How Enhanced Distribution Drives Traffic to Your Site

Many website owners and content creators seek to build their brands by reaching out to the widest possible audiences. The question is, how do you make potential customers aware of what you have to offer?

If your goal is similar to the one described above, then pay attention to Enhanced Distribution from Jetpack.

Let’s discuss what Enhanced Distribution does, and why you should apply it to your website.

The WordPress.com Firehose

Enhanced Distribution enables your website’s public posts to be included within the WordPress.com Firehose. This is made available to search engines and other entities that use real-time content streams in a variety of ways. You can be included in the Firehose even if you’re a self-hosted WordPress site owner.

With Jetpack, your site’s content is eligible for inclusion in the Firehose. Just enable Enhanced Distribution. If you ever want to disable this (or any other Jetpack) feature, you can do so from the Jetpack Debugging Center.

Increase traffic and backlinks to your site

The primary benefit of enabling Enhanced Distribution involves quickly attracting site traffic.

Take search engines, for example. Enhanced Distribution enables your content to be indexed almost immediately upon being published. This increases your chances of being discovered by target audience members.

In addition, other site owners can use the Firehose to display content on their own websites. Whenever they do so, they’re required to link back to the original source. This drives visitors to your site by increasing the backlinks leading to it. According to an analysis from Backlinko, backlinks are correlated with higher Google search rankings as well.

Support your site with Enhanced Distribution

Enhanced Distribution can help you generate more site traffic and build your backlink strategy. It doesn’t require any added effort besides consistently publishing content to your site. From there, it will automatically be shared to the WordPress.com Firehose.

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Find Your Community at WordPress WordCamps

When you think about WordPress, websites and blogging likely come to mind. While this is certainly an accurate association, WordPress is much more than just a publishing and site-hosting software: it’s a community of users and developers across the globe. Almost every weekend, somewhere in the world, these users get together at a local WordCamp.

As a WordPress user yourself, you have an open invitation to attend WordCamps. Want to uncover what WordPress WordCamps are all about, what to expect, and the benefits of attending? Read on!

WordCamps are about community

The first WordCamp was hosted in San Francisco in 2006. Since then, these events have been held in 65 countries, across six continents.

WordCamps are informal meetups, organized by community members. They typically focus on all things WordPress, and provide users (regardless of experience level) with a place to collaborate, share ideas, and learn from each other.

WordCamps are hosted and organized by volunteers. While each one features a regional flavor, they generally follow the WordCamp Organizer Handbook. Below are some elements that you can expect to see at every WordCamp event.

Passionate attendees

One of the overarching themes present at every WordCamp is making WordPress education accessible to everyone. This is why these events attract a broad range of people — from new users to those who actively contribute to WordPress software development. You’ll meet bloggers, website owners, graphic designers, developers, WordPress consultants, and everyone in between.

Scheduled sessions

WordCamps typically take place over the course of a weekend. Many occur from a Friday to Sunday, while others are single-day events. Each day includes sessions that span a variety of formats. This might include workshops, panels, interviews, lectures, and live demonstrations.

Upon arrival, you’ll be presented with a schedule of sessions. Schedules are frequently organized by skill level and topic. For example, “Social Media Sharing for Beginners” or “Advanced Strategies for Search Engine Optimization.”

Session at WordCamp San Diego 2016. Photo by Joe McDonald (http://mcdonaldmediaproduction.com/)

Associated costs

WordCamps are not-for-profit. They’re meant to be low-key, affordable events. Tickets usually run from $20 per day, and include full conference access, snacks, and a t-shirt or other branded merchandise.

WordCamps are positioned to offer value for a low price because they’re subsidized by sponsors like Jetpack. In case you’re curious, here’s why Jetpack loves supporting WordCamps.

Jetpack Sponsor Table at WordCamp Europe 2017. Photo by Oliver Gobet (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gd6d/)

Organizers, volunteers, and speakers

WordCamps are led by teams of organizers, volunteers, and session speakers. Everyone involved in running the event is a volunteer, the majority of whom are locally based.

These volunteers donate their time and energy out of their love for WordPress and its community. They frequently wear matching t-shirts so that you can quickly identify them. Should you have questions or need anything at a WordCamp, find a volunteer to help.

Volunteers at WordCamp Dallas-Fort Worth 2017

Reasons to attend a WordCamp

Not sure if attending a WordCamp is right for you? Here are a few reasons to reconsider:

Learn something new

At every WordCamp, you’ll dive deeper into familiar topics, find new ways to improve your website, and become familiar with features that you might not be using at this point. In short, you’ll leave with insights and an eagerness to test out some new WordPress knowledge.

If you want to attend multiple sessions scheduled for the same time, don’t worry. Most WordCamps record sessions and post them on WordPress.tv afterward.

Visit new cities

Thanks to the affordability of WordCamp tickets, attending an out-of-town event might also factor into your budget. Consider this a great excuse to visit a new city and connect with the locals.

Additionally, if you’re attending WordCamp for business purposes, you might be able to deduct certain travel expenses from your taxes. Of course, you’ll want to check with your accountant first.

Meet the Jetpack team in-person

Jetpack sponsors WordCamps all over the world. As a part of that sponsorship, Jetpack team members attend events and host booths. At numerous WordCamps, you can stop by the Jetpack booth, meet the team that creates and supports it, and maybe even pick up some free merch.

Jetpack at WordCamp US 2015. Photo by Sheri Bigelow (https://flic.kr/p/CxRD7W)

Get your questions answered

Meeting experienced WordPress users who can help you overcome site obstacles is one of the greatest benefits of attending an event. Many WordCamps even offer a Happiness Bar where you can ask for website help throughout the weekend.

Expand your network

You’ll find ample time between sessions to chat with other WordPress enthusiasts. WordCamps are a great way to make business connections, find freelancers for hire to assist with your website development, and meet others who use WordPress and Jetpack in a similar way.

Go WordCamping

Each WordCamp is positioned to help attendees learn, engage with others, and discover the larger WordPress community. You might become exhausted from all the exciting new information and interactions, but chances are high that by the time you leave, you’ll already be thinking about your next WordCamp.

WordCamp Medellin 2016. Photo by Samantha Hare.

If you haven’t yet attended a WordCamp, now’s your chance! Find an upcoming WordCamp near you.

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Three Website Design Considerations for Tattoo Shop Owners

If you own a tattoo shop, it’s important to make it easy for clients to find you, learn about your craft and experience, and get in touch with you.

Here’s how Jetpack can help simplify a few of your most important website design considerations when building an online presence for your tattoo shop.

1. Pick a theme that aligns with your brand

One of the most fundamental goals of website design is effectively communicating your brand to site visitors. With Jetpack, you’ll have access to more than 100 professional themes to choose from, and additional 200 premium themes if you’re on a Jetpack Professional plan.

Jetpack themes

With a basic understanding of WordPress and the Customizer, you can configure themes to your liking and communicate your brand whether or not you decide to work with a web designer. Empowered with access to hundreds of customizable designs with Jetpack, your fully-functional website will soon attract potential clients.

In addition to a visually stunning theme, incorporate photo elements into your site. Display photos of your clients’ finished tattoos. Feature each of your shop’s artists, with their own respective galleries of work. Prospective clients can browse through these examples to choose an artist who excels in a particular kind of design, like shading or line work.

2. Make appointments easy to schedule

If your site visitors aren’t sure how to get in touch with you, it can prove difficult to convert them into paying clients. With this in mind, the best websites make it convenient for people to connect with the businesses they represent.

The easiest way to drive people to your business? Make it simple for customers to book or request appointments. A call to action with a generic company email address isn’t enough. It’s better to create a Contact Form that collects all the information you need.

With Jetpack’s new Form block, the process of adding contact forms has become even quicker and smoother than before.

Jetpack form block

With Jetpack’s Form block, you can add forms to any post or page on your website — not just the Contact page.

While you’re at it, why not add and configure a Contact Info Widget? This tool displays relevant business information like your address, hours of operation, phone number, and an interactive Google Map. Putting all of this information in one place can make it that much easier for prospective clients to schedule a time to visit your shop.

3. Use descriptive menus for smooth site navigation

If you’re thinking about improving a future client’s experience on your site, you’ll also want to consider your site navigation. Be sure to label your menus based on words that customers can easily understand.

For example, instead of “News,” you may want to use the “Blog” to label your section of up-to-date information and relevant articles that cover tattoo industry trends. “News” isn’t technically incorrect, but it might just be a term that people associate less frequently with a tattoo shop.

Similarly, if you want to direct people to make inquiries, it might be more appropriate to label a section of your website as “Contact Us,” as opposed to “Inquiries.” If your business is casual and friendly, make sure the language you use on your site matches it.

Your designs can be intricate, but keep your website simple

A simple website with a great user experience can outperform a gorgeous but confusing website. These three website design considerations can help to streamline your efforts and improve your clients’ online experiences with your tattoo business.


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Improve Site Navigation for a Superior User Experience

If you regularly publish relevant content, but visitors leave your site once they finish reading an article, you might want to consider your user experience.

Your readers likely want to learn more about the topic at hand, but if your site is missing a structured navigation menu, they might find it hard to locate the content they’re looking for. This might confuse them, prompting visitors to find an alternative site to use in the future. Ultimately, this can result in a higher bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave a site after viewing only one page) and could negatively impact your search rankings — and your business’s bottom line.

It’s a vicious cycle, and the best way to break it is by improving your site navigation to create a better user experience (UX). Positive experiences convince site visitors to stay longer and eventually return to read more of your content.

Let’s review how having intuitive site navigation can help to improve your user experience and decrease your bounce rate.

Site navigation matters

Site navigation helps to structure your website and serves as a high-level index for your content. Through your navigation menus, visitors can quickly locate the content they’re looking for. This encourages them to explore your site for longer periods of time, all the while building familiarity and trust with your brand.

A great navigation menu can also help first-time site visitors understand what your website is about, all within seconds of landing on your page. Adding post categories and drop-down subcategories to your navigation menu also helps your audience understand how your content is grouped.

On top of making your website more accessible to readers, transparent site navigation can also give you an advantage over competitors in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). Navigation considerations are among Google’s most important ranking factors.

Improving your site navigation for a better UX

Below are a few bases you’ll want to cover to provide visitors and search engines alike with a way to swiftly navigate your site and content.

1. Only display the most relevant categories

Even if your site features hundreds of well-written posts that are meticulously filed under dozens of different categories, don’t display every single one within your menu. Those extra categories will clutter your menus, overpopulating your site navigation. This might diminish your user experience by overwhelming readers with too many options, defeating the purpose of navigation menus altogether.

Jetpack's navigation menu includes the categories: Product Tour, Pricing, Support, and Blog

Instead, display only the categories that are the most important to your readers and use descriptive keywords that are in line with your SEO strategy. For example, a website for avid hikers might display the following categories: “Hiking News,” “Trail Maps,” and “Connect with Other Hikers.”

2. Limit your menu items

Having too many menu items within your navigation menu doesn’t help your user experience either. According to cognitive psychologist George A. Miller, most people can only retain about seven items within their short-term memories at any given time. So, try to limit your navigation menu to a maximum of seven items.

3. Test your menus for accessibility across devices

Make sure your menu is clear, intuitive, and visible across any device that a visitor might be using to view your content. Due to the various design elements that make up a website, side navigation menu icons can disappear into the background, or become unclickable when viewed on a mobile device. This increases the likelihood that visitors leave your website without getting what they came for.

To ensure that your website doesn’t fall victim to this design flaw, test it out using a tool such as Google’s Material Design Resizer so that you can get ahead of the problem before it impacts your bounce rate. You can also make use of Jetpack’s mobile friendly theme that optimizes sites for use across various screen sizes — or simply use a newer theme, as virtually all modern themes are responsive.

4. Create primary and secondary menus

In addition to displaying too many menu items, another common mistake is adding too many menus to your website. It’s advisable to create up to two menus — having more than two might confuse site visitors. Nowadays, many site owners use primary navigation menus for the more popular areas of their websites (such as “Blog” pages or product categories), and secondary menus for important but less-frequently referenced information (such as “About” pages or contact information).

5. Incorporate design elements

Many site owners will link their logo back to their homepage, place menus in locations where readers expect to see them (such as a header or sidebar), organize menu items according to their site structures and content hierarchies, and add search boxes near their navigation menus.

Jetpack gives you the advantage of being able to round out your navigation system with Site Breadcrumbs to streamline the structure of your navigation system, and a Social Menu to display links to social media profiles to further refine your user experience and increase engagement across various channels.

Social Menu allows site owners to create a new menu location, used to display links to Social Media Profiles

Improve your site navigation to give visitors what they want

It’s important to align your site navigation with what your visitors are looking for. It also plays a role in how you want readers to interact with your website.

If this is your first time creating a navigation menu, or you’re reworking existing menus, implement these techniques to refine the process, supporting visitors as they engage with your content.


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Support Your Airbnb Listing with a Property Rental Website

Furniture and towels are in place, the cleaning is done, and your A‌i‌r‌b‌n‌b‌ profile is complete. Your rental property is ready to accept reservations — but you’re limited to whatever information the rental service allows you to share with prospective guests.

When you list a property to attract guests, you’re selling an experience. You want to convey a feeling that is often hard to channel within the confines of an application or third-party service.

Let’s review how keeping a property rental website to complement an Airbnb listing can support your vacation home by providing more images and information that set you apart as a host. Your website can play a significant role in convincing prospective guests to rule out competing listings and book their stays with you.

Receive more views with a property rental website

You may be thinking, “If I’m already listed on Airbnb, why is creating a separate property rental website necessary?”

Having a website to share your rental property with prospective renters can add to (or even replace) those services by empowering you to provide more detailed information about your place, including maps, additional images, and resources that your guests might find extremely useful, like a contact form that allows them to reach out directly if they have specific questions or concerns.

Helpful hosts get favorable reviews

The best way to get and maintain five-star ratings on rental websites is to be a reliable host. Being attentive and keeping your property in good shape is just the beginning. Be proactive by providing any information that your temporary tenants might need. When you do that, you show that you’re an approachable host who is there to answer questions and support guests.

A website is a great place to house and manage all of this information. While many rental properties share instructions and house rules via email prior to guests’ arrival, the very best hosts also share website URLs for their properties. By providing guests with a website full of resources, they can address the most frequently asked questions and supply far more than a list of rules. Going above and beyond with a website will set the tone for your guests’ experience, and might reflect even better on you once it’s time for them to leave reviews.

Build out your listing with thoughtful details

Besides house rules and the always-crucial Wi-Fi password, consider building out the character of your listing by adding a few extra touches.

  • Are you renting out a historic or interesting property? Include an “About Our House” page that explains what makes your property unique.
  • Guests might be interested in learning about your story as well — so introduce yourself and provide some fun facts about your background. This is where you can go beyond the two-line introduction that a third-party rental service allows.
  • Add a guestbook plugin to let guests share experiences and tell stories about the good times they had at your property. This simultaneously provides you with useful testimonials to feature on your site down the road (with permission from the authors) and convinces future prospective guests to make reservations.
  • Share additional photos so your listing stands out. The orange sunset falling below the mountains, a historic hiking route, or even the cocktail lounge a few blocks away — many properties’ biggest selling point is their proximity to other attractions. Rental services prefer that you only share photos of your listing, but with your own website, you can share as many additional photos as you want. When you show them to visitors through a powerful content delivery network like Jetpack’s, your site will stay lightning-fast.
  • Share exciting local events with prospective renters. The farmer’s market held every Thursday afternoon might not be news to you, but it’ll be a first for your guests — so be sure to tell them about it. You can display any local events worth sharing with the Upcoming Events Widget.
  • Showcase popular local destinations — list your favorite hangouts, the best cafe in town, or a legendary brunch spot. Is there a scenic beach nearby that nobody knows about? Use a map block so your guests can plan their trips.

Websites are the perfect platforms to organize and present this wealth of information. As an added bonus, your posts can double as advertisements if you share them to your social media channels with Publicize.

Better ratings, more reservations, increased revenue

At the end of the day, having your own property rental website positions you to achieve one very important thing: providing superior guest experiences. Better experiences lead to positive ratings for your property, which bring in more reservations. If every weekend is booked months in advance, you earn that much more income.

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Create Online Courses With Jetpack to Share Your Expertise

Jetpack is a popular pick for WordPress users because it offers enhanced functionalities and can be used for most purposes, ranging from blogging to e-commerce. One thing that you may not have considered, however, is creating and offering online courses through your site.

Let’s explore how to offer online courses through your Jetpack site so that you can share valuable lessons while profiting from your expertise.

What to consider before getting started

At bare minimum, you’ll need a few hours of video content to get started with creating an online course. If you’re camera shy, don’t worry, you can use lecture slides as well.

It’s also important to consider the layout of your course. How many parts will you offer? Will you include written content to supplement your videos? How will you grade your students on course completion?

After you’ve given the logistics behind your course some thought, consider going a step further by integrating a forum where students can answer each other’s questions and give each other feedback. This can save you from having to address each issue personally. Other helpful features to include are a “FAQ” page and a “Contact” page complete with a form so that students can contact you directly.

Plugins to support your online course

What’s a teacher without resources? Here are a few tools that can help you deliver a curriculum.

Learning management: Sensei

Plugins are what gives WordPress its amazing versatility, as you can download tools that will enable you to add virtually any feature to your site. There are a few plugins that are specifically designed to help you create an online course. These are called learning management systems (LMS), and they make laying out your content much easier. One LMS that’s gotten a lot of attention is Sensei.

Sensei logo and heading

Sensei helps to make your courses attractive, easy to navigate, and user-friendly. Once installed, you can create online courses, write detailed lessons, and add quizzes. Its reporting feature lets you see how many people are enrolled in your course, and you can recognize those who complete your curriculum with personalized certificates.

The features don’t stop there, though. If you offer multiple courses and you’re looking for more advanced functionalities, Sensei even allows you to set lesson and course pre-requisites. This means that users will need to take and pass a certain lesson or course in order to advance to the next one.

Tuition: WooCommerce

Sensei is an extension of the WooCommerce plugin, a popular e-commerce option that’s known for being well-supported and easy to use. If you decide to charge a fee for your course, you can create a paid membership option with WooCommerce to integrate popular payment gateways, like PayPal.

Video lectures: Jetpack’s Video Storage

Screenshot of Jetpack video player

You’ll need a way to manage and organize your videos, especially if your course features many hours of content. Use Jetpack’s video storage functionality to upload videos from your computer directly to Jetpack’s servers, instead of storing the videos on your host’s server. This saves you storage space, and allows your site to load a lot faster. Those with Premium or Professional plans can upload an unlimited amount of video content and deliver it quickly and seamlessly to viewers with Jetpack’s video content delivery network (CDN).

Attract long-time learners

Once your course is live and ready to be taken, you’ll need to attract students. It’s important to promote your course so that it reaches a wide audience. Send out an email reminder (if you have a mailing list), and post about it on social media. If you have a budget, consider using paid ads, as they’re impactful ways to bring in the exact type of traffic you’re looking for.

You should also consider providing written transcripts of your videos, as an alternative content type may improve your search engine optimization and will certainly add to the quality of your curriculum. Additionally, it offers an alternative to an audio course. Those who are hearing-impaired, or prefer to read lesson plans instead of viewing video content, might use this content type instead.

Offer courses with ease

You don’t need to become a WordPress expert to sell your expertise — all you need is Sensei, WooCommerce, and Jetpack to help you create online courses that will deliver your passion and knowledge to the world.

Do you offer online courses through your website? How do you promote them? Share with our readers in the comments below!

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