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Website Monetization using eCommerce Plugins

In this post, we are going to explore how to put your website to monetize using WordPress eCommerce plugins. WordPress has several great eCommerce plugins. These plugins allow the website owners to turn their websites instantly into eCommerce sites. It is amazing to see how well these plugins support various eCommerce activities just with a few clicks. Let us take a look at some of the popular eCommerce plugins available for WordPress.

  • WooCommerce

  • WP eCommerce

  • Shopp

  • Easy Digital Downloads

Above list of plugins isn’t an exhaustive list, there are various other plugins available based on your eCommerce needs. In this post let’s take a look at the WooCommerce plugin at a high level and some of the powerful features which come handy either for new businesses or existing businesses looking to go online. To demonstrate this eCommerce plugin, I actually downloaded WooCommerce plugin, installed and activated it. As of this post writing, WooCommerce plugin is activated on this site and a couple of digital products available for purchase. I am sure this plugin will be active until I choose to replace it with some other plugin for my next post.

Once activated WooCommerce plugin lets you create your product catalog. This can be done in one of two ways. Either by adding product after product manually or by uploading an existing product catalog spreadsheet. Here is how my two product catalog looks like if you go ahead and click on Shop menu item above.

You can go ahead and add products to cart and walk through the checkout process. Because this is just a demo, I chose not to accept payments currently, which implies, I do not need to worry about setting up my payment gateway, linking it to a real bank account etc. Currently, the two products that I offer to sell are digital products, meaning once fulfilled buyer can actually be able to download the copies of PDF documents. But, if it was to sell physical products or goods, fulfillment of such products would itself will be a great software application, right from receiving an order until the product is reached to your customer.

Now is the time to sit back and think about a minute, what would it take to build such an eCommerce website similar to this one from scratch? In my opinion, depending on the finance and human power you have, it may take a few months to a few years time. Companies which developed such eCommerce websites in the early age of the Internet are now kings of eCommerce industry such as Amazon and eBay.

Finally, one important note I would like to make is, website owners who are hands on tech people can extend or customize these plugins to a whole next level and the sky is the only limit. Others simply can use these powerful plugins to run their eCommerce sites to make an extra source of income or even immerse into it fulltime.

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Website Monetization with Google AdSense

Owning a website with useful content to others generates web traffic to the website but by just attracting web traffic is not enough. There are several ways websites can be monetized. With the advancements in web technologies, people can use now it as the second source of income or sometimes even the primary source. The primary requirement is to attract enough web traffic so that we can put this traffic to work to monetize the website.

There are several ways websites can be monetized. Following are some of the ways it can be done.

  • Pay-per-click Ads
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • By Selling Banner Space
  • By Writing Product Reviews
  • By In-text Ads
  • By Selling Premium Content

Google AdSense

In this post, we are going to see Pay-per-click (PPC) Ads. The most popular PPC ads which can be enabled on an existing traffic generating website is to sign-up with Google’s AdSense account. This is as simple as using your existing gmail account credentials to login into AdSense account or sign-up for a new Google account and use it for AdSense. Once you are in, follow the steps such as what gmail account you want to use with AdSense, what is your site web URL going to be, the content language. The final step is to provide all correct information for the AdSense application including name, address etc, mostly for the tax purpose. Go ahead and submit the application.

Once the application is submitted, Google will provide you with a small javascript snippet something similar shown as below.

This script needs to be copied and pasted into <head></head> section of your website index page and then hit “Done” button to notify Google that your website is now ready for the review.

Google is going to take up to three days to review your website and get back to you with an approval or denial message. If approved, you can go ahead and login into AdSense account and follow further steps, but if denied you need to take necessary steps and re-submit your AdSense application.

WordPress changes for AdSense

If your website is a plain HTML website, it may not be hard to figure out <head></head> section of the index page to paste above code snippet. In WordPress, it is not that straightforward, you need to log on to your WordPress dashboard and go to Appearance, then Themes, select editor and look for header.php file to edit. Find <head></head> section in this file and paste the above snippet and save the content.

This gets even trickier if the theme that you are using is a child theme and there is no header.php file in your child theme. In such case, you need to copy and paste header.php from the parent theme to your child theme and then modify the header section of the page to attach the code snippet. Ths way the parent theme is unchanged and child theme header file overrides the parent theme header file. One thing to note here is to make sure that the copied over header file has enough file permissions to make changes to it.

How Google Makes and Pays

Advertisers who want to place ads on others sites use Google AdSense service and pay Google based on the number of clicks received. This is one of the main streams of income for Google. Other websites use AdSense service to sell their website real-estate to show relevant ads and clicks that are generated will make income for the hosting websites.

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Search Engine Optimization and Digital Marketing

Companies in pre-internet era have depended on marketing avenues such as fliers, local classifieds in newspapers and magazines, radio, television ads etc. But soon internet took over pretty much every such traditional avenue of advertising, companies and other organizations have quickly turned to the power of the internet and its benefits such as reaching out to their global audience, especially their potential customers.

But at the same time, the internet being relatively a newer tool for companies to reach out their customers, using it has been a challenging task in early times of internet. Companies such as Yahoo, AltaVista, Lycos, AOL etc., have emerged as leaders in internet search engines and platforms for companies to advertise and attract customers.

But in late 90’s and early 2000’s companies such as Google, Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo still hanging in there in search engine business, have faced tremendous competition from each other for the dominance and Google stood out quickly and became the leader in the internet search business with the use of their powerful search algorithms. According to Net Market Share as of 2017, the biggest search engine market share favors Google with 77.43%, followed by Baidu, Bing, Yahoo and others all less than 10%. With such a dominance, Google quickly became the de-facto for internet search engine domain.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization is a technique used by the websites to grow their visibility in the search engine results to drive internet traffic. It includes technical aspects on how to improve the search rankings when users search using certain keywords. So, what is a keyword? A keyword is any word or a phrase used to search something on the internet. Website use keywords to optimize the search results. Search engines are smart, they scrape through the internet but these engines need some extra help from the websites, which are nothing but the keywords the website builders use for optimization. A web tool such as SEOBook can help find keywords other websites use for their optimization, an easy way to get the keywords used by others.

Paid and Unpaid search results

Most search results on a Google search result page are unpaid results, meaning websites using the appropriate keywords with high ranking get top spot and results page. Google also offers a paid service calls Google AdWords. This needs an AdWords account, once signed, gives tools to lookup mostly searched words or phrases, using which websites can optimize their own content. Google search results page displays paid links, for which Google’s customers pay for click counts they receive. So, not only through SEO but a paid service is also available for a small fee.

How Google picks keywords

Google needs keywords specified on web pages. These keywords need to be visible to the user when clicked on the page. If no keywords are specified, Google has no way to find the web page. The best of way having keywords on the page is have them appear naturally, meaning based on the page title and content. Have these keywords appear two or three times, so that Google understands these words are relevant to the page content.

Following are the some of the areas keywords can be used in.

  • Headings such as H1, H2 tags

  • Meta tags such as description and title

  • Navigation anchor text and title tags

  • Bolded and italicized textbooks

  • Resources such as image and video titles

  • Of course the content text

Link Building

High-quality and relevant links are stronger than that of low-quality and irreverent links. It is not going to help if a ton of links are created overnight, these links need to be built organically over a period of time. Age of the links matter. So it is a bad idea to fool the system by creating links by other means. One thing to avoid is to have broken links on the website. Search engines can not crawl further if it finds broken links and thus ends up giving poor ranks. Links from charities or non-profit organizations help a lot. Links from Better Business Bureau are best. Signing up with them is a great way of gaining good links.

Social Media

Links from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ help a lot, although Google says officially they do not use social signals in their rankings algorithms. Signing up on such websites and linking back the website helps businesses in a great way. Search engines look for social media posts and backlinks from social media posts back to the website. This helps businesses to increase referral traffic and customer engagement.

One social network website stands out from others is Google+, which is Google’s answer to other popular social networking sites. Google+ plays a larger role in rankings factors, so companies to improve their rankings, need to expand their presence on Google+ and backlink their websites from those posts. This helps in two ways, one is for greater rankings and another is to develop customer base on this site. To sign-up go to https://plus.google.com.

As more and more social networking websites got popular with huge user base, Google started making these activities as strong factors in their algorithms.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a platform used by most of the websites. It is a decent, free to use, readily available web analytics tool available for businesses. To get started, sign in at http://www.google.com/analytics. Google Analytics provides various types of analytics data but a couple of important ones to note are comparing two date ranges and looking at the analytics charts over a long period of time. Acquisition section of Google Analytics tells about where the site traffic is coming from. Organic search report gives information about how many times website received visitors from search engine. One can also see data about page views, bounce rates, conversion rates etc.

SEO for local businesses

Google not only provides search results for the keywords searched but also displays links to related local businesses. Studies show that four out of five users search local information, half of the users who searched local businesses have visited local stores within a day and about 18% of local searches lead to purchases within a day. Both traditional and local SEO can be used to potentially increase the web traffic to businesses.

So, how is local SEO different from the traditional SEO? The answer is several mentions of local businesses within the search proximity, some of the mentions like physical address and phone numbers, properly identifying businesses on Google, the authority of citations, Google My Business category association etc. For a complete list of local SEO ranking factors visit Moz’s local SEO site at https://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors.

SEO Problems and fixes

As more companies choose to offer self-administrative tools and interfaces, traditional level of customer support services keeps going down. Google is no exception. Google designs tools so user-friendly and self-explanatory, most of the times users do not need support calls. But dealing with SEO could be frustrating at times and Google’s customer support is something hard to reach in other words barely exist. Following are some of the common problems that are encountered and their resolutions.

It could happen that your website is not listed in Google at all. This happens typically when a website is launched for the first time. Google does take time to crawl to this new website. Sometimes it could take a few days after the launch. A quick check would be to do a Google search like “site:newsitename.ext”, if Google does not return this new site, means Google spider hasn’t crawled to this site yet. A quick fix would be to tell Google explicitly that your new site came into existence by generating a handful of links to the site in social networking sites.

What if your site rankings have fallen and you no longer see your site link on the first page of search results? The truth is top rankings are not going to stay there forever. Both existing and new sites are always competing for the top rankings. So it is the duty of the webmasters to always find and fine tune SEO problems. One reason could be, your site competitors have implemented more SEO techniques than you and its time to work on your site’s SEO improvements. Log on the Google console and other SEO consoles to see if Google penalized your site and look up for remedies on Penguin or Panda updates. Remove any shady links from other sites that you may have over posted or used any link posting services. Google algorithms are smart enough these days to identify where a link is a natural one or not.

If none of these techniques work, it is time to take help of professional help either for free or paid. There are a ton of internet experts available to answer very technical questions for free, if questions are posted are posted properly and on right websites. Stackoverflow.com, stackexchange.com, quora.com, ask.com, moz.com and other SEO Q&A forums are there for your rescue. A simple Google search itself will lead you to the right forum for help. If none of these free sources help with your situation, there are always sources available for a small fee to look into your issues.

References

Clarke, A. SEO 2017: learn search engine optimization with smart Internet marketing strategies. United States: Simple Effectiveness Publishing

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2017, from https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo

Desktop Search Engine Market Share. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2017, from https://netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=0

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Search Engine Optimization and Analytics

WordPress comes with various plugins for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and web traffic Analytics. In this post, we are going to use Yoast SEO and MonsterInsights plugins and go through the process of installation and activation.

First, go to your website. For example, https://<your-website>/wp-admin/plugins.php, click “Add New” button to search for above two plugins.

You can install and activate both Yoast SEO and Google Analytics by MonsterInsights plugins with just a few clicks. Activating these plugins may need activating Google Analytics account first, for which, visit this link and follow the instructions.

https://analytics.google.com

You can see the currently installed plugins on “Plugins” section of the dashboard.

plugins

Also, you can find SEO and readability scores on the “Posts” section of the dashboard.

Conclusion

SEO and Analytics plugins help the website searchable and trackable.

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phpMyAdmin setup and SQL statements execution

This post is going to show how PHPMyAdmin can be installed on your WordPress website. The assumption is that LEMP stack is already installed. Once logged onto your server, run the following commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install phpmyadmin

Installation process prompts to select a web server and does not give nginx as one of the options. Tab out and hit OK to skip this step.

In the next prompt, select Yes to configure a new database for phpmyadmin with dbconfig-common.

This step creates a new database user called:

phpmyadmin

Pick a strong password. You may use a website such as following to generate a strong password.

https://strongpasswordgenerator.com/

This will create a new database user with necessary privileges.

The following step needs to be completed before restarting the nginx server for changes to take place.

Change directory to /etc/nginx/sites-available and make below change to the default file.

 

Save the changes and restart the server using the following command.

sudo systemctl restart nginx

Now, type append /phpmyadmin the website URL to see the following phpMyAdmin login page.

phpmyadmin login page

Use username root and MySQL root password to login here.

Once logged in, phpMyAdmin page looks similar to this page.

Click on “SQL” tab to run the SQL queries. (Note: Only SELECT statements are executed and UPDATE statements are skipped to avoid updating the database)

SQL Statement Execution

  1. SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE post_type = ‘revision’
  2. SELECT guid, wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE post_type = ‘attachment’
  3. SELECT * FROM wp_options WHERE option_name IN ( ‘siteurl’,’home’ )
  4. SELECT * FROM wp_options WHERE option_name = ‘active_plugins’
  5. SELECT * FROM wp_options WHERE option_name = ‘akismet_spam_count’
  6. SELECT DISTINCT user_email FROM wp_users
  7. SELECT wc.* FROM wp_posts wp INNER JOIN wp_comments wc ON wp.ID = wc.comment_post_ID WHERE wp.ID = ‘1’
  8. SELECT wc.* FROM wp_comments wc INNER JOIN wp_users wu ON wc.user_id = wu.ID WHERE wu.user_login = ‘ram’
  9. SELECT * FROM wp_comments INNER JOIN wp_posts ON wp_comments.comment_post_id = wp_posts.ID WHERE wp_posts.ID = ‘1’
  10. SELECT * FROM wp_users INNER JOIN wp_usermeta ON wp_users.ID = wp_usermeta.user_id WHERE wp_users.ID = ‘1’
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First Post!

This is my first post after WordPress was successfully installed and running on my own website gundelli.com.

Starting from setting up a Virtual Private Server (VPS) on digitalocean.com, linking my existing domain DNS from godaddy.com to this newly setup VPS. Installing nginx webserver, WordPress and MySql database was a great experience and…

…watching the website coming up step by step was amazing.

I worked on a couple of web applications in the early 2000s using Java/JSP technologies. Back then development, testing, deployment etc., were pretty much manual steps.

WordPress and its plugins are great, to be precise made web development so easy for anyone.

At the same time, the beauty is that WordPress is so flexible for a professional to customize the website as needed using PHP and available plugins.

Conclusion

Though, I am a hardcore java professional, this first assignment made me a big fan of WordPress. And in general, web application development.