Category Archives: Blogging

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

I’ve mentioned before that I absolutely love wordpress.

One of the biggest reasons I like WordPress so much is the availability of plugins. Plugins are these cool little bits of bespoke software development in UK that you can seamlessly install into your website, and they’ll add some sort of cool functionality that wasn’t there right out of the box.

So here’s a list of my all-time favorite WordPress plugins; pay close attention because there are some gems in here!

(Please note the plugins aren’t in any particular order!)

All in One SEO Pack

No plugins list would be complete without this great plugin. Allows you to easily edit your metadata for each post/page and do a lot of other things that tremendously help your on-site SEO.

WP Database Backup

A very cool plugin that allows you to automagically backup your database on a set schedule. You can even set this thing to email that backup to you on schedule! I’ve also used this to copy the database if I’m going to clone a site or move it… pretty handy.

Login Lockdown

Every now and then some idiot might try to hack your blog. This plugin gives you an extra layer of protection against that.

Google Analyticator

Integrates Google Analytics into your site. Even better, you can get Analytics stats to show up directly in your WordPress control panel.

Widget Context

Possibly my favorite recently discovered plugin. This one is awesomesauce. It lets you specify exactly which pages you want specific plugins to appear on. So for instance – if you want that opt in box on every other page except for the homepage? No problem. (I’ll often place a much larger opt in box on the home page, or place it more prominently, so I don’t like having the duplication). Seriously – this one is well worth the 3 seconds it takes to download.

Smart YouTube

Easily lets you slap in YouTube videos on your site, and remove titles, related videos and all those other not-so-fun distractions that may pull people off your site. Has a number of different options, and is extremely easy to use.

Google Website Optimizer For WordPress

This one is handy on money sites that you want to split test. It’s limited to one test per site at a time, but that’s better than nothing. It’s also pretty easy to setup, letting you drop the code in right from the page/post edit screen.

Dealing with “The List”

Let me tell you about the strange cycle I’ve been stuck in lately. Back in February or March I started building a list for this blog. I figured it would be a good way to increase “stickyness” and readership. So, I got a plugin and got started.

Prior to “the list” (said in a deep, sombre tone) I posted fairly often – I guess 2-3 times a week on average. After starting “the list” this funny thing happened each time I went to post. I started thinking to myself – “if I post something, I should tell the list about it, but if I’m going to tell the list about it, then I need to make sure it is high value so they don’t think I’m spamming them…” and then pretty soon I’d talked myself right out of posting, waiting for the rare “high value” post ideas to pop up.

So my posting has gone down dramatically. Also, I’ve been pretty busy.

Then the other day I wrote this (didn’t send it to the list =) about a conversation I’d had that day. It wasn’t the most groundbreaking thing I’d ever written, but it put a slightly different spin on things.

One of the people who read it, Lance Tamashiro surprised me and left a video based comment on YouTube!

In fact, here’s his video:

Thanks Lance – by leaving this simple video you’ve refocused my thoughts on the art of blogging again.

Blogging is about building relationship – it isn’t about business and selling. I do enough of that the whole rest of the day =).

My purpose in having this blog is to share ideas about internet marketing, and to use it as a platform to meet other internet marketers. The internet can get to be a pretty non-personal place pretty quickly when you’re just staring at words all day long. However, Lance has used video not only to grab my attention (it takes a bit more effort than a simple comment), but to connect with me on a more personal level. When you hear someone on screen greeting you by name, you pay attention. That’s how we’re built.

So where am I going with all this?

Well, I’d like to make this blog a more interactive kind of place. That’s why I started a list, to remind people to come back from time to time and discuss the ideas. However, when you start thinking of people as a list instead of the names and faces that they are, then you’re going to quickly lose the true value in that list.

I’ve only been going down the list route for a couple months, but hopefully this realization can help you as well.

Do you have a list of some sort, and what do you do to maintain value and relationship with those people? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Charting My Traffic – May 2008

If you’ve been following this blog for a little while, you’ll know that early on I decided to do a monthly post on my blog’s traffic. Seeing as this started and continues to be something of an experiment in SEO/free traffic, I figure my progress or lack of it can provide some helpful insight, taken in context with the traffic tactics I’m posting about. (See April stats here)

So here’s May:

Popularity Indicators
Alexa: 1,291,056 (up from 3,559,160)
Google PR: unranked (I heard somewhere PR gets updated quarterly????)
Technorati Authority: 6
RSS Subscribers: 8 (up from 0)

The Golden Rule
April 2008 Absolute Unique Visitors: 353 (last month I had 297)

Inbound Links
Unfortunately the tool I originally started using at SEOChat now produces meaningless results, so I’ve kind of lost my baseline for inbound links. By some measures I have somewhere around 250 inbound, as best as I can gather. If anyone has a really great inbound links tool I’d love for you to speak up!

Conclusions
My Alexa rank continues to improve, which is nice to watch. I suppose that is good for something. It is important to note that last month, nearly half the traffic I got was from one or two large spikes, while this month, traffic has been a lot more constant, indicating a gradual increase in the base level of the traffic (largest day was only 38 visitors). I’ve been doing my best to optimize every single post for search (I use All-in-One SEO Pack), and it is gratifying to see traffic continue to come in on old posts directly from the search engines.

As an interesting aside, as of today, I’ve now had 900 visitors to my site (yes, exactly as per Google Analytics) from a total of 54 countries.

The Mechanical Turk: Getting Stuff Done

I just found out about this cool site the other day, called the Mechanical Turk. The site is named for a machine some guy made a long time ago, dubbed the Mechanical Turk. The machine could apparently play chess, quite well in fact. Except after quite a lot of publicity etc etc the secret got out of the bag that it was in fact a little guy inside the machine who happened to be quite good at chess. Surprise Surprise!

So what does that have to do with mturk.com? Well, basically, mturk lets people get inside the machine. People post things on there that seem almost mindless sometimes. For example: does this picture match this description? Yes or No? Any human that is half awake can probably tell you in a heartbeat whether or not it does. However, it is very hard to get a computer to do that. Hence the person in the machine. So on Mechanical Turk you can accept these strange jobs, and get paid a set rate for them. Now, before you go and get all excited on me… let me just say the standard rate is measured in pennies… not dollars! The task I just mentioned would likely bring 1 penny for 1 match.

That is all from the perspective of the worker (or Turker, as they like to call themselves!). Now lets look at it from the perspective of the requester. Think of something you’d like to get done done and pay very little for!

Would you like to get a whole bunch of articles written for cheap cheap? I just submitted a “hit” to get 20 articles written on digital picture frames at a staggering rate of 25 cents each! I’ve got one back so far… it isn’t the most amazing thing you will ever read, but it is sincere and I can definitely use it as filler text somewhere on one of my site’s pages.

Another idea could be getting Turkers to bookmark your site on social networking sites… Del.icio.us, Technorati, StumbleUpon, Propeller, etc. Pay them a penny for the job, while driving traffic and rankings for your site!

Have a blog you’re trying to promote? You can pay people pennies to come and leave comments, which helps give your blog the impression of being a bustle of activity (no, I’ve not paid for comments here, and won’t =).

Why not go over to mturk.com and check out what people are looking to get done? You might be surprised how cheaply you can get the same things done!

Woopra Chat Turns Bloggers Into Stalkers

Since I have installed Woopra, I have attentively watched visitors come and go, browse around my site etc. One several occasions I gathered up enough courage to actually initiate a chat with someone. Not one of them has ever chatted back.

I got to thinking about this, and I’m not really all that surprised that no one has chatted back. For one thing, perhaps they all had popup blockers and they never even saw the window! Or, how often have you been to a site only to have one of those fake chat windows appear with pre-programmed responses? Or, worse yet, isn’t it just downright plain wierd to be visiting a website and knowing someone is watching you! I mean, talk about big brother.

When I go to initiate a chat, I have am staring at the visitor’s IP address – you might as well be watching their front door – I know what city they are from, I know how they got to my page, and I know what they are reading. Imagine it like this:

“Hello friend from Springfield, Illinois – I know you’ve only been on my site for 3 minutes and 15 seconds since you got here from Digg – but do you want to chat? I just got this new software called Woopra and it lets me do that! It’s cool huh?”

Okay, so I’m not that creepy. But seriously, how would you respond if someone started chatting with you out of the blue? Would you feel like your privacy was being invaded? Would you feel like they were stalking you?

From the blogger’s perspective it is great fun to watch people come and go (In Woopra you can even tag visitors with partictular nicknames!), but real time stats great reduces the anonymity of web surfing. I guess the closest example is back to my BBS days. Logging on then meant they knew what you were up to all the time (their computer would make that great modem sound just to let them know you’d connected, for one), they knew your phone number, and several other things about you.

One thing I know for sure, is that for better or for worse Woopra is going to change the face of web analytics, and quickly. My previous post, Woopra – The Chuck Norris of Site Analytics has become the best viewed post ever on my young blog. Woopra is making waves. Woopra pre-approved invites are even being sold on eBay!

What say you? How do you feel, knowing you’re being watched right now?