WordPress Sites Hacked

Last week a critical security leak was exposed in many WordPress sites which allowed malicious code to be injected into the site files by hackers. In response I installed the security plugin WordFence, which scans and identifies files that contain malicious code. WordFence also has many other setting which help secure a WordPress site.

After scanning the site WordPress lists the files that need attention. Files can be deleted right from the WordPress console which makes it easier than logging in through FTP or the server console.

WordFence can be set to scan files outside of your theme, or even outside of the WordPress install itself. Some site had many infected files. In these cases, rather than removing files individually, I prefer to replace the entire WordPress files, with the exception of the config file and the wp-contents directory. Why? Well, I found that when updating WP through the CMS it didn’t necessarily remove some files. By replacing all of the files I can be assured that the infected files are gone.

When setting up the options in WordFence I made sure that I selected to receive emails if someone tries to log into the site. Additionally I set it so that if anyone tries to log in with bad passwords or usernames they are locked out of the site. At first I was skeptical about this but I was amazed when I started receiving emails. In one instance a site was hit 61 times from locations in China, Russia, Spain, and Italy.

As of right now I have installed WordFence on about 30 sites and I’m pretty happy with the results. I would strongly suggest that anyone with a WordPress site install a security plugin right away. If your site gets hacked it could be shut down by your hosting service, as a few of mine have been, and you could also get a “This site may be hacked” warning when your site is searched for. This happened on a couple of times on Google. If you rely on your website to be up and running all the time you don’t want to get hacked.

Georgia Hunting Land For Sale

Last week I got a call from a customer who asked if I could build a site which would be used to try to sell the property they had for sale in Georgia. This seemed like a odd request considering the that there are plenty of existing sites that are dedicated to selling land. I mentioned this but the client really wanted to have a site so of course I built it. To aid in the SEO for the site we bought the domain name GeorgiaHuntingLand4Sale.com. They wanted something done quickly, and inexpensive, so I used a existing WordPress template and had the site up in a couple hours.

About a week later I get a phone call from the client. “Our site isn’t showing up in the search returns”, they said. I had to explain to them that any new site is probably not going to show up on the first page right away. Most sites take weeks or months to show up. Yes, some of the sites I have built have appeared on the first page of a search return within a couple of weeks, for very specific search phrases, but that is not always the case. Do a Google search for “Georgia hunting land for sale” and you’ll see there are over 2,000,000 returns. Most of the top level returns are those big real estate sites I spoke of. Getting this particular site to show up is going to be a challenge at best.

Mizner Park CAC site completed

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Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center

The new website for the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center in Boca Raton, Florida is now online! The site is built on WordPress with a custom template I designed.

I got the call a couple weeks ago that the client needed to have a website to promote their facilities. They had tried to build the site themselves with their hosting companies website builder, but it wasn’t really working for them. They wanted a “simple” website that was easy to navigate for their mostly older non-computer savvy clientele. They also needed a logo but didn’t want to pay another agency the $5000 they were asking.

Visit miznerparkcac.org

Posting to Facebook

mohawk-bird-65xWell, my test didn’t go as I had planned. The FaceBook post shows up but it still says “New post (Posting to FaceBook from WordPress) has been published on Barry’s Blog” This is not exactly as I had hoped for. It looks pretty much the same as the JetPack post.

 

fb-screen-grab-nevoles fb-screen-grab

Posting to FaceBook from WordPress

I have been testing several ways of posting my WordPress blog posts directly to my FaceBook page. At first I thought that there had to be a plugin that simply sent my post directly to my FaceBook account, but after looking at hundreds of plugin descriptions I began to realize that this was not going to be so simple. Many of the plugins I found did all sorts of things, but not what I wanted.

Then I found the JetPack plugin, which is a official WordPress plugin. It said it would send my posts to my FaceBook page, which it did, but it ‘shared’ them on my page. I wanted something that would be seamless in appearance.

So today I found another plugin. The NextScripts Social Networks Auto-Poster plugin. After reading the installation instructions I was a little hesitant to use it. I had to, GASP!, register as a FaceBook developer and create a app. Something else I’d been avoiding during my search. Well I bit the bullet and in about 5 minutes I had registered my ‘app’ with Facebook and set up the plugin.

So here is my test. If I’m lucky this will show up on my facebook page. If not…back to the drawing board.

Muse Hauling & Grading Updated

screenshotI spent this past weekend updating the website for Muse Hauling and Grading, a local business here in Denver, NC. I originally designed the site back in 2009. Since that time I’ve had to learn to keep up with the constant improvements in web design, including updates to HTML and CSS as well as the other developments in programming such as jQuery which has quickly become the standard over Flash in such now common things such as animations and slideshows.

Looking at the statistics for the site it was obvious that something needed to be done. Although the site came up well in local searches on Google and Bing, it was still not bringing in the visitors the client needed. A local search for ‘clearing and grading Denver NC’ put the site at the top of the first page (when viewed her from Denver). But a search for  ‘clearing Denver NC’ saw the listing move to the second page. Looking closely at the listings on the first page for that search showed that those listings were really big sites like Angie’s List, Yellow Pages, and so on. Clearly it would be difficult to knock such big sites off page one for that particular search. Other searches for services plus ‘denver nc’ also found the site listed on page 1 or 2.

So, while local search results are good, the challenge now is to get more visitors to the site. Getting links from other sites is a good tactic to get more visibility on the web. MuseHG.com does have listings on Angieslist.com, yellowpages.com, manta.com and a few others. We’ve searched out a few business directories and included the site on those as well but perhaps that is not enough. I’ve advised the client to create a business page on Facebook which hopefully will bring in some more visitors.

In the redesign of the site I’ve taken what I hope will be a good step in increasing the sites visit numbers. The previous site was a static site, which I updated when the client provided me with new content. Unfortunately this was not as often as I would have liked. Obviously when it comes to Google and Bing, content is king! If a site doesn’t grow or doesn’t get updated frequently the ratings tell the tale. Now, by building the site into a WordPress template, the client will be able to update the site himself. And, by using the WordPress JetPack plugin, new posts will automatically be pushed to the new FaceBook page which creates more links and more content at the same time. Seems like a win win situation.

I’ll be keeping an eye on MuseHG.com in the coming weeks to see how well this new strategy works.

March 2013

And here is is, March 4, 2013 and I haven’t posted anything in what seems like forever. Well, since November 30, 2011 anyway. Lots of things have been going on since then. Mostly work work work! We’ve done a lot of new websites in the last year or so, both for Dang Good Graphics and Omni as well, for clients in construction and education, local small businesses and organizations and, or course, automotive. All of which is good as it’s required me to keep learning new things, especially WordPress since most of the sites are being built on that CMS. It’s been quite a lot of fun actually although my brain occasionally shuts off from too much information.

Here are some of the websites I’ve worked on since my last post.

Wietsma Lippolis Construction

Riddle Construction

S&D Construction

Festival of the Arts BOCA

Brandon and Savannah

Miami Valley Honda Dealers

Open Road Cycles

Open Road Riders Group

Crusing For A Cure

 Aureus Assets

Colorado Construction Concepts

 Nevoles Pizzeria

RPM Plastic Pallets

MASTR Retractor

 

Never enough time

I spend most of my days working on various projects from print advertising to website design and maintenance. My days are pretty full making sure that I routinely check my clients sites to ensure that they are updated with the very latest versions of whatever. So you can imagine my surprise when I logged onto this blog and realized that I hadn’t updated it in quite some time.

First thing I did was try to update the WordPress application. Click here and there and what? I get a warning message. Version 3.2.1 requires PHP 5… Uh oh. Check the server. Sure enough it’s set to PHP4. A couple searches and I find the correct location and update to PHP5. Back to wordpress, update to 3.2.1. OK.

Now I see that there are three plugins that need updating. Simple enough. Click, click, 1, 2, 3 and it’s done.

Hmm, seems I’m using an old template for the design. Problem is, the update to that template doesn’t have the sliding images like this one does. Guess that’ll have to wait. Anyway, I’ve been doing some custom template design lately and, since this is my own site, perhaps I should devote some time to creating my own template. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

First things first though. Got to finish those client projects and bring in some cash. This might take a while. I’ll let you know when I get around to that new template.

5 THINGS SOCIAL MEDIA CAN’T DO

Despite the numerous benefits that social media can bring to a business or individual, there are many misconceptions about what it can and can’t accomplish. Far too often, unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment. Knowing what social media can’t do will make it easier to harness the power of what it can accomplish.

5 THINGS SOCIAL MEDIA CAN’T DO:

Replace A Marketing Strategy

Social media is powerful, but it isn’t a stand-alone substitute for a marketing strategy. Effective marketing strategies can and should incorporate social media elements. However, simply launching a StumbleUpon account or Facebook Page isn’t going to cut it. Continue reading 5 THINGS SOCIAL MEDIA CAN’T DO

Using Pixelpipe to update your blogs and microblogs

A few months ago I was told about a application by PixelPipe that allows you to update your blogs and micro-blogs, like Twitter and FaceBook. The person who told me about it said something like, “You can make a single entry and it sends it out to all of your accounts at the same time”. What? You mean I only have to make one entry and BANG!, it goes out to my blog , facebook and twitter? No Way! Continue reading Using Pixelpipe to update your blogs and microblogs