Hello Happy Site Owners! This week’s tips include info about a couple of new series I’ll be running on BlogAid, continuing news of what’s happening with RSS feeds, new gallery and watermark plugins, plus a new digital signature plugin I tested, and news from Yoast on his new focus. Plus, new premium themes, and big news for ThemeForest and WooThemes. And, help for workaholics, and serious SEO perks for being active on G+ from one of the top SEO guys in the world. So let’s get started. Listen to the podcast.
Over the next few months I’ll be running a series of posts on WordPress and site ownership basics and tips to help folks who are just getting started online or who are switching over to WordPress. And, I’m going to be sharing with you my journey to make YouTube my number one traffic referral source as well as the progress I’m making with incorporating all that G+ offers. Along the way, I’ll be creating challenges so you can join me too and we can all share in this adventure together.
Plus, I’m also going to start holding live Q&A webinars so you can get your pressing needs addressed. They will be free, but live only, no replays. The first two are this week. I know this is short notice, but I did it that way intentionally to keep attendance low for this first set to ensure I can get to everyone on the call. Notice has already been sent to BlogAid News subscribers and folks are already registering. So, now I’m opening it up to Tips Tuesday followers too.
The first Q&A session is on Wed April 3 at 8:00 pm EDT. The second is on Thur April 4 at noon EDT. Questions will be taken from those in attendance and there will be no replay. So, come join me and let’s see if we can get you some help.
For the next few months I’ll be running a new section on Tips Tuesday to cover the news about the impact of the Google Reader shutdown and tips to help you get through it. Maybe you don’t use Google Reader, or maybe you’ve never given a second thought to your own site’s RSS feed, so this may not seem like a big deal to you. All I can say is wake up, the house is on fire. Then go read this post titled Turning off the ViperChill RSS Feed: What You HAVE to Tell Your Blog Readers. Glen gives you some staggering stats, like the fact that this is so big it’s made news in The N.Y. Times, the BBC, and other major news outlets. Plus, he gives you the feed subscriber numbers for a few popular sites. Those numbers are in the ten thousand range and you can bet they’re doing everything they can not to lose those readers.
What are you doing to not lose your readers?
I’m going to ask you right now to go to the sidebar of the site or to this link and subscribe to my blog posts via email. That way you’ll know that you’re getting them. If you’re already a BlogAid News subscriber, and you re-subscribe just to get the blog posts, you’re going to see a little error. Just go ahead and click on that link and it will take you to a place where you can update your preferences.
On the BloggingPro site, Jonathan Bailey asks What’s Next for RSS? He has a good take on what’s already happened since Google announced the shutdown of Google Reader in July, and what may happen for the rest of the year after. That includes plans by at least one service to include RSS with social media. This post is mainly focused on folks like me who rely heavily on RSS feed services. What he didn’t address are the more casual readers, who are those that subscribe to maybe 10 blogs. So that you don’t lose readers, I would strongly suggest you begin promoting your RSS to email subscriptions. Both MailChimp and Aweber offer this service, and so does FeedBlitz. And those are the ones you need to jump to if you’re currently using FeedBurner because Google is likely going to shut that down next.
In WordPress news, the launch of version 3.6 is still slated for the end of this month around the 29th. I’ll be making a What’s New video for you in the next couple of weeks so you can see what has changed and get ready for it.
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.
Easy Media Gallery is designed to display portfolios and various media support including gallery sets, single image, Google maps, video, audio and link with ease and elegance. This may be an easier alternative to the NextGen plugin. But, I’ll have to see what it offers that’s different from the regular WordPress gallery way of doing things. Making thumbnail galleries easily is something that came with the overhaul to the Media Manager in WordPress version 3.5. Do you use a gallery plugin? Tell us which one and why you like it.
There’s a new plugin called Easy Watermark available. The plugin page says they will be adding the ability to control the opacity on individual images soon. So, if you try this plugin, just know that functionality is coming. And, if you already use a watermark plugin that you like, please leave a comment and tell us why. I’ll see about putting it onto the new Plugins resources page.
I’m thinking about creating some free challenges and I’ve been looking at a few LMS plugins. That stands for Learning Management Systems. And the name of this one caught my eye. It’s Namaste and it looks pretty easy to set up. I like easy.
Here’s a plugin I checked out. It’s called GroupDocs Signatures and I wanted to use it for the contract on the new pay-as-we-go plans for the Scratch to Published classes. Those plans have become so popular with both me and my clients that I’ve dropped the extra handling fee and made them my standard payment option.
Well, that plugin was a good idea, but it didn’t pan out. It requires a monthly fee on the GroupDocs site. That’s fine if you have a lot of contracts and can make use of the other services they offer on a regular basis. But, it was a little too rich for what I need to do. So, good plugin, but a no go for me.
Cyndi Papia of Office To-Go found several other options for me to try including creating a sign-able PDF, which will work. But, I’d like to have an online version if possible. She directed me toward DigiSigner and I’m going to give that a try.
A lot of older Genesis themes included the ability to do column layouts. They look great. But a lot of the newer themes don’t offer that option by default. Now there’s a plugin for it. And it’s called Genesis Easy Columns. It allows you to add shortcode to any page. Now, the last time I tried columns in Genesis, it was a pain to edit the content. Hopefully they’ve made that easier with this plugin, but I’m not counting on it. And, I’ve got a better way to that kind of layout anyway. I use tables. Yeah, I know, I can hear you designers screaming. But guess what? Every browser still reads them and every one of my clients can use and customize them with ease. And they can’t do that with CSS, and nobody wants them to be poking around in the theme code anyway. So, I’m sticking with what’s easy to do and gives beautiful results.
Joost de Valk is one of my fave plugin developers. He’s the one who came up with the WordPress SEO plugin that I think wipes the floor with everything out there. He just published a post titled On Focus and How We’re Slowly Changing Our Business Model. He’s moving away from consulting so much and focusing more time to new plugin add-ons and new plugins. Plus he’ll be releasing a new theme, which is very exciting. Here’s the best news on that. It will be a Genesis child theme. Genesis is the framework I use and recommend to all of my clients. So, can’t wait to see what’s coming out of his creative cave next.
StudioPress has released a new theme in their Community Themes lineup. It’s called Fabric8ted and it’s really pretty and soft. That’s a nice change because so many themes are dramatically high in contrast even to the point of being stark. This has a more relaxed vibe to it. That’s something that could put your visitors at ease and encourage them to stay on your site longer, and that’s good for business in a lot of ways.
I’ve been looking at the new Twenty Thirteen theme that is due out later this month. They’ve been saying all along that they are making a bold move with it. But, it’s also not backwards compatible. So, you have to use at least version 3.6 of WordPress with it. This is causing some friction for some folks, but not for me because updating your WP version is really not an option anymore, just for security reasons alone. And if you have a theme that you fear will break if you update, it’s time to get a new theme.
Is your site giving you a perception problem? That’s what Cam Brennan addresses in his post on WP Daily with his first look at the Fix My WP site. He’s judging the book by the cover and saying that he is suspicious of their service because of their price and the way their theme looks compared to similar services. He says it looks cheap. But, if you look through the comments, you’ll see lots of good things said about the company. So maybe they should consider putting those testimonials on their site.
And, I understand exactly what it’s like to have your services judged on price alone. So, I really took to heart what one of the commentors said about getting excellent service for 1/3 the cost of the other guys. Maybe that’s something I should put on my site. And you better believe I’m going to check out the folks at Fix My WP and see if they are a good place to send folks who contact me for that kind of help.
Also on WP Daily, John Saddington reports that ThemeForest is going 100% GPL and WooThemes will be next. This is huge news for designers as well as folks who use themes from those sites. Basically, designers who choose to do this will have an open-source license, meaning that other folks can legally do rip-offs of their themes. It’s sort of like dropping their copyright. So, look for a boom of new themes to hit the market in the next few months, and be weary of them. One of the most important aspects of choosing a theme is to get one that is supported. Don’t expect that with a knock-off theme.
Are you a workaholic? Technology has made it easy to access work-related info anytime, anywhere. In her post on The Get Rich Slowly blog, Kristin Wong addresses the cost of workaholism. It’s well worth the read to help you see what you may be doing and help shift your mindset about it.
The number one question I get asked is, “When do you sleep?” The answer, between midnight and seven most nights. I’m just very efficient with the time I’m not asleep. And I take breaks during the day and unplug for a while. But, my job is a bit reactive to client demands and what’s in the news that I have to hop on. So, I don’t always have a regular schedule, and rarely do I have a full day off. It’s been that way my whole professional life and I like it just fine. But, when I do feel the need to completely get away from it, I do. And I usually don’t tell anyone online.
Let me let you in on a little secret. If you don’t post anything online for a week, even you’re regularly scheduled posts, no one will notice. Everybody’s lives are so full and there’s so much else to entertain them online that they will never know you’re gone. (Read Never Fear a Total Change for Your Site or Business)
So, go read Kristin’s post and let yourself off of your self-imposed timeline hook once in a while. You’ll see that the sky doesn’t fall.
Here’s another post from Joost de Valk about Why Google won’t display the right page title. Your blog title is one of the single most important things you can spend time on to make your site successful. It shows up everywhere you post online including social media. It can make or break the difference in whether someone clicks the link to visit your site and read your post. What Joost addresses in this post is the fact that Google can and does rewrite post titles in SERPs, which are Search Engine Result Pages. This is not a bad thing. If Google thinks it can make your title more appealing to the person searching, it will rewrite it. That may get the person to click. So, it’s a good thing.
What else Joost says is not to overstuff your titles with keywords. Both Google and readers can find that offensive. So, spend some time thinking about your titles and try to write the best ones you can, and look for folks who blog about that and other content marketing tips. It’s a good investment of your time. Here’s a post on ProBlogger about crafting great titles, and here’s another one that shows you exactly how he tweaked the titles he started with into super titles.
I want to share a clip from a post by one of the top SEO folks I follow, Mark Traphagen. His post is titled Google Plus SEO: Everybody Talks About It – How Do You DO It? And in it he says,
“Google treats Google+ profile and pages just like “regular” web sites when it comes to search. That only really hits home when you understand that Google+ profiles and pages have PageRank.
That’s right. When it comes to search authority (and the ability to pass that authority along to others), Google+ profiles can be just as powerful as any other web page. That means you should not only be using Google+ for SEO, you should be using it to do SEO.”
About PageRank, he goes on to say:
- Follower count doesn’t count for much.
- +1′s don’t add much plus to search power.
- It’s not how many you know, it’s who you know.
- Just following or being followed is not enough.
- Back links are the backbone.
- Google+ PageRank can come from Google+ relationships, links from the web, or both.
From there he tells you How to Build the SEO Power of Your Google+ Profile or Page with several actionable steps.
I’m studying this post like my business depends on it, because the future of BlogAid does. It’s an even mix of SEO and relationship marketing for me these days. SEO brings new clients into the channel. Relationship marketing brings conversion, builds tribe, and repeat clients.
The one thing you might want to be careful about in this post are the references to your G+ brand page. Most of Mark’s audience consists of other SEO pros who work with big business or enterprise level clients. The situation is a little different for us solopreneurs where we probably have the biggest following on our G+ personal profile.
Most of what he says in this post applies to the personal profile too, but not all. Still, it’s an excellent read with several helpful links and will help you learn more about the basics of SEO and the role of G+ in it.
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. http://www.blackberry.com/podcasts You can also subscribe directly to the RSS via email. Visit BlogAid.net for more tips, tutorials, and free resources to make your site better.
And I’ll see you online!