Resources

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Recommended Vendors

Below is my list of favorite website and WordPress resources to keep your website and business running smoothly. Everything listed below has been used and is recommended by us.  In fact, many of the resources listed here are crucial to running my own business and I am happy to discuss them in greater depth if needed.

Security, Backups & Anti-Spam

iThemes Security Pro – Keep the bad guys out of your WP website & get peace of mind. A security plugin that helps protect & defend your site. Security monitoring is a must and the folks at iThemes have this mastered.

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UpdraftPlus – Hacking, server crashes, dodgy updates or simple user error can ruin your WordPress site. UpdraftPlus is a complete, general-purpose backup and restores plugin with more features and advanced tools than any rival.

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BackupBuddy – Backups are a must!! Control your own destiny by backing up your website to an offsite location like Amazon S3, Dropbox, Box, etc.

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Spam protection by CleanTalk – No CAPTCHA, no questions, no animal counting, no puzzles, no math, and no spambots. Universal AntiSpam plugin. CleanTalk is a free anti-spam plugin that works with the premium Cloud AntiSpam service cleantalk.org. This is a 'plugin as a service' with a small  $8 annual fee (worth every penny and more).

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AntiSpam Bee – Free, Say Goodbye to comment spam on your WordPress blog or website. Antispam Bee blocks spam comments and trackbacks effectively, without captchas and without sending personal information to third-party services. It is free of charge, ad-free and 100% GDPR compliant.

SEO & Analytics

Yoast – Yoast SEO is the most widely popular WordPress plugins for website optimization. Yoast makes it easy for you to do things like control titles and meta descriptions, set your targeted keywords and track how often you're using them, manage sitemaps, and so much more.

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Yoast WooCommerce SEO – If you’re serious about selling and competing online, you need the Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin to unlock extra tools, features, and SEO for your WooCommerce store.

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KW Finder – KWFinder is a great tool for finding easy-to-rank-for keywords. This research tool helps you identify the best long-tail keywords to target with low SEO difficulty – those that hit the sweet spot of high search volume and low competition. It one of many SEO tools from Mangools.

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SpyFu – SpyFu is a research and competitive intelligence tool that is used by digital marketers to research and improve online search performance.  It is packed with data, charts, and key insights about organic and paid search results.

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Semrush – Semrush is an all-in-one suite of 40+ tools and reports for improving online visibility, identify trends, and discover marketing insights.

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Google Analytics A free web analytics tool offered by Google to help you analyze your website traffic. It allows you to track and understand your customer's behavior, user experience, online content, device functionality, and more. 

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Google Search Console – A free tool that helps webmasters and business owners measure their site’s traffic, see keyword performance, fix issues, and receive messages from Google about their website. It provides insight on how a website is doing in organic search as well as ways to make adjustments. This is a must-account if getting found in search results is your goal.

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Bing Webmaster Tools – This tool will provide information on the health of your website and XML sitemap. You will need to connect your website to this tool to view data. Usage: keyword research, Bing keyword ranking, top pages in Bing search, inbound link tracking, XML sitemap upload.

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Hotjar – Hotjar is a powerful tool that reveals the online behavior and voice of your users. By combining both Analysis and Feedback tools, Hotjar gives you the 'big picture' of how to improve your site's user experience and performance/conversion rates.

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Local SEO

Google Places for Business – Every single local business should have a well-maintained Google My Business profile. In short, it’s a free and indispensable tool for every local business.

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Bing Places for Business – Add your business to Bing for free and help online customers discover your business.

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Yoast Local SEO – Improve your chances to rank with the Local SEO plugin. By adding structured data search engines like Google get your location and other important information on the fly.

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Moz Local – Moz Local is a publishing tool that pushes US and Canadian business NAP (name, address, and phone number) to our partner sites and directories that factor into local search engine results.

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BrightLocal – Boost your local SEO authority with high-quality business listings. BrightLocal puts you in control of listings, SEO, and reputation.

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Yelp for Business – Add or claim your business, keep your page up to date, respond to reviews, view click and call reports or get ahead of the game with premium upgrades.

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Email Marketing & Lead Gen

MailerLite – An affordable email marketing software provider that's generous on inclusions and easy to understand and use. It supports Agate Fire's marketing funnel automations and newsletter.

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Mailchimp – MailChimp is a fabulous tool for email list building, list management, and newsletter creation. The SaaS-based tool allows you to start out for free and pay only once you’ve reached a certain level of usage.

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Aweber – With more robust options and features, Aweber offers email marketing and autoresponder software that’s easy to use. Free expert support services online or by phone.

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Convert Pro – The easiest and effective WordPress popup plugin that can be used by online marketers, bloggers, e-commerce websites, developers, and all other small businesses that wish to increase conversions on their websites.

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Optin Monster – Convert your visitors into subscribers. Optin Monster is a powerful conversion optimization toolkit to grow your email list and boost sales through popups, exit intent, A/B testing and more.

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Active Campaign – Marketing automation, CRM and sales funnel tracking combined that’s both powerful and easy-to-use. Get stats to convert visitors from leads, to customers, to advocates. 

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Stock Photography & Graphics

Canva – Canva is the design software that makes design simple, convenient, and reliable. Create what you need in no time! Jam-packed with time-saving tools that make anyone look like a professional designer.

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Envato Placeit – Placeit is a powerful DIY design tool - allowing anyone to effortlessly create designs, mockups, logos & more in just seconds. All within Placeit’s powerful and intuitive web application.

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Adobe Stock – Our preferred source to find the perfect image for your project. Offering high-res, royalty-free, stock images to enhance any creative project.

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Pixabay (free) – A vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright-free images and videos. All contents are released under the Pixabay License, which makes them safe to use - even for commercial purposes.

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Pexels (free) – High quality, completely free stock photos licensed under the Pexels license. All photos are nicely tagged, searchable and also easy to discover through their discover pages.

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Unsplash – Photos for everyone. Over 1 million free high-resolution images brought to you by the world’s most generous community of photographers.

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Alamy – Bigger, broader, more unique collection than any other stock library. Authentic imagery you can relate to.  Hassle-free - no subscriptions, no credits, no need to register!

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GettyImages – Find high-quality Png stock photos and editorial news pictures from Getty Images. Spectacular high-end images you can't get anywhere else. When only the perfect image will do.

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Productivity Tools

Gmail for Business – Look professional with Gmail. Get custom email at your domain (you@yourcompany.com) and more than 30 GB of inbox storage.  Compatible with Microsoft Outlook and other email clients.  Includes smart scheduling with Google Calendar Schedule meetings at times that work for everyone. Get reminders directly in your inbox.

Google Workspace – I've been using cloud-based Google Workspace for many years now.  The productivity suite of Docs, Sheets, Slides, Email, Drive, and Calendar helps my team communicate, collaborate and get things done from anywhere and on any device.  I especially love how two (or more) people can edit a document at the same time - game changer!

Dropbox – Dropbox is an easy-to-use, cloud-based file backup and sharing system that simply takes all the fuss out of file-sharing. Access your files from anywhere on any device. Both free and paid plans available. We use the professional plan for the Smart Sync, version control, and additional storage features.

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Dropmark – Super simple collaborative sharing tool that can create presentations from files and web content. Completely private and ad-free, as always.

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Trello – Trello is a task/project management collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards and cards. In one glance, Trello tells you what's being worked on, who's working on what, and where something is in a process.

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Freshbooks – We use this tool for invoicing. It offers one-time billing as well as recurring billing options. You can also import transactions from your bank and track expenses. Send estimates and request deposits.

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Acuity Scheduling – An easy-to-use and user-friendly scheduling solution using which clients can quickly view real-time availability, and book their appointments accordingly.

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Formstack Documents – (formerly WebMerge) Enables users to merge data from the cloud (such as from Formstack) into your own custom PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or PDFs. Automate sending of generated documents to email(s), cloud file storage, or send for signature.

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WordPress Development

Astra Theme – The best WordPress theme in existence. Seriously! Astra is a highly customizable, beautiful, and feature-packed WordPress theme suitable for business websites and WooCommerce storefronts. It is very lightweight, offers unparalleled speed, and is built with SEO in mind. Loved by developers, backed and actively supported by the folks at Brainstorm Force. This theme will be around for a very long time.

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Beaver Builder – Beaver Builder is a flexible drag and drop page builder  While it's a user-friendly and easy to learn plugin for our small business clients, it is also loved by developers for the ease of extensibility and solid code structure. It comes with a complete ecosystem of products that enhances the functionality further allowing it to grow with your business.

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Gravity Forms – This is our primary source for WordPress forms. It is the most powerful, extensible, and professional form solution available for WordPress.  It offers rock-solid coding, stability, and active support. It also includes lots of add-ons for taking a great plugin and expanding it even further.

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WooCommerce – This is the most robust and functionally rich e-commerce plugins for WordPress. It offers lots of options for small to large online shops. Add the WooCommerce plugin to any WordPress site and set up a new store in minutes. Get secure payments, configurable shipping options, and more, out of the box

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LearnDash LMS – This is our go-to resource for learning management systems. With LearnDash, you can build a platform for your courses without limiting your options. It has the scalability to grow with your organization, and the flexibility to accommodate your needs as they change.

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The Events Calendar – Easily create and manage an events calendar on your WordPress website with The Events Calendar. Whether your events are in-person or virtual events, this plugin boasts professional features backed by our world-class team of developers and designers.
More Details

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Convert Pro – The easiest and effective WordPress popup plugin that can be used by online marketers, bloggers, e-commerce websites, developers, and all other small businesses that wish to increase conversions on their websites.

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Schema Pro – Creating a schema markup is no longer a task! With a simple click and select interface, you can set up a markup in minutes. All the markup configurations you will set are automatically applied to all selected pages & posts.

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WP Rocket – WP Rocket is a premium cache plugin for WordPress. WordPress experts recognize it as the most powerful caching tool. Thanks to its wide range of options and automatic optimization features, it can be easily used by experienced WordPress users as well as beginners.

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Imagify – The ultimate image optimization tool ever built for WordPress. After enabling it, all your images including thumbnails will be automatically optimized when uploaded into WordPress. You can also use Imagify to convert WebP images, which will additionally reduce the size of your website making it faster.

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Training

WordPress Tutorial Videos for Beginners – Offers easy-to-follow WordPress 101 tutorial videos that are carefully crafted to teach you how to use WordPress.

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SEO Fundamentals Course – Whether you want to learn the basics of SEO or just want to brush up on certain topics - this free course is perfect for anyone. Upon course completion, you'll have a better understanding of how to do SEO and to drive more traffic and customers to your website.

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Google Analytics for Beginners – Google Analytics for Beginners shows new users how to create an account, implement tracking code, and set up data filters. You'll learn how to navigate the Google Analytics interface and reports, and set up dashboards and shortcuts. The course will also demonstrate how to analyze basic Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior reports, and set up goals and campaign tracking.

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