How to redirect a PDF in WordPress

Redirecting PDFs works in the same way as redirecting pages, and is important in order to maintain search engine rankings when you are migrating your site. There are some scenarios such as spaces in URLS that you need to be mindful of.

Source: How to redirect a PDF in WordPress | Karen Attfield – Website Development, based in Moray

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GDPR for websites: a brief rundown

The GDPR is a new EU regulation aimed at strengthening data protection laws for EU (and UK) citizens. This comes into force today, May 25th, and there are several key points that website owners should know about in order to make sure websites are compliant.

Source: GDPR for websites: a brief rundown | Karen Attfield – Website Development, based in Moray

How to protect your blog from spammers

WordPress.com blogs are protected by the Akismet comment spam filter. Akismet is pretty good at catching spam, but it is always still learning.

You may receive spam comments, spam likes, or even spam likes on comments. There are steps you can take to resolve this. It’s worth noting that if you get a sudden spike of ‘spam’ comments or likes from a particular site or type of site, you may find others experiencing the same problem by checking out the WordPress.com forums. In this case, listing the usernames of the spammers can help staff to look into these accounts for suspicious activity.

Spam comments

If you are receiving comments that you believe are spam, and they are not being caught by the spam filter (Akismet), it is best to mark them as spam to give Akismet a chance to learn how to work better. You would want to make sure you have modified the comment settings so that you have to manually approve comments before they appear on your site. You do this by going to your Discussions Settings page – from your My Sites menu click on Settings, then Discussion. The section you want is titled ‘Before a comment appears’.

You can then also hold a comment in the moderation queue if it matches certain rules (such as how many links it contains, and whether any words match words you list in the comment moderation box).

It is also possible to prevent comments from certain users by adding rules to the comment blacklist. However by doing this these comments go straight to Trash and are not marked as spam, so Akismet will not have a chance to learn how to work better.

Comment blacklist

Spam likes

It isn’t possible to remove likes or prevent someone from liking posts, however you can turn Likes on or off for individual posts or pages. You would do this by clicking on ‘Sharing’ in your post/page editor settings menu, and checking or unchecking the relevant boxes.

Spam comment likes

With comment likes, you can manage these to some degree. Unlike post likes, comment likes are either enabled or disabled for your whole site. If you enable comment likes you can also add a users email, name or username to the Comment Blacklist which will prevent them from liking comments. This blacklist is located in the Discussion Settings page, near the bottom.

Blocking users from visiting your site

You cannot block people from visiting your site. Your only option in this case would be to change your site visibility settings to Private, however you would then need to invite people to be able to see your site.

Gutenberg is coming!

What is Gutenberg? Gutenberg is the new default text editor for WordPress, set to arrive some time in 2018. It will be replacing the current TinyMCE editor.

On WordPress.com, its arrival will be dependent on when it is integrated into each of the currently offered themes. For VIP clients it’s integration will be managed allowing an easy opt-in process.

For sites using the software from WordPress.org, it is scheduled for inclusion in WordPress 5.0 (the exact date for this hasn’t been determined yet). You can test it out using the Gutenberg plugin (ideally just on test sites).

The aim of Gutenberg is to make the publishing experience simpler, by dividing everything up into blocks.

Ultimately the goal of Gutenberg is to move beyond  simply using blocks in a page or post editor, to eventually building your whole site with it.

It is also a very exciting time for developers who want to get their hands dirty. Existing themes can be made compatible with Gutenberg, new themes have a much more standard way to create rich post layouts and the instructions for users on how to set things up will be much clearer in the interface.   Plugin developers can use blocks in a multitude of ways to extend WordPress.

If you want to learn more about how Gutenberg works, check out the Gutenberg page over at WordPress.org. CodeinWP have created an extensive write-up, and the folk over at Gutenberg.news are keeping a great up-to-date blog with recent Gutenberg news.

The pros of using WordPress.com

I love WordPress, and have developed sites using WordPress.org for years. As a WordPress.org fanatic I never thought I’d be writing a blog post about the pros of WordPress.com, but after taking a good hard look at it recently I’ve realised there are actually more advantages to using WordPress.com than I thought. Here’s what I found:

There is no bandwidth limit

So, you could have a site with hundreds of thousands of hits per day, and you do not have to pay more for this (nor will your site go down). If you self-host your website, many hosts stipulate a bandwidth limit on your package. Many hosts will also say bandwidth is unlimited, but if you read the small print you will see they have set the bandwidth limit to a level they assume most small bloggers will not reach. If you pass this limit, your site will go down, generally until the end of that month.

Security is taken care of

When you self-host your site, you need to make sure you have regular site backups and employ various measures to keep your site secure. With a site hosted at WordPress.com this is taken care of for you. All sites are served over SSL, and WordPress.com utilises encryption, firewalls, and monitoring to help protect against DDoS attacks. You can also sign up for two-step authentication to make your site even more difficult for attackers to gain entry to. This is more than enough for most small sites.

You have control over your backups

If you self-host your site you are responsible for making sure your site and it’s contents are regularly backed up. As with security, WordPress.com regularly backs up your site (daily from what I can tell).  This again is absolutely perfect for most small to medium sites. However, it seems what they backup is just your theme, so if you want to back up all your content you can use the export option to export the content of your site as an XML file. As with WordPress.org, you can utilise some of the backup plugins available if you have a Business plan, OR you can upgrade to a paid plan on VaultPress which is included in the free and personal plans by default.

Other backup options include subscribing to your blogs RSS feeds (and in so doing backing up all your blog posts).

Out of the box, the SEO is quite good

WordPress.com take care of 80-90% of the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) mechanics behind the scenes for you. What you need to do is write consistently and provde useful information about the topic or product you want to rank for, as well as make sure you make best use of on-page SEO  – just as with any site. Every site has an XML sitemap, and you can also link to Google Webmaster tools to help you identify any issues with your site.

Your content is not tied in to WordPress

I find that with some website builder services, if you choose to migrate your site you cannot easily and cleanly migrate your site content. As with WordPress.org, WordPress.com allows you to export your site content for use elsewhere.

You CAN have a completely custom design

It is possible to have a completely custom design for a site hosted on WordPress.com. While with the Premium plan you can customise CSS to make an existing design look unique, in the Business plan you can upload themes (and install plugins for custom functionality as well).

Ease of Use

Setting up a website with WordPress.com is incredibly easy. This is one advantage of WordPress.com over WordPress.org for users who want a very easy-to-set-up website.

Is there more?

I’m sure there is! I’ll do my best to keep this list updated as I uncover more.

However in brief, as a ‘safe’ option for a small – medium blog or brochure site with simple requirements, WordPress.com is definitely a contender. I’d certainly recommend it over any of the other page builders out there. And even for larger sites, the premium plans will allow you to have a custom site with all the support you could need – with the Business Plan for example you could have a custom theme and functionality, as well as the support of the crew at WordPress.com.

As Matt Mullenweg (WordPress founder) has been quoted as saying:

Hosting your site on WordPress.com is like renting an apartment, as opposed to a self-hosted WordPress blog that you own outright.

With a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can do anything you want. Knock down walls. Redecorate it any way you want. But you’re responsible for the upkeep as well. (i.e. security update, backups, feature upgrades)

Whereas with WordPress.com everything is done for you. But you lose some control. Can’t have a yard. Can’t tear down walls, etc.

So for the security and knowledge that everything has been taken care of for you, and still getting prime real estate that can bring through as many visitors as you want, WordPress.com is a great choice.

Something shiny, something new

I’ve been developing websites for years. I’ve come to love WordPress as a platform, and now also enjoy developing plugins. For me, among other things, it’s a way to give back to the community. And while I spent most of my time with self-hosted WordPress websites (WordPress.org), I’ve decided to delve into WordPress.com and get to know it inside out.

So here is my shiny new WordPress.com blog. Hopefully I will fill it with various tidbits of helpful information that I can share.

Oh by the way, this was originally the default blog post that WordPress.com adds to your blog when you start a blog site. I decided to keep the quote at the bottom though. In my family it has long been assumed that Izaak Walton is part of the family tree on my dad’s side. Well, my grandmother (RIP) insisted it was so, and the information had been passed down generation to generation. However I have no proof 🙂

It did make me smile though, so it stays!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Shiny hobbit ring