Wordpress website experts based in the UK.
Content, Jargon Busting

Why is Social Proof so important for your website?

Many of us have heard about social proof, many have probably used it but why don’t small business owners use it on their website? Just a small addition such as a video testimonial could dramatically increase the results you get through your website as it increases the perceived trust people have in you.

In this article, we’re going to discuss the various types of social proof and why it’s so important to marketing your small business.

What is Social Proof?

Social Proof roughly translates as ‘evidence (or proof) from other people (social)’ and it helps to convey just how great your company is by demonstrating just how many fans you have. By having a large number of fans, you help people make buying decisions.

Types of Social Proof

Social proof can be broken down into 6 types:

  1. Testimonials
  2. Reviews
  3. Logos
  4. Case Studies
  5. Social Media Popularity
  6. Media Mentions

Each of these 6 types of social proof have a different purpose, but ultimately help improve your online reputation and website conversion rates, so the importance of social proof cannot be understated.

Type 1: Testimonials

A testimonial is a short, written or video snippet providing an description of a personal experience that someone has had of your product or service. It’s important that these are not generic, something like ‘Showcase is the best’ would possibly do more harm than good, and the more details provided about a particular positive aspect of your product/service the better.

Ideally, you’d capture a testimonial from someone well-known in your chosen industry as this holds more weight/authority than someone unknown, but any testimonial is better than none. The first thing we do when we do anything for a client is ask for a testimonial because we know that if the client is happy to share their experience with others, then we’ve done a good job!

Can’t you just fake testimonials?

Some people worry that putting testimonials on their site is all well and good, but that visitors must think they’ve been faked. It’s a logical thing to worry about but one that’s not a concern for businesses with clients willing to provide testimonials. Many businesses get around this by either providing the contact details of the person giving the testimonial (with their consent of course) so potential clients can follow up with them directly – though it could still be argued that this could be staged. Another method of overcoming this worry is to have a short video testimonial provided, actually showing the person providing the testimonial. This holds most authority if it’s an industry leader putting themselves on camera promoting your business.

Testimonials can be collected on paper (posted in or written down from a phone call), via a social media platform such as Facebook or Twitter, on video via your phone or even by email.

Type 2: Reviews

Reviews are a bit like testimonials in that they provide details about someone’s experience with your product or service, but reviews can also be much more in depth and often cover a range of aspects of your service/product.

Authentic reviews are huge in the online sales / ecommerce industry with 93% of people now saying that they are influenced by others’ reviews before making a purchase online. If your business sells things on the web, you simply MUST have a reviews functionality and encourage your customers to use it. It makes claims that you make on your website real when others review your products/service and mention those things positively and this really can make a huge difference to your conversions.

There is also another type of review which is the type of review you find when new products are launched. This ‘interview review’ is where someone will test and rate each part of your product / service and write extensively about it. This can be really good feedback for making future improvements and will also provide good information to your potential customers about what they are thinking of purchasing.

Type 3: Logos

There is a lot of inherent power in placing the logos of household names that you’ve worked with on your website. As soon as potential customers see the calibre of client you have (or businesses you work with), it adds to your businesses’ credibility.

The simplest way to incorporate this into your website is to have a ‘Client’s we work with’ section on your website, which proudly displays those impressive logos.

But I don’t have any well known businesses as clients…

If you don’t have any well-known clients, ask yourself if there are any other connections with well-known businesses that your business has. Some enterprising businesses have negotiated discounted products and services from other, well-known businesses and then been able to say that they’ve partnered with them – adding to their own credibility. What can you do?

Type 4: Case Studies

Humans by default are very receptive to stories. Case Studies harness this innate trait and allows you the opportunity to show how you’ve positively affected someone else who has used your product or service. By discussing this in a story form, your potential customers are much clearer on what you do and the potential outcomes of using your product/ service which in turn leads to a better conversion rate.

Top tip for making case studies more effective – make sure you use real data and try and publish case studies that highlight difference aspects of your product/ service so that people can understand each of them. Try and highlight the outcomes too, rather than the process as this is what people are really after.

Type 5: Social Media Popularity

If you’ve created some content that is seen to be popular on social media – it insinuates that other’s are telling their friends and colleagues about what you’re offering. It’s a microcosm of the world we live in today – where we all want to create the next viral video or content as it will help us get more widely known.

By adding social share buttons to your pages and posts, you are helping facilitate people sharing your information, and once you get to a reasonable number of shares you should definitely amend your social share buttons to show the share count. This self-perpetuates future sharing as people come to the site and see that this post is seemingly being shared by everybody – so they want to follow suit. Make sure though that you don’t add the count in until you get to a significant number of shares as that could actually hurt the popularity and engagement rates of your post/content.

6: Media Mentions

If you’ve been mentioned positively in the media, it’s important to shout about it! The media publishes stories it feels are important to the public, so it’s almost as if they are vouching for your importance by publishing something about you. So you need to utilize that as much as possible!

Blog about it, put it in people’s faces and use it as evidence that your company really does do what it claims to. This will help make a customer out of your readers.

By media, we don’t just mean the press or TV media, but also blogs and mentions from other people – particularly industry leaders if you can get them. As soon as other people are talking about you and your message, that’s the best kind of advertising you could hope for.

Summary – Why is social proof so important?

When people recommend your product/service it says something for your business. Having happy customers vouching for your business helps to persuade others who were perhaps on the fence, that the outcomes they can expect from your product/service are as good as (if not better) than they were hoping for.

Adding the logos of your ‘partners’ business’ to your website helps to add credibility and again, persuade people to give your business a shot.

It’s one of the simplest ways to improve your online reputation and improve conversion rates through your website.

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Online Security Techniques, Security Plugins, Wordpress Security

5 top tips to improve WordPress security in 5 minutes

As you should know by now, making WordPress security easy and stressing it’s importance is something of a passion of ours here at Showcase. So, here are 5 quick fire tips to improving your website security that non-techies can implement in less than 5 minutes. In this article I will talk you through the points and explain the logic behind them, then at the end of the article I’ll provide you the tool necessary to make all this happen without writing a single line of code.

Let’s get started:

  1. NEVER use ‘admin’ as your username. Because some website hosts and many web developers years ago used to use this as the default username, it’s the first thing that hackers (or their bots) try during a Brute Force attack. If they work out that this username is correct, that’s half the puzzle solved for them! Now, WordPress doesn’t actually allow you to change the username on your website – so you have to install a plugin to do it. The plugin we use is “Username Changer” which you can download here.
  2. Upgrade your password. It’s very easy to get into a routine of using simple, easy-to-remember passwords for multiple sites. However, if you think about it that’s exactly what a hacker would like and totally defeats the purpose of a password. We know that passwords are a necessary evil for many people, which is why we recommend managing your passwords via Lastpass as it can help you not only create really strong passwords, but also stores them securely so you don’t have to remember them. Remember, passwords are graded on 3 elements:
    1. Length – you’re looking to have passwords over 12 characters long ideally. Anything shorter than this dramatically reduces the time required to guess the password by an automated machine (or bot).
    2. Characters – ensure you use both upper case and lower case letters, numbers and at least one special character in your password. Also, remember, just because we use capitals at the beginning of sentences in normal text, doesn’t mean you have to in your password. The same can be said for brackets, just because you open a bracket, doesn’t mean you have to close it. Doesn’t an opening bracket look a little like a “C”….?
    3. Readability – Something many are unaware of, but passwords are graded on their readability – so if you were to write it out on a piece of paper, would someone be able to read it? If so, then it’s susceptible to what’s called a ‘dictionary attack’ where a bot would work through the dictionary with some variations of numbers instead of the letters in the word.
  3.  Move your login page. In order to try and hack your website via ‘brute force’ (multiple attempts trying random – or not so random – combinations of characters for the username and password), first a hacker must find your login page. WordPress by default uses ‘/wp-admin’ and ‘/wp-login’ urls to access your login page and we suggest that you move it. By doing this, it’s extremely difficult for a hacker to ‘find the door’ to attack. It’s another layer of complexity that could make all the difference in persuading hackers to look elsewhere for something to break into. Not sure how to do this….don’t worry, read on and I’ll give you a free tool to help you!
  4. Restrict (throttle) the number of login attempts in a certain time period. A brute force attack relies on being able to try a huge amount of combinations of characters in a short space of time. We’re literally talking 1000’s an hour, so they can get through an unbelievable number of combinations. So, if you restrict the number of attempts in say, 5 minutes, then you dramatically extend the time it would take in order to crack the username and password. We tend to stick to 3 attempts in 5 minutes and we’ll lock people out for an hour if they still don’t get it right. Can you imagine how much slower an attack would be based on this?
  5. Add a CAPTCHA to your login page (and other pages). We’ve all seen these ‘annoying’ tests designed to prove you’re human. Solve this maths question, or decipher the letters from this blob, or select all images with a storefront -type questions. Well, throughout this article we’ve discussed the concept of a ‘brute force attack’ and generally, these (and most other types of hack) are carried out by ‘bots’ – automated programs designed to try thousands of attempts quickly – something that a human would struggle to do. So, adding a CAPTCHA to your login page is designed to mitigate this so that only humans can access the site.
We know that passwords are a necessary evil for many people, which is why we recommend managing your passwords via Lastpass as it can help you not only create really strong passwords, but also stores them securely so you don’t have to remember them.

So, we recommend a single plugin that can do all of this for you, and it literally can be done in less than 5 minutes. You can find out how, along with a follow-along tutorial that I created on our AIOWPS page.

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General

All In One WP Security & Firewall Tool

This simple tool is designed to help you quickly and easily configure the settings on your installation of All in One WP Security and Firewall. This, for us, is the security plugin we recommend to all our clients and is quick and efficient way to help bolster the security of your WordPress website.

Where are we sending the finished code?

Where are notifications on this site going (lockouts etc)
What link would you like to use for your login screen?