It’s been almost 7 months since I upgraded to the WordPress business plan, so I thought I’d reflect on how it has changed my blog, both good and bad.
The business plan lets you install plugins to perform specific functions on your site. Basically, you load the plugin onto your site, tweak the settings, and then let it do its thing. I use the following plugins:
- WooCommerce: this is what I use to run the MH@H Store
- Yoast: this is an SEO plugin that I’ll talk about in the next section
- HFCM (Header Footer Code Manager): this allows you to insert snippets of code that goes in the header or footer of the code for a chosen page; I use it mostly to be able to create rich pins for Pinterest
- Advanced Ads: I use this for managing some of the Google AdSense ads on my site
- Smush: this compresses image files so they load faster
- Pin it button: this shows a button to pin to Pinterest when a user hovers over an image on my site
- Instagram feed: this one doesn’t particularly matter to me, but it lets me display my latest Instagram posts
The first three from that list are the most useful to me. The ability to use WooCommerce for my store was my main reason for upgrading to the business plan in the first place. It took me a while to get everything figured out, and there were a number of other plugins besides the main WooCommerce plugin that I needed to install to get the full functionality. Now that I’m comfortable with it, though, I’m quite satisfied with it overall. The fact that I still get overwhelmed by it has more to do with depression brain than with the plugin itself.
Search Results & SEO
With the business plan, you can install an SEO (search engine optimization) plugin like Yoast, which is what I use. One of the things this does is allow you to enter a meta-description, which is the description that shows up in search engine results. Yoast also evaluates how different aspects of a post or page look in terms of SEO, and points out changes you can make to improve it.
I was curious how much of an effect this would have, and I was surprised to see just how large the impact was.
This chart comes from Google Search Console. It covers the period from June 2019 to now. I upgraded to the business plan in August, and between August and December, I went through almost all of my old posts and optimized them using the Yoast plugin.
In the chart, the purple line shows how many times pages from my site appeared in search results, and the blue line shows how many times people clicked through to my site.
Activity was pretty low in June and July 2019, and the few months before that were very similar. In August, there’s a noticeable increase, and both impressions and clicks have climbed steadily since then.
While naturally there’s going to be some growth over time, the pattern seems pretty clear that using Yoast is making a major difference in my search engine traffic. Search engines are now a major driver of traffic to my site.
The business plan allows you to run ads using Google AdSense, which gives you far more control over how ads appear on your site than WordPress’s WordAds do. (you can run WordAds with the Premium plan). I wouldn’t want to run WordAds on my site, but I’m pretty satisfied with the way AdSense gives you the ability to choose exactly where I’m willing to have ads go and what ads I’ll show. Ad revenue isn’t much, though; you have to have a lot of traffic coming in to make much that way.
The business plan also allows you to show Amazon affiliate banner ads that use certain HTML code that’s not allowed on other WP plans.
The major downsides don’t affect me directly; instead, they affect people viewing my site. Sometimes some people aren’t able to like and/or comment, and this seems to be an issue with other business plan blogs, not just mine. There’s nothing on my end that I can change to fix this issue; it’s just one of those weird and annoying quirks of WordPress.
One odd thing is that there’s no reblog button anymore. This seems like such a strange thing to do away with, but hey, what do I know.
There’s also a bit of a difference in some of the widgets and how they work; one I had been using to display my most recent post on my home page just didn’t work anymore. It was still there – it just didn’t do anything. The widget for the follow on WordPress button is taken away; instead, you have to insert a bit of HTML code to create a follow button.
The business plan is an expensive upgrade, and the chances of it paying for itself (i.e. generating enough revenue to cover the costs) are probably going to be pretty low for most people, at least at first. Still, it’s allowed me to grow my site and do more with it than I’d be able to do with one of the cheaper plans, and going self-hosted just isn’t an option I’m interested in. So, despite the cost, I’ll be renewing my business plan for another year come August.