Hello Happy Site Owners! This is the BlogAid Tips Tuesday Podcast for June 4th 2013 and I’m your host, MaAnna. This week’s tips include an upcoming Live Workshop, Post Formats being yanked from WordPress 3.6, follow ups on my comment spam filter plugin and event calendar plugin trials, plugins to create local avatar images for site authors, new domain services from HostGator, a popup opt-in case study, and what you need to know about two recent announcements from Google on Penguin 2.0 and their new structured data tool. So let’s dive in. Listen to the podcast.
I’ve got a G+ and Authorship Live Workshop coming up this Saturday to help you set aside a day and time to get your Google Authorship and site SEO done. It’s based on the SEO and AuthorRank Video Course, which is included in the package. And during the Live Workshop we’ll go over the authorship part of it and show you step-by-step how to make all 14 possible connections. There is no replay because you’ll get the whole Video Course as a backup. The main thing is, just get this done. You’ll start reaping the rewards of higher visibility, more clicks, and more traffic almost immediately. Stop thinking about how much time it takes and how much it costs to do. The time and money you’re losing by not doing it is way more.
If your obstacle to getting busy with authorship and G+ is your goofy Google Account connections, I’ve got a free fix for that. You can see the entire replay of the Fix Your Google Accounts webinar I hosted with Ronnie Bincer where we help you map out your current account and then cover scenarios of goofy account connections and how to remedy them.
I’ve been holding off on reporting this until I could get the whole story. And the cat’s out of the bag now with James Farmer’s post on the WPMU.org site titled Something is Rotten in the State of WordPress. WPTavern is a well-known WordPress News site that has been taken over by WordPress Owner, President, and Founder, Matt Mullenweg. That wouldn’t be too big a deal except for what else Mullenweg owns in WordPress land. You’ll want to read Farmer’s post for yourself, and take the tone with a grain of salt because WPMU.org is being slighted by not being included in Mullenweg’s plans. To me, it’s a little odd for one person to have so much financial gain at stake with something that is supposed to be community owned, like WordPress.
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The expanded Post Formats UI, or User Interface has been yanked from the core as a new feature in version 3.6. This is actually what’s been holding up the release. They are about three weeks behind the targets at this point. All of the development has not gone to waste, though. What they have will be available as a plugin. And, they’re leaving in a couple of things, like the new HTML5 support for embedding audio and video. You can read more about what’s going on with it and what it means to your site in my post titled Post Formats Pulled from WordPress 3.6 Core.
Some of the links below are to the plugin developer’s page, but you can find most if not all of these plugins in the WordPress plugins repository.
I want to give you a follow up on my blog comment spam situation that got completely out of hand in the last few months. I experimented with CommentLuv premium for a few months and must have gotten put on one of those dofollow blog lists because the spam traffic suddenly went through the roof. Now, Akismet coupled with the premium version of GASP that comes with CommentLuv were catching them in the queue before they could appear on the live blog post, but I was then having to devote a lot of time to maintenance every day. It was crazy.
So, I kicked CommentLuv off and to my dismay, the spam traffic just kept coming. I removed the regular version of GASP that I had been using since day one on my site, and installed Bad Behavior, and there was no change. Then I took that off and installed Spambot Trapper, which was supposed to stop the spam from even showing up in the queue. It didn’t, and then after about a week it caused an error so that no one could comment.
A few days ago I installed the WP Conditional CAPTCHA plugin. It took a couple of days, but the flood was turned down to a trickle and I can live with that until BlogAid comes off that horrid dofollow blog list.
This plugin is called conditional because it does not show the CAPTCHA component to everyone, just folks who have never left a comment on the blog. And I elected to have those that were not spam held for moderation for now. Seems to be working well. I’ve had comments from several new folks and have checked the site often enough to not really slow down the conversation much. So, I’ll be testing for another week or so and then probably letting the new comments go straight to published instead of moderation if it continues to work this well.
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I also want to give you an update on my experience with The Events Calendar. After I removed it I discovered that it leaves a lot of orphaned code in the site, both in the core files and in the database. I still don’t have it all out yet from the sandbox site I was testing it on. So fair warning, and I’m betting that most calendar plugins will do the same. Be sure to do your homework and be certain of which plugin you want to use before you install it. I will also say that free version of The Events Calendar has the ugliest posts and widget display. The pro or paid version looks better, but not by much, at least not to me. I’ve already got another one lined up to try and will keep you posted on how it goes. Which event plugin do you use?
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The WordFence Security plugin was recently updated. It includes a firewall, anti-virus scanning, malicious URL scanning and live traffic including crawlers. I have not used it because I have other ways of doing those things, but hear good reports from folks who do. Have you tried it? Let us know how it’s working for you.
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Here’s a plugin that I had to find for one of my clients that runs a magazine. Several of the contributing authors do not have a web presence or gravatar account. So she will be creating her own authorbox code for them and needs a way to pull in their images, which are normally taken from the Gravatar account. The WP User Avatar plugin will allow you to use any image in your WordPress Media Library as a custom user avatar or you can add your own Default Avatar. She is also looking at the Simple Local Avatar plugin too.
Personally I think this should be something that’s added to the core of WordPress and/or have the option to take it from your G+ profile instead of your Gravatar account because that could possibly be tied to your authorship connections. You know, I might just contact the developers about that.
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There’s a new plugin out called Easy Landing Pages that allows you to design sweet looking pages and add them to your site easily. You can also include integration from Aweber and MailChimp. This is a great idea, but it’s a new plugin from a new developer and there is a support ticket open that has not been resolved and a single one-star rating. So, maybe not ready for primetime yet, but I’ll be keeping my eye on it. What do you use for landing pages? Leave a comment here and let us know.
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And there’s a new twist on a Genesis plugin. This one is called Featured Post Widget – Link to Category. It sends readers to the archive page of the category instead of to the actual post. I’m trying to think of where you would use this and why. When I click on a post title, I expect to see that post and not to have to click again on an archives page of the category. If you can think of where this double clicking would be useful, let us know by leaving a comment.
HostGator is offering Domain Concierge service – for free. And it’s about time they wised up to how much money they were losing by not offering this service for free. Now, there’s a big difference in pointing a domain to a new host and transferring it to a new registrar. What HostGator is offering is the latter. See a post I wrote on How to Point or Transfer a Domain Name before you move anything.
I know that most of you are like me and don’t like popup optin screens. That’s exactly why you need to read this excellent post by one of my fave bloggers, Kristi Hines titled Popup Opt-in Forms: Case Studies, WordPress Plugins, and Alternatives. And be sure to read through the comments too, as several folks tell about the alternatives they use and why. I’m thinking about using one or two of them myself.
As I’m sure you’ve heard that Google has released the Penguin 2.0 update. And I had to fix several of the outbound links on my site to stay in compliance and to stop doing what Matt Cutts calls floating Page Rank, which is one of the big things the Penguin algorithm is out to catch. So, I collected up all of my notes for you and put them in both a post and a free download for you. Go read How to Nofollow and Cloak Your Links to Avoid the Penguin 2.0 Penalty soon. This is not something you want to put off, as it will be more difficult to recover your site from a penalty than it used to be. And, you may have more dofollow outbound links than you realize too.
Google also recently announced a new structured data markup tool. And, it’s a little different from the data highlighter tool they’ve had for a while. It includes more things. This is one more indication to me that Google is getting serious about putting sugar on brand pages soon. Just a couple of weeks ago they gave us some tips on helping them locate your site’s logo image to ensure they were using the right one. This is one more step in that direction.
I’m going to see if Yoast will include this in one of his plugins, especially his new Local SEO plugin. The reason why is because the Google way of doing it gives you the HTML code to add to your page. That’s not the easiest way to do things in WordPress.
But, I don’t think he’ll be adding it to his free WordPress SEO plugin anytime soon. Instead, he’s choosing to do it at the theme level. In his recent post Schema.org and Genesis 2.0, he goes into geeky detail about how he is using the new schema markup that is included in the core of the next version of Genesis, which is still in beta right now.
Basically, he already uses a lot of custom post types for his pages. Even if you’re not a geek or a developer you may want to click the links and see the examples in that post because they are pretty cool.
Now, all of this is great for Yoast, but it leaves a lot of the rest of us out in the cold with being able to take advantage of the new schema settings. I’m like most of you and can’t afford to switch themes or have custom coding added every time Google gives us a perk. So, I’ll be keeping my eye on this and seeing if an affordable solution becomes available.
Garrett Moon has a post on WP Daily that caught my attention. It’s titled 7 Reasons to Remember that Your Blog is for You, Too. And I suppose the post itself is an example of one of the reasons, which is basically just sharing what’s on your mind, your ideas and thoughts. Isn’t that what we’ve got Facebook for? To me, that approach works better on a coaching blog or a personal blog. I tried it a couple of times. Fell flatter than pita bread. It’s just not what my clients want from me. They want news, tutorials, and tips of how to manage their sites and get the most from SEO and marketing.
What about you? Why do you blog? Do you make top of mind posts?
There’s already a pretty interesting conversation going on about this over in the comments of my post on the Post Formats UI being yanked from 3.6, if you want to join in there.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday podcast. You can find this podcast on iTunes, as well as Stitcher, and the Blackberry Podcast. You can also subscribe directly to the blog posts to get them via email. Visit BlogAid.net for more tips, tutorials, and free resources to make your site better.
And I’ll see you online!