WordPress for Blackberry – Now This Changes Everything

Every once in a while a tweet comes up on my Blackberry Pearl that sends me running for the nearest Netbook because I am so fired up I HAVE to blog about immediately.

Interestingly enough, the very tweet that last elicited such a response from me is the very same that will eventually save me the hassle of having to find a computer at all.

At this year’s WordCamp 2009 in San Francisco, the announcement came that Automattic is developing a full-blown WordPress blogging app for all models of Research in Motion’s Blackberry phones including the 8700, Pearl, Curve, Bold, and Storm. Although the app is still in beta, it can be downloaded for free so you can test it out and ideally even offer some feedback on its progress. It is recommended that you test this out with a private or non-essential blog as there are still kinks and bugs and we wouldn’t want you to cause any damage remotely.

An early look at the software, developed in partnership with Danais – the good people behind the MoPress Open Source project

it appears the mobile blogging app lives up to the WordPress standard; it is elegant, clean and comprehensive, all reasons that WordPress grabbed hold of the major market share in blogging platforms to begin with.

Although the interface is a little different than WP administrative back end to which you have become accustomed, it is designed to work best in the small real estate afforded by mobile phones – but, with certain phones, will allow you to work in landscape mode to maximize the viewing area.

But enough talk, let’s actually see this upcoming marvel in action – let’s take a look at the official WordPress for Blackberry beta video from Automattic:

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How to install the Beta from your Blackberry:

Point your BB to http://blackberry.wordpress.org/install Brother release . Most BlackBerrys will install apps, including this one, in the “Downloads” folder.

If You Find A Bug:

How To Report a Bug Army of the Dead psp documentation and support tickets can be found at blackberry.trac.wordpress.org.

If You Want To Contribute

If you are a developer and want to get your hands dirty, the source code can be found along with a copy of the app via SVN: http://blackberry.svn.wordpress.org/.

In Summary

I couldn’t be more excited about two of my favorite things coming together like so much peanut butter and chocolate: My Blackberry and WordPress.  The delicious aroma from the Automattic kitchen smells a lot like new-found freedom.

About the Author:

Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com.  Keram recently launched ConstantChange.TV, a new WordPress-based video portal featuring his media company’s short films and videos.

Upgrade to WordPress 2.8.4 – An Important Security Release

The WordPress community has been vigilant in ensuring that WordPress is as secure as possible against any malicious attacks, the development userbase prying even further than Automattic itself in scouring the code for any possible vulnerabilities. The result of this thoroughness is the 2.8.4 update.

Automattic describes the small but important patch thusly:

“A specially crafted URL could be requested that would allow an attacker to bypass a security check to verify a user requested a password reset. As a result, the first account without a key in the database (usually the admin account) would have its password reset and a new password would be emailed to the account owner.”

It is strongly recommended that all custom WordPress installations apply this update immediately.

If you haven’t already, you can apply this update via the simple upgrade button visible from your admin panel. As always, you may want to backup your database if you have any uncertainty about this patch, your installation or otherwise.

See the official page for this release at WordPress.orgBrideshead Revisited release

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WordPress 2.8.3 Available For Download – Security Release

Either WordPress is getting buggier or its community is getting more vigilante and eagle-eyed about patching up any possible security vulnerability in the widely used blogging software from company Automattic.

The third .01 update in two months has been released to fix and plug some 40 security vulnerabilities in the latest release named “Baker.”

Automattic released WordPress 2.8.2 less than a month ago and bloggers commented on the accelerated pace of the updates. Well, the fact that performing the update is as easy as clicking the Update Now button from the admin panel, (a function that was improved for stability in 2.8.2) means that it can only be a good thing; less vulnerabilities = more happy.

For details on this release and download links from the official site, visit the page for update 2.8.3 at WordPress.org

About the Author:

Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and podcasts at keramcast.com.

WordPress 2.8.2 Released to Patch Security Issue

Hot on the heels of the recent 2.8.1 update

for WordPress Baker, Auttomatic and its development community have released yet another .1 update to patch an important security vulnerability, applicable to all custom installations running versions 2.8 and 2.8.1.

The official statement:

“WordPress 2.8.2 fixes an XSS vulnerability. Comment author URLs were not fully sanitized when displayed in the admin. This could be exploited to redirect you away from the admin to another site. Download 2.8.2 or automatically upgrade from the Tools->Upgrade page of your blog’s admin.”

If you are running any version above 2.7, you will most likely see a notice at the top of your admin panel advising you of this most recent update, with the option to do a one-click update. It is strongly recommended you do so as soon as possible.

The update replaces some ten files, but does not appear to modify the database structure in any way.

About the Author:

Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com download deck the halls movie Godsend buy and society at theculturepin.com

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How To Bulk Edit Posts

When it comes to editing your existing posts, nothing takes up more time than having to edit a bunch of posts at one time. Manually going into each post and changing things like categories and tags requires a lot of button clicking and page navigation. Plus you have to remember to save each change before going back and finding the next post.

Luckily, WordPress has a bulk edit feature that makes this chore much quicker (and easier). However, a lot of people do not know about this feature because it’s sort of hidden within a drop-down menu. This is especially common for new users of WordPress who are not real familiar with the dashboard.

What Does It Do?

The bulk edit feature allows you to modify data for more than one post at the same time. You can change things like categories, tags, authors, and comment settings. You can also do things like decide whether or not the posts should be “sticky.” This is very useful if you are looking to modify a bunch of posts with one single action.

It sure beats manually going into each individual post and changing the data. I’ve done this a few times in the past, long before I noticed the bulk edit feature.

So How Do You Use It?

It’s actually very simple. All you have to do is go into the edit posts screen, and then select the boxes next to each of the post you want to edit. Once you select which posts to edit, you then click on the bulk actions drop-down menu, which is located at the top and bottom of the edit posts screen. Then simply hit apply.

Here’s a quick video that breaks down the process and shows you what you can do with the bulk edit function:


It Saves Time

This feature will definitely save you time when trying to manage your posts. It’s especially useful if you make changes to your categories and tags, since you can modify them for a bunch of posts at one time. The days of manually editing a bunch of posts are long gone, unless of course you want to modify the actual content of the posts.

Give it a shot the next time you find yourself wanting to modify a few posts.

Justin Wright is a WordPress consultant, designer, and blogger at Zoopmedia

.  Justin also blogs for his personal blog, Life of Justin.

WordPress v2.8.1 – Why You Should Update Now

Although WordPress 2.8 (“Baker”) was a thing of beauty and brought a plethora of significant changes and improvements, it comprised hundreds of patches, fixes and some rather heavy new behaviors – for example the ability to simply deactivate a widget rather than remove it outright, or to drag and drop widgets back and forth.

Given the amount of new functionality added, the release was surprisingly stable, but invariably, some annoyances and even security holes came with it. Well the good people at Auttomatic hurried to get everything patched as best they could, and the real thanks must go to the community of programmers that rushed to plug up the leaks.

Among the most important fixes in 2.8.1:

Files being deleted during upgrade

Many users complained, and some became downright angry that using the automatic updater for Worpdress was a risky affair to say the least, and often left all sorts of junk behind or even worse, it inefficiently removed files no longer needed, often breaking installations completely. Thankfully, it was a bug, it was identified, and has been patched in 2.8.1

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Sometimes terrible things happen after installing a plugin or updating, like an ugly warning suddenly showing up at the top of your meticulously crafted WordPress site. This can lead to great frustration and confusion, especially for those who don’t read php and no real answers forthcoming about how to fix it. The cause for this warning is now fixed, and no it wasn’t your fault.

Warnings after post/page save
Speaking of annoyances and confusion – 2.8 introduced a glitch wherein trying to leave a post entry page warned that the content had not been saved. I am not sure whether this is also what led to the ensuing “there is a previous autosave of this post” message, but rest assured, your work was being saved, but the alarm bells were going off anyway. Fixed in 2.8.1.

Another nice little optimization introduced is that the admin dashboard memory usage is reduced.  Some people were running out of memory when loading the dashboard, resulting in an incomplete page.  This should make things run a little quicker and smoother.

Furthermore they have increase download_url() timeout from 30 to 60 giving you a little more wiggle room before getting a nasty timeout error.

Security Fix

Last, but never least, security is the main reason to update your WP installation to 2.8.1 as soon as possible. As the developer’s state:

“Core Security Technologies notified us that admin pages added by certain plugins could be viewed by unprivileged users, resulting in information being leaked. Not all plugins are vulnerable to this problem, but we advise upgrading to 2.8.1 to be safe.”

Don’t leave your precious site vulnerable to attack. If you are already running WordPress Baker, install this latest point 1 patch now.

To learn more about the WordPress 2.8.1 patch to Baker, visit the official patch notes page at WordPress.org

To see a comprehensive lists of fixes since 2.8 visit this page that displays a complete listing.

One final note – for those of you using the SimplePress Forums, be sure to download and install the latest update

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(4.0.4) so that it is fully compatible with 2.8.1

About the Author:

Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com

and society at theculturepin.com. Keram recently released a solo acoustic CD titled “Box”.

Five Hot Free Magazine-Style Themes for WordPress

Gossip, tabloids, sound bytes, Twitter breaking news stories, paparazzi – these things seem to make the world go around.  WordPress is the ultimate tool for publishing of-the-moment stories and making them look sexy at that.  Why not give yourself a leg up (is that a pun?) with these excellent Magazine styled themes for WordPress.  Did I mention they’re totally free?

Grid Focus

Oh let’s just start off by being unconventional – after all – the stars that catch our interest are the ones doing something different.  Grid Focus doesn’t look like the typical glossy magazine layout you might have been expecting from our headline, but it has all the bones to become whatever you desire.  You just have to be ready to roll up your sleeves, open a the can and then paint the town red.  We appreciated designer Derek Punsalan’s response to those complaining about a lack of ad support within the theme :

“I often receive complaints that Grid Focus – or any of my other themes – are not “ad friendly”. Official ad support is nowhere near my list of reasons for giving back to the WordPress community. If ad support is necessary, please modify the template(s) to meet your needs.”  That’s the spirit of innovation I like to encourage.  Wake up people – the curtain is about to go up and you had better be ready to rock the crowd.

grid_focus magazine-style free theme for WordPress
A three-column theme. Convenient navigation bars can be found at the top and bottom of pages. Category archives are presented via a JavaScript shelf which can be found at the top of the page.

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Jello Wala Mellow

A little unusual in its grid-like design, this punchy orange and black theme offers an interesting way to organize a lot of content in an easy to browse layout.

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Jello-Wala-Mello is a news / magazine-styled WordPress theme created for multi-media sites. It requires WordPress 2.3+ to work properly.

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Scarlett

The Scarlett theme is just plain hot.  With a sliding large-format thumbnail bar at the top, a built in custom video frame and much more this feels like the place to be when the cameras start flashing.

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Skyye News

Like the famous Sky Bar on the Sunset Strip, this swanky media-rich theme is like a fully stocked bar in a clean, well lighted place.  Pretty sure when this theme crosses your line of site, you will give it a second look.

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Skyye News by developer Nomad-One / designer Nathan Rice has an advanced template system that gives you the ability to configure almost everything from the dashboard options menu. Nearly every aspect of the theme is dynamic, from the homepage, single posts, pages, archives, etc.

Download || Live Demo

Small Magazine

Just like its namesake – this handsome theme should be popular due to its familiar print magazine feel.  You may just find yourself wishing you could take it into the bath, or on a plane with you.  Well, technically, who says you can’t.  (Don’t forget to register your blogs with the Kindle marketplace at Amazon! wink)

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One of the things all the starlettes, all-star quarterbacks, prom queens, screenwriters and future Spielbergs quickly learn when they arrive in the Entertainment Capital of the World is that they are no longer the only one that is special – you have got be innovative, think on your feet, emulate the ones who have been successful and then find a way to do one better.  The above themes are all great but take them as a point for departure.  You can’t afford to be just another small fish in a big pond – after all, you are here to make your dreams come true so get out there and make a statement even if it is reporting on the statements someone else is making.

Most of all – have fun – your blog is your own damn publication – revel in that fact.

About the Author:

Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com

. Keram recently released a solo acoustic CD titled “Box”.

Using Adsense to Analyze and Optimize Your Blog

In your travels as a blogger, you will eventually and inevitably hear about a thing called “Adsense,” a service from search engine giant Google that displays contextually relevant ads on your web page. Essentially you place Google’s Adsense code on your web page in a text widget or in the HTML view of a post, and the code will scan your site for subject matter and then display ads from businesses looking for audiences interested in similar subjects. When a reader clicks on one of these ads you are credited for the click-through – depending on how the advertiser is set up, you will be paid a small percentage as a commission if a sale is made as a result of that click through from your site.

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The word “sale” is also a relative term – a sale can mean cost per acquisition – which could mean not an actual purchase, but instead getting people to arrive at a certain page designated by the end-user/reader.  Adsense is a very big subject and beyond the scope of this article, but it is a powerful way not only to find small amount of revenue for your blog, it is an very useful way of seeing and learning how pages on your site, or even sections of pages are working with your readers.  By placing ads with proper names at different locations at your site you can see where you are getting click-through and over time these numbers become statistics and those statistics can begin to give you a more three-dimensional understanding of how your site is being used so that you can improve its efficacy. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason full movie

Let me give you an example of what I mean:

I log into my Adsense account, create an ad, in this case, let’s start with a 160 (wide) x600 (tall) “skyscraper” add. I will choose the font “Arial” to match the font on my blog, pick some colors that blend with or match the colors of my site’s template (this is again, totally up to you, though there are many articles about best practices and techniques for dealing with Adsense colors and how they interact with your content) and then I will assign it to a channel. I will create a new channel for this ad, based on not only the name of my site, but also, name the channel to reflect WHERE on my site I will place this ad. For example, this ad’s channel I will title: WP-BLOGGER SKYSCRPR AD LEFTTOP.  This is just an arbitrary title I have created for this example which to us will mean “An Adsense ad measuring 160×600, for the WP-Blogger.com site that will be positioned on the left sidebar, “above the fold.”

After I create the channel, and add the Adsense ad I have created to it, I will go to the next page where I will be prompted to name the ad itself. In this case, I could simply name it the same thing as I did the channel, but why not use this to add more information for later study? I will name the ad itself – WP-BLGR SKYSCR ARIAL BLEND.

Google will now give me a box with code I can copy and paste and place into a standard text widget that will go on the left sidebar of my blog in the top position.

Over the course of time, visitors to my site my decide to click on one of the ads that will appear in this position. When I now go to my Adsense stats, I may see that WP-BLOGGER SKYSCRPR AD LEFTTOP has had 10 clicks in a day. Maybe on day two it has another 10-15 clicks.

I will now create a second ad – this time a large 300×250 square that will go at the bottom of my posts. I will similarly give it an appropriate name and also create a unique channel for this one and copy and paste this Adsense code at the bottom of my posts within the HTML view of my article. (I also like to add “center” tags around the code for aesthetic purposes.)

Now, over time, I can see which of these two ads is performing better; if I see after several weeks that the 300×250 ad is getting 50 clicks a day and that the 160×600 is still only getting 10 then I know something. But what do I know? Is it the font? The color choices? If these are identical for both ads, then I can rule that out.  What about the position? The size?  I can test this out by creating two new ads with their own respective channels for the right sidebar, or top of posts and see if that makes a difference.

Ad Placement Kama Sutra

There is no hard and fast rule for what will work on every page or site. Even the campaigns that claim to teach you a “surefire, bulletproof, 100% satisfaction or your money back” method for optimizing your Adsense placement are not able to predict your style, your template, your demographic, or otherwise. This is something you need to test for yourself.

Some people will tell you that using standard “HTML colors

” like blue for text links, is mandatory. I am not sure why – it isn’t as though the public hasn’t been online in huge numbers for at least a decade – I don’t think they are going to be confused by links that aren’t blue and underlined. Again, the point is – try different styles and positions (now this sounds like a Tantra class) for yourself and see what the stats tell you OVER TIME. Yes, there is no fast and easy answer. Your blog is going to grow and develop and evolve and mature and change and so is your site’s audience.

Adsense is not just a way of monetizing your blog, it is a way of giving yourself deeper analytical insight into what is working and how the layout is. Typically it is wise not to use too many ads on your site.

Simpler tends to be better.

Adsense is free sign-up, free to use, no credit card required. Just Google “Adsense” and get started. Even better, if you Google “Analytics” you can set up a Google Analytics account and link that to your Adsense account. I find that Google Analytics, as exhaustive as it may seem, only gives you a part of the whole picture. Although it has functionality to set goals and test conversion rates and whole bunch of other design, marketing and SEO terms you may not want to delve into yet, having Adsense show you exactly what people are clicking on that isn’t content related but instead commerce related, may give you some idea of what they are really hungry for.

This article is not about chasing the pennies around the table, however. I am not advocating changing up your content to influence the ads themselves. That is an entirely different practice. What I am interested in demonstrating here, is a way to both learn to use Adsense well, to better understand the audience your site is attracting, and ultimately to understand how well your blog is steering people through your traffic by seeing how they are navigating their way through it.  Adsense tends to be a “call to action” – whereas your content may contain musings or tips on a subject – Adsense ads are designed by their creators to say “Click Me!”   Thus seeing where visitors end up clicking most, tells you where their eyeballs are going as they scan your page.

As I said before, using Adsense effectively is a massive subject and there are hundreds if not thousands of experts in the field so you can leave this article with the assurance that there is a lot of information out there to expand on what I have only touched upon.

A Lil’ Something For WP-Lovers

I would be remiss not to offer at least one cool WordPress plugin to go with all of the hyperbole above and that is Joost de Valk’s “Google Analytics for WordPress“.

This little Swiss Army knife “automatically tracks and segments all outbound links from within posts, comment author links, links within comments, blogroll links and downloads. It also allows you to track AdSense clicks, add extra search engines, track image search queries and it will even work together with Urchin.

“In the options panel for the plugin, you can determine the prefixes to use for the different kinds of outbound links and downloads it tracks.”

Once you have your Adsense and Analytics all setup, give it a whirl and see if it makes things easier or more convenient. It isn’t a must, but it might give you some new ideas about using all these powerful tools together.

What techniques do you use to understand how Adsense is working for you?

About the Author:

Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com

and society at theculturepin.com. Keram recently released a solo acoustic CD titled “Box”.
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How To Remove The Sidebar From A WordPress Page

Many people don’t realize that you can heavily customize how WordPress displays your pages. As an example of this, let’s pretend that you need a page on your site to not display the sidebar (like if you needed to display a large picture or calendar).

There are 3 steps to remove the WordPress Sidebar:

Below I will break down the steps and show you exactly how to make a custom page template that does not display the sidebar.

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This process actually isn’t that difficult. Log into your FTP server and navigate your way to your Theme’s template files. Locate the file called “page.php” and duplicate it. Then rename the copied file something easy to remember such as “custom template one” or something. The name is not important, you just have to remember which one does what.

The custom file is now created. So the next thing we have to do is make a couple changes for it to be different from a regular WordPress page.

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Now open the file in your editor of choice (I prefer TextEdit on my Mac). First, you need to name the template for WordPress to read. Add the following code to the top of your new template file:

<!—display code><?php /* Template Name: New Name of template here */ ?><–!>

If copy and pasting it does not work here, it may be easier for you to find this code in a existing template on your own blog. Just change the name of the template and it should work just fine.

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to remove the line of code that calls and displays the sidebar when the page is generated. Look towards the end of the template file for the following line of code (it may be slightly different in your theme, just look for anything with ’sidebar’ in it):

<!—display code><? php get_sidebar(); ?><—!>

Delete that line of code and save the file. Then you must upload it back to your theme directory on your server. The template will no longer pull up the sidebar when a page is displayed using this template.

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Now that your new page template is on the server, you have to edit the page you want to apply the template to in the WP-Admin. In the page edit window, look for the “Attributes” section. You’ll see an option to select a different template. If you followed all the steps, the name you wrote in step two should appear on the list. Select it, save the page. The page is now setup to utilize the custom page template you created.

Go to the page on the live site and make sure the sidebar isn’t there. Now that you know how to customize a page template, you can learn the PHP codes that WordPress uses and develop your own template pages.

Other Uses For Custom Page Templates

Displaying a page without the sidebar is only the beginning of custom page templates in WordPress. You can create templates for category pages, single posts, and archives to name a few. I have utilized page templates for posts to display different sidebars depending on the category of the post. This makes it very simple to display different advertisements based on the category of your post.

Page templates have unlimited flexibility and can take your WordPress blog or website to the next level. Just make sure to back everything up because mistakes can sometimes happen when editing the theme files.

Do you have any clever uses for a custom WordPress page template?

Top 10 Most Beautiful 3 Column Themes

For many bloggers, a 3 column theme is what you need to take your blog to the next level. It allows you to show more content in your sidebars, allows better ad placement and generally creates a more well rounded and balanced design.

There are tons of free 3 column themes available and you will have a lot of options. Here’s our picks for the most beautiful three column WordPress themes that we could find.

1. Mimbo

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Mimbo is a well put together 3 columned magazine style theme. It works perfectly for taking your blog to the next level. It displays your content in a way that makes it easier for new visitors to explore your site. Great for ad click conversions.

Mimbo Theme

2. Aeros

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Aeros is a slick theme. It’s key feature is that it has a pretty background picture (that you can change) and your blog floats of top of it. The image stays put but your content moves as you navigate the site. It’s a little gimmicky but it’s slick and well put together. Perfect for showing off your content. The package comes with several images you can have as the background as well as allowing you to create your own.

Aeros Theme

3. Puteulanus

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Puteulanus is a very well designed 3 column theme that really likes the color blue. But it’s not overpowering. Everything is well laid out and underneath is a powerful theme. It’s well designed for ad placement optimization and will suit most advanced bloggers very well.

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4. Publicizer

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Don’t let this theme’s simplicity fool you. It’s an incredibly powerful and well designed theme that’s perfect for showing off your blog and all the great content you’ve written.

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5. Woodtastic

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This theme won’t suit everyone, but I love it. It harkens back to a more solid way of displaying content. It adds an air of sophistication and opulence to what are otherwise slick blogs. Woodtastic is well designed and doesn’t go overboard with the wood theme. This is one of those perfect little themes you just have to try.

Woodtastic

6. Tamodatchi

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What I love the most about the Tamodatchi theme are the colors. The color palette the designers have chosen just works perfectly for me. It’s well laid out as well and it perfect for ad placement. It’s a simple, zen-like theme that just seems to work for me.

Tamodatchi

7. Brownmagic

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Brownmagic is light and airy but also extremely powerful. It will help you display your content in a way that makes it easy for your readers to find content and explore your site. The only thing I’m not crazy about it the yellow at the top. I could live without that.

Brownmagic

8. DailyPress

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This is a theme you’ve probably already seen in a lot of places. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that it’s a theme that WORKS. It also has many ways that you can customize it so that it’s different from all the other sites that use it. It’s a nice little theme that I recommend using if it suits your needs.

DailyPress

9. Corptheme

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Corptheme is a simple 3 column layout that is perfect for a company website. It’s a clean design that has four color options. It also has drop down menus, which is always a good feature to have on a 3 column blog. It’s clean and it works.

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10. Limit

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While this is a three column theme, it’s got some unique design elements that separate it from the pack. It’s well laid out and has a very pleasing color palette. An excellent starter 3 column WordPress Theme.

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So there is a good list of three column themes to get you started. What’s Your Favorite Three Column Theme? improve premarin lining

Five Contact Form Plugins For WordPress

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Every blog needs a way for people to contact the author quickly and easily. This is easier said than done in the days of rampant spam-bots, where a simple contact form can fill your inbox with SPAM. Here’s a roundup of five great contact form plugins for WordPress as well as a way for you to roll your own.

Contact Form 7

This is one of the most popular contact forms for WordPress. There’s not much to say about than that it’s just another contact form plugin. It’s very simple but also very flexible. Contact Form 7 will allow you to manage multiple contact forms, customize the form and manage simply with markup language. This plugin form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA and Akismet spam filtering. It’s everything that you’ll need for a good contact form. I personally use it on almost all of my blogs because I know how to use it and take advantage of all the featured. However, it may have too many features for most users.

Download Contact Form 7

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It doesn’t get simpler than WP Contact Form. WP Contact Form is a simple drop in form that users can use to contact you. The pest thing about this form is that you can use it on a WordPress page or blog post. It’s not very feature rich, but that’s what appealing about it. There isn’t any SPAM protection for this one, so you may run into issues with SPAM.

Download WP Contact Form

WP Contact Form III

WP Contact Form III is a simple contact form based on Ryan Duff’s WP Contact Form and Doug Karr’s (antispam) modification for Ryan’s original form. Basically it’s WP Contact Form with SPAM protection. This is great because now you can use the simplicity of WP Contact Form and not get deluged with SPAM. This one also allows your visitors the option to specify the subject of their email. You can also customize the look and feel of the form my editing a small CSS file.

Download WP Contact Form III

SimpleModal Contact Form

SimpleModal is a contact form with balls. SimpleModal Contact Form is Ajax powered modal contact form, meaning that it acts like a full fledged mini web application as opposed to a simple PHP script. It utilizes the jQuery JavaScript library and the SimpleModal jQuery plugin. Because it’s AJAX based, you can customize a lot of elements on the contact form such as the Subject field and the “Send me a copy” option for the sender. Pretty powerful little web app.

Download SimpleModal Contact Form

Enhanced WP Contact Form

Another great simple Contact Form plugin, what makes this one pretty good is the fact that’s the plugin was written by Joost de Valk, who makes some of the best WordPress plugins out there. Easy Contact Form is easily embedded into a blog post or page by writing the shortcode [wpcf]. It features SPAM protection, shows referrer information and has the option to let the user send themselves a copy of the message.

Download Enhance WP Contact Form

Roll Your Own

No I don’t mean write your own form from scratch. There are many awesome free web based tools that will help you create a contact form. My favorite is Wufoo, they let you create any type of form that you’ll need using a simple wep application on their website. The service is free for low volume websites (100 submissions/month) or you can pay for more. They also have an advanced web-based dashboard so you can see all your form submissions and manage them in one place. All you have to do it place the embed code on any page on your blog and the form is ready to go.

Check out Wufoo here.

Do you have a contact form on your blog? If so, what’s your favorite way to include one on your WordPress blog? Feel free to share any plugines that I did not mention above.

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The Difference Between Tags and Categories

When I first started blogging, I categorized and tagged like crazy, thinking it would be great for SEO. As I gained more experience blogging I started to realize that simple was better and I began to rethink my strategy for categorizing content. I started to think that maybe putting posts in a ton of categories and tags might not be such a good thing. Here are some things to consider when it comes to tagging and categorizing your WordPress content.

What Are Categories?

In the simplest explanation possible, categories are simply a hierarchical way to organize content. Let’s use a bucket analogy for this. If you create a category then it’s basically a giant bucket for anything that fits into that category. If you write 10 blogs posts that are somehow related to one subject, they would go into that one giant category bucket.

Categories have a hierarchy, meaning that you can organize sub-categories under categories to narrow things down. The way you organize these categories determines how WordPress displays them. For example, in WordPress when you click a category it will take you to a page that will display the title and excerpt from all the articles that have been placed in that category. Also, you can place a category slug on that page, a short description of everything in that category (which is wise for SEO purposes). If you’re theme supports drop-down menus, then sub-categories will usually be displayed under those menus.

What Are Tags?

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To make things a little more confusing, tags are another way to categorize content. But instead of creating a giant bucket of related articles, you’re creating a smaller bucket for only 1 or 2 blog posts. Tags are perfect for blog posts that don’t have their own category, but you’d like for them to be parsed in a way that treats them like they have their own category. But tags are NOT categories.

Tags don’t have a hierarchy like categories do. You cannot arrange tags under other tags, tags are linear and each exists as the same weight as other tags, unlike categories. Also, in WordPress, you cannot place slug descriptions on a tag page. However, a Tag page will look very similar to a category page when you click it.

What Are They Not?

It’s a very difficult to distinguish the difference between tags and categories but the simple way to say it is: Tags are NOT categories and categories are NOT tags.

SEO Issues

You need to be careful in what you allow the search engine to crawl. For example, if you tag things like crazy, that means that you’ll have the same content in multiple parts of your blog. The search engines are notorious for penalizing this type of duplicate content. So, it’s important to edit your blog sitemap so that the search engines aren’t crawling every single tag and category of you’re site. So, what should you let them crawl?

Simplicity Strategy

I like the idea of the search engines having free reign over the content. So, I usually arrange it in a way to avoid too much duplicate content. Search Engines understand the architecture of WordPress, so it’s important to exploit that.

The best way to avoid duplicate content issues is to apply the simplicity doctrine, also known as KISS. What this means is that when running a WordPress blog, you should be very selective in how to categorize or tag your content.

My winning SEO strategy is to create a small number of categories (24 or less) and only select ONE category for a blog post. If you feel you have a great post that deserves it’s own category, think long and hard about this. Will you be writing more posts in the category? If not, then simply Tag it. If you become selective about how your posts get categorized, then you’ll understand quickly what should be tagged.

I simply use tagging as a way to describe content that DOES NOT deserve it’s own category. I let the search engine bots crawl it all and I’ve had no SEO issues.

One last thing worth noting is that it’s important for people to be able to easily browse your categories and tags. So, it’s a good idea to have a category drop down menu in the sidebar, as well as a tag cloud so that people can easily find what subjects they’re interested in.

How do you deal with categories and tags on your own blog?

5 Plugins for Amazon.com Integration

One of the first things a new blogger should do when seeking to monetize their WordPress blog is to sign up for the Amazon Associates program. What is it? Basically it’s Amazon.com’s affiliate program where you can make a percentage of commision off of every purchase that you refer to them. It’s not a huge percentage and you won’t get rich doing it, but by setting things up correctly, you can generate a steady income from referring people to Amazon.com.

The best part about it is it doesn’t have any strict qualifications for traffic or Pagerank so anyone can sign up and start using it. Even if you are brand new to blogging, I still recommend signing up and giving it a try.

WordPress is not friendly out of the box to the Amazon affiliate program. It can be a pain in the butt to go to Amazon.com, find the affiliate links and get them to look right in your blog. Fortunately, some helpful people have written some great WordPress plugins to help you integrate Amazon.com into your site.

Below are five plugins that will help you monetize your site with the Amazon.com Associates program.

Amazon Showcase WordPress Widget

Amazon Showcase Plugin is a really easy way to integrate Amazon items in your blog using your associate’s ID.

From the Description:

“Amazon Showcase is a WordPress Widget/Plugin for showcasing items from Amazon. Simply enter the ASIN/ISBN numbers of any products and optionally enter an Associate ID for earning commissions. The product image will be displayed with a link to the product detail page on Amazon.com. More advanced users can have full control over the way the products are displayed.”

Download Amazon Showcase Widget

Amazon Search

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This plugin will create a custom Amazon search page so that people can search Amazon.com from within your site. This is the perfect tool for your readers because they can find any product they are looking for right from your site.

From the Description:

“This plugin provides an Amazon Search widget which will search any of the amazon servers and produce search results with direct links to products. It also allows you to link directly to items in your posts using a special tag.”

Download the Amazon Search Plugin

Amazon Reloaded for WordPress

Amazon Reloaded is a very powerful plugin for integrating Amazon.com products within your blog posts. It makes it much easier than logging in to your Amazon Associates account and creating links. I love plugins that allow you to do things right from inside your WordPress admin panel.

From the Description:

“This plugin makes it easy for post authors to quickly search Amazon’s index from their posting page, and grab text links to place in their posts. The text links can optionally contain an individual’s affiliate tag. Also, the blog administrator can choose which Amazon locale that they wish to use from a list of the following: Canada, France, Germany, Japan, United States, United Kingdom.”

Download Amazon Reloaded

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Amazon SmartLinks Widget

This plugin is perfect for adding your wishlist (or any other list) to your blog sidebar. This works great if you have some spare real estate on your sidebar and are looking for something to put in it.

From the description:

“Use this plugin to add automatically updated Amazon SmartLink lists for your sidebar. You can add widgets to display Best Selling Books, Albums, Electronics, DVDs, or your personal Wish List. You can also make money by adding your affiliate IDs for Amazon, eBay, and Google.”

Download Amazon Smartlinks

WP-Amazon-Carousel

This is a cool tool that will put mini Amazon flash widgets in your posts by using a simple tag. It’s very easy to use and will make it easy for you to add widgets to your posts.

From the Description:

“Add slick looking Amazon Carousel widgets to your blog posts in a brain-dead simple way! Amazon Widgets are small Flash-based mini-applications that bring Amazon’s rich features right to your website. The Amazon Carousel is a cute looking Flash widget which lets you showcase products that are relevant to your blog post.”

Download WP-Amazon Carousel

Do you use Amazon Associates with your WordPress blog? If so, which plugins do you use?

10 Gorgeous Two Column WordPress Themes

Whether your creating the next Top 100 blog or doing a small website for a company, two column themes provide lots of functionality and clean design. Many people overlook two columned themes in favor of more robust three columned themes, but if you’re designing a simple blog or a small website, two columns will suit most uses fine and be much easier to setup and maintain.

They are a great way to emphasize content since there is more space available while still allowing enough room for advertisements and other widgets. Here is an overview of ten awesome looking two columned themes you can use for your WordPress blog:

Auntie Mame dvdrip Green Tech Theme

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A clean brown and green theme that is perfectly designed for ad placement. It also has an author box where you can tell your readers a little about you.

Download Green Tech Theme

WP Freemium Theme

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A very clean two columned theme that is perfect if you are looking for a magazine style site but don’t want three columns. It also has some built in space for 125 pixel advertisements.

Download WP Freemium Theme

Salmon Theme

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This theme is colorful, clean and gorgeous. The header is very clean and the sidebar has plenty of room for a banner ad as well at listing other information.

Download Salmon Theme

Blue Sensation Theme


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I tend to like themes that use blue as the primary color and this is no exception, clean and well laid out. The theme incorporates a subscribe section to make it easy for readers to stay up to date. It also has a built in section for 125 pixel banner ads.

Download Blue Sensation Theme

Blues Theme

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This theme has a lot going on, but once you master it, it’s a perfect theme to allow people to explore all the content you have to offer. The best part about the theme is that it uses some of the header space for advertisements. That way you do not have to sacrifice real estate in your sidebar for ads.

Download Blues Theme

Webby Green Theme

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This theme is lean, clean and green. What more can you ask for?

Download Webby Green Theme

WP-Portal Theme

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This theme is bright and bold as well as cleanly laid out. Like many of the themes above, it has a built in advertisement section so you can monetize your blog.

Download WP-Portal Theme

Corporate Theme

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This theme is perfect for setting up a website for a business. It’s simple, yet very professional looking.

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Floristica Theme

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You can make the header whatever you want, which sold me on this theme. I love the transparency as well.

Download Floristica Theme

Tropicala Theme

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This is a pretty simple two columned theme, but it looks great and is perfect for simple websites.

Download Tropicala Theme

What’s your favorite Two Column WordPress Theme?

Top 5 Must Have Comment Plugins

By far the most useful and powerful feature of a blog is the ability to leave comments. Comments have changed the way people communicate on blogs and websites. It gives users a direct stake in the success and direction of a blog. Good commenters can sink or swim a blog, so it’s a good idea to give them as many useful features as possible so they have a great experience and keep coming back.

Here is our selection of the best WordPress Plugins for commenters to help them make the most of their comments.

Ajax Comment Preview

This is a great little AJAX driven plugin that will allow your readers to preview their comments before they hit publish. It’s great to give them the option to do this as they will find mistakes in their posts and may want to change things around. This powerful little plugin uses the AJAX framework to create a very user friendly way to give commenters a preview.

Download AJAX Comment Preview

Subscribe to Comments

I’m surprised that this isn’t built into WordPress itself. This plugin allows users to subscribe by e-mail to that latest comments on a blog post. This is great because it keeps them coming back and updated on the latest comments on a post. This powerful little plugin also features a subscription management feature so users can control how many notifications they get.

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WP-Gravatar

You’ve seen them everywhere, little pictures next to blog comments. Have you wondered how the heck do you get one of those? It’s pretty simple, actually. Sign up for a Gravatar account and any user can have a picture displayed next to their comment if you have this plugin installed. You can also control many other Gravatar controls with this plugin and it’s especially useful if you have several contributors on your blog and want to have author bios at the bottom of each post.

Download WP-Gravatar

Do-follow

This gives commenters extra incentive to comment. This plugin removes the no-follow attribute on comments so that when someone leaves a comment with their web address it will count as a backlink for their own site. This is a fantastic incentive to comment, especially if you have a popular blog with a high pagerank. Be careful though, this feature can be abused by spammers, but you can always filter them out with Akismet.

Download Do-Follow

Edit-Comments


Many people say things they don’t mean or end up with a typo they didn’t mean to be there. This handy little plugin allows a user to edit their own comments, within a certain window of time. There are protections in place to prevent abuse of this feature. This handy feature will help keep your comments clean of grammar and spelling errors. We all know how it is, we always spot errors after we’ve hit publish. I would definitely install this little beauty.

Download Edit-Comments

CommentLuv


Last but not lease, is the CommentLuv plugin. This handy little plugin will pull the latest post from the commenters RSS feed and display it as a link below their comment. That way, other readers can see posts they have written. It’s a great way to build a community within your blog and encourages others to leave feedback on your posts.

For more information about the CommentLuv plugin, you can check out our post Encourage Comments With The CommentLuv Plugin . There you will find a full review of the plugin and what it does.

Download CommentLuv

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Do you use a comment plugin that isn’t listed here? If so, please feel free to share it by leaving a comment below. We really appreciate your feedback!

Top 10 Flashy WordPress Themes

Some WordPress themes feature designs that don’t really serve much of a purpose other than to look good. There’s nothing wrong with that and these unique themes can give your blog’s voice extra authority and character. Here is our selection of the most bling-bling flashy WordPress themes we could find.

Desk Mess

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This is a pretty popular theme that basically makes your blog look like a notebook on a messy desk. It’s an obvious gimmick but the theme is actually well presented and is very versatile. Besides, it probably actually looks like a lot of our desks.

Download Desk Mess here

Ali Han Natural

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This theme is perfect if you have a sunny disposition. My mood improves just looking at it. The biggest design element of this theme is birds. Cute little birds. Despite the feminine look of the theme, it’s actually very nicely done.

Download Ali Han

Outdoorsy Theme

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If you want a ‘green’ theme, then this is theme for you. The background image is grass and the header is a giant flower. You can’t get more outdoorsy than this pretty theme. I really like the crumpled parchment paper look. It’s very Harry Potter-esque.

Download Outdoorsy Theme

WordPress.fun


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Smashing Magazine makes beautiful WordPress themes and this one is no different. It has a very bold, grunge look to it. Despite the fact it’s incredibly over designed, it seems to work as a theme package. I think it has a really pleasing color palette. I love the layout the most and would probably take this theme and change all the images to my own design, just to keep the great layout.

Download WordPress.fun

Night Whimsy

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If you ever wanted a theme that evoked a cool summer night with clear skies, then this is the theme for you. I just look at it and I feel instantly calm and ready for a nap. Best of all, if you don’t like it, the designer has made it really easy to change the colors around.

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Lady in Green

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This theme is very dark and it’s prominent feature is a sexy woman. I really like the giant Block Quote that lives in the header, it gives an otherwise uninspiring theme a neat twist.

Download Lady in Green

Color Paper

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Another beautiful theme from the folks over at Smashing Magazine. They really know how to make them look great. I love the layout, the wood background and the color coded tabs. This theme is ALL design and that’s OK with me. Definitely worth a try.

Download Color Paper

Notepad Chaos


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This is the last theme from Smashing Magazine, I promise! This theme basically turns your blog into a notepad and the sidebar is a post it note. It’s a really cool design and has now been copied in many other places. I’d go for the original. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the header, it’s kind of what I imagine hallucinating would be like.

Download Notepad Chaos

iTheme

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If you’re a Mac lover then this is the theme for you. It will turn your WordPress theme into something that resembles a Mac OS X app. I don’t know why you’d want your blog to look like that, but it’s possible with this. It’s a pretty slick layout, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Download iTheme

Travel Grunge


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Grunge is a very popular trend in WordPress theme design and I’m not quite sure why. This theme turns the grunge look on it’s head by creating a clean travel theme perfect for chronicling your backpacking trek across Europe.

Download Travel Grunge

So there you have it, a good collection of flashy WordPress themes to make your blog stick out from the rest. What’s your favorite flashy WordPress Theme?

The Power of Blogging and What I Hope To Learn In Vegas

What do television and blogs have in common?

Every year that goes by, that question becomes easier to answer. I have been making an annual pilgrimage to the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, Nevada for the last four years and every time I attend it seems there are more and more seminars devoted to the world of blogging, RSS feeds, social networking, Tweeting, podcasting, vodcasting and how to monetize them all.

This year, in fact, they have an entire seminar track called “New Media 2.0: Using Social Media and Podcasting to Reach New Audiences” with top speakers and experts from around the world speaking to a crowd that has historically been interested in the future of television and radio broadcasting.  There is even a seminar about now if but when Web TV will kill conventional television broadcasting for good.

Blogging is a powerful tool that anyone can use, and WordPress is king among the blogging solutions out there. I have used WordPress to create everything from a music review website with a streaming jukebox player (MusicZeitgeist.com) to a food recipe site (TasteOdyssey.com) to a podcasting site (KeramCast.com) that lets me broadcast my own radio show via iTunes (using the BluBrry’s excellent Powerpress podcasting plugin).  Episode fourteen of my podcast is all about blogging, monetization, Twitter and some of the best people to learn from in the world of blogging and SEO.

Newcomers to the world of blogging often mistake it for a new kind of LiveJournal or MySpace blog wherein one chronicles one’s daily life. But a Blog is a lot more than that. It is a complete content management system and a self-publishing platform, the same kind used by everyone from CNN to Perez Hilton.

Writing a blog is like being the editor of a magazine, even down to understanding your demographic, your traffic metrics, your primary subject focus, and even attracting advertising dollars. Army of the Dead psp

As you explore the world of WordPress and what it can do, you should always be thinking of your audience – who are they, why are they interested, how do they navigate your site, who may be willing to pay you for attracting those same viewers to their product?

Also, pay attention to this post – it may seem like a lot of self-promotion, but it is, in fact, a demonstration of linkbacks/trackbacks and cross-linking – a practice you must learn to use within your own posts; linking to articles that you have written for your blog within your new blog posts makes search engines hungrier for your site – they like to see correlations and cross-pollination.

I will be attending this year’s NAB show

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as a media correspondent based on the strength of my blogs alone. Think of that – in nine months, I went from knowing what most beginners do, to getting a media badge to one of the top 50 largest media conferences in the US. That is the power of a blog. I look forward to reporting back what I find. If you are interested in a play by play, you might consider following my Tweets from the show – you can find me on Twitter @ConstantChange.

About the Author:
Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com Light in the Piazza buy and society at theculturepin.com. Listen to Keram’s podcast at Keramcast.com

4 Social Media Sites that Should be Integrated into Your WordPress Blog

Social Media is hit or miss, it can bring you massive amounts of traffic or a trickle. It all depends on many factors, most of which are out of your control. Despite this, it’s important to participate in social media websites, mostly because of the valuable backlinks that they provide. Some, like Stumbleupon, will bring you reliably steady with the occasional spike.

Unfortunately, many bloggers make the mistake of not integrating social networks into their WordPress blog. Here are a few of the basic social media sites that you should have integrated into your blog:

Twitter

Beyond blog comments, Twitter is a fantastic way to connect with your readers. You should get as many followers as you can because they become a massive audience for your content. You can integrate your blog into Twitter by using tools like Twitterfeed that will publish your blog RSS feed on your Twitter feed whenever you publish a new post.

You can also install WordPress plugins that put your Twitter feed into your blog sidebar, create a TwitThis button in all your posts and put a Twitter badge in your sidebar. Twitter can be a great source of steady traffic once you gain a large enough following, it just takes time to develop it.

Facebook

Believe it or not, Facebook can be a great source of traffic for your blog. The first thing you should do is integrate your blog RSS feed into your own profile so that your close friends and family can see what you’re up to. Next, you should create a fan page for your blog that will get searched by the search engines. It’s also not a bad idea to seek out Facebook groups in your niche and post comments and links to your blog. Don’t spam the groups as you’re likely to just piss them off, but participate in the conversation and encourage people to give your blog a visit. Facebook also lets you put a badge on your website so that people can connect with you on Facebook.

Digg

Digg is the Holy Grail of social media. Getting to the front page can bring upon riches beyond what you can imagine. Well, actually no it won’t. But if you make it the front page of Digg, you’ll get a huge spike in traffic, create awareness of your blog and you may even pick up a few new readers. Diggers are notorious for not clicking ads, so expect your ad click through rate to be low.

Sadly, it is a very difficult task to make it to the front page of Digg. Such a thing requires many different factors to align, with a little magic thrown in for good measure. But just submitting your blog content to Digg is worth the effort as Digg backlinks are incredibly valuable. Usually when you submit your post to Digg, the Digg page will rank at the top of Page 1 for the topic your post is about (of course this is not always the case).

It takes five minutes to submit to Digg, then stick around and participate in the community, you’re more likely get further if you do. It’s also a good idea to submit your posts to sites similar to Digg such as: Reddit.com, Propeller.com, Sugarloving.com, etc.

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Stumbleupon is by far the most addicting social media service on the net. It’s a simple concept. People tell Stumbleupon what they’re interests are then the algorithm will take them to websites they might like. What does this mean for the lowly blogger? It means highly targeted traffic. This is great if you’re in a specific niche. If the right people Stumble your content, you could get a huge burst in traffic.

Mostly though, Stumbleupon will send you reliable hits every day for people interested in your website. To get on the Stumbleupon train all you need to do it download the Firefox tool bar, register for an account and start Stumbling. A good word of advice, though, is to Stumble other people’s content, not just yours. Only Stumbling your content is a great way to get no traffic at all from the service.

Be forewarned, once you start Stumbling, it’s very hard to stop!

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It Doesn’t Hurt To Try

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If you are worried that you won’t see any benefits from these sites, I highly recommend trying them anyway. It may take some time before you see results but once you do, you will become addicted to them.

What’s your favorite social media site you use with WordPress?

My Top Five Favorite New Features in WordPress 2.8

Chet Baker, the jazz musician whose silky smooth voice was matched by his seemingly effortless trumpet playing was the inspiration for the name of the latest update to WordPress.  The new version 2.8, titled “Baker” is the follow up to “Coltrane”, and this new version, with much simplified and yet more powerful admin pages, advanced customization options and a whole lot of slick changes to the interface does indeed live up to its name.

Performing the update to your site should be as simple as click the new link that will appear at the top of your admin pages reading: “WordPress 2.8 is available”.  Before you do, be sure, as always, to backup you database.  There are many articles here at WP-Blogger.com that teach you how to do this correctly.

While there are literally hundreds of updates and fixes in this revision, here are my top five favorite new features and changes in WordPress 2.8:

1. Smarter Widgets

At long last, Automattic did indeed answer my prayers with the new drag-and-drop widgets admin interface!  The best aspect of this update (and arguably my favorite overall in all of WP 2.8) is that you can store widget settings when you deactivate them.  For anyone who has ever entered a wall of code into one general text widget (like I do with all the blog directory buttons that I am linked from – for example bloggernity, blogcatalog, technorati etc.) or adsense or other affiliate code – this is a huge time saver. It also allows much easier testing – sometimes you may want to see whether more or less ads are more or less effective.

2. Plug and Play Themes

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Browse the theme directory and install themes from the admin – being able to install themes right from within WordPress rather than having to download, decompress and upload via ftp is another small but significant wonder of this release.

3. Option for Case-Insensitve Logins Tequila Sunrise trailer

Allow case-insensitive logins – this makes the process far more semantic. Sure it’s slightly less secure, but in terms of convenience, a smart move as you always want to make the user’s experience as simple and unobtrusive as possible.

4. Multiple Galleries per Page

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5. Per Page option for plugins

The option to choose what plugins manifest on what page is the sort of customization that makes a WordPress portal feel less like a sandbox and more like a dynamic destination.

All of these seemingly small distinctions, can collectively result in a much more customized and accurate representation of the experience you want to bring to your readers.

To see the extensive and complete list of additions, fixes and changes go the official WordPress Baker page at: http://codex.wordpress.org/Version_2.8

About the Author:
Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com America’s Sweethearts full movie . Listen to Keram’s podcast at Keramcast.com Inferno

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How to Search Engine Optimize Your WordPress Blog

The question I get asked the most about blogging is: how do I get traffic? There are many strategies out there that will eventually bring you traffic, but there is one strategy that is more important than them all and that is Search Engine Optimization.

You will get a large majority of your traffic from search engine results. So, it’s important that you get everything in order so that the search engine bots will like your site. Think of it as preparing for a hot date, you need to look your best, comb your hair, take a bath and be on your best behavior to impress your date. The search engine bots are often like that and are usually a fickle date.

So, here are some basic SEO tips for your WordPress blog.

Basic WordPress Settings for SEO

There are several critical settings you need to change before you announce your site to the world. The first thing you need to do is enable clean URL permalinks. That turns your URL’s from PHP gobbledygook into readable URL’s that are helpful to your readers when they are searching for you.

For example would you rather see:

http://yourblog.com/?p=123

or

http://yourblog.com/about-us/

Enable permalinks FIRST before you build your sitemap and submit it to the search engines. This will save you headaches later. Also, keep in mind it may take 30 minutes to an hour for your permalinks to start working, so don’t stress that you broke your website when your pages aren’t loading.

After you’ve done that, it’s time to think about all the categories you’re going to post content. Create them up front, that way they get built into first sitemap.

Building the Sitemap

Your XML sitemap is critical for WordPress SEO Success. A sitemap is what gets submitted to the search engines and they use that as guide to your website. It tells them what pages and what content lives on your blog. You’re going to need the WordPress XML Sitemap plugin to manage your sitemap. It’s works in the background and updates your sitemap whenever you write a new post. Then it also notifies the search engines that there are new pages and the bots will come crawl your site again.

Once you have your permalinks and categories setup, go to the Setting Control Panel for the XML Sitemap Plugin and click “build sitemap for the first time.” Within the plugin you can also manage if and when search engines are notified of updates. You can also select parts of the site you don’t want crawled or parts of the site you DO want crawled. Once the search bots become familiar with your site, oftentimes your new posts will appear in search results in minutes.

SEO Content Guidelines

When you write blog posts it’s important to think of SEO. Write your posts naturally then when you go back to edit, you can start inserting SEO goodness. What sort so SEO guidelines do you need to keep in mind when writing content?

  • Internal links – it’s important to interlink with other relevant blog posts on your site
  • Don’t Keyword Stuff – write naturally and don’t try to cram in too many keywords
  • Give posts a structure using HTML headings: <H1> <H2><H3> etc
  • Categories – Select relevant categories but don’t select too many
  • Tags – be sure to tag your posts
  • Images – Search bots can’t see images so be sure to insert <alt> tags
  • Titles – Optimize Your Post Titles – This is what people see when they search for you, so be sure to keep titles less than 10 words and that they describe exactly what the post is about.
  • Enable Comments – comments are great for SEO as they basically create more free content for the post, content that gets crawled and index by the search engines.

Off-site SEO

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On site SEO is only half of the equation. There are many things that you can do to build your blog’s profile and help it rank well in the search engines.

  • Submit to Top 4 Search Engines – This is a bit of a no-brainer but you need to submit your blog to the four top Search Engines – Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask.com manually. They may find you eventually, but it’s best to submit yourself so they find you sooner.
  • Submit your blog to blog directories. The big ones are:

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  • Submit your Blog to Link Directories. Find a list of link directories and put your blog in as many directories as possible. This is very time consuming, but those early backlinks are valuable.
  • Comment on Other Blogs – To help build a reputation, make insightful comments on competing blogs, especially ones that have Do-Follow links turned on.
  • Join Social Media sites – The SEO value of many social media sites is huge, so join them and get your content onto them.
  • Contact Related Blogs to link to you on their blogrolls and do the same in return for them.

Analytics Tracking

Once your blog gets going, you need to know where your traffic is coming from. Google Analytics provides free and detailed analytics that will tell you everything you could possibly want to know about your website. Install it right away. Once you get a month’s worth of data, you’ll see how people are finding your site and where you can improve. You’ll discover some surprising things and you may discover new niches and content ideas to pursue.

Do You Have any WordPress SEO Tips? If so, please feel free to leave a comment and share them with us.