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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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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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!

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

5 Plugins for Managing Your WordPress Database

The backbone of your WordPress website is it’s database. It’s where all your valuable content lives. Because of this, it’s important to become familiar and comfortable with managing your database. As your blog grows, it will become larger and unwieldy. When this happens, things can go wrong. So it’s important to have backups and to know how to troubleshoot WordPress database issues.

Below are five plugins that will help you manage your WordPress mySQL database.

Search and Replace

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This plugin does one thing and it does it well. It will run a search through your entire database and do a find and replace. Why would you ever need to do this? Well, if you moved domain names for example, you would need to manually replace all your internal links to make them point to the new URL. With this simple tool, you can find all the old instances of your URL and replace it with the new one.

Download Search and Replace

WP-DB-Backup

Backing up is very important. Many people don’t realize that they need to keep a copy of their database handy in case something happens. It is very hard to recover from losing your database. Databases like to go wonky and get corrupted. Sometimes your site will continue to work even when this happens. Then one day, it will stop working. So, you need to make regular backups of your database and keep all of them. That way you can restore your database back to a time when the database wasn’t corrupted. The great thing about this plugin is that it will automate the backups and then e-mail them to you.

Download WP-DB-Backup

Figment Thinking WordPress Database Table Optimizer

You need to occasionally optimize your WordPress database. That means cleaning out empty tables, old data, etc. This plugin will make database optimization simple.

Download Datable Table Optimizer

WP-Cache

Your database is hosted on it’s own server and every time a page is loaded, information is pulled from the database. If you got a sudden burst of traffic from a social networking site, it could bring your database server down. This plugin will help prevent that by creating static HTML pages automatically if a post becomes popular enough. The only downside it that internal Statistic plugins won’t register the static page and you’ll have to always refresh your theme when you make changes.

Download WP-Cache

WP-DBManager

This is a fantastic tool. It will give you complete control over your entire WordPress database. It allows you to optimize your database, repair your database, backup your database, restore your database from a backup, delete backup databases, drop/empty tables and run mySQL queries. It will also allow you to setup automatic schedules for backing up and optimizing of your database. This is an excellent tool to have and it’s very worth learning how to use it. It could save your blog one day.

Download WP-DBManager

Using the plugins above, you will have much more control over your WordPress database. It is very important to keep an updated backup because bad things can sometimes happen and the worst thing of all is losing your posts and pages.

Do you have any other WordPress database plugins you recommend?

Tips For Upgrading SimplePress Forum For WordPress Correctly

In a recent article here at WP-Blogger, I wrote about the importance of building community and finding a simple solution for integrating a (free) forum on your WordPress site.

Simple:Press Forum was the easiest and also best realized solution to this problem. But now with WordPress version 2.8 looming, some necessary updates had to be made to the plugin, if you can call it that – I think I would rather call it a suite for all that it accomplishes so seamlessly within a WordPress installation. Here are the installation and upgrade instructions depending on your situation.

There is also an important notice at the end of these instructions for those upgrading that handles a small bug in the installation process in some cases.  Please be sure to read this before performing your upgrade.

Also, please be sure to back up your database before performing any of the following actions.  One way to do this is right at your cpanel level, another more efficient way to do this right from within WordPress is to install and use the WP-DBManager.  If you don’t and things go wrong, it’s not my fault, and I can’t help you.

Having said that, the procedure is fairly straightforward and relatively bulletproof; I performed this install and/or upgrade on at least six sites and had no problems.

First Time Installation of SimplePress Forum On Your WordPress Site

UPLOAD: Upload the plugin to your WordPress ‘plugins’ folder. Simple:Press Forum must reside in a folder named ‘simple-forum’ directly inside the ‘plugins’ folder. WordPress 2.7 and 2.8 users may be able to use the automated zip file upload from within the ‘Plugins – Add New’ page. If not, use a standard FTP client for the upload.

ACTIVATE: Once fully uploaded, Simple:Press Forum should appear on your WordPress Plugins page listing. Click on the ‘Activate’ link on the Simple:Press Forum entry.

INSTALL: Unlike most plugins, Simple:Press Forum is not installed when activated. A new ‘Install’ link will appear against the plugin entry – or you can select ‘Install’ from the new Forum menu. Select ‘Install’ to load the Simple:Press Forum installer and click on the start button.

Upgrading From Versions 4.0.0/4.0.1/4.0.2

DEACTIVATE: If you are upgrading from version 4.0.x there is no need to remove the old Simple:Press Forum files or folder unless you plan to use the WordPress 2.7 or 2.8 automated plugin zip file uploader – this tool requires the old files to be removed first. If not using this tool then start by deactivating Version 4.0.x which will prevent users from seeing errors while the new plugin files are being installed.

UPLOAD – ACTIVATE – UPGRADE: Follow the instruction for a ‘First Install’ above. Note however, that the menu item will now be labelled ‘Upgrade’ and not ‘Install’.  Click this button and on the following page, confirm you want to perform the upgrade.  If everything goes as planned you see a pop-up window confirming this that also inludes some notes on the latest revisions.  You can click X to close this window and go back to choosing options for your forum.

If you see an error message appear across the top of your page, read the Important Note below to fix it.  It takes just a second.

Upgrading From Versions 3.X.X

Begin by removing all of the old plugin files. If you are upgrading from ANY version older than 4.0.0 then it is necessary to first remove ALL of the old plugin files. After doing this, follow the instructions above for an Upgrade.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:

If you perform the upgrade and see a scary line of code appear at the top of your pages talking about an error finding this or the other, it isn’t your mistake.  It is a known bug discovered after the release of this upgrade that appears in some instanced.  To fix it, simply go to your Admin panel, go to the Forum section that now exists as a result of your SimplePress installation, and be sure you are under the  Manage Options section.  This should bring you, by default to the Global settings (if not, the click the Global Tab.)

In the section on the left labelled  WP Admin Pages Access make sure there is an ‘X’ beside the option titled “Block User Access to WP Admin Pages.”  Make sure to click the Update All Options button at the bottom right of this page.

You may see the error one more time, but after that it will be corrected.

Visit the downloads page for Simple:Press Forum for WP to get the files.

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.

Three Plugins To Transform Your WP Site Into A Video Portal

A Watershed Year for Online Video

In 2009, YouTube saw a 56 percent increase in traffic and finally hit a new benchmark – users are uploading 20 hours worth of video per minute to the site. This remarkable statistic may have something to do with the improved functionality of the webcam response tool that now allows users to start recording video with one-simple click.

And although online video is not quite ready to dethrone the venerable TV set, online video is almost a must-have element to any good online destination.

Here are three potent and easy to install plugins that will help transform your WordPress blog into a video-ready CMS:

wordTube for WordPress:

Per the developer site’s description: “This plugin manages the JW FLV MEDIA PLAYER 4.3+ and makes it easy for you to put music, videos or flash movies onto your WordPress posts and pages. ”

Well, let me say that “easy” is a relative term.  Compared to Viper’s Video Quicktags (see below) wordTube is not so simple.  It requires you to create an .flv (Flash video) file to begin with, or yes, you can link to an existing Flash video file (for example a YouTube link) and then drop a line of code into your post manually that looks something like: [media id="media id"]

That in itself isn’t so hard, but it can become a bit tedious when you just want to copy and paste something from another site into a post.  The adantages of wordTube, however are the extended power you get from integrating the JW FLV player into your WordPress installation; everything from building video jukeboxes, to custom skins for your player to integrating LongTail ads becomes available.  There is also a long list of plugins that add further functionality to the player available from the site at www.longtailvideo.com

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Another cool thing about wordTube and it’s ability to work with audio or images alone, is that you can create a jukebox for music or images and thus build a radio station or photo gallery to your liking.  Or even a music jukebox with cover art.  To see an example of this, visit the Streaming Indie Jukebox at LA music blog MusicZeitgeist.com

It supports .flv or .swf, sound files as MP3 and JPG, GIF or PNG grafic files.

Viper’s Video Quicktags

This delicious little dish makes serving up video from a wide variety of media sites as simple as copy and pasting the appropriate video link into an input field.  The plugin does the rest.

Sites currently supported include:

Highly recommended for ease of use and selection.  Furthermore you can use the plugins WYSIWYG backend to alter the player’s behaviors – from disabling related videos, to offering high quality options to the color of the frame.

Smart Video Plus

A relative but powerful newcomer is Smart Video Plus which is very different from any other WordPress video plugin you will find on the net as it’s not dependant on using any [tokens] or [tags] to embed media, nor does it need a list of supported video sites for you to choose from as this plugin allows video embedding from absolutely every video site online that supports embed code.

It can be used as a standalone plugin or integrated with a free custom optimized theme available from the developers site.

Some of the plugins features include the ability to:

  • Search Videos From Over 30 Top Video Search Engines!
  • Choose Videos From Over 100 Million Pre Cached Media Files!
  • Mass Embed The Media You Choose Directly to Your WordPress!
  • Change All The Video Meta Titles, Descriptions & Keywords!
  • No Downloading, No Uploading, No Copy & Paste, No Duplicate Media!

So there you have it – three ways to start becoming your own online broadcaster.  I’d love to hear from you if you have tried any of these and how they worked out for you.

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

Useful WordPress Plugins You May Have Overlooked

There are thousands upon thousands of WordPress plugins with more cropping up every day.  Every once in a while something from the “Why Didn’t I Think of That” category pops up and I would like to share some of those with you.

Ever feel like you have a great idea for a blog but you either don’t have the time to develop it into a full post, or just haven’t formulated the full concept?  Rather than create a bunch of drafts, you can now sketch out a quick list of to-do posts and Aha! moments with Post Ideas by developer Aaron Robbins.

Where Post Ideas goes beyond the old method of saving drafts is that it allows you to track keywords and research URLS, and perhaps more importantly, sort your sketches by name, date or priority.  Love it.

How about batch processing for your blog?  Any photographer or music producer knows how important batch processing can be to both save time and keep consistency between a large number of files.  Well, here are again in the “Why Didn’t I Think of That” department because a blog, with its ever-growing number of posts develops in voice and direction over the course of its life and eventually you may want to go back and adjust a lof older articles to better reflect the direction in which your site is headed.

Enter Mass Post Manager for WordPress which enables you to delete all posts and comments in a category and / or reassign all posts from one category to another.  This is especially useful if you find that in the early days of your blog, when you were still working things out, you created too many categories or eventually found more concise categories with which to organize your content.

If you have ever been a fan of the Yet Another Related Post Plugin (YARPP), a tool that searches your database by categories, keywords, titles and other criteria and then outputs a list of suggestions to older posts at the end of your article, then you may have found that it can stress your shared server out if not handled with care.  Another solution is to create an effective and powerfully visual callback to a related post by placing  graphic sticky or Post-it note on top of your article.

Vishal Monpara’s awesome WordPress Sticky Post Plugin shows the designated post on top every post on your blog.  It isn’t really a substitute or replacement for YARRP, but, it is a very cool way of drawing attention to another article by working over top of your existing theme.  It currently supports both WordPress 2.1 and greater and WordPress MU 1.1.   Check it out and see if you like it.

Speaking of WordPress MU (Multi-user) – an announcement came from San Francisco this week that WordPress MU will soon be merged into WordPress itself.  This is very exciting indeed as MU allows a standard WP blog to be transformed into a full-fledged social networking portal.  Tighter integration between the two will mean a lot of optimization and ideally, improved ease of use, adding to the eisting power of WordPress significantly.

Have you ever suffered from long URL-itis in your comments section?  Now that everyone seems to have wised up to good SEO practices, we are seeing URLs that can run the length of a long-winded sentence.  You know the kind I mean: http://whatever.org/this-post-is-about-the-time-I-went-to-Mount-Rushmore-and-took-a-picture-with-my wifes-family.html

WP-Chunk to the rescue! This plugin gracefully shortens URLs within submitted comments.

A final plugin to strongly consider for any blog is Secure Files

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by Trevor Turk.  This definitely falls into the category we discussed earlier about things that should have come pre-installed with WordPress, in that it allows you to upload and download files from outside of your web document root for security purposes.

This is especially important for blogs that have multiple authors – since the nature of image and CSS that can be uploaded from a post-creation backend are not protected in the same way that your database is protected by being restricted only to registered users with sufficient access.

Placing the uploads directory outside of your install’s root directory can save you from malicious or to be euphemistic “accidentally uploaded” files that can damage or harm your site or server.

Have you ever tried any of the plugins on this list?  What has been your experience with them?
About the Author:
Keram (follow him on twitter @ConstantChange

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) 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


5 Plugins to Share Your Posts

A huge part of success as a blogger is making it easy for people to share your content. Person to person recommendations are very powerful to a blogger, especially if a person has thousands of Twitter or blog followers. It’s important to make it easy for anybody to share your posts with people they know. Thankfully, there are many excellent WordPress Plugins for sharing posts.

Sociable

This is the mother of all sharing plugins. It creates a bar at the bottom of posts that can be customized to allow readers to submit a post to your preferred social networking site. You can completely customize the list and show as many as you want. It really makes submitting to sites like Digg and Reddit really easy. It’s a powerful plugin with a wide user base, so people know to look for it.

Download Sociable here

WP-Email

This plugin does one thing and one thing well, it allows readers to e-mail a post to a friend. It’s a great way for readers to share your best posts. I also find this to be a useful feature on many websites just to send posts to myself. It’s easy to install and doesn’t require and coding or template changes to get working. It also tracks every post that’s shared so you can see what posts are creating the most buzz with readers.

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Add to Any: Share/Bookmark/Email Button

This is a great all in one plugin. It allows you to easily let readers submit posts to over 100 social networking sites, bookmark with their browsers and popular bookmarking sites. It also has an e-mail post button built in. This plugin has a lot of functionality and is a great addition to any blog. Perfect if you don’t want to mess with several plugins to do different things.

Download Add to Any here

ReTweet Badge – Tweetmeme

Tweetmeme

is becoming the de facto tracking method for links on the huge Twitter network. The Tweetmeme website aggregates links on Twitter and keeps track of how many people have tweeted a post. This little plugin puts the ReTweet badge on all your posts so that you can see the current Tweet count. When the badge is clicked, it takes them to their Twitter account where they can then Tweet it themselves. With the popularity of Twitter growing bigger every day, this is an important plugin to have.

Download ReTweet Tweetmeme here A Room with a View

ShareThis

This is another all in one solution that you can customize. ShareThis is very similar to the ubiquitous AddThis button. It creates a widget on the site that allows users to share posts on a variety of social networking sites, e-mail them or send them across their instant messenger account. This is the only sharing plugin that integrates chat as well. Pretty powerful little tool, if you’re okay relying on a third party for your post sharing.

Download ShareThis here

So there are a few ways you can allow your readers to share your posts. What’s your favorite plugin for sharing your blog content?

Using SimplePress As A One-Stop Community Builder For WordPress

Even as I write this the good people at Automattic are announcing a much-touted integration with Buddypress – a social networking plugin/addon for WordPress.  For a long while I have studied and experimented with transforming WordPress into a full-blown CMS like my much-beloved PHPNuke (now abandoned by its orginal creators) portal at freedom.constantchange.com The Name of the Rose movie full

but the solutions have been daunting or piecemeal.

There are countless articles written about how to integrate a forum into your WordPress blog, some which require WordPress MultiUser (WPMU) some that sort of work but don’t hook in well enough to the existing user base or require extensive modding and hacking to make it feel that way.

Some sites, including the famous power blogger Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School blog use vBulletin, beautifully integrated by power-designers like Matt Brett Transsiberian video .  But vBulletin costs a grip of cash.

So after testing out a wide variety of forum solutions for WordPress, I finally stumbled upon an easy to install, free and perfectly useful plugin that sets up a phpbb style forum that hooks right in to your site’s existing registered user base and seems, by all appearances and my experiences thus far, to work beautifully.

That solution is Simple:Press.

To get it going, simply do a search for Simplepress from your Admin->Plugins->Add new search line, click install and you are good to go.

Almost.

Once the plugin has installed, you will see a new section in your Admin panel called “Forum”.  At the bottom it will offer you the option to install (again).  Click this and it will perform an extensive database update wherein it populated your databases with all the necessary tables for your new forums.

One of the beautiful things about Simple:Press is that it creates a new page for your Forums automatically.  It also creates a new field in your Posts pages so that any post can be turned into a forum topic.  Nice.

Once installed, you will want to go to your new Forum Admin section and start tweaking things to your liking.  This is actually quite important as the display, function and dynamic of your forums can be changed dramatically (and success or fail) based on your configuration.

Also take note of the Style tab where you can choose from a variety of pre-packaged color and design schemes, one of which will likely blend in with your site quite nicely.  Of course all of this can be further customized with some more advanced under-the-hood tweaking.

After working with the configuration, you will have to create the forums themselves.  This starts with creating a Group which is the top-level category, and then subsequently, the Forum itself.  A little planning is in order here, especially if you have never managed a forum.  The tendency is to make too many groups covering topics that should in fact be forums or even simply topics.

So if you think of Russian Dolls where a small version fits into a larger version, the Group is the top level, for example “General” then the Forums can be broken down into sub-categories like “Food,” “Entertainment,” “Tech,” and then you or your readers will create topics below those:

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Forums are an excellent way to build a community in and around you blog and keep people coming back for more.

One of the most important things to realize, however, when you build a successful community around you blog is that you are also building a brand, and that once that brand is being used by the public, it belongs to them as much as much as it does to you and with that comes greater responsibility.

For now, rest assured that Simple:Press is an easy and effective way to keep the conversation going at your blog into the wee hours, to nurture new relationships and to transform WordPress into a truly useful content management system, and more importantly, a community.

Download Simple:Press Forum for WordPress now.

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

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.

5 Advanced WordPress Plugins For Your Blog

WordPress is an extremely powerful blog platform. The biggest reason why it is so powerful is because of all the plugins out there that take WordPress to the next level and completely change how it operates. It could be said that many of these plugins work to make WordPress more like a full fledged Content Management System, rather than just a blogging platform.

Each of these plugins adds advanced functionality to WordPess and each has a learning curve of it’s own. They don’t necessarily work right out of the box and will require some tweaking to get them to behave the way they are meant to.

But let’s face it, bloggers like to get our hands dirty and learn new things as often as we can. So I thought I would share 5 advanced WordPress plugins with you that you can utilize on your blog. Check them out:

TDO Mini Forms

Have you ever thought: I wish there was a way I could let people submit blogs posts or content, with custom fields that would automatically post? That’s what this plugin does. On a basic level, it’s a form builder. On an advanced level, it can help you create custom content that users can create on their own. It allows you to maintain complete control while opening a site up to user contributions. For example, this would be useful if you were creating some kind of informational directory that required user input. You can create a form with TDO Mini Forms that will have all the relevant fields and then publish it to the site.

However, it’s not that simple. This plugin is extremely difficult to learn how to use, especially when it comes to creating custom fields. Often times you’ll have to resort to hacking the form code itself in order to get it to do what you want. They make it easy to hack, but you’ll need to know your way around HTML to get things to work right. But once you get it to work, it can be an extremely powerful way to create content for your website.

Download TDO Mini Forms

WP Forum


Once your blog hits critical mass and has the readership to support it, a forum is great way to engage your readers. People love belonging to communities and adding a forum to your blog will do that. The problem is that WordPress can’t do this out of the box. In comes WP Forum, which aims to be a complete WordPress Forum solution. It integrates well with WordPress and gets the job done. Best of all, it’s under active development, unlike other WordPress Forum solutions.

Once you install this plugin, you’ll need to set it up and create some custom pages. Once you do this, the forum will live within your blog and you’ll be able to manage it within WordPress Admin. If you went with a standalone forum software, you would not be able to do this. Installed, you can do everything you expect do with a forum, create categories, create posts and more. It’s a great little package.

Download WP Forum

Flutter

This plugin is a little difficult to quantify. So, I’ll compare it to a cousin. In the Drupal CMS, there is something called the Content Construction Kit. Basically it lets you create custom content that is different from blog posts. Flutter is CCK for WordPress. It allows you to create custom content that is separate than blog posts. That means that if you want to have content on your WordPress site that’s different from a blog post, such as an event listing or definition. You create the custom content with this plugin and then you’ll have the option to write a ‘custom post’ as opposed to a regular blog post.

In a way, it’s slightly related to TDO Mini Forms in that it will allow you to create custom content pages. The only difference is that anonymous users won’t necessarily be able to create the content on their own. Like I said, it can be a little difficult to wrap your head around this plugin, which is why Flutter has an informative little video on their website that explains it by example.

Flutter Download Site

Open Directory Links

A great way to drive traffic to your site and build its backlinks is to create a link directory. Until now, there hasn’t been a very good link directory solution for WordPress that didn’t require a lot of hacking to get it to function. Open Directory Links is a slick implementation of a link directory that will work just like directories such as DMOZ. When you install the plugin, it creates another part of your site that is a link directory.

It integrates well with WordPress and will display with your theme. It has the ability for permalinks. Users can submit their own links. You can create whatever categories you wish and all links will go into a moderation queue. The only thing that is missing is a way to accept payment for link inclusion; a feature I suspect is not far off. This plugin is perfect for including a link directory in your site quickly and easily.

Open Directory Links

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WPG2

There is a standalone photo gallery management system called Gallery 2 that is a free and open source way to create a photo gallery on your website. It’s very powerful and is actually used by some huge websites. Since it’s free, you can use it on your own website. WPG2 is a plugin that integrates Gallery 2 into your WordPress Blog.

It’s not an easy process, but it’s worth it. First, you’ll have to install Gallery 2 on your webserver and get it up and running on it’s own. Then you’ll have to set it up, setup some required modules and get the house in order for WPG2. Once everything is good, you’ll need to install WPG2 as a plugin, which has it’s own laundry list of requirements. When is all said and done, you’ll have an advanced photo gallery on your website that will be integrated perfectly with your WordPress website (and with your theme).

Download WPG2

As you can see, these plugins can add a lot of functiality your existing blog. Hopefully you will give some of them a shot and see how they work for you.

Do You Have a Favorite Advanced Plugin?

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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To DoFollow or Not To DoFollow

Comments can be a great way to build a community around your blog. But they can also be a great way to build traffic and increase user participation. How do you do this? By turning your comments into do-follow comments.

What exactly does that mean?

No Follow and DoFollow

When people leave comments on a regular WordPress installation, the link they leave to their website is no-follow. That means that when the search engines crawl your website it will NOT follow those links and pass along pagerank. Basically the links are worthless from and SEO and link building perspective.

There is now a growing trend in WordPress blogs of people deactivating this feature. The reasoning behind it is that it will encourage people to leave more comments, especially from people looking to build backlinks for their own blogs. It doesn’t take many backlinks to help some sites, so a few comments left on blogs here and there can be a huge boost to a blog’s traffic.

How to Turn on DoFollow

Turning on DoFollow is simple. Simply download the DoFollow Plugin for WordPress, install and activate it. That’s it. Every time someone leaves a comment on your blog, it will now be a ‘dofollow’ link, meaning you’ll pass SEO and pagerank goodness.

If you prefer to do something more advanced, you can also install plugins that allow you to set a number of comments before someone’s comment becomes dofollow. In other words, people have to comment a few times before they get all the benefits of a dofollow link.

This works well to help combat those who leave a comment to strictly benefit their own blogs. The name of the plugin is the Lucia’s Link Love Plugin. Grab a copy of it here.

Potential Issues With DoFollow

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The first issue that you can have with turning this feature on is that you’ll have people spam your blog with comments just for the backlinks. Most will just leave comments and try to engage with your writing. But you can never really count on people not to abuse something, so expect people to abuse it. Keep in mind, though, that you can always delete comments if people start to abuse their posting rights. You will also attract blatant bot spammers, but the trick to fighting them is to make sure you have Akismet protected and you should be fine.

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How Do Follow Can Help you

You’ll need to list your blog in directories like DoFollow Diver. This will make it easy for people to find your blog and then post if they think your blog will be relevant for their linking purposes.

It’s also a great way to search for dofollow blogs yourself. Leaving dofollow on is a courtesy and should not be abused. So feel free to post on other blogs, but don’t just push your products or website, actually contribute to the conversation taking place. Hopefully readers of your blog will do the same and you won’t spend all of your time deleting comments.

Posting on other blogs and allowing them to post on your isn’t about blatant advertising. It’s about anchor text and backlinks. Keep this in mind when dealing with spam comments and when you leave comments on other blogs.

With luck, you’ll see an increase in traffic and participation in your blog do to activating this little known feature.

To Tell or Not to Tell

Should you announce on your blog that it’s a dofollow blog? It’s entirely up to you. As long as the dofollow directories know, you don’t really need to publicize it. But your readers and link builders may appreciate the full disclosure and it will make it easier for them to find your blog. Again, letting people know out of the gate will open your blog up to abuse. It’s up to you to control that abuse.

Do You Have DoFollow Tuned On?

How To Speed Up A Sluggish WordPress Site

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Too Much Stuff

For the average blogger, speeding up a typically sluggish WordPress site can seem one of the black arts. Tinkering around with your php code, optimizing CSS, re-organizing the hierarchy of your Javascript and Ajax files will likely feel like far more than you bargained for when you decided you wanted to get into publishing your ideas online.

There is a reason for thinking about speed however; the inconvenient truth about the web is that you have roughly between three to eight seconds to grab a new reader and keep them reading before they bounce off your page to somewhere else. If in that time your site is too busy loading up all sorts of flare, making too many calls back to the server and even just trying to figure out what its own messy code wants it to do – you are going to lose not just one reader but possibly hundreds.

I have discussed the basic arsenal for optimizing a site – using caching tools to transform your dynamic pages into static HTML files is one of the best ways to get started. The WP-Super Cache is one of the best at this, and the even more aggressive Hyper Cache can do the job as well. Additionally WP Widget Cache should go alongside your site caching plugins so that you can optimize those busy sidebars.

Spring Cleaning For Your WP Site

Remember when you first walked into your new WordPress home? You were so excited to furnish it with all the coolest new toys and sexy furniture so you went to the WordPress Plugin directory and found all sorts of great ideas for decorating the place? How many of those are you actually still using? Did any lead you to change your mind and deactivate them? Do you still really need that fancy AJAX sliding door thingy that displays every one of your Social Web accounts? How many different Twitter Widgets do you have to display to really feel you got the point across that you would like more followers?

Deactivate them. And then delete them. There is a theory that even deactivated plugins cause wordpress to scan over them to do a check for their activation state while loading up your page so you could be wasting precious milliseconds on an unnecessary process. Deleting the plugins won’t make your page speed up per se, but it will save you some space. You can always install them again later. If you don’t remember to, then you probably didn’t need them anyway.

Is your blog’s header an image? Is it an image with you blog’s title and byline laid over top by your theme? Consider making your blog header a static image or an image map if you need to define clickable hotspots on it, rather than having your blog have to pull the title and byline and display it. The static header with the text already built into it is straight ahead optimization.

Is All That Flare Really Making You Money?

If you run a site about high-priced ticket items like HDTV’s, DSLR cameras or yachts, then chances are those animated, rotating  flash ads that pull from a daily or weekly list of top sellers are a good idea. But if you are running a music or knitting site and selling yarn or mp3’s then those ads are likely making you pennies a month at best and at worst just a drain on your site’s load time. Consider removing them or using a static banner ad that can be cached. I found these to be one of the biggest culprits for my own sites’ load times.

Obsessive Time Sculpting

If you feel like getting under the hood and getting your hands a little dirty, going into your theme editor can reward you with some nice speed optimizations. Programmer extraordinaire Joost de Valk offers the following tips at his site for getting into the code itself.

As Joost explains:

“Because themes have to be easy to spread, they have to get almost all the blog specific info from the database. That results in a lot of queries for stuff that you could just hard-code into the theme.”

Go to your WP admin panel ->Appearance->Editor->header.php and look for the following code at the top:

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" <?php language_attributes(); ?>>
<head profile="http://gmpg.org/xfn/11">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="
<?php bloginfo('html_type'); ?>;
charset=<?php bloginfo('charset'); ?>" />

You could replace it with the simpler:

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" dir="ltr">
<head profile="http://gmpg.org/xfn/11">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />”

Similarly in WP admin panel ->Appearance->Editor->footer.php look for

<?php bloginfo('name'); ?>

and replace it with your Site Name

Look for:

<a href="<?php bloginfo('rss2_url'); ?>">

And replace it with your RSS2 feed. For example if you use Feedburner and your RSS2 feed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/MyAwesomeWPBlogDude, you would put:

<a href=" http://feeds.feedburner.com/MyAwesomeWPBlogDude">

The same can be done for your Comments feed.

Note: you may want to actually copy and paste the RSS and Comments RSS feeds from your site before you do this since that is the easiest way to know what your feeds actually are.

Cleaning That Code, Compressing CSS: indocin

I have also seen people suggest the CSS Compress plugin that “automatically removes comments, new lines, tabs, and gzip compresses (GZIP) any CSS file called with “<?php bloginfo(‘stylesheet_url’); ?>” – but use it with great caution. While it may help shave off some milliseconds from a rather simple theme like Kubrick, I have seen it wreak havoc on more complex themes.  It isn’t the fault of the click-and-go plugin, but the fact that sometimes one-stop solutions aren’t the same as one-size-fits-all solutions.

Which leads me to a very important point: make sure you have a database backup plugin installed – I recommend Lester Chan’s DBManager:

Not only can you backup your database in the event of a misstep, but after you have cleaned out your WP closets, as it were, you’ll want to bust out the vacuum. Click that DB Optimize button to get things sparkling again.

Speed Tests

If you want to check up on how your site is doing, consider installing Firebug for Firefox and then the YSlow plugin (Yslow needs Firebug to run).  Then when you visit your site, click the YSlow button at the bottom of your browser and check the site’s performance. You will get a report showing you where things can be improved.  If you aren’t using Firefox, you can also visit Pingdom

‘s site to check your blog’s loading time and get a detailed report about how it loads.

Thanks to WordPressGarage.com for sourcing the above.

Sitting Back

Optimizing your WordPress site is a very important but also delicate job.  Make sure to research the effects of any plugin beforehand and to backup regularly.  The list of optimizations in this article is by no means comprehensive or even right fo everyone, but I hope it serves as a fair introduction to making your site really shine.

Please share your own thoughts, tips and experiences with get your WordPress site clean and zippy.  I would love to learn about other techniques people have found useful.

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.

WordPress Plugins for Google Adsense

Google Adsense is the quickest and easiest way to monetize your blog. If you’re new to WordPress and not comfortable editing your themes, then you’ll need some useful plugins to help you insert your Adsense codes into your blog. Some of these plugins have similar features, but I wanted to create a rundown to help you make the best choice for your needs.

It’s best to play with many Adsense solutions and find the one that works best for your needs. There is no one size fits all solution for integrating Google Ads into your blog, other than manually editing template files.

Here is a breakdown of the best WordPress plugins for Google Adsense:

Adsense Manager Quicksand release


Adsense Manager is a very robust Google Adsense Plugin for WordPress. It generates the ad code and allows you to control the look and feel of your ads automatically. It lets you place your ads all over your blog using widgets. It also works with several other ad networks. It has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s a great tool.

Download Adsense Manager Here

Adsense Under Image

This Google Adsense tool does one thing and one thing will, it will automatically insert an ad block under the first image in a post.

Download Adsense Under Image Here

WP Simple Adsense Insertion

This is a simpler plugin that automates insertion of Google Adsense block by using text triggers that call the ads. That way you don’t have to keep cutting and pasting the same ad code into new posts. The major perk of this plugin is that you can control when you want an ad to appear instead of just throwing ads on every post.

Download WP Simple Adsense Insertion

Easy Adsenser


Easy Adsenser is my favorite Google Adsense Plugin for WordPress. Once you set it up, it will automatically insert your ads into your posts. But the best feature, by far, is the ability to automatically insert an ad block into the middle of your larger posts. The middle of the post is a great converting ad slot, and this plugin inserts the ads automatically if the blog post is long enough (a setting you can control as well). One quick tip, though, be sure to clear out all the default Adsense ad codes that are in the plugin right after you install it, that way you don’t accidentally give another AdSense account revenue.

Download Easy Adsenser

AdSense Integrator

This is another robust Adsense Manger for WordPress. It has many features that are useful to monetizing your blog. It can also be used on more ad networks other than Adsense. It’s a little more complicated than Adsense Manager, but it gets the job done.

Download AdSense Integrator

What’s your Favorite Google Adsense WordPress Plugin?Christmas in South Park movie download

Monetizing Your Blog With Kontera's New Plugin For WordPress

One of the more interesting alternative to Google’s Adsense or Linkshare’s banner ads is ContentLink – a JavaScript-based solution from company Kontera that offers a contextual in-text advertising system capable of scanning your site’s text and displaying carefully selected hyperlinks to affiliate advertisers after the site has already been published.

Until recently the only way to implement Kontera’s ContentLink was to generate the code at the company’s site and then paste it into your theme’s code.  Although the Kontera system puts no strain on your server or load time by running as Javascript, it had a tendency to include all text on your page, including site name, footers, comments and sidebars!  It also had a way of claiming too much space, that is – adding too many of its trademark double-underlined links – something that could only be restricted by requesting a limit to the amount of links with the company itself.

A plugin called Kontera Ad Wrap for WordPress emerged that aimed to fix this by adding “ad zone” div tag as follows:

<div class="KonaBody">
...Content we want ad links appear here...
</div>

It worked, to an extent, but because it was a set-it-and-forget-it solution, didn’t offer much in the way of control.

But all that is behind us now as Kontera itself, certainly due to the overwhelming success and ubiquity of the WordPress platform, has released an official Kontera plugin for WordPress 2.7

and upward.

I tested it out and am thrilled with their solution!  The plugin’s admin panel simply requires that you enter your Kontera ID, select the color you would like for you affiliate links and presto you are ready for showtime.

But the real value of the plugin comes in its extended options that allow you define which categories, static pages and tags to exclude from displaying ads, whether or not the links should appear on posts and even how long it should wait before displaying ads on new posts.

kontera-wordpress plugin - backend

You can even choose to have the links display only on comments (perhaps because you want to keep the links in your posts front and center, and to avoid any confusion or frustration on the part of your reader who trusts those links to be pointing at legitimate resources related to the content itself).

Finally, the plugin allows you to easily toggle the Kontera option on and off right from your WP admin panel, rather than having to go into your code and chop it out.

Kontera is an excellent alternative revenue stream that really works.  John Chow gives it his big thumbs up as do hundreds of other publishers.  Because of its negligible load on your site and the efficiency of its very advanced patent-pending technology for finding the most contextually relevant ads, I strongly urge you to check it out.  Now with the company’s new official plugin designed explicitly for WordPress – there is no reason to wait.

Direct Download to Kontera-Wordpress Plugin for WP 2.7

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

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?