As website aesthetics continue to captivate and evolve, it’s easy to hear that “Content Is King” and take that to mean that everything else in the realm of digital business is technical mumbo-jumbo for someone in IT to sweat over. The reality is that once your brand is online, you can’t afford to see many things as exclusively “technical”.
Whether you run a business site, a blog, or your own personal portal, if growth is your goal, your site isn’t about software; it’s about running a business. When that subtle perspective becomes clear, seemingly “technical” objectives involving scary “infrastructure” initiatives become an exercise in simply finding the software necessary for success.
That kind of software–like the Jetpack plugin we’ll explore in some detail–is relevant at every layer of the business; it’s far from complicated and it’s far from expensive; and once it’s in place, your products, your services and your compelling content–your areas of expertise and the things on which your ongoing efforts should be focused–will have the support necessary to stay King. If you want to keep the crown, don’t neglect the basics of business.
No sensible owner would open an office or retail location for their business without some kind of security system. While a bare-bones lock on the doors might ease a more carefree mind, the most strategic businesses go beyond this, introducing more substantial systems—from security guards and entry codes, to motion sensors and electronic article surveillance tags.
It’s simple; if your products and services are compromised by malicious parties, you have little business to conduct. The concept, and nowadays the implementation, is no more complicated with your digital properties.
Let’s assume you have a website hosted on WordPress (as almost 30% of the top 1 million websites in the world do). Companies like Automattic offer simple yet powerful solutions that allow you to protect your site from all angles. From the WP plugin directory, in a matter of clicks you can download and install Automattic’s latest version of Jetpack for free.
With free installation comes automatic protection against botnets and brute force attacks (relentless login attempts from outside servers to gain administrative access to your site). Not only can you define the set of IP addresses authorized to log into your site, but you can even see the number of attacks that have been blocked through a widget in your WP dashboard:
It’s like watching a highlight reel of baffled burglars on your security cameras.
If you are more adamant about literally protecting your investment, you can invest a little bit more to get a lot more peace of mind. Starting at only $3.50 per month—which, compared to the value of your business, is peanuts—you can upgrade to the Jetpack Personal Plan that includes Teflon-strength spam filtering (imagine your store being filled with solicitors getting in the way of paying customers!) as well as daily automated backups of your entire site (your own meticulous security guard).
With that nominal expense you get something bordering on invaluable for your business: unlimited back-up of all your digital assets on separate, secure servers and access to priority, expert support. Daily backups ensure that even if the worst case scenario hits, your themes, other plugins, and entire database are always mirrored and recoverable. It’s kind of like a safety deposit box, except you get two of them, and the second one is jacked up on steroids. The Premium and Professional Plans–starting at $9 a month–offer even more security with real-time backups and automated malware scanning.
Stability & Execution
Chances are, you have designed a business with the intention of growing it and generating a lot of attention. While business is ideally booming all year ‘round, any intelligent operator would structure things in such a way that they can easily scale to meet lucrative spikes in demand. Imagine a retail store entering the holiday season with shortened hours, depleted inventory and a skeleton staff. That’s the equivalent of propping your business up on a website with no deliberate infrastructure for performance optimization, migration contingency, and overall stability.
As we have all come to know, images are huge—figuratively and literally. Analysis has shown that not only do colored images increase the odds that someone will read a piece of content by about 80%, but including relevant imagery with content can increase the amount of information absorbed 3 days after consumption by over 600%. It’s critical that your site not only use images generously and wisely but store them, transmit them (from back-end to front-end) and display them in such a way that site performance isn’t compromised at any volume of traffic.
Let’s revisit our earlier example of the Jetpack WordPress plugin. For no cost, after installation, your site will automatically begin leveraging a high-speed content delivery network (CDN)–it’s called, Photon. Photon ensures that all heavy-lifting related to images is handled outside your site; image dimensions are always dynamically optimized to the visitor’s screen; and overall, images are loaded as fast as possible without clogging up the arteries for your other content.
There is once more the question of whether or not you can stomach $3.50 a month (the business world is gonna be a rough one if you can’t). If you can, then you are easily able to take the proper steps towards concrete contingency planning by adopting an infrastructure that supports seamless migration. In other words, if traffic really explodes and your site starts to chug, an inexpensive solution like Jetpack Personal Plan allows you to cut everything over to an externally hosted, more resilient instance of your entire website. Visitors won’t know the difference, but more importantly, they won’t get the, “Sorry, we don’t have the aptitude to accept your business” experience.
Once somebody has arrived in your store, your job is far from done. Earning someone’s attention and time is an important accomplishment, but if you don’t engage with them in an intelligent, relevant way once you have that attention, the sale is as good as gone. The key to conversion is keeping them there. You could be selling running shoes by engaging in conversation about Fitbits; you could be priming a diner for dessert with a sweet amuse bouche; or you could be encouraging inquiry by surfacing a timely content series to a prospect at the outset of their buyer’s journey. The stage on which you conduct business is of little use without a performance that holds the audience.
The Albuquerque Journal gets about 3 million pageviews per month while housing around 200,000 existing posts and publishing more than 100 new posts per day. At one point, they tried to increase reader engagement by enabling a “Related Posts” widget on their site. The concept was good but the execution was off; the solution they went with turned out to be rather clunky (it was in painful labor just trying to feed articles to the homepage alone) and caused a number of performance issues.
Within a few days, the team at the Journal decided to look at the same Jetpack plugin we’ve been talking about throughout this article—the free Jetpack plugin—and in particular, the Related Posts feature. They ended up installing the plugin to determine what additional site content to suggest to visitors based on what they are reading in real time, and then display links to that content. All existing articles were indexed and analyzed within two days, and all new posts were being processed within 24 hours of publication. The ROI was resounding.
“Jetpack Related Posts has increased retention while minimizing our server load,” describes Tyler Green, a Data Analyst and Developer at The Albuquerque Journal. In total, enabling Related Posts has increased our engagement and increased our overall traffic by nearly four percent, which I think is astonishing considering all we did was enable and configure a plugin.” Again, a free plugin.
On top of the free services, the Premium and Professional plans give you access to some really cool features to help you engage with your readers and make the most of your site. You can earn revenue from your traffic by displaying high-quality ads sourced from Google, Facebook, and Amazon as well as stream HD, ad-free video. You can also use Jetpack’s SEO tools to help you preview and optimize your content for Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Respect the Tech
It’s easy to get caught up in appearances. Unfortunately, it’s just as easy to get held back by poor planning of the fundamentals. With the availability of solutions like the ones we’ve outlined—inexpensive, intuitive and largely self-sufficient—there is little excuse to ignore what truly enables successful business these days.
At the end of the day, any site would benefit from the kind of technology found in plugins like Jetpack. Don’t lose sight of the fundamentals. When it comes to an online presence, at the intersection of insurance, performance and engagement, lies something that may sound like software stuff. But shift your perspective to the basic principles of commercial success and that something just starts to look a hell of a lot like good business.
This article has been sponsored by Jetpack. Thank you for supporting the partners that support SnapMunk.