Five Essential Plug-ins Your Blog Must Have

The main reason people start blogging is because they want to spread a message to and connect with other people.  It might be that they want to share their latest passion for their new dog, a product they have bought or they just like sharing what they do online – for fun and to make money.  But the difference between a great blog and one that remains unread in the dust can be as simple as five little plug-ins that you absolutely should use when you first set up your blog.

All-in-One-SEO:  All –in-one-SEO is a free plug in that can be accessed through your Wordpress Admin Panel.  It provides you with the ability to include an excerpt of your post, a description of your post (that will show up on search engines, and an extra set of tags to help reinforce your post for relevant or targeted keywords.  This is absolutely vital if you want to get traffic quickly to your blog.

The All-in-one-SEO plug in ss really easy to use.  You simply install it from your WP Admin panel (click plug-ins, Search button and put “all-in-one-SEO” in the search box), activate the plug-in through your plug-in dashboard and then click on the New Post link in your dashboard sidebar.  You will see below the traditional editing panel, the extra options allowed by the plug in.  Now all you have to do is to remember to fill them in when you are creating new posts.

Google XML Sitemap:  The Google Sitemap is an easy to use free WP plug-in that you can search for and access as easily as you did the All-in-one-SEO plug in above.  Once you have activated it then you just leave it to work quietly behind the scenes increasing traffic to your website.  What it does is that every time you make a new post, update a post or add or modify a page, it creates a new sitemap for search engines that makes all of your content easily accessible by their bots.  It also pings the major search engines automatically with your new content every time it is added, increasing your traffic in the process.

Akismet:  Akismet is an anti-spam commenting plug in that helps stop your blog being infested with hundreds of spam comments every day.  You will find Akismet already installed with your WP installation – you just have to activate it and get it set up.  Akismet is not a free plug in so if you are trying to keep your costs down with your initial blog set up then you could use SI CAPTCHA anti-spam which is another free plug in you can install through your WP Admin panel.

Dean's FCKEditor - Not a lot of people know about this plug-in.  What it does is extends the usability of your Editor when you are creating your posts.  The standard post editor is quite limited in functionality but by adding this plug in to your blog, you can have the same functions (and more) that you would find in Microsoft Word.

Share and Follow - To maximize the traffic potential of your new blog you have to tap into the social media networks.  This plug in (found and installed just the same as the ones above) will create social media icons that you can have installed automatically at the beginning or end of your post.  It also creates the floating "Follow" icon that you can set to appear on the left or right hand side of the screen.  These buttons offer your readers a simple and immediate way of sharing your blog post with the networks they are aligned with including Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, reddit and a whole heap more.

In the next article we will look at a traffic blueprint that will help you move beyond the traffic that can be generated by the Google XML Sitemap, the All-in-one-SEO plug in and the Share and Follow gadget.

The Wordpress SEO Guide

The acronym SEO shaped label on price tag

Using Wordpress for your content management system is not only smart it’s recommended by most SEO Experts.  In order to rank well today in Google you need to have a blog and a powerful way to manage that content.  Wordpress is close to prefect out of the box but there are still things you need to do. If you are adding a new blog it is recommended to add the blog as a subfolder and not as a subdomain.  A subdomain is considered a new domain and will not carry the weight of your existing page.  Nor will you give your website the added bonus of links and content pages if you use a subdomain.

Subdomain: blog.domain.com

Subfolder: domain.com/blog/  (preferred method)

Tags & Categories

Once you have your blog installed and are ready to go you need to think about duplicate content and how you can prevent that.  The biggest problem with Wordpress is the categories and tags it allows you to create.

Tags

If you have a large website with thousands of pages of content most of the time tags will help improve your SEO.  This creates additional pages that have keywords as titles.  The problem is when you have a smaller blog and not enough articles it creates pages with almost identical content.  Duplicate content is bad for SEO and will actually hurt your ranking potential in Google.

Categories

The same thing that happens with tags also happens with category pages.  Category pages can be near identical to tag created pages and can harm your SEO efforts.

To help solve these issues I recommend to all my clients to use the All in One SEO Pack.  This is a powerful plugin that has many features with the most useful is the ability to “no-index” tags or categories.  It is highly (do it) recommended you install this plugin and set up your blog to not allow search engines to index your tag pages.  This feature alone will solve most of your on-site SEO issues with Wordpress.

Tip: When you categorize your blog post remember not to select too many categories for each blog post.  I always recommend one category.  If you start selecting several categories for each post then you run the risk of creating more duplicate content.  

Social Media

How is social media important to SEO of Wordpress?  In today’s Google algorithm it is estimated that 7-15% of the weight comes from social media signals.   This is why it’s important to help promote your blog post via social media websites.

Social Media Plugins

Before we tell you what websites work the best it’s important you install the right social sharing buttons so readers of your blog can easily share your content.  Again, there are many out there but one of our favorites is Social Discussions

Off-Page Optimization

Your off-page optimization should consist of two main factors.  The first is getting as many shares on social media websites as you can.  Tweet your articles, post them on Facebook and hope your followers like the content and share it.  It helps to ask them to share it as well. Although Google says they aren’t currently using the data from Google+ I still recommend to start embracing it now.  There will come a time in the near future when they start using the data.

Depending on the content of the article you might consider submitting it to the following social sharing networks:

Reddit

BizSugar

Blokube

Business Exchange

Digg

What’s great about sharing on the websites is if the article gets popular it will draw in more social shares and even gain some links.  It’s not uncommon for a popular article to receive 15-200 natural links.

The next is manual link building.  If you are new to link building I wrote a long write-up about Google SEO which mainly covers link building.  This is the step where you contact bloggers and see if they might use your blog post as a citation in their blogs.  Another good strategy is to reach out to other bloggers within your niche and see if they need content written for their blogs.  Maintaining a blog is hard work and most bloggers welcome guest to write quality articles as it takes some workload off of them.

Top 10: Web Analytics Platforms You Should Know

I was invited to speak at the College Media Association conference in New York City by my good friend Colin Donohue.  The CMA is similar to any other professional media consortium, but focuses exclusively on college and university media organizations. This year, I was asked to speak about the importance of web analytics platforms.  One of my sessions featured my Top 10 web analytics platforms that I believe everyone should know.

The Top 10 Web Analytics Platforms are in no particular order.  Also, it is important to note that I do not think that you should use all of them.  Instead, you should pick your favorites, and go with it.  But make sure you know a little about all of them.

#1 - Google Analytics

google.com/analytics

Shockingly obvious, yes.  However, the analytics beginner may not fully appreciate the power of this platform since it is ubiquitous to the industry.  This fall, we saw GA release realtime analytics (finally!).  Realtime analysis makes the platform more appealing to "newsroom" style publishers.

#2 - GetClicky

getclicky.com

Still my favorite all around analytics platform.  I've used it for years, and it has never let me down.  GetClicky has offered realtime analytics since virtually day one.  The platform has continued to evolve including rich extensions such as an app for iPhone and iPad.  For "newsroom" applications, they have released a big screen mode that basically takes over the full screen of your machine with realtime site traffic.  Also has a robust solution for advertising and marketing tracking with no-fuss reporting.  

#3 - Chartbeat

chartbeat.com

The undisputed leader in realtime traffic analytics.  Since its debut, Chartbeat showed the power of understanding how your content was being consumed at the very moment it is consumed.  With the release of Newsbeat (for newsrooms), Chartbeat positions itself squarely as the homepage of digital news directors everywhere.  No other platform will help you to make data driven changes to your group of lead stories like Chartbeat can.  A must for news, gossip, and "immediacy" focused content publishers.

#4 - Klout

klout.com

Today's digital ninjas need to go beyond the data provided by their owned and operated domains.  Understanding you and your brands social influence is critical for successful digital professionals.  Klout will help you understand, track, and grow your digital influence in any number of categories.  Anyone with a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Four Square account has a Klout Score.  At the time of this posting, mine is a healthy 48 (of 100). One of the most impressive social media products launched to date.

#5 - Quantcast

quantcast.com

In keeping with the natural evolution of digital data geeks everywhere, you want to know how your site ranks compared to its peers.  Quantcast acts as one of the Internet's premier "freemium" ratings and ranking services.  All sites with statistically significant traffic find their way into the Quantcast database.  Proactive webmasters can place a free Quantcast script on their site to allow direct measurement.  In addition to tracking and publicly reporting your site's overall reach, Quantcast breaks your traffic down demographically and geographically.  Publishers can quickly and easily see what mix of gender, race, incomes, and education levels visit their sites.  And so can potential advertisers.

#6 - Compete

Compete.com

At its core, Compete is similar to Quantcast in its tracking and audience aggregation methodology.  However, it focuses more on being a resource for advertisers to looking to target specific audiences with their ads.  Compete offers a suite of advertising planning tools to its customers that help evaluate overall campaign efficiency.  The focus is no surprise since it is owned by Kantar Media, the data geek nerve center for worldwide advertising conglomerate WPP.  Both Quantcast and Compete are important reference points for publishers because these are the tools that your advertisers (aka the ones keeping the lights on) use to evaluate your site.

#7 - Sitemeter

Sitemeter.com

Ahhh Sitemeter.  Ohh how those of us that have been in the industry since the dawn of blogging love you.  You were there for us when there was nothing else [free] available.  Sitemeter is one of the older free analytics services.  It offers a standard but thorough analytics dashboard that provides everything the startup publisher would ever need.  They also aggregate and rank publishers that use the service.  Your Sitemeter ranking used to be something that bloggers bragged about.  Those were the days...

#8 - Sprout Social

sproutsocial.com

As mentioned earlier, social media now finds its home in the wheelhouse of every serious publisher.  When publishing content, you must now understand how to market it in the social graph, and analyze what comes back.  In addition to providing a truly comprehensive suite of social publishing tools, Sprout Social also analyzes every aspect of every tweet and status update.  Keep track of every new follower, every retweet, and Facebook share with Sprout.  You'll quickly be able to track what content you publish gets shared the most.  Before long, you'll be a viral publishing machine.

#9 - SEO Moz

SEOMoz.org

Arguably the best one-stop-shop for every SEO tool you could ever need.  In addition to understanding visitor site traffic and social media, great publishers understand how the Google overlords view their content.  Publishing great content is the most important thing you will ever do in this game.  Sadly, that does not always bring the eyeballs.  SEO Moz will give you actionable advice on how to structure your site overall as well as analyze the Google-mojo of every content post.

#10 - comScore

comscore.com

It is with mixed emotions that we place comScore on this list.  For most publishers, comScore will never factor into their day-to-day activities directly.  However, it will be the bane of your career every time your advertising sales managers come down to your office to discuss this month's comScore ranking.  comScore is the default advertising rating service that the vast majority of online marketers utilize.  With billions of dollars being spent advertising online, the industry needs a common set of benchmark evaluations.  comScore will rank your site's traffic, reach, page views, and demographic makeup in order to provide a rating".  Your site's comScore profile will often mean the difference between gaining or losing advertisers.  Again, it will not factor into the day-to-day activities of publishing your content.  However, a positive comScore story can mean serious revenue wins.

That's not all...

There are dozens of other great services that did not make this list.  By no means would I consider this list to mean anything other a grouping of services I have grown to respect, and in some cases, cannot live without.

If you feel I've made an egregious mistake by leaving a certain platform off of this list, please post it in the comments below.  Let's start a discussion!

Your Blog Traffic Blueprint – Part Two

In the last post I explained a number of different ways you could get your blog optimized for traffic and then methods in which you could drive traffic through the use of backlinking.  The good thing about a lot of backlinking methods is that not only do they help your blog to be recognized as important by search engines like Google; many of the methods drive traffic directly to your blog because of the insightful content you are providing. In this post I am going to lay out a blueprint for you that you can follow step-by-step and then in later posts I will give you more details on how to actually set up each of these methods to maximize their impact on your traffic stats.

  1. Do the preparation steps in the previous blog post.
  2. Write five articles related to your niche – this is not as hard as it seems – you can simply rewrite your blog posts to create unique articles.
  3. Use Camtasia Free software and PowerPoint presentation slides to create videos out of your article content – don’t mind being in front of the camera?  Then use that, but you want to create five videos based on your five articles and you will need five PowerPoint presentation slide shows for traffic generation as well.
  4. Create an audio file of all five of your articles.  If your article content is quite short just make one audio file including the information in all five articles.

Okay so at this point you will have five articles, five videos, five PowerPoint presentation slide shows, and at least one audio file.  All of these files will contain backlinks to your site and if you can include a call to action (without sounding spammy) in the content as well all the better.  Now you have to get these out on the net.

The Articles

Your articles are going to provide a hub for the rest of your traffic efforts.  Firstly you want to submit them to Ezinearticles.com.  Unless you are a premium member this is going to take a few days for the articles to be approved.  You are also going to submit your articles to the following sites:

But wait until your articles have been approved on Ezinearticles.com first – EZA does not like duplicate content.  Don’t forget to ping your article links (the actual link of the page your article is on) as well as Stumble it, Twitter it and put the link up on Facebook.

Next you want to find some graphics to go with your article content and then head over to Squidoo.com and set up five lenses using your article content and the pictures you have collected.  Each article will make an individual lens.  If you have not made a Squidoo Lens before then check out the help tutorials they have on their site which are very good or courses by people like Tiffany Dow or the PotPieGirl.  Again once you have your lenses finished then ping them and use your social media links to put the word out about them.

Well that should be enough to keep you going for the moment.  In the next post I will explain more things you can do with your articles and also where to post the other content that I had you create.

Your Blog Traffic Blueprint – Part One

Generating traffic to your blog is something a lot of bloggers have trouble with.  But if you use the traffic blueprint I have outlined below then you will have swarms of traffic hitting your site every time you write a new post.

Setting the Groundwork

Getting prepared for traffic to your site is something that you should be thinking off from the moment you install Wordpress on your new domain.  Before you start generating traffic you want to make sure that you have installed all of the plug-ins outlined in our previous post here [Link to 5 Essential Plug-ins You Blog Must have].  To keep Google happy your site will need to have a Privacy Policy page, a Terms and Conditions Page and a Contact page at the very least.  You should also make sure that you have a minimum of three blog posts on your blog, with more scheduled or planned before you put this traffic plan into place.  Ideally you should aim for one new blog post for your blog daily for about a month, and then at least three times a week thereafter so that your blog always has good fresh content coming in.

Setting Up Backlinks

If you are not familiar with SEO then it is unlikely that you have come across the term “Backlinks” before but these are a vital part of your blogging success.  In a nutshell backlinks are links on other sites that point back to your blog, or a specific blog post.  The more backlinks your blog has the more valuable it is considered by Google and other search engines.  So you need to set up a system to start generating backlinks as quickly as you can.

Warning: There are a lot of companies online that claim they can get you hundreds or even thousands of backlinks for the price of a cup of coffee – Do not use these methods.  They are considered spam and can get your blog banned from Google permanently if you use these “Black Hat” methods.

Your pinging will already be creating backlinks for you but you can go a lot further with this.   Just some of the methods you can use include

  • Putting articles on article directory sites like Ezinearticles and GoArticles
  • Putting up videos on YouTube and other video sites (TubeMogul is good for this)
  • Creating audio files and placing them on sites like iTunes
  • Blog commenting on other blogs in your niche
  • Forum posting on relevant forums in your niche
  • Posting an ebook of your content on free ebook sites like Free-ebooks.net
  • Setting up related pages on Squidoo.com and HubPages
  • RSS feeds
  • Social Media sites like Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon

Now before you go thinking that this could be a lot of work, remember that you can outsource a lot of these tasks and as we will show you in the next blog post – a lot of these ideas come from recycling and repackaging content you have already created.  See you on the next post.

Read Part Two

Using the Ping List to Increase Your Blog Exposure

Many new blog owners don’t know what a ping is, let alone how to use this quiet little function to increase traffic to their blogs.  Put simply a “ping” is an automatic notification of new and updated content to sites that collect RSS feeds for their own subscribers.  By pinging these sites you create backlinks for your blog and you have the chance to increase your organic (that means free) traffic figures. To utilize this function in your WP blog you need to go to “Settings” in your admin panel and click on “Writing” in the drop down menu that comes up.

Writing Page in Wordpress

This will bring you up a page like the one above.  You need to scroll down this page until you find…

You won’t have anything in this block when you install your new blog – you have to find a ping list to copy and paste into it.  To help you here are ten you can include by simply copying the links below and pasting them into that box:

http://zing.zingfast.com http://zhuaxia.com/rpc/server.php http://xping.pubsub.com/ping/ http://xmlrpc.blogg.de http://www.zhuaxia.com/rpc/server.php http://www.xianguo.com/xmlrpc/ping.php http://www.weblogues.com/RPC/ http://www.weblogues.com http://www.snipsnap.org/RPC2 http://www.snipsnap.org http://www.popdex.com/addsite.php http://www.popdex.com http://www.newsisfree.com/xmlrpctest.php http://www.newsisfree.com/RPCCloud http://www.mod-pubsub.org/ping.php http://www.lasermemory.com http://www.imblogs.net/ping/ http://www.holycowdude.com/rpc/ping/ http://www.feedsky.com/api/RPC2 http://www.catapings.com/ping.php http://www.blogstreet.com/xrbin/xmlrpc.cgi http://www.blogsnow.com/ping http://www.blogshares.com/rpc.php http://www.blogsdominicanos.com/ping/ http://www.blogroots.com http://www.blogpeople.net http://www.blogoon.net/ping/ http://www.blogoole.com/ping/ http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2 http://www.bitacoles.net/ping.php http://www.a2b.cc http://weblogues.com/RPC/ http://weblogues.com/ping/ http://wasalive.com/ping/ http://trackback.bakeinu.jp/bakeping.php http://topicexchange.com http://thingamablog.sourceforge.net/ping.php http://syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php http://snipsnap.org/RPC2 http://signup.alerts.msn.com/alerts-PREP/submitPingExtended.doz http://services.newsgator.com/ngws/xmlrpcping.aspx http://rpc.wpkeys.com http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2 http://rpc.twingly.com http://rpc.technorati.jp/rpc/ping http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping http://rpc.tailrank.com/feedburner/RPC2 http://rpc.reader.livedoor.com/ping http://rpc.pingomatic.com http://rpc.newsgator.com/ http://rpc.icerocket.com:10080 http://rpc.britblog.com/ http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/ http://rpc.bloggerei.de/ping/ http://rpc.blogbuzzmachine.com/RPC2 http://rcs.datashed.net/RPC2/ http://rcs.datashed.net http://r.hatena.ne.jp/rpc http://popdex.com/addsite.php http://pingqueue.com/rpc/ http://pingoat.com/goat/RPC2 http://pingoat.com/ http://pinger.blogflux.com/rpc http://ping.wordblog.de/ http://ping.weblogs.se/ http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php http://ping.snap.com/ping/RPC2 http://ping.rootblog.com/rpc.php http://ping.namaan.net/rpc http://ping.myblog.jp http://ping.kutsulog.net/ http://ping.feeds.yahoo.com/RPC2/ http://ping.feedburner.com http://ping.fc2.com/ http://ping.fakapster.com/rpc http://ping.exblog.jp/xmlrpc http://ping.cocolog-nifty.com/xmlrpc http://ping.blogs.yandex.ru/RPC2 http://ping.blogoon.net/ http://ping.blogmura.jp/rpc/ http://ping.bloggers.jp/rpc/ http://ping.blogg.de/ http://ping.blo.gs/ http://ping.bitacoras.com http://ping.amagle.com/ http://packetmonster.net/xmlrpc.php http://newsisfree.com/RPCCloud http://newsblog.jungleboots.org/ping.php http://mod-pubsub.org/ping.php http://mod-pubsub.org http://lasermemory.com/lsrpc/ http://imblogs.net/ping/ http://holycowdude.com/rpc/ping/ http://hamo-search.com/ping.php http://fgiasson.com/pings/ping.php http://feedsky.com/api/RPC2 http://effbot.org/rpc/ping.cgi http://coreblog.org/ping/ http://catapings.com/ping.php http://bulkfeeds.net http://blogupdate.org/ping/ http://blogstreet.com/xrbin/xmlrpc.cgi http://blogsnow.com/ping http://blogshares.com/rpc.php http://blogsearch.google.us/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.tw/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.sk/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.se/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.ru/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.ro/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.pt/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.pl/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.nl/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.lt/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.jp/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.it/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.in/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.ie/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.hr/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.gr/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.fr/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.fi/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.es/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.de/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.vn/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.uy/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.ua/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.tw/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.tr/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.sg/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.sa/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.pe/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.my/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.mx/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.do/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.co/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.br/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.au/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.com.ar/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.za/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.ve/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.uk/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.th/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.nz/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.ma/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.jp/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.it/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.in/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.il/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.id/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.hu/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.co.cr/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.cl/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.ch/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.ca/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.bg/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.be/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.at/ping/RPC2 http://blogsearch.google.ae/ping/RPC2 http://blogroots.com/tb_populi.blog?id=1 http://blogpeople.net/ping http://blogoon.net/ping/ http://blogoole.com/ping/ http://blogmatcher.com/u.php http://blogdigger.com/RPC2 http://blogdb.jp/xmlrpc http://blogdb.jp http://blogbot.dk/io/xml-rpc.php http://blog.goo.ne.jp/XMLRPC http://blog.goo.ne.jp http://blo.gs/ping.php http://bitacoras.net/ping/ http://bitacoles.net/ping.php http://bitacoles.net/notificacio.php http://bblog.comping.php http://bblog.com/ping.php http://audiorpc.weblogs.com/RPC2 http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping http://api.my.yahoo.com/RPC2 http://api.my.yahoo.com/ping http://api.my.yahoo.co.jp/RPC2 http://api.moreover.com/RPC2 http://api.moreover.com/ping http://api.feedster.com/ping http://a2b.cc/setloc/bp.a2b http://1470.net/api/ping http://www.a2b.cc/setloc/bp.a2b

Make sure that when you paste them into this box that there is only one link per line – you don’t have to put commas after them.

Now just click save and then every time you update or create a page or blog post all of the sites listed in your ping list will be notified.   Subscribers to those sites, who are interested in your particular area of expertise will be notified automatically about your new content and before long you will have plenty of new people coming along to your site, to see what you have to say.