.

Getting Started with WordPress

WordPress is totally free and setting up a WordPress site is incredibly simple at this point. The easiest way to do it is to get a free hosting account from a host such as GoDaddy or BlueHost. Once you have your hosting account, both of these hosts have automated systems for installing WordPress into your account.

Getting Started with AdSense

Getting set up with AdSense is a bit more complicated. The first step is to sign up for an AdSense account. The steps are pretty straight forward so I’ll just give you an overview here (For more info, see the AdSense Help). This is what you do:

  • Go to the AdSense Signup page.
  • Sign in (using your existing Google Account) or create a new account. Tip: if you have an account with your domain in it (ex: bob@yourblog.com) using it can speed up the approval process.
  • You will then need to fill out info about your self, site, business etc.
  • Lastly you will need to agree to the AdSense Terms of Service.

Once you have finished the signup process, you will be given access to your new AdSense account. You may not however be approved yet. The AdSense approval process can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of months depending on your site, geographic location and application info. Again, using a domain specific email address can speed up the process.

Once you’ve completed the signup process you can start placing ads on your site. They won’t however start to show until you’re account has been approved and activated.

WordPress AdSense Integration

WordPress AdSense integration can be done in a number of different ways. Basically the goal is to place the ad tags that you receive from AdSense on the front end of your WordPress site. Once your account is approved, AdSense will automatically inject ads into the tags. These are the most common ways to add AdSense tags into your WordPress site:

  • Serve them with AdPlugg or other AdSense compatible WordPress plugins
  • Add the tags into a Text Widget
  • Add the tags into your WordPress theme

Note: we plan to go into these options in more detail in a follow-on post.

Once the ad tags are serving to your site (they will be invisible at first), Google will review your site and hopefully approve it. Once approved, you will start to see ads on your site.

If you have any questions or have something to add, please use the comment section below.

Blogging for Money: Top 4 Reasons Why Your Blog Isn’t Making Any

Blogging for Money

Around a year ago I posted How to Make Money Blogging – In Six Easy Steps. In that post, I gave five easy steps toward making money blogging. In this post, I’m going to look at it from the other side. So you are already blogging for money, what are the most common reasons why your blog isn’t making any of that green stuff?

1. You Need More/Better Content

Engaging, high-quality content is key for any blog. Write from the heart and pick topics that will be of interest to your intended readers. Don’t just write about what you want to say, also think about the reader and about what they might want to learn or hear about. It has also been found that sites with more content do best. If you are only blogging once a week, try stepping up the number of posts that you publish. It’s unfortunate, but two medium quality posts tends to outperform one high quality post.

2. Your Site Isn’t Search Engine Optimized

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a requirement at this point. The days of SEO being a science are over and now it’s more of an art. If you use WordPress, the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast is a good place to start. The Yoast Plugin will get your site optimized but getting quality backlinks from other sites is just as crucial.

3. You haven’t Done Enough Promoting

It’s pretty common to think that you can put up a website and instantly get tons of traffic. Even after having been through it before, everytime I launch a new website, I can’t help but think that this site is what everyone is looking for. The reality of it is that there are close to a BILLION websites out there. To get web users to take notice of your site takes some serious effort. Don’t know how to promote your blog? Check out our recent post, How to Promote Your Blog – 5 Simple Steps.

4. You Need a Better Monetization Strategy

To be a monetarily succussful blogger, you need to know online advertising. The AdPlugg service makes it all a lot easier. Also check out these posts:

Have any questions or other items that you think should be included in this list? Post them into the comments section below!

How to Promote Your Blog – 5 Simple Steps

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Overview

So, you’ve started a new blog…or you have an existing blog that hasn’t achieved as big of a readership as you would like. Well, in this post I’m going to show you how to promote your blog and grow your readership through five easy steps.

It should come as no surprise that most of these techniques involve social media. Social Media is a great way to be heard by a large audience. If you present yourself and your content effectively to the various social channels, you can drive large amounts of traffic to your blog. So let’s get stated…

1. Share Your Post on Facebook

Facebook is a great way to promote your blog. After you’ve published your new blog post, copy the url and open your facebook account. Just paste the url into the status update box and press the Post button. Facebook will automatically create a nice looking post including a picture (make sure you use pictures in your blog) and teaser text. This post will go out to all of your Facebook friends. You’ll be amazed how many of your friends will take a look and each like you get will promote the post to all of your friends’ friends.

2. Share Your Post on Twitter

Another great social platform for promoting your blog is Twitter. To promote your blog post to twitter, past the title of the blog post along with the URL. Also include hashtag keywords such as #football or #weddings, these hashtags will help your post be seen by more people.

3. Pin it on Pinterest

You should always have pictures in your blog post and if they are interesting, your should pin them on Pinterest! This is especially true if your blog targets women readers (68% of Pinterest users are women). There are some great plugins that put a “Pin It” link on all of your images. These plugins are usually free, easy to install, and make it easy for people to pin your stuff. You should also try to make and include infographics in your blog post. Infographics are very popular on Pinterest and are sure to get lots of pins. Lastly, you should pin all of the images in your post yourself to help get them started.

4. List Your Blog on Bloglovin

Bloglovin is a popular blog post aggregator. It allows people to follow your blog but also helps you promote your blog and makes it easy for people to find it. Getting your blog listed on bloglovin is free and easy to do.

5. Promote Your Post through Paid Services

If you have a budget that you are working with, you can pay to promote your blog post on major sites such as CNN and Mashable. Services such as Outbrain and Taboola allow you to pay to have your blog post show up in an “Around the Web” listing on major sites. This will quickly get you readers but can be very expensive.

Conclusion

So hopefully now you know how to promote your blog and increase your readership. If you have any questions, comments or other ideas; please post them in the comment section below.