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Time and time again we see users on forums and social media complaining that managed WordPress hosting is a big waste of money. Their reason? It’s much better to manage your own server. Unfortunately, they never mention what all this actually entails. To a casual WordPress user, this can definitely give the wrong impression. It sounds easy and cheap, but the end result is you’ll probably end up spending a lot more time and money than you think.

You’re probably thinking, “you guys are a managed WordPress hosting company, so aren’t you a little biased?” Perhaps, but we also have the advantage of seeing the perspective of both sides. We have sysadmins on the Kinsta team that manage all of our own servers for clients, and therefore, we know what it takes to do this properly and why for most of you, being a sysadmin is actually a bad idea. In fact, in some scenarios, it can be a downright nightmare. Being a sysadmin takes a lot of patience, skill, and you have to really enjoy fixing things that break!

Sysadmin meme (Image source: quickmeme)

Besides our own team, we also get to see all the feedback from clients who have previously tried to manage everything themselves. Once they arrive at a managed WordPress host like Kinsta, the answer is almost always, “It’s worth every penny.”

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Kinsta’s hosting solution was built by developers for developers. Git, PHP 7, SSH, and WP-CLI, along with powerful staging and cloning environments gives you the tools you need to build sites faster!

If you’re contemplating between managing your own server (being a sysadmin) or going with a managed WordPress hosting provider, this article is for you! Below we’ll dive into all the advantages and disadvantages. Yes, there is good and bad on both sides.

What is a Sysadmin?

A systems administrator, or sysadmin, is a person responsible for configuring, updating, and keeping servers running and operational. We have sysadmins at Kinsta working 24×7 behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly. When a server goes down, it’s the sysadmin’s job to troubleshoot the cause and bring it back up.

Support

Anyone to an extent can be a sysadmin. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are a good one or should be doing it. But if a person is responsible for the management of the servers where their WordPress sites are hosted, then most likely they are doing the tasks of a sysadmin. We’ll go into all the responsibilities that typically come with this below.

Advantages of Being a Sysadmin

Right off the bat, you can probably tell we have a pretty strong opinion about this topic. But don’t get us wrong, being a sysadmin isn’t all bad. In fact, it definitely has some advantages over that of using a managed WordPress host.

However, it definitely takes a certain type of mindset and individual to be good at this. And by good, we mean, not losing money by spending more time fixing and troubleshooting, than actually working. Whether you’re a business owner, WordPress developer, or agency, you should ask yourself; what are the most important tasks you should be spending your time on? And do you have the skills to be a sysadmin?

1. Barebone/VPS Are Really Cheap

The first reason to be your own sysadmin is that the raw cost of most barebone and virtual private servers (VPS) are actually pretty cheap! If you have the chops and technical expertise, you could definitely save some money.

For example, if you take a look at VPS from Linode, Digital Ocean, or Vultr, these start as low as $5/month. This is even cheaper than most shared hosting providers. And some even offer pay-as-you-go plans based on resources used.

Digital Ocean prices

The caveat here is that these machines aren’t just plug-and-play. You’re just paying for the CPU, RAM, disk, etc. While many of them have one-click apps, you are responsible for everything else. You could try to make it a little easier with a tool like ServerPilot, but this doesn’t provide you with 24×7 support when you need it the most. There is a reason this route is typically referred to as DIY hosting.

2. You Can Install Whatever You Want

Obviously, one of the biggest advantages of being your own sysadmin is that you have complete control over everything. You can install and run whatever you want on your server. Need a software package or PHP extension like Ioncube installed? You don’t have to worry about being slowed down by asking a support team, you can simply SSH into your server and install it yourself.

3. You Get Full Root Access

Related to the above, some things require root access to install on servers. You typically won’t get root access when using a managed WordPress host. Why? Because they can’t take the risk of you breaking things. One wrong command and you could bring your server down. Root access is a “double-edged sword.” However, if you have the skills, then having full root access comes in handy. This reason alone is sometimes why users choose to manage their own servers.

4. It’s Possible to Achieve Awesome Performance

Another advantage is that if configured properly (and usually this takes a lot of work and knowledge), you can achieve awesome performance when managing your own servers. This is because barebone resources are typically fairly cheap and since you manage everything, you can ensure that no resources are being shared with any other sites. In fact, a lot of sites users tend to go overboard and purchase way more resources than are actually being used by their WordPress sites.

Disadvantages of Being a Sysadmin

Now it’s time to dive into the many disadvantages that come with being a sysadmin. And yes, as you probably guessed, there are a lot more disadvantages than advantages. But that’s also why a sysadmin’s job is so important. You just have to ask yourself, should that person be you?

We’ll also show you can accomplish each of the tasks with almost no effort at Kinsta.

1. Server Set Up and Configuration is Your Entirely Your Responsibility

Whenever you need a new server, setting it up is entirely your responsibility. If you’re using a barebones machine or VPS provider, this typically means spinning up a new machine. So you better know how much RAM, CPU, and PHP workers your WordPress site needs based on your traffic. You also have to know the memory requirements (InnoDB buffer pool for the database, system memory requirements, php-fpm worker requirements, etc.).

After it’s running, you’ll have to configure it. Depending on what you need, this could include all sorts of tasks, such as:

  • Assigning an IP address
  • Setting up DNS records
  • Installing Nginx/Apache
  • Installing PHP
  • Installing software packages such as Node or Yarn
  • Installing PHP extensions such as Ioncube or Recode
  • Updating to the latest version of MySQL or MariaDB

If you’re using a barebone machine, installing (and upgrading) and configuring all the services required for WordPress can take days. If you use an auto installer, you’ll still be left with no idea how to keep the machines updated or secured. Same goes for MySQL and php-fpm settings. Knowing exactly what to change and what value to change it to can make night and day difference.

Many don’t realize everything that goes on behind the scenes. At Kinsta, we custom compile a bunch of Linux packages for maximum performance. This is almost impossible to do on your own, and therefore you will lose performance right from the start. Our Nginx rule set is built based on our experience running tens of thousands of high-traffic WordPress sites. These rule sets include everything from security to performance tweaks.

We also have over 30 different software packages and PHP extensions that are commonly used by clients. And for those of you who might not be familiar with installing server-side software, these typically aren’t just a one-click installer. To give you a better picture, below are the typical steps needed to install Ioncube (PHP extension) if you’re doing it yourself:

  1. Download and extract Ioncube to the server
  2. Copy the files to PHP directories
  3. Edit php.ini files
  4. Test and reload Nginx
  5. Restart the current PHP engine
  6. Check the logs, clear cache, etc.

In other words, if you are managing your own servers, make sure to set aside some time for configuring new ones when they are needed. And after that, you still have to install and set up your WordPress site.

Launching a New Site at Kinsta

If you go with a managed WordPress host like Kinsta you don’t ever have to configure anything on the server. You can launch a new WordPress site at any time. Just log in to the MyKinsta dashboard and click on “Add a Site.” Your biggest task will simply be trying to strategically choose from the 19 different data center locations we offer to host your site.

Launch new WordPress site at Kinsta

Need a new software package or PHP extension like Ioncube installed? Most likely it’s already running on Kinsta’s servers. But if not, you can open up a ticket with our support team and we’ll get it installed for you within a few minutes!

2. You Have to Take Care of Backups

When you’re managing your own servers, you will most likely have to come up with your own backup solution. Some providers might offer an extra service for this, but it’s usually far from perfect. For example, if you are using Digital Ocean Droplets, they only offer weekly snapshots of your machine. And they also add 20% to the cost of the Droplet. Anyone would agree, weekly backups are far from enough.

And that is just the server backup. Most likely you would want to also configure a separate offsite backup solution for your WordPress site itself, especially if you have multiple sites on a server. Therefore, this can incur an additional cost, both for the solution and for the disk space to store them. Check out a few recommended WordPress incremental backups plugins.

How Backups Work at Kinsta

Backups couldn’t be easier at Kinsta! At the server-level, we create and store persistent disk snapshots of every machine in our infrastructure every 4 hours for 24 hours and then every 24 hours beyond for two weeks. Google Cloud Platform automatically stores multiple copies of each snapshot redundantly across multiple locations with automatic checksums to ensure the integrity of your data.

This means that snapshots are stored in different data centers from the location where they were originally created. If our Google Cloud Platform infrastructure is ever affected we will always have snapshots to restore.

Then when it comes to your WordPress sites, Kinsta offers automatic daily backups, downloadable backups, manual backup restore points, and even system generated backups which are an automatic system backup created during certain events. And if that weren’t enough, we have an hourly backup add-on you can purchase to create backups every hour or every 6 hours. The backups are stored within the persistent disk snapshots (at multiple locations).

Because of this, there is no need for a backup plugin if you host with Kinsta. You can restore backups with a click of a button and even copy them to your staging environment. Better yet, Kinsta doesn’t include your backups in your total disk space usage.

WordPress backups

3. Locking Down Your Servers and WordPress Sites Is up to You

When you manage your servers, locking them down is up to you. Linux hardening, in general, requires years of experience.

You are the one responsible if malicious code gets into your network or if someone is launching a brute-force attack. Then there are DDoS attacks that can literally take your server offline in minutes. And trust us, DDoS attacks always come at the worst time. You better know how to identify the source and block it.

Securing your server and WordPress sites can include a variety of different tasks, such as:

  • Implementing hardware and software firewalls (everything from server-level software to web application firewalls such as Cloudflare or Sucuri).
  • Install Malware scanning software. This usually entails both Linux and WordPress.
  • Patching Nginx/Apache or updating PHP with security updates.
  • Tightening file/folder restrictions on the server.
  • Cleaning up a hacked WordPress site (you can never protect WordPress 100%, all it takes is one bad plugin).

WordPress is awesome, but this year has been one of the worst we’ve ever seen in terms of plugin vulnerabilities. Here are just a few recent incidents that our team at Kinsta has had to deal with:

Some VPS providers like Digital Ocean provide Cloud Firewalls. But it’s still up to you to implement them and know for example which inbound rules you need on ports, what IP addresses should backlisted or whitelisted, etc.

Sysadmin security (Image source: Reddit)

Rest Easy at Night with Kinsta’s Fort Knox Like Security

Do you really want to spend your weekend trying to fend off a hacker or stop a DDoS attack? And do you even know how? This is why unless you have some serious technical chops when it comes to security, it’s only a matter of time into you run into a serious security problem that has you scrambling.

If you go with a managed WordPress host like Kinsta, we take care of all this for you. Here are just a few security features that we offer on all of our hosting plans.

  • Kinsta detects DDoS attacks, monitors for uptime, and automatically bans IPs that have more than 6 failed login attempts in a minute.
  • Only encrypted SFTP and SSH connections (no FTP) are supported when accessing your WordPress sites directly.
  • Hardware firewalls, along with additional active and passive security measures are in place to prevent access to your data.
  • We hide both the WordPress and PHP version you’re using from front-end requests. Our open_basedir restrictions also don’t allow execution of PHP in common directories that are prone to malicious scripts.
  • Kinsta uses Linux containers (LXC) on top of Google Cloud Platform (GCP) which provides complete isolation for not just each account, but each separate WordPress site. This is a much more secure method than offered by other competitors. GCP also employs data encryption at rest.

    Kinsta architecture

  • Kinsta only runs supported versions of PHP: 5.6, 7, 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3 (excluding phase out time). Unsupported versions of PHP are dangerous due to the fact that they no longer have security updates and are exposed to unpatched security vulnerabilities.

Nothing is ever 100% hack-proof, and that’s why Kinsta provides free hack fixes for all clients. That’s right! In those recent plugin vulnerabilities with Social Warfare, WP Google Map, etc. our team let clients know and cleaned up the affected sites. In some instances, our sysadmins even patch things at the server level. We take security very seriously and are proactive when it comes to your WordPress sites.

4. Make Sure to Pick the Right Caching Solution

When it comes to WordPress performance, nothing is more important than caching!

Caching is the process of storing resources from one request and reusing those resources for subsequent requests. Basically, it reduces the amount of work required to generate a page view. You want to serve as much of your WordPress site from cache as possible. That is what results in those lighting fast speeds.

When it comes to managing your own servers, you will have a decision to make. Should you implement a server-level caching solution (such as the nginx fastcgi cache module) or go with a WordPress caching plugin like WP Rocket? A hybrid approach is also another option.

Unless you’ve tested the dozens of different solutions and technologies out there, how are you supposed to know which one is best or the fastest? As a sysadmin, you should understand the difference between bytecode cache, object caching, page cache, Varnish, Redis, etc., and how they interact with both the server and plugins. Having a well fine-tuned caching solution means the difference between a slow and fast WordPress site.

Kinsta Handles Caching For You (No Plugins Needed)

If you host with Kinsta we handle caching for you automatically at the server-level. Our servers use the nginx fastcgi cache module to deliver fast page caching.

The page cache is configured to work right out of the box with standard WordPress, BuddyPress, WooCommerce, and Easy Digital Download sites. You don’t have to do a thing! Simply launch your WordPress site and page caching will start happening.

Whenever you make edits to a page or blog post, the cache of the page is automatically purged, as well as archive pages. This makes sure your visitors see fresh and up to date content. We also impose a minimal throttle time on archive pages to ensure high availability at all times.

And while it’s not technically a caching plugin, our must-use (MU) plugin is installed on every site which gives you more granular control over your caching. You can easily clear your site’s cache from the WordPress admin toolbar, or add custom paths to purge whenever our site is updated.

Granular caching controls at Kinsta

You can also clear your entire WordPress site’s cache from the MyKinsta dashboard with a simple click.

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In a digital world hooked on instant gratification, one of the last things you want to experience when browsing is an error message. This can be incredibly frustrating, and may even be a sign that something serious has gone wrong.

For average users, the really confusing errors are the ones where it can sometimes hard to distinguish between a problem with your WordPress site and something else, such as a networking or browser issue.

An especially common and usually non-WordPress site related error is the “ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED” message you’ll sometimes see in Chrome. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to pinpoint the cause of this problem. You can then get back to using whatever website you were trying to access in the first place.

Tired of WordPress hosting support that seems to know less than you do?
We understand! That’s why Kinsta only employs high-skilled developers and Linux Engineers. The expertise of our support department is second to none, and we’re available 24x7 to help!

In this post, we’ll explain what the ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED message means. We’ll then discuss how to fix it in Google Chrome. Let’s get to it!

What Is the ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED Error?

Unfortunately, encountering errors comes hand-in-hand with using the internet. There are hundreds of possibilities, from the white screen of death to the classic 404 error. Trust us, our support team deals with all sorts of WordPress errors on a daily basis. So this is nothing new for us.

Google Chrome

In Google Chrome users may also be familiar with the ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED page. You will see a message saying:

This site can’t be reached or This webpage is not available.

ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED error in Google Chrome

When you visit a website using Google Chrome and encounter this message, it means that your attempt to connect was refused. This error code also appears in other browsers, albeit in different forms.

Mozilla Firefox

In Mozilla Firefox it will simply show as Unable to connect

Firefox can’t establish a connection to the server at domain.com.

ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED error in Mozilla Firefox

Microsoft Edge

n Microsoft Edge, it will simply show as Hmmm… can’t reach this page. Which isn’t very helpful.

Make sure you’ve got the right web address: domain.com.

ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED error in Microsoft Edge

The ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED error is sometimes caused by a server-side problem, rather than an issue with your individual attempt at connection. It’s usually nothing serious, and can simply be the result of incorrect firewall or server settings. However, it can also be a sign that something more significant has gone wrong – such as a malware attack, or unexpected downtime. An unreliable internet connection can also contribute.

As with most error messages, ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED lets you know that something has gone wrong, without being kind enough to tell you why it’s happened. This means it’s up to you to find and resolve the root issue (if possible).

How to Fix the ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED Error in Chrome (9 Possible Solutions)

Although the range of potential causes can make troubleshooting tricky, it is possible to fix the ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED error. Let’s walk through nine steps you can take, starting with the ones most likely to provide an answer.

1. Check the Status of the Website

Your first port of call should be to check the status of the website you’re trying to access. As we’ve already mentioned, the ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED error can sometimes be caused by the site’s server, rather than your own internet connection.

A simple way to check whether this is the case is to visit another web page. If the error message occurs again, the problem most likely originates with your connection. If the second page loads correctly, however, the first site was probably at fault.

You can also use Down For Everyone Or Just Me:

Down for Everyone or Just Me?

Enter the address of the non-functioning page, and click on Or just me?. This site will then assess whether the page is offline (down), or online (up). Unfortunately, when a page is down, the only thing you can do is wait for it to be fixed. However, if the page is up and is still not loading for you, it’s time to do some further troubleshooting.

2. Restart Your Router

As a tried-and-tested method for fixing many internet-related issues, your next step will be to try ‘turning it off and back on again’. Restarting your home or office router doesn’t come with a 100% success guarantee. However, the process takes just a few minutes, so it’s more than worth a try when you’re dealing with a potential connection issue.

To do this, disconnect the power supply to your router. You’ll then need to wait for about 30 seconds, before plugging it back in. Once the router has booted up again, try to access the page that returned an error. If it loads, then you’re good to go. If not, there’s likely another cause at play.

3. Clear Your Browser’s Cache

Like any good internet browser, Chrome will store information in its cache on your computer or device. This includes your browsing history, saved login data, and cookies – all of which are recorded in order to load the relevant pages more quickly the next time they’re visited.

Although they’re useful, caches can cause numerous issues when they become outdated. This is because the cached version of a page is likely to no longer match the current, live version. Fortunately, this problem is easily solved by clearing your cache.

But before you do that, you can easily check to see if it’s a browser cache issue by first opening up your browser in incognito mode. Or you can try a different browser. If you’re still seeing the error, then you will want to proceed with clearing your cache.

To do so, begin by opening up Chrome’s primary menu (in the top-right corner of your browser window). From there, select More Tools: You can then click on Clear browser data.

Chrome clear browsing data

On the resulting page, you’ll need to make sure that all listed file categories are selected. If they aren’t, Chrome won’t be able to empty the entire cache. Instead, it will simply remove the most recent entries, which won’t result in the desired effect:

Clear browsing data

An alternative method of completing this process is to enter the following URL into your address bar:

chrome://settings/clearBrowserData

The resulting screen should grant you access to the same options we’ve outlined above. Here are some other helpful links for clearing cache.

4. Assess Your Proxy Settings and Adjust Them as Needed

With security threats consistently on the rise, it’s no wonder that many people are now using individual solutions to protect their sensitive data. A popular way of doing this is through the use of proxy servers.

A proxy lets you go online under a different IP address, and acts as an intermediary between your browser and the websites you visit. As well as keeping your IP address private, it can also help to filter cache data and server communications.

Just as with caching, a proxy server can be useful, but it can also cause the ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED message. For example, a web server might reject the IP address attached to a proxy server, and then reject the actual connection as a result.

It’s also possible that the proxy is offline, or incorrectly configured. In short, if the error message in question occurs, it’s worth checking out your proxy settings.

Chrome actually has its own proxy section, which can make this step a particularly simple process. After all, you won’t need to spend any time searching for the correct tools in your browser.

To get started, access the Settings menu in your Chrome browser. This will open up the complete menu of options. Under the System section (you’ll need to click Advanced at the bottom to see this), you should find an entry titled Open proxy settings. By selecting it, you’ll be taken to the corresponding menu:

Open Proxy Settings in Chrome

Your next step depends on the system you’re currently using. Windows users will want to click on LAN Settings, and uncheck the Use proxy server for LAN option. If you’re a Mac user, you should immediately find yourself in the relevant menu. You’ll then have to uncheck all selectable proxy protocols, and check to see if the ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED message has been resolved.

Uncheck proxies on Mac

5. Disable Firewall and Antivirus Software Temporarily

Firewalls and antivirus software are intended to protect users and their systems. They scan your device regularly, and automatically block any suspicious activity. You may start to notice a recurring theme here, however, since (much like with caching and proxy servers) this type of advanced security can at times lead to connection issues.

This is because firewalls can often block pages they don’t need to, or reject content that is completely safe. To check whether this is the case for you, try disabling your firewall and antivirus programs. Of course, this is only advised if you know for sure that the site you’re intending to visit is safe.

Additionally, you should only disable this kind of software temporarily. Switch it back on after you’ve finished checking to see whether the error has been resolved, so you don’t become vulnerable to attacks. If you repeatedly encounter errors because of your firewall or antivirus software, you may want to consider changing what you’re using.

6. Clear Your DNS Cache

As somewhat of an extension to an earlier troubleshooting step, your next task will be to clear your DNS cache. Although most people are aware that their browser creates a cache, not as many know that their operating system does the same thing.

For example, your DNS cache contains all of the temporary entries for pages you’ve accessed with your browser. These entries store key information related to the domain names and addresses of the pages you’ve visited.

The purpose of this feature is similar to that of other types of caches. It accelerates the loading process, as it eliminates the need to contact a site’s DNS server repeatedly. This will save you time in the long run. However, you may occasionally see some short-term issues.

If a stored entry no longer matches the current version of the website it refers to, technical errors like the ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED message are not unusual. Fortunately, clearing your DNS cache is a quick and easy solution.

Again, how you’ll do this will depend on your operating system.

Windows

Launch the start menu by pressing the Windows key and search for “CMD.” This should return the command prompt.

Command Prompt in Windows

In the command prompt run the following command:

ipconfig /flushdns

ipconfig /flushdns

You will then see a confirmation that it has successfully flushed the DNS resolver cache.

Flushed DNS resolver cache

For the purposes of this article, we’ll talk you through the process when you’re using a Mac – although you’ll be able to find numerous helpful resources online if you’re a Windows fan.

Mac

On a Mac, you’ll need to do the following:

Click “Go” up in the toolbar and then “Utilities.” (Shift-Command-U)

Mac utilities

Open the Terminal.

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Mac terminal

Run the following command. You will need administrator access to do this.

sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder && echo macOS DNS Cache Reset

Clear DNS cache Mac

When you’ve done that, try accessing the problem site again. Hopefully, if you’ve followed all of our advice, it should be working by now. If not, your DNS may require some more attention.

7. Change Your DNS Address

As we discussed above, an outdated DNS cache entry is a potential source of issues like the ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED message. However, the DNS address itself can also be responsible for these kinds of problems. This is because it can often become overloaded, or even go completely offline.

In the majority of cases, your DNS server address is automatically obtained from your internet provider. However, you can also change it if required. How you’ll do this will again depend on the operating system you’re using.

Let’s explore how Mac users can complete this process. First, you’ll need to open up System Preferences. On the resulting screen, select the option marked Network. You’ll then need to click on Advanced:

Mac network advanced

From there, select the DNS option found at the top of the screen. To add a new DNS server, click on the + button. To edit an existing DNS server instead, double-click on the DNS IP address you wish to adjust:

Network DNS

You can try temporarily changing these to a public DNS server, such as Google or Cloudflare.

  • Some prefer to use Google’s public DNS (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4) long-term due to them sometimes being more reliable.
  • Cloudflare also offers its secure and blazing fast free DNS (1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1).

Tip: If you’re already using a free DNS server and having issues, removing it and defaulting back to your ISP’s DNS servers also sometimes fix things. Google and Cloudflare aren’t perfect 100% of the time and there have been a few instances where we’ve noticed switching back has resolved the issue.

You can then attempt to access the site again – and cross your fingers.

8. Disable Any Chrome Extensions

There’s no denying that installing extensions often contributes to a more well-rounded Google Chrome experience. The many extensions on offer can add key features, and even help to automate complex processes.

However, a large number of the extensions available for Google Chrome are not developed by the browser’s developers. Instead, they’re usually created by third parties. This can mean there’s no real guarantee they’ll work as you intended, or that they will be correctly updated over time.

Incorrect or outdated extensions are likely to cause numerous issues – including the ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED error message. For this reason, it’s important to regularly audit the extensions that are attached to your browser.

To do that, first open the Extensions menu in your Chrome browser. You can then begin to assess each of your installed extensions in turn. Start by questioning whether you actually need each one. If an extension is no longer necessary, you can simply remove..

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As a WordPress site owner, you’re probably always on the lookout for new opportunities to engage with your audience.

Shareaholic is a popular WordPress plugin/service that comes with a suite of tools to help you do just that, and maybe even make a little extra money in the process.

But while Shareaholic does give you access to tons of features in one neat package, it also uses a modular approach to ensure you aren’t bogging down your site with features you don’t want. That is, it lets you turn specific features on or off according to your preferences.

Tired of bad plugin and theme updates breaking your WordPress site?
Kinsta’s one-click staging environment makes testing WordPress updates a breeze; without harming your live site. Make a mistake? No problem, easily restore it to a previous point in time.

In this post, we’ll take a deep look at Shareaholic. We’ll start by discussing all the features that come with Shareaholic. Then, we’ll go hands-on and show you how everything comes together on a live WordPress site.

Shareaholic Features: More Than Just Social Sharing

When you see the name “Shareaholic”, your brain probably goes straight to social media sharing buttons.

And yes – Shareaholic certainly does social sharing…

You can add both floating and in-content share buttons, as well as share buttons on individual images and a couple of options for social follow buttons. Each placement comes with its own array of detailed settings, with the ability to turn on share counts, choose specific social networks, and a lot more.

However, there’s also a lot more than social sharing, which is one of the things that makes Shareaholic unique against all of the other WordPress social sharing plugins.

You also get:

  • Related content – show related content suggestions on your site. The nice thing here is that all the processing happens on Shareaholic’s servers, which offers a better performance approach because you won’t have a bunch of database queries running on your own site. Important: If you’re a Kinsta client, we don’t allow related post plugins. Even though things are offloaded to Shareaholic’s servers with this plugin, this feature is still known to cause performance issues. Therefore, we don’t recommend enabling this feature.
  • Analytics – find out how your content fares on social media thanks to UTM and Event tracking integrations with Google Analytics. You can also view this data inside your WordPress dashboard.
  • Post Share Prompts – display messages after a user shares your content. You can display your own message and add social follow buttons or banner ads.
  • Monetization – Shareaholic offers a number of monetization options, including the ability to automatically insert affiliate links, add banner ads to your related content, and promote sponsored content recommendations (in addition to related content from your own site). These features are totally optional.
  • Link shortening – create shortened links (e.g. “shrlc.com/PnVrDPN” right from your dashboard. These links automatically track clicks, and you can view that click data in your dashboard as well.

Let’s take a deeper look at all the features and how they work!

Installing the Shareaholic Plugin

Shareaholic has sort a hybrid setup process where many of the features are available as soon as you activate the plugin, but you can also get access to more features if you create a Shareaholic account and connect it to your site.

It’s important to note that you are not forced to create an account to use most of Shareaholic’s functionality. However, creating an account does give you access to more features, so we’ve connected our example site to our Shareaholic account for this post.

Once you install and activate the free plugin from WordPress.org, you can go to the new Shareaholic area in your WordPress dashboard and click the Shareaholic Dashboard button to create a free Shareaholic account and sync it with your website:

How to create a Shareaholic account

From there, you can manage your site’s functionality using either:

  • The New App Manager option in your WordPress dashboard (this feature is technically still in beta when we’re writing this post)
  • The Shareaholic cloud dashboard

Either way, the interface is pretty much the same:

The Shareaholic dashboard

Each feature is an “app” that you can enable or disable as needed. This lets you keep things lightweight because you can only use the exact features you want.

Let’s go through the features…

Social Media Share Buttons

As soon as you activate the plugin, Shareaholic automatically adds social media share buttons in two different spots:

  • A floating sidebar
  • After your post content

Example of social share buttons

Beyond those defaults, you can also add share buttons to individual images (like adding a Pinterest “Pin It” button on images), as well as social media follow buttons.

To control and configure all of this functionality, you can go to the Social area of the App Manager:

How to access the Social apps

From there, you can use the toggle to turn individual features on or off, and the Settings button to configure specific options for each placement.

For example, if you open the settings for the Floated Share Buttons, it will open a detailed popup where you can control all kinds of options:

Floating share button settings

Some of the things that you can do include:

  • Change button size
  • Add individual or total share counts
  • Choose which social media networks to include
  • Add a delay to wait to trigger your share buttons
  • Control the mobile design
  • Add page targeting rules to control which content has share buttons
  • Add Google Analytics UTM tag tracking
  • Customize the Twitter share message

For example, if you’re editing the mobile share buttons, you can choose to stick them to the bottom of a visitor’s screen for a better user experience:

How to change the mobile design

You can even have Shareaholic dynamically order your buttons based on which buttons convert the best for specific pages.

Beyond the Floated Share Button settings, Shareaholic’s other social apps also have a similar level of detail.

For example, here’s what it looks like to customize the share buttons that appear at the bottom of a post:

You can also customize the in-content share buttons

Related Content

Next up, let’s take a look at the related content suggestions in Shareaholic. As soon as you activate Shareaholic, it will start displaying related content underneath your blog posts automatically.

Here’s an example of what it looks like on our test site:

Example of Shareaholic’s related content suggestions

Again, the nice thing about these related content suggestions is that the processing happens on Shareaholic’s servers, rather than your WordPress site’s server. Some related posts plugins can be pretty database-intensive, so this off-site approach takes the load off your server. Important: If you’re a Kinsta client, we don’t allow related post plugins. Even though things are offloaded to Shareaholic’s servers, the way related post queries work still will cause performance issues. Therefore, we don’t recommend enabling this feature.

To configure your related content, you can go to the Engage tab. Here, you’ll be able to customize or disable each individual display location, or even add new display locations:

The Engage apps

If you open the settings for an individual display location, you’ll get another popup where you can control a ton of information.

First, you can choose from 14 different themes, as well as how many posts to display.

For example, if you choose the Portals theme, you’ll get this neat rounded look:

How to change the related content theme

In the Content Pool tab, you can configure which posts are eligible to be displayed as related content.

For example, if you have a “News” category at your site that only posts time-sensitive content, you might want to exclude that category from being eligible because those posts won’t be relevant to people visiting in the future:

How to choose what content can be included

If you have Shareaholic Pro, you can also filter by author or how old a post is, which gives you more flexibility for excluding content.

The Algorithm tab lets you tweak how Shareaholic actually surfaces related posts. For example, you can choose how much weight (if any) to put on a piece of content’s:

  • Title
  • Tags or categories
  • Author (Pro)
  • Language (Pro)

How to change the related content algorithm

Finally, the Monetization tab lets you choose whether or not to mix in sponsored content ads into the suggestions. That is, if you enable this feature, Shareaholic will display off-site content suggestions and you’ll earn some money in exchange.

Beyond enabling this feature, you can also choose how many sponsored content suggestions to include. For example, you could do a 50/50 ratio between your own content and sponsored content. Or, you could weight things in either direction:

How to insert sponsored content

Analytics

Shareaholic includes a separate Analytics app area. However, these options are tied to the same analytics options you configure when you edit your social share buttons, so you don’t necessarily need to configure anything in the app.

Note – your analytics settings are shared across all of your social media share button placements.

Once you get some data, you can view it in the main Analytics tab in your WordPress dashboard. This data takes 24-48 hours to populate, which is why our dashboard is looking a little empty right now:

The analytics area

After-Share Notices

Whenever someone shares content on your site, Shareaholic displays an after-share notice as a modal popup. Here’s an example of how it looks by default:

Example of the after-share notice

Shareaholic gives you a few different ways to customize this notice (or, you can also disable it).

First, if you edit the Post Share Prompt app, you can customize the text. With the Pro plan, you can also customize the colors:

How to customize the after-share notice

Beyond simply displaying text, though, Shareaholic also gives you two other options. You can insert:

  • Social follow buttons – this is a great way to boost your follower counts because you’re displaying the follow buttons at a time when you already know your visitors are engaged.
  • Banner ads – if you want to earn some extra revenue, you can also include banner ads.

For example, here are what the social follow buttons look like. You also get plenty of options for changing the layout and which networks are included:

How to add follow buttons to the after-share notice

Other Monetization Options

We already showed you two of Shareaholic’s monetization options in the form of:

  1. Sponsored content in the related suggestions (or banner ads in the related content)
  2. Banner ads on the post-share notice

However, Shareaholic also offers a couple of other options in the Monetize apps section:

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In 2011, Stanford University students Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown created Snapchat as a new way for people to send photos and videos. The rise of Snapchat as one of the more influential social media platforms can be followed alongside the rise of Snapchat statistics, Snapchat users, and, some other really odd Snapchat stats.

Brown first brought the idea for Snapchat to Spiegel, who had business experience, and Murphy, who had coding experience. As a result, the startup experienced a similar business hiccup to Facebook with regards to ownership and all the piles of money the company was eventually worth.

The three creators of Snapchat (Image source: TechCrunch)

In 2013, the ousted Brown tried to renegotiate his share regarding company ownership but received no equities. Instead, he settled for $157.5 million and was given credit as one of the original founders of Snapchat.

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When Snapchat first launched in July 2011, it was initially given the more adorable name of Picaboo. However, by September, the social media platform credited with introducing the world to ephemeral (disappearing) content was renamed as Snapchat.

In the beginning, Snapchat users could only send and receive photos and video messages of up to 10 seconds, after which time they’d disappear. In October 2013, Snapchat introduced Stories (which Facebook, Instagram, and many other social networks eventually latched onto and integrated into their platforms), which were available for 24 hours. Unlike with the standard messaging feature, any user following a person could view the Snapchat Story (assuming public sharing).

However, perhaps Snapchat’s biggest breakthrough beyond its original concept was filters. These filters introduced augmented reality objects to pictures, allowing Snapchat users to show off whiskers or top hats (or any number of quirky, fun adjustments to reality).

Who hasn’t given themselves a Snapchat flower crown or puppy dog ears?

Snapchat filters (Image source: US Magazine)

“Snapchat isn’t about capturing the traditional Kodak moment. It’s about communicating with the full range of human emotion — not just what appears to be pretty or perfect,” CEO Evan Spiegel explained. This position stands in stark contrast to Instagram, which has a reputation for being users’ go-to for creating personal highlight reels that show off their best selves.

Additionally, Spiegel points out that disappearing content was an answer to the stress caused by content that stays permanently on the internet. Even if you untag yourself from a Facebook photo, whatever is online can always be rediscovered.

Snapchat stats, however, are even more revealing than the company’s mission statement.

Who Snaps for Snapchat? A Look at Snapchat Users

As of the first quarter of 2014, Snapchat had 46 million active users, and as of the fourth quarter of 2018, they had 186 million active users. That’s quite a bit of growth!

Daily active Snapchat users (Image source: Statista)

Though the bump in users might seem like a lot, in actuality, Snapchats’ growth has slowed (as you can see above) since the launch of Instagram Stories—an almost exact copy of Snapchat’s My Stories concept. Instagram’s users now post twice as many stories as Snapchat users.

Instagram vs Snapchat (Image source: Recode)

Though the exact Snapchat statistics for the platform’s demographics differ from source to source, all of them agree that the Snapchat is dominated by users younger than 25 years old. According to Pew Research, 78% of all 18 to 24-year-old Americans use the platform.

Snapchat and Instagram ages (Image source: Pew Research Center)

For this age bracket, this leaves Snapchat behind Facebook but ahead of Instagram.

Social media apps usage age brackets (Image source: Business Insider)

Unlike Facebook, which eMarketer predicts will decline in the 12- to 17-year-old age range by 3.4% (the first time the firm has foreseen a decline in Facebook users in any age group), Snapchat usage was expected to pick up the slack, along with Instagram.

Though Facebook remains the undisputed giant of the social networking world, some predict that without additional platform changes, it may lose out on capturing the next generation of internet users, as a majority of millennials and Gen Z primarily communicate visually.

Snapchat Stats on Snapchat Use

According to Pew Research, 63% of Snapchat users visit the site daily. This is basically the same as Instagram but well behind Facebook, which sees about 75% of its users visit the site daily.

Again, there is a strong showing from the 18- to 24-year-olds, with 82% of them checking Snapchat daily, and 71% of those users logging in multiple times a day. When you open that age bracket up a little to include all millennials, it turns out that such Snapchat users spend as much as 40 minutes a day on the platform.

To help push daily interactions on the platform, Snapchat introduced “streaks.” When two Snapchat users exchange direct messages for at least three consecutive days, a fire sign and number will appear next to their username. In this way, Snapchat introduced a gamification element to encourage users to keep logging in and using the app.

However, when it comes to usage, Instagram Stories still trumps Snapchat, with more influencers preferring the former over the latter. Instagram continues to release new updates for Stories, such as allowing accounts with more than 10,000 followers to post links on Stories, making it a better platform for advertisers and influencers. Influencers post twice as many Instagram Stories than Snapchat Stories.

Since Instagram Stories launched, Snapchat user and engagement has gone down 15-40%.

Snapchat Revenue? More Like Snapchat Statistics About Financial Fall

Snapchat might have missed its opportunity to cash out in 2013 when Facebook reportedly offered to buy the company for $3 billion. In May 2018, the company’s stock fell to $10.95/share from their original value of $27.09/share.

Here’s how their stock has been performing since the IPO to the date of this article’s publication:

Snap Inc stocks

Of course, there was plenty of upswing before Snap’s fall on the market, starting with Snapchat, Inc. going through a rebranding where they renamed the company Snap, Inc. in 2016 as part of an effort to reposition itself as a camera company.

Snap’s revenue reached $825 million in 2017, more than double that of their revenue in 2016. In February of that year, Snap, Inc. filed for their IPO. However, it failed to hit the company’s targets. In fact, despite $149.6 million in revenue, according to Forbes, Snap reported a net loss of $2.2 billion in Q1 of 2017. They lost nearly $40 million on unsold Spectacles they hastily manufactured without factoring in a matching demand.

In Q1 of 2018, Snap’s revenue grew to $230.7 million, up 54% due to an increase in Snap Ads, but down 19% sequentially due to users’ rejection of the redesign.

So, did Snap miss its chance to sell to Facebook or is it going to continue to cash in on a younger generation of internet users? It’s hard to say.

What’s Going on With Snapchat Content?

One bright spot in Snapchat’s pitch portfolio is this Snapchat statistic: 92% of people that view a Snap from a brand story view the entire video.

Currently, 57% of brand content on Snapchat is video. And, at the height of its popularity, Snapchat hit 10 billion daily video views, with more than 3 billion Snaps sent every day.

3 Billion Snaps (Image source: Statista)

The company is also continuing to build on the gamification aspects of the app, as Snapchat users can unlock trophies when they use certain filters, complete certain tasks, send creative snaps or have their videos posted on the Live page. Trophies come in the form of emojis, such as the sun emoji if you’ve sent a Snap in 100-degree weather.

But that’s not the complete extent of Snapchat’s interest in gamifying the platform—they’ve also recently launched new AR selfie games known as “Snappables”.

Snapchat Snappables games demo - TechCrunch - YouTube
Snapchat Growth: Adversity Facing Snapchat Advertising

The premise of Snapchat’s ephemeral content has created a hurdle for advertisers ever since the platform started serving ads to users in 2014.

Disappearing content means that influencers and marketers are constantly needing to create new content, unlike Facebook and Instagram, where content can easily be repurposed. And, if a marketer wants to make it onto Snapchat’s Discover page, they have to prove that they can consistently create high-quality videos, meaning they have to submit a month’s worth of content to be approved in advance!

Additionally, Snapchat has made it difficult for advertisers to determine the effectiveness of ads because the company doesn’t offer detailed analytics. Instead, they use paid third-party analytics tools, which provide very basic information, such as the number of viewers and for how long they viewed the post.

Similar insights (or lack thereof) are available when advertisers use Geofilters—special filters available to all users based on location fencing.

Snapchat filters

Nonetheless, marketers are expected to spend $1.5 billion in 2019 on Snapchat advertising. Topping the chart as the most popular brands for Snapchat ads are BuzzFeed, Comedy Central, and iHeartRadio.

Advertising revenue Snapchat (Image source: Statista)

In May 2018, Snapchat introduced unskippable ads to woo more advertisers. However, these ads only appear within professionally produced shows in Snapchat’s Discover section. This means that only major publishing partners, such as Disney and Viacom, will be able to make use of them.

What About Snapchat Influencers?

Though there are plenty of Snapchat influencers, it’s probably only a favorite platform for a select few. The rift between influencers and Snapchat likely dates back to even before an incident where a Snapchat executive told an influencer who was complaining about Snapchat, “Snapchat is an app for friends, not creators.”

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However, Snapchat seems to have softened its hard stance now that it’s witnessing declining usage. Recently, they introduced verified influencers. Verified influencers have access to Official Stories, which was previously only available to public figures, such as Rihanna and Kylie Jenner.

Snapchat key features

For the longest time, influencers were treated like any other Snapchat users, which meant they could only see how many people were viewing their stories when they were live.

But now, Snapchat is also giving these influencers access to analytics data, which includes:

  • Total views
  • Unique views
  • Completion rates
  • Time spent watching
  • Audience demographics, including gender, age, location
  • Topics their followers care about, be it travel, food, fashion, sports, etc.

A changing attitude toward influencers is a good sign that Snapchat is taking steps to adapt. After lower-than-expected user growth and a $2.2 billion loss in revenue, they really need to step up their game if they want to survive the ongoing social media platform war.

The bottom line is that they need influencers to create content to keep their audience engaged, which, in turn, could bring in more advertisers.

Know What’s New with Snapchat

Snapchat is trying its best to keep innovating, with some ideas gaining more traction than others.

Nobody Snapping up Snapchat Spectacles

In keeping with rebranding as a camera company, Snap released Spectacles by Snap, which make it easy for users to record videos to post to Snapchat.

Basically, the glasses can be linked to a Snapchat account by looking at a user’s Snapcode and pressing a button on the glasses’ frame or by connecting through Bluetooth. Videos are stored in the camera’s internal memory and can be viewed and uploaded in the “Memories” section of Snapchat.

The product was announced at the same time Snapchat rebranded as Snap. The spectacles were first available for sale November 10, 2016, through Snapbot, a proprietary vending machine located near Snapchat’s HQ.

Product sales fell well short of company expectations, forcing Snap to write off more than $40 million in unused parts and products. By May 2018, only 220,000 pairs were sold.

Seemingly undeterred by the underwhelming response, Snap recently released Snapchat Spectacles 2.0, which includes new features, such as support for photo capabilities (the first version only supported video), lighter lenses, slimmer frames, prescription options, more and classier color options, and underwater capabilities (among others).

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When it comes to writing and publishing content on the web, “copying” is not something to be taken lightly. You can’t go around stealing or copy/pasting other people’s images or content and using it as your own. Some instances of this might be OK, but you must either get permission or give proper attribution.

It can also be frustrating when you’re on the receiving end. You’ve worked hard on a piece of content or creating a beautiful image, and then someone uses it without your permission. This is why the DMCA exists. Today we’ll dive into how to properly handle a DMCA complaint against yourself as well as how to create a DMCA takedown notice.

What is the DMCA?

The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is a United States copyright law focused on digital mediums that helps content owners get their stolen content removed in a fast and efficient manner. This extends to places such as Internet Service Providers (ISP), web hosting providers, and search engines.

Support

A DMCA takedown notice applies to where the content is physically hosted. So people outside the US can still file DMCA complaints. For content hosted outside of the US, many hosting providers will still honor DMCA complaints, however, legally they are not obliged to comply.

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One thing website owners tend to forget is that a DMCA takedown doesn’t require the content to be copyrighted in order to process the takedown or for the request to have the content taken down acted upon by the website owner or ISP.

Here are some examples of digital content that this applies to:

  • Text (TXT, RTF, DOC, DOCx, PDF, PPT, etc.)
  • Images (BMP, EPS, SVG, JPG, JPEG, GIF, WEBP PNG, PSD, RAW, TIFF, etc. This includes on social media)
  • Video (MPG, AVI, RM, MOV, Quicktime, Windows Media Player, RealPlayer)
  • Music (AIF, AU, MP3, MP4, MID, WAV, etc. )

Over the last decade, it has become very important for bloggers, webmasters, and hosts to understand how the DMCA procedure works so that everyone can keep their content protected; as well as knowing how to deal with complaints or notices when they arrive. According to Google’s transparency report, requests to remove content due to copyright have been increasing rapidly.

As over March 2019, URLs requested to be removed due to copyright issues has surpassed 4 billion!

Number of DMCA complaints filed

What Does DMCA Protected Mean?

You might see the term or phrase “DMCA protected” in the footer of some websites or even on a badge. However, this is slightly redundant, simply due to the fact that any published work in the United States is already protected by the DMCA.

However, if you see badge like this one below, it might mean the website is using a service like DMCA.com which provides copyright protection services. In other words, the website owner is paying DMCA.com to handle the takedown notices for them.

DMCA protected (Image: DMCA)

How Do I Handle a DMCA Takedown Notice Against Me?

The first thing you should know is how to deal with a DMCA takedown notice when it is filed against you. Generally, when your ISP or web hosting provider receives a DMCA complaint they will demand the removal of the content immediately, or do it for you. And by this, it sometimes means they even shut off your hosting. So don’t ignore emails about DMCA takedown notices.

Your provider might not necessarily even check into whether or not your content is actually infringing. Depending on their location, they might be legally obligated to take this content down and will do so in a fast and efficient manner.

If you believe that you received a complaint in error, or that you do in fact own the content, then you can submit a DMCA counter-notice. Under section 512(f) of the DMCA, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability. So be very careful when you file a DMCA counter-notice, if you are not sure whether or not you own the content then you should probably seek legal advice.

Your counter-notice needs to contain the following information:

  • Physical or electronic signature
  • Name, address, and phone number
  • Identification of the material and its location before it was removed (URL)
  • A statement that the material was removed by mistake or misidentification (remember you are liable)
  • Consent to the jurisdiction of a federal court in the district where you live or where your service provider is located
  • Consent to accept service of process from the party who submitted the takedown notice
How Do I Issue a DMCA Takedown Notice?

The other side of the DMCA process is when you find that someone else has stolen your content. Here are the steps you can follow to ensure it gets taken down.

Try Reaching Out to the Website Owner First

Before drafting up an official DMCA complaint, it can sometimes be quicker to email the owner of the website directly. You can check to see if they list their email anywhere online or if they have a contact form on their website. After getting an email like this, some will just remove the content right away.

Here is a template we use. Feel free to copy and modify it:

Hello,
I work for [COMPANY] and we discovered your website (https://domain.com) has been using content that is owned by us.
Here are some examples of our content:
  • https://yourdomain.com/~
  • https://yourdomain.com/~
And here are copies on your site:
  • https://domain.com/~
  • https://domain.com/~
Please remove all copyrighted content belonging to [COMPANY} immediately otherwise we’ll have to proceed with filing a DMCA complaint.
I have created a case ID #xxxx to track this issue until it is resolved.
If you have any questions regarding this, let me know.
Thanks

Due to the fact that people are busy and sometimes miss emails, you might want to try sending an email more than once. .If they don’t respond then you can proceed with the steps below.

1. Find The Person

The very first thing you have to do is find the person’s web host so that you know where to file the DMCA complaint. An easy way to do this is to look up the IP address of the website. You can either ping it or use a free online tool like Domain Tools. In this example below, we are using a site that is hosted on Kinsta on Google Cloud Platform. You can see Domain Tools easily shows us the IP address of the domain we looked up.

Find IP address for DMCA takedown notice

You can then take the IP address and look it up using the ARIN Whois Service. They have a good database of records and comments about which IPs are owned by which companies. You can see in this example once we looked up the IP address, it immediately shows us that it is on a netblock used by Google Cloud customers and the email address and web page for abuse complaints.

Google Cloud platform abuse example

DMCA also has a great free Whois lookup that generates network information. You are limited to 5 free lookups per month. Another alternative you can try if the above doesn’t render any good results is the free Who is Hosting This tool from HostAdvice.

Who is hosting this?

Note: If they are running behind a CDN or proxy such as Cloudflare, this makes it a lot harder as they will show as the owner of the IP address. In that scenario, you might have more luck reaching out to the individual site owner first (if you haven’t already). However, Cloudflare does have a DMCA complaint form.

2. Where to Submit the DMCA Takedown Complaint

Now that you know where the person’s content is hosted you must submit the complaint. Most providers have easy ways to access them. Look on their contact pages, or in the footer for anything that says “complaints” or “abuse.” Here are a couple of links to some common providers.

If you can’t find an online form then you must contact a DMCA agent directly. This is usually a long drawn out process. Contacting the web host or ISP provider directly is usually the fastest way. You can also pay a professional team to handle the DMCA takedown for you.

3. What to Include in the DMCA Takedown Complaint

You must include the following information to ensure your takedown complaint is handled properly.

  • Physical or electronic signature
  • The location and identification of the material you are claiming is infringing (this could be URLs, etc)
  • Your contact information, address, phone number, mailing address, etc
  • Statement of good faith that the use of the material is not authorized by the copyright owner or you
  • A statement that everything is accurate (again, remember you are liable under penalty of perjury)
DMCA Takedown Template

Here is a DMCA takedown template that we use. Feel free to copy and modify it:

Subject Line: Takedown Notice Pursuant to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998

My name is [NAME] and I’m the [POSITION] at [COMPANY].

This is a notice in accordance with Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (”DMCA”) requesting that you immediately cease to provide access to the following copyrighted material. A website that your company hosts (according to WHOIS information) is infringing on copyrighted material owned by our company.

The original [CONTENT/IMAGES], of which we own the exclusive copyrights, can be found at these URLs:

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The unauthorized and infringing [CONTENT/IMAGES] can be found at this IP address/URLs:
IP address:

My contact information is:

Name
Company Address
Phone

I have good faith belief that the use of the described material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or by operation of law. The information in this notice is accurate, up to date, and I can confirm that [COMPANY] is the copyright owner.

Should you wish to discuss this further, please contact me directly.

Signed:
Name
Date:

4. Getting the Content Removed from Search Engines

If the original content is taken down, then it will automatically get removed from the search engines. However, if for some reason the above process fails, you can also submit a complaint directly with Google and Bing.

While this won’t always get it removed from the person’s site, it will at least remove it from SERPs so that nobody can find it. It will also ensure that it never ranks over your own content.

Remove Content From Google Search

To remove content from Google Search, use this tool. Select the “Web Search” option and fill out the remaining questions according to your individual case.

Remove content from Google search

Remove Content From Bing Search

To remove content from Bing Search, use this tool, and fill out their copyright infringement report.

Remove content from Bing search

How Long Does a DMCA Notice Take?

Generally, a DMCA takedown notice will take around 72 hours. However, we’ve seen them go really quick (within 24 hours) and also drag on for 6+ months. This depends on a couple of things:

  • How fast the company is at processing the DMCA requests.
  • The location of the content. Remember, DMCA is only applicable to copyrighted material in the United States. Therefore, if you’re emailing a company outside of the United States, you might never hear back. Although most hosting providers, regardless of location, will try to help.
Summary

Hopefully now you now know a little more about DMCA and how takedown notices work, both when filed against you and when you need to protect your own content.

Have any experience with people copying your content or images? We’d love to hear about it below in the comments.

The post How to Issue a DMCA Takedown Notice (Or Handle Your Own) appeared first on Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting.

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Pavel Ciorici is the founder of WPZOOM, a WordPress theme shop based in Amsterdam who create professional and beautifully designed themes, with a focus on business, video, magazine, and blogs. Their themes are currently used by over 50,000 companies around the globe.

You can find Pavel on Twitter and LinkedIn. This is our recent interview with him, as part of our Kinsta Kingpin series.

Q1: What is your background, & how did you first get involved with WordPress?

I’m from Moldova, but a year ago I moved together with my wife and our two kids to Amsterdam to adopt a different lifestyle, which allowed us to spend more time with our kids and have a greater impact in their life.

Over 90% of our interviewees said quality hosting support is their #1 priority
Unlike other hosting providers, Kinsta doesn't have level 1 or level 2 support reps. Our entire support team is made up of highly-skilled WordPress developers and Linux engineers, available 24x7 to help!
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by @plugaru_dorin

A post shared by Pavel Ciorici (@ciorici) on Sep 15, 2018 at 12:04pm PDT

I started using WordPress in 2005-2006 for my school’s website and my personal blog. Even though I was very passionate about web development & design, I got a degree in Business Management and Administration. In 2008, when I was still a student, I launched WPZOOM and this changed my life completely, as for more than 10 years now it’s my daily hobby & business, as I enjoy every moment I build something new for our customers.

In the beginning, WPZOOM was just a simple blog with WordPress resources, mainly round-ups with new themes and when the first premium themes started to be released, I immediately did everything possible to launch one too, even though this was way out of my skills. So, it all started with my first theme called Yamidoo Magazine, launched exactly 10 years ago, in February 2009.

WPZOOM WordPress theme shop

Q2: What should readers know about all the stuff you’re doing in WordPress these days?

I spend most of my time running WPZOOM, and for those who haven’t heard about us before, it’s a WordPress theme shop, with a focus on business, video, magazine & blog themes.

We’re a small remote team, and I mostly take care of administrative tasks, but I also work a lot on designing and coding new themes.

Our flagship products are Inspiro and Foodica themes. Both themes are very popular, and we spend a lot of time adding new features and improving them with regular updates.

We’re proud to say that we have more than 50,000 customers from 150 different countries! Big names like UNICEF, Leica, Wacom are using our WordPress themes.

Brands using WPZOOM themes

Besides themes, we also have several popular free plugins, like Social Icons Widget with more than 80,000 active installs. Currently, we don’t make any money from our plugins, but we’ll soon release a HUGE update to our Recipe Card Blocks plugin, which will also see a Premium version with even more features for food bloggers.

Social Icons Widget WordPress plugin

Q3: What challenges did you face in getting to where you are now professionally?

Most of the challenges we’ve had during the years were related to stuff like the migration from a membership platform that we use on our website to another, and usually, such migrations take a lot of time, stress and even affect our theme release schedule.

2018 was also pretty challenging for us, as we’ve reincorporated our company in the Netherlands, so we’ve had to comply with many new regulations, especially the implementation of the VAT MOSS scheme, which was also very time-consuming. In the beginning we thought that it will be something easy to implement, so we didn’t consider using an existing service for handling the taxes, but in the end, we wasted a lot of time tweaking outdated plugins that promised to work out-of-the-box.

Another big challenge for us was the strong competition between small theme shops like us and big marketplaces like ThemeForest. There were times when we simply couldn’t see any future for our themes, which weren’t neither “multipurpose” or cost $29 or less.

However, with a good customer base and strongly expressing our quality, we’re able to convince potential customers that they don’t need a multipurpose theme that bundles 20+ plugins and 100 demos in order to create a simple blog or a simple business website. We always favor simple WordPress themes: ones that do one thing at a time, and do it good. This is seen in things like the source code of our themes being easy to read, so customers can understand even with no coding skills.

Q4: Has anything surprised you while coming up in the WordPress world?

My WordPress adventure started such a long time ago, that’s it’s hard to remember if there were any surprise at the time. One thing that I always admired in the WordPress world is the way competitors help each other to grow and don’t see someone else doing the same thing as an enemy.

Q5: What does the future look like for you in the WordPress world?

Having a strong position on the theme market, we don’t see us making any big changes in our business model in the near future. Probably we’ll try our luck with some new commercial plugins, as this may widen our audience a little bit, but we’ll continue to have themes as our main focus. Even though we already created during the years more than 100 WordPress themes, I still feel that there are some theme niches that we never touched, so I would really like to try our luck there too.

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Other than that, we have big plans for our flagship theme Inspiro, and probably we’ll create more video themes soon.

Inspiro WordPress theme

Q6: What do you look for in a WordPress host?

If we’re talking specifically about WordPress hosting, then I always appreciated hosts that don’t hinder new WordPress users’ experience by auto-installing dozens of plugins. I think that such hosting providers damage a lot the WordPress image by transforming it from a simple website platform in a bloated platform full of admin notices and callouts to different upgrades.

A lot of businesses tend to forget how they grew thanks to a big community around an open-source project like WordPress, so it wouldn’t hurt if they could resist to not touch the onboarding experience of new WordPress users.

Other than that, good customer support is very appreciated in a WordPress host, especially if there’s a 24/7 live chat that could help me to put my website live when it’s down, without having to open a ticket or wait for hours for a solution.

Q7: What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from your laptop?

Actually, I like a lot to edit travel vlogs for my wife’s YouTube channel, so yes, that’s a thing I enjoy a lot, even though I do it on my computer.

We travel a lot, especially with our kids, so I make sure to carry my drone with me everywhere we go and get the right shots, so I can edit some cool videos after that. I never regret spending a lot of time editing videos, as they are a great memory from different trips.

I’m also a gadget addict, and I like to buy all kind of useless gadgets which I end not using more than once.

Time to time I play Gran Turismo on PlayStation, and I can’t wait for my son to grow up a little to a have a partner in video games.

Q8: Whom should we interview next & why?

Definitely Dumitru Brinzan! He’s my good friend and helped me a lot to grow WPZOOM to where it’s now. He’s was my partner at WPZOOM from 2009 to 2015.

He runs currently several WordPress projects, including 2 premium theme shops: Hermes Themes and Academia Themes.

I’m always amazed by he manages to do all of this by himself, with no team or help from somewhere else. He also runs ilovewp and created 15 free WordPress themes on wordpress.org.

The post Kinsta Kingpin: Interview with Pavel Ciorici appeared first on Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting.

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In 2019, video format hasn’t lost any of its power and is still one of the best things to implement in your marketing strategy. As of now, YouTube is the second most-visited site in the world, only behind Google, which owns the platform. And due to the fact that YouTube is a search engine, videos require as much optimization as ordinary webpages do.

What’s more, optimizing videos not only results in much higher YouTube rankings but also significantly raises chances of appearing in Google search results and increases traffic.

So if you want to learn more about YouTube optimization to boost your brand’s visibility, read on.

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Step 1: Carry Out YouTube Keyword Research

Worker smarter, not harder is the approach you shoul take when it comes to marketing.

1. Find Related Keywords

Just like with many other things in SEO, video optimization starts with thorough keyword research. At this step, you need to find the most relevant keywords for your niche and keywords that users tend to use while searching for a product or service similar to yours.

One of the most reliable tools for this activity is Google Keyword Planner. The tool supplies you with tons of keyword variations along with their competitiveness rates based on the seed terms you type in.

Google Keyword Planner

2. Analyze Search Trends

Another way to enrich your keyword list with powerful target phrases and get an idea of search trends in your industry is to utilize YouTube’s autocomplete feature. This method is exceptionally useful as it lets you collect keywords that people actually type into YouTube.

You can also head over to the most popular videos that are similar to yours and copy the keywords they are optimized for. What’s more, with the help of YouTube autocomplete feature, you can collect a wealth of ideas for future videos.

YouTube autocomplete

Google Trends is also a brilliant tool for analyzing search trends and comparing keywords according to their popularity. To make the tool provide you with YouTube-specific data, you just need to switch from the Web Search option to YouTube Search.

Besides giving you an understanding of what’s trending in your niche at the moment, the tool shows you how the monthly number of searches changes over time and estimates keyword popularity in a certain geographical area. Google Trends also comes in very handy when you’ve come up with a list of keywords and want to compare them against each other popularity-wise.

YouTube Google Trends

3. Collect Video Keywords

I’m sure you quite often notice YouTube videos appearing among Google’s result pages for particular keywords. In fact, about 20-40% of YouTube traffic will be generated from organic search. That’s why collecting and optimizing videos for such keywords can significantly raise their chances of fighting for a place in Google’s organic search results.

Video keywords in Google search

The best way to collect such terms is by entering your target keywords into Rank Tracker and seeing if result pages include any videos – this is how you can spot keywords that are more likely to bring about a video in organic search results.

YouTube track keyword rankings

Step 2: Optimize Video Metadata

Like it or not, but since Google and YouTube implemented machine learning for object recognition, YouTube can now identify objects in your video while estimating its relevance to a particular search query. Basically, video metadata has lost its power a bit, which doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be optimized.

In fact, it’s of the greatest importance to us because it’s exactly what users take into consideration when deciding whether to click or not to click on your video. What’s more, it’s advisory to upload a video with its metadata already optimized rather than 48 hours after it went live because otherwise, the algorithm will mark it as unworthy.

So here is how you can optimize your videos’ metadata to satisfy both searchers and YouTube.

1. Create a Keyword-Rich Title

I guess it comes as no surprise that a video’s title is the very first and sometimes the only thing searchers look at when estimating the video’s relevance. To that tune, a perfect title should include keywords that you want to rank for as well as summarize the topic of your video. Try to make it attention-grabbing but don’t make false promises or overhype it (don’t intentionally clickbait). It’s also a good idea to look at your competitors’ video titles for inspiration.

As a rule, videos with exact-match keywords in title perform much better rankings-wise. The explanation is rather simple – users see exactly what they typed in the search bar, therefore such videos seem more relevant.

In addition to that, your titles shouldn’t exceed the limit of 60 characters because otherwise, they’ll be simply cut off.

2. Optimize description

Although video descriptions can be up to 1,000 characters long, the first 100 characters (2-3 lines of text) are the most important ones because this is the amount of text users see before they have to click on “Show more”. That’s why it’s important to place your target keywords, CTAs, and links to your social accounts closer to the beginning.

Another option to go for is to include a transcript in your description. However, I wouldn’t recommend relying fully on YouTube’s automated transcriptions. Make sure to proofread them properly or consider using a transcription service like TranscribeMe to do all the work for you.

3. Create a Custom Thumbnail

Thumbnail is the very first thing that gets into searchers’ brains as visual information is perceived a lot faster than textual. And it quite often happens that people do judge a book by its cover and decide whether to watch or neglect your video based on the quality, informational value, and aesthetical look of your thumbnail. That’s why I wouldn’t advise picking from a selection of thumbnails YouTube automatically generates – think of creating your own instead.

First and foremost, to make your thumbnail look equally good across all devices, make sure it satisfies the below-listed technical requirements:

  • 1280×720 pixels
  • 16:9 ratio
  • < 2 MB
  • .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png format.

Obviously enough, your thumbnail should be eye-catching to make the searcher want to click on your video. It’s also a good idea to add some text to your thumbnail to make it more informative.

4. Add Video Tags

Optimizing your video tags helps searchers discover your videos – they even appear as “keywords” in your source code. The best way to get an idea of what tags to add to your videos is to see what your competitors are using – just install TubeBuddy, and the tool will show you the exact tags a video is optimized with.

YouTube video tags

When you get to optimization itself, it’s better to start with longer and more specific tags (such as “how to train a labrador puppy”) and then narrow them down to broader phrases (such as “dog training”). And don’t forget to include people featured in your video as well as your brand name in tags.

5. Add Hashtags

Using hashtags is yet another way to boost searchability of your videos. All you need to do is add them to your video descriptions, and they’ll appear above the video’s title. Due to the fact that hashtags have been recently added to the platform, some older videos of yours may not be optimized with them – so make sure to head over to them and fix it.

YouTube hashtags

It’s also important that the hashtags you add reflect the content that users would expect to see after typing in or clicking on a hashtag. It’s also important to note that YouTube limits the number of hashtags to 15 for a single video, so don’t overuse them.

Step 3: Improve User Retention and Engagement

Since watch time and audience retention have become key ranking signals, YouTube rewards videos that keep people for a longer period of time because they meet its criteria for quality content better. In addition to that, some engagement indicators like . So here’s how you can boost watch time, user retention, and engagement of your videos.

1. Optimize for Watch Time

The best thing to start watch time optimization with is analyzing your Watch Time reports, which can give you priceless insights into average view duration, average percentage viewed, and audience retention. These metrics will help you understand how engaged your viewers are and identify the weak spots in your strategy.

If you see that viewers don’t get past your intro, it may signify it’s too long. If that’s the case, try to cut off all unnecessary context and jump straight to the point.

To increase your overall channel sessions, consider promoting your other videos straight in a video or description. It’s also a good idea to combine videos that cover similar topics in one playlist – they will be auto-played every time someone watched a video from the series.

2. Encourage Engagement

Just like watch time, likes, subscriptions, and comments have a very strong correlation with rankings. The first step towards encouraging viewers to interact with your videos is to identify the areas of improvement. And there’s no better way to do it than with the help of YouTube Analytics – it allows you to see what exact videos drive subscribes and unsubscribes as well as places where particular video content is the most popular.

To encourage your viewers to comment, think of asking them a direct question at the end of your video. And of course, make sure to respond to them to provoke further discussion and make your audience feel heard.

Another strategy that is gaining popularity, particularly among bloggers, is running contests that require viewers to like, subscribe, and write a comment under a video. Of course, a lot of them will unsubscribe right after the giveaway is over but still, a big number of new subscribers can give your video a significant ranking boost.

3. Improve Your Channel

One of the best ways to improve your channel and add interactivity to your videos is by implementing Cards. They can be of 6 various kinds based on what you’re willing to promote: channel, link, poll, video or playlist, and donation cards.

YouTube Cards

End screens can also help a lot if you want to direct viewers to some other videos of yours as well as win some extra watch time. Add end screens to the last 5-20 seconds and promote a video/playlist or another channel, encourage viewers to subscribe, and link to approved websites.

YouTube End Screens

With 85% of Facebook videos being viewed with the volume off, adding subtitles and closed captions has become more a necessity rather than just a nice thing to have. What’s more, it’s a very good opportunity to make your videos comprehensible for viewers with hearing impairment or people who speak another language, consider implementing subtitles and closed captions.

And the last but not least important thing that I want to draw your attention to is the quality of your videos. Fact is, videos in HD format are a lot more appreciated by both viewers and YouTube – 68.2% of first-page videos on YouTube are in HD. So make sure to switch to HD video format if you haven’t already.

Step 4: Promote Your Videos

Although keyword research, metadata optimization, and improving user retention are super important activities, they’ll hardly bring you any profit if your video is nowhere to be seen. So here’s how you can promote your videos and win extra views.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when we think about content promotion is social networks. And indeed, it’s a very good place to start your video promotion routine with. In 2018, 500 million people were watching video on Facebook every day. As far as Twitter is concerned, video Tweets are retweeted 6x times more often than photo ones.

With that said, social networks are still a very powerful platform for video promotion. And if you want to track what sort of buzz your videos are surrounded with, consider using a social media monitoring tool like Awario, Mention, or Brandwatch. By setting up an alert in Awario, you can track and analyze your social media presence as well as get priceless insights into your competitors’ video promotion strategies.

Another video promotion strategy that proved its effectiveness is embedding videos in blog posts. This is how you can earn some links as well as fight for appearing in organic search results. Videos + content is a win-win.

The best places to promote your videos at are those where people are actively searching for answers. So think of placing your videos on Q&A sites like Quora. Just find a question that you think your video can cover and place it at the end of your answer. However, I also need to warn you that Quora is brilliant at detecting spammers – so be careful and try to aim at being helpful to the Quora community in the first place.

On top of that, consider adding your videos on topically relevant forums or blogs as an answer to somebody’s question in the comments.

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Yet another way to get more eyes on your videos to those who will most probably watch and like them is by attaching them to your newsletter. The thing is, such people are already your paying customers and are more likely to at least click on a link to your video. If you want to inform them about an upcoming sale, you may add a video on how to use your product or why it’s better than the one of your competitors’, for instance.

Step 5: Arm Yourself with Powerful Tools for YouTube SEO

Of course, with powerful tools for YouTube SEO on your side, a lot of time-consuming tasks can be accomplished almost in no time at all. So here is a selection of best-breed YouTube SEO tools for you to check out.

1. YouTube Analytics

YouTube Analytics: Best for overall YouTube channel performance analysis.

YouTube Analytics

Of course, it’s only right to start this chart with YouTube Analytics. The tool is irreplaceable when it comes to understanding your audience and how it engages with your videos. It should be also mentioned that YouTube has recently switched from “Creator Studio” to a simpler and more intuitive “YouTube Studio Beta”.

Basically, the tool shows you the overall channel performance as well as data on specific videos. YouTube Analytics also allows you to uncover your viewers’ watching habits, analyze their demographics, and see where the traffic comes from.

There are also some new metrics like impressions, impressions click-through rate, and unique viewers that are present in the tool’s updated version. On top of that, new YouTube Analytics compares your latest video performance to the previous ones to track your progress.

2. Rank Tracker

Rank Tracker: Best for checking YouTube rankings, keyword research, keyword analysis

Rank Tracker

With Rank Tracker, you can set YouTube as a preferred search engine and track your..

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Q&A sites like Yahoo! Answers, Quora, Reddit, and Stack Exchange are great for asking questions or browsing for answers that people around the world come up with. From hypotheticals on who really won WWII to industry-specific questions like “What’s the most cost-effective website builder?” these question and answer sites are goldmines for knowledge and community.

In addition, Q&A websites incorporate other features like voting, profiles, and badges to ensure the users have an enjoyable time and are able to locate the information they need in a reasonable amount of time. If you would like to develop your own community with the question and answer format, all you need is one of the best WordPress Q&A plugin options!

What Makes a Great WordPress Q&A Plugin?

Seeing as how each existing question and answer site is different, it’s nice to look into the features that make each of them unique and user-friendly. For instance, Quora is known for vetting the people who respond to questions so that you receive real answers from real experts. Stack Exchange tries to avoid opinion polls and strives for objective answers in a wide range of topics.

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So, you can definitely decide to make a question and answer site for lots of topics, but it needs to stand out in some way. On the other hand, you may consider focusing on one niche to link to your forum or blog, allowing people to discuss specific questions that relate to things like travel, gardening, or web development.

As for the best WordPress Q&A plugin solutions, what are some of the features you should be looking for?

  • A clear button and field for users to type in questions for other users (alternatively, you might want this restricted to only admins for making an FAQ page).
  • Options for users and admins to add rich content and media such as bold text, links, and images.
  • Tools for branding and styling your Q&A section or website.
  • Modules for users to answer questions.
  • Options for creating profiles to make the answers look more credible and to build your own userbase.
  • Buttons for following certain questions. Email notifications are nice too.
  • Categorization and searching tools for people to locate the information they need.
  • Voting that sends the best answers to the top of the page.
Best WordPress Q&A Plugins in 2019

We recommend you test out the majority of the best WordPress Q&A plugins to see which ones work best for you. In this post, we’ll take a look at eight different solutions that you can use for a WordPress Q&A plugin on your WordPress site that can set up within a few minutes.

  1. Heroic WordPress FAQs
  2. DW Question & Answer
  3. CM Answers
  4. AnsPress – Question and Answer
  5. YITH WooCommerce Questions and Answers
  6. WooDiscuz – WooCommerce Comments
  7. Sabai Discuss
  8. WP-Answers
1. Heroic WordPress FAQs

Although many people might be thinking about sites like Quora and Reddit when making a question and answer website, we also want to cover a plugin that makes FAQs for blogs, eCommerce sites, and just about any type of online presence. The Heroic WordPress FAQs plugin does just that, and it’s one of the cleanest, easiest to use FAQ options you can find. Instead of allowing users to post their questions and write answers, this plugin assists in taking all of the common questions you hear from customers and posting them on your site.

This way, you don’t have to keep answering the questions through email, phone, or chat. In short, it should cut down on your man-hours for customer support.

Heroic WordPress FAQs plugin

What’s great about Heroic WordPress FAQs is that it provides a beautiful drag and drop interface. You can work by reordering questions and answers, while also organizing them into groups. All of the questions are placed on one page in an accordion-style format, allowing users to click and view the questions they find most pressing. Rich content is supported, and all of the FAQ forms look good on mobile devices.

In terms of the pricing, there is no free version of Heroic WordPress FAQs. However, you can get full access for $49 per year on one site. For three sites the price is $69 per year and for 10 sites it jumps to $149 per year.

Why We Like This WordPress Q&A Plugin
  • Beautiful looking plugin. Everything made by HeroThemes is always pixel perfect.
  • It offers an excellent interface for quickly building FAQ pages on your website.
  • The drag and drop editor allows you to move around questions with ease.
  • You’re able to group FAQs in categories for easier reading.
  • Toggles and accordion-style questions are available for cleaner consolidation and easier reading.
  • Icons are available to make your questions and answers more visual.
  • You can upload images and videos to your FAQs to provide more information besides text.
  • Rich content is also supported for items like lists, blockquotes, and images.
  • The pricing is reasonable.
Who Should Consider This WordPress Q&A Plugin?

We like the Heroic WordPress FAQs plugin for those who want to rapidly develop clean, branded FAQs for business websites.

2. DW Question & Answer

The DW Question & Answer plugin states that it uses forms, filters, questions, and answers to create a Quora-like area on your website. The primary features are completely free for all users, and you can even get some great icons to go with your Q&A thread for free. Even all of the add-ons are free, including:

  • An add-on for embedding questions and social sharing.
  • An add-on for markdowns.
  • An add-on to create a leaderboard in your question and answer section.
  • An add-on for security Captchas.

DW Question & Answer plugin

One of the main reasons you might consider going with DW Question & Answer is because of its strong language support. At the time of this article, the plugin supports 22 languages, including Hindi, Czech, and Spanish. In addition, the frontend appearance of the plugin offers a modern, clean look, with a search field and “Ask Question” button to show users exactly where to go.

The backend settings are easy to understand, while the questions and answers are all moderated in that area. We particularly enjoy the question pages, where the admins can customize all of the fields, and the users fill in information like the question, status, category, and tags.

Why We Like This WordPress Q&A Plugin
  • Every aspect of the plugin (including add-ons) is completely free.
  • The developers update the plugin on a regular basis.
  • Because of the updates, you receive a fairly modern interface, with beautiful forms and useful backend features.
  • Everything from the submit, filter, order, and delete question tools are easy to find.
  • There’s a voting system that lets people pick the best answers and send those answers to the top of the thread.
  • Users receive email notifications after they subscribe to specific questions.
  • You can make some questions private and some questions public.
  • Shortcodes are provided for placing the question and answer module in various locations on your website.
Who Should Consider This WordPress Q&A Plugin?

The DW Question & Answer plugin works well for those who want similar functionality to Quora and Stack Exchange. That functionality includes user questions and answers, voting, and the following of questions.

3. CM Answers

The CM Answers plugin comes as a free base plugin, or you have the option to upgrade to the premium version, starting at $39 for one website. The developers also sell several add-ons and extensions, most of which start at around $50 per site. Some of the more interesting add-ons include:

  • Micropayments.
  • Anonymous user posting.
  • Payments.
  • Ask the Expert.
  • Idea simulator.
  • Import and export.

As you can see, you have the option to stick with the free version or upgrade to the premium version. Some of the features included with premium are mobile responsiveness, private answers, and multiple attachments. Some of these premium features will end up being requirements for organizations, so luckily the premium pricing isn’t that high.

CM Answers WordPress plugin

As for the free, core plugin, expect to have a well-formatted question and answer section with metrics for votes, views, and the number of answers for each question. Users can filter based on questions, categories, and questions that are doing well at the moment. You can also search for specific keywords to locate the questions you need. The “Ask a Question” field could use some work and a move to the top of the page, but it does the trick looking like a regular comment box at the bottom of the Q&A.

The settings are a little complicated for the first time user, but it’s nice to know that you can adjust things like who can post answers, where the forms show up on your website, and whether or not a navigational menu is shown.

Why We Like This WordPress Q&A Plugin
  • The CM Answers plugin provides an impressive collection of free features.
  • The premium version and add-ons should be plenty for niche sites and those who want to collect payments.
  • The interface is clean and ready for your customization.
  • Users can see counts for answers, views, votes, and more.
  • A few languages are supported, such as Spanish, German, and Polish.
  • If a user answers or posts a question, they can opt to receive an email notification when more replies come in.
  • Admins get email notifications when questions and answers are posted. If you find that something is off-topic or inappropriate, simply delete it from the website.
Who Should Consider This WordPress Q&A Plugin?

The CM Answers plugin serves those who would like to create a Q&A website similar to Reddit. It’s also nice if you have plans to upgrade to more advanced features–since the add-on library is rather large.

4. AnsPress – Question and Answer

The AnsPress plugin is similar in functionality to CM Answers, except you get the core plugin, and all of the add-ons, for free. The AnsPress developers seem to make money by selling WordPress themes. But if you don’t need a theme and would like to incorporate a Q&A module on your current site, AnsPress gives you all of the features required, along with free customer support through its website.

AnsPress is also an opensource project, meaning that you should be able to expect regular updates and fixes into the future.

AnsPress WordPress plugin

Although the primary use of AnsPress is for making a question and answer site, it also has features for internal question and answer boards, bug tracking, and support tickets. You can even create FAQ pages with the AnsPress plugin.

Some of the primary features include options for voting, answering questions, and submitting new questions. The BuddyPress integration is essential for those who would like to build a social network around their Q&A website. For instance, BuddyPress is great for building better user profiles and also engaging your users with messaging.

As I mentioned before, all of the add-ons from AnsPress are completely free. You can find a handful of them on the AnsPress website. Some of my favorites include:

  • An add-on for filtering out bad words.
  • An add-on for establishing user reputations.
  • An add-on for sending out email notifications.
  • An add-on for adding tags and categories to questions.
  • An add-on for preventing spam with reCaptcha.
  • An add-on for making dynamic text avatars.
Why We Like This WordPress Q&A Plugin
  • The AnsPress plugin is free, including all of its add-ons.
  • The frontend interface is clean and modern, offering a setup similar to that of Reddit or Quora.
  • You can make more than a Q&A site. For instance, some companies use it for FAQs or support ticketing.
  • Shortcodes are available to place the question and answer section anywhere on your website.
  • It has a BuddyPress integration to build a social network around the plugin.
  • Users can submit and filter questions, while admins have options for editing and deleting questions.
  • Each question has buttons for answering and commenting.
  • Users can vote on their favorite answers, sending the most popular replies to the top of the page.
  • Over 10 languages are supported through the plugin.
  • You can make some of the questions private, which comes in handy for running corporate FAQ or message boards.
Who Should Consider This WordPress Q&A Plugin?

Anyone on a budget should consider AnsPress for their Q&A needs. There aren’t any fees for the plugin or the add-ons. It’s a beautiful interface for making something like Reddit or Quora, and I also like it for companies that might need something for FAQs, ticketing systems, or internal question and answer boards.

5. YITH WooCommerce Questions and Answers

The next two WordPress Q&A plugin options cater to those running WooCommerce websites. The first one, called YITH WooCommerce, presents a Q&A section on your product pages. You might be familiar with this on Amazon, where customers are able to ask questions, then either the merchant or other customers reply with the information they know. The questions and answers then remain on the product page for future customers to read when buying your products.

The core plugin is free to use, but YITH also sells a premium version starting at $69.99 per year. The main features from the free plugin include fields for users to ask and answer questions on the product pages. The admins can also create FAQs to maintain more control or to take the most common questions and have them permanently on the product page.

YITH WooCommerce Questions and Answers plugin

The premium version of the YITH WooCommerce plugin adds more flexibility to your question area. For instance, you can set the number of questions shown on the page and have emails sent to the admin when a new question or answer is posted. voting is also possible in the paid version, meaning you can push the best answers to the top instead of forcing customers to search for the top answers. Along with reporting options for abuse, incognito mode, and reCaptcha, the premium version does look like a great deal.

Why We Like This WordPress Q&A Plugin
  • It’s an excellent way to boost sales and bring peace of mind to your customers. It’s basically like crowdsourcing your product information, since users are generating the answers for your products. The admins can also reply to questions.
  • You can have questions and answers open to anyone or set the plugin to FAQ mode so that only admins can add questions and answers.
  • The plugin creates a tab on your product pages for customers to view. The interface is simple and user-friendly, with a field to ask questions and answer the existing ones.
  • The premium version opens up all sorts of features, and the pricing isn’t that steep.
  • The premium version sends out emails to customers and admins.
  • Shortcodes are provided in the premium version.
  • Voting is available in the paid plugin. This means that you have to do less vetting of the answers since your users will provide the votes for the best ones.
Who Should Consider This WordPress Q&A Plugin?

The YITH WooCommerce plugin is a smart choice for anyone running a WooCommerce store. The free version should do the trick for more online shops, since it cuts down on the amount of information and support you have to provide for your products. Instead, customers create the content for you. I also like the premium version for those who want more advanced features like emails and voting.

6. WooDiscuz – WooCommerce Comments

The WooDiscuz plugin is similar to YITH WooCommerce, except that it’s more like a commenting or forum thread as opposed to a question and answer solution. That being said, you can still frame the section like a Q&A module–and I’m assuming most of the discussions will start with questions.

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WooDiscuz is also at an advantage because of its customization options. For instance, you can change the title of the tab from “Discussion” to anything else you want–maybe “Q&A?” The discussions are displayed in a tab with the other details like descriptions and reviews. It’s yet another excellent way to get your customers talking and filling in information that might not be clear on the product page. In addition, the admins are able to chime in if a question doesn’t get answered by a customer.

WooDiscuz WordPress plugin

As of right now, WooDiscuz is free for all users. Every feature comes in the core plugin, so there’s no need to upgrade to a premium version or buy a bunch of add-ons.

I enjoy the look and feel of the WooDiscuz plugin, and I feel as if it’s one of those essential elements that all eCommerce sites should have. Not only does it breathe life into your online store, but it could potentially create a community revolving around your products.

Why We Like This WordPress Q&A Plugin
  • It’s a full-fledged eCommerce Q&A product with a $0 price tag.
  • The plugin allows for more than questions and answers. You can run an extensive forum or comments area that encourages all sorts of conversation about your products.
  • A tab automatically shows up on your product pages, prompting people to ask questions. The questions and answers then remain on the page for customers who might need them in the future.
  • It minimizes the amount of customer support you have to give, since many of the questions are already resolved on your pages.
  • You can customize the look of the thread and change its entire purpose. For example, you may call it a Questions thread or a Discussion thread.
  • Instead of showing all comments, the plugin offers a “Load More Comments” button for faster page loading.
  • Permissions and tags are available to assign users and titles like Guest, Customer, and Admin.
  • Comment voting comes with the plugin so that all of the best answers are shown towards the top.
  • Users are able to subscribe to some of the comments so that they see all of the messages in the future.
  • You receive product sharing buttons for sites likes Facebook and Twitter.
Who Should Consider This WordPress Q&A Plugin?

I would recommend this plugin to anyone with an online store, especially considering the entire plugin is free. This allows smaller companies a chance to provide more information to customers, and you’re able to start building a community around your products. It’s also great for online stores that need FAQ or discussion sections. It doesn’t make much sense if you don’t have an eCommerce website.

7. Sabai Discuss

The Sabai Discuss plugin is only sold on CodeCanyon for $24. Having said that, $24 is an incredible price for the number of features you get from this highly-rated WordPress Q&A plugin. The options seem endless when it comes to building question and discussion pages. As an example, you might want to make a members forum with a password. That’s entirely possible with the Sabai Discuss plugin. You could also make a user profile page, question page, or a categories page that lists all of the categories that your questions fall under.

The discussion stream is organized so that your users can sort and filter to the questions that are most important to them. There’s also a voting system included for sending the best answers to the top of the page and filtering out the spam or the bad answers.

Sabai Discuss WordPress plugin

The user reputation engine is an essential part of a question and answer page, since you can get rid of those users who only post spam while giving credibility to those who reply to questions with detailed answers. The Sabai Discuss plugin also..

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WordPress is the most widely used content management system on the planet. In fact, it powers over one-third of all websites on the internet. In the past, if you wanted to incorporate an e-commerce store into your site, the most popular option was typically WooCommerce.

Sure, there are plenty of SaaS (software as a service) ecommerce platforms to choose from. But design can have a massive impact on your content and selling. And opting for a WordPress-based site gives you greater control over this (from code to thousands of available themes and plugins). So, if you wanted the best of both worlds (easy content management and commerce,) you had no choice but to go with WordPress and plugin like WooCommerce.

This has now changed. BigCommerce has launched its own WordPress plugin. Bringing with it some much-needed competition to the marketplace. But is its offering a better choice for your business? Keep reading to find out.

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An Overview of BigCommerce

BigCommerce has been around as a SaaS platform for a while now (founded in 2009). And it is one of the leading ecommerce website builders, especially for growing businesses.

BigCommerce

One of the biggest attractions of their hosted platform is that you can quickly build an online store that’s built to scale with more built-in functionality than other platforms. BigCommerce boasts the fastest site speed among ecommerce platforms, best-in-class SEO and URL structures, and security, API calls, and payment gateway features built to scale. Plus, the company is well-known for its ability to smoothly and efficiently handle orders and transactions.

However, one drawback to BigCommerce handling all the back-end technical aspects of your ecommerce store is the lack of content customization. The company’s SaaS platform historically wasn’t great in areas not directly focused on transactions, such as enabling you to attach a blog to your commerce site.

However this is all changing. BigCommerce launched ‘early access’ to its new WordPress plugin back in June 2018, and officially launched the plugin in December 2018.

BigCommerce for WordPress – A New WooCommerce Alternative

In concert with WordPress, BigCommerce launched its own WordPress plugin that enables users to combine all of the company’s ecommerce features with the open-source flexibility of the WordPress platform.

BigCommerce for WordPress plugin

The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin is a fully-featured integration. One that is designed to allow you to scale your store quickly. It does this by keeping much of the back-end functionality within the BigCommerce SaaS platform.

This functionality includes:

  • Catalog management
  • Managing fulfillment logistics
  • Processing payments
  • Order management

The difference is that the plugin allows you to continue to use WordPress on the front-end. So, you have access to its unlimited customization options as well as thousands of themes and plugins.

With the power of WordPress, you can now design an attractive site that seamlessly integrates content and shopping. Whether your goal is to start a new blog, or craft perfectly-styled product descriptions, the plugin can help you achieve it.

Advantages of BigCommerce

Embracing the power and functionality of WordPress has allowed BigCommerce to offer “headless commerce” to users – combining a strong backend commerce engine with the most popular content management system (CMS). Plus, it supports the ability to display content, create product categories, and conduct sales on the same URL, which is a good new SEO strategy.

Content and commerce

Here are at the unique advantages that BigCommerce has created:

1. Improved Scalability

BigCommerce designed its new plugin to be robust and support scalability for large businesses. It did this in three ways:

  1. The company included many standards ecommerce features within its own plugin. Thereby, removing the need to install additional plugins that can slow down your site.
  2. It retained most of the back-end elements outside of WordPress, so they would not take up room on the platform and negatively impact site speed.
  3. BigCommerce designed the plugin to allow you to build multiple WordPress stores. And you can still control them all from a single control panel.

BigCommerce built its SaaS platform with a focus on being able to easily accommodate large businesses. The company ensured its new WordPress plugin maintained this ability to handle large volumes of traffic. As well as high order volumes.

The plugin also supports up to 600 SKUs per product and enables the creation of complex catalogs. It offers over 250 options for creating a completely customized product catalog.

2. Enhanced Security

The BigCommerce plugin has maintained all the security features of its SaaS platform. These include:

  • PCI Compliance. The new BigCommerce plugin has been designed to provide an embedded checkout experience. This experience takes care of PCI compliance and customer security on your behalf. For example, you do not have to worry about credit card data security, or items like encryption or collecting signatures with PCI compliance.
  • Secure user accounts and logins. BigCommerce offers secure logins, accounts, and payment information storage for your customers outside of WordPress. This feature can increase your customers’ sense of safety and confidence in the security of their data.
  • Integrated payment gateways. The BigCommerce plugin provides you and your customers with instant access to over 65 different payment gateway integrations, that serve over 100 countries and enable over 250 local payment methods. Not only does this mean a vast number of payment options, but it also means you don’t have to worry about setting up or maintaining those secure gateways.
3. Customization Support

WooCommerce and BigCommerce both offer nearly unlimited customization through the WordPress platform. However, BigCommerce has designed in additional functionality that will make the customization process easier.

  • Out-of-the-box functionality. The BigCommerce plugin has been designed to quickly and easily integrate all your standard ecommerce functionality into any existing WordPress themes, so that little upfront customization and no coding knowledge is required before launching your new store. It even supports the new Gutenberg block editor.
  • AMP optimization. The plugin is designed to support Accelerated Mobile Pages natively on product and category pages so that your site is faster for mobile browsing and shopping.
  • Unrestricted access to key plugin files: The BigCommerce plugin also supports WordPress’ standard method of overriding template files so you can modify any out-of-the-box designs without fear of losing your customization. In other words, you can customize your integrated product cards, lists, and cart without risking plugin updates that will undo your changes.
  • A large support network. BigCommerce helps connect its customers to its large online community of entrepreneurs and online store owners so that you can discuss ideas, learn from others, and get answers to any of your customization questions. The company is also actively seeking developers to help improve the app and resolve any customer issues.

BigCommerce AMP and Gutenberg support

4. Additional Features

As a final advantage, here are several valuable features BigCommerce has built into its plugin:

  1. Analytics. BigCommerce provides access to a wealth of data and valuable analytics about your store’s performance.
  2. Streamlined global shipping. BigCommerce also provides real-time global carrier quotes and supports most major global couriers. This enables you to access options such as free shipping, drop shipping, flat rates, and much more. Plus, the company just released their BigCommerce Shipping functionality, which allows you to easily get customized, real-time shipping rates from major carriers at discounted rates.
  3. Flexible shopping cart. BigCommerce’s embedded shopping cart offers extensive customization options so that you can offer enterprise-grade promotions and discounts within a fully responsive layout without any additional extensions or plugins.
  4. Better credit card rates. BigCommerce allows all of its customers to have access to its pre-negotiated credit card rates. Currently, these are the lowest fees available within the SaaS e-commerce space. Plus, you can benefit from the BigCommerce’s affordable PayPal rates. And, as your business grows, and upgrade your plan, you get even better credit card rates.

BigCommerce transaction fees

Advantages of WooCommerce

There is no denying that BigCommerce a powerhouse of an ecommerce plugin. It’s strong, fast, and ready to scale your business. But, that doesn’t mean WooCommerce isn’t a good choice for your business either.

WooCommerce plugin

Here’s what this plugin has to offer:

1. It’s Free

The most significant advantage of WooCommerce is that it is possible to create an ecommerce store with the plugin at no cost. Yes, you will need to invest in WordPress managed hosting (or even specialized WooCommerce hosting).

You may also need to buy multiple payment gateway and shipping add-ons to match BigCommerce’s functionality, however, if you’re just starting out and generating a smaller amount of sales, you may be able to save money with WooCommerce.

If you’re just starting out, the difference is that it’s possible to select a free WooCommerce theme, and the plugin itself is free. In comparison, with the BigCommerce plugin, you pay for a plan that starts at $29.95/ month.

2. It’s Well Supported

WooCommerce is a highly regarded company by WordPress, and it has a large network of users and supporters. In fact, WooCommerce is used by roughly 8% of all ecommerce stores and 21% of the top one million sites.

WooCommerce support

Plus, WooThemes, the creator of many WooCommerce themes, plugins, and products, was acquired by Automattic back in 2015. If you’re not familiar with Automattic, it’s the company that operates WordPress.com and contributes to WordPress.org. So, that shows how well supported this plugin is.

3. Extend Functionality with Plugins

BigCommerce offers a lot of built-in functionality that can be very attractive to non-developers and those who are not familiar with WordPress. However, just because this functionality is not built into WooCommerce does not mean that you cannot gain it. For example, you can incorporate your own CRMs, payment gateways, and maintain your own PCI compliance, although you will end up paying for it separately.

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Right now, there are hundreds of free and premium plugins available for WooCommerce, designed to boost its core functionality. And if you’re not comfortable customizing your site yourself, you can always hire a WordPress developer. There are thousands of developers that specialize in WooCommerce development.

WooCommerce developer

Which One is Right For You

Both ecommerce plugins offer their own unique advantages, so which one is the right choice for your business?

Since both options can support unlimited customization and be molded into whatever it is you need, the ultimate decision comes down to determine what is more important to you:

  • A solution that is easily scalable, comes with a host of out-of-the-box functionality, and offers some unique extra features?
  • Or one that is more widely used at the moment and may be cheaper if you’re just starting out?

The bottom line is that either plugin allows you to harness the power of WordPress and integrate the best content management system with your commerce activities for huge wins.

Power of WordPress

Also, for large businesses, speed is a consideration. One of the key advantages of BigCommerce is its ability to host much of your backend elements outside of WordPress. If you have an extensive catalog and experience a lot of simultaneous transactions, this makes it easier to maintain fast site speed.

Since many ecommerce functions are embedded into the BigCommerce plugin, it can also minimize the number of active plugins on your WordPress site. This reduces the number of plugins you need to update and monitor and it can positively impact your website’s speed, which in turn can improve your SEO.

To understand the importance of search rankings, take in this ecommerce SEO statistic: pages that rank at the top of Google take in a whopping 36.4% of search traffic. The further down the page you rank, the less traffic you will see.

BigCommerce also reduces the amount of time required for site maintenance, as the company takes care of many aspects for you, such as PCI compliance, payment gateways, and customer security. Plus, if you’re unable to maintain your WordPress site yourself, then the question becomes: is it more cost effective to subscribe to BigCommerce or hire a developer.

The bottom line is that unless you’re a very savvy developer or your business is not yet big enough to support the cost of BigCommerce, the new BigCommerce plugin might be a better option for your online store.

Summary

Google Trends shows that WooCommerce is still more popular than BigCommerce, but as awareness of the BigCommerce WordPress plugin grows, this trend may change. For consumers, it’s always great to have more competition and options to choose from.

Google trends – BigCommerce vs WooCommerce

WooCommerce has been around as a WordPress plugin for much longer and has gained a strong community and support network. Plus, the minimal cost of a WooCommerce site can be very attractive for new and small businesses.

However, the BigCommerce plugin is definitely a very comprehensive ecommerce offering. It clearly has been designed with scalability and ease of use in mind. The company’s ability to combine the power of its SaaS platform with the unlimited customization of WordPress could be a gamechanger in the ecommerce marketplace.

BigCommerce offers greater value than the competition, especially if you’re experiencing significant growth, or have a large number of products and transactions.

Which plugin will you choose for your ecommerce store and why? Let us know in the comments below!

The post A New WooCommerce Alternative – Hello BigCommerce appeared first on Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting.

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