Nov 05 2010

Scanning Your Blog

Category: WordPressChrisM @ 11:51 pm

This is it! The last WordPress plug-in review for a little while at least, as I have reached the end of the list of plug-ins I use across my different sites. If you don’t run a blog, apologies for this barrage of posts on a topic that doesn’t necessarily interest you. If you’ve come here expecting news about Kazakhstan, I’ll be trying to revive that category soon (though nothing controversial for about 6 months as I need to get my residency permit renewed next yet). If you have been waiting for more Amsterdam based posts, you’ll probably be waiting a few years for any personal reports from that city (see a post from earlier today). Finally, if the “Aware Or Conspiracy Nut” or book review categories were the reason you started coming here, I agree they’ve both been very neglected in recent years. I’ll try and revive them too some time.
Anyway, back to the reason for this post’s existence – WP Security Scan. It is a plug-in written by the same author as the All in One SEO Pack I mentioned a while back. Instead of trying to get you the best possible results in search engine rankings though, it scans through the files, folders and settings of your WordPress install, and draws your attention to any errors, lax security rules in place or other settings that need your attention. Some are automatically corrected, whilst others will require your manual intervention. If you want to ensure you reduce the likelihood of your blog being hacked, download it today, and make sure you follow the author’s advice when it comes to changing settings.

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Oct 28 2010

First, Second Or Thirty-Eighth?

Category: WordPressChrisM @ 2:44 am

Approaching the end of this evening’s posts about WordPress plug-ins, this one is about Tagline Rotator. If you didn’t already know, a tagline can be found in adverts, often under or after the product name, and on a lot of web sites.
For SEO reasons, you should choose yours carefully, make sure it is targeted towards your audience and content, and it should stay constant.
However, I can never really decide which tagline of the few I’ve thought up I want to keep, and not that many have an obvious (to a search engine at least) connection to my posts. So I use the tagline rotator plug-in to automatically change it each time a new visitor arrives, or someone clicks on a link to somewhere else on this site. You will also notice the tagline change if you just refresh the page. There are 38 different ones available, although as the selection process is random, you may find you come across the same one a few times before you’e seen them all. Most should be fairly self-explanatory, but if one catches your eye, and you can’t fathom it out, just let me know.

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Oct 27 2010


Category: WordPressChrisM @ 7:13 pm

I have written about the SEO SearchTerms Tagging 2 plug-in before, however a few features have been added, and I see from my server logs that this site has recently started to get visitors from countries that didn’t appear very often previously. So, for the new readers, or those interested on whether people arrive at their WordPress blog because they were searching for WordPress plug-ins, here is a quick refresher… SEOSTT2 (acronyms are ugly, but typing out the full name will get boring) checks the referring URL if a visitor comes from a search engine, and extracts the exact search term they entered when they discovered your site. This information is then stored, and be used in a number of ways.
You can keep all the information gathered as private, and simply check the plug-in’s page to discover the most popular search terms that led to your site (both recently and since the plug-in was installed). You can choose to display those same tables of search terms in a widget on your sidebar (or of course in a post), however what most people will do is have post-specific information added to the relevant entry. For example, if this post was found by people searching for Kazakhstan Blogs WordPress SEOSTT2, at the bottom of the post a link with that text, and linked to this same post, could automatically appear. Some people argue this adds SEO value to your site – I don’t know whether this is true, but do find it interesting to discover the sometimes random terms that lead to a particular post. You can also have the search terms converted to tags on the post, and block certain search terms from ever appearing.
One thing to remember is that if you install the plug-in, it isn’t retro-active – you will need to wait for new visitors, as it can not magically backdate its processing to old visits. Wait a while, and you’ll start to see patterns emerging as to what topics attract visitors, and if you feel the urge, continue to write new posts on that topic to encourage new and repeat visitors.

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Oct 21 2010

That New Post Is Over Here Google!

Category: WordPressChrisM @ 1:27 am

Continuing this series of posts on WordPress plug-ins that I’d recommend to people starting up a blog, this one is on a sitemap generator. This plug-in is strictly backroom only – your visitors won’t explicitly see it in action.
Although sitemaps are sometimes included in a website for people to get a run down of what pages exist, and sometimes their hierarchy, this plugin creates the sitemap for search engines. Although titled “Google XML Sitemaps“, it actually also informs the Ask, Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo search engines about your site.
Every time you write a new post, or edit an old one, a new sitemap is generated and the search engines bots will be able to find your fresh content.
Why should you care about all this? If you don’t want visitors to find your site, then you don’t need to worry. However, most people are happy for new visitors to take a long around, and the more the search engines know about your site (specifically its content and obviously the URLs they can be found at), the more often you’ll appear in a search result. Obviously a lot more SEO comes into the equation, however in terms of an install and then forget about it plug-in, you can’t really go wrong with it.

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Oct 12 2010

Who Sent You?

Category: WordPressChrisM @ 2:33 am

Next in the excitingly alphabetical list of WordPress plugins that I tend to use whenever I set up a new site is Donncha O Caoimh’s Comment Referrers. Once again the premise is quite simple, and the code doesn’t appear to put any great strain on your server.
When a browser visits your site, a referrer is normally presented, which lets the server know which page somebody was on when they clicked a link to get to yours. In my case, this is normally a search engine query, and I find it useful for two reasons. One, if a spammy comment has got through the systems in place to deflect such dross, you can often tell if a visitor came to your site for genuine reasons, or is simply looking to place a link.
What do I mean? If you run a site dedicated to clothes for people larger than average, and someone arrives after searching for plus size lingerie, it is entirely possible they have a real interest in the topic. If, however, they have searched for “plus size lingerie powered by WordPress leave a reply”, you can be 99.99999% sure they want to dump a link to their site on yours, will likely not return, nor actually contribute to any discussions. I should point out that not all referrers seem to get passed to the plugin, or perhaps appended to the e-mail that WordPress sends when a comment is awaiting moderation, but I still find it useful to have some information to hand.
Secondly, discovering what people are searching for when they find you means you can tailor your future posts to the sort of audience you tend to attract. More on another plug-in that specialises in this specific area at a later date.

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Sep 22 2010

Clean Options To Speed Up

Category: WordPressChrisM @ 4:29 pm

This plug-in (Clean Options) is designed to make your website run faster. This means pages will load more quickly, and less visitors will leave (most people simply close the tab if a site takes more than a few seconds to load). Search engines also penalise sites that take a very long time to load, so your search engine rankings could improve. Whether you run, or, a faster loading site means more visitors and those same visitors will be more likely to return.
So how does the Clean Options plug-in achieve this aim? It checks your WordPress options in the SQL tables, and alerts you to any that are orphaned. If you have uninstalled a plugin that did not have a clean up procedure built in properly, or just deleted the actual PHP files from your server, then you will have excess options that take up space, and cause your server to slow slightly. If you have only ever used the same plug-ins, or already manually trawl through your site’s data via PHPMyAdmin, then this plugin may not find much to prune, however it never harms to have a quick check, and there are quite a few built in checks to ensure you don’t delete anything that is still needed.

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Sep 22 2010

Calais Auto Tagger

Category: WordPressChrisM @ 3:07 pm

This plug-in is something I should be using each time I write a post, but I have fallen out of the habit again. Calais Auto Tagger takes the leg work out of deciding which tags you should attach to a post, by using semantic analysis on your post content, and making suggestions.
If you tag your posts, people will find it easier to discover related articles on your site, and search engines will also have a better idea of what subjects your site talks about. This may lead to higher rankings, and therefore hopefully more visitors. If you discuss a topic, Google will pick up on those words and lead some visitors to your site. If you tag your post with medical, pimple, spot, zit, traditional medicine , for example, you will probably pick up more traffic, and if other posts are also correctly tagged, a visitor will find other articles more easily.
You will need to have v5.x of PHP in use on your server, but to be honest if your host is still using PHP 4, you either need to give them a reminder of the need to upgrade, or consider switching companies.

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Sep 22 2010

All in One SEO Pack

Category: WordPressChrisM @ 11:46 am

Next on the conveniently alphabetical list of plug-ins used on this site is All in One SEO Pack. I’ve not mentioned Akismet, as it comes with WordPress automatically, kills spam for you, and if you have a blog without it enabled (or something similar), these posts aren’t likely to help you much.
So, getting back to the All in One SEO pack, the basic premise is that you install and activate it, and after a couple of minutes of tweaking your site will appeal so search engines a lot more. As is true with the AdSense plugin I mentioned earlier, you could manually make almost all of these changes within the theme you use, and by editing fields for each page and post you write. However, not only would you need a fair amount of SEO knowledge, you would also find it adds on to the time you need to maintain your site every day. If you sell books on your site, you want to concentrate on the customer information and products, not the back-end work. To fine tune the settings, you will need to a little research into what settings make the most difference, and to be honest, I’ve not done very much at all apart from accepting the defaults.

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May 28 2010

Broken 70k Barrier!

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 7:48 pm

The Alexa rank for this site is currently sitting at 66,752, which you can check out here. If you click around the various areas of information, you can see which countries this site is more popular in, as well as the country-specific rankings there. A fairly recent addition to Alexa’s site are the search queries and other SEO related information. If you were to compare sticky post to spitoons or Megaline Kazakhstan, you can tell which subjects visitors to this site (those that come from search engines, as opposed to regular visitors, at least) are most interested in. Some of them I can understand why they end up at, however tmzflights seems to be some sort of blip in the statistics. I’ve not written, or linked to them, as far I can remember, and I’ve seen the same alleged popular search terms in Alexa’s reports for other sites. Does anyone have information on how the term is appearing?

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Feb 10 2010

Putting My Finger On It

Category: WordPressChrisM @ 11:37 pm

One of the WordPress plugins that I have been meaning to write about is Comment Referrers by Donncha O Caoimh. Very lightweight, and single purpose, it simply adds a line to e-mails that you receive when new comments are made on a post at your site. If the browser sent a referral URL upon arriving at the page, it is copied in. So if someone has been searching Google for “WordPress Astana ExPat”, I can figure this out if they leave a comment. This can be useful for tailoring your reply to their the visitor’s specific needs, or at the other end of the scale, it is normally very simple to see if someone has simply left a comment to gain a backlink. It also works as a simple way of keeping tabs on which sites or search engines are sending you traffic.

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