Category Archives for WordPress

Pinging Satellite Dish - marat-gilyadzinov

Just Say No To a Big WordPress Ping List

This post was originally published March 6, 2011. In it I published a WordPress ping list and an explanation on what I had done to vet it. However 2 years later I drastically reduced my ping list when I found out that pinging many (and potentially spammy) services might actually hurt your Google rankings.

What is a WordPress Ping List?

Whenever you publish a new post or make edits to your existing ones, WordPress will send a notification (called a ping) to the services on your ping list to let them know about your new or updated post. It’s been a good way to get the word out about your blog.

WordPress out of the box comes set up to notify one service, and users can add to the list in the writing settings, as many bloggers have. However there are much better ways to notify Google of your new page or post.

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Google’s rel=author Authorship feature

This post originally appeared on October 28, 2011, in January 2014, I made several changes to it to bring it up to date. On August 28, 2014, Google ended the Google Authorship program citing low participation and concern over how it was cluttering the search experience, especially for mobile users. Despite this, you may want to still implement it if you are active on Google+. Users who are logged into their Google account and that follow you on Google+ will see the the enhanced snippet. Otherwise it’s not worth the effort.

Ah the old days. The early days when all Google looked at was how many backlinks pointed to your page. These days, trust, creditability and authority signals are a big part of what Google looks for when deciding whether to rank your page in the top ten. In the summer of 2011, leveraging Google profiles, Google released another feature that helps it do just that. You can now tag your articles with rel="author" HTML markup to link your pages to your Google profile – which makes you more “real” in Google’s eyes. The nice thing about this is that then Google will put a pic of you next to the snippet of your article that shows up in the search results as Danny Sullivan appears below.

Danny Sullivan article

Danny's article with SEO advice to Bill Gates

Google’s desire to tie content to “real” people perhaps sheds some light on the 2011 mass removal of non user Google+ accounts.

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Sitesell Migration to WordPress

migrating to a new home

The Traveling Suitcase: Dedicated to the Jewish children of the Kindertransport who found safety in Britain

Recently I migrated a site from the Sitesell ecosystem (that’s how I think of it) to WordPress. While Sitesell does a good job leading people through the process of building websites that attract organic search engine traffic, I made a decision about a year ago that I don’t want to work on anything else but WordPress these days (I’ll do SEO consulting for any type of site, but if I have to roll up my sleeves and actually work on the site – it’s got to be WordPress). WordPress is great for people like me, who aren’t really diehard developers but have enough technical chops to be dangerous. And the WordPress community is just outstanding. Plus I just don’t want to deal with another CMS (content management system) that has it’s own vernacular and way of doing things. We’ve all heard the saying “Do a few things well and not a lot of things poorly.” It’s time to live up to that goal.

To make this useful to more people, I’ll try to keep this more general so that it is relevant to migrations from other technologies. I also have a few cool plugins to recommend.

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Check your WordPress robots.txt file

nerd details like your robots.txt are importantI recently looked at a client’s robots.txt file for a WordPress site. He had all sorts of things blocked (using the Disallow directives) including:


As I have written before, robots.txt disallows are generally not as useful as people think they are. True, they prevent Google and other search engine spiders from crawling those URLs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those pages don’t end up in the index (which is usually the reason for the Disallow directive.) These days we have much better tools at our disposal with the meta robots noindex tag and the canonical.

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How to create embed code for your infographic in WordPress

Stacking up to a Hoarder –

Got infographic? Although the linkbaiting with an infographic tactic has been around for while, it’s popularity shows no sign of abating. Infographics also seem tailor made to share on pinterest, a visual pin up board.

But of course we don’t want sharing limited to pinterest, our ultimate goal is to have other bloggers embed the infographic so that we build backlinks to our site. So that is where creating an embed code box comes in. Just an aside, I’m surprised to see infographics posted without these – putting the onus on me as a blogger to figure out how to embed it in my post. So why not make easy? It might get you a few more links.

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I need to improve my WordPress performance!

I’m starting to dig into improving my WordPress site performance, as it is not where I want to be. On average it takes 3 seconds before it starts rendering and up to 6 or 7 seconds to finish. So I need to improve my WordPress site, so where do I begin? You can start with throwing solutions, such as caching, at the problem, which may or may not help, or you can first diagnose the problem

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What is a WordPress theme?

WordPress basicsSometimes those of us who are immersed everyday in WordPress, SEO and Online Marketing topics forget there is a whole world out there that has barely heard of WordPress. Or if they have heard of it, they think it is only used for blogs. So today I’m going to talk about WordPress themes and what they are.

Anatomy of WordPress

To understand WordPress themes, it helps to have a basic understanding of WordPress itself. I like to think about WordPress as different components working together that not only brings you an awesome website, but one that comes with an administrative interface you can use to create new pages on your site without needing any technical know-how. If you can do Word documents, you can write pages on a WordPress web site.

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How I Enhanced My WordPress 404 Page To Be More Useful

Frak! 404 Error Page

Flickr CC License - The Shifted Librarian

This week I wanted to enhance my blog’s 404 page to be more useful to my visitor. But I didn’t want to spend a lot of time and I didn’t necessarily want to use a plugin. Why not a plugin? I get worried about the overhead plugins add to my site and it’s not always easy to find one that does exactly what I want. Sometimes it is easier to just edit the code.

While Google Webmaster Tools does show I am getting 404 errors on my site, they are all due to the the lower quality guest author posts that I recently deleted. A spot check of the errors didn’t turn up any external links to these pages. So because a 404 is not a frequent occurrence for my site, it’s not a top priority (hence my upfront criteria that I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on this task). Nevertheless I wanted to make my 404 page more useful to my visitor and not a dead end.

Here’s how I added a search box and a list of categories to my 404 page. Now keep in mind that to follow along, I’m assuming you know how to copy and update files on your server and that you are comfortable editing php code.

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Pitfalls of WordPress tags and how to avoid them

Just because you have a tool in front of you, it doesn’t mean you have to use it. This is particularly applicable to WordPress tags. A lot of bloggers tag each post they write with 4 or 5 multi word tags that they will never use again — thinking they are adding keywords to the post and helping their site’s SEO. Nothing could be further from the truth.

How WordPress tags work

tags: wordpressLet’s say you are a foodie blogger and just posted a recipe on tomato soup. So you wrack your brains – gee what are all the keywords that describe this post? And you come up with “tomato soup”, “healthy eating”, “warm foods”, “easy recipes”. The way WordPress works is (as long as your theme shows tags), those tags will appear as clickable links that will take you to an archive page that show a list of posts that have the same tag. The problem is that unless you have written several posts on “tomato soups” – the tag archive page will just show your one post. Not only is that not useful to your site visitor, but could be diluting your content in the search engine index.

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Checking your WordPress website for broken links

Since WordPress takes care of a lot of details under the covers, that we are often lulled into a sense of complacency. If you decide to rename a category, you don’t have to worry about updating your links and URLs for the change – the underlying WordPress CMS takes care of that. However, it is a good idea to periodically check your WordPress site for broken links especially if you link out or have comments on your blog.

Xenu's Link SleuthOne of the better link checking tools, is Xenu’s Link Sleuth. It’s free, but Mac users are out of luck, it only runs on Windows. You can download it from CNET or the project home page. It’s easy to use, you just type in your site’s domain and run it. You might have some problems discerning where the broken links are – as it doesn’t report out the parent URL, however you can usually tell by looking at the report which page it was looking at.

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