Anyone involved in WordPress support knows the classic questions about the world's most important CMS. What's the best way to implement cookie banners? How do I create simple backups? What's the right image size? How should I update plugins and themes? And how can I find support in an emergency?
Find the answers to these questions and more in our interview with Jonas Tietgen. With his WordPress community WP Ninjas, Jonas strives every day to make WordPress and WooCommerce even more understandable for users.
Implement cookie banners correctly
Jonas, you must get asked this question very often: How do you build a cookie banner into WordPress that really works? What are your best tips and plugins?
There are many WordPress plugins and tools to integrate a cookie banner or opt-in that's as GDPR compliant as possible. I have, in fact, worked with nearly every single one so far. My first tip is that you shouldn't shy away from investing some money in this area. There are free plugins out there but most of them either lack important functions or are really complicated to use.
In my experience, Real Cookie Banner is currently the best cookie banner plugin available for WordPress. I use it myself on my websites and recommend it to my customers. Probably the biggest advantage of this plugin is that it comes with an extensive template library. Over 90 cookies and services are integrated here. If you choose one of these templates, all technical information and legal texts are automatically filled in.
In addition, there are more options with Real Cookie Banner to meet the necessary legal requirements than with any other plugin or tool I know. If you need support setting up the plugin, I can recommend my how-to guide. There's also a voucher for buying the plugin there.
A good alternative and one that I used for quite a while is Borlabs Cookie Plugin. It unfortunately doesn't have as many templates on offer, however, which means that setting it up can be more time consuming. No matter how the opt-in or cookie banner is created, don't underestimate the effort and skills needed to do this. You have to know and be able to check which external connections are established and which cookies are set. If in doubt, it's best to seek competent support.
Include jump marks and jump links
Likewise, many people want to know how to link to individual sections within a page or a post in WordPress – also called a jump or anchor link. What's your solution here?
There are many different ways of including so-called jump links. If a page builder such as Thrive Architect, Divi or Elementor is used, you usually don't need any programming knowledge to implement it. Thrive Architect, for example, has an integrated function that allows you to select with a click where a link should lead to within the page.
When editing an element or section within a page builder, there's actually always a field for an "ID", "CSS ID" or something similar. You can type in anything you want to designate this section. Let's take a section with a contact form as an example and enter "contact" in this field. Afterwards, a link can be placed at the desired location that refers to "#contact". This link then leads to the desired location.
If you're not using a page builder and you're simply working with the Gutenberg or Classic Editor, this can be integrated quite easily with a little HTML whereby the ID is set via HTML. Let's stay with the example of a section with a contact form and put it in a div element with an assigned ID:
After that, the link leading to this section can be set in the usual way and refers to "#contact".
Create and restore backups securely
How do you create a backup of a website as easily as possible? And above all: How do you restore it in a way that's not too nerve racking?
Not everyone who uses WordPress has the technical skills to manually download all the files and export the database so I'm happy to recommend a plugin to take care of this task. In my experience over many years, the free UpdraftPlus plugin is ideal for this purpose. Once set up, it automatically creates backups of the entire website at a predefined interval, so you don't have to worry about it at all.
And setting it up is also very simple and quick as only two settings need to be made. If the worst comes to the worst and as long as you can still log in to the WordPress backend, UpdraftPlus allows you to restore the backup with just a few clicks.
If you don't have access to the backend, you have to take care of the import manually, i.e. import the database manually and also upload the files via FTP. Depending on the problem, importing the database may be sufficient.
Of course, it's even better and simpler if the website is hosted with RAIDBOXES. Your daily backups are reliable and, above all, can be restored with one click. This is very convenient if the worst comes to the worst. Because regardless of whether the WordPress backend is still accessible or not, the backup can be restored directly via the interface at RAIDBOXES.
If you host at RAIDBOXES, I don't think you need any other kind of backup system. That's why I don't have another one active on my website and rely entirely on you as a hosting provider.
Carry out updates correctly
A hotly debated topic at WordPress: what do you need to pay attention to when updating plugins and themes?
The most important point is the one that is probably the least controversial – you should update plugins and themes promptly. My recommendation is to always keep to the following order when updating:
- Make a backup
- Deactivate caching plugin
- Update plugins
- Update themes
- Update WordPress
In my experience, this greatly reduces the chance of experiencing any problems. And if something does go wrong, you have a current backup.
The right image sizes
Some of your customers want to know in which size or in which pixel dimensions they should upload their images to WordPress. What do you have to consider here?
This is definitely a point that comes up again and again, so I'll try to summarize it as briefly as possible. Images should ideally be uploaded in the pixel dimensions in which they'll be used on the website. That means before uploading them, they need to be resized in an image editing program.
The displayed image size is either specified by the theme you're using or you adjust it manually. You can check the displayed image size in the developer console. If you don't use a WordPress plugin for image optimization such as ShortPixel or Smush, the image size should be reduced using tinypng before uploading. This reduces the file size without any visible loss of quality.
If you want to go one step further and act in a more future-oriented way, you can display the images in WebP format using a plugin such as ShortPixel Optimizer. This reduces the file size even further. Using .svg files is also a good option for smaller file sizes. However, WordPress doesn't currently support the use of these vector files by default.
Which SEO plugin for WordPress?
The question Yoast vs RankMath SEO plugin is a hotly debated topic in our magazine. What are your plugin recommendations for search engine optimization?
In my eyes, RankMath has the upper hand. It's better programmed, has more options (especially with regard to schema markup) and is, in my subjective opinion, easier to handle. This makes it the top SEO tool for me to influence the usual SEO parameters you need a plugin for.
It's also a good idea to include a table of contents for longer articles. I can recommend the free plugin Easy Table of Contents if your page builder or theme don't have an integrated table of contents option. Of course, there's a huge number of plugins out there to help you with SEO. But it's still the content that counts the most.
This WordPress plugin analyzes all pages and posts to give an overview of how often they link and are linked internally. In addition, this plugin can make suggestions as to where further internal links can be set. This saves a lot of time and provides you with important data. I guarantee you'll be very surprised how few internal links point to important pages and posts!
Managed WordPress hosting
You recommend our managed WordPress hosting to your customers. What makes RAIDBOXES so efficient for you?
For me, a hosting provider is efficient when it saves me time. And that's very much in the foreground with RAIDBOXES. Your focus on WordPress hosting ensures for me, as a user, that a lot of things happen automatically that would entail extra work for me at other hosts. PHP version updates, automatic backups and a simple overview of the server resources being used – just to name just a few.
In addition, there are functions that have to be retrofitted in WordPress installations with other hosters via plugin or are simply not possible. I love your Staging feature and have used it for small tests but also for larger redesigns, it's super simple and included for free in the hosting plan.
It's also useful to deactivate plugins and themes in the RAIDBOXES backend. If something goes wrong and you can no longer log in to the WordPress backend, this is a great option. Especially for WordPress users who aren't familiar with technical things like FTP.
Oh, I almost forgot one thing. But as we all know, the best always comes last. After having worked with 50 different hosting providers and I can say with absolute certainty that your team is not only the nicest and fastest but also by far the most competent!
I've already been helped a lot by your support over the years and it's saved me a lot of time. A basis for trust in my host is that I'll not be left on my own if the worst comes to the worst. I'd like to send my regards and a big thank you to Jan, Tino, Neele, Johannes, Milva and all the others I might have just forgotten 😉
Find WordPress support
Many companies are looking for WordPress support. But unfortunately, not all providers have real know-how on WordPress. How do you find the right service provider or suitable freelancer?
That question isn't very easy to answer. Especially for larger orders or projects, I would recommend you take your time to choose a service provider. I would look to see if the chosen agency or person has published videos or articles because this is often where you get a good impression. Is the content understandable, do you feel comfortable watching the video and do you see the other person as trustworthy? But naturally, you can still get black sheep there too...
In any case, a short meeting should take place, preferably with video as well as sound. This gives you an impression of whether the cooperation is also a good fit on a personal level. The classic method, which is probably the best, is good old word of mouth. If someone has done a good job, they will be recommended to others. Of course, you shouldn't blindly rely on what others say but it's a very good way of finding the right people.
You can get recommendations in different places. In Facebook groups, for example, although I would rather recommend a group that doesn't revolve around WordPress. You're usually in at least one group that deals with the topic of your own business and can ask there. Another option for qualitative recommendations are curated directories.
The first thing that comes to mind is the RAIDBOXES partner directory. Because whoever works with you must have a certain quality. Therefore, I'm very happy to be represented in your directory myself!
The most important plugins for WordPress
You've written a new e-book "WordPress Toolkit" with the most important plugins and tools for WordPress. How did you go about choosing the plugins? And where can you get the e-book?
The WordPress toolkit came about because I'm often asked in my members' area which plugins, providers and tools I use and can recommend. I want to help people find the right ones in the ocean of available WordPress plugins. And at the same time, I want to save people tedious research and trial and error.
My selection is based on my many years of experience. More specifically, it's based on the following parameters:
- Usability: the plugin must be easy to understand and operate
- Support: the support should be competent and accessible
- Value for money: excellent value for money is also important.
- Further development
The plugin also needs to be updated regularly. These things are very important to me and I think to everyone else who uses WordPress. The WordPress toolkit can be found here on my website. I gift it to all my newsletter subscribers. But since not everyone wants to subscribe to another newsletter, you can also purchase it for €9 (net).
Can you say a few words about yourself and WP Ninjas?
I'd be glad to! I founded WP Ninjas in 2016 to help self-employed people edit, maintain and optimize their WordPress websites on their own. My approach consists mainly of helping people to help themselves. In essence, we offer an alternative to expensive agencies, which individual freelancers may not be able to afford.
There are more than 100 guides on my blog on how to work with WordPress and optimize your own website. Meanwhile, the heart of WP Ninjas is the WP Ninjas Dojo. This is my members' area where I'm always available with advice, answers and tips in an exclusive forum. Every month there's a live webinar, two co-working sessions and much more.
The community that's formed here in the meantime also supports each other. Members exchange ideas and – despite the sometimes exhausting work with WordPress – above all have fun. I like to fill my time away from WP Ninjas with sports, motorbike trips, walks and WordPress.