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What To Look For On A Resume

End hiring polices based a candidate’s GPA in school, as well as policies giving useless interview brainteaser questions, in favor of structured behavioral questions that have a clearly defined rubric for how people on all sides of the equation should be assessed. When seeking a candidate with the ideal SEO attributes, the ultimate fit for an SEO with potential regardless of experience and education was one with the characteristics of a grandmaster chess player.

Look For Passion

You have to be able to see the whole board all the time and keep future strategies in mind while you play the tactical game of anticipation, attack, defense and reevaluation as the other player, or in this case, the customer makes counter moves, or the search engine king changes the tactics.

The SEO expert must be creative, curious, data-driven, detail-oriented, self-starting, strategic, tactical and a team player all at the same time. He or she must be a systems thinker and keep the big picture in focus since every move impacts the outcome.

What To Ask

How do you deal with ambiguity? Can you provide an example of a time when you made a decision on ambiguous data?

How comfortable are you explaining quarterly results? Can you provide an example of a time when you did? How did it go?

How would your co-workers describe your interpersonal skills? What words would they use to describe you? Why?

Can you talk about a time when you were able to negotiate a strategic change when others were against your proposal? How did you go about it?

These types of questions get at the heart of important traits in a search marketer. While interviewing, look to find someone who is passionate about technology and who has the ability to influence others, deal with ambiguity and communicate effectively. Given that SEO needs to integrate with other cross-functional areas, interpersonal skills are also very important in learning how to staff your organization for success.

The SEO expert has to be part data scientist, or at least know their way around data so they can gain the insights necessary to understand the SEO strategy. Technology decisions will drive marketing capabilities, customer experiences, synergistic corporate integration, competitive positioning and even organizational efficiencies. The potential SEO expert has to understand technology to be able to operate in the new SEO environment.

It all starts with hiring the right people that fit into the team already in place with complementary skills and a burning desire to learn every day. The job of SEO is a constantly evolving discipline that requires a sharp mind and a creative attitude – a genius with an indomitable spirit to get the job done.

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1. Know your surroundings

If you don’t know anything about Linux, Unix, Apache, and other solutions you are using to power your website, you are going to have a very difficult time keeping your server secure. For instance, those of you who know your Linux can rely on tools such as rkhunter to look for backdoors. The same approach applies to WordPress too. You should spend a considerable amount of time to get yourself familiar with how themes and plugins affect your site’s performance and security.

2. Stay Updated!

Keeping your wordpress install, themes, and plugins updated should go without saying, but this can not be stressed enough. A majority of vulnerabilities comes from themes and plugins that are not up to date. If you don’t update old plugins or themes, you might get hacked. If you have multiple websites, you may want to rely on solutions such as ManageWP to handle the updates.

3. Be Choosy About Your Plugins

Be sure to do a little due diligence when you select a plugin to use. You should be sure that the plugin developer is active. You can view these details in the wordpress plugin depository. Check to see when the last update was, check to see how many times its been downloaded, check the user ratings. Not all plugin developers write secure code. Unless you rigorously test every plugin that you install on your website for security issues, you should try to limit your choices to those you feel confident about using.

4. Remove Admin User

A very basic practice that many WordPress users follow these days. There are multiple ways to do it too

5. Restrict Admin Access by IP

There are a number a different techniques to accomplish this task. You can use plugins, these plugins limit the number of times someone can get username/password pair wrong. It alerts you when your site is under attack and bans abusive IPs. You can manage the .htaccess file, if you are using Apache as your main web server, you could use your .htaccess file to harden WordPress.

6. Move your wp-config file

Moving your wp-config.php file one directory up is a good practice. Make sure you get the permissions right.

7. .htaccess optimization

.htaccess files are very important. You can use them to protect certain parts of your site and make your site run more smoothly.

8. Use Secure FTP

You should not download/upload files to your server without enabling SFTP on your server first. Ask your web host to help you out if you don’t know how to do this.

9. Backup your website

This shoud be a no brainer. Disasters happen all the time. If you do not have your file backups stored offsite, you are going to have a difficult time bouncing back. VaultPress is a great backup solution for WordPress.

10. Monitor file changes

Not all hack attacks happen overnight. Sometimes, hackers take weeks to implement their plan. By monitor file changes on your website, you will be able to catch them before they can do real damage.

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The web is not the tortoise and the hare race, slow and steady definitely doesn’t win the race. Not only will slow websites frustrate and deter your visitors, they can also get dinged in search engine rankings. Here at Elegant Themes we try to code our themes to be speedy and efficient, but there is also a lot that you can do outside of the theme to improve performance. In this post, I will outline the most important steps to ensuring that your WordPress website is running at hare-like speeds.

Bench-marking Your Pageload

We will need a way of measuring the size and speed of the website in question. To do this we will be using the free tools at Pingdom.com. Using the Pingdom Website Speed Test tool, we can do an initial test of our page speed.

Caching Your Pages To Serve Static Content

When your WordPress website is loading, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. PHP functions are being run and MySQL database are being queried to decide exactly what should be output to your visitor for that given page. The less intensive the queries on the page the better, and the only thing better than less queries are none at all! Using a cache plugin, you can create a static version of your website and have it served instantly to your visitors. Not only does this make your website load faster, it also lessens the load on your server’s CPU, Memory and HD. There are a few great Caching Plugins out there, and I would suggest using W3 Total Cache.

Minify & Consolidate CSS and JavaScript Files

Minifying your CSS and JavaScript files removes unnecessary characters within the file, thus lessening the size of the file and reducing the time it takes to download it. Consolidating the files together reduces the number of files that are downloaded, thus lowering the number of requests on the page. Both of these factors contribute to your page load. You can minify your CSS files manually using this online minifier for CSS and JavaScript, or you can let a plugin do the work for you. The same plugin we used to cache our page in the previous step, W3 Total Cache, also has an option to automatically minify and combine your CSS and JS files. This generally works great, though you should always test your website thoroughly to make sure that the compressed files didn’t cause any JavaScript problems.

Using A Content Deliver Network

What a CDN does is distribute your files to various datacenters all around the world, making it much more likely that there is a server closer than your own to each person that visits your website. The visitor is then served your files from the closest server, thus improving your website’s loading speed.

Implementing a CDN can drastically increase your website’s speed, even if you don’t notice the results at home. On a standard website host, your files are being stored on a single server at a single location somewhere in the world. The closer your visitors are to the datacenter in which your files are stored, the faster they can access them and the faster your website will load. For those visitors who are visiting your site from overseas on the other hand, it might be taking a long time for that data to make it across the ocean and into their browser!

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So how did you end up here?

Maybe you were browsing Twitter, maybe it was a Google search. But these don’t answer the question.

What led you to landing here, on this single article page? The answer is most likely: the killer headline. That iss what originally caught your attention and made you decide to click and read this article.

That’s what an effective attention grabbing headline does. It catches your attention, connects with you in some way, and compels you to either click into the page, or keep reading further.

A poor headline does the opposite: either you’ll click the back button on your browser, or, in the case of Twitter, a poor headline fails to grab your interest so you will skip right past it.

In other words, it really doesn’t matter how insightful your post is, or how perfect your product landing page is, or how hilarious that video you’ve created is. If your headline fails to do its job, your audience will never get far enough to appreciate all of the work you’ve put into your content.

This article will cover a few tips and techniques for devising a great effective headline. These ideas will help you keep a larger number visitors fascinated as they read through your landing pages and hopefully end up engaging with your products or services. We will also look at a few ways we can design our headlines to stand out and command attention.

First, let’s debunk a few myths about writing headlines.

Common Misunderstandings

“A headline should summarize the page”

Don’t try and re-tell the story of your page in one sentence and call that the headline. First of all, that’s simply not possible. Second, if you take this approach, your headline will either be very bland and boring, or it won’t make sense.

Rather than trying to encapsulate the entire body of work in one sentence, try picking out the single most interesting or surprising idea and use that as the basis for your headline. Here’s an example of a (boring) headline trying to tell the whole story:

Copywriting and typography design techniques for headline writing, and more

This would be better:

Everything You Thought About Headline Writing is Wrong

“As long as it’s attention-grabbing, say whatever you want!”

Also a bad idea. Sure, you might draw lots of eyeballs and clicks if you use a headline like:

Watch This Kitten do a Backflip as Jealous Dog Watches in Awe

But if your page has absolutely nothing to do dogs and cats, then that traffic won’t stick around for long. They certainly won’t make it far enough through your page to buy from you or subscribe (or whatever your end-goal is). Click-bait headlines like these simply don’t produce the results that you’re going for.

The headline must be relevant to the content on the page. It should be intriguing, or surprising, or even shocking in some way, but that should be a lead-in to get the full scoop further down the page.

“Size doesn’t matter. Headlines can be as long or short as we want!”

When it comes to writing that top headline, size actually does matter, to an extent. The only rule of thumb I’d give you here is don’t make the headline too long.

If the top headline on your landing page spans three or more lines, the length will soften the impact of a great headline. A great headline hits you like a ton of bricks and grabs your attention. Three or four lines of really big text takes a few moments for a reader to sift through, which in this fast-paced world of the web, can be an eternity.

Another reason not to go too long would be if your headline might end up in a Tweet or an email subject line (as they often do). Tweets obviously need to be shorter than 140 characters, but you’ll also want to leave room for “@usernames” “RT…” etc. Email subject lines tend to get truncated when they’ve gone past seven words or so. Your headline won’t have the same effect if the audience can’t read most of it.

That being said, I wouldn’t go so far as to say “the shorter, the better.” Your primary goal is to make your headline compelling and attention grabbing, not to endlessly trim down the word count.

Too long:

Why Everybody And Their Grandmother Should Upgrade Their Browser And Stop Using Internet Explorer 6 So They Can Finally Experience The Web The Way it Should Be!

Better:

Have You Upgraded Past IE6 Yet? You Could Be Missing Out.

Tease Your Readers

Knowing your customer and your audience member on a deep, almost personal level, can go a long way to helping you write highly effective headlines. Think about how you interact with your best friend, or your brother or sister. You know them so well that you know exactly how to push their buttons, or tease them.

That’s essentially what you’re aiming to do with your headline — tease your readers, without going overboard.

You want to catch their attention with something surprising or almost shocking. You also want to identify with their specific pain point so that they care about what you have to say. The trick is to not give away what they want until after they’ve moved past your headline and read the article.

Don’t give away the solution or the answer they seek inside your headline. Simply imply that you have the solution by stating the problem. This gives your reader an incentive to read the sub-headline, and then the first paragraph, and so on.

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What Was I Looking At Again?

Most people have short-term memory issues.  What does this mean and why is it important to consider when designing? When we encounter something new, online or in the real world, our memory is shortened. Meet a new person or discover a new product: “What was their name again?”  We use some of our mental capacity to understand what we are seeing and this limits our memory. This is one reason why intuitive designs are more engaging. Our mind shifts from understanding something new to remembering something familiar.

Think about that.

Our memory works better with things we have seen before or are familiar to our brain. If we design in a manner that causes users to believe they have seen the application before, they can remember it and can immediately begin to engage with the product.

This phenomenon is based on something called the short-term memory mode. This means that users are more likely to stay engaged with a design that is easy to understand and has clear next steps. Easy enough, right? But, what happens when you have a complex concept or a long process?

Escalating Complexity for Design Stickiness

Escalating Complexity is a fairly common term, particularly in the gaming industry. Almost every single “successful” game uses this process. In the beginning, you provide the user with a very basic set of options. Then, as the user becomes comfortable and is on the verge of becoming bored, you add additional options. When done successfully, you create a user experience that is (almost) addictive.

Angry Birds Might Hold the Solution to Complex Designs
Let’s look at Angry Birds, which may just be the most successful game in smart phone history. If you’ve played this game, you will remember that in the beginning, all you could do is shoot a basic bird at blocks. One small, red bird. One target. In fact, the first several rounds are easy – they allow you to familiarize yourself with the game.

Just about the time that you begin to completely understand the scoring, functionality and strategy of the game, it changes. It increases in complexity in a progressive fashion , and before you know it, you’ve got an arsenal of different birds, with increasingly challenging targets. The brain has to consider how these new attributes will work. This goes on and on as you progress through the game, always forcing you to learn a new functionality and always reengaging your brain.

If Angry Birds started out with all of the different bird types and target options in the first round, you would leave – it would be too much to take in.  So, when designing a website, remember to keep the functionality basic and intuitive in the beginning, combatting short-term memory issues by allowing the mind to understand the process prior to progressively shifting to more complex ideas, designs, and functionality.