A friend of mine recently tweeted to me asking for a good WordPress plugin for SEO and as I thought about a good one, I realized the question was a little more in depth than that. Instead of just rattling off a quick plugin, I decided I’d writeup a quick blog post of 6 SEO related plugins and some thoughts on SEO.
First, SEO or Search Engine Optimization is simply that. Optimizing your site for search engines. To be completely honest, I think SEO is rather simple. Setup your website so that it plays nice with search engines and then just release really good content! (see: Content is king). While many may detest to say that SEO requires continuous ongoing work and services and magic and voodoo, I call bullshit.
So what I’m going to do is share the WordPress plugins I use that optimizes your site for search engines. I’ll also explain to you why and how I use this plugin…
It’s important that your site has proper titles and meta descriptions. Search engines use this information to display your site in search results. I use this plugin to customize the title tag templates (See: Titles & Meta). This plugin also makes it easier to correlate Facebook and Twitter pages to your site. I disable the XML sitemaps section of this plugin, as I use a different plugin, in my opinion, that does it better. This plugin also adds a new feature to your page/posts edit screen. Here you’ll get a preview of what this page will look like in a search result. You can also customize how it looks to better entice searchers to become visitors.
This plugin handles the generation of an XML sitemap in which search engines use to better index the content of your site. By providing search engines with an XML sitemap, you are making it easier for the bots to better crawl and update them with the content on your site. This plugin will automatically generate a new sitemap when you add/edit posts and pages. After the plugin is configured, it’ll work its magic in the background. A small sidenote, I would strongly suggest registering your site with Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Ok, I know this plugin hasn’t been updated in a long time, but I still use it. Simply put it generates your site’s robots.txt file telling search what to index and what not too. You want to avoid duplicate content indexing and sensitive pages, such as admin stuff. Use this plugin to block the indexing of admin stuff and archived pages. Simple plugin, works great.
The speed of your site is very important, Google is obsessed with speed and considers it when ranking sites. Here’s a great plugin that does a whole bunch of things to your site to improve it’s performance. While there is a lot that this plugin does, some things worth mentioning include: page caching, minification of JS and CSS, and the ability to push your media library to CDN.
It’s bad for your site to have broken links. Search engines don’t like when you’re linking to something that doesn’t exist, so use this plugin to help find links on your site that don’t exist, then remove them!
301 Redirects are your friend. In some cases you may change your site’s domain or rename a page to something else. It’s important to let the search engines know that you’ve done this. With this simple plugin you can specify a 301 (permanently moved) redirect to the new page.
That’s really all I use for SEO in WordPress. It covers a huge basis of SEO in general and with WordPress it can’t get much easier than this. I don’t buy into buying links or trying to “force social” with your content. If your content is good, people will share it. The more it’s shared, the more popular it’ll become and naturally you’ll obtain quality links! With solid usability, psychology and content, SEO should be the last of your worries.
If you’re building a WordPress site for a client, it’s quite often that your client will have questions about many things. Here’s a simple plugin that allows you to create hierarchical documentation about their WordPress installation. This is a great way to provide your client with detailed instructions on how to use their site. The name of the plugin is WP Help.
Using Mailchimp with WordPress makes it really easy for you to create a beautiful email service that allows your readers to subscribe to your site and receive emails of your new blog articles. There’s two things you need to do. The first is add a email form on your site. The second is to create a RSS driven campaign in Mailchimp. Here’s how to do this…
Creating a email form on your site
At this point you’ve now made it easy for users to subscribe to your list. Now we just need to setup a way to email them your new post.
Setting up an RSS driven campaign with Mailchimp
That’s it! Now every time someone signs up on your sidebar, they’ll be added to an email list in Mailchimp and now when you add write new posts, they’ll get email of your new content!
Here’s a simple plugin that creates and iPad styled display of your blog with swipe gestures. Just install the Onswipe plugin.
Printed resumes are old, interactive resumes really give you the opportunity to show your expertise. WordPress is an excellent publishing platform for your interactive resume. WordPress is known for its SEO capabilities which makes it much easier for you to be found through search engines. And once you’re found having an interactive display of what you’re capable of will truly enlighten potential employers. I stumbled upon this great collection of WordPress themes tailored to resumes and portfolios. Hopefully after browsing this collection you’ll be inspired to build/update your online resume/portfolio with WordPress.\
Here’s a great way to speed up your site and make your reader’s happy all at the same time. This is a combination of 2 plugins that uses two techniques, infinite scrolling and lazy loading. Both of these plugins optimize the reading experience by only loading the content when the user expects it. Infinite scrolling will automatically load more posts when the reader scrolls to the bottom. This is great because the user can continue to scroll down through your posts without having to click on any links to get to the next set of posts. Make sure to set your WordPress reading settings to display only 1 post per page. This can be done under Settings > Reading. Lazy load is a plugin that only loads images when the user scrolls to them. In the case where you have a long post of many images, using this plugin will only load the images that are actually visible to the user. By loading only the content the reader can actually sees speeds up the page load dramatically making the experience a happy one.
One of the most important part of WordPress is it’s documentation. The WordPress documentation (known as the Codex) was a strong reason for my interest and continued interest in why I choose WordPress. The WordPress Codex has so many pages of content from absolute beginners to the most advanced developers. If you’re looking for details on what something is or how it works, chances are, it’s in the Codex.
This past weekend I was involved with the organization of WordCamp Detroit 2011 and while creating the badges/programs I felt impelled to highlight the WordPress Codex. So on the first page of every attendee’s badge was 1 of 20 different topics, with definitions. I was asked numerous times if they could get the definitions of all 20. That’s what you’ll find in this post.
Below you’ll find all 20 topics and their definitions as featured in the WordPress Codex. These 20 topics is just a small glimpse into the world of WordPress. Find a Sunday, put down a book and go on an adventure reading topics in the Codex, you’ll be a WordPress expert before you know it!
Bookmark this now: http://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page
The Loop is used by WordPress to display each of your posts. Using The Loop, WordPress processes each of the posts to be displayed on the current page and formats them according to how they match specified criteria within The Loop tags. Any HTML or PHP code placed in the Loop will be repeated on each post. When WordPress documentation states “This tag must be within The Loop”, such as for specific Template Tag or plugins, the tag will be repeated for each post.
Generally, meta means “information about”; in WordPress, meta usually refers to administrative-type information. So, besides post meta data, Meta is the HTML tag used to describe and define a web page to the outside world, like meta tag keywords for search engines. Also, many WordPress-based sites offer a Meta section, usually found in the sidebar, with links to login or register at that site.
Template tags are used within your blog’s Templates to display information dynamically or otherwise customize your blog, providing the tools to make it as individual and interesting as you are. If you take a peek into the header.php template file that came with your WordPress Theme, you will notice that where it says “My Blog Name”, whatever it is, when you view your WordPress site, it doesn’t say “My Blog Name” in the template file. In fact, it has a bunch of strange arrows and parentheses and words that don’t make much sense. This is an example of a Template Tag.
A Plugin is a group of php functions that can extend the functionality present in a standard WordPress weblog. These functions may all be defined in one php file, or maybe spread among more than one file. Usually, a plugin is a php file that can be uploaded to the “wp-content/plugins” directory on your webserver, where you have installed WordPress. Once you have uploaded the plugin file, you should be able to “turn it on” or Enable it from the “Plugins” page in the administration interface of your weblog. The WordPress source code contains hooks that can be used by plugins.
WordPress Widgets are WordPress Plugins that add visitor visual and interactivity options and features, such as sidebar widgets for post categories, tag clouds, navigation, search, etc. Widgets are available on properly “widgetized” WordPress Themes in areas such as the header, footer, and elsewhere in the WordPress design and structure. Widgets require no code experience or expertise. They can be added, removed, and rearranged on the WordPress Administration Appearance > Widgets panel.
Permalinks are the permanent URLs to your individual weblog posts, as well as categories and other lists of weblog postings. A permalink is what another weblogger will use to link to your article (or section), or how you might send a link to your story in an e-mail message. The URL to each post should be permanent, and never change — hence permalink.
The Dashboard is a tool to quickly access the most used areas of your blog’s Administration and to provide glimpses into other areas of the WordPress community. The Dashboard Dashboard Screen presents information in blocks called modules. WordPress delivers eight modules, Right Now, Recent Comments, Incoming Links, Plugins, QuickPress, Recent Drafts, WordPress Blog, and Other WordPress News.
Pingback lets you notify the author of an article if you link to his article (article on a blog, of course). If the links you include in an article you write on a blog lead to a blog which is pingback-enabled, then the author of that blog gets a notification in the form of a pingback that you linked to his article.
Gravatars are Globally Recognized Avatars. An avatar or gravatar is an icon, or representation, of a user in a shared virtual reality, such as a forum, chat, website, or any other form of online community in which the user(s) wish to have something to distinguish themselves from other users. Created by Tom Werner, gravatars make it possible for a person to have one avatar across the entire web. Avatars are usually an 80px by 80px image that the user will create themselves.
Trackback helps you to notify another author that you wrote something related to what he had written on his blog, even if you don’t have an explicit link to his article. This improves the chances of the other author sitting up and noticing that you gave him credit for something, or that you improved upon something he wrote, or something similar. With pingback and trackback, blogs are interconnected. Think of them as the equivalents of acknowledgements and references at the end of an academic paper, or a chapter in a textbook.
A taxonomy allows for the classification of things. In WordPress, there are two built-in taxonomies, categories and tags. These taxonomies help further classify posts, pages, and custom post types. Also, custom taxonomies can be defined.
A tag is a keyword which describes all or part of a Post. Think of it like a Category, but smaller in scope. A post may have several tags, many of which relate to it only peripherally. Like Categories, Tags are usually linked to a page which shows all posts having the same tag. Unlike Categories, Tags can be created on-the-fly, by simply typing them into the tag field. Many people confuse Tags and Categories, but the difference is easy: Categories generally don’t change often, while your Tags usually change with every Post.
“Really Simple Syndication”: a format for syndicating many types of content, including blog entries, torrent files, video clips on news-like sites; specifically frequently updated content on a Web site, and is also known as a type of “feed” or “aggregator”. An RSS feed can contain a summary of content or the full text, and makes it easier for people to keep up to date with sites they like in an automated manner (much like e-mail).
Post type refers to the various structured data that is maintained in the WordPress posts table. Native (or built-in) registered post types are post, page, attachment, revision, and nav-menu-item. Custom post types are also supported in WordPress and can be defined with register_post_type(). Custom post types allow users to easily create and manage such things as portfolios, projects, video libraries, podcasts, quotes, chats, and whatever a user or developer can imagine.
A theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. A theme modifies the way the weblog is displayed, without modifying the underlying software. Essentially, the WordPress theme system is a way to skin your weblog. Template files are the building blocks of your WordPress site. They fit together like the pieces of a puzzle to generate the web pages on your site. Some templates (the header and footer template files for example) are used on all the web pages, while others are used only under specific conditions.
Each post in WordPress is filed under a category. Thoughtful categorization allows posts to be grouped with others of similar content and aids in the navigation of a site. Please note, the post category should not be confused with the Link Categories used to classify and manage Links. Each Category may be assigned to a Category Parent so that you may set up a hierarchy within the category structure. Using automobiles as an example, a hierarchy might be Car->Ford->Mustang. In creating categories, recognize that each category name must be unique, regardless of hierarchy.
TinyMCE is the editor used by WordPress, known as the Rich Text Editor or WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”). Not all WordPress bloggers use it, but if you do, it will change various codes upon saving an entry to prepare it for publishing. You can Show/Hide the Advanced Editor Toolbar in the standard WordPress installation and unlock a dozen or so extra buttons, including “Paste as Plain Text” and “Paste from Word”. When the Advanced Editor Toolbar is enabled, there is a toggle button available to turn it off.
Open source is simply programming code that can be read, viewed, modified, and distributed, by anyone who desires. WordPress is distributed under an open source GNU General Public License (GPL). Open-source software (OSS) is computer software that is available in source code form: the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a software license that permits users to study, change, improve and at times also to distribute the software.
Smileys (also called Smilies or Emoticons) are stylized representations of a human face, usually displayed as yellow buttons with two dots for the eyes, and a half mouth. Smileys are often used in WordPress Plugins. By default, WordPress automatically converts text smileys to graphic images. When you type in your post you see when you preview or publish your post.
XML-RPC is Extensible Markup Language-Remote Procedure Call. A Remote Procedure Call (RPC) allows you to call (or request) another application and expect that application to honor the request (answer the call). So, XML-RPC allows a user (or developer) to send a request, formatted in XML, to an external application. All of the mobile WordPress apps (iOS, Android, Blackberry) use this method to “communicate” to your WordPress powered site.
Don’t stop there, the Codex is the ultimate WordPress training.
Continue the journey here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page
So I got an iPad 2 and honestly, I do have to say, I love it. This is my first hands on iOS experience (big Android guy) and this is my review of the device, OS and some of the apps that really make the purchase worthy.
All in all my iPad 2 purchase and experience has been nothing less than amazing and has really been an enjoyable experience so far. I’m really see myself using this more and more each day. Do you have an iPad? What are you using your iPad for? Any apps worth trying? Any apps to avoid?
This is a question I get often and surprisingly it’s actually quite easy to solve. By default WordPress comes installed in a blog based format, but with a couple of steps you can easily turn it into a more traditional website in the sense of having a “homepage” with other pages, and maybe a blog as a section of the site. So here’s what to do:
Create 2 new pages in WordPress, name them Home and Blog.
Next, go to Setting > Reading. Select ‘A static page’ and set your Front Page to the new page you called Home and set Posts Page to the new page you called Blog. Save changes
At this point, add content to your Home page and this will always appear as your “homepage” when people visit your site. You do not need to do anything to the Blog page, just leave it blank. It acts as a placeholder for your blog.
This is theme specific, but next time you’re shopping for a theme, look for how many page templates it offers. Page templates allows for more flexibility with your overall page layout. To see what Page templates are available in your theme, create a new page and on the left side look under Page Attributes. Look for a title called Template. If you don’t see one, this means that your theme only supports 1 template. If there’s a drop-down, your theme supports more than 1 template and allows you to change the layout of your page.
This means you could have pages with sidebars, without sidebars, with headers, different headers, and more. It all depends upon what the theme supports. If you’re looking to add a page template to your theme, here’s a good article to help you do so: http://codehill.com/2010/07/creating-a-new-page-template-for-a-wordpress-theme/
There’s a WordPress plugin for that! Widget Logic is a great plugin that allows you to customize which widgets show on different pages. For example, say you want to have a widget only show on the about page which has contact us information, but not anywhere else.
This plugin will do this using WordPress’ conditional tags. Here is a list of conditional tags you can use: http://codex.wordpress.org/Conditional_Tags
To install, search for ‘widget logic’ in your WordPress site or download it here.
There are native apps for the many popular mobile devices which allow you to do things to your WordPress site such as add new posts and moderate comments. Before you install these apps, you have to make your WordPress site compatible for a service called XML-RPC. XML-RPC allows for these mobile apps to send commands to your site to perform actions.
To enable XML-RPC, under Setting > Writing, click the check box to the left of XML-RPC and save changes.
Add this point, just download and install the app for your device and login with your site credentials (username and password)
Here is the list of mobile apps: http://wordpress.org/extend/mobile/
WordPress has a great feature which saves every revision of a post or page. The problem is, this means that there are inserts in the database for every revision. If you’re like me, saving and updating pages, and sometimes posts, your database can get bulky. Here’s a simple ‘set it and forget it’ plugin that will limit the number of most recent revisions. Just install it, configure it and forget it’s there. Download Revision Control WordPress plugin.
(This is part 5 of a 5 part series, click here to see the whole series)
There are so many great resources out there to learn and explore more with WordPress. I wrote a post previously on this, but I wanted to recap and leave you with many facets into WordPress.
The following sites below are dedicated to providing you quality WordPress content…
Here’s a collection of some other great WordPress roundups I’ve stumbled upon…
If you don’t feel like reading, listen to these great podcasts as experts and developers share their expertise…
Overtime I’ve found some great lists of free WordPress Themes that I find myself going back to all the time when building a new WP site…
Looking for help or support with your WordPress endeavors?
Video can tell a story and make it even easier to learn things with WordPress. Here are some great video resources for WordPress
Sometimes you just need a quick cheat sheet reference guide. Download and print out these 1 pages and keep them on your desk for quick references during WordPress development. Checkout these 23 WordPress Cheatsheets.