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Must Have FREE WordPress Plugins Vol. 2

As promised, here’s round two of our recommendations for “must have” FREE WordPress plugins you. If haven’t read part one of this two-part series then you’re really missing out on some darn fine blogging. You can check it out right here.

Duplicate Page

This one is so useful that I just used it to create this post! Instead of starting a new post from scratch and having to spend valuable seconds typing in a new title, assign categories, enter tags, etc. I simply used the Duplicate Page plugin to create a duplicate of part one of this series. Now, perhaps that’s not the most powerful use of this plugin, but it does come in a lot handier than that. For instance, if you spend a lot of time designing a highly detailed page or post that you need to replicate for other pages or posts this will save you a ton of time and ulcer-inducing frustration. Also, this thing doesn’t only work for pages and posts, but also other “post types” like products.

Download Duplicate Page

Ninja Firewall (WP Edition)

The last thing a spammer expects when attempting to hack a website is that they will be leaped upon and beaten to a pulp by ninjas! That’s exactly what this plugin does. By tracking hack traffic to your site it can pinpoint the exact location of hackers and deploy a battalion of skilled ninjas to their homes, parent’s basements or sweaty Internet cafés to utterly destroy them! Well, that’s really more of a metaphor for what this plugin actually does, which is detect “fishy” activity on your site – and within every file on your site – and put an immediate stop to it.

Download Ninja Firewall (WP Edition)

WP Fastest Cache

Website speed is crucially important. If a visitor comes to your website and it takes a ridiculously long time to load then they could become so frustrated they drop kick their computer into the nearest wall. This is not a good user experience. There are multiple ways to speed up a website and using WP Fastest Cache is one of them. In short, this plugin takes “snapshots” of your site’s pages, compresses them into lighter versions and serves those to visitors, so that instead of every element of the page having to load for them, they are given a single complete page at one go. Finally, no more having to drop kick computers into walls!

Download WP Fastest Cache

There you have it. The illustrious part two of our two-part series on “must have” WordPress plugins in two parts. What are some of your favorite WP plugins?

person in black and white t-shirt using computer

Must Have FREE WordPress Themes Vol. 1

Let’s face it. WordPress is the single greatest and most useful invention of the modern era, far surpassing such lesser inventions like velcro, nuclear physics, and those cool plastic toothpicks that also have dental floss in them. Even so, WordPress can be made even more useful when you install plugins! What are plugins? Well, friends, plugins are non-core functionalities that you can plug in (get it?) to WordPress to further bend it to your will. In this series we’ll detail some of what we consider to be essential FREE WordPress plugins that everyone – even lame people who don’t use those cool plastic toothpicks that also have dental floss in them – should use. Let’s begin.

Yoast SEO

As the saying that I just made up goes, “If you don’t have Yoast, your SEO is toast!” If you don’t know what “SEO” means just Google it. In short, SEO is formatting all the pages of your site in such a way that Google will fall in love with them and want to show everyone in the world who goes looking for your products or services. If you sell handmade toilet plungers and someone searches for “handmade toilet plungers” in Google, and your site has good SEO, then Google will show those people your site as if to say, “Hey! If you’re looking for handmade toilet plungers you’ve GOT TO check out THIS site! You’ll love it! Seriously.” Yoast helps you get Google this excited. With Yoast you can dial in all the optimal SEO settings for your site, customize title tags and meta information, generate XML sitemaps, and even calculate respectable restaurant tips. Well, it might not do that last one. I’ll have to check.

Download Yoast SEO


You never know when some calamity may befall your website, completely obliterating it from existence. The chances of this are surprisingly scary. Have a look:

  • Odds of your website being obliterated by a hack, malware infection, or alien invasion: 2%
  • Odds of your website being obliterated because you totally screwed something up: 98%

As you can see, you really need to be backing up your website. Most people don’t back up their websites because it sounds painfully boring. “Backup my website?!” people often complain, “but I could be giving myself a root canal instead!” However, with UpdraftPlus, backing up your website can be an exciting thrill ride! Just click the “BACKUP” button and watch the progress bar race along at professional racing snail speeds! Actually, the beauty of UpdraftPlus is that you can schedule backups so they happen automatically on a recurring basis while you’re off doing more exciting things like hang gliding or playing solitaire.

Download UpdraftPlus

Admin Menu Editor

This is a personal favorite of mine. As any WordPress site owner can tell you, as you keep piling on plugins your admin menu becomes a terribly disorganized mess. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone searching for the “pages” menu option in a jumbled WP admin menu only to become so frustrated that I eventually set up a career day booth at the local community college just to hire a grad to do it for me. It took him three days. Admin Menu Editor solves this! With Admin Menu Editor you can organize the WP admin menu exactly how you want it, whether that means grouping together menu options you use often or simply alphabetizing them all with a single click. If only organizing my office were that easy. Luckily, after installing Admin Menu Editor I was able to hire a grad from the local community college to organize my office.

Download Admin Menu Editor

There you have Volume One of our most essential FREE WordPress plugins. Tune in next month for Volume Two where we’ll tell you all about more free WordPress plugins you should be using.

red f1 vehicle

3 Simple Ways to Speed up Your Website

eIn the spirit of an article about how to improve your site’s speed, let’s just cut to the chase…

Make Sure Your Site is Running the Latest Stable PHP Version

Often times a new version of PHP will roll out with many improvements that greatly increase speed, but your host won’t upgrade your website for you. If you aren’t sure what version of PHP you’re running you can ask your hosting provider or, if you’re running WordPress, install the WordPress Version plugin which will display your PHP version in your WP admin footer.

If you find that you are not running the latest version of PHP and need to upgrade you can ask your hosting provider to upgrade it for you. Some hosts may provide an option for you to do this yourself. In SiteGround‘s cPanel, for example, this can be done with the PHP Version Manager tool.

Optimize Images for Smaller File Size

There are many WordPress plugins that can do this automatically for you, such as EWWW Image Optimizer and Smush, but you can also optimize images yourself before you even upload them. If you’re using Photoshop to create and edit images already, don’t simply “save as” JPG or PNG. Instead, use the Photoshop export tool, which allows you to adjust the quality and file size of the output image. Simply choose File > Export > Export as and use the available options to adjust file size and image size.

Use Caching, Browser Caching & Compression

Caching essentially takes “snapshots” of your site’s pages and loads those for users, instead of loading each page fresh on every visit. This means, that instead of having to load every single element it loads a relatively static “snapshot” of the page. Likewise, browser caching tells your visitor’s browser what to cache locally, so the next time that user visits your site, they already have some of the site’s resources ready to go. Compression further increases site speed by serving a smaller version of the cached page. If you’re using WordPress it’s very easy to implement these things. Simply install one of the many popular caching plugins. Two of the most popular and trusted are WP Super Cache and WP Fastest Cache (which is what we use on the ETO site).

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5 Ways to Get More Leads from Your Website

What good is a website if it just sits there on the Internet like some sort of digital squatter? You want your website to get off its rear and do some work for you! You were nice enough to give it a beautiful design after all! Here’s a few ways you can put your website to work getting more leads for you.

Visible Contact Info

This seems like a no brainer, but it’s not as clear cut as you might thing. Naturally you want your contact info on your website where people can see it. The key is to put it on your site so that people see it without having to look for it. Make sure your contact info is “above-the-fold” on every page of your website design. Don’t expect to have a “Contact Us” page only that people can visit. Contact info should be one of the first things people see when landing on your website without having to scroll.

To-the-Point Forms

Make sure the forms you have on your website that allow people to contact you are short and to-the-point. Ask for only the absolutely essential information you need to get the ball rolling. You don’t want to present your site visitors with long, elaborate contact forms full of questions and options. They didn’t come to your site to take the SATs. They came to your site to find out if you can help them. Give them a simple form to get in touch. You can gather more information from the later.


Popups are a great way to remind people that you are eager to work them, but don’t over do it. If used improperly popups can be a huge deterrent. Keep popups simple and as un-intrusive as possible. Don’t throw a popup at your visitors on every page they visit or every few minutes they’re on the site.

Exit Popups

Another type of popup you can employ are exit popups. These are triggered when a user attempts to leave your site. A script will detect if the user’s mouse pointer veers off the page (toward the browser back button or URL bar, for instance) and popup a “Wait! Before you go!” giving the visitor one last chance to get in touch. As with other popups, don’t let this get annoying. You don’t want to trigger an exit popup every time the mouse pointer moves off the page – only the first time – because they may be clicking that back button to get to a previous page on your site, not to leave.


Give someone a reason to contact you right now by offering an immediate incentive once they’ve submitted their information. What could an immediate incentive be? One common offer is a downloadable product. Some examples are:

  • Relevant case studies or reports about their industry.
  • A discount code for your serves.
  • A discount code for another relevant but non-competing service.
assorted-color abstract painting

5 Ways to Tell if You Should Redesign Your Website

Many small business owners may not think they need a new website, because they currently have a website that seems to work perfectly well. It appears on the screen when summoned. It says the things it’s supposed to say.  It doesn’t make your computer explode. But there are many more things to consider when considering what to consider about your website, such as professionalism. Often times a small business will take great pride in their brick-and-mortar location while ignoring their website. Here are five ways you can determine if your current website needs a redesign.

1) It Looks the Same as it Did 5+ Years Ago

There is a handy website that catalogs and preserves the entire web called Archive.org. They’ve been doing so since the 90s! What this means is that, with their “Wayback Machine” tool you can go “back in time” to see how a website looked in the primordial days of the Internet. You can also track how a website evolved over time. For instance, I used to work for a company called FramesDirect.com, undoubtedly the best online eyewear retailer. Here’s a screen shot of their site currently:

It’s clean, simple, elegant. Now here, thanks to the Wayback Machine, is what their website looked like on this same day back in 2013:

Sure, that’s not a complete dumpster fire, and at the time it was actually a top-notch design, but things change, and people’s expectations change. Look how busy and jumbled this older design is compared to the newer one. What the hell are you supposed to be doing on this page? Everything?! By comparison, the old site doesn’t look as trustworthy as the newer site and simply because it looks dated. Would you trust a company that doesn’t care enough about their image and reputation to bother revamping their website? Nope. Me either.

2) It’s Broken

Missing pages. Missing images. Malware infestation warnings. If your site is like this – in a state of retched virtual disease where it’s barely crawling on the floor gasping for bandwidth and begging to be moved to the recycle bin – you may shrug it off and say, “Eh, no one really visits my website anyway.” Well, of course not! One look at a website that’s falling apart at the seams and I click the back button in my browser faster than you can say, “Wow, this site’s in rough shape so I’m going to click the back button immediately in hopes that my own computer doesn’t hold a grudge against me.”

Fix that website and you may see an increase in leads from it. And while you’re at it – since a broken website is usually guilty of point #1 above – get the entire thing redone! Not to mention, that having a slick, modern website that works is something to be proud of, so you can proudly promote it on your business cards, t-shirts, window etchings, cloud writing formations, etc.

3) It Doesn’t do Anything

What does your website do? Is it just a static virtual brochure loaded with information? Well, that’s good, but a website shouldn’t just tell people about the business, it should let them interact with it. I don’t mean they should be able to challenge your website to a game of Asteroids (although that would be pretty cool), but they should be able to do something with it beyond simply reading text. Can they download your restaurant’s menu? Can they send you a message directly from the website? Can they chat live with a representative from your company? Can they actually buy products directly from your website? If you sell physical goods you are missing out big time if you aren’t allowing people to buy products directly from your website. With a modern ecommerce site you can easily bring your entire inventory online, and this includes built-in monitoring of things like sales, costs, stock quantity, etc.

4) Your Site is not Responsive on Mobile Devices

“So what does a responsive site mean, exactly?” I can hear you thinking. Well, that makes two of us. Hang on while I Google it real quick. Haha! Just kidding! A responsive site means a site that adjusts to varying screen sizes so as to always look good on any device. Your site may look nice and comfy on a big desktop monitor, but what about on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet? If your site doesn’t adjust itself to fit the screen then this can cause many problems that will drive people away: 1) The text will be too small to read. 2) Links will be too small to tap. 3) The site simply won’t fit and users will not be able to see important content. This typically results in users smashing their expensive smartphones against the wall. Nobody wants that to happen.

Let’s take another look at FramesDirect.com on mobile. Here’s a few pages of their current site as viewed on a mobile device:

Notice how the content has re-arranged and re-sized itself so it fits nice and neat within the smaller window dimensions. Here’s that 2013 version of their site on mobile:

Yikes! This old site is less useful on a mobile device than a ball peen hammer in a LASIK operation! Most of the site doesn’t even fit on the screen. This is because their website didn’t respond properly to the smaller screen size and adjust itself.

5) YOU Can’t Use Your Website

Can you update your own website? I’m not talking about making massive changes to code or design, but how easy is it for you to update information or add new information?  When you try is the process more confusing and intimidating than trying to calculate NASA rocket trajectories with a Speak-N-Spell? Is it even possible to update your website? If you have to go through a webmaster just to update your business hours and write up some updated product information then you need a new website! One that not only your visitors enjoy using, but you enjoy using! Your site should be built on a solid and intuitive CMS (Content Management System) which allows you to make changes yourself as needed. Sure, you may not actually want to make these changes yourself. You are an incredibly busy small business owner already after all! But your site should allow for someone to easily make minor changes and updates. And not only do you want your site built on a good CMS, you want one built on a widely used and trusted CMS like WordPress. This way, it’s easy to get new people on board to help with the website. WordPress is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to find people who are already familiar with how it works.

There you have it. Five reasons why you really should redesign your outdated, broken, useless website. Naturally, we’re here to help! Just drop us a line for a custom quote or choose from one of our “off the shelf” business or ecommerce web design packages.

pug covered with blanket on bedspread

Woeful Business Owner Needs Website

People often come up to me on the street and ask me, “Mr. EastTex, why do I need a website?”

My first response is typically, “Who the hell are you?!” But once they relate to me that they are a woeful small business owner with no online presence, or a very dated online presence that looks like it was designed by hyenas in MS Paint, I throw my head back with a laughter of relief that they are not a mugger or one of my many stalkers, and exclaim, “Oh, my friend!” slapping a hand down upon their shoulder. “Let’s take a ride!”

We don’t have a taxi service in this small town so what I and this stranger do is jump into the backseat of the nearest car at the nearest stop light. It’s hot here in Texas, you see, so many people drive with their windows down. Yes, we jump in through the windows. This, literally, happens to me at least three or four times per week.

“Don’t worry about us driver,” I say to the driver who is either screaming or dialing 911, “We are but two consenting adults discussing online visibility.” This calms the driver down.

“So, why DO I need a website?” the woeful business owner will say once he realizes he just might not actually be getting kidnapped.

And here’s where my expertise really shines. I straighten my back, clear my throat, tell the driver to turn down the radio and I say, “Because it’s 2018 for crying out loud! You need a website!”

“B-b-b-but I’m in the Yellow Pages!” the business owner will assert. “I have my business cards tacked up on the bulletin boards in every laundromat in the tri-state area!”

“Well, imagine this, my friend,” I say, leaning in close for dramatic effect. “What if you could have your business card tacked up in a laundromat the SIZE OF THE ENTIRE EARTH!”

Naturally, the thought of a laundromat of such a size dazes the business owner for a second. The mere thought of so many broken Ms. Pac-Man machines is enough to give most NASA engineers pause. But then…they get it. It clicks. “Well, then, anyoneanywhere could find out about my business!” Their minds have shifted into spin cycle. They reel with the possibilities!

Often times, however, they tell me that they already have a website. “I already have a website,” they tell me, “See, look.” Then they show me their website on their smartphone or laptop, or sometimes the driver’s laptop if the driver’s not looking.

“Yep,” I say, squinting at the neon colors and animated gifs. “That certainly is a website. I mean, technically speaking.”

“It was designed by my niece – an artist – when she was 15 and it utilizes a whopping ELEVEN different fonts! Sometimes in a single word!”

“How old is your niece…now?” I ask.

“She’s 37 and just as artistic as she ever was when she can get time away from her septic tank scraping job.”

I sigh, and reassure them that their niece is, indeed, quite talented but things have changed. These days people like just one or two fonts. And instead of eye-gouging colors and gradients that induce vertigo they want useful information. Gone are the days when you could impress people with stock photos that still have the watermark on them and hit counters that show just how much traffic your site is NOT getting. People want to visit a site that looks professional. You know, business-like.

Then they sigh and, hanging their heads, they say, “My niece will be very disappointed, but you’re right.”

So, then I build them a totally awesome website.

Three or four times a week this happens.