Jan 272011
 

I’m going to jump off the topic of Backlinks for a minute, but I will be back on that subject in the next entry as I have some more information to share. For example, info. about paying for backlinks, and also on backlink stacking (VERY important stuff!! – I promise to follow up on these topics ASAP). In this blog we’ll talk about a few great WordPress plugins and one Firefox plugin I think you should know. By the way, WARNING -the next paragraph is a small (large) rant.

Let me acknowledge for a minute that my brain is literally (figuratively) exploding from all the new information I’m soaking in. My monetization strategy is not in effect yet but the plan is shaping up. I will tell you this, currently I don’t have plans to monetize this blog because I really don’t want to be a blogger/internet marketer marketing to other bloggers/internet marketers, selling blogger/internet marketer useless products to stupid bloggers/internet marketers, who can then pass that trash along to the next person. I’m beginning to see that most tools that exist to help you with SEO and internet marketing are FREE. Most of the systems I see being rammed down people’s throats are just some creative compilation of FREE tools. Starting a blog of this nature (about Social Media Marketing, SEO, Blog Marketing, Facebook Marketing etc.) is almost a trap. Because you are researching all the tools that come with this industry, you will inevitably run into all the internet marketing SPCAM (this is a term I’m coining for Scam Spam – don’t ask how to pronounce it because I don’t know) products. You think, oh, I have readers also interested in blog/internet marketing, maybe I could start to sell this trash and make a profit. These products in my mind are basically the same thing as any Get rich quick, lose weight fast, enlarge certain parts of your body, blah blah blah scheme. They target people sitting at home thinking they could make thousands of dollars a day while watching daytime Soaps and sucking down cheezwhiz straight out of the can. For $47 this, for $27 that – don’t buy into it. If these plans were so great, why share them? Why not just hire staff and rake in millions upon millions? Logic people. There might actually be some useful tools out there, but in all honesty, the more I search, the more I find that if you want to pay for the convenience of someone organizing all your tools in one place, it may be worth it. Be VERY selective. The point of this blog is to share and document the process and along the way, and hopefully also to meet some like-minded people. I am looking for real, helpful tools, and most importantly, GOOD information. Many of these SPCAMmers also keyword target “is product X is a scam?” – where product X is their product. They also target, “product X reviews” – so they can give themselves their own reviews. My advice is to do a lot of research before actually spending money on something – especially if you’re currently not earning any money through online marketing. If you have so much money, earning interest so fast, that it’s impossible to get rid of it unless you throw it at a bunch of internet marketing jackals then go ahead I suppose. Or give it to charity.

If you are just looking to mutually share good information on internet related topics, feel free to contact me as I hope this blog will serve as a way for me to make some real connections, with real people. Ok, after the picture we’re on to business…
(This is an image of a chandelier taken from inside a Church – Tampere, Finland)

4 (More) Great WordPress Plugins to consider:

So I’ve been tinkering a bit with the layout of this blog and adding some new WordPress plugins. If you missed my first post about 4 essential plugins for a WordPress.org blog make sure to check it out. Thought I would also share a few more as I think they are also quite useful. I’ll talk about WP-supercache, YARPP, WP-dbmanager, and Commentluv. I have so far been only trying to work with free plugins and themes for WordPress, but I have to say, I am considering paying for a WordPress theme. Currently I am running the Suffusion theme, and while it’s starting to come along and look more like what I wanted, it hasn’t been easy. Since I don’t know how to actually modify the code I am limited to the options they provide for customization (which is not everything). If anyone reading this has any experience with WordPress themes, please shoot me a comment or email with what you recommend.

WP-Supercache

From the plugin site (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-super-cache/), they state “This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.”

What you need to know in practice, is this will make your site load faster. I found my site was loading relatively slow due to the large size images I have been using. I added this plug-in and also changed the format in my theme so it would start only showing a few full length blog entries – the rest show up as just excerpts where you have to click to read more. Previously I had been showing 10 full length blog entries on my homepage. Because I have a really fast internet connection I didn’t really notice how bad it was until I tested the site on a slower connection.

Implementing WP-supercache is a good idea for any site because there is really no downside. Additionally, if you plan on expanding your site and getting more visitors, you should definitely be prepared in advance. If you have just a basic hosting package, a surge in visitors could drastically slow your site.

YARPP – Yet Another Related Post Plugin

You can find the website to download this plugin at: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/yet-another-related-posts-plugin/. YARPP is a great plugin for automatically displaying related posts. After a reader gets to the end of your post, they will see other posts, ranked in order of relevance to the post they just finished reading. You can also add the related posts to your RSS feed which is a good way to get people off their reader, and back to your website.

Since my site is relatively new and I don’t have very many total posts, I set the “Match Threshold” to 1. This means YARPP will pull almost any article, even one that has very minimal relevance. If you have a lot of content, you can get pretty specific about what posts YARPP will show. For example you can disallow certain categories or disallow certain tags. You can opt to only show recent posts (like those from within the past 12 months). You can decide how many posts to show, and whether or not to show their relevance score.

All in all this is a very easy tool to get started with and hopefully it will immediately improve your number of pageviews.

WP-Database Manager

You can find this plugin here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-dbmanager/ After the even small amount of work I have put into Eiconnectlink blog, I started to realize if anything happened, I had no back-ups of my posts and other files. I did manual back-ups through wordpress, and backed up my files on an external hard drive. However, it still would take some work to get everything back up and running.

This plugin is really all you need to take care of everything (unless you’re very paranoid like me!) It “Allows you to optimize database, repair database, backup database, restore database, delete backup database , drop/empty tables and run selected queries. Supports automatic scheduling of backing up and optimizing of database.”

Never hurts to be prepared.

CommentLuv

So if you read my last post about 7 ways to Build Backlinks and increase search engine rank you will notice that one of the tips is to leave comments on other blogs. Commentluv is a way to encourage people to leave comments on your blog!

“This plugin will visit the site of the comment author while they type their comment and retrieve a selection of their last blog posts, tweets or digg submissions which they can choose to include at the bottom of their comment when they click submit.” Meaning you can actually comment on this website, right now, and leave yourself a nice fat link to your latest blog post (or if you register at Commentluv you can choose one of your last 10). Pretty cool huh?

This is a tactic I have decided to try as I think it will be a good way to get people talking. I see in the analytics this blog has a decent amount of readers, but there’s not too much comment action. I don’t know if it’s because these posts are so long, but whatever. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, I just want to discuss internet marketing issues. I see a million blogs out there where people post a bunch about how much money they are making etc. etc., establishing themselves as an authority. I’m pretty sure most of them are full of shit, but suddenly they have a huge following of desperate wanna-be internet SPCAMmers filling up their comment walls. I can tell you I probably made way more money when I worked running a legitimate ecommerce business – so I also know a thing or two about the internet. I’m just not really here to sell – I’m here to learn. I am happy to pass along some link juice if you leave a comment – but I’m more interested in what YOU actually have to say :) (Sorry got a bit ranty again there for a minute).

Try out commentluv on your site and you may find an improvement in the comment activity.
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Now, I just want to briefly mention a great SEO tool. It’s called SEO Quake and you can download the plugin for Firefox at Seoquake.com Oh, by the way, I also tried this tool out for Chrome but I found it didn’t work nearly as well in Chrome – I don’t think all the bugs are worked out yet as even their homepage claims that it’s still “new.” This tool is FREE! Don’t pay for other SEO tools until you have tried this one first. If you are a beginner, this tool has more than enough functionality for you. As you get more advanced, you may want to consider paying for other tools, but for now start with this!

Download this plugin for Firefox as it has a LOT of really great features for analyzing websites. You can check a site’s PR, alexa rank, number of links from social sites, number of links to a page (L), number of links to the entire domain (LD), number of pages indexed, keyword density, and a lot more customizable options. This is a great way to look into what your competitors are up to. Where they are getting backlinks, how strong are their backlinks, what keywords are they targeting, etc. This is the sort of information you will need to know if you want to outrank them in the SERPs.
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OK, that’s a long post! If you made it through leave me a comment, tweet, share, you know the drill! Thanks :) Nick

Dec 302010
 

Well, it’s been an interesting couple of days – still trying to get everything configured on my WordPress.org site.  I’ll tell you about a few things that went smooth, and one horrible entire-day-wasted-resulting-in-me-getting-a-new-theme-activity (aka trying to add a favicon).

(image from Stockholm, Sweden – a restaurant on an organic farm.  It was freezing cold outside but the restaurant is actually inside the greenhouse, and is quite warm)

Addthis Is a website I came across which was interesting to me.  It allows you to offer a nice button on all of your posts to allow readers to share your blog entries to over 300 social media outlets.  This takes care of everything all with one nice compact button.  After installing the plug-in, I had to go under the WordPress Admin settings to edit where I want it to be displayed.  I opted to have it shown at the bottom of just about everything.  Here’s a picture of the button in it’s unexpanded form:

As you can see it’s very small and unobtrusive.  If you want to play around with it and see how it actually expands, you will find one at the bottom of this post.  You can even try out sharing if you feel like it!  I would like some feedback on if it actually works for people so if you do this, please drop me a comment or email.

What I also liked about AddThis is it has an analytics section.  If you sign-up through their website, you will get analytics reports on all sorts of things.  Since I just started using this service, I haven’t yet seen how they actually look, but basically I just wanted an idea of what people are most interested in on my blog.  You can see more about the features here: https://www.addthis.com/features

Next I turned to Facebook.  Even though you can share to Facebook with the AddThis button, I wanted people to actually be able to “Like” my Fan page as well.  I actually haven’t done too much yet with my Facebook Fan page, but I do want to make sure it is integrated with my Blog.  As you can see when reading this blog, to the right I added a “like me on Facebook button” – I have also put it below and ask you to please like me! I need 25 fans before I can get a custom URL so I would greatly appreciate it! I know sounds desperate – but I haven’t yet promoted it yet because as mentioned, it is far from finished.

Its quite easy to add this button.  First you need to get the code.  Go here: http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like-box All you have to do is enter your Facebook Fan Page URL, set the width, choose light or dark, and decide on the options.  For example you can show your stream, or peoples faces who like your page etc.  I made mine simple and got rid of all the extra stuff.  After that, I grabbed the code.  I went the WordPress widget section, dragged a text widget into my sidebar and copied in the code.

So having finished those two easy tasks, I’m feeling emboldened and ready to take on another small but important aspect of any website.  When you have a tab open (or if you’re like me and have lots and lots of tabs open) you will see a small little icon next to the name of the site.  They also show up in the bookmarks menu if you bookmark a page.   Here’s an actual screenshot from my Google Chrome:

As you can see, with a lot of Windows open, without that little picture it’s very hard to remember what sites you have open.  In this whole batch I have two blank favicon sites and I actually am not even sure right now what those sites are.  The other one’s however I can recognize right away.  A side note, I’ll challenge you to name as many of these sites as you can.  There’s no prize but you might be able to name some right off the bat just based on their favicon.  This reason alone is good enough for me to know I want my site to have one!

So first you have to create a Favicon.ico file.  You take you image and go to a site like this http://tools.dynamicdrive.com/favicon/ and it will create for you.  Next you save the file with the name Favicon.ico (this is important).  I was originally using the WordPress Twenty Ten theme and this is where all my problems started.  I followed instructions here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Creating_a_Favicon and it didn’t work!  I was unsure of myself about whether I uploaded it to the right folder and whether or not I entered the code they provided in the correct place.  I read many more forums and tried to move the code around (which for me was just a guessing game since I don’t really understand what the snippet of code is even for), tried putting the picture all over the place on my FTP, tried changing to a .PNG type file – nothing seemed to work.

After much trial, somehow I got the Favicon to show up on my back-end Admin page, but it wasn’t showing up on my Front-end http://www.eiconnectlink.com pages.  I was having a very odd situation where in Chrome the file wasn’t showing up at all.  In Firefox, it was showing up for a second, then going away.  I was so frustrated I was ready to pull out all my hair and quit blogging!

So, I decided to try switching my theme.  I ended up with the Suffusion theme and now everything works fine.  The instructions linked above actually work great so I won’t reiterate them.  I didn’t even have to add the code to my header.  It turns out the browsers automatically check whether or not you have a Favicon.ico file in your root directory and you don’t always need that code – I guess Internet Explorer is more picky (I actually don’t even know if my Favicon works on IE right now – maybe you can let me know?)

I used a site: http://www.seositecheckup.com/favicon.php To test if my Favicon was working.  It apparently works great now.

I’ll end with a funny story 我要疯了!! This means “I’m going crazy” in Chinese.  When I was trying to figure out how to upload to my FTP, I downloaded a program called FileZilla which is a free FTP software.   Well, because I was a student in China, and have some friends living there still, a long time ago I had installed the Chinese language tool on Windows Vista.  In the middle of all the other problems I was having, suddenly the Chinese starts to override everything and my FileZilla menu was in Chinese!  My Chinese is ok but definitely not good enough to figure out how to use an FTP program.  It was one of those days where I am so happy I’m not a programmer – it was like each step I took to try and fix my problem, 3 more sprang up.  OK, I guess this is enough for now, comment please!!

Dec 272010
 

Installing plugins on a WordPress.org blog is an important step to get your site up and running.  There are 4 essential Plugins I chose to start with.  They are all important for marketing your blog in regards to optimizing it for search engines.

(this image was taken in Calcutta, India – this man was selling a delicious street snack.  He requested I take a photo of him – which I think came out nice with the India flag in the background)

Google Analyticator

Tracking your site stats is important if you hope to monetize your site.  It is also important just to give you an idea of how successful your marketing efforts are.  First you will need a Google Analytics account: http://www.google.com/analytics/.   After installing Google Analyticator, you will need to wait a day or two for the statistics to show up.  Even though you can’t see them yet in Google Analytics, it is still keeping track (you will see the stats over the past few days once it starts working).  Once it’s up and running, the Google Analyticator widget displays these stats under your site’s dashboard with some useful information (visits, page views, time spent on site etc.)  You can also log in to your Google Analytics page to view a full stat summary.  You can learn more about this plugin here: http://ronaldheft.com/code/analyticator/

All in One SEO Pack

Next, I installed the All in One SEO Pack.  This is a very robust tool, suitable for beginners or experts.  It helps optimize your blog for search engines and will make it so search engines will actually look for information about your site.  It automatically generates META tags and optimizes your titles for search engines among many other features.  There is some configuration required.  In your plugin menu, there will be a red bar stating that All in One SEO Pack needs to be configured.  You click that, and then need to fill in some information.

First off, you must enable SEO Pack.  Next, there is a section asking for a Home title.  This is the title that will be shown at the top of your browser on your homepage and in the bright blue letters on the Google Search Engine Results Page.   Home description is the paragraph that gets shown under the bright blue letters in the Google search results.   Try to keep it descriptive and emphasize important keywords.  A better description can help get you more clicks even if you are ranked lower in the search results.  Last, fill in the Home keywords related to your site.  Try to include relevant phrases you know are being searched for in regards to your blog.

Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com to better index your blog. With such a sitemap, it’s much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently.  Just install and activate – there are no special setup requirements.

Easy Privacy Policy

Easy Privacy Policy is an all in one solution for making sure that your blog has an adsense compliant privacy policy.  Sites without a privacy policy get penalized by Google.  You need to go into the setting and change @blogname to your blog (i.e. for me I changed it to @EiConnectLink) and change your @email to your email address (for me, nick@eiconnectlink.com).  Next, you click create privacy page.

After this page is created, it will show up in your main blog navigation bar (with Home, About, etc.)  Because I didn’t want it featured so prominently there, I used another plugin called Exclude pages.  You have to navigate to the privacy page and uncheck “Include this page in lists of pages” – this will take it off the navigation bar.  Next, I just inserted an HTML link into the footer section of my blog to directly link the privacy policy page.

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With these 4 plugins your blog will be in a great position to begin marketing.  With analytics set up, you can track what is going on.  The other 3 plugins will set it up so search engines can start driving organic traffic to your site.  Leads generated organically will typically be highly targeted, thus bringing relevant visitors to your blog.  Thanks for reading!  Please comment if you have any other WordPress.org plugin tips for me!

Dec 222010
 

Step #1 (for me) Set-up new email account for nick@eiconnectlink.com

So to begin with I wanted to configure a domain name at my new site http://www.eiconnectlink.com/.  I went into Bluehost’s cPanel and clicked email accounts.  I set up the address nick@eiconnectlink.com (email me!!).  Next I wanted to set it up so I could access this account through Gmail.  This was done with relative east by following the steps in this video: http://tutorials.bluehost.com/gmailpop/ I configured it so it will label incoming messages.  Now I can look at my Gmail account and just filter for messages sent to my eiconnectlink.com account.  Since Bluehost allows unlimited email accounts this is a nice way to organize everything in one place.

(image of an interestingly lit underpass in Otaniemi, Finland)

Step #2 Install WordPress

This really couldn’t have been easier.  I’m very impressed.  I went into Bluehost’s cPanel and clicked WordPress under software/services. It’s really self explanatory but I watched the video tutorial (here http://tutorials.bluehost.com/wordpress/ ) anyways just to be sure.  Within a few minutes, my site was up, looking quite a bit like my WordPress.com site.

Step #3 Export my WordPress.com blog and import it to my new WordPress.org blog on http://www.eiconnectlink.com/

So this step was also easier than anticipated.  I first went to my WordPress.com site and under the dashboard went to Tools => export.  I downloaded the export file to my hard drive.  I then went to import on my WordPress.org site dashboard, clicked WordPress, then uploaded and imported the file.  I had to do a few easy tweaks, such as deleting the default “about” page set up by WordPress.org.  Once I imported my blog, my other about page was added so there were two.  Once deleted, my site looks pretty much like it did before minus some of the customization I did before.  All the content looks good and all my images and links were transfered along with the blog posts.

One odd thing seems to have happened to my images sizes however.  It appears that the images I resized previously within my blog posts, have exploded back to their original sizes. I went in and manually tried to resize everything back to how I intended it to appear.   That actually didn’t work and I couldn’t figure out why.  Then I realized my new blog is just linking to the images uploaded to my WordPress.com blog site media library.  Apparently during the export, none of the image files in the media library transferred.  I confirmed this by checking my WordPress.org media library and found it empty.  In order to rectify this situation, I am re-uploading the pictures to my WordPress.org blog and editing the entries.  Although this doesn’t seem to really make a difference in the look of the blog, I wanted everything to be hosted on my new site in case I decide to take down my original WordPress.com blog.

One other small glitch to note, was I had inserted a TED.com post in my first blog. WordPress.com has an easy way to insert TED videos.  They apparently have a deal where all you need to insert is a very short reference to the video (in my case “[ted id=319]” was all that was needed.  Using WordPress.org I had to grab the full code to embed the video, but that was quite easy. I just viewed the HTML of my post and copied it in.

Last, I also noticed my permalinks had changed.  I had to simple adjust the setting to the date/keyword formula I used before and this issue corrected itself.

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That’s all I have time for today, more posts to come on plug-ins and customization.

Dec 212010
 

So after some research and careful consideration, I decided if I was going to do this right, I would have to self-host my blog.  There is a lot of information out there regarding the differences between a WordPress.com free site, vs. a self-hosted WordPress.org site (see these links for some info:  http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/ ,  http://www.clickonf5.org/wordpress/wordpress-vs-wordpress/3754 ,  http://www.suite101.com/content/wordpresscom-vs-wordpressorg-a99029 ).  Although I’m currently not making any money blogging and have only recently started, I’ll tell you why I decided on starting with a self-hosted site.

(Image taken in Tallinn, Estonia – busy, snowy, christmas decorated street view)

After a bit of research, I decided on using Bluehost ( http://www.bluehost.com/ ).  They are recommended by WordPress and also seem to offer an easy way to get started.  As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m not so technically inclined, so part of the reason I decided to do this myself, is I actually want to learn the process.  For $6.95/month I signed up for 1 year with Bluehost with the domain name http://www.eiconnectlink.com/ The total cost was $83.40 if you suck at multiplication or just don’t feel like opening up the calculator.  I figured for a year it would be a worthwhile investment, not only in my blog, but also in myself.  I want to learn what it takes to set up a self-hosted WordPress site as I feel the power to customize is more important than anything else.  Customization is what can make you really stand out and I don’t feel satisfied with what wordpress.com has to offer – I don’t know about anyone else, but I really feel like all the sites look the same, and it makes me less interested in following.

There seems to be a lot of benefits to self-hosting if you wish to eventually monetize your blog, but I also thought about a few other things.  Since I currently don’t have many followers, I won’t have to worry about what making a switch would entail in the future.  If I had a few hundred subscribers, then changed, I would have to figure out how to keep everyone informed.  All the people following my RSS feed, would suddenly not receive updates unless I kept both blogs running simultaneously.  Dealing with that seems like a huge technical headache (maybe I’m being a bit overly dramatic and there is a way to solve this issue, but I just don’t want to have to think about it!)  I would also have to worry about backlinks.  If anyone linked to my blog, all the SEO benefits with Google would be lost.  I also really wanted my own domain name without the .wordpress in the title.  Wordpress offers domain registration and mapping for $17.00 per year.  If I was going to spend that much, why not just spend a little more on getting my own domain, where I have complete control over the FTP.  Last, I feel like I am making a commitment to blogging.  Since I have agreed to this commitment with myself, it’s time to follow the cliche and put my money where my mouth is.  If in 1 year I am on to other pursuits, I will only have lost a little money.  If in 1 year I am up to my neck doing blogging as a business, I think I will be happy today that I made this decision.

Anyways, that’s just a little on my thought process.  If it seemed spastic or illogical or misinformed, let me know (hell, part of the reason I’m here is personal growth).  I plan to update this blog with the exact procedure I follow to document setting everything up with Bluehost for mine (and your) future reference.  If anyone already has experience with this, please comment and give me your insights.  I would really appreciate it!