Categories
learn WordPress

Why and How to Add an SSL Certificate to a WordPress Website

Mary Ann Aschenbrenner
Mary Ann Aschenbrenner, President of Waterlink Web

Follow these five steps to add an SSL Certificate to a WordPress website in a quality hosting environment.

Why Add an SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is the standard technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client. When a website shows the https:// version of the URL it means that all traffic to and from the website is encrypted. Only the website can read credit card details or passwords entered there. The “s” in https stands for secure.

Some users will not leave personal information on a website without the encryption. Because of this and because users spend more time on secure websites, Google and other search engines include site security as a ranking factor.

From HTTP:// to HTTPS://

Moving a website from http:// to https:// can seem daunting but is easier in a good hosting environment. In this post we will go over the steps to add an SSL Certificate using SiteGround hosting, one of the few hosting services recommended by WordPress.

First, Add Lets Encrypt

On SiteGround, in your website cPanel, go to the Security section and select Lets Encrypt.

Yes, it really is that easy. You will now have two identical websites. One that begins with http:// and the other with https://.

Second, Update Content to HTTPS://

Update your content to https:// by adding the SSL Insecure Content Fixer plugin. This plugin updates content to https:// as soon as it is activated.

Again, that is easy, but there may be come glitches.

Third, Confirm all Content is Linked to HTTPS://

If the green lock to the left of https:// is gray or there is a yellow triangle in front of it, then some of your content is still linked to http://. Check your website by entering the URL at WhyNoPadlock.com. Any problem content will be indicated here.

When I added the SSL Certificate to my own website the images in the widgets near the footer were still linked to http://. In the Dashboard I went to Appearance -> Customize and opened the widgets. Then I edited each image URL to include the “s” after http. After updating I checked the site on WhyNoPadlock.com again and the problem content had been fixed.

At this point the padlock had turned green and the yellow warning triangle was gone.

Fourth, Redirect HTTP:// to HTTPS://

At this point your https:// website should look good and show a green padlock and the https:// at the front of your URL should also be green. You will still have an http:// version. Search engines actually consider this an entirely different website, one with the exact same content.

To save your standing in search engines, redirect the http:// version by adding a piece of code to your .htaccess file. This code will force anyone going to your website to see the https:// version. Even if they enter http://yourwebsite.com it will reconcile at https://yourwebsite.com.

Below is the piece of code you will add to the .htaccess file. Before making any changes in the .htaccess file, be sure to save a copy of the original. If something goes wrong and your site breaks, you can always put the original back and fix the site.

RewriteEngine On
Rewrite Condition %{Server_Port} 80
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://yourdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

It should be entered into the .htaccess file right after this line: # BEGIN WordPress

Fifth, Ensure You Can Measure Site Performance

Even if your site was already added to Google and Bing using the http:// version, you will need to add it again with the https:// version. Add the new version of your website to Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Bing Webmaster Tools if you want to measure your website performance, learn how users are finding your website, and which pages are the most popular.

Portland WordPress MeetUp

This presentation was delivered at the Portland WordPress MeetUp on Monday, February 6th, 2017 at the U.S. Bancorp Tower Conference Rooms. For more information on this MeetUp or to view the discussion please go to this event at Portland WordPress MeetUp. The Portland WordPress MeetUp is an opportunity to learn about WordPress and get help with specific questions.

Categories
grow a business on the web Waterlink Web

Value of a Tagline: one thing we learn about marketing from Donald Trump

Learning how to write a tagline and leverage its marketing value will help a new business owner start in a successful direction.

When I sit down with a new client to begin designing her or his website, one of the first questions I ask is, “What is your tagline?”

A good tagline sums up a company’s mission and promise and sets it apart from competitors. The tagline is such an important tool in marketing that there are agencies whose one specialty is crafting them.

Most us are not wordsmiths. Whether we are a solo entrepreneurs, artists, or run a small company, we already have enough responsibilities. Writing our company tagline can get overlooked.

This is a big miss. You can learn how to write a tagline. A well-written tagline used consistently will help even a small business rise over their competitors.

Tagline Marketing Lesson 101 From Trump University

Rum, make America great again. Donald Trump knows how to write a tagline
Will Rum make America great again?

This season’s Presidential contest reminds me, particularly on the Republican side, of the value of a tagline.

“Make America Great Again” is, frankly, a great tagline. After all, who doesn’t want to be great? The Trump tagline accomplishes all three of the important qualities of a good tagline: mission, promise, and brand. In four words the Presidential candidate lays out the mission of his campaign, makes a promise to voters, and brands himself as great.

This post is not an endorsement of any candidate. My intention is to encourage small businesses to think about their tagline and provide some guidance in how to write one.

–Mary Ann Aschenbrenner

Logo and Tagline Should Work Together

Nike swoosh with tagline, Just Do It. This is an example of how to write a tagline
The Nike swoosh and tagline are inseparable.

Think of it this way. A logo is the visible representation of a brand. The tagline is the audible representation of a brand. Like the logo, the tagline rarely changes. It is part of the company brand identity.

Large companies will spend millions marketing their logo and tagline. Consider Nike: the swoosh is inseparable from, “Just Do It.” In this case, the tagline implies activity and that Nike is a company of activity. The promise is that their products will make customers fit and active. Nike has done such a masterful job marketing their logo with their tagline that we can’t see one without remembering the other.

This season’s Republican presidential candidate gained status and recognition with free publicity from the media. His early marketing work in the Republican primaries, his volatile and entertaining pronouncements, garnered him millions in free media exposure. All along, at every public opportunity, he repeated his tagline.

As a small entrepreneur we often underestimate our ability to market our ourselves and our businesses. We may not have Nike’s budget or a billionaire’s ego, but we do have a network, a circle of business associates and customers. Each of our customers should know our tagline. Friends should also know our company tagline. They should know our tagline because we repeat it in conversation, on our websites, and on our business cards.

Even on a small scale, even for a small business or artist entrepreneur, a tagline will improve your marketing and help you stay in your customer’s minds.

Waterlink Web Example

Waterlink Web: connecting your customers with you. We can teach you how to write a tagline
The logo and tagline for this website design agency.

My company is an example of a small business using a logo and tagline combination for marketing. Our tagline is, “connecting your customers with you.”

I wrote this tagline because we include onsite search engine optimization in each website we build. Our websites come up in search results for the products and services that our clients build or sell. But, saying all that can leave clients who are unfamiliar with technology confused. The tagline sums it up: connecting your customers with you.

Our company mission is to help businesses grow by connecting our clients with their customers through quality websites. The tagline’s promise is that a website by Waterlink Web can do this.

Both online and in our printed material our tagline is shown with our logo. Our logo is a bridge, an image of connection. In this case it is an artist’s rendering of the St. Johns Bridge in North Portland where Waterlink Web is located.

When people ask me what, I do I include the phrase, “Connecting your customers with you,” as part of the conversation while describing my work. This sets Waterlink Web apart from our competitors who generally list website and marketing services when describing their businesses.

Truth in Taglines

M&M's package
“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” Really?

Taglines are not always honest, and occasionally we can live with that. As a child I remember wondering why the M&M’s were melting in my hand when the promise was, “melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” The M&M’s tagline may lack veracity, but this Halloween that won’t stop me from buying them for the trick-or-treaters who come to our door.

For business owners (and politicians), however, I recommend you keep your tagline truthful. Only promise what you can deliver.

Our fond memories from childhood will help us forgive M&M’s. Your customer’s memory of your service, products, and attention to detail will only be a pleasant one if those memories meet with the promise of your tagline.[divider_flat]

More Tips on Writing a Tagline

Keep it simple. Three to eight words is plenty. You can add more copy and description on your website or brochures. A short and memorable phrase will stay in your customer’s minds.

Keep it natural. Avoid the soulless version that a marketing committee might write. If it doesn’t feel right to you as the business owner, then it probably isn’t.

When I talk with a new client who doesn’t have a tagline we will begin the process of writing one. My client may not be a wordsmith, but I am. It may take a few days and a series of edits, but at Waterlink Web our clients come away with a website and a tagline. I can help teach you how to write a tagline.

For more tips checkout “10 Tips for a Remarkable Tagline” on the Inc. blog.

Categories
grow a business on the web

Write a Post that Ranks

Search engines, like Google and Bing, have a goal. They want to serve up quality content to their users. 

You also have a goal. You want your customers, clients, and fans to find and read your blog posts and, by extension, your website. Your goal is for search engines to recognize that your posts are the quality content their users want and to rank your posts organically at or near the top of search results.

Follow these five steps to write a post that ranks. The steps cover content, formatting, image accessibility, categories and tags, and on-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Done correctly they will help you write the content your customers want in a format that meets search engine requirements.

Good content and proper formatting will help your posts rise to the top in search results, maybe even the very top.

1) Write what your clients are searching for

Two women enjoying coffee and discussing business.
Mine your client’s questions for ideas to write your next blog post.

Don’t indulge in random posts about topics of mostly personal interests. Ask yourself, “What questions are my clients asking me?” Then answer those questions in your blog posts.

For every question a client asks, you can bet that hundreds of others have asked the same question on Google or Bing. Search engines are looking for the answers to users’ questions. Write those answers.

Include keywords, but don’t overdo it

What terms do your clients and customers use when they ask you a specific question? Make sure to include those key phrases or something similar in your content.

Categories
grow a business on the web

2016 Guide to Prosperity

This is a little-known guide to prosperity, happiness, and finding love: look inside.
It will work in 2016, just as it works every year.

When we look inside to discover our own unique and untapped potential, train our minds and improve our skills we are investing energy in ourselves. Each of us is our own best asset.

Four years ago I set out on an extraordinary journey that included studying for a career that didn’t exist the first time I attended college. Along the way I launched Waterlink Web, met life-changing mentors and remarkable clients, and enjoyed the freedom as well as the responsibility of running my own company.

I was blessed in 2015 with opportunities to learn, company growth, good health and happiness. 2016 will be even better. Just as there are every year, 2016 will bring challenges from which we should learn and difficulties that can make us stronger. Building on the success of 2015, this year to come may also bring prosperity.

As we move into 2016 consider the ways to “look inside” to train your own mind, improve your own skills and become your own best asset. One resource you may consider is Me Comma You. Using writing to look inside can help develop qualities and ideas you did not even have words to express. Kelly LeFave, the instructor, works one-to-one with her students to help them improve their writing skills and rethink their limitations. Make a resolution to become your own best asset in 2016. Look inside.

Categories
Waterlink Web travels

Driving Across America

In late August I had the opportunity to drive across America from Portland, Oregon to Western Pennsylvania and then to Buffalo, New York before flying back to Portland. I’ve traveled in the past, flown to Mexico and Hawaii, driven to Canada, California and Montana, but this adventure – all the way across the United States – was new for me, inspiring, and worthy to share.

Categories
Waterlink Web clients

Speaking at the Stonewall Inn

When I first met Martha Shelley I knew her as a quiet writer of feminist historical fiction, researcher, and neighbor. She gave me the opportunity to build a website for her company, Ebisu Publications. As I worked with Martha and her wife, writer Sylvia Allen, I learned more. I discovered that Martha was one of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front and part of the ’69 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village.

Categories
Waterlink Web gives back

How Do You Decontaminate a Polar Bear?

Greenpeace protest on the St. Johns Bridge with protestors dangling from the Bridge
First morning of the Greenpeace protest with volunteers in place on the St. Johns Bridge.

Last week was a hot one in St. Johns. The temperatures exceeded 100 and the St. Johns Bridge, which never takes a bad photo, exceeded the usual expectations of beauty with the addition of dangling Greenpeace volunteers, pennants waving in the breeze, and blue lights shining through the night. If the Bridge were a woman, she would have been Halle Berry dressed for the Oscars.

I walked down each morning and each evening to see and to marvel. I work from home, designing websites for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. My skills are in demand, and it’s not often that I take time during the work day for a walk. Still, for this event, I took the time.

I went even though I am conflicted. Yes, I walked there in sandals made, at least in part, from petroleum. Yes, I own a car. Yes, my home uses oil to heat. Of course, I am conflicted.

Categories
learn WordPress

Get Searched … In a Good Way

Every day web visitors use Google or Bing to search for a solution to their problems. So, how do you go about submitting a website to Google or Bing? Did you know that WordPress has site analytics as part of the JetPack plugin?

Mary Ann Aschenbrenner leading a Portland WordPress MeetUp.
Mary Ann Aschenbrenner leading a Portland WordPress MeetUp.

At yesterday’s Portland WordPress MeetUp I walked about 40 WordPress users through the steps of submitting a website to major search engines and then what to do with the data.

Review the presentation below. I enabled full screen and the pan and zoom feature we have come to expect from Prezi.

Or, contact me to have your website optimized for organic search engines.

Categories
grow a business on the web

Growing a Business

Growing a business is somewhat like growing a garden.  It requires an economy that is loamy and workable, the fertilization of your creativity, ideas or seeds that are fresh and the favor of fortune shining on your work.  It also requires the hardships of chilly rain to strengthen your resolve and business savvy.

Sunflowers on Dog Mountain

The past year blessed me with all of the above while growing Waterlink Web!  I know that this economy is workable because small businesses ready to succeed are coming to me.  Each new website that I design and develop brings out more creativity.  None are alike.  Just as each client and his or her business is unique so are the websites I make.

Website design and development is a field constantly changing and adapting to new technology, new coding languages and new design requirements.  Every day I gather these fresh seeds while I study, research and learn about the latest techniques and search engine optimization updates.

Fortune has also favored me in 2014 as one client lead to another and contacts and referrals blossomed into friends.  There were hard times, of course. Weekends when I stayed in the office, days when the demands of children, husband and home took priority and, of course, occasional technical difficulties. I am grateful for 2014 and look forward to 2015.

Happy New Year!

Categories
content creation

Waterlink Web Adds Content Editor, Katherine Miller

I am so pleased to announce that Katherine Miller has joined Waterlink Web as our Content Editor!

A well-designed website is only part of the package. An effective experience for users also demands top-quality writing and marketing. Katherine’s 20 years of experience as a communications specialist, expert writing skills and media insight are key to Waterlink Web’s strategy.

Katherine Miller, content editor at Waterlink Web
Katherine Miller, Content Editor at Waterlink Web

Katherine Miller most recently was with The Oregonian, where she was an editor and regular contributor of both editorial and marketing material. Her extensive background in media includes writing and editing for digital, print and television. These included a public television station, several major metro dailies (such as the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the San Francisco Examiner), a regional wire service, and OregonLive, the website for The Oregonian.

While at The Oregonian Miller demonstrated her versatility as a writer with profiles, long-form features, copywriting, Q&As, book reviews, display type, and more.

Katherine Miller in her own words

My goal is delivering a client’s message in clear, concise and lively copy that engages and inspires readers — from the brief and pithy to the in-depth and thought provoking,” said Miller. “I’m excited to help expand Waterlink Web’s line of services and apply my skills in this dynamic field.

Waterlink Web is a full-service interactive agency offering website development, strategic marketing, Google analytics, Search Engine Optimization, WordPress websites, WordPress training, and website maintenance.