Beware 5164166031_462b41515a_bThe advent of open source, templated WordPress websites that non-programmers can create and maintain has been revolutionary. But beware, there are some very scary things that can go on behind the scenes you need to know about and prevent!

[I originally published this post in 2015. Last night I attended a really great WordPress meetup and decided to update the post. And, yes, there are still reasons to beware of open source, templated websites!]

As a marketing consultant, I’ve been working with websites since 2000 and on WordPress sites since 2009. I’ve seen some great successes and real nightmares with the WordPress platform. Today I and my associates prefer to create websites in WordPress, because it is so cost-effective and flexible. But, it’s not right for every project, and there are some things you need to watch out for.

WordPress is an open source technology. That means that the source code is available to anyone who wishes to modify or expand upon the code. It is widely used and relatively easy to access and modify.  Because its open source, programmers have developed design themes that your can purchase to quickly implement and website with a nice design. They have also developed add-ons for the websites called plugins, so that depending on what features you want to create on your website, you can pick and choose plugins to install without having to program the features yourself. Many templates and plugins are free, which can be very cost-effective.

But, here are some of the nightmares that I’ve seen:

1. Because WordPress is open source, it can be hacked.

But, you say, “I’m a small business, and I don’t do sales transactions on my site. Why would someone hack my my site?

Because! (Really, some hackers hack WordPress sites just because it’s there.) Some hack sites so that they can install malware or use the site to conduct attacks on other sites or programs.

This became really clear to me in 2011 when a web developer casually mentioned he had noticed some malware on a client’s WordPress site and removed it.

Me: “Whaaaaat?

All businesses could be hurt by malware inserted into their website, but in particular, this was a business for which reputation was critical!  There are standard security procedures and tools you can implement to help prevent this, and regular reviews of your WordPress site for malware and hacks are a must.

Since I originally wrote this post, I had to work with a web developer and with Google to help a client get malware removed from their hacked site. The site had been hosted on a legacy hosting service that had some security holes, and there is a possibility that the client’s network was not secured against hackers. We had done a good job of optimizing content for this client and getting them found online, so it was disappointing when we had to take time out to remove malware and resubmit it for review by Google. I learned in this process that there are new ways to secure a WordPress installation from hackers, and I’m sure the methods and tools continue to evolve.

2. WordPress templates or plugins can result in a bad website.

There are good templates and plugins and bad ones. Don’t buy a bad template or plugin! Have an experienced WordPress programmer evaluate it first. Check to make sure the author does regular updates. This is one reason you may want to buy your template instead of using a free one. At least with a paid template, it is more likely that there is someone with “financial skin-in-the-game” (e.g. someone who is incentivized) who will maintain it properly.

I learned from my WordPress web developer that when they download templates, they have seen that some WordPress template creators load in a bunch of plugins, which they don’t disclose before you purchase. Even if you do research on the template, now you have the plugins on your server, and you may not know who created them or if they are maintained.

I’ve run into some businesses that updated their site in the last couple of years but are still using a non-responsive template. A responsive template automatically adjusts for whatever device (desktop computer, tablet or phone) is used to view the site. Google announced that sites that are non-responsive will not rank well in the search results well in advance of making the change in April 2015. It’s a shame to invest money in a new site or site update and not have it responsive, when Google pre-announced the change to give everyone time to update their site – something Google rarely or never does! Before you choose a template, make sure it has all the features that are necessary to perform well for visitors and with the search engines.

I have worked on client websites that were set up incorrectly. Sometimes the templates are modified, and if the site was not set up properly,  installing an update to the template (critical to plug possible security holes) wipes out the modifications. In one case, a business’s home page was heavily modified so that the client could not edit the content, and our team could not optimize it for the search engines. Graphics were not the correct resolution and load slowly. If websites are not set up with the proper security measures in place, and they get hacked.

3. There is a wide range of quality when it comes to WordPress development.

Today, almost anyone can say they are a web developer, create a website, create graphics and optimize the site for the search engines. Graphic designers create websites. Web developers create graphics and provide search engine optimization (SEO). Heck, I even created a very simple site for a client (they begged me). But, does the SEO that was done get results? Is the site really secure from hackers? Are the images and graphics designed and optimized for the web? Does the site have loads of plugins and widgets that slow down the performance (another factor Google takes into consideration when it evaluates websites for search results).

Some really successful traditional, print-oriented graphic designers do not understand how to create graphics for the web. Some graphic designers and some web developers do not keep up with the ever-changing SEO techniques. Programmers are not always good web developers and some are not experienced in WordPress. And, now that content marketing and social media make a difference in how a website gets found in searches, there are also many web developers and graphic designers don’t know how to integrate this into a WordPress (or any) website.

This was not a blog post written to bash web developers, programmers and graphic designers. For me, the last few years of working on WordPress websites have taught me is that there are many aspects of a website that need an experienced professional.  There are talented professionals out there that create good, optimized, well-performing websites. But, unfortunately, there are also a lot of bad WordPress website creators. They may not even know what they don’t know. If you, the website owner, doesn’t know what to look for when buying web development services, you may end up with a website that’s very, very scary.

If you need a new website or wish to update your existing site, contact me at New Incite today. I provide written website creation or update plans that include the design, security, marketing and technology details you need. I  have reviewed proposals for websites and social media projects and consulted with businesses to help them choose the best provider. I continue to work hard to continue to identify and work with the good guys and gals – designers and developers who create great websites that generate results.

Photo by David Goerhing on Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.



Melania TrumpThe news stories about Melania Trump’s 2016 Republican Convention speech plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic Convention speech brought up one of my pet peeves – plagiarizing marketing content.


It is not OK to copy other marketers’ stuff. Ever.


I had a personal experience with being plagiarized by B2B Marketers when one of my attorney clients told me about Copyscape.com. I thought I’d try it out, and I soon found that two consultants and an online industry publication had copied three of my articles. You can read the dramatic (I am not dramatic – actually very calm – but my blood pressure definitely went up) story here, B2B Marketers: Has Your Online Content Been Copied? In a nutshell, one consultant who copied my content said she hired a ghost-writer and didn’t know the articles were copied. The other consultant, a former boss of mine, apologized and took the plagiarized content down.

Why Plagiarism is an important issue for B2B Marketers

Ethics in marketing – and in business – has become an increasing focus of mine. A few years ago when I was asked to teach a marketing ethics course at UCLA Extension (one of the largest and most comprehensive continuing education programs that offers certificate programs for businesses, including a Marketing Certificate). I started teaching the Ethics in Marketing and Advertising course (and then was asked to teach the capstone course of the Marketing Certificate, Strategic Marketing).

I was really impressed that UCLA Extension required the ethics class. As time went on, I came to believe that ethics should be embedded in every course offered in any certificate program at UCLA Extension, rather than a discreet course.

But,  I digress!

I mention this because the ethics in marketing that has always been part of my marketing consulting practice became even more of a focus when I was teaching the class. To this day, I still follow ethics issues in marketing and curate articles and posts in my Ethics in Marketing topic on Scoop.It. Ethics in marketing is on my radar, and we B2B Marketers need to prevent our clients and other marketers from plagiarizing others’ original work.

If you do create content based on someone’s original work, at least mention the author and, even better, provide a link to the original material.

I have a thirty-plus-year career in B2B marketing and sales, and I’ve consulted with hundreds of companies in the last twenty years. I’ve observed a lot of marketing and business situations and provided solutions that help my clients grow. I keep a folder of these observations and solutions that feeds ideas for my blog posts on my B2B Marketing Traction blog. My blog posts are original and designed to add value for my clients and prospective clients. I always reference other content I consult for research prior to writing my own blog posts.

Re-purpose Your Own Marketing Content, not Other People’s!

When social media and content marketing became more mainstream, some of the industry leaders were suggesting that you re-purpose content to be more efficient. At the time I was following blogs by Chris Brogan, Jay Baer and David Meerman Scott, among others. I don’t remember who first wrote about re-purposing. The idea was that you would watch which of your blog posts or videos were most popular, and then turn the blog post into a video, webinar, eBook, etc. (or vice versa). I think re-purposing is brilliant. It’s just that the originators of the idea meant that B2B Marketers should re-purpose their own content, not that of competitors or other thought leaders!

If you have reviewed other sites and content before writing your own, or if you hired a ghost writer, consider using an online plagiarism checker before you publish.

I think plagiarism can happen, and sometimes it might just be human nature. Here’s an example. Years ago I was working with a client who wanted to write their own website content. After a while, they asked me to review what they wrote and give them my opinions and feedback. As I read one of the pages, some of the words jumped out at me. I looked at a similar page on my site. Sure enough, the exact wording had made it’s way to my client’s site. The client was in a different space and, frankly, I was a little bit flattered that they liked what I had written. I didn’t say anything at the time, but I did observe that it’s very possible for someone to read content and then write it into their materials later without realizing they are copying someone’s words. So, we can argue that anyone could be at fault for plagiarism! By the way, if anyone thinks I have copied their materials, I welcome their call or email to discuss it.

When B2B Marketers Copy Your Stuff, Remember Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery

Over the years I’ve observed that my content has provided ideas for other businesses, both big and small. I haven’t expended the energy and time to run each of my blog posts through a checker like Copyscape. I just remind myself that imitation is the best form of flattery and move on, writing creatively and producing original content.

Avoid B2B Marketers Who Encourage Plagiarism and Copying Content

Just as the online copy checkers have helped spot plagiarism in schools and business, technology also potentially encourages plagiarism! And some B2B marketing advisors actually tell their clients to use competitor’s content! One Content Marketer admitted in a blog post that they use an online service to submit competitors blog URLs, find out what content on the competitor site is most popular, and then write a better article. (Frankly, I wonder who has time for this, and it perhaps even suggests that the marketer doesn’t have original thoughts and content to share with their audience.)

It’s fine to track what topics are popular, but if you are rewriting a competitor’s article, you may be crossing the line. Marketers have been doing competitive analysis and following competitor’s marketing messages for years. That’s one thing. But encouraging people to copy others’ content is wrong. As marketers, we need to be careful, and we need to produce content with integrity and complete transparency. If another marketer’s article inspires you to write about a topic, and you take their content and add it it, you should give them credit.

How Can You Make Sure Your B2B Marketing Consultant Writes Original Content?

There are a few questions you can ask to find out if your marketing consultant has integrity and produces original, not copied, content for themselves and for your business.

1. Does your marketing consultant follow a code of ethics?

Sometimes marketing consultants belong to an organization that requires adherence to a code of ethics. One such organization is the Institute of Management Consultants, in which I’ve been an active member and a leader in the Los Angeles Chapter for more than a dozen years. Unfortunately adherence to a code of ethics is not the norm for most consultants, because they aren’t required by law to maintain a license or follow a professional code like CPA’s, Attorneys and Doctors.

2. Does your marketing consultant put their clients first?

Does your marketing consultant create original content that shares their experience and helps you and other businesses? This kind of content will tend to be longer blog posts with interesting case studies and stories about the consultant’s actual experiences. Or, is their content designed to game search engine results and promote themselves as a speaker? This kind of content may show up as short blog posts full of keywords but little value or lists of regurgitated content links from other people.

3. Are you able to get references to check your marketing consultant’s work ethic?

Sometimes we get so excited about finding a possible solution to our marketing problems, we just jump into a contract with a provider. You should always check references first, and, if possible, talk to a couple of alternative resources. It’s always best to take a little time to check references before you enter into a contract.

It’s not even Friday, a day that I often reserved for writing opinion pieces that I usually label “my Friday morning Marketing Soapbox.” But, I think you’ll agree that ethics in marketing is really important. When we were served such a blatant example of plagiarism in Melania Trump’s RNC speech this week , I could not resist writing this post. (By the way, I listened to the broadcast of the live speech and thought she did a good job. I did not recognize the words that were lifted from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech!)

If you want to work with a marketing consultant with integrity, contact New Incite today. Since 1997 we’ve been creating original marketing messages, campaigns and content to generate results for our clients.

Photo on Flickr by Marc Nozell. Some Rights Reserved.



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