How to View Google Analytics from Your WordPress Dashboard

Keeping track of visitors to your blog is important.  While there are many services and tools available for tracking visitors to your site, Google Analytics is often the service of choice.

In this article I am going to provide you with a couple of plugins to view Google Analytics within your WordPress blog.

Google Analytics Dashboard Widget

The Google Analytics Dashboard Widget allows you to view a simple Google Analytics graph in your WordPress Dashboard.  This plugin requires that the Google Analytics code already be added to your site.

To get started using this widget, download and install the Google Analytics Dashboard Widget plugin.  Once installed, enable the plugin and navigate to the Google Analytic Dashboard settings page.

Enter your Analytics email and password and select the site you wish to access data about.  You can also specify who is able to see the dashboard widget but only Administrators are allowed by default.

After enabling the plugin and making the necessary configuration, the widget will be shown on the WordPress Dashboard.  Only a basic chart along with information about the most popular posts are shown.

The plugin also adds a column to the Edit Posts page, showing Analytics information for each post.

Google Analyticator

The Google Analyticator WordPress plugin is another way to view basic Google Analytics information within your WordPress blog.  The Analyticator plugin also offers an easy way to add the Google Analytics code to your WordPress site.

Start by downloading and installing the Google Analyticator plugin.  Navigate to the settings page to configure the plugin.

The easiest way to configure the plugin is to log in with your Analytics account.  Select the correct Analytics profile once logged in.

The settings page contains some other options regarding tracking so be sure to look through those as well if you enable Analytics logging with Google Analyticator.

The Google Analyticator plugin also contains a WordPress Dashboard widget for easy viewing of your site stats.  Other information shown in the widget includes Top Pages, Top Referrers, and Top Searches.

Have any tips for Google Analytics in WordPress?  Let us know by commenting below! And make sure to check out our other great guides about WordPress.

How to Let Your WordPress Blog Visitors Upload Files To Your Dropbox

Dropbox is one of our favorite pieces of software here at Techerator.  Every day, people are coming up with new ways to use the free online file backup and syncing service.  When used with other software, Dropbox can be utilized for just about anything.

The Dropbox Upload Form plugin for WordPress is a small plugin that adds a file upload form to a WordPress Post or Page and adds the uploaded file to your personal Dropbox.

Start by downloading and installing the Dropbox Upload Form plugin to your WordPress blog.  Activate the plugin once it is installed.  You can then navigate to Settings -> WP-Dropbox to configure the plugin.

Fill in the requested information to connect your Dropbox to the form.  Once the plugin has been configured properly, click Save options.

Now you need to add the proper code to your Page or Post to show the upload form.  Add [wp-dropbox] to a post or page to show the upload form in that part of the post and save when finished.

Below is how the upload form will look in your WordPress site.  Any files submitted through this form will appear in the Dropbox folder you specified in the settings above.  The date of submission is added to the end of the file name.

One thing you should be aware of when using this plugin is that the size of the upload file is limited by the PHP configuration of your web host.  You can check with your host to find out the maximum file upload size limit.

Know of any other ways to integrate Dropbox with WordPress?  Let us know by commenting below!

Essential WordPress Plugins Part 2: Administration

In the second part of our Essential WordPress Plugins series we will be taking a look at some plugins that are designed to make managing your WordPress site easier.

WP-Database backup

The WP-Database Backup plugin automates the database backup process and puts your mind to ease about the safety of your blog. WP-Database Backup can perform a manual backup, allowing you to save it to the server, download it to your computer, or email the backup to you.  WP-Database Backup also allows to schedule hourly, daily, or weekly backups and have them automatically emailed to you.

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WP DB Optimizer

As your WordPress blog continues to grow, your database can become cluttered and will slow down your blog.  The WP-DB Optimizer plugin is a simple plugin that allows you to optimize your database from within the WordPress Dashboard.  This is the same form of optimization that you can perform from within another database management software such as phpMyAdmin.

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WP-DBManager

A combination of the above plugins, WP-DBManager increases the amount of control you have on your database from the WordPress Dashboard and provides features similar to those found in phpMyAdmin.  WP-DBManager is a powerful database manager that allows you to add, drop, or edit tables.  WP-DBManager also can optimize, backup, or restore your database, and has the ability to schedule backups and database optimization.  If you’re looking for total database management, then I suggest you give WP-DBManager a try.

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WP-Memory-Usage

Many hosts may limit your PHP memory usage to keep your site from affecting others within a shared hosting environment.  As you install more WordPress plugins and add more functionality to your site, the amount of consumed PHP memory increases.  WP-Memory-Usage is a WordPress plugin that allows you to see how much memory your WordPress installation consumes.  WP-Memory-Usage simply adds a single bar graph to your WordPress Dashboard that give your important information regarding PHP and the amount of memory being used.  If you notice memory usage is high, disable a WordPress plugin or two and check the memory usage.

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Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu

The default WordPress installation includes the WordPress menu vertically stacked on the left side of the screen.  Clicking menu options and waiting for the page to reload to display the sub-menus can be quite frustrating.  Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu for WordPress changes the way WordPress menus work by displaying them horizontally across the top of the screen which allows for a wider WordPress Dashboard.  The Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu also features mouse-over drop downs so there is no more reloading to display sub-menu items, saving unnecessary clicks and page loads.

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Maintenance Mode

When performing work on your WordPress blog, it may be necessary to have some downtime.  The Maintenance Mode plugin works by blocking users from visiting your site when downtime is scheduled.  Administrators and other WordPress users will still have the ability to login to the Dashboard.  When in Maintenance Mode, visitors are presented with a message saying the site is down for maintenance.  Logged in users are able to access every part of the site while in maintenance mode.

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Admin Menu Editor

If you’ve installed a few WordPress plugins on your site, you may notice the addition of new menu buttons.  Depending on the WordPress plugin, a new menu item may be added to the main menu or an item of a sub-menu.  As more plugins are installed, your WordPress menu may become cluttered with menu buttons that you never use.  The Admin Menu Editor plugin allows you to edit your WordPress menus with a convenient drag-and-drop interface.  You can also create custom menus to access any part of the WordPress Dashboard.  If you mess up or simply don’t like your changes, Admin Menu Editor allows you to return to the default menu configuration.

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WP-Task-Manager

WP-Task-Manager is a plugin that allows you to create and manage a virtual to-do list.  This plugin creates a task manager within the WordPress Dashboard, allowing you to create and assign tasks that can be completed by your contributors.  WP-Task-Manager includes feature such as due dates, commenting, and the ability to control who can modify tasks.

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Check back later as we continue our Essential WordPress Plugins series when we look at plugins for tracking your website’s statistics.

What WordPress plugins do you use to administer your WordPress site?  Let us know by commenting below.

Essential WordPress Plugins Part 1: Security

As the popularity of the easy-to-use WordPress blogging software increases, developers and users continue to develop more creative ways to use it. Although WordPress comes as a basic content management system by default, users have developed an array of plugins that allow web developers vast amounts of control and options for their WordPress-based websites.

In part one of my Essential WordPress Plugins series, I will be taking a look at some of my favorite plugins that help secure your WordPress-based website.

Skeleton Key

Skeleton Key is a useful WordPress plugin that allows a WordPress administrator to log in to another user’s WordPress account using only the administrator’s password.  This plugin can be useful if troubleshooting the user’s account and will keep you from resetting their password.  Find out more about Skeleton Key here.

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User Locker

A current security flaw in WordPress is that there is no limit to the number of failed login attempts.  This flaw can make your WordPress installation susceptible to brute force or dictionary password attacks.  User Locker is a WordPress plugin that will patch this security hole by allowing you to limit the number of unsuccessful login attempts.  If the number is reached, then the user’s account is locked, then it must be unlocked by an administrator or the password reset.  Read more about User Locker here.

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Capability Manager

WordPress includes a few default user “roles” with preconfigured accessibility permissions such as Contributor, Author, and Editor.  As these default roles may not fit your needs, you can easily edit them or add more user roles with the Capability Manager plugin.  Capability Manager offers 50+ different capability settings to be included/excluded from different user roles.  Capability Manager also allows you to backup your roles.

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WP-Security Scan

WP-Security Scan is a very power plugin for a self-hosted WordPress site that will detect security flaws and provide information for resolving them.  WP-Security Scan will check various settings of your WordPress installation and database and assist in resolving the problem.  WP-Security Scan will also check that you have the appropriate file permissions set on your web server.  Read more about WP-Security scan in our guide.

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Audit Trail

Audit Trail is a WordPress plugin that allows you to track what happens with your blog, which can be especially useful (if not necessary) in a multi-user system.  Audit Trail is capable of tracking many of the common user actions in your blog and save them to a log file.  Examples of items tracked include user logins, file attachments, page visits, post & page management, comment management, and many other actions.  The user name, time, and IP address are also saved.

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Bad Behavior

Blocking spam comments and robots is something that all WordPress users deal with constantly.  The Bad Behavior plugin for WordPress will help to reduce (and sometimes eliminate) spam and robot traffic to your site.  If a visitor is determined to be a bot, then a 404 error code is sent, blocking your site from being accessed.  Bad Behavior is also capable of logging up to 7 days of blocking activity.  Bad Behavior is a powerful PHP script that will integrate into any PHP site.

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Akismet

Akismet is probably the most well-known anti-spam plugin for WordPress.  Akismet is included with the WordPress installation but needs to be activated and configured with a WordPress.com API key.  Akismet is capable of reducing or even eliminating spam comments from your blog.  Another nice feature about Akismet is that it provides some graphs that really show how spam affects your blog.

Check back later as we continue our Essential WordPress Plugins series with some WordPress administration plugins.

What WordPress plugins do you use to keep WordPress secure?  Let us know by commenting below.

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WordPress Plugin: Login To Other User Accounts With Skeleton Key

WordPress allows for contributors to be geographically separated but still able to work together in an online environment.  At times, however, administrators need to log into their contributor’s accounts to troubleshoot and fix problems.  Since most people aren’t comfortable telling you their private passwords, how can you login to a user’s account without having them log in for you or asking them to temporarily change their password?

The Skeleton Key plugin for WordPress provides a solution, giving administrators a special method to login as any user.  After installing the plugin, administrators can go to the WordPress login page and enter admin+user (where user is the account you are trying to access).  Entering the administrator password will give you access to their account.

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When you have logged in, you will see the user’s Dashboard as if they had logged in themselves.

WordPress Plugin: Lock Accounts After Invalid Logins with User Locker

As the popularity of content management systems such as WordPress increases, the number of security threats will also increase.  Your first defense against intruders is the WordPress login page.

By default, there is no limit to the number of times a user can attempt to login to WordPress.  This makes your website vulnerable to brute force and dictionary attacks.  Making sure you have selected a secure password is a first good step, but it is not always possible to enforce this with all users.

A great solution is to limit the number of invalid logins with the User Locker plugin.  Once the plugin has been installed, it is set by default to lock the user’s account after 5 invalid login attempts.  This number can be changed on the plugin’s setting page.

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User Locker Setting

If the number of invalid login attempts has been reached, the user is shown the message below and directed to reset their password.

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Locked Account

An extra column is also added to the User menu in WordPress to show what user accounts have been locked.

Locked / Unlocked Users
Locked Users

Have you used this plugin and would you recommend it to others?  Let us know by commenting below.

How to Keep WordPress Secure with WP Security Scan

wordpressIf you’re running a WordPress self-hosted website, you are probably aware that WordPress’s popularity has caused it to become a frequent target for hackers.  Aside from keeping your WordPress software up-to-date (which is the most important step you can take to secure your website), it is critical to make sure your site’s folder permissions are correct.

Folder permissions dictate who can make changes to files and folder on your web server.  These permissions can be easily (and often accidentally) changed, allowing an intruder to access and make changes to your content and settings.

WP Security Scan is a plugin for WordPress that can quickly detect security flaws and advise you how to fix them.  Along with checking critical folder permissions, WP Security Scan can create secure passwords, secure your database, hide your WordPress version (which prevents version-specific hacks), and protect your administrator account.

To get started, install WP Security Scan from your self-hosted WordPress installation by clicking Plugins –> Add New and search for ‘WP Security Scan’ (in newer WordPress versions), or by downloading the plugin from the WordPress Plugins Directory and manually uploading it to your server’s wp-content/plugins folder.

Once you have installed and activated the plugin in WordPress, click the newly created Security button on the Dashboard menu.

The main page for WP Security Scan will show critical security information in the top left corner of the screen (secure elements are shown in green, insecure elements are displayed in red with additional information).  The right side of the screen will display technical information about your web server.

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The next important step is to verify your folder permissions.  Under the Security tab on your WordPress dashboard, click Scanner.  This will display a list of critical WordPress folders, the permission the folders should be set at for maximum security (listed as “Needed Chmod”, and the folders’ current access level.  Folders with incorrect permissions will be displayed with red highlighting and secure folders will be displayed with green highlighting.

Bad File Permissions
Bad File Permissions

The easiest way to change your file and folder permissions is to use a program such as WinSCP or Filezilla to access your web server.  In these programs, you can simply right click a folder and select “Change Permissions”.  This will bring up a dialog box where you can type in the number listed in the “Needed Chmod” field of the WP Security Scanner.

Advanced users can optionally change their file and folder permissions by logging into their web server using a shell client such as Putty and manually edit their permissions with the chmod command.

Once you have corrected the incorrect file permissions, run the Security Scan again.  You should be presented with friendlier results as shown below.

Good File Permissions
Good File Permissions

WP Security Scan has plans to release additional features in the future including a single-click option to change file and folder permissions, testing for XSS vulnerabilities, intrusion detection/prevention, and lock out on multiple incorrect login attempts.

Have any other tips to keeping your WordPress self-hosted website secure?  Let us know by commenting below.