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WordPress Delists Non-Compliant Themes

One of the most discussed subjects in the WordPress universe in August was the suspension of the most popular none-default freely-available WordPress theme – Astra. This was after the theme’s developers, brainstormforce, were accused of being in violation of terms related to affiliate links (links that allow you to benefit from recommending products). Developers are not allowed to include any affiliate links on the .org themes.

The suspension was announced by the Theme Review Team Bot on August 7th, 2020. Snippets of the announcement read as such:

We added this requirement more than 18 months ago, specifically for this kind of issue.

We also asked other theme authors to remove such links from their themes and discussed this topic, on Slack & the blog, for many weeks.

We don’t understand how you can miss something like this, and it’s also not the first time we have to come and tell you something is wrong with your theme.

Because of this, your theme will be suspended for the next 5 weeks (until September 11th, 2020)

The suspension period was supposed to last 5 weeks but was quickly lifted and Astra was once again available in the WordPress Repository. Brainstorm Force denied any wrongdoing.

After the incident, contributors of WordPress Meta requested for a ‘delisting’ feature for non-compliant themes. The reason for this was that a lot of users would have been affected with the roll-out of WordPress 5.5 just around the corner. Users of the theme would not have been able to get theme updates.

Earlier in September, a patch was pushed adding the delist categorization that temporarily hides a theme from search results, all the while remaining available directly. The delist categorization is only available for published themes and excludes them from the site search. Relist sets the status of the theme back to published and enables the theme to appear in search.

Astra’s suspension had a lot of people on both sides of the divide voicing their opinions. One one side, people argued that violators of the set guidelines should receive punishment in the form of the suspension. On the other hand, users of the theme would suffer the most as they would not be able to get updates. Not only is it a security issue, but it could have significant impacts on the various online businesses in use of the theme.

For first time offenders, at the very least, delisting seems like the solution that sends a message without punishing innocent users.

To learn more about the right WordPress Theme for your company, talk to Ancell Marketing today.

WooCommerce Version 4.4: Updated Blocks and Centralized Coupon Management

Version 4.4 of the popular WordPress plugin WooCommerce was made publicly available on the 18th of August. The update had been in development from July 2020, with the core being updated with commits totaling to 450, pushed by 24 contributors. As a minor release, it remains backwards compatible with previous WooCommerce versions.

As always, the WooCommerce faithful are urged to create backups of their sites while making sure that themes and plugins in use are compatible before completing the update. This is merely a precaution should something not go as planned.

The minor release brought the biggest changes to two areas: blocks and coupon management. The update brings with it bug fixes and notable changes to blocks. These changes make it such that:

  • Blocks stick to the cropping settings for product images
  • Blocks remain more consistent with updated styles to all of them
  • Dashicon classes are removed from blocks
  • The editor does not load scripts that are only relevant to the front-end display of blocks

The update improves the responsiveness of the block editor. This is because the non-essential front-end scripts have been removed from the post-editing screen. Sticking to the WooCommerce thumbnail size instead of loading full-size images makes the blocks perform better. Images now respect the size settings set in the Product Images section in the customizer.

Coupon management is now in the marketing hub found in the WordPress sidebar. The previous location now serves as a way to relocate users to its location in the marketing hub. While touted as a minor change, the change makes a lot of marketing sense and will be welcome for many. Coupons form a part of some marketing plans.

The Marketing section was introduced in version 4.1 and had users divided as to why it was added as a top-level menu item. For eCommerce websites, a central marketing location in WordPress admin is a big deal. The marketing direction of an eCommerce website is greatly assisted by having everything in one convenient place.

Users still not privy to the change and accessing the legacy coupon screen will generate a notice for the admin that migrates users to the new section. The legacy menu item can then be removed.

There were other minor fixes and improvements like:

  • Improved order details UI to highlight “Paid” and “Net Payment” sections
  • After clicking to update WooCommerce, the user will now stay in the same page instead of being redirected to the “Settings” page
  • fixed a couple of issues that surfaced when using the upcoming version 5.5 of WordPress

A day after the release of 4.4, version 4.4.1 was released with a few fixes for issues that surfaced in 4.4.0.

To learn more about how Woo Commerce, E-Commerce platform for WordPress can help take your online sales to the next level, talk to Ancell Marketing today.

Importance of Keyword Research For SEO

At its core, every SEO strategy worth investing in requires keyword research. It is the information from this research that leads to well-informed decisions that are likely to give a return. Keyword research gives direction to a marketing strategy.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research involves finding potentially valuable keywords that will be used for your website’s content marketing and SEO. Keywords can either be just a single word or a string of them. These keywords, once established, will then help decide on how best to make any content on the site coincide with them and be easily searchable.

A good set of keywords and well-done keyword research needs to be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are internet users searching for?
  • Are my keywords targeting that?
  • Does the content on my site align with these keywords?
  • How many people are using these keywords?

Depending on your goals, you should identify suitable, high-volume search words that will give you a constantly-streaming audience. Keyword research needs to be a repetitive process because standards and algorithms are ever-changing, and is a great way to always stay ahead of the pack in terms of online visibility.

Importance of Keyword Research

Determining Niche Avenues

Even if your business’ industry is a crowded one, keyword research helps determine niches that you could explore for maximum profitability. By finding keywords that your competitors are targeting, you can then establish more effective keyword combinations or keywords that are not quite being targeted as much and take advantage. Being at the forefront of any changes to search patterns can ensure that you are always ahead of the curve and keep your website on the online map.

Optimized Website Structure

Determining website structure should ideally be done after keyword research. From blog content to URLs, page titles, and navigation, having the correct terms can greatly improve your SEO. If this was not done during the initial website design, refreshing the content or design offers another opportunity to perform keyword research and optimize every aspect of your website. It is important to ensure consistency throughout the website, even in the meta titles and image descriptions, when you optimize other areas to match your SEO goals.

Curating SEO Content

With an optimized website structure, the next step is to have relevant SEO content which will also be informed by keyword research. It is important to include variations of the keywords according to your business or the service that you are offering. Great content brings in visitors and improves on conversion, but the visitors will be brought in by having a strong keyword game.

For a solid SEO strategy with both on- and off-page optimization, using natural and relevant keywords within your site content, contact Ancell Marketing today.

Why You Should Use Google Ads For Your PPC Campaigns

In the endless sea of people online, you need to be able to target people who are likely to be interested in what your business has to offer. Online advertising has come leaps and bounds in making this not only possible but easily achievable. As it is an investment, you need to not only advertise but to ensure that you are reaching the largest number of potential customers possible. How? Google Ads.

What is Google Ads?

Ads is an online advertising platform from Google. It is based on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and allows you to create, push, and monitor your advertisements. Ads takes advantage of Google’s high volume search engine to ensure that the relevant ads are seen by the targeted audience to ensure maximum positive business impact

Reasons to Use Google Ads

Cost Management

With PPC advertising, controlling your expenditure is a really good thing. Google Ads has no minimum amount that must be spent and allows you to dictate how much you are willing to spend either per ad, day, or month. With this, it is easy to compare with what you might be getting elsewhere, or properly  enforce the ad budget allocation down to the last cent.

Easily Measure the ROI

With the levels of cost control provided by Google Ads, it is not surprising that there is great ease when it comes to establishing the ROI and profitability of an ad campaign. Unlike traditional advertising, Ads provides many metrics and parameters that do a lot of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to analytics.

You are able to separate profitable ads from failing ones and make any necessary amendments. The effectiveness of those changes can be tracked as well.

Highly Targeted and Engaging Ads

No matter how niche your business is, you are able to set up ads that are suited for your kind of audience. Again, there is no shortage of parameters to explore and really fine-tune your ads. Targeting can be based on keywords, location, demographic, language, time and even devices. Using tools like Audience Observation, you can include audiences that are defined by Google, with suggestions appearing in the ‘Ideas’ section.

Efficient Campaign Management Tools

Google Ads allows you to manage and monitor even multiple Ads accounts from a single location. Google Ads Editor is a tool that allows you to manage your account offline and upload the final changes, which is really convenient. It also allows you to move items between campaigns and adds the undo/redo functionality, keeping you in control at all times.

To take full advantage of Google Ads Marketing and reach your target audience in cost-effective and efficient ways, talk to Ancell Marketing today.

WordPress Websites Have Been Targeted through File Manager Plugin Weakness

A recently updated WordPress plugin, known as “File Manager,” was exploited by hackers last week, affecting millions of websites published and hosted by the content management platform. File Manager is currently installed on more than 700,000 websites; however, as the attacks grew in intensity, the number of targeted sites swelled. Information is presently limited regarding how the hackers learned of the zero-day vulnerability. However, it is clear that their attack started early, slow, and calculated, and rapidly gained steam.

Details of the Recent File Manager Plugin Attacks

The developers of the popular WordPress plugin, File Manager, attempted to resolve a critical zero-day flaw in the beginning of September. Although the vulnerability was already in the crosshairs of eager hackers, the presiding hope was that the patch would prevent further disaster.

Specifically, the problem arose from elFinder project code: Developers attempted to improve functionality by renaming a central file, changing it from a .dist file to a .php. Unfortunately, this backfired severely, opening up a route of attack for hackers. About two weeks after a patch was released to address the plugin’s existing weaknesses, more threats piled on with their sights set on File Managers’ unpatched installations.

When the attack was in its infancy, Defiant’s Threat Analyst provided a brief assessment of the circumstances. “Attacks against this vulnerability have risen dramatically over the last few days,” he noted. The number of compromised sites that were attacked in the following days quickly exploded to more than 1.7 million, later ballooning to 2.6 million by September 10. According to Gall, the attacks are likely much more widespread than experts are currently aware of.

Officials at Wordfence explained the details of the situation further, “We’ve seen evidence of multiple threat actors taking part in these attacks, including minor efforts by the threat actor previously responsible for attacking millions of sites. But two attackers have been the most successful in exploiting vulnerable sites, and at this time, both attackers are password protecting vulnerable copies of the connector.minimal.php file.”

How to Protect Your Website from Hackers

The explosion in the number of sites impacted by the File Manager vulnerability was driven primarily by people’s slowness to action. Although a patch was quickly released to resolve the issue, millions of platforms were attacked due to the lack of installations of the updated, protected software.

To avoid becoming one of the millions of people affected by such mistakes, simply set your plugins to automatically update themselves whenever a new update is released. This way, you do not have to repeatedly check your plugin details to determine whether it requires updates or not.

Though many people regard plugin and other software updates as tedious and unnecessary, incorporating these automations into your site can prevent devastating losses. (Such risks were incredibly high in this case since File Managers provides administrative users to fully manage site content and data, from copy and pasting to archiving.) Review your cybersecurity often by ensuring all installations on your site are functioning as intended and are equipped with the latest patches from developers.

To discuss your WordPresss Security Needs, contact Ancell Marketing today at 778-285-2288.

SEO Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the trickiest facets of online content creation and marketing to get a handle on. This portion of web management requires great attention to detail, regular maintenance, in-depth research, and the ability to put yourself in your reader’s shoes. You may be overlooking critical SEO techniques that could be holding your site ranking and searchability back. Listed below are some of these common SEO mistakes and how to resolve them to improve web performance.

Choosing the Wrong Keywords

Selecting your keywords based exclusively on a business perspective – as many SEO professionals and content creators do – may backfire. You may think your chosen long-tail keywords are ideal; however, it is easy to inadvertently target the wrong readership due to a lack of consideration for your target audience’s priorities. (For instance, you may mistakenly target B2B instead of B2C readers.) Put yourself in your readers’ shoes to determine which keywords would perform well in theory, and which would actually be suitable for your site.

Neglecting Internal Links

Remember that SEO is not exclusively focused on keyword rankings. Once you’ve drawn your audience in, you need to provide high-quality content that will encourage them to continue perusing through your website.

Further, the quality of content you provide should work to establish your platform as a trustworthy center of information within your niche. One of the best ways to do this is by linking to related content within your website. This encourages readers to explore your site further and supports Google’s ability to crawl your platform.

Forgetting to Use Google SEO Tools

SEO tools can provide invaluable insight into your site’s performance in rankings, traffic, and more. Working without tools like Google Analytics and the Google Search Console is risky, as you may be wasting hours of your time implementing ineffective SEO techniques. On the other hand, having this technological support keeps you informed on whether there are errors present on your platform, which sites are linking to your content, and more.

Leaving Noindex (or Nofollow) Commands in Your Header Code

Before launching a brand-new web platform, many people use noindex meta tags to prevent their unfinished website from appearing in search results. This allows the web developers to work behind the scenes, ensuring that all content is ready and perfected before unveiling the platform for public viewing and interaction.

The only problem with the noindex meta tag arises when it’s forgotten in the header, even after launching. With this in place, no one’s going to be seeing your site. Remember to remove this before the big day, so your audience can experience your shop and content.

Leaving Content to Gather Dust

A critical part of healthy SEO is your site’s “freshness” factor. Google has a specific algorithm to determine how up-to-date a site’s content is, so anything sitting around for too long without significant changes falls lower in the rankings. Fix up your site’s freshness by monitoring the following:

  • Are your cited statistics up to date?
  • Are your keywords still relevant?
  • Has new information arisen that makes your content false or obsolete?
  • Has Google recently changed search algorithms?

Go through your platform and review these mistakes to determine where you might be overlooking critical SEO weaknesses. Remember, SEO is not a one-and-done job. Perform these check-ins regularly to ensure your site is always performing at its best.

To discuss your SEO Needs, contact Ancell Marketing today at 778-285-2288.

How to Keep Your WordPress Site Secure

Many people fall into the trap of prioritizing costs and convenience over quality and security when it comes to managing their WordPress websites. For example, most web managers choose to use free themes and plugins in order to cut costs while still maintaining a functional, aesthetically pleasing platform. Too few of these individuals realize that defaulting to the bare minimum like this invites cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Below you’ll find a few key ways to keep your WordPress site protected, even with modest budgets and convenience in mind.

Be Mindful When Choosing Your Theme and Supporting Plugins

The WordPress plugins catalog contains thousands of different technologies, all purposed to ease your content creation and management experience. However, not all of these are made equal, and the price tag shouldn’t be the only metric you use to determine this. To determine which supporting technology is reputable and which you should avoid, follow these guidelines when shopping for a new theme or plugin:

  • Research the developer and its details. Take note of how often they update the theme or plugin, and how many people currently have it installed on their sites.
  • If you have a web developer, run the new theme or plugin by them. If they are familiar with the developer or software, then you can rest assured that it’s safe to use on your site.

Note that the more plugins you choose to add to your site, the greater your vulnerability to hackers. (Each functions as a sort of “door” into your website, which hackers can exploit if the developer overlooks cybersecurity weaknesses in their program.) Once you have your themes and plugins installed, keep them updated to prevent any potential security breaches.

Enable Multifaceted Authentication Measures

Too many people are distracted by the allure of convenience when logging into their administrative WordPress account. Though it is nice to have a simple password for easy access to your site, this could prove to be your site’s undoing in terms of security. Passwords that are too easy to guess are prime targets for hackers, and this weakness is amplified several times over if you have only one layer of site protection.

There are a few things you can do to resolve this issue:

  • Limit the logins. Don’t give too many people access to your website. With all the different devices accessing your site information, there are numerous opportunities for malware to find a way past your basic security features. For those that do have access, each should have a unique, secure password. Change passwords regularly to keep the site protected.
  • Install a dependable security plugin. Wordfence and Loginizer are two great option for web developers looking to secure their sites against cyberattacks and unauthorized login attempts.
  • Set up two-factor authentication. This is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to protect your site’s information. Sure, it’ll add an extra step to the login process, but the increased security is well worth it.

You’ll also need to add a firewall to your website to strengthen your defenses even further. The firewall works as a proactive protector of your site information, preventing bad actors from accessing your platform at all. Though these measures aren’t always the cheapest or most convenient, they are integral to maintaining a secure platform that provides the best experience for both site visitors and those behind the scenes.

To discuss your Website Security Needs, contact Ancell Marketing today at 778-285-2288.

Another Google Curveball: Text Ads, Search Query Limitations, and New Fees

This year has been chock-full of surprises, massive disappointments, and unprecedented changes across all industries. Unfortunately, the digital sphere has not been left unscathed. Just when many web professionals thought things were on the upswing, Google decided it was time to toss another curveball. According to announcements made at the beginning of September, web managers will now be forced to renovate facets of their traffic-generating techniques due to the tech giant’s brand-new modifications to search query data and text ads.

New Developments in Google Data Accessibility

Google has recently imposed quite a challenge to web managers’ ability to collect data on audience search patterns. The corporation discretely introduced an update to the Search Term report and posted an ambiguous warning that notified users of what to expect in the upcoming records. The brief notice stated that users would receive fewer terms in their reports in the future, yet a clickthrough to “Learn More” provided a more detailed look at the unexpected change:

“Starting September 2020, the search terms report only includes terms that a significant number of users searched for, even if a term received a click. You may now see fewer items in your report.”

Many were puzzled as to what “significant” is intended to mean in this context. After all, one niche may consider 1,000 clicks to be far below the acceptable threshold, whereas another may see the same clickthrough rate as an indicator of robust traffic generation.

Google officials attempted to address the confusion in a follow-up statement. They emphasized their intent to “invest in new and efficient ways to share insights that enable advertisers to make critical business decisions.” Unfortunately, advertisers were left just as baffled as before and still oppose these changes in favor of full transparency concerning ad performance.

Changes in Google Advertising

Millions of advertisers were stunned to find that Google AdSense no longer allowed the creation of brand-new text ads, leaving only the responsive search ad for new creations. Many are unsure whether this change will be permanent, and Google has done little to clarify the matter. Again, they offered only a glimpse into their intentions with the change, with little usable information concerning the future of AdSense and AdWords:

“We’re moving towards richer ad formats, phasing out text-only and display-only ad units to further improve user experience, and to fully reflect the pool of ads we have in the market.” The hope is that the increased focus on responsive ad types will strengthen clickthrough rates, providing a better advertisement experience for both web professionals and consumers.

Finally, Google announced that those who earn clicks from web surfers in the United Kingdom (UK) will be subjected to a 2% UK DST (Digital Services Tax) fee, a new development that will inevitably upset some advertisers. Clicks from Austria and Turkey will be subjected to fees as well, all of which will be automatically added to invoices.

These changes signal a dramatic shift for Google AdWords users. Given the sudden onset of these new standards, many advertisers and web professionals may be left scrambling for quick advertising optimization solutions. Still, all await further information from the tech giant to formulate a strategy on how to move forward from here.

To discuss your Google Ads Marketing Needs, contact Ancell Marketing today at 778-285-2288.

The Increasing Importance of Privacy In Marketing

Customer data is extremely valuable for any marketer nowadays. The data generated by marketing campaigns help marketers in understanding the market, its customers and the wants and needs to optimize the products or services. As you can imagine, such valuable data is also a target for cyber criminals or competitors.

However, as valuable customer data is, it’s also essential to keep the data private. If you fail to keep customer data secure and private, it may have disastrous consequences.

In order words, if you launch a new marketing campaign, you can’t deny the importance of keeping privacy in mind. In addition, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws – enacted since 25 May earlier this year – ensure that companies are in compliance with data security and privacy of European citizens.

In this article, I’ll discuss why data security is incredibly important when launching marketing campaigns, why people value privacy more than ever these days and what you can do in the future to secure your marketing campaigns.

Data Privacy & Security

Every marketer and business must comply with privacy laws and regulations. However, if you can ensure customers that their data is in a safe place, you also build trust. If you can’t ensure that their data is safe and you suffer a significant data breach, you’ll likely lose many customers, as well as fail to attract new customers.

There are plenty of companies of all different sizes that have been sued over privacy issues in the past. Most large enterprises such as Yahoo or eBay who experienced huge data breaches are capable of surviving such an attack but many small companies couldn’t keep their head above the water. It’s a simple fact that weak security and unprofessional data handling can cost you everything.

Thus, data privacy and protection must be at the top of the priority list when creating a new marketing campaign.

Why People Value Privacy More than Ever These Days

Consumers place more and more value on their privacy and what type of data businesses store. In general, people don’t like to be watched, so they don’t like the fact that some businesses know a whole lot about them.

Although it’s not illegal for businesses to store personal and payment information, it’s not always an advantage. Privacy isn’t secrecy, but most people don’t fancy the idea of their information somewhere out there.

It’s comparable to the USA Freedom Act that restricted US surveillance agencies such as the FBI, NSA and CIA of wiretapping everyone in the U.S. without any reason. U.S. citizens had a huge issue with the fact they were constantly being watched.

Another example are the numerous Hollywood actresses who fell victim to the infamous iCloud hack in 2014. It’s not directly related to shared personal information, however, these situations lead to people being increasingly aware and value their own personal information more.

Trust is another important factor why people value their privacy more. Especially in the digital world, it’s essential to provide a feeling of trust. Data breaches are the opposite and usually obliterate that trust.

Due to the relatively high number of recent data breaches – and more expected to follow, most people who’ve already experienced the consequences of their personal and payment information being stolen tend to tread more carefully and are reluctant to trust other online businesses.

The awareness in regards to online privacy has increased, which created a sense of reluctance to simply share every piece of personal information as it could always end up in the wrong hands.

Tips for the Future

Here’s what you can do in future marketing campaigns in order to improve privacy.

  1. Privacy Protection Analysis

Cyber criminals may always try to breach your campaign website or server and abuse the information for fraudulent activities. It’s best to bring in an IT expert to rigorously test your current security practices and improve where necessary.

  1. Data Collection

In order to minimize the risk of losing data, carefully consider what type of information is essentialto your business, to keep it running. Is the data gathered strictly necessary? If not, you might want to reconsider what data you collect from campaigns. The less you store, the lower the risks.

  1. Communication

Communication is extremely important when it comes to privacy protection. People don’t want to hear what you’re going to do in case of a data breach, they want to know what you’ve already done. Communication is key to engagement and trust as well.

  1. Data Security

Proof the audience you follow the best security practices and use top-notch security software to keep their data secure. You’re not only doing it to be compliant with regulations, but also in going to great lengths to protect the user data.

  1. Privacy Policies

Most marketing campaign data is shared with many other departments and people within a company. It’s therefore important to establish clear privacy policies. Human errors are still a huge factor in data losses/breaches. Thus, the more important everyone is aware of threats and security policies.

Guest Post from Bill at PixelPrivacy.com. Whether it be one of our in-depth guides or our expertly crafted “how-to” articles, we’re here to show you how to stay safe online. We believe everyone has the power to keep their data secure, no matter what your level of tech expertise is and our site will show you how!