Occasionally I like to recommend WordPress plugins since it is the most widely used blogging platform.  In this post I am going to recommend a few plugins to help you better secure your WordPress platform.

Backup

UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore – If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you will know I have used a lot of different WordPress backup plugins in search of the perfect backup plugin.  Lately I have been using UpdraftPlus in conjunction with a free Dropbox account.  I am not ready to call it perfect, but so far it has proven to be very easy to use.  You can use it in combination with many different backup programs like Dropbox, Amazon S3, etc., or just simply backup to your FTP account.  Here are some more details from the UpdraftPlus plugin description.

UpdraftPlus simplifies backups (and restoration). Backup into the cloud (Amazon S3 (or compatible), Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace Cloud, DreamObjects, FTP, SFTP, WebDAV and email) and restore with a single click. Backups of files and database can have separate schedules.

  • Thousands of users: widely tested and reliable (over 215,000 downloads). Ranks in the top 0.5% on rankwp.com (70th out of 25,000 plugins).
  • Top-quality: ranks 52nd out of 25,000 WordPress plugins for quality on rankwp.com (top 0.25% – last checked 20th August 2013).
  • Supports WordPress backups to Amazon S3 (or compatible), Dropbox, Rackspace Cloud Files, Google Drive, Google Cloud Storage, DreamHost DreamObjects, FTP and email. Also (via an add-on) FTP over SSL, SFTP and WebDAV. (Note: Microsoft forbid SkyDrive to be used by backup software). Some examples of S3-compatible providers: Cloudian, Connectria, Constant, Eucalyptus, Nifty, Nimbula, Cloudn.
  • Quick restore (both file and database backups)
  • Backup automatically on a repeating schedule
  • Site duplicator/migrator: can copy sites, and (with add-on) move them to new locations
  • Files and databases can have separate schedules
  • Failed uploads are automatically resumed/retried
  • Large sites can be split into multiple archives

And there is much more.

Security

All In One WP Security & Firewall – I like this plugin because it provides you with a firewall for your blog, a grading system for your security setup, and additional security features like brute force attack prevention.  Here are some additional details from the plugin description.

All In One WP Security reduces security risk by checking for vulnerabilities, and by implementing and enforcing the latest recommended WordPress security practices and techniques.

All In One WP Security also uses an unprecedented security points grading system to measure how well you are protecting your site based on the security features you have activated.

Our security and firewall rules are categorized into “basic”, “intermediate” and “advanced”. This way you can apply the firewall rules progressively without breaking your site’s functionality.

Below is a list of the security and firewall features offered in this plugin:
User Accounts Security

  • Detect if there is a user account which has the default “admin” username and easily change the username to a value of your choice.
  • The plugin will also detect if you have any WordPress user accounts which have identical login and display names. Having account’s where display name is identical to login name is bad security practice because  you are making it 50% easier for hackers because they already know the login name.
  • Password strength tool to allow you to create very strong passwords.

User Login Security

  • Protect against “Brute Force Login Attack” with the Login Lockdown feature. Users with a certain IP address or range will be locked out of the system for a predetermined amount of time based on the configuration settings and you can also choose to be notified  via email whenever somebody gets locked out due to too many login attempts.
  • As the administrator you can view a list of all locked out users which are displayed in an easily readable and navigable table which also allows you to unlock individual or bulk IP addresses at the click of a button.
  • Force logout of all users after a configurable time period
  • Monitor/View failed login attempts which show the user’s IP address, User ID/Username and Date/Time of the failed login attempt
  • Monitor/View the account activity of all user accounts on your system by keeping track of the username, IP address, login date/time, and logout date/time.
  • Ability to automatically lockout IP address ranges which attempt to login with an invalid username.

Database Security
And there is much more…

MVIS Security Center – I like this plugin because it provides a very simple check for your WordPress install.  Here are some additional details from the plugin description.

MVIS Security Center is a proactive WordPress security plugin that helps you lock down your installation in three simple and clear steps.

  • Update Check: Find out what components of WordPress are vulnerable or need updating.
  • User Check: Find out which of your user accounts have problems that pose risks to your website.
  • Core Check: Find out which files and settings put your website at risk.
  • You’ll receive an e-mail alert as soon as vulnerabilities are identified that affect any of your sites.
  • The vulnerability alerts will tell you exactly how to address the vulnerability and become safe again.
  • You’ll receive weekly status mails informing you about outdated versions and vulnerabilities in your sites.

I hope you find these WordPress plugins, and as always if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to use the comments section below.

About the author

In a recent post, I gave you 17 tips for your small business blog.  In this post I am recommending a helpful tool, Disqus (pronounced “discuss”), you can add to your small business blog. 

Disqus is a real-time commenting system you can add to your blog.  Below is a list of several major features of Disqus.

  • Integrates with the major social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc so it makes it easier for users to sign-in without having to create a separate account with your blog.  
  • Allows readers to subscribe, like, and share comments across their social networks.  
  • Offers a notification system that lets your blog readers know when they have received a reply to their comments, and it allows them to reply directly from their email.  
  • Provides a spam filter for your commenting section. 
  • The comments are indexable by search engines so it is SEO-friendly. 
  • And there are tons of other features as well.

Disqus Blog Comments

Disqus is compatible across all the major blog platforms.  I use WordPress, and you simply download and install the plugin.  You can also export your existing comments.  Check out Disqus, and as always if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below.

I have always recommended blogging as a key part of a small business online marketing strategy.  Blogging allows you to interact with potential clients on your website, is a good way to allow visitors to promote your content, helps with your SEO strategy, and is a good way to provide timely and helpful information to your clients.  So with that introduction in mind, here are some blogging tips to help you take your small business blog to the next level.

Blogging Tips

  1. Pick a good blogging platform.  I prefer and use WordPress, but there are several good platforms out there.  See this blog post where I reviewed several blog platforms.
  2. Do what I just did in number one.  Link to your other relevant blog posts, and consider writing a blog post series to keep readers coming back.
  3. Be consistent.  Pick a schedule and stick to it.  I used to write daily blog posts, then as I got busier, I slowly dwindled down to a few blog posts each month.  If you have a dedicated marketing person for your small business, then a couple of posts each week will be about ideal. 
  4. Write good content.  Easier said than done, right!  So what is “good” content???  Well it needs to be easy to read, and you need to provide something useful for your potential customers.  If you are using your blog for sales and marketing purposes only, you will probably find you have few readers.  Consider using your blog to provide tips, how-to posts, and other types of useful information.  My blog posts are probably about 95% useful information, and the other 5% is links back to the services I offer on my website.  At most I would consider 80/20 with 80% being useful information and 20% promoting your products and services. 
  5. Do not just write for readers, but consider search engines as well.  So how do you do this?  I use a WordPress plugin call All in One SEO, but essentially you need to provide meta tags for titles and descriptions of your blog posts.  Keep your content fresh, and link within your blog posts, websites, and to other websites.
  6. Use a call to action and encourage readers to comment about your blog post.
  7. Provide social share buttons to allow readers of your blog to easily share the content with their social networks.  See below each of my posts for an example.
  8. Use eye catching images to show details on what your are writing about or just to break up the content.
  9. Consider video blogging.  Video blogging is especially helpful when you are trying to show customers a how-to.
  10. Allow guest blog posts to provide a different and useful perspective to your readers.
  11. Provide a search box.
  12. Provide an RSS feed.
  13. Provide a way for readers to subscribe to your blog via email.
  14. Provide Categories based on the different topics you write about, and write posts to fit into your Categories.  See my sidebar for example Categories.
  15. Use analytics to measure how readers are using your blog, what they are most interested in, inbound links, and how readers are socially sharing your content. 
  16. Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  17. And finally promote your blog.  Link your blog to your other social marketing networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.  Link your blog in free directories.  Use tools like Onlywire to publish your blog post to multiple platforms at once.

Follow these tips to create a successful small business blog.  And if you have any additional tips, please feel free to list in the comments below.

If you are having issues achieving higher search engine rankings with your small business website, a blog might be the answer for helping you improve your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.  Blogs are also excellent social marketing tools, and I have covered blog social marketing strategies in several posts so today’s post will focus on the SEO benefits of small business blogging.

Here are three reasons why blogs are good for your SEO strategy.

  1. They are an excellent format for providing updated content to your website domain, and search engines love new and unique content.
  2. Blog platforms such as WordPress were built with SEO in mind providing automated services like pinging (alerting) search engines to new content, ability to customize link urls, and the ability to add-on SEO plugins which allow you to create items like unique page titles and descriptions.
  3. Blogs provide a great format to allow others to easily link back to your site and share your content within their social network.  Write great and useful content, and people will share it.

So now that we have established the SEO benefits of blogging, lets discuss some tips you can follow to make sure you can achieve those benefits.

  1. Pick a strong blogging platform.  I covered several blog platform options in a previous post
  2. Link to content on your website as well as other blog posts, and use keyword phrases as your links. 
  3. Make it easy for readers of your blog to share your content.  See the social share buttons below this post for an example.
  4. Add SEO plugins to your blog platform.  For example if you have a WordPress blog, All in One SEO Pack is an excellent SEO plugin. 
  5. Good code is also important.  Check your blog for broken links.  Check your blog page download speed to make sure it is not slow.  Make sure you add titles and descriptions to each blog post page.

Add a blog to your website, and follow these tips, and you will improve your search engine rankings.  If you have some examples of how your small business blogging has helped you increase your search engine rankings, please feel free to share in the comments below.

In today’s blog post I am linking to two dueling social marketing articles. The first article makes the case why blogging is still the top social marketing tool while the second article argues that blogging is dying and Facebook and Twitter are where it’s at in social marketing.

Dueling Articles

Pro Blog – The Hierarchy of Social Media Marketing

vs

Pro Facebook and Twitter – Farewell, Blogs! Your Days Are Numbered

My opinion is this, and by the way, it is the right opinion. You need at least two social marketing platforms (so ie. you need both), and you need to become an expert at both of them. You need a blog, because as is pointed out in the pro blogging article, blogs are better for search engine optimization (SEO). And you need another social marketing platform like Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn because this is where many of your potential clients are spending their time online, and it is easier for you to engage them directly.

The social images I used in the image I created above are free and courtesy of Productive Dreams.

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