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.

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?

WordPress 101 – What is WordPress?

If you are new to blogging, then you are probably not sure what it is and what WordPress is all about. So here are some basics to help you understand what blogging is, what content management is, and how WordPress came about.

Just What is Blogging?

Blogging is simply content arranged in descending order, back in time about any particular subject. This blog focuses on WordPress. So, we write posts dealing with WordPress. Blogs have made it easy for anyone to setup a website and write about their interests.

Blogs also have several other important elements such as the ability to let users comment, archiving, searching, category management and a host of other features that can be added with additional software.

I hesitate to say that a blog is like a diary, because that implies that all blogs are simply personal diaries. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are millions of blogs about millions of different subjects with very few personal diaries gaining any real popularity

What Is Content Management?


Back in the early days of the Web, if you wanted to have your own website about a subject, you needed to write it from scratch in HTML and update it manually. While this was fine when websites were simple, it quickly became very time consuming to update a website when there were hundreds of pages of content, let alone thousands.

This where content management systems come in. A content management system manages content in a database. Content is called from a database and displayed on a page automatically when a page is loaded. This means that you can have thousands of pages of content, managed efficiently in a way that makes maintaining a website easier. This means that people could now focus on the actual creation of content, rather than the technical aspects of maintaining it.

When the blog format was developed, it did not take long for blogging platforms to develop. Blogging Platforms such as Blogger or WordPress became basic content management systems for blog content. They were easy to use and develop. This led to an explosion in blogs. Several millions blogs are created everyday in the world. Everyone has something to say. And a lot of them are saying it with WordPress.

WordPress History

In the spirit of open source software development, WordPress was created from another blogging platform. WordPress came about from the work of Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, who developed WordPress and released it into the wild.

It’s popularity hit critical mass when Six Apart, the company behind another popular blogging platform called Movable Type, changed it licensing agreements, leading to many users migrating their blogs to the free and open source WordPress platform.

WordPress has been under active development for nearly 6 years and has thousands of developers contributing to the project, thousands of plugins that extend functionality, thousands of customized themes and many business success stories.

Why Is WordPress The Best Choice For Blogging?

WordPress introduces simplicity into blogging. It works right out of the box, it’s easy to maintain and it’s backend is extremely powerful. This allows anyone to create a huge blog and run it successfully. Some of the biggest blogs on the web use WordPress. It just works.

It’s ease of use coupled with the thousands of themes and plugins available, mean that you can get WordPress to do pretty much anything you would need it too. All at little or no cost. Because of the popularity of WordPress there are countless experts on the web that can help you solve any problem you may be having.

Another great aspect of WordPress is that it can be hacked into being a simple content management system, meaning that you can take it beyond a blog and create a full featured website. Perfect for developing websites or blogs for businesses.

The Future of WordPress

The future of WordPress is secure, it’s under active development and now has the backing of several companies that maintain the overall codebase. It’s popularity means that it won’t be going anywhere and that new features will be continuously added and old features improved. So, if you’re looking for start you own blog and want to do it in the best way possible, then WordPress is your best bet.

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How To Move Your WordPress.com Content to a Custom WP Installation

Moving On Up

I have been helping out a very design and web savvy friend lately with a new enterprise she is undertaking using the WordPress sandbox. I find this interesting because this friend was actually far ahead of the curve when it comes to blogging as she used to run an excellent blog site that was in fact built from scratch some eight or nine years ago. Her original site used some custom php and MySQL underneath a handsome and clever design to essentially post articles, link them to one another and even used categories for navigating through the content.

These days that doesn’t seem quite so impressive since anyone can sign up for a free blog at Blogger.com or WordPress.com and be up and running in minutes.

But as I have mentioned before, these free blog services eventually come at a price. The new user will quickly discover that any sort of “premium” features – specialized plugins, extra storage space, custom domains and even themes are paid services and soon enough they will find that they need the extra tools but fear they can’t abandon all the content they have so painstakingly created.

The good news, as I explained to my friend, is that moving from (most) of these free services to a custom WordPress installation (WordPress is by now unquestionably the blogging platform of choice) is a lot easier than one might suspect. Here are the instructions as outlined at the WordPress Support Edtv movie full pages:

“1) In the old blog, go to Tools -> Export

and download the XML file to your computer.

2) In the new blog, go to Tools -> Import and upload the XML file you downloaded in step 1.

Note: This will move your your posts, pages, comments, categories, and tags; any uploads and images will need to be manually transferred to the new blog.”

First Things First

Of course, before any of this is possible, you will need to set up an account with a Host Provider (I mentioned several of these in my article about getting started) and then register your own domain name.

Once you are all done with that, you will likely use Fantastico or Simple Scripts to do a quick install of WordPress on your new server, be it a shared or dedicated option.

Then you will likely want to follow the many excellent tips and resources on this site to get everything humming along smoothly.

Finally, from your admin panel, select the Import option, locate you exported XML file and upload. Presto, watch your new, very own, infinitely expandable, with no one watching your back, WP site magically repopulate with all your old content. Couldn’t be easier.

But Before We Go…

One caveat, I did mention in my article about Tags and Categories that when importing from a Blogger.com account funky things can happen between tags and categories. In this case, you may want to do some cleanup and reorganize your tags and categories before going live.

About the Author:
Keram (follow him on twitter @ConstantChange) is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com

WordPress As A Video Site – Themes and Plugins

WordPress vs. Joomla as a CMS

WordPress is deeply customizable and has evolved into a full content management system or “CMS” for many publishers, but it still isn’t the best choice for video sites – that crown is still held by Joomla, likely because it approaches the content not as a blog but as a way for navigating through a lot of content pulled from a database. Although this is essentially what WordPress does – WP still thinks like a blog – that is to say, it is hungry for updates so that it can post them on its front page, and have those updates commented upon by readers who subscribe to its RSS feed.

Joomla, on the other hand struggles as a blogging platform and instead excels at cataloging your content much like a library catalogs and displays book, allowing that content to be voted upon and rated, building communities and so on. They are both capable of much the same things, but they come at it in very different ways.  furthermore, someone with knowledge about installing and running a WordPress site does not necessarily share the tools for installing and running a Joomla CMS.  Again: they are two different animals.

As WordPress slowly saturates the market as a full-blown CMS, we are on the lookout for ways in which people are solving both community building (in the sense that its readers can maintain profiles that go beyond a comment history) and as a multimedia platform.

While most successful port of the YouTube idea to WP are expensive custom jobs, there are a couple of solutions emerging for the rest of us worth a look.

Video Themes and Solutions for WordPress

First is WordPress Video Theme – a design that does a very simple thing: it integrates the ability to embed video right in to your template’s back end. The upside is you need to know nothing about coding or even third-party plugins to use it. The downside is that because it is expressly designed to display videos in its posts (to retain the integrity of its overall formatting) you must link a video in every post or you will be stuck with a big empty white space before your text appears. It also affords you the ability to switch between seven different color palettes on the fly.

22-year old designer Malan Joubert has been more than generous in giving this one away.

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It is not an ideal solution, but it works, and its free and at the very least you can get a chance to tinker around with a solution to this problem.

Wordpress Video Theme

A free WordPress Video Theme by Malan Joubert

Next is an excellent video theme from the good people at Woo Themes called, appropriately WooTube. This premium theme automatically resizes videos on your site for a clean consistent look and even has the WPPost-Ratings plugin built in so readers can vote on their favorite videos. The difference between WooTube’s integration of the rating system and doing it yourself without any knowledge of CSS is WooTube makes it look good. It also features a customized sidebar for displaying past videos without any need for installing third party plugins.

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WooTube - a premium video theme from WooThemes.com

WooTube - a premium video theme from WooThemes.com

WooTube can be purchased in one of two ways: as a single license (meaning you have permission to use it on one site) for $70 and multi-sites for $150, or as part of a Woo Themes club membership. Visit the site for details.

A last thing to look at is Viper’s Video Quicktags


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– not a theme, but a plugin that allows you to embed videos from a wide variety of sites including YouTube, MySpace, Metacafe, Vimeo, Dailymotion and others, customize the appearnce of the video player and define other behaviors.

Once installed the plugin option appear within the WYSIWYG of your post editor. It doesn’t break your theme in any way, (I have tested it with over 25 different themes) and get you into the world of video broadcasting from your Worpdress blog. What it doesn’t do, that a good theme does, is display past videos, who watched them, how much they were liked and so on. These are the keys to making a successful video site, and WordPress isn’t quite there yet.

Here is a list of many other video plugins for WordPress worth taking a look at; as always, try some out and see what works best for you.

While there are dozens of amazing highly customized themes for multimedia by frighteningly talented designers out there, most of them aren’t available to the common blogger without a budget.  The resources above, however, should get you on your way.

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. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com

WordPress 101: Managing Users

Your readers are your bread and butter and how you decide to interact with them from the get go will determine how successful your blog becomes. Your blog cannot be successful without loyal readers. It needs to be easy for people to leave comments; if it’s a pain then you won’t get many comments.

Also, at some point you may decide to introduce contributors to your WordPress blog and you’re going to need a way to manage them. You don’t exactly want a contributor to have admin rights on your WordPress blog, so to control different levels of user permissions, WordPress has several different levels.

Types of WordPress Users

  • Subscriber – This is someone who simply reads your blog and leaves comments.
  • Contributor – Someone who can read/write posts but they do not get published, they get sent to a moderation queue.
  • Author – This allows someone to write and publish their own posts.
  • Editor – Can write posts, publish posts and manage the posts of others.
  • Administrator – Can control every aspect of your blog.

Deciding What User Level to Give Out

It’s important to think about this. This is YOUR blog and you don’t want to give out too much control to other people. Unless you are in partnership with someone, you should never, under any circumstance give out administrative rights to a user on your blog.

If you want to invite contributors to write for your blog and give contributor level access, all their posts will go into a queue. After a while, this may come to annoy your contributors as they have to wait on you to see their posts go live. There are also significant limitations built into the contributor user level. For example, they cannot upload pictures or embed any content. This will quickly become a headache if you have to continually upload images for them.

The next option would be to give writers Author level access. This give a little more freedom to them. They’ll be able to do the same things as a contributor but they’ll also be able to upload images and publish their own posts. If you allow writers to publish your own posts, it would be wise to lay out guidelines for them to follow. Such as what time to publish, what kind of images they can use, overall content guidelines, etc. This is a good level of access to give, you don’t give up too much power but your contributors will have a little more freedom.

If you want someone to be a more hands on that Author level, you could give them Editor Access. This will allow them to edit and maintain any content on the site, their own and others. They can moderate comments, edit posts, delete posts, delete pages and ban users. Give out this level sparingly as you are giving up a lot of control.

The next level above Editor is Administrator. An admin can control every aspect of the site that all the previous user levels can in addition to controlling themes, plugins and overall site settings. This is same amount of power that you have. Give it out sparingly or you could find yourself losing complete control of your blog.

User Generated Content

A lot of WordPress blogs can be altered in a way to accept user generated content. It should be well considered about what type of content you’re willing to allow on your site. People will push the barriers until they meet resistance. So, if you choose to allow user generated content (other than comments) it’s a good idea to do a few things:

Make them register for Contributor Level Access – This will help fight spammers and makes sure that people who want to contribute are willing to go through the necessary steps.

Keep them at Contributor Level Access – At first at least. You’ll want to approve all content that goes up on your blog. As time goes on and you can begin to trust your community, you can remove this roadblock so that when users submit content, it goes live immediately.

Clear out Abusers

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– If someone is abusing their privileges, simply get rid of them. You can easily delete a user account. To prevent them from registering again, use a plugin like WP-Ban to ban their IP address from your site completely.

Conclusion

Allowing users to contribute to the success of your blog is an important aspect of blogging. That being said, each decision you make should be considered and implemented with a strong will. Never forget that it’s YOUR blog. Your users make contribute to it’s success, but at the end of the day you have to live with it.

The Power of Retweets and How To Harness It In WordPress

By now you have heard the famous story of actor Ashton Kutcher challenging CNN to be the first to reach one million followers on Twitter. The very next day the great Oprah herself signed up for a Twitter account live on her television program. Two days later Barbara Walters followed suit on the View.

There is no question that Twitter has invaded the mainstream and grabbed it piece of Web history. WE have discussed the importance of integrating Twitter into your website in various articles, so today I want simply to point you to one of the hundreds of options for using Twitter within your WordPress blog but in this case, with the focus of displaying how many ReTweets any of your posts has tallied up.

Retweets are, by definition, when another Twitter user likes a link that you have “tweeted” and re-posts it by giving you, or whomever the original poster was, credit for the link.

The Retweet button is for website and blog publishers that want to encourage their audience to Retweet their content on twitter by both offering a tweet button and a dynamically updating stat counter that shows how many times your post has been retweeted.

While implementing it is as easy as copying a small piece of javascript into your site.  Visit this page to see to code:

http://help.tweetmeme.com/2009/04/06/tweetmeme-button/

We are fortunate enough, however, as WordPress users, to have a ReTweet Button from TweetMeme as a WordPress plugin!

To find and install it, simply navigate to your plugins tab from your admin panel and click “Add New.”

In the searchline, enter “Tweetmeme Button” and it should come right up. Click install and then set the options to your liking from the settings section of your Admin panel and you are on your way!

About the Author:

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

Keeping Your WordPress Folders Secured – Important Tip

I once had a reader show up on one of my sites who became a bit obsessive about the community and when I eventually had to ask them to moderate their endless barrage of posts and comments and replies they came back at me with the creepy response that they had been snooping around the backend of the site and that they had some experience with hacking and that I should be more careful.

I asked them what exactly they were looking for and they filled me in that it was nothing in particular – a lot of people like to hack things just because they can, for bragging rights or even in some cases to test and help out the hackee.

Whatever the case, I learned my lesson.  One of the most important steps you can take to preventing unwanted snooping around your virtual back office is to ensure that the contents of your folders are not easily viewable by simply typing in their path in a browser line.

To see what I am talking about – go to your own website and add

/wp-content/plugins/

to the end of your main URL.

What do you see?

Now remove what you added above and instead append:

/wp-content/themes/

Here’s a third one to test out:

/wp-content/uploads/

If that doesn’t spook you, it should.  Not all plugins and themes are created equal; some are still in early development and may be filled with vulnerabilities, and security leaks that can be exploited.  Affording someone with the know-how and malicious intent an easy glance at all the plugins or themes you are using, is like handing a ball of chum to a hungry shark.

In the third example, you are allowing anyone a direct download link to anything you may ever have uploaded through your site.  This may include images you changed your mind about using, software, mp3s or whatever else.  It kind of defeats the purpose of all that nice formatting, affiliate marketing and newsletter sign-ups forms doesn’t it?

The solution is really very simple:

Create an empty text file and rename it index.html

Drop that file into the top level of each of those directories (for example, using an FTP client, drag and drop your empty index.html file right onto your “Themes,” “Plugins” and “Uploads” folders), and any other directories that do not already have an index file (make sure to look for index.html, index.htm and index.php How the West Was Fun dvd – you do NOT want to overwrite these or even put the above file in a directory that normally uses any of the above, or it will potentially break your site).  If you don’t know what you are doing, make sure you back up your site first.

The above can also be handled by using an .htaccess file, but not everyone will be able to implement an .htaccess file, so I feel the above method for at least keeping the contents of these folders private is the best one for those of you less familiar with advanced hosting methods.

I found a nice article and discussion thread that echoes the idea above, and also offers some additional security tips at DailyBlogTips.com

Be sure to read the comments posted in response to their article for more insight and ideas about working with this matter.

About the Author:

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

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and society at theculturepin.com . Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com and find him on Twitter @ConstantChange

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Understanding Categories in WordPress

Get Off To A Good Start – Identify The Parts

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When you first install a WordPress site, it is a little like opening a box of disassembled furniture from IKEA: you have a simple, uncluttered guide showing all the separate pieces you should have found in the box and a series of steps outlining how to assemble them together to arrive at the finished product.  But at the outset, it is just a lot of parts spread out across your living room floor with little indication how important any one of those pieces might be until it is time for it to be implemented.  The best way to get started is to identify all the parts, arrange like-with-like, do a rundown of the various steps involved, then go back to step one and get started.

Tags vs. Categories

One of my first experiences with WordPress involved me migrating an existing Blogger.com blog over to a custom WP installation and what it did was take all kinds of tags and convert them into categories, leaving me with dozens of categories for my new WordPress blog.  I am assuming this functionality has been straightened out in the interim, but it sure left me confused about what categories were, especially as compared to tags, so I hope to shed a little light on what Categories in WordPress really are, and best practices for using them as you plan out how to build and organize your site.

Let’s start with what a Category isn’t.  It isn’t just a Tag or a Keyword.  A tag is used as a keyword (for search engines, for example), but isn’t just a keyword because it can be used to identify what you feel are the operative terms of your article that may not be otherwise obvious.  For example, in this article I open with an analogy about IKEA furniture, but this article is about running a blogging content management system.  While I could add “IKEA” as a tag to “trick”  search engines into adding my site to any searches about one of the world’s wealthiest companies, I will not make many friends by using this trick.  Instead, I would be wise to add tags for this article that include terms like “optimization,” “SEO,” and “WordPress tips.”

Organizational Logic

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file_cabinet1Think of tags as the tabs you put on file folders when flipping through a drawer, whereas categories are like the names of the drawers themselves.  Choosing the appropriate top-level labels for the drawers of your filing cabinets takes some proper planning; it will make your future self much better organized, happier, and efficient.  It also makes it easier for you to delegate work to others, because they will have an easier time understanding not only your organizational logic but the logic of your Organization; the way you divide and compartmentalize your content says a lot about the nature of your business.

If a burglar were to break into your office and see drawers labeled “Locations”, “Wardrobe” and “Camera” – they could infer that you are either a photography or video production studio.  If the same drawers were labeled “Accounts Payable,” “Accounts Receivable” and “Budget Sheets” they would quickly realize they had broken into the Accounting department.

The same goes for your blog.  Your categories should be carefully chosen and kept to a bare minimum.  The reason for this is that you can utilize this organizational workflow to great advantage in tandem with a well designed theme that automatically displays tabs or other graphic elements based on your categories.  Not all themes display categories in a prominent way, but some (like WP-Blogger) actually use categories to automatically display as tabs along the top of the content so that readers can easily navigate your site and get a better understanding of what you are about.

TIP: When setting up your blog, create a new category and then go to your Admin Panel->Setting->Writing and select if from the drop down menu beside “Default Post Category.”  This will prevent you from inadvertently filing something under the standard “Uncategorized” option.  In fact, remove the Uncategorized category altogether since you would not want that to ever display within your theme as it is both unprofessional and nonsensical.

Learning how to use categories early will save you a lot of time later on.  Categories are a powerful way to organize and structure your site and its content in a way that can be exploited by a well-designed theme.

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Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com Middletown full movie and find him on Twitter @ConstantChange.

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What Your WordPress Sidebar Can Do For You

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Besides the actual blog content that you develop, the WordPress sidebar is the most important element in your blog. Good sidebar implementation will sink or swim a blog, so it’s important to know everything that your sidebar can do you for.

Here is a breakdown of some of the common uses for your sidebar to help grow your blog:

About


The sidebar is an excellent place to insert a few sentences about what your blog is about. This is especially useful is what your blog is about it not exactly clear from it’s title and domain name. Think long and hard about what exactly your blog is and write some boilerplate text about it that you can use in many places, including your sidebar.

Advertise

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The most valuable real estate on your blog is your sidebar content. Because of this you’ll have a lot of eyeballs looking at it, it’s important that you place a majority of your ads there. This can be anything from a skyscraper banner ad to simple 125×125 ad blocks. They will fit perfectly in your sidebar. Do not make the whole sidebar ad centered, because readers will the just ignore the ads. The ads must be crammed in between content readers want so they get noticed.

Communicate

You can use your sidebar to communicate directly with your readers. Be it the intentions you have behind the site or links to a contact form or forum. Make it easy for people to contact you. If they can contact you quickly and easily then you’ll have many excellent opportunities come your way.

Engage

Your sidebar is also an excellent way to engage your readers. The WordPress sidebar is a great location for a site wide poll asking readers a question. It’s also a good idea to put the most recent comments in the sidebar. This will give readers and sense of ownership and encourage them to post even more on the site. This also fits in with communication. Make is easy for your readers to get in touch with you.

Browse Content

I hate blogs that make it difficult to browse the rest of the content. Oftentimes on new blogs, when content moves off the front page, it disappears into an essentially inaccessible archive. Don’t let this happen. Feature the most recent posts, most popular posts, a tag cloud, categories and archive listings. Also, give them a search box so that they can search your site quickly and easily. Your content is your most valuable asset, make it easy for people to find.

RSS Feeds

Syndicating your blog will only help your blog, so make it easy for your readers to subscribe to your content. On most blogs, the RSS subscribe icons are at the top of the sidebar, sometimes with huge icons. A subscriber is way more valuable than a onetime reader, so make it easy for them to subscribe.

You can also insert other RSS feeds into widgets into your WordPress sidebar. If you have other blogs you want to feature or any other content with a feed, this is a great way to display it.

Social Networks

Social networking should be a part of any successful blog. Make it easy for people to find you on social networks and many have widgets that you can put into the sidebar. One of the most popular social networks right now is Twitter, so make it easy for your readers to find your Twitter feed.

Blogroll

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The second most important blogging real estate after advertising is your blogroll. A successful blog must connect and build relationships with other blogs. This helps build traffic, relationships and goodwill. Links are a valuable commodity in the age of Google. Don’t give out links to just anyone, make sure you link to relevant blogs in your niche. Reach out to other bloggers before linking and most of the time, they will be thrilled to do a link exchange.

How Have You Used your Sidebar to Grow Your Blog?

How to Upload Plugins and Change Your Theme

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One of the biggest benefits of WordPress is its ability to be extended with useful plugins and beautiful themes. If you’re just starting out with WordPress, it can be very confusing as to how you actually add new plugins and themes to your blog. This post will teach you how to upload and set up plugins as well as load new themes. Here’s how:

Where to Upload Plugins

Plugins have their own folder on your webserver within the WordPress installation. By default all plugins live in: root/wp-content/plugins. This is where all of your new plugins will go. When you download a WordPress plugin it’s compressed as a Zip file. You need to unzip the file and this will give you the folder where the plugin lives. Next, you simply need to upload that folder into the plugins directory.

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To upload to your FTP server, you will need an FTP program such as CuteFTP or Cyberduck for the Mac. You’ll need to enter your webserver login details to login to the server. Once you done this, you simply navigate your server like you would the folders on your computers. Find the WP-Content folder and then once you’re there find the Plugins folder and open it. All you have to do at this point is upload the plugin directory that you downloaded. Times may very, but it will take a minute or two to upload. This is only a third the step in installing a plugin. Next you’ll need to activate it.

How to Activate Plugins

To activate a plugin you’ll need to login into your WP-Admin interface. Once there, find your way to the plugins tabs. When the page loads you’ll see all your presently activated plugins. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a list of your installed but inactive plugins. The plugin that you just uploaded should be on the list. Click activate and the plugin will be turned on. Now, you’ll need to setup the plugin to do it’s job.

Changing Plugin Settings

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Some plugins will work as soon as you activate them, but many of them will need some settings changed before they do their job. For example the Google Analytics plugin needs your GA code in order to do it’s job. Usually, the settings for the plugin you just installed with be under the Settings menu. If you can’t figure out how to change the plugin settings, it never hurts to consult the read.me file. Usually the read.me file will provide you all the information you need to know.

Test, Test, Test

It’s not uncommon for a new plugin to break your site. So, as soon as you get things setup, you need to test your blog. Visit it, browse your posts and make sure that everything works right. If content is not displaying correctly, immediately deactivate the plugin and see if things correct. If they do, then you’ll need to troubleshoot or find a different plugin to do what you were trying to do.

Where to Upload Themes

Uploading themes is very similar to the process of uploading plugins. Themes live in the root/wp-content/themes folder. This is in the same FTP neighborhood as the plugins folder. When you download your theme it will come packaged in a zip file which you’ll need to extract. Then, just like you do with a plugin, upload the theme into your themes folder. Themes will take longer to upload as there will be a lot more files for it to upload.

How to Activate Themes

Once the FTP upload is complete, log into your WP-Admin and go to the Themes section. When the page loads you’ll see all your themes that you can currently choose from and your new one should be there. Click it and it will give you a preview of what your blog will theoretically look like if the theme is activated. Keep in mind that, oftentimes this preview is wrong as a theme may have special settings required for certain things to work.

Special Theme Settings

Things may not look right at first because the theme may have custom settings that need to be changed. Usually a theme will have it’s custom settings under the Theme menus. Custom settings can be anything from ad-codes, categories slug info or sidebar placement. Make sure that everything you expected with your theme is setup.

Test, Test, Test

As with plugins, themes can easily break your website or display it in an all together unexpected way. Once you have activated your theme and changed the necessary settings, it’s time to browse your site and make sure that everything is displaying correctly. This is a process that may take hours as some themes will require tweaking to make sure everything is correct. If your site ends up broken, deactivate the theme and return to what you had set up before.

Four Key Elements to Improving Your Article's SEO Rank

While blogging is intrinsically a very search-engine friendly medium due to its inherently dynamic nature (search engine crawlers love to feed on fresh, original content) and is further aided in this regard by comments and pingbacks to your article by readers and other sites, there are some things you can do to improve and optimize how you structure your posts to get the maximum impact with the search engines.  These are not dirty tricks, but rather best practices that will help ensure when someone does a search for something having to do with the subject you are writing about, they have a better chance at finding your hard-wrought post and not some lazy Splog.

Can You See The Target

Preparing for this requires identifying exactly what is the subject of your article and from that determining what key words, or Keywords, as they are better known, underline that subject.

Once you have identified your main and several ancillary keywords, look for the following areas within which to implement them (and as often as possible without letting it deteriorate the quality of your content).

Four Key Elements For Optimizing Your Content For Searches

The first and most important element is the Title of your article.  This is simply accomplished by incorporating your principal keywords into the title itself.

The next place to include your targeted keyword(s) is in the URL for your article.  Go to your Admin Section->Settings->Permalinks and make sure you have selected Custom Structure and input %postname% in the text field.  This is something that should be set from day one of your blog.  This will allow you to customize the URL for every individual post you publish.  At the top of of your post editing page, just below the title field, you should see:

Permalink: http://yourblog.com/the-title-of-your-article“  and then an Edit button.  The text following your domain name should be a series of words based on your title, separated by dashes.  Make sure your keyword is among these words.

On the right side of your article entry is a section called “Tags.”  This is an obvious place to include your keywords.  You can also use a plugin like WP Auto-Tagger or Tag Suggest Thing , both which compare strong keywords at Yahoo and other search engines to tags based on:

The Content of your post feldene A Bunch of Amateurs movie full – make sure you are writing and writing well about what you want people to find when they search for your topic of interest.  You might fool them once, but they won’t come back for a second helping of the old bait and switch.

As a blogger you are providing an information service for which you strive to be the best provider of content on any given topic.  Even if it is a journal about your own little corner of the small town you grew up in, you should strive to be the best writer on that topic and build a site that helps people find it.  The best writers understand the most interesting stuff has to do writing what you know in your own voice – because it is your personal and unique idiosyncrasies that make you a specialist.  When you try to write about subjects you know nothing about, then you are an also ran.

I hope these optimization tips will help lead your audience to 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. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com Lethal Weapon movie download and find him on Twitter @ConstantChange.

Harnessing the Power of Social Networks to Promote Your Blog

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If You Build It – Why Will They Come?

Too often new bloggers mistakenly believe the now cliche axiom from the movie Field of Dreams based on the book Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa by W.P. Kinsella: “If you build it, he will come,” often misquoted as “If you build it, THEY will come.”  Well, they won’t.  With over a billion Google searches taking place every day and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of blogs out there, simply registering a domain and installing a WordPress Blog is hardly reason enough for the masses to come knocking at your virtual front door.  Even if you have discovered some relatively uncharted micro-niche, you have to realize that it is probably uncharted for a reason.

Planning, building and populating your little corner of the web is all important stuff, but letting people know about will take up the lion’s share of your efforts from here on out.  Fortunately, tapping into the free, powerful viral nature of the Social Web to promote your site is as easy as installing the right plugins, setting up a few social web accounts and then pinging those services whenever you post a new blog.

Sure, it’s a bit of an oversimplification to say that you can just SPAM away and people will flock to your content; Social networking is an art unto itself, and beyond the scope of this article, but implementing the technology into your site is a must.

There are several choices that stand out when searching for ways to make posting to the Social Net easier not just for you but for your readers.

Social Bookmarking Plugins for WordPress

Sociable by Joost de Valk lets you choose from ninety-nine different social bookmarking sites. You are able to determine which social networking or bookmarking sites to display via their respective logos below each post on your blog.

Socializer Zyblog Edition is similar to Sociable – it will automatically add links on your posts to popular social bookmarking sites. An enhanced version of Sociable, it features small changes to the code and adds many new bookmarking services. See which works best for you.

ShareThis is a little different in that it starts with a single button that, when click opens a drop down menu that has three separate tabs – one for social networks, one for social bookmarks and another for emailing the link to friends.  Adapted for WordPress by Alex King, ShareThis is actually a third-party standalone service.  To properly implement this into your blog, you will want to register at ShareThis

so that you can get a custom code that reflects your site’s specifics.

The benefit of a single button/drop-down linker is that it takes up far less real estate and requires your site to make less calls to the server in order to upload all the individual logos like in the case of Socializer.  The downside is that readers may not think to click on the ShareThis button – it creates less of a “call to action” when you can immediately see the MySpace, Facebook, Digg or Reddit buttons.  ShareThis, however is used by many of the largest online magazines so you can rest assured when using it, that you are in good company.

Add to Any Share/Save/Bookmark Button

is a powerful social bookmarking plugin that features a lot of customization options.  You can decide how you want it to display on your site, whether or not you want large or small drop down menus, what icons to display up front, and what sites to feature.  An excellent alternative to ShareThis, that doesn’t require external registration, but I have had problems with some themes.  Try it out and see if it works at your site.  If it does, then this is a top choice.

Digg This O’ Mine by Phoenixheart is perhaps my favorite of the myriad options for adding a prominent “Digg This” button to the end of your posts.  Certainly do a search for Digg This in the WordPress plugins searchline to see what else is available, but don’t overlook this one.  Simple in its implementation, Digg This O’ Mine has various skinning options, lets you decide whether to open Digg in a new window and the ability to change the background color around the icon.  Tip: if you choose to implement this button on your site in tandem with Sociable, ShareThis or others, remember to remove the Digg option from the others so that you are not double dipping and potentially confusing your readers.

Tweet This

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which I mentioned in my article WordPress and Twitter Make Good Buddies, is like the Digg This O’ Mine plugin but for Twitter.  Best described by the author:

“Adds a “Tweet This Post” link to every post and page. Shortens URLs in advance through Th8.us, eating up only 19 of 140 characters.”

A recent update features similar implementation for Plurk, Yahoo Buzz, Delicious, Digg, Ping.fm, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.  To read about its extensive list of features, visit the plugin’s page at WordPress – I highly recommend giving it a once over to understand just how deep this simple to install plugin really is.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

There are many other options for making your blog not only more interactive but a part of the much greater social web.  Whatever options you choose, don’t shortchange yourself by overlooking this very powerful method for getting the word about your site out there.

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

. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com and find him on Twitter @ConstantChange

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10 Settings to Change Right Away

WordPress is hands down the best blog platforming available. It works right out of the box and is really easy to use. However, there are a few things you should do every time you setup a new blog. Here is a breakdown of the 10 things you should change when you first start a new blog:

1. Delete the Default Posts

Nothing looks more unprofessional than a brand new blog with it’s “Hello, World” posts still on the site or in the archive. Delete them right away. This will make your blog look more professional right out of the gate. If you want things to look even better, then have at least 5-10 posts already published before you turn your blog on.

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2. Change the Default Theme


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There are now probably millions of blogs out there now that used the default WordPress theme. You need to separate yourself from the pack and have a less used design. You literally have thousand of options on the theme front. Take the time to find a theme and alter it to suit your needs. You’ll thank yourself later.

3. Change Your Blog’s Tagline

Go to your general settings in the WordPress dashboard and immediately change your tagline. By default it says “Just another WordPress Blog.” I’ve been many established blogs that still have that as their tagline. Take five minutes to come up with something unique. It will look more professional in the long run.

4. Change your Timezone

Also in the general settings, change your timezone to your own. This will save you lots of frustration when you can’t figure out why your scheduled posts aren’t going out on time.

5. Select Your Permalink Structure

Many WordPress blogs leave the default permalink structure which is a mess and doesn’t give search engines a good idea of what a page is about (it will be PHP links with ? and other symbols). Immediately change your permalink structure so they appear as something like this: http://www.yourblog.com/category/post.

You can customize it any way you want, but I recommend the simple day, month, year, subject format. It’s pretty standard. Keep in mind, on a self installed WordPress installation it may take approximately 30-60 minutes for the new permalinks to work.

6. Activate Akismet


Register for an account at WordPress.com to get a WordPress API Key. This will allow you to use the spam fighting goodness of Akismet. Akismet is a fantastic tool for battling spam on your blog and you’re going to need it. As soon as you turn a WordPress blog on you’ll begin to attract spambots.

7. Activate Key Plugins

Be sure to install and activate all the key plugins you’re going to be using. This could be your SEO plugins, analytics or more mundane things like your Twitter feed. Activate them all at once so you don’t have to keep going back and forth to the Plugins page to do so.

8. Set-up Widgets

By default, WordPress chooses the sidebar widgets. You need to change this immediately to the specific ones you are planning on using. It’s best to do this after you’ve activated all your plugins as some widgets may depend on the relevant plugins being activated. Be sure to arrange the widgets the way you want and always double check how they look by having your blog open in another window.

9. Enable XML-RPC Publishing

This is a relatively minor setting to change, but if you plan to use your own software program to post to WordPress and bypass the dashboard, then you’ll need to activate this checkbox. It will allow you to use powerful tools like MarsEdit to post to your blog in a much faster way.

10. Setup Categories

Before you start posting, you need to decide on what categories your content will go in. It will look terrible to have all your posts in the ‘uncategorized’ category. It can also get unmanageable to come up with your categories on the fly as you post. It’s best to sit down beforehand and come up with a category structure that you’ll stick to.

So there you have it, a rundown of the things you should change right after you setup your blog. The next step is to install some plugins. Check out the post 10 WordPress You Need To Install First to get a good idea of which ones you should start using right away.

Your First WordPress Installation

wordpress_logoMany people shy away from self hosting their own blogs because they think it’s too complicated. That actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you get a few basics down, hosting your own WordPress blog is the way to go. Not only does it give you a lot more options, but it also looks a lot more professional.

A lot of people are quickly turned off by free blogs hosted on sites like Blogger and WordPress.org. If you are still unsure about hosting your own blog, check out an article I wrote a few weeks back that covered the key differences between free blogs and self hosted ones here: WordPress.com Vs. WordPress.org

So here is a rundown on what you need to do to get your self hosted WordPress blog up and running.

What do you need to host your own blog?

  • Domain Name
  • Hosting Account
  • SQL Database
  • FTP Client
  • WordPress Install Files

You can take care of getting a domain name, hosting account and SQL database all in one go when you choose your hosting provider. Most webhosts allow you to buy a domain name when you buy hosting and this simplifies the process greatly. Webhosts like GoDaddy will do all this for you. When you’re looking for a webhost, look for one that includes a domain name, includes ample bandwidth, provides at least one SQL database and FTP Access.

There are many free FTP clients out there for Mac and PC. A quick search will get you one. You’ll need an FTP program to upload the WordPress files to your webserver.

After you’ve found your webhost, what do you do next?

Step 1 – Domain Mapping

Once you signed up with your Webhost, make sure that the domain name you purchased is pointed at your webserver. Many webhosts will have done this when you signed up. Some you’ll have to make the changes yourself. Consult the documentation of the webhost you chose to make sure.

Step 2 – Log into your FTP account


Once you’re domain is pointed, you should be able to use an FTP program to log into your webserver. When you get there, there will be a few files there. Take a look around, get used to the environment.

Step 3 – Upload WordPress Files


Once you’ve gotten comfortable exploring your FTP server, it’s time to upload the WordPress Installation files, which you can download from WordPress.org.

Unzip the files, open the folder and copy all the contents of the folder to your root directory (the first place the program takes you when you log in) on your webserver.

This uploading process will take awhile, depending on your connection speed (uploads to GoDaddy take forever).

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Step 4 – Set Up Database

Once you’ve got the WordPress files uploading, now is a good time to setup your SQL database. The SQL database is where all your content will live once you start posting on your blog. Go to your webhosts control panel and look around for the settings for Databases. Follow their directions to set one up. Once you have, be sure to note the name of the database, the username, password and server address. You’ll need this for the next step.

Step 5 – Initial WordPress Setup

Once the files are done uploading and your SQL database has been set up successfully, it’s time to run the WordPress installation. Open your web browser to your domain name and if you’ve done everything correctly and little prompt will come up, instructing you to begin the WordPress installation process.

Follow the prompts and when it’s time to give your database details, use what you created in the last step.

Once all this is done, WordPress is installed and you’re ready to go.

Step 6 – Initial Login


When the installation process is done, point your browser to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin and log in for the first time using the credentials you created during the installation process. The first thing you should do is change your password to something you can remember. After that, you can begin blogging.

You now have a WordPress blog up and running. The next step is learning everything you can about using WordPress. Luckily, we cover everything you need here on WP-Blogger. So check out some more of our posts to learn more about your WordPress blog.

How to Fight SPAM in WordPress

Spam in Space
Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Sarah G…
To the uninitiated, dealing with SPAM can become a huge pain the butt when running a WordPress blog. Thankfully, there are many ways that WordPress enables you to manage SPAM that reduces the time necessary to deal with it.

Most people don’t start dealing with SPAM until there is a problem, for example when their mailbox has been filled with hundreds of SPAM comment e-mails. It’s important to think about SPAM from day one so that it doesn’t suck your time into a black hole down the road.

Akismet – Activate it Right Away


Akismet is the ultimate spam fighting plugin for WordPress and it comes with every new installation of WordPress. It’s true that I don’t know how it works. But that doesn’t really matter because it does work.

The problem is that many people fail to activate it properly and don’t receive the benefits of Akismet protection. To use Akismet, you need to get a WordPress.com API key. My guess is that you have no idea what that is. Am I right? No worries…

The keys are free and not that hard to acquire. All you need to do is go to WordPress.com and sign up for an account. It doesn’t matter if you never use the account for blogging. WordPress let’s you have an account even if you aren’t using it to blog. Once you’ve activated your account, you’ll be given a WordPress API key.

From there, you can copy the code and then go to your WordPress admin panel on your blog and navigate to the Akismet settings page. From there, it’s just a matter of pasting your API key and activating it.

Once you’ve done this, it will knock most spam dead in it’s tracks.

Image Verification


Another way to battle SPAM is to prevent them from commenting in the first place, that’s where image verification comes in. You’ve seen them all over the web, those cryptic little boxes that have hard to read text that you need to enter into a box.

Well, there’s an easy to use solution for WordPress called Recaptcha

. You can download the free WordPress plugin and sign up for a free account at Recaptcha.net. Make sure to activate your account and set up the free API keys. Once you’ve done this, people will be required to pass an image verification test before they are allowed to comment on your blog (unless they’re logged in).

This plugin is a great way to stop any spam comments that Akismet might have missed.

WP-Ban

If you have a persistent spammer that keeps getting past your SPAM fighting ramparts or a bandwidth thief that’s using your valuable bandwidth thief by continually loading and reloading the same pages, then WP-Ban is your friend.

WP-Ban is a WordPress plugin that allows you to ban IP addresses. This means that if you have a persistent spammer, they won’t be allowed to even access your website. You can look at your stats in Statpress

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(another WordPress plugin) to find the IP’s of people abusing your websites.

With these three simple steps, you can solve your SPAM problems and keep your website nice and clean without having to spend a lot of time managing SPAM. As your blog becomes more and more popular, you will see how important it is to set up a good spam fighting system from the beginning.

About the Author:
Justin Wright is a full-time blogger, WordPress Expert, and digital nomad. You can check out his Digital Nomad Blog to follow him on his travels around the world. He is also the founder of zoopmedia, an online media company that provides blog services.

Using WordPress.com or WordPress.org

When it comes to starting a blog, many people would rather opt for the easy choice and have someone else do all the technical stuff. They take advantage of free Blogging Services such as Blogger or WordPress.com to launch their blogs. While, this is perfectly all right if you don’t have big plans for your blog, it is a bad choice to make if you one to take your blog to the next level.

If you want to be serious about blogging, you need to have your own hosting for your blog as well as your own domain name. Here’s why:

Negatives of Using WordPress.com


If you use WordPress.com you will have several major issues facing you that will cause you problems down the road.

Your Blog Is Stuck On A Subdomain – While you can pay to use your own domain on WordPress.com, many people don’t know this. And if you’re going to pay to use your own domain, you might as well pay for hosting as well. Subdomains aren’t as valuable from an SEO perspective and it does not look very professional if you’re looking to create your company’s presence on the web.

You’re Stuck with Their Themes

– WordPress.com only gives you a choice of 60 themes to use. This is a small fraction of the thousands of WordPress themes available out there. They also make you pay for the privilege of changing your own themes characteristics.

You Get Storage Limitations – While they offer 3GB of storage for your content, if you run that out, they make you pay for more.

Ads you Can’t Control The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer full Wolf rip – WordPress reserves the right to place ads on your site. Ads that you can’t control. They wants $30/year to remove this.

Limited Users

– WordPress.com limits you to 35 users, so if you’re looking to create big community – you’ll quickly run into that limit. Again, you have to pay to remove the limits.

Absence of a 301 Redirect – WordPress.com traps your content on WordPress.com. While you can export it and then import it elsewhere, doing this will completely destroy any search engine rankings you may have developed. That means you would basically be starting out your blog from scratch and any site linking to your old will go nowhere.

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Benefits of a Self Hosted WordPress Blog

If you host your own WordPress blog you pretty much aren’t hit with the built-in limitations of WordPress.com. If you have your own installation of WordPress, you can:

  • Host on your own domain name
  • Choose any theme you like or build your own
  • There are no storage limitations
  • Put your own ads on the site and don’t have to answer to anyone about it.
  • You can have unlimited visitors.
  • If you have to move your blog, you are able to use redirects without losing search engine rankings.

When you add up the cost of how much it would cost you to use WordPress.com premium features, it actually adds up way more than it would cost you to just buy a cheap hosting account and host your own blog.

By hosting your own WordPress blog, you also get credibility right out of the box. It shows you’re a blogging expert, that your taking blogging seriously. It is also light years more professional if you’re using WordPress to blog about your business.

10 WordPress Plugins You Need To Install First

WordPress is great in that you can install and run a successful blog right out of the box. You don’t need to add a lot of extra plugins to make it work (unlike Drupal). However, WordPress has a very active developer community and there are many WordPress Plugins out there that will make your life a lot easier. So much easier, that you should install them from day one, so you don’t have to wait until you have a problem that needs to be solved.

Without further ado, here are the 10 WordPress plugins you should install on day one:

All In One SEO Pack

Many bloggers don’t realize how important Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to the success of their blog. This plugin makes a little of the SEO easier by allowing you create site wide meta content as well as meta content for individual posts. It’s very necessary and very easy to use.

Download the All in One SEO Pack Hard Rain movies

Database Backup


WordPress stores your blog content in a database. Databases can get corrupted, deleted or crash. So you don’t lose all of your blog content, you need to have a backup plan for your database. This plugin simplifies it greatly. Once you activate it, just set it up and it will automatically back up your database on a schedule you choose. I have my database backed up weekly and e-mailed to me. That way there is a backup in multiple locations (locally on the computer, Gmail’s servers, Webmail, etc)

Download WordPress Database Backup

Google Sitemap Generator

This is another key search engine optimization tool. An XML sitemap tells search engine bots what to look at on your site and how the architecture is laid out. If you don’t have one, search engines may ignore all your wonderful content. This simple plugin, once activated, will automatically keep generating a new XML sitemap when you write new content. In turn, the search engine bots will be notified of changes. Very powerful tool. It’s not uncommon for new blog posts on many of my blogs to be indexed within minutes by the search engines and appear in search results all over the world.

Download WordPress XML Sitemap Generator

One Click Plugin Updater

Once you start collecting your range of plugins, it becomes a pain to keep them up to date as you need to deactivate the plugin, upload new version and re-activate. This plugin automates the whole process and allows you to update all of your plugins at one time, automatically.

Download One Click Plugin Updater

Sociable Zyblog Edition

Taking advantage of social media will be a huge part of your blog’s traffic once you get established. It’s important to make it as easy as possible for people to share your content on their favorite social networks. This plugin puts a widget at the bottom of all your posts for the most popular social networks. You can also customize which ones you want to appear.

Download Sociable Zyblog Edition

Statpress

Most bloggers rely on Google Analytics to keep track of your content, but it doesn’t track everything. Some people have the scripts blocked that GA uses to record data, so sometimes traffic stats are slightly off. Also, GA won’t tell you if you’re continually getting pinged by spambots. Statpress shows you everything, including the IP’s of anyone that may be abusing your bandwidth. It also provides, let’s say, better sounding numbers for your blog because it catches so much more. Those better numbers will become useful when it comes time to sell advertising space.

Download Statpress

WordPress Related Posts Plugin

When you have a lot of content on your blog, it’s important for people to be able to find it. This little plugin will add a related posts widget at the bottom of all your posts and recommend other posts that readers may enjoy reading. It’s pretty dead on with it’s recommendations and if it can’t find anything to recommend, it just shows random posts.

Download WordPress Related Posts Plugin

WP Super Cache Plugin

When you are starting out, you don’t really need to worry about hugh traffic surges, but it’s good to have the tools in place in case something makes it the front page of Digg or another popular social networking site. This plugin creates static pages of your most trafficked pages so that if you get a surge of traffic, you don’t have millions of requests pounding your server, using your bandwidth and possibly taking down your server.

Download WP Super Cache Plugin

Google Analytics

The easiest way to install Google Analytics on your WordPress blog is to install this simple plugin. All you have to do is give it the GA code and it will install the code on all of your WordPress pages. Couldn’t be easier than this.

Download WordPress Google Analytics Plugin

Automatic Upgrade Plugin

In addition to keeping up to date with your plugins, you need to also keep your WordPress installation up to date. Each WordPress upgrade brings new features, increased security, stability and much more. This tool automatically guides you through the process of upgrading your blog. A process that can be rather difficult to do manually.

Download the WordPress Automatic Upgrade Plugin

What WordPress Plugins would you recommend people install first?

WordPress and Twitter Make Good Buddies

Running Buddies - by OakleyOriginalsTwitter is one of the fastest growing methods for communicating or “curating” the endless stream of data being generated daily online.  For the same reason that blogging took hold at such a feverish pace – for its tendency to consistently encourage and offer fresh content and then push that content through an RSS feed – Twitter strips away all the extras and offers the distilled goods in a micro sound bite portions.

Like WordPress, a good part of Twitter’s continued growth and success can be attributed to the third party developments that allow people to customize how they serve and receive the content.  By hooking in to Twitter’s API, users can twit, retweet, update content in a wide variety of ways.

There are a number of excellent plugins and widgets for WordPress that serve different purposes.  Here are some of the most popular:

Ned Kelly trailer Top Twitter Plugins for WordPress

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Tweet This creates a conspicuous button or link at the end of a WordPress post that automatically shortens the URL to your page so that you can better decide how to phrase your tweet and fit it within the 140 character limit.  (Note: it is recommended that you do not use up the entire 140 characters available so as to leave room for those who want to retweet you)

TwitThis is similar to Tweet This in that is pre-shortens the URL of the page you are sending to Twitter.  A slightly different implementation, however.  See which of the two is better suited to your needs.  Using both would be redundant and potentially problematic and confusing for your reader.

TweetSuite is the All-In-One-SEO-Pack equivalent for implement Twitter into your blog.  Offering server-side TweetBacks, ReTweet-This buttons, a large Tweet-This Button and the option to automatically tweet new posts.  use this last option with discretion especially if you run a busy blog.  Power Tweeters recommend not posting more than once an hour.  But Twitiquette (as Caroline Middlebrook calls it) is beyond the scope of this article.

Twitter Tools is a nice two-way plugin in that links your WP-blog to your Twitter account allowing you to pull your tweets into your blog and conversely create new tweets on blog posts and from within WordPress itself.

Twitter Feed adds the nice touch of using your OpenID to login in to your twitter stream, displays the URL for your blog’s RSS feed, and the ability to tell it how often to post your updates to Twitter.

WP TwiTip ID

TwiTip.com jimmy witherspoon – spoon so easy mp3 download is the Twitter-centric blog created by Darren Rowse, founder of the extremely popular site ProBlogger.net.  This hot rod plugin encourages reader participation by adding the option to a comment form to display the user’s Twitter username along with their reply.

There are also a variety of widgets for displaying your Twitterfeed in your sidebar.  The simplest and perhaps most brutish way of handling this is to get the code from Twitter itself.  Go to your profile at Twitter.com and look for the Tools section where you can generate the code to place in a Text widget.  It may take some tweaking to get it to look right with your theme.  Alternatively you can try the Twitter WordPress Sidebar Widget. Again try out arious options and see which works best for you.

Finally, if you are just getting accquainted with the Twitterverse, take a look at Tweetdeck

– a third party standalone program for accessing and organizing all your friends, messages, replies, and tweets on Twitter.  You can set filters so that a column only displays messages by certain types of posters (for example “Music Industry” or “SEO masterminds”). There are new stand-alones coming out every day, but this should give you an idea of what an alternative interface can be.

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Get A Running Start on the Mainstream

The IT prophets are starting to mumble about ways in which Twitter might replace Facebook and even Google Search altogether.  If you aren’t hip to it yet, give it another look – you will still be far ahead of the mainstream and as you learn about the unwritten conventions for using it well, you will begin to tap into a very powerful new way to promote you precious content.

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

and society at theculturepin.com.  Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com

Photo “Running Buddies” – by OakleyOriginals used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Exclusive Interview with Founder of OneHertz.com, Designer of the Mandigo Theme for WordPress

One of the most powerful features of a custom blog installation is the ability to store content in a database and then display that content dynamically within a theme that outlines the layout, style and often contributes additional functionality for the site.  There are literally hundreds of thousands of themes available now for WordPress, many of which are free and many that transform a basic WordPress installation into a very powerful CMS.  Free themes usually add some color and design to a site but not many free themes afford as much extra ammo as Mandigo

by independent developer OneHertz.

A Default Home Page Using Mandigo, a free theme for WordPress

A Default Home Page Using Mandigo, a free theme for WordPress

Mandigo offers a wide variety of color schemes that can be changed on the fly, dynamic sidebars that can be moved from the right to the left side, automatic bolding of hyperlinks, auto drop caps at the top of paragraphs and even additional fields for HTML, Javascript and CSS inserts – all without having to know a thing about code.  From the huge array of free themes available, I have found it to be by far the most versatile and powerful option out there short of having to pay a hefty license fee for comparable premium themes.

Intrigued by this hefty “Donationware” package, I conducted the following interview with Tom Picard, the creative mind behind Mandigo.

WP-Blogger: Tom, tell us about how you got started in design?

Well, I started making websites for personal projects, family and friends some 7 years ago but only started making a living out of it in 2006. This decision has its roots in some kind of frustration about the lack of usable websites in the travel industry: each time I needed to plan a trip or book a hotel room, it turned almost impossible to get information or see pictures of the place without asking people to send them by email. Since I thought I had the required skills and there was a market, I decided to open a business and registered OneHertz.com.

WP-Blogger: What led you to create your first WP template?

Curiosity (and to be honest, SE ranking). A few months into my entrepreneur venture, things were not going as well as I expected, particularly because of lack of traffic, so I decided to focus on improving the ranking of onehertz.com with Google. At the same time, my interest in WordPress was growing rapidly (I was making static HTML sites then) and I thought releasing a theme would be a cool way of learning something new and get a few backlinks at the same time. So I made a copy of my Kubrick folder, started tweaking it, and ended up releasing Mandigo 1.0 in December 2006.

WP-Blogger: Does it require a strong grasp of CSS?

Yes, and no. It doesn’t take much to get started. For the most part, you can just look at existing themes, use intuition and search for what you need on Google. Things only get worse when you implement options in your theme or want cross-browser support (read IE6 compliancy), and standards compliant markup.

WP-Blogger: Talk about www.onehertz.com

Things didn’t turn out as I planned, but the outcome is probably better this way. I wanted to make static sites for the travel industry and instead of that I ended up doing all kinds of WP-related development (be it custom plugins or themes) for all kinds of businesses from all over the world and this has been very rewarding so far.

WP-Blogger: What one piece of advice (that the rulebooks don’t tell you) would you give someone just getting started today building and customizing their own WP templates? XXx movie

Get Firebug, definitely. Firebug is an extension for Firefox which eases the debugging of web pages. You can monitor and edit HTML, javascript and CSS on the fly, so it’s a real life saver. It’s particularly useful for debugging CSS since it shows which properties are applied to each DOM element, and how rules override each other.

The top of Mandigo's backend Admin panel

The top of Mandigo's backend Admin panel

WP-Blogger: Mandigo is an amazing achievement of template design – it affords so much customization, is beautifully integrated into WP, powerfully SEO friendly, and yet even a beginner could use it without breaking anything.  Give me a brief history of its development:

I’ve always been more a programmer than a designer, so I tend to add fancy features in everything I make, and Mandigo is no exception. Right from the start, the theme had options inspired by what was available in the Freshy theme by jide, and this contributed to make it stand out from the crowd. After the first few updates, the theme gained in popularity and people started to contact me with ideas they wanted to see implemented in Mandigo. Each release came with its lot of new features and bug fixes thus making the theme even more customizable and popular. Actually, most of the features in Mandigo, including some of the most popular ones like HTML Inserts, have been suggested by users.

WP-Blogger: Anything else you’d like to share, let us know, have in development, parting words?

Working as a freelance designer is very rewarding but also very time-consuming. It doesn’t leave much time for family and hobbies. But when I happen to have some free time, I try to focus my attention on a few projects: a one-of-a-kind premium theme codenamed “OSes” which I’ll be releasing sometime this year, more free themes and some other personal WP-powered projects (which happen to not be suitable for all audiences.)

About the Author:

Infamous psp Keram is a new media consultant, music producer and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com